Day trips taking in steam train rides are increasingly popular in the UK and the South East of England boasts an enviable mix of experiences suitable for enthusiasts and families.
Discover the history behind steam locomotives told by passionate and knowledgeable volunteers while experiencing some of the most hidden and beautiful parts of our great outdoors.
Look out for seasonal events taking place this weekend on most steam railways that are sure to make for a fun day out and at Christmas time the popular Santa Specials fill up fast so book early to avoid disappointment.
Our guide takes you through the best Steam Railways in South East England or simply select the map view button below to find a steam train ride near you.
South East England's best steam train trips
Bluebell Railway, East Sussex
The volunteer-run Bluebell Line was the UK's first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation for posterity of a country branch line, its steam locomotives, coaches and goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices.
Buckinghamshire Railway, Aylesbury
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is a 25-acre working steam museum with one of the UK’s largest collections of locomotives, rolling stock and railway memorabilia.
They are open every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from April-October, and Wednesdays during the school holidays. Steaming Days are great fun for all the family, when you can take a ride on a full-size steam train, and also, for a small fee, you can go for a ride on our miniature ride-on railway.
Didcot Railway Centre, Oxfordshire
The Great Western Railway was incorporated in 1835 to build the railway from Bristol to London, designed and engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Members of the Great Western Society have created a living museum at Didcot, based around the original engine shed and depot to which has been added a typical branchline and country station, signalling demonstrations and a recreation of Brunel's original broad gauge trackwork, complete with a replica of the Fire Fly locomotive built in 1840.
The picturesque line weaves between Tenterden and Bodiam for more than 10 miles. England's finest rural light railway enables visitors to experience travel and service from a bygone age aboard beautifully restored coaches and locomotives dating from Victorian times. The earliest plans for a railway for Tenterden were made in the 1850s.
Mid-Hants Railway 'Watercress Line', Hampshire
Experience the golden age of steam! Whether you are taking a trip down memory lane or making new ones, sit back, relax and travel ten miles through the heart of quintessential English countryside by steam train. Their fares give you all day unlimited travel, so you can explore each of their four period stations (Alresford, Ropley, Medstead & Four Marks and Alton), get behind the scenes at one of the engineering workshops and discover the nearby beautiful towns all on one ticket. It is the perfect day out for the family!
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, New Forest
The popular narrow gauge steam railway takes visitors on a magical journey around the northeast corner of the Gardens and through the Summer Lane Garden planted with bulbs, herbaceous perennials and grasses. The journey lasts 20 minutes & features include a bridge, tunnel, viaduct & 'Exbury North' halt. The railway runs journeys every day the Gardens are open, with a first journey time of 11am. Watch out for Exbury's events programme, including guided walks with the Head Gardener, exhibitions and popular Ghost Train.