Seven southern destinations ideal for day tripping

Portrait of smiling young woman relaxing in a trainRoman Baths, Bath EnglandSouthern England is heart-stoppingly beautiful - rolling green hills, long stretches of sandy beaches and historic cities, all waiting to be explored. Nothing beats a day away from normal life in a whole new place to relax and recharge. So why not do something different this weekend? Hop on a train, sit back, enjoy the views and arrive with the best part of the day ahead of you for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping. Bliss!

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Day tripping this summer
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Day tripping this summer

Bristol combines historic charm with a buzzy vibe and interesting cultural scene. Many of Bristol-born Banksy’s original artworks can be seen around the city, as well as giant murals by other globally important artists. Clifton Village and Park Street remain a magnet for visitors drawn by their quirky, independent boutiques, artisan coffee shops and restaurants. At the top of Park Street are the impressive Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and University buildings. Just behind is Brandon Hill Park and Cabot Tower. Climb its tight spiral stairs, and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city and as far as Bath. Bristol has a rich maritime history, so it's well worth visiting the bustling Harbourside. As well as bars and restaurants, you can take any number of boat tours around the harbour and visit M Shed, the city's alternative museum. The Clifton Suspension Bridge, considered to be Brunel's masterpiece, makes an impressive closing note to your visit. This internationally recognised icon of the city never fails to inspire awe with its giant wrought iron structure over the sheer Avon Gorge.

On the southern-most tip of the South West, Penzance is the final destination on the train line. The atmospheric Night Riviera from Paddington to Penzance is the most romantic way to travel there - and you get to wake up to a new day in one of the most stunning parts of the UK. This historic port on the Cornish Riviera boasts a mild climate, so expect an abundance of palm trees and gardens full of sub-tropical plants. Pop in and out of the antique shops on Chapel Street, also home to a number of pubs, including the ancient Admiral Benbow Inn, which features in the first few pages of the book Treasure Island. Penzance has a relaxed bohemian feel with book shops, intriguing boutiques and a number of art galleries, including Penlee House Museum, home to a collection of paintings by the Newlyn School of Artists, and The Exchange, a large modern exhibition space featuring national and international works, alongside the best of those created locally. Down at the harbour, boat trips, sea safaris and fishing excursions provide some exciting seaborne activities and there are some fantastic beaches nearby like Perranuthnoe and Lamorna Cove. If the tide is out, you can walk across the causeway to the famous St Michael’s Mount. Home to a fairytale castle, tropical gardens and a magical atmosphere, this island is a must for any visitor. For an idyllic ‘wow-I'm-on-holiday’ scene, take a walk along the promenade, grab some fish and chips from the Captain Fish Bar, sit on the seafront and enjoy the spectacular view out across the bay.

Glorious Bath is just a 90-minute train journey from London, making it the perfect place for a quick getaway. As the city's famous golden Bath stone buildings come into view, nestled in the Avon hills, you're sure to feel your spirits lifting. No wonder the entire spa city is now a World Heritage Site. Why not stroll through Royal Victoria Park in front of the famous Royal Crescent, the curved Georgian street? Wander through the city centre and you’ll find a great mix of big-name high street stores and independent boutiques. A must-visit is the historic Roman Baths, one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, followed by afternoon tea in the elegant Pump Room Restaurant. If you've never tasted a Sally Lunn bun (a large tea cake first created in Bath), now's the time. For an unforgettable experience, relax in the open-top rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters just as the Celts and Romans did over 2,000 years ago. The pool offers spectacular views over the city and is open day and night.

From the moment you step off the train, you'll be impressed by the energy and excitement of Wales’ capital city. There are ample shopping opportunities, from the indie shops in Cardiff's Victorian Arcades to Queen Street. Cardiff Shopping Centre is largely pedestrianised, making for a pleasurable stroll rather than a dodge-the-traffic marathon. Then catch the water taxi to Cardiff Bay - the former docks area are a top attraction. Enjoy a leisurely walk with spectacular views across the barrage past the marina. Don't forget to buy some Welsh cakes (you can get them fresh off the griddle from Fabulous Welsh Cakes in the bay).

The beautiful Devon city of Exeter is well worth a visit. The historic city boasts characterful streets and the stunning gothic Exeter Cathedral with the beautiful Cathedral Close is the perfect spot to sit and people-watch. You can even take a journey below the city through the medieval underground passages as well as along the City Wall. Just a two-hour train journey from London, Exeter is a great place to shop. Big name stores can be found on the High Street, Princesshay and the Guildhall Shopping Centre, while Gandy Street and Fore Street are crammed with independent shops.

Crowned by the stunning Windsor Castle - the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world - Windsor is one of South East England’s prettiest destinations. Less than an hour by train from London, Windsor combines a rich cultural heritage with a bustling town offering independent shops alongside top high street brands, and a vast choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants. No trip to Windsor would be complete without a visit to spectacular castle. Built by William the Conqueror over 1,000 years ago, it was augmented by subsequent monarchs and now extends over 13 acres. For a family day out, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort is situated just outside the town centre. You can also enjoy a flutter on the horses at the world-famous Ascot Racecourse or at Royal Windsor Racecourse, the latter popular for its themed race days.

The Victorian resort of Weston-Super-Mare on the Somerset coast has shrugged off its former slightly forlorn seaside town image to become a truly cosmopolitan town with a fabulous beach. Boasting one of the UK's longest stretches of golden sand, the resort is home to the flagship Grand Pier (rebuilt after a fire in 2008), iconic seaside donkeys, and an observation wheel offering spectacular views across the coast and Bristol Channel. The former Tropicana Lido, which hosted Banksy's Dismaland in the summer of 2015, now has a modern cafe, and is an all-round entertainment space that is the venue to many of the resort's events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals and a summer funfair.


Adventures start here! Travel by train between 26th June and 19th July and get great deals with GWR's Summer Sale.

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