Getting out of town

Best ways of leaving London to see the rest of the UK

When visiting London there is a lot to learn in a short space of time. Understanding the travel system within London is one thing but if you want to venture outside of the capital for daytrips, or to explore nearby cities, you will have to navigate the national rail and road networks. Thankfully, London is as easy to get out of as it is to travel into, with a number of large train stations, connecting trains, coach points and roads that offer plenty of options. For the first time London visitor, we have listed the best ways for you to travel out of the London by train, car and coach.

By Train

Looking at the complicated network rail map may seem scary at first but finding the right train and (if required, connection) is relatively straight forward. Below are some of the main British Rail train stations that each serve a different part of the country:

Euston (the North)
London St Pancras International (North West)
London Kings Cross (North East)
London Victoria (South and South East)
London Bridge (South East)
Waterloo (South West)
Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street (East)
Paddington (West)

Oyster cards only work within London’s six travel zones and it is likely you will have to buy a separate single/return ticket for your destination. Visit the National Rail Enquiries website, an easy to use London travel planner where you can find the right trains, times and ticket prices. Bear in mind that destinations closer to London mean that prices usually remain the same whether you book the ticket weeks in advance, or minutes before boarding the train. However, if you are thinking of travelling to another major city like Manchester or Birmingham, for example, the earlier you book the ticket, the cheaper the ticket will be.

By Car

You may have noticed when visiting London before that travelling by car in the city can prove to be a slow and frustrating way to get around. Hiring a car to drive out of London offers a lot of flexibility but it will also mean two things; navigating the heavy traffic and finding a way round the congestion charge that operates between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. If you are staying in the centre of the city, to avoid paying the congestion charge, you will have to leave the city before it begins and return once it has ended for the day.

Those staying outside of the congestion zone will not have to worry about paying any extra to travel by car. If you journey means having to travel across London to reach your destination on the other side, you can typically find a route to avoid the congestion charge, although this will generally take a little longer to navigate. The AA’s London Travel Planner will give you clear directions on how to get out and back into London and aside from the major A-roads, you will usually find the motorways – such as the M1 and M25 - will make up the bulk of your journey.

By Coach

Victoria Coach Station, located only a short distance away from London Victoria rail station, is the main hub for coaches leaving and arriving into central London. Other collection points are situated across the capital and can prove useful if they are local to your accommodation. National Express are the UK’s largest coach operator and provide journeys all across the country at relatively low prices. Visit their website to plan your journey and find out where prices, times and distances. Megabus are another big coach operator in the UK who offer some fantastic deals to visit other areas of the UK and offer a good comparison against National Express.