With the August bank holiday weekend coming up, there’s a wide range of options for long weekend breaks by train in and out of the UK.
Away in the UK
- The Lake District
With prominent stations in Penrith and Oxenholme, the Lake District is easily accessible from all over the UK by train. Both stations are around 2 hours from London. Further connections are available to stations such as Kendal and Windermere making a large swathe of The Lakes accessible by rail. If you like the outdoors then there’s an endless list of amazing things to do from wild swimming, long hikes, mountain biking or climbing Scafell Pike - England’s highest mountain. It takes time to get to know this area, with so much to offer it’ll be up to you to find your favourite spot.
The region really does offer something for everyone. Windermere is the biggest lake in the area, which has 16 main bodies of water, and popular with tourists, it’s busy and bustling and contrasts greatly to quieter spots such as Borrowdale that overlooks Derwentwater. There are hotels, cottages, and guest houses to suit every need throughout the region making it one of the top places in the country for a long weekend away.
Scotland’s stunning capital city makes for the perfect long weekend. From the moment your train pulls into the central Waverley station, you’re right in the heart of the city. The journey from London takes under 5 hours. In fact, you’ll be able to get a good look at Edinburgh castle from tracks. Once you’ve left the train, you won’t be short of things to do! Stroll around the city’s Meadows park, explore the Royal Mile and end up at the historic fortress that is Edinburgh Castle (make sure to look out for the many alleys or ‘Closes’ that are linked to the mile).
For breathtaking views of the city from above, you have a range of fabulous options. Take a hike up the city’s favourite dormant volcano, Arthur’s Seat, climb the Scott Monument on Princes Street or head to the famous Calton Hill, all three sites guarantee views to be remembered. Home to some of Scotland’s best food, you won’t go hungry in Edinburgh. If you travel to Edinburgh for the August bank holiday, you’ll be treated to the final days of the Fringe Festival - the world’s biggest arts festival - that, this year, ends on 27 August 2018.
Wherever you are in the world, the chances are you’ll have heard of Manchester - the city has a rich history and is home to a range of international venues, two of the world’s finest football teams - City and United - and music bands like Oasis and Take That. However, have you visited it? Tourists are slowly beginning to realise that hip and trendy Manchester is a great place to visit for a city break by train only being 2 hours from London by rail. With its central location within the UK, it’s fairly easy to reach whatever your starting point may be.
Aside from the things that give Manchester its place on the world’s stage, the city has a lot to offer. The dockland area has been imaginatively redeveloped. Today it is called Salford Quays – or simply The Quays. That’s where you’ll find the Lowry Arts Centre. Head back into town for Manchester Art Gallery, much talk of football and some of the most seductive shopping around. Modern trams make it easy to get around the city. There is also an excellent network of suburban trains serving Greater Manchester and nearby areas of Lancashire and Cheshire. Head to Manchester Piccadilly station for fast regional trains to Leeds, Sheffield, and Liverpool – all less than an hour away. The fastest trains speed to Manchester from London in just two hours.
A tip from the travel geeks
If you’re considering to go away over the August bank holiday in the UK, note that our research* shows that on average, families spend £18 more for a return train journey, waiting to see what the weather will be like. This means 63% of families pay around 27% more by booking train tickets on the day compared to a week before, in anticipation of what the weather may bring, despite glorious summer.
As our co-founder, Kate Andrews says: “In the UK train tickets can be always be booked 84 days (12 weeks) before the day of travel – early birds can find some really amazing deals on train travel here in the UK and across Europe.”
For more ideas on trips to take in the UK, check out our post about day trips from London.
Away in Europe
High-speed rail means it is possible to enjoy long weekend breaks outside of the UK without flying.
Cologne is a vibrant city that you can easily reach from London. The city offers a wonderful taste of Germany and the ease of which you can get here from the UK by rail makes it a prime choice for bank holiday travel. The train from London to Cologne takes little more than four hours. Visitors will find a liberal, cosmopolitan city with a range of world-class museums. As well as culture, you’ll be sure to find plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs and remember to try the local beer, Kölsch. With easy and fast connections to Düsseldorf, you’ll be able to explore more fine places near the Rhine.
- La Rochelle
As the nearest city to Paris on France’s west coast, La Rochelle is ever popular with Parisiennes looking for a short break by the sea. Thanks to fast rail connections, it’s easy to travel to La Rochelle from the UK for a French seaside weekend break. It’s around 6 hours of travel time from London to La Rochelle by rail. The journey starts with a run on Eurostar from King’s Cross Station to Paris Gare du Nord. In the French capital, it’s necessary to change station, a short trip to Paris Montparnasse, to take a TGV direct to La Rochelle. The leg from Paris to La Rochelle is quicker than it used to be, thanks to the opening of a new fast route in July 2017 journey time is just under 2 hours 30 mins. La Rochelle has everything you’d expect from a seaside resort. Highlights include the elegant Rue du Palais with trendy restaurants and shops and the hubbub of maritime life around the Vieux Port, where you’ll find oysters and mussels aplenty. With good weather normally certain in the summer, the beaches and coastline are a great place to chill out and relax. The old town has half-timbered medieval houses and Renaissance architecture, including passageways covered by 17th-century arches.
Board a Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels and you'll arrive in this fine Belgian city in under 2 hours. One of the first things that spring to mind about Brussels is the food! Home to some of the world’s best chocolate and fries, Brussels can really please the taste buds. This cosmopolitan city also offers fine architecture and a lively arts scene. Take a walk up Chaussée de Wavre and then head on to Place Saint Boniface for one of the coolest cafes in Brussels. It’s worth the price of a coffee alone just to sit outside in the gorgeous little square. The beautiful Abbaye de la Cambre, and its immaculate gardens are a hidden gem well worth seeing!
Photo credits top to bottom: Windermere, Lake District United Kingdom iStock ©danaibe12, Beautiful view of the city of Edinburgh in summer Dreamstime ©Shaiith, Old town in Cologne with sun iStock ©querbeet, Towers in the port of La Rochelle, France ©Irantzu_Arbaizagoitia, Brussels Grand Place in the summer iStock, ©FrankyDeMeyer
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