Welcome to Britain! A land that’s crammed full of beautiful towns, historic cities and glorious rolling countryside. We know that you’re here to study, so that’s got to take priority, but the best route to becoming a well-rounded graduate is to absorb as much as possible of what’s going on around you.
To do that, take a couple of days each month – or more if your university schedule allows – to go and explore the sights and get a feel for what put this small island, your new home, on the world map.
Here are a few ideas:
Visit London’s historical sights
There are enough interesting places in the capital – so many, in fact, that Londoners even struggle to visit them all in their lifetime.
Perhaps you could get on the Thames Clipper River Bus service from London Bridge and travel down the river to Greenwich, where you can explore London’s maritime history and then walk up to the Royal Observatory for great views over Canary Wharf and beyond.
The Tower of London on the North bank of the river in the City of London has played a prominent role in English history, and is now a World Heritage Site. A few miles upstream you can visit Hampton Court Palace in Richmond upon Thames, the home of Henry VIII, which is perfect for a day out wandering around the expansive Tudor and baroque palace, not to mention the perfectly-manicured gardens.
There are tons of museums where you can spend the day, such as the National Gallery, the British Museum, the National History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Museum – take your pick or do them all; the best thing is that they’re all free so you don’t have to break the bank.
Visit Oxford or Cambridge
It’s easy, if you’re London-based, to become consumed with life in the big city and to ignore what goes on outside it. There are, however, plenty of other world-famous towns close by, which are firm favourites with tourists. Oxford and Cambridge, the most famous university towns in England – perhaps the world – are just a short train ride away from Central London.
Oxford sits beyond the stunning Chilterns AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ is known for its stunning architecture, including the Bodleian Library and Christ Church college (where Harry Potter was filmed!). The city reflects the best elements of historic and contemporary life, and provided inspiration for Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. So if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.
Both towns are North of London, although Cambridge is located further to the east than its illustrious rival (both towns compete in the famous boat race on the Thames each year). Cambridge, on the River Cam, makes use of the slowly-flowing waters that run through the town with leisurely punt tours and self-hire punts, which let you see the stunning ‘backs’ to the famous university buildings.
Make sure you visit King’s College Chapel, the Wren Library and the Bridge of Sighs – either plan a trip yourself or go on a guided tour, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.
Head down to the sea
Finally, London’s not that far from the sea. If you want to hear the waves lap up against the shore, the south coast is your best bet. Make time to visit the famous holiday towns of Brighton, Eastbourne and Bournemouth – traditional seaside resorts with classic English promenades, popular beaches and other attractions. Just take a look online to see which offers what.
If you’ve got your sea legs you might want to hop over the Solent to the Isle of Wight, which is the largest island in the country. Famous for the Isle of Wight Festival and being a quiet alternative to the mainland, there’s still so much to do. However, if you do just one thing, make sure you visit the Needles, a natural landmark at the island’s west coast where jagged white rocks stand proudly over the water.
Get planning now
It’s never too late to plan a day trip; just find out the best ways to get to the places we’ve mentioned, which is either the Tube if you’re in Central London or the railways and bus services if you’re travelling outside of the city.
Then, once you’ve booked, all you need to do is pack your camera, a guide book and away you go – Found this helpful? Check out more of our blogs for other guides that’ll make your stay in London much more enjoyable.