History

The best weekend breaks near London

As summer rolls into autumn, make the most of the last stretch of long(ish) days with a weekend away from the Big Smoke. From salty sea air to cobbled country roads, there’s plenty to explore within two hours of London, so grab your boots and jacket and get going.

Surrey

Surrey Hills, Image: iStock/simonbradfield

Surrey Hills, Image: iStock/simonbradfield

The county of Surrey offers lush greenery just over an hour from central London (by car - it’s even quicker by train, if you head to Waterloo). Kids and kids at heart will love the Wild Wood Adventure Park in Guilford; teetering 15 metres above ground, traverse tightropes, zip lines and obstacles amidst dense woodland. Alternatively, enjoy an afternoon a little less taxing, walking through parts of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area boasts landscaped gardens, woodland walks, an intriguing Edwardian estate (Polesden Lacey) and so much more.

Sussex

Camber Sands, Image: iStock/acceleratorhams

Camber Sands, Image: iStock/acceleratorhams

Sussex offers a bucketful of seaside and history alike. Budding beach baby? Spend your weekend clambering the sand dunes of Camber Sands, before dipping your toes in the cool waters of the English Channel, or admiring the waves from a cliffside vantage point in Eastbourne. For even more impressive chalk-white cliffs, venture to Seven Sisters (not the London tube station - Victoria line this is not) a little further along. If history is more your thing, brush up on the Battle of Hastings in the place itself, with a visit to the 11th-century Norman fortress ruins and the smugglers’ underground tunnels. Another fortified building worth a visit is the moated Bodiam Castle, built in 1385.

Berkshire

Windsor Castle Image: iStock/Vladislav Zolotov

Windsor Castle Image: iStock/Vladislav Zolotov

Just west of London sits Berkshire, home to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Follow in the footsteps of the Royal family to Windsor Castle, the 11th-century-built abode that allows you to tour the tower, dine under vaulted ceilings and even visit the nearby St George’s Chapel where Meghan and Prince Harry married in 2018. Fifteen minutes south of the castle, you’ll find the tranquil Savill Garden in Windsor. Spend a serene Sunday exploring the 35 acres of breathtakingly beautiful blooms.

Devon

Hartland Quay, Image: iStock/antonyspencer

Hartland Quay, Image: iStock/antonyspencer

The furthest of the lot at nearly four hours’ drive, Devon is a great spot for a long weekend, rather than just a two-dayer. Famed for its gorgeous sandy beaches, soak up the last of the sun on the English Riviera, lazing on the sands with a portion of fish and chips in hand, exploring the tiny coves in between, before retreating a little inland to the medieval towns or vast moorlands.

Where else would you go for a long weekend away from London?