visitbytrain.info National Rail Traveline

      a station-by-station guide for UK tourist attractions

Frequently Asked Questions

London Attractions Website

Journey planning

Which journey planner should I use?

For train journeys use National Rail.

For bus (and train) journeys use Traveline or the bus operator linked from this website.

For journeys within Greater London use the Transport for London website which covers all modes of transport, but you can select particular mode(s) if you wish.

Buttons at the top of pages on this website link to the journey planners.

Do I need to buy train tickets in advance?

No, you can buy train tickets for all journeys on the day of travel and this is the best option for shorter journeys. If travelling longer distances and sure of your plans you may be able to buy cheaper Advance tickets, these usually go on sale up to 12 weeks before the day of travel. They may offer good discounts but restrict you to travelling on a specified train for all or part of your journey. I recommend checking the price of an Off-peak Return (espeacilaay for day trips) because this may be cheaper than two Advance Singles and it is much more flexible, allowing travel by any Off-peak train.

If you decide to buy your ticket in advance I recommend going to one of the train operators, such as Virgin Trains, because they do not charge booking fees. Virgin Trains (and other operators) sell tickets for all journeys, not just their own routes. Buying your tickets from Virgin Trains supports this website.

My train journey requires crossing London, do I need to buy a ticket for the Underground?

No, the cross-London Underground journey is included in train tickets where necessary and this is shown by a '+' in the route section of the ticket. Further information can be found on the National Rail website.

Save money with a Railcard

If you are eligible for a Railcard they give good discounts on many rail tickets. There are the Railcards currently available:

Where can I find a map of the railway network?

Various maps can be downloaded from the National Rail website, look for the 'Rail maps' link at the bottom of the page.

I don't know which London station has trains to my destination, what should I put in the journey planner?

Simply enter 'London' in the National Rail journey planner and it will pick the appropriate station(s). If you specify a particular station the journey planner will include any Underground journey necessary to reach the correct station. You can do this for other places with more than one station, such as Canterbury.

Do I need to reserve seats?

It is up to you, it is not essential on UK domestic trains. On local services and most routes with frequent services within south-east England seat reservations are not available anyway. You may wish to reserve seats when travelling a long distance at busy times but bear in mind that finding reserved seats can be inconvenient when joining a long train at an intermediate station, especially if you have heavy luggage or young children with you. Look for notices on the platform or ask a member of staff where you should wait, then make sure you join the train quickly and find your seats once on board - the train will not wait while you search! On many trains you will pass vacant seats while walking down the train so you may feel a reservation is unnecessary. Many advance tickets include seat reservations automatically as a way of restricting you to a particular train.

London FAQ

Where can I find maps of Underground and bus routes in London?

Maps can be downloaded from the Transport for London website. A good start is the Visitors Guide entitled 'Welcome to London' this includes a rail map of central London (zones 1 and 2), a simplified bus map showing key routes in the central area and other helpful information for visitors.

Can we use Oyster cards for the '2FOR1 offer' on attractions?

No, Oyster cards cannot be used for this promotion run by the National Rail train operating companies. You must have paper Travelcards or tickets issued by a National Rail ticket office, if you are staying in central London you can buy these at the major National Rail stations but make sure you go to the National Rail ticket office (above ground), NOT the Underground station downstairs!

You can pick up leaflets for the 2FOR1 offer at National Rail stations or visit the website www.daysoutguide.co.uk to see the attractions it covers.

What's the difference between the Underground and the Tube?

In general use they both mean the same thing. Underground is the official name but many Londoners refer to the system as the Tube and Transport for London uses this on their website. Strictly speaking the tube lines are the deeper Underground lines which use smaller trains: the Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines but this distinction is usually ignored and considered rather pedantic by many Londoners.

How do you pronounce Gloucester Road?

There are several other stations in London which can be difficult for overseas visitors so I've listed them below:

It is also important to use the full station and street names, they are rarely shortened in the UK. For example say 'Oxford Circus' and 'Oxford Street', not just 'Oxford' (unless you really mean the city of Oxford, about 60 miles from London).

Coming from Heathrow on the Piccadilly line, where should I change to the District line?

It is easiest to change to the District line at Hammersmith where you simply walk across the platform. When returning to Heathrow Airport board a Westbound District line train to Ealing Broadway or Richmond (NOT Wimbledon), then cross the platform at Hammersmith for the Piccadilly line to Heathrow Airport (check the destination to ensure it goes to your terminal).

How easy is it to use the Underground?

Many visitors worry about using the Underground but I think it is fair to say that most find it much easier than they expected. The system is clearly signposted with line names and colours shown on signs. The line names are used in speech: say 'the Central line', not 'the red line' (although Londoners will know what you mean).

The Underground can be very busy so here are a few other points to help you:

What is the Overground?

The Overground is a collection of National Rail routes operated by Transport for London, they are shown in orange on the Underground map. Some years ago the term 'overground' was unofficially used to refer to all National Rail routes and this occasionally causes confusion amongst visitors unfamiliar with the new Overground network.

Attractions FAQ

What's the best way to Chartwell from central London?

I have a special page showing the best routes from London to Chartwell.

I've seen Sissinghurst, can you recommend other gardens to visit?

Two of my favourites are Nymans (bus from Crawley) and Wakehurst Place (bus from Three Bridges or Haywards Heath).

Are there large country houses to visit near London?

Osterley Park is ¾ mile from Osterley on the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. Ham House is 1¾ mile by Thames Path (or bus) from Richmond (trains from Waterloo, District line and Overground).

Houses outside London include Hatfield House ½ mile from Hatfield, Hever Castle, 1 mile from Hever station, Petworth House by bus from Pulborough and Basildon Park 2 miles from Pangbourne.

My children love wildlife, are there any nature reserves in London?

The Wetland Centre is a short bus journey from Hammersmith. Camley Street Natural Park near Kings Cross and Greenwich Peninsular Ecology Park near North Greenwich are smaller reserves. You can see wildlife in the London parks too, ducks and squirrels are especially tame in St James's Park. Just outside London, Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve is ¾ mile from Purfleet station, it is a wilder reserve and binoculars are needed to get the most from your visit.

Many castles are in ruins or converted to houses, can you recommend one that still looks like a castle?

Dover Castle is probably the best to visit, it is 1¼ miles uphill from Dover Priory station (you can catch a bus to avoid the uphill part of the walk). There is a great deal to see on the site as well as the impressive castle itself.

Where can I see bluebells near London?

Bluebells can be seen from mid-April to early May in woodland at the southern end of Kew Gardens and in Osterley Park. They can also be seen in woodland in many parts of south-east England so watch out for them while on a train passing through countryside.

Which cathedral cities are suitable for a day trip from London?

Here are some historic cathedral cities with typical journey times from London:

St Albans - ½ hr Cambridge - ¾ hr Rochester - ¾ hr Canterbury - 1 hr Oxford - 1 hr Winchester - 1 hr Ely - 1¼ hr Chichester - 1½ hr Norwich - 2 hr

Where can I see the White Cliffs of Dover?

The best view is from the sea, for example on a ferry between Dover and France! From land there are views from parts of the Battlements Walk at Dover Castle and from the coastal path between the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre and the South Foreland Lighthouse near St Margaret's Bay.

You may also like the Seven Sisters which are similar chalk cliffs between Eastbourne and Seaford. These can be seen from the Vanguard Way path between Seaford and the Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor Centre, see Berwick for a map. Buses operate from all three stations.

Is there a station near Highclere Castle?

The nearest station is Newbury with trains from London Paddington. If your interest is due to Downton Abbey you may also like to see Basildon Park where a Christmas special was filmed, it is 2 miles from Pangbourne station.

Are any of your stations in the Cotswolds?

Yes! The Cotswolds are spread over several counties so all the stations and attractions in and around the Cotswolds are shown on this special page: Cotswolds.

Ordnance Survey Maps
Ordnance Survey Maps
Ordnance Survey Maps

Website FAQ

How can I get my attraction added to this website?

If your attraction is near a station within the counties I have already covered please tell me about it and I will consider adding it. There is no charge to add an attraction but the decision to include it is mine.

Why don't you show the time needed to walk to an attraction?

I feel it is better to show the distance to the attraction because people walk at different rates. I suggest you allow about 5 minutes to walk each ¼ mile (20 minutes per mile).