The Best Day Trips From Birmingham, England

Idyllic river Avon passing though Stratford-upon-Avon

Tu xa Ha Noi/Getty Images

Because of its location right in the center of England, Birmingham is close to many interesting attractions and national parks. The city's train station connects it with its neighboring towns, as well as areas like the Cotswolds and the Shropshire Hills, and it's within an easy driving distance to place like Stratford-upon-Avon. Whether you're looking for a hike in nature or to immerse yourself in the history of the region, there's a day trip from Birmingham for you. Here are the best places to consider when you're looking to get out of town.

01 of 10

Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare's Birthplace

Ann Hathaway's Cottage
oversnap / Getty Images

This historic market town is best known as the birthplace of Shakespeare, and it's the Bard's presence that typically draws visitors. There are several attractions worth seeing here, including Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shakespeare's Birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which regularly puts on performances. Be sure to take a boat trip on the Avon river to get fully immersed in the town. Avon Boating does 40-minute cruises in Vintage Edwardian passenger boats; another great option is Bancroft Cruisers.

Getting There:  Stratford-upon-Avon is about an hour by car from Birmingham, or you can opt to take a direct train from Birmingham Moor Street station. Trains leave several times an hour, so it's an easy option for those who don't want to deal with parking or traffic.

Travel Tip: Grab lunch or a drink at The Dirty Duck, a pub that's been around since the 1700s. It's a favorite with Royal Shakespeare Company actors.

02 of 10

Peak District: Mountain Hikes and Scenery

Stanage edge in the Peak District, Derbyshire, England.
Robert Kearton / Getty Images

The Peak District is one of England's favorite national parks, and it's filled with cute villages and scenic walks. Don't miss Chatsworth House, a stately home from the 16th century, and Lyme Park, and be sure to go on a walk to beautiful Dovedale. The park is well-known for its hiking and there are numerous trails, depending on your skill level and needs—some of the most popular include the Ridge Walk and the Monsal Trail. If you are coming just for the day, plan to hike or explore an attraction in the morning and then find a pub in one of the quaint small towns, like the Cheshire Cheese.

Getting There: Drive north about 90 minutes to reach the Peak District from Birmingham (depending on your specific destination). It's possible to take a train, either via Sheffield or Macclesfield, but renting a car is the best way to explore the national park.

Travel Tip: Plan your walk ahead of time using the Peak District's trail maps online. Be sure to bring along comfortable shoes and rain gear to hike.

03 of 10

Leamington Spa: Architecture and Shopping

Jephson Gardens at Royal Leamington Spa


Known for its Regency architecture, Leamington Spa (sometimes known as Royal Leamington Spa) makes for a great day trip from Birmingham. It boasts several popular attractions, like the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum and Jephson Gardens, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. Head over to the town's high street to find everything from designer shops to local boutiques. Those in the market for something more unique should look in Gallery Photiq and Nova Fine Art for artwork, or browse the home furnishings at Collective.

Getting There: Leamington Spa is a quick drive south from Birmingham (about 27 miles), or visitors can take a direct train from Birmingham Moor Street. The train is less than 30 minutes, making it the recommended option to explore Leamington Spa.

Travel Tip: Leamington Spa's town center is very compact and very walkable. The town has a few self-guided trails visitors can follow with downloaded maps, including a trek around Old Town Leamington.

04 of 10

Worcester: A Famous Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral and grounds as seen from across the pond

Jonnieb/Getty Images

Worcester is synonymous with its historic Worcester Cathedral, but there is a lot to discover in the town. After exploring the cathedral, visit the City Art Gallery and Museum, Greyfriars’ House & Garden and the 500-year-old Tudor House Museum, which showcases life in the Tudor era. There are also several parks, including Gheluvelt Park, which borders the picturesque River Severn.

Getting There: Worcester can be found southwest of Birmingham, about an hour by car or 40 minutes by train. Trains run frequently throughout the day from Birmingham New Street and are typically inexpensive.

Travel Tip: Worcester Cathedral has specific opening times for visitors, with paid tours running twice per day. Be sure to check the cathedral's website for currently hours before visiting.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Warwick Castle: Medieval History

Warwick Castle in England

JMRPhotography/Getty Images

Warwick Castle was originally a wooden fort built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and now stands as an impressive example of 12th century architecture. The castle is located in Warwick and features lots to see and do, especially for families with kids. There are live demonstrations, such as a performance showcasing the Wars of the Roses, as well as activities and entertainment that changes throughout the year. Plan your visit around a holiday-themed event, which include The Haunted Castle at Halloween.

Getting There: Take a direct train to Warwick from Birmingham Moor Street and then walk about 15 minutes to the castle grounds. Those who prefer to drive (it's about 45 minutes from central Birmingham) can find parking on Stratford Road in Warwick.

Travel Tip: It can take an entire day to see everything at Warwick Castle, but aim for at least four hours. Some activities or events may need to be booked in advance online.

06 of 10

Coventry: A Charming Cathedral Town

Old English Architecture street in Coventry

nrqemi/Getty Images

Take a day trip to Coventry to discover some of England's most interesting history. Its medieval Coventry Cathedral was left in ruins after a World War II bombing, which visitors can explore alongside its 20th century replacement. There are also several museums, including the Coventry Music Museum and the Coventry Transport Museum, and Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden can be found not far from Coventry. For something more modern, head to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

Getting There: Coventry can be found just outside Birmingham, making it an especially easy day trip option. Visitors can drive, take a 20-minute train ride or take a bus from Birmingham Coach Station. Because Coventry is less than 20 miles away, adventurous travelers can even choose to cycle there.

Travel Tip: Coventry and Leamington Spa are located within a short driving distance of each other, which means visitors can combine both into a single day trip.

07 of 10

The Cotswolds

Ian Dagnall/Getty Images

The Cotswolds, a popular holiday destination in England, are made up of charming villages and rolling hills. There are tons of different villages to visit, so pick a few when planning a day trip to the area. Some popular spots include Chipping Norton, Moreton-in-Marsh, Broadway and Bourton-on-the-Water, most of which are best accessed by car. Don't miss the Chedworth Roman Villa and National Trust Snowshill Manor and Garden, as well as Blenheim Palace, known as the Versailles of England.

Getting There: A car is helpful when journeying around the Cotswolds, although many of the villages have train stations. How you get there depends on your chosen destination, but some of the more northern towns can be reached via train or taxi from Cheltenham Spa. Opt to drive to make the most of your day trip.

Travel Tip: Technically, the Cotswolds comprises nearly 800 square miles, which is a lot to see. Your best bet is to pick one or two attractions or villages to explore in a day.

08 of 10

Shropshire Hills: Natural Beauty

View from the Wrekin, Shropshire, England

The Shropshire Hills are a hidden gem in western England. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the region is located close to Wales and within driving distance of Birmingham. It's a great place to experience the outdoors, whether you want to hike, cycle or horseback ride, and it's also home to part of the River Severn. There are lots of walks and hikes, of varying difficulty, so check out the maps ahead of time to plan for the best route. Many of the walks include pub stops along the way.

Getting There: You'll need a car to get to and around the Shropshire Hills area. Plan to rent a car in Birmingham and then drive west (about 60 miles) to your chosen destination in the Shropshire Hills.

Travel Tip: Shropshire Hills offers a weekend shuttle bus service that runs from Church Stretton to Long Mynd and the Stiperstones. Tickets can be purchased from the driver.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Alton Towers: Rides and Waterpark

Alton Towers roller coaster in England

Alton Towers

Alton Towers is famous among English people. The amusement park and water park boasts over 40 rides and attractions, and it's especially popular with families. Day passes are available for both the theme park and the water park, as well as Alton Towers' beloved mini golf. Purchase tickets online in advance to save on admission.

Getting There:  Follow the A38 north to Stoke-on-Trent, where Alton Towers is located. By car, the journey is about 90 minutes, depending on traffic. If you prefer not to drive, take a train from Birmingham to Sheffield and then a bus to Farley Gates.

Travel Tip: Alton Towers Theme Park is open from March through November, but the water park remains open year round. Be sure to checking opening dates and times online ahead of your trip.

10 of 10

Ironbridge Gorge: The Origin of the Industrial Revolution

The Iron Bridge at Severn Shropshire, England

Southern Lightscapes-Australia

Pay a visit to Ironbridge Gorge, home to the world’s first iron bridge, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town boasts several small museums that detail aspects of the British Industrial Revolution, and all are family-friendly. Many of the museums are open-air and interactive, including the Blists Hills Victorian Town, which showcases life in Queen Victoria's era.

Getting There: Driving is the best way to access Ironbridge Gorge and its museums (the town is about 30 miles from Birmingham). Travelers can also take a train to Telford Central, where a bus or taxi will bring you to the town.

Travel Tip: Most of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums are open daily, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although the hours of each one may vary. If you want to visit the Tar Tunnel, it's only available on Sundays by guided tour.