Outside of London are several must-see destinations easily reached by hire car or a short train journey. The university towns of Oxford and Cambridge are steeped in history and boast stunning architecture dating back centuries. Cambridge is just under 50 minutes by train from King's Cross station and the trip to Oxford is about the same, from Paddington.
Just west of Oxford, the Cotswolds ranks as one of the southern England’s most scenic areas. Towns like Bourton-on-the-Water and Malmesbury are as English as they come with centuries-old stone buildings, lovely rolling hills and a number of monuments dating to the Roman era.
Portsmouth and Southampton on the south coast are two old port cities with a maritime heritage that is still evident. Southampton’s city walls are among the best preserved in the south of England, while Portsmouth mixes the ancient and modern with its 12th century cathedral and strikingly new Spinnaker Tower. Both cities are about 90 minutes by train from Waterloo.
Brighton is the original London beach destination, and there are regular train services into the centre where the shopping and sights are quirky and different from any other destination in England. The Royal Pavilion exemplifies the best of British eccentricity.
Bath is the quintessential Roman spa town with a mix of Victorian splendor, making for picturesque views at most every turn. Nearby Bristol is home to the mesmerizing engineering feats of its favorite son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This is the southwest’s largest city, offering some of the best shopping outside of the capital, along with some truly classic pubs.