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10 Best Cities for Day Trips

SmarterTravel

The beauty of day tours is that they give you two or more destinations in one. If you’re trying to accomplish more on your next trip, check out these 10 cities around the world. They stand out for their proximity to nearby attractions and for the increased value they can add to your itinerary.

Best Day Trips from London, England

bath-street-bath-england

While there’s plenty to see in sprawling London itself, there are also many easily accessible nearby options that allow you to get out of the city and explore more of the country’s heritage.

  • Brighton: This seaside town is especially popular in summer. It’s great for thrift shopping, casual dining, and the beach.
  • Oxford: Oxford is best known as home to the famous university. From here you can also explore Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill’s birthplace) and the Cotswold region.
  • Cambridge: Another famous university town, Cambridge is also known for its picturesque river.
  • Bath: The UNESCO-designated city of Bath is home to ancient Roman spas. It’s also possible to book a tour that combines Bath with nearby Stonehenge.
  • Harry Potter Studio Tour: Take a self-guided or an interactive tour of the sets, costumes, and props from the franchise.

Best Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts

provincetown cape cod house on dock

Since most of Boston can be seen in a day or two, it’s one of the best cities for day tours. Capitalize on your visit to the Commonwealth State with any of these day tours.

  • Salem: This pretty city has a sinister past as the home of the famous Witch Trails in the late 1600s.
  • Provincetown: Accessible via ferry from Boston, this gay-friendly beach town is home to beaches and amazing seafood restaurants.
  • Coastal Maine: Lighthouses, lobster, and a stop in Kennebunkport make for a quintessential day out in New England.
  • Newport Mansions: Explore the summer homes of the Gilded Age rich and famous in Rhode Island’s coastal town.
  • Plimoth Plantation: Visit the historic site of the Pilgrims, see the replica of the Mayflower ship, and scout Plymouth Rock, all on the south shore of Massachusetts.

Best Day Trips from Paris, France

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Just outside Paris, you’ll find gorgeous chateaux, palaces, and gardens worth a day trip.

  • Versailles: You can’t go to Paris without tacking on a day tour to this famed palace. Make sure you book a skip-the-line tour though.
  • Champagne: Visit wineries and attend tastings in this famous sparkling wine region.
  • Chantilly: This idyllic town is best known for its Renaissance-era chateau.
  • Fontainebleau: With its town, forest, and historic chateau, Fontainebleau offers plenty of reasons to visit. The Royal Chateau de Fontainebleau is a medieval castle that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Giverny: Monet’s home and gardens are open to visitors. It’s a quick trip but it can get crowded; so consider booking a day tour that skips the line.

Best Day Trips from Cape Town, South Africa 

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Make the most of your trip to the southernmost part of the African continent and see the coastline and wildlife outside the city.

  • The Winelands: Go on a day tour and taste the wines of South Africa’s wine region in the towns of Paarl, Franschoek, and Stellenbosch.
  • Cape West Coast: Go wine and olive tasting, visit West Coast National Park, see local villages, and more all in a day tour to this region.
  • Aquila Private Game Reserve: This game reserve is the closest area to Cape Town where you have a chance to see the “Big Five” game animals.
  • Hermanus: Hermanus is the perfect jumping-off point for whale watching near Cape Town.
  • Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point: Take a full day to see the coastline and highlights like Simon’s Town (home to the African Penguins).

Best Day Trips from Dublin, Ireland

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You can see many of Ireland’s most famous attractions on a day trip from Dublin thanks to the country’s small size; here are some of the best offerings.

  • Cliffs of Moher: A must-do if you’re going to Ireland. While it’s a long trip from Dublin, you can minimize the driving by going on a day tour.
  • Giant’s Causeway – Game of Thrones: Hit Giant’s Causeway and more famous natural spots in Northern Ireland—many that fans will recognize from the show Game of Thrones.
  • Belfast: See where the RMS Titanic was built on a day trip to Northern Ireland’s capital.
  • Wicklow Mountains National Park: The mountains, forests, and lakes of this national park make for a gorgeous backdrop for a day of leisurely hiking.
  • Carlingford: Hike the nearby Cooley Mountains and visit this small Irish village.

Best Day Trips from Sydney, Australia

canyon view in australia blue mountains near sydney 

You’ll encounter incredible natural parks and beaches just outside of well-known Sydney.

  • Hunter Valley: This is New South Wales’ wine region, and is a popular day tour.
  • Blue Mountains: See the Three Sisters, go on an exhilarating tram ride, and learn about the Aboriginal culture on this day tour from Sydney.
  • Royal National Park Tour: Spend a full day hiking and exploring this national park just outside Sydney.
  • Manly: Just a ferry ride away are gorgeous beaches, fun shops, cafes, bars, hiking, and surfing.
  • Port Stephens: Head up the East Coast for an exciting day of dolphin and whale watching. You can also go on a 4WD tour or sandboarding on the dunes at Stockton Beach.

Best Day Trips from San Francisco, California

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Northern California is home to a jaw-dropping coastline, world-famous wineries, and national parks; luckily San Francisco is an ideal starting point for these attractions. 

  • Napa and Sonoma Wine Country: Discover the different vibes of these two neighboring wine regions on a full-day tour of visiting wineries and tasting rooms.
  • Muir Woods: This nearby coastal redwood forest is a must if you’re staying in San Francisco.
  • Monterey, Carmel, and 17-Mile Drive: Cruise down Highway 1 for the day, with stops in seaside towns and at landmarks.
  • Yosemite Tour: This is a long day trip, but worth it if you’re looking to cross this national park off your bucket list. Day tours pick up from many San Francisco hotels.
  • Berkeley Gourmet Food Tour: Explore neighboring Berkeley through its famous food scene.

Best Day Trips from Reykjavik, Iceland

geysir-geyser-in-iceland 

There are endless day trips you can take from Reykjavik, and many travelers use it as a home base for exploring elsewhere in Iceland.

  • Golden Circle: See the majority of Iceland in a day with stops at waterfalls, the Geysir, and hot springs. Depending on time, you can also add on stops to the Blue Lagoon or even snorkeling between tectonic plates.
  • Northern Lights: Capitalize on the chance to see the Northern Lights. An easy way to do it is via a four- or five-hour night tour from Reykjavik.
  • South Coast: Stops on this day tour include the black sand beach (Reynisfjara), Skogafoss Waterfall, Solaheimasandur Glacier, and more.
  • Langjokull Ice Cave: This day trip includes stops at an ice cave, hot springs, and lava falls.

Best Day Trips from Lisbon, Portugal

porto day trip from lisbon view of port city 

Lisbon has plenty of scenic and historical attractions to offer travelers in its surrounding area.

  • Sintra: This municipality is home to the famous Pena National Palace, villages, and parks.
  • Porto: Explore the city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and taste the namesake drink.
  • Fatima, Nazare, and Obidos: Head out to the countryside and admire medieval villages, a monastery, and a fishing town.
  • Arrabida and Sesimbra: Drive over Europe’s longest bridge, tour a castle, see the country’s coastline, and explore the wine region. 

Best Day Trips from Tokyo, Japan

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With Japanese bullet trains to speed you to your day trip, you can see even more of Tokyo’s surrounding area in a day than ever before. 

  • Fuji: Many day tours to the famous mountain also include stops at Lake Ashi, the Mt. Komagatake Ropeway, Hakone National Park, an onsen (spa), or Gotemba Premium Outlets.
  • Kawagoe: Take a walking tour of this Edo-period castle town with its preserved merchant homes and traditional warehouses.
  • Katori: Visit this small town with a famous shrine, and cruise down its canal. (Insider Tip: It’s also known for its sweet potato treats.)
  • Nagano: If you want to see snow monkeys bathing in a hot spring, this is the Tokyo day trip for you. Note that this is offered seasonally in winter.
  • Nikko National Park: The park is home to a UNESCO-designated shrine, a waterfall, and a lake.
  • Kamakura and Tokyo Bay: This day tour from Tokyo includes a visit to two temples, a bamboo grove, and the Great Buddha.

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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