5 beautiful historic villages outside of London

We know what you’re thinking: London is a mega-global city. What villages are we supposed to see in the Great British Capital’s metropolis?

You might be surprised to learn that some of England’s most picturesque villages are on London’s doorstep. And they really are the kind of places that belong on postcards.

So, if you’re ready to explore some of the UK’s most beautiful and historic villages without having to venture too far from the City, plan a day trip to the following gems.

Shere, Surrey

Jump on the train from Waterloo to Dorking, and you can reach the quaint country village of Shere in about an hour. And when you get there, you’ll spend hours looking at the traditional pubs, tea rooms, cute cottages and a 12th-century church.

If the place looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it on the big screen. Bridget Jones, The Holiday and Four Weddings and a Funeral well all filmed here.

Bampton, Oxfordshire

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, you’ll almost certainly have seen Bampton on the screen. This charming village was the main filming location for Downtown Abbey. Its most notable buildings include churches, such as the Saint Mary the Virgin, that date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. But most of its stunning abodes were built during the 18th and 19th centuries.

You might have to take a train from London for an hour to reach Bampton, but we can say with confidence it’s one of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Great Missenden, Bucks

Take a train from Marylebone to Great Missenden, and you can reach Great Missenden in about 45 minutes. Depending on the traffic, driving can be even faster. Roald Dahl once called this beautiful village home, and its high street and cobbled streets have remained largely unaltered for over a century.

If you’re ever travelling towards the West Midlands from London, plan at least a day or two in Great Missenden – the set for many scenes featured on Midsomer Murders.

Cookham, Berkshire

45 minutes still a tad too far for you to travel? Head to Cookham in Berkshire, just 30 minutes from Central London by car. This quaint village inspired artists such as Sir Stanley Spencer, who enjoyed painting village features such as the Church of the Holy Trinity and the cherry orchards at Cookham Dean (once the home of renowned author Kenneth Grahame).

While you’re here, stroll the three-mile trek around the village to catch a glimpse of all the period homes. Don’t miss the opportunity to treat your taste buds at the world-famous restaurant The Fat Duck.

Ashwell, Hertfordshire

Just 45 miles from the megacity of London lies Ashwell, which humans have called home for at least 4,000 years. Admittedly, you won’t see much evidence of that as you explore its picturesque streets. But you will see distinctive Forester Cottages that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Perfect for a day out, there are plenty of serene green spaces to enjoy a picnic. If you want to leave the car at home, you can reach Ashwell by taking a direct train from King’s Cross.

These villages would be perfect to visit during the holiday season, and to extend your experience of the UK, you can look at our selection of magical Christmas and Boxing Day Tours.