TOP 10 Charming Towns to Visit Near London

We agree that London has an endless list of attractions. But, after visiting the British Museum, Tower of London, the magnificent Big Ben, strolling through Hyde Park, visiting Portobello Road Market, Westminster Abbey, climbing the London Eye, getting lost in the halls of the National Gallery, or watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, maybe you feel like visiting some of the surrounding villages and make a road trip with your rental car. Don’t worry, the UK has countless charming villages in the surrounding area where you can escape to.

We have selected for you the most beautiful villages near London in 2024 so that you have a choice. Here we bring you the 10 charming villages where you can escape from the city, of course, with your rental car. So, get your backpack and camera ready, because we are sure you will fall deeply in love with each of them.

Hertford, Hertfordshire

About 31 miles away from London is located the small town of Hertford, a haven of peace perfect for a day trip from the big city.

Hertford has a rich history, reflected, for example, in its 10th-century castle. Built by King Edward the Elder, this icon has been the site of numerous historical landmarks. Hertford also has a unique environment: full of canals and small houseboats, a stroll along any of its riverside paths is a real delight.

It was precisely the fact of being surrounded by nature that in the past royalty took advantage of the enclave to enjoy life in the countryside. But, to learn more about the history of Hertford, come and visit the museum on the history of the town. You won’t regret it.

With its 25,000 inhabitants, the county town of Hertfordshire has a lively social life, especially in its many pubs and restaurants. Do not hesitate and have a pint in any of them before returning to London, only then you can say that you have visited Hertford!

Trip by car: 31 miles, about 1:25 hours drive via the A1 and A414.

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Castle Combe, Wiltshire

Located 100 miles west of London, and very close to the cities of Bristol and Bath, Castle Combe is considered by many the most beautiful village in England. We couldn’t agree more. It has been ranked number 2 of The Times’ top 30 villages in the UK.

It is famous for its beauty, calm, and buildings, including the Medieval Church, and you only need to set foot on its cobbled streets to fall under its charms.

Castle Combe is part of the county of Wiltshire and is usually included in any route through the famous British Cotswolds. It is inhabited by 350 people and immersing yourself in its narrow streets makes you feel that time has stopped just for you. Few places exist where peace rules all, and without a doubt, this is one of them.

The small town has served on more than one occasion as a backdrop for various films and series. Sometimes, outside some of the houses, you can find pieces of cake and cookies for visitors to enjoy the local pastries. A small piggy bank next to the trays leaves it up to the customer, and in his good faith, to deposit in it the money due. Even in this small detail, this beautiful village draws an idyllic scene.

To top off the experience of a visit to Castle Combe, a good idea is to have a drink or a beer in one of the two pubs in the village. You can also visit its 13th-century church, whose clock is said to be one of the oldest working clocks in the country. And if you also want to spend the night in this wonderful environment, the Manor House Hotel, a 5-star hotel opened in the fourteenth century, will be the perfect and unique option.

Trip by car: 110 miles, about 2:10 hours drive via the M4.

Lacock, Wiltshire

Very close to Castle Combe, just 9 miles away, we find Lacock. Among the beautiful hills of the county of Wiltshire, lies this dream village used as a setting for acclaimed films such as Harry Potter or Emma.

This is a beautiful village, its cobbled streets of Lacock and its old houses make it an ideal place to spend a few days and disconnect from the world. Much of its buildings, most of them built in the eighteenth century, although it also has a barn of the fourteenth century and a house of the fifteenth century, are protected by the National Trust, which ensures the conservation of places of historical and natural interest.

Lacock was founded in the eleventh century, although it was really in the thirteenth century when, with the construction of Lacock Abbey at the hands of the Countess of Salisbury, became more important.

Trip by car: 100 miles, about 2:20 hours drive via the M4

Shanklin Old Village, Shanklin

3 hours and a half of drive separate this beautiful town, located on the Isle of Wight, from London. On the route, it will be necessary to cross by ferry from Portsmouth or Southampton to reach our destination, but it will only be necessary to get out of the car to understand that it was worth it.

The spa town of Shanklin is full of enough attractions to decide to make a trip to it, but we are going to focus on its old part. In the charming neighborhood of Shanklin Old Village, the pastel-colored houses with vegetable roofs are the main protagonists. The surroundings could certainly serve as the setting for a children’s story.

Coquettish gift stores and tea rooms where you can stop to rest and eat typical products of the area are scattered throughout some of the most attractive buildings, so the best plan will be to have a drink in one of them.

Trip by car: 100 miles, 3:25 hours drive via the A3, and taking Fishbourne – Portsmouth ferry.

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Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

If there is something to highlight above all about this small town on the banks of the Avon River, it is that it was the birthplace of the most important English writer of all times: William Shakespeare. How could we not include it in our list of charming towns to escape to from London?

Walkthrough its streets and soak up the essence of its Tudor houses with more than 500 years old, enjoy its cottages and its lively pubs, and of course, you must visit the artist’s birthplace, this is a must.

And if you love literature and want to know all about Shakespeare’s life, this is the place for you. Other places related to the author that you can enjoy in Stratford-upon-Avon are, for example, the cottage where his wife, Anne Hathaway, lived before getting married, Mary Arden’s farm, where his mother lived during his childhood, or Hall’s Croft, the home of the writer’s first daughter.

At this point, you may be a little saturated with so much history and literature. The best thing to do then is to discover some of the other treasures the town has in store. For example, enjoy a boat ride on the Avon River. Or, if you prefer, get to know some of the most representative wooden houses of Tudor architecture located in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Trip by car: 100 miles, 3:25 hours drive via the A3.

Snowshill, Gloucestershire

In the middle of the English countryside, Snowshill is located in Gloucestershire. This tiny village located in a very rural environment has, basically, a beautiful feudal house known as Manor House, a British style red cabin, and a church.

Manor House is open to the public and by visiting it you can contemplate the beautiful collection of antique objects and treasures collected by Charles Wade throughout his life. He took ownership of the house in 1919 with the sole intention of turning it into his own museum. Manor House also has a beautiful garden where you can take a relaxing stroll.

Is there anything else to see in the small town of Snowshill? Well, yes! And it is precisely here that you will find one of the most beautiful lavender fields you can imagine. When June arrives, these are transformed into vast oceans of lilac and purple tones ideal for a thousand pictures.

Trip by car: 93 miles, about 2:20 hours drive via the M40 and A40.

Clovelly, Bideford

Clovelly is a small and wonderful fishing village in the region of Devon.

It is located in an area of great vegetation and has just half a thousand inhabitants. Originally it was a fishing village, although today its movement is more related to tourism.

In Clovelly time stops. Here there are no rush, nor cars, they are forbidden. You will have to leave your car in the parking lot at the entrance of the village. Its houses all face the sea, and its main street descends about 120 meters high in a short distance, which makes it impossible to circulate in any vehicle. On the street, there are small stores, cafes, and pubs.

Every detail and corner is cared for with care, which makes everyone who visits the place end up getting caught in its essence. Stroll through its streets until you reach the centenary port, where you will find the occasional colorful boat resting in its waters. Cheer up and have a traditional tea in one of its specialized stores and enjoy the decoration and the atmosphere. You will never want to leave.

Trip by car: 220 miles, about 4:10 hours drive via A303 and A361.

Bourton on the Water, Cheltenham

The “Venice of the Cotswolds”, is how this beautiful village located approximately 87 miles from London is popularly known. And no wonder, because the small river Windrush runs through it, giving Bourton on the Water a landscape that we all long to enjoy.

The limestone houses, some of them converted into charming businesses, flank the river between landscaped areas and postcard bridges that cross from one side to the other. Just imagining the scenery makes you understand why this is one of the most visited towns in the Cotswolds.

Take a relaxing stroll through its streets, stop in one of its beautiful stores to buy some souvenirs, enjoy a beer in any of its pubs, and, if you feel like it, visit the Cotswold Motoring Museum to get closer to the history of vehicles of the twentieth century. It will be the best plan to end your visit.

Trip by car: 87 miles, about 2:00 hours drive via M40 and A40.

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Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

And also in the Cotswolds, but this time to escape to one of the villages with more personality. Chipping Campden, in the English countryside, was home to one of the most important medieval wool markets in Europe and the largest in the UK. And the prosperity it enjoyed for so long is still felt even today.

Stroll through its downtown streets and take a look at its buildings. Although with different architectural styles, the houses, many of them built with the limestone so representative of the area, fit together perfectly. Such is their importance that in 1970 the main street of Chipping Campden was officially declared a conservation area. Nowadays they house different guesthouses, tea shops, restaurants, and hotels.

Before leaving the village, visit the church of St. James, the best preserved in the Cotswolds, and take a look at its imposing tower of 36 meters high. It will leave you speechless.

Trip by car: 96 miles, about 2:20 hours drive via M40.

Bibury, Gloucestershire

And finally, we go back into the English countryside to discover, this time, Bibury, a beautiful village full of small houses built in stone that you will never want to leave. Once you start discovering its wonderful corners you will want to move there forever.

Arlington Row is one of those nooks and crannies that turn the town into a charming place. This row of weavers’ cottages by the River Coln built-in stone back in the 14th century, when the textile industry was at its peak, is a must if you stroll through Bibury. Arlington Mill, on the other hand, was an old cloth mill and later became a corn mill. Today it has become a museum dedicated to an extensive collection of memorabilia of William Morris – architect, designer, textile master, poet, novelist, and British activist.

Strolling through the small streets that wind around the village and admiring the old houses and the surrounding nature is a must on a visit to Bibury.

Trip by car: 220 miles, about 4:10 hours drive via A303.

So, we hope you liked our proposal and don’t forget to hire your car in London with us, always at the best price.

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