Stay Cheaper By Staying Close to - Not in - London

  • 01 of 07

    Great Places to Visit and Stay Within Easy Reach of Central London

    Brighton Pier at Dusk
    ••• Evening falls over Brighton's famous pier. © Ferne Arfin

    Staying in a city or town close to London can really save you a bundle and you don't even have to deny yourself the big city fun.

    A lot of people have mixed feelings about visiting a world class city like London. They'd love to see that special show, sports event, royal pageant, Lord Mayor's Show and fireworks over the Thames. And they'd love to peek inside some of the most famous stores in the world.

    But, it's expensive. Maybe they think the big event they want to see - for real instead of on television - will make London overcrowded and even more expensive. 

    The good news is that you don't have to choose between London and someplace else with more reasonable prices and uncrowded surroundings. London is ringed with towns and small cities that have attractions of their own and that are gateways to wonderful regional touring - yet are close enough to London to dip into the urban excitement now and then.

    And all these places are full of less expensive, quieter places to stay and dine. Base...MORE your vacation or getaway in Oxford or Cambridge, for example, and you're close enough to pop into London, by train or bus for a show, some shopping or sightseeing. Buy your tickets ahead of time and the tickets usually cost a fraction of standard fare.

    These are six of my favorite places to stay close to London, but you can find lots more. Simply draw a circle on a map with a 60 mile radius of London. That's pretty much within the commuter belt. Then check National Rail Enquiries or Traveline to find the quickest public transportation route into town. National Rail Enquiries will even help you find the cheapest fare and show you how to buy a ticket online.

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  • 02 of 07

    Cambridge

    Kings College Chapel Interior
    ••• The largest fan-vaulted ceiling in the world at King's College Chapel,Cambridge. Epics / Getty Images

    One of Britain's top 20 destinations for students and other visitors, Cambridge is close enough to London for several day trips yet located in the heart of excellent touring country.

    Why Go to Cambridge 

    • To tour one of the world's oldest universities in a still relatively unspoiled medieval town
    • As a jumping off place to visit Ely with its beautiful, soaring cathedral - one of the tallest in England - often called the ship of the Fens.
    • For easy access to thoroughbred country at Newmarket
    • For access to countryside touring and cycling in East Anglia,
    • To visit the Medieval Hanseatic League town of King's Lynn and the wonderful beaches of the North Norfolk and Lincolnshire coasts.

    ​Best Transport Option

    Trains to Kings Cross are scheduled half hourly through the day and take 56 minutes. Trains to Liverpool Street Station take just over an hour. Best advance off-peak day return in 2017 is £12 when purchased as two one-way tickets.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London 58 miles

     

     

    TripAdvisor's...MORE Best Deals in Cambridge

     

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  • 03 of 07

    Oxford

    Great Hall, Christchurch College Oxford
    ••• Great Hall, Christchurch College Oxford - or is it Hogwarts?. Zen

    ​Another great and ancient university in a university town with its own unique vibe.

    Why Go to Oxford

    • To visit the the oldest University in the English speaking world and one of the most prestigious
    • To experience a lively, vibrant city with wonderful pubs and great shopping 
    • To explore Oxford's haunted castle, build nearly a thousand years ago by the Normans it was a Victorian prison and now part of it has been converted into a luxury hotel.
    • To walk in the steps of fictional television detective Inspector Morse (you can even pop into his favorite pub.
    • To enter the worlds of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland at Christchurch College. The college's great hall was the virtually exact model for Hogwarts.
    • And for easy access to the CotswoldsBlenheim Palace and westward to Shakespeare country.

    Best Transport Option 

    The Oxford Tube is a popular bus service that runs every 10 to 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, with drop off points at several different London locations and wifi onboard to pass the...MORE time. Round trip is about £16 for adults, with student and senior tickets as well as multi trip tickets. The trip takes about an hour and 15 minutes, depending upon traffic.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London 63.5 miles

     

     

     

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  • 04 of 07

    Amersham

    Old Amersham
    ••• It may look like the village time forgot but you can reach Old Amersham on the London Underground. ©Ferne Arfin

    Amersham, on the Northwestern edge of London in Buckinghamshire, was the setting for one of Britain's most famous romantic comedies, Four Weddings and a Funeral and the home of one of children's literature's most famous bears.

    Why Go to Amersham

    • To walk or cycle in the Chiltern Hills and some lovely countryside
    • To drink,dine or stay at one of several traditional coaching inns. The Crown, was the setting of the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
    • To visit the one-time home of Christopher Robin, A.A, Milne's son and friend of Winnie the Pooh.
    • Check out the churchyard and see if you can find the grave of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain.
    • To amble into Royal country with Windsor and Ascot, as well as the scandalous Cliveden not far away. 
    • To dine at Artichoke, a great little foodie magnet that inexplicably is still waiting for more than passing attention from Michelin. 
    • To see its ancient Market Cross and visit one of England's oldest Charter Fairs, held annually on...MORE the 19th and 20th of September under a charter signed by King John I - the same wicked King John who was forced to sign the Magna Carta and who made Robin Hood's life such a misery.

    Best Transport Option 

    Amersham is on the end of the Metropolitan and City Line - the oldest line on the London Underground, which is the oldest Underground system in the world. The journey takes about an hour an a half. A quicker option is rail to Marylebone Station, which takes 40 minutes. Check National Rail Enquiries for train times, prices and links to buy tickets.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London 34 miles

     

     

     

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  • 05 of 07

    Brighton

    Brighton's Royal Pavilion
    ••• Brighton's Royal Pavilion started out as a smallish seaside cottage and grew into a fantasy palace on the whim of the Prince Regent.. PFE / Getty Images

    Brighton is often called London's Beach but it's a town with a strong personality all its own. If you like edgy, urban places by the beach you will love it. 

    Why Go to Brighton

    • To visit the Royal Pavilion , the most exotic summer cottage in the world.
    • To walk about a quarter of a mile out to sea on Brighton Pier, munching fish and chips in the sea breezes.
    • For antiques shopping in the idiosyncratic  Lanes and arty, bohemian tat in the North Laines,
    • To look down on the backs of flying birds and to see Brighton and a big chunk of the South Coast from 450 feet in Brighton's newest attraction, the BA i360
    • And, if you must leave Brighton, hike the South Downs National Park and visit the white cliffs known as the Seven Sisters.

    Best Transport Option

     Trains  to London Victoria or London Bridge Station leave Brighton about every 15 minutes. The trip takes just under an hour.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London 54 miles due south

     

     

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  • 06 of 07

    Arundel

    Arundel Castle and River Arun, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom, Europe
    ••• Arundel Castle on the River Arun. Roy Rainford / Getty Images

    The first time you set eyes on Arundel you will wonder why you haven't seen it, or even heard of it before. To put it plainly, this town is simply gorgeous and packed with history.

    Why Go to Arundel

    • To visit Arundel Castle. Built by the Dukes of Norfolk and the Howard family, it dates from 1067 but was massively reconstructed into a turreted fairytale fantasy in the 19th century. It towers over forests that tumble down into a charming town. One of its owners, lost his head on the block after providing King Henry VIII with two of his nieces for wives. They were Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard and they lost their heads too.
    • To see one of England's most impressive Catholic cathedrals, oddly designed by the man who invented the Hansom Cab.
    • To birdwatch at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Center (in the summer, excursion boats on the River Arun leave from the town center to explore it.).
    • To sunbathe on Climping Beach near Littlehampton, one of the South Coast's most pleasant, small beaches.

    Arunde...MOREl is a gateway to much of the South Coast, including seaside resorts, Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. The Cathedral city of Chichester, with its theater, and the Goodwood Estate where both horse and motorcar racing as well as vintage car and air events take place, are easy to reach too.

    Best Transport Option

    Direct trains leave regularly from Victoria Station and take about an hour and a half or less.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London About 65 miles

     

     

     

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  • 07 of 07

    Whitstable

    White picket fences in front of holiday waterside houses, Whitstable, Kent, England
    ••• These breezy, colorful waterfront cottages are within an easy commute of London. Tepper; Natalie / Getty Images

    The clapboard houses of Whitstable, with their climbing roses and faded shutters remind me of New England. It's quaint, relaxing and close to Canterbury as well as London.

    Why Go to Whitstable

    • Oysters! This is the English capital of oysters. Natives come into season in the cold months but Rock Oysters are farmed and available year round.
    • An easy side trip to Canterbury. This salty little town on the Kent coast is actually part of Canterbury and there's a good cycling route, The Crab and Winkle Way along an abandoned railway path to Chaucer's Cathedral City.
    • Walks along the shingle beaches are refreshing and breezy
    • There's Michelin-starred cuisine at the Sportsman Pub in nearby Seasalter.

    Best Transport Option

    Trains to Victoria leave Whitstable regularly. The trip takes about an hour and a half and the cheapest fare is about £20.

    Distance to London Bridge, Central London 58 Miles

     

     

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