Leicester is situated in the East Midlands and is well connected travel-wise. So much so, that it would be a missed opportunity not to get out there and explore.
With excellent train services reaching far and wide, Leicester is an ideal travel hub. And there are plenty of buses and coaches that travel further afield than the city centre. For instance, did you know at certain times you can go from Leicester to Liverpool by bus in 4 hours for only £11?
And if you’re feeling really extravagant, the nearest airport can be reached via a Kinchbus Skylink service which goes direct from the city centre to East Midlands Airport in under an hour. Not to mention, London Heathrow Airport is accessible in just 2 hours and 6 mins via train!
Day trips, weekend stays and getaways await. What are you waiting for?
Why students should consider a getaway
Students are often under a lot of pressure—whether that’s from impending deadlines, intense exam timetables or even just mental fatigue! Those late night study sessions and all-nighters might be an essential part of student life but they can wreak havoc on both your physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s important to take a break from time to time. Not simply to enjoy and make the most of Leicester and the surrounding areas (though who can blame you with so much to do in the city), but to give yourself a well-needed rest and refresh.
Being a student should be about exploration and going on adventures. You’re expanding your mind, so why not expand your horizons too?!
Great places in Leicester to spend a day
Leicester itself has lots of beautiful spots and landmarks to explore. Bradgate Park has 830 acres of wild countryside to explore, where wild deer roam. It is home to one of Leicestershire’s most famous landmarks, the Folly, also known as Prospect Tower. It was built by the 5th Earl of Stamford in 1784 and stands 690 feet above sea level. From the tower (which was designed to resemble an ale tankard) you can view Leicestershire and the surrounding counties. For history lovers, we recommend making a pilgrimage to the ruins of Bradgate House, which is where Lady Jane Grey once lived.
One mile North of the city centre lies Abbey Park, in easy reach of the city centre—just a 9 minute walk or 15 minute bus journey. Originally opened in 1882, what was once marsh land is now Leicester’s iconic park which is split into two parts by the River Soar. It’s a great place for a picnic or for catching various outdoor events throughout the year such as Beyond Festival. And, you’ll see plenty of four-legged friends around as it’s dog friendly too. You can also find the Abbey Park Bridge and the ruins of the 12th Century Leicester Abbey and Cavendish House, a 17th Century mansion. It’s easy to reach from the city centre too, just a 9 minute walk or 15 minute bus journey.
The best day trips near Leicester
It’s not all stunning parks and wild countryside, Leicester is ideally situated for those who want to explore other cities and picturesque towns. But with so many great cities and towns nearby, where should you go? For inspiration, check out our picks for where to go, what to see, how much it’ll cost to get there and by which transport.
Of course, all rail travel prices listed below can be greatly reduced by up to one third if you purchase a 16-25 Railcard, which is available to students and young people in the UK.
|Distance||82.7 miles / 133 km|
|Time||2 hours by bus, 1 hour 53 mins by train and 1 hour 20 mins by car|
|Cost||From £5 via National Express bus, from £15 by train or around £12 by car.|
|Things to do there||Visit iconic University of Cambridge colleges, go punting on the River Cam, view Cambridge from above from the viewing platform at Great St Mary’s Church.|
You can’t visit Cambridge without visiting at least one or two of the 31 different Colleges that make up the University of Cambridge. Explore the historic libraries and university buildings to immerse yourself in the unique landscape of Cambridge; a rich blend of mediaeval, classical, and modern architecture.
There are plenty of tours you can take but we recommend exploring on your own. Though just remember not all are accessible to the public. Some of the best spots to visit include King’s College Chapel at King’s College which is an example of Gothic English architecture and features the world’s largest fan vault. There’s also the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College or the Mathematical Bridge at Queen’s College.
Alternatively, why not wander along the River Cam or try punting? Punting is a quintessential Cambridge activity. It involves a long boat which is pushed along with a long pole, much like the boats in Venice! Another thing not to miss is a view from Cambridge from up on high. For just £3 you can climb the steps of Great St Mary’s Church for 360° views.
The cheapest way to get to Cambridge is by bus (just £5) and it only takes 2 hours. If you want to make the most of your time in this quaint university town then travelling via car will get you there in 1 hour 20 minutes.
|Distance||26.9 miles / 43.3 km|
|Time||50 mins by bus, 33 mins by train or 34 mins by car|
|Cost||From £4 by bus, from £15 by train or around £10 by car|
|Things to do there||Visit Nottingham Castle, go on a cave tour, visit The Robin Hood Experience, the National Justice Museum, try a Cave Escape escape room, enjoy live music.|
Just 33 minutes by train, there’s little excuse not to visit Nottingham. Famous for its links to the legendary story of Robin Hood, there’s so much to see and do here. The Robin Hood Experience on Friar Lane is a small museum dedicated to the legend of Robin Hood, it provides visitors with an audio-visual interactive journey. It’s aimed at kids but we think it’s fun for the young at heart too.
History buffs should definitely explore the National Justice Museum or Nottingham Castle. At the castle you can learn about the it’s Norman roots and delve into Nottingham’s rich history. You can also wander through a set of man-made caves dating back to 1250 AD on a guided tour.
Speaking of caves, Cave Escape is an escape room unlike any other. It’s within an underground sandstone cave system that was once used as a WWII air raid shelter. This is a unique activity if you’re visiting Nottingham as a group and want something fun to do.
Music lovers will enjoy going to gigs and concerts in Nottingham too. It’s home to plenty of music venues such as Rescue Rooms, Bodega, Rough Trade and the iconic Rock City which has seen the likes of David Bowie and Oasis perform.
Whatever you do in Nottingham, you’re sure to have a blast. The city, much like Leicester, definitely caters for its student population so you won’t be short on things to do!
|Distance||16.9 miles / 27.2 km|
|Time||41 mins by bus, 14 mins by train or 24 mins by car|
|Cost||From £4 by bus, from £10 by train or around £10 by car|
|Things to do there||Visit Rockingham Castle to watch reenactors joust, explore Harborough Indoor Market or enjoy Twycross Zoo.|
Market Harbourough is a quaint, charming and picturesque market town only a short distance away from Leicester. Just £4 by bus or £10 by train, it’s a perfect cost-effective day trip for students looking for a change of pace from city life.
A firm favourite for visitors is Rockingham Castle. Overlooking five counties, due to being situated on a hill, Rockingham Castle was ordered to be built by William the Conqueror. The site where the castle stands is full of history spanning back to the Iron Age, the Roman period, and also used by the Saxons, Normans and Tudors.
The Castle was a royal residence and hunting lodge for 450 years but is now open to visitors. Don’t miss the annual The Knights of Nottingham Jousting event that takes place every spring.
Animal lovers will also enjoy Twycross Zoo which has won awards for its stellar conservation work. Walk alongside with lemurs in their walk-through enclosure, experience endangered species up close and explore 80 acres home to over 500 animals.
For those that want to do a spot of shopping, head to Harborough Indoor Market. It’s home to both the town’s general market (open Tues-Sat) and a special Sunday market for antiques and collectibles. Retro clothing lovers who love a bargain will love the Vintage, Retro and Antique market which takes place on Wednesdays.
Weekend trips to take from the East Midlands
Whether you’re looking for a chilled weekend or one spent exploring a bustling city, it’s easy to take a weekend trip from Leicester.
The Cotswolds – Cirencester
|Distance||89.9 miles / 144.6 km|
|Cost||From £83 by train or approx. £24 by car|
|Time||2 hours 15 minutes by train or around 1 hour 40 mins by car|
|Things to do there||Explore Cirencester, stay in a luxury spa hotel or traditional cottage and visit Kelmscott Manor.|
An official ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and often cited as one of the most stunning parts of England, the Cotswolds is the ideal weekend getaway to help you relax and unwind. And, it’s practically on Leicester’s doorstep—well, about 2 hours away! With the nearest of the Cotswold regions to Leicester being Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
Stay in a traditional cottage or treat yourself to a spa weekend at one of the many luxury spa hotels in the region, which covers the boundaries of several English counties. A great option for students and located in the heart of Cirencester is the Kings Head Hotel, with rooms from £99 and a range of spa treatment packages to choose from.
Another great place to visit to be surrounded by natural beauty is Kelmscott Manor. Complete with beautiful gardens, a meadow and even a stream, Kelmscott Manor is a must for art and nature lovers. British textile designer William Morris spent a lot of time here with friends and family and drew a lot of inspiration for his most recognisable designs and writings. Visitors can also enjoy the Manor’s tearoom in an old stable barn setting, too. Food is created using freshly picked herbs and various fruits from the Manor’s garden.
Wherever you explore in the Cotswolds, you’ll experience a slower pace of life full of fresh country air and picturesque British villages. You’ll return feeling refreshed and revitalised.
|Distance||89 miles / 143 km|
|Time||1 hour 7 mins by train, 2 hours by bus or approx. 2 hours 30 mins by car|
|Cost||From £6 by bus, from £16.50 by train or around £25 by car|
|Things to do there||Take a Thames river boat trip, grab some food at Borough Market, explore Soho and Chinatown, visit the Tower of London, explore galleries, museums and enjoy views from the London Eye.|
Simply hop on an East Midlands Railway train from Leicester and within 2 and a half hours you’ll find yourself in England’s capital, London.
You can squeeze a lot into a weekend in London, and to paraphrase a quote from English writer, Samuel Johnson, ‘if you’re bored of London, you’re bored of life’!
And it’s true. London is so full of world-class theatres, fascinating museums, iconic music venues and stunning parks that it can take years to tick them all off your bucket list. Highlights include a boat tour on the River Thames, visiting the Houses of Parliament, meeting the ravens at the Tower of London or viewing the London skyscape up high on the London Eye.
Perhaps a lesser known place to explore is God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, East London. It’s a must-see for art lovers who want to see a different side of London art to the Tate or National Gallery. This salvage yard turned gallery space showcases artist Chris Bracey’s work full of neon signage. It even includes pieces that were used in films like Captain America.
Food lovers will love Borough Market which houses food stalls showcasing cuisines from all over the world and of course, Chinatown in Soho is the place for authentic Asian cuisine. It’s also a fun, vibrant area to explore.
How about something further away? Getaways from Leicester
Of course, with East Midlands Airport only 38 minutes away by car, you could always hop on a plane to another country? This is a fantastic option for International students who want to maximise their proximity to other countries.
You can travel directly to Knock Airport in Ireland from East Midlands Airport in just 1 hour and 10 mins. Knock is in County Mayo making it a great base from which to explore the stunning West Coast of the Emerald Isles. Galway, Sligo and Donegal await with their beautiful coastlines perfect for watersports and surfing, as well as picturesque mountains and landmarks brimming with Celtic intrigue and history. Trains can be a little slow on the West Coast so we suggest hiring a car. And if you want to check out Ireland’s capital, Dublin it’s only a 2 hour drive. Why not check out the iconic Guinness Museum or the Book of Kells at Trinity College?
For students looking to travel further afield, East Midlands Airport flies to lots of European cities. City breaks, authentic cuisines and beaches are only a few hours away. Why not arrange a trip with some friends, or travel solo if you prefer?
Here are just a handful of the destinations available from East Midlands Airport, less than an hour away:
- Spain (flight time: approx. 2 hours and 15 mins)
- Portugal (flight time: 2 hours and 30 mins)
- Italy (flight time: 2 hours and 40 mins)
- Poland (flight time: approx. 2 hours and 30 mins)
- Croatia (flight time: approx. 2 hour and 20 mins)
- Greece (flight time: approx. 3 hours and 40 mins)
Imagine packing your suitcase and leaving Leicester early one morning. Then just 4 hours later, relaxing on the beach in Split, Croatia or exploring the streets of Rome. Suddenly, that trip to celebrate graduation or the end of term with your friends is within reach and starting to look more enticing by the minute!
Get out there and explore
Study Inn loves supporting students and loves to see them make the most of their student experience. We want your student life to be as fun and interesting as possible. And of course, travel and exploration is a big part of that.
Why not supercharge your student experience and opt to stay at Study Inn Reynard House in Leicester. Its location is the perfect base from which to plan your travels. Plus, you’ll feel right at home as our luxury all-inclusive accommodation is fully kitted out with everything you need.
And for more tips and advice, why not check out our picks for ‘Fun things to do before graduating in Leicester’ or explore with your stomach with our ‘Best places to eat as a student in Leicester’.