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Six Places to Stay Close to London

Enjoy England's Super Summer Without the Crowds and Costs

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Great Places to Visit and Stay About an Hour from Central London

Maybe you're torn about visiting London. You've heard it's expensive; you've heard the special events that are coming up are going to make it overcrowded and even more expensive. But deep down, you really would like to see that pageant, that special game, that Olympic buzz - not on television but in the heart of the action.

The good news is that you don't have to choose. 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 to London and are full of less expensive, quieter places to stay. Base your vacation or getaway in Oxford or Cambridge, for example, and you're close enough to pop into London, by train or bus for your special event.

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 Transport Direct to find the quickest public transportation route into town. Remember to book train journeys well in advance for the cheapest fares.

1. Cambridge

Kings College Chapel
eviltomthai via Flickr
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London 58 miles
  • Why Go There To tour one of the world's oldest universities in a still relatively unspoiled medieval town. Close to Ely with its soaring cathedral - one of the tallest in England - often called the ship of the Fens. Easy access to thoroughbred country at Newmarket, countryside touring and cycling in East Anglia, the 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 is less than £20.
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2. Oxford

Zen
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London 63.5 miles
  • Why Go There An ancient university - the oldest in Britain - in a lively, vibrant city with wonderful pubs and great shopping. Easy access to:
  • 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 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.
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3. Amersham

Old Amersham Village
© Ferne Arfin
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London 34 miles
  • Why Go There This Buckinghamshire town, within London's suburban belt on the edge of the Chiltern Hills, is within easy reach of some lovely countryside for walking and cycling. The town itself has several traditional coaching inns. One of them, The Crown, was the setting of the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Check out the churchyard and see if you can find the grave of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain. Close by, you're on the edge of Royal country with Windsor and Ascot, as well as the scandalous Cliveden not far away. And, among the town's famous residents was Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne's son and friend of Winnie the Pooh.
  • 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.
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4. Brighton

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
© Ferne Arfin
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London 54 miles due south
  • Why Go There Brighton is often called London's Beach, but it's a town with a strong personality all its own. Go for the Royal Pavilion, the Pier, shopping in the Lanes and the North Laine, excellent fish and chips and one festival after another. If you must leave Brighton, the South Downs National Park and the Seven Sisters are all a bus ride away.
  • Best Transport Option Trains travel to London Victoria or London Bridge Station leave Brighton about every 15 minutes. The trip takes just under an hour.
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5. Arundel

Getty Images
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London About 65 miles
  • Why Go There Arundel is simply gorgeous. It has a magnificant castle, still occupied by the Duke of Norfolk but open to the public, plus one of England's most impressive Catholic cathedrals. There's a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Center (in the summer, excursion boats on the River Arun leave from the town center to explore it.). Climping Beach near Littlehampton is one of the South Coasts most pleasant, small beaches and the seaside resort of Bognor Regis is also close by. The Cathedral city of Chichester, with its theatre and the Goodwood Estate are easy to reach too.
  • Best Transport Option Direct trains leave regularly from Victoria Station and trains with one change leave from London Bridge. The trip takes about an hour and a half.
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6. Whitstable

©Ferne Arfin
  • Distance to London Bridge, Central London 58 Miles
  • Why Go There 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. 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 and 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 around £20.
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