Break out of your shell slowly but surely this Easter. Chocolate guaranteed, but with no artificial flavourings or preservatives. Here are some classic Easter trips by train, with a natural twist.
Blossoms burst, eggs crack, lambs are born and leaves reemerge. There is no doubt that Easter is a time to open up to the world again after months of winter hibernation. We recommend taking things slowly and savouring as many moments of spring as you can manage. Easter being the longest public holiday of the year is the perfect time to do that, which is why we are sharing our top choices for slow, eco travel this Easter in the UK and mainland Europe.
The green lights of Amsterdam
Eurostar started running direct trains from London to Amsterdam in April 2018 with more and more travellers realising this is a very cool way to travel to one of Europe’s even cooler capitals. At this time of year flowers flourish, cyclists celebrate and beaches start to bustle. You can hire a bike at Amsterdam Centraal station as well as myriad places around the city. Stay in an eco aware hotel such as Conscious Hotels, buy a picnic at Noordermarkt, the local market specialising in all things local and head to the green heart of the city, Vondelpark.
Less well known is Frankendael Park, with an incredible restaurant in the middle of it, De Kas, in a converted giant greenhouse that used to provide food for the city. You are guaranteed one of the finest and fairest meals at this spot, unknown to most tourists. Then take your bike on the free ferry over the River Ij (just behind Centraal station) to cycle around the flower-filled fields of Noord Amsterdam. Read more about day trips from Amsterdam by train and also more information about taking the Eurostar to Amsterdam in our detailed blog.
“I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I am free” - Anne Frank
Take the sunshine trains
Head south for some springtime sunshine and a sprinkling of sand between the toes. Two of our most popular train routes are London to Nice (a 10 hr journey) and Paris to Barcelona (6hrs 15mins). The beaches are a lot less crowded during the Easter holidays than peak summer months, and when those spring showers kick in you can always enjoy the cultural highlights of these two sunshine cities.
Another option is to pack your wetsuit and swim along one of the open water swimming lanes that line the Costa Brava coast, known as Vies Braves. With various events going on, these are a bit like ParkRun but in the sea. You can also combine culture with coast when you travel from Madrid to Malaga by train which takes just under three hours when you catch the direct, high-speed train. Always keep an eye on our special offers page for particularly good bargains and read our blog on European beaches by train for a few more ideas.
Cycle your way into spring
Whether you take your bike on the train or just hire one when you get there, there are some stunning cycling trails to warm up those muscles after a winter break. And many suitable for families too on this long school holiday. For example, in France, take your pick of spots on La Vélodyssée, France, a 1000m cycling trail between Roscoff and Hendaye, on the border with Spain. You can just do sections of it, and throw your bike on the train to help you along the way at stops such as Nantes and Brest in Brittany, La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, and then finish off in Biarritz for some refreshing springtime surf. Another option is to enjoy some city time in Bordeaux and then take a train to Arcachon on the Atlantic coast, famous for Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe. Read more about our favourite cycling trails in France by train.
For Easter cycling in the UK, the best cycling trails website is always Sustrans, a charity that makes most people want to scrape the rust off that chain and pump up their tyres. Take a train to Barnstaple in Devon for the Tarka Trail, Canterbury in Kent for the Crab and Winkle Way for Bodmin for the Camel Trail in Cornwall for some family favourites. With plenty of Easter eggs in your pannier for sustenance of course.
Mountains for all
There are plenty of towns and cities where you can smell spring in the mountain air without having to be a skier. Here at home, head to Aviemore and Kingussie to bask in the beauty of Cairngorms National Park. You will be able to enjoy some Swiss Easter chocolate if you take the train from Paris to Lucerne, located on the eponymous lake, enveloped by snow-covered mountains, the most iconic being Mount Pilatus. It can take just under 7 hrs to travel from London to Annecy by train, a medieval town surrounded by mountains with another gorgeous glacial lake at its heart. You could also do an Easter odyssey from Paris to Barcelona, the last stop before the Catalan capital being Girona. This ancient, walled town has views out to the snow-capped Pyrenees although the foothills should be clear for some hiking or cycling.
Eurostar to Paris: A dash of theatre
The editors of hidden europe magazine, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, highlight some of the views from Eurostar on the journey from London to Paris and reflect on what makes this route so special.
Six day trips from Amsterdam by train
Discover Dutch life beyond the capital with one of our quick, easy day trips from Amsterdam by train.