5 cities for day trips

Train or plane? Train… or plane? Whether you are visiting a UK city or voyaging to Paris or Brussels, it can sometimes be hard to decide what the best method of transport from London should be. And now, we may be biased, but travelling by train always gets our vote.

“But it takes longer”, we hear you cry… well yes, to an extent. But when you factor in travelling out of London to the airport, journeying into your destination from their out-of-town airport and all that hanging-about-time, drawn out by security lines and passport checks… the train may sometimes just work out being a bit quicker. Plus let’s face it, these days, once you factor in paying for extra luggage and overpriced snacks, flying budget, or in general, isn’t always that cost-effective. 

Travelling by train can actually be pretty idyllic. You can usually carry as much luggage as you need, you don’t need to worry about your toiletries fitting into one of those tiny clear plastic bags and once you arrive at your destination, you’re right at the heart of the action. 

Sounds pretty good right? In fact, travelling by train is so simple that you can fit in an entire destination in a day.  So, say farewell to the stress of parking the hire car, to the busy airport commuter buses and to the time wasted travelling out of town – it’s time to see why these five cities can be done in a day-trip by train…

Edinburgh

Once you’ve arrived into Edinburgh, you won’t be surprised when we say that almost everything you want to see is walking distance from Edinburgh Waverley Station. Walking up the stairs onto Princes Street, you’ll be greeted by impressive views of Princes Street Gardens and Scott Monument – plus the striking Edinburgh Castle in the distance. Once you’ve exhausted those photo opportunities, you can take your pick of other attractions in the vicinity.

The Royal Mile, that stretches from the modern parliament to the historic castle is the first obvious pit-stop. It is tourist galore, here so expect shops overflowing with tartan and the faint drone of bagpipers in the distance – but trust us, it’s great. It’s where you’ll also find some interesting attractions such as Mary Kings Close – one of the city’s most haunted locations – and the Whisky Experience, where you can learn more about Scotland’s national drink.

If you’re less interested in the tourist trail, turn right as you exit the station and walk in the direction of Calton Hill. Alongside some interesting historical monuments, the climb will reward you with glorious views of the city.

Where to wine and dine: You’ll find some incredible eateries and watering-holes within walking distance of the station. From the Royal Mile, you can walk down to the Grass Market, that offers rewarding views of the castle from below and it’s where you’ll find an array of pubs serving Scottish grub – this is your chance to sample haggis by the way! If you’d rather something that is less gimmicky and more refined, nearby restaurants such as The Devil’s Advocate, The Witchery and The Outsider are good bets for stylish surrounds and impeccable dishes. George Street, home to some of the city’s most stylish bars, is also a short distance from the station.

Newcastle

Arriving by train into Newcastle allows you impressive city views as you cross the river by train into the city centre. It’s a small city that packs a punch, with very likable locals and a spattering of attractions, making it perfect for a day-trip or overnight break from London. Within minutes of stepping off the train you could be indulging in a bit retail therapy at intu Eldon Square, one of the UK’s largest shopping centres.

Or, if you fancy yourself as more of an intellectual, then check out the nearby museums such as the Life Science Centre, Discovery Museum and the Great North Museum, that each hold an array of interesting exhibitions. And of course, you can enjoy a stroll along the Tyne, where you can marvel at Newcastle’s architectural highlights, including the Tyne Bridge and the Sage.

Where to wine and dine: When it comes to wining and dining, you’ll be spoiled for choice near Newcastle Central Station, especially for budget conscious visitors.  Warming and varied pub food can be found at The Bridge Tavern, attractively located below the stanchion’s of Tyne Bridge. It’s also got some pretty decent craft beer. Another top choice in The Broad Chare, that is just a 15-minute walk along the marina from the station, where you’ll find some delicious gastropub fare. 

Paris

A thirty-minute wait for the Eurostar just seems that much more appealing than a two-hour stint at the airport, especially when you arrive into Gare De Nord Station in Paris and not out in the sticks at the airport. Montmatre makes a good first stop, being just a 20-minute stroll from the station – if you need some sustenance, grab a croissant from one of the many bakeries on the way. This area will give you a great feel for Paris, with its narrow streets and cobbled squares.

Plus, once you wind your way to the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with those epic Parisian views. A nearby and important stop to make in this area is undoubtedly the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

If you’ve been to Paris, you could easily spend the rest of your day sauntering along Canal Sant-Martin, popping into boutiques and shops and stopping for rosé breaks without even stepping foot in public transport. But, if you’re a first timer, then it might be worth nipping on the metro to take in the other famous sites.

Когда ты едешь в Париж в компании @tiebowtie и она полностью собирает тебе наряд) чувствую себя Кэрри Брэдшоу, не меньше! 😍☺️ кто-то может, помнит, у неё была пышная юбка такого же цвета в парижских сериях "Секса в большом городе". А вообще француженки так не одеваются, у них всё так скромненько по цвету. 🤔 А вот любите ли вы улочки Монмартра так, как я? // Total look от @asos_ru // When you are in Paris with fashion blogger @tiebowtie. I feel myself like a Carrie Bradshaw! Hey, do you like Montmartre streets as I do? 🙂

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Where to wine and dine: Unlike other major capitals, thats stations are devoid of decent bars and grub. Gard du Nord has hundreds of choices round and about regardless of whether you are grabbing an early bite or a late afternoon meal before catching the train home. Popular restaurants Chez Casimir and Les Arlots are both five minutes away – ideal for a pre-train dinner. Or head to nearby Marché Saint Quentin to pick up some cheap eats on the go.

Manchester

Train it up to Manchester and find yourself in the heart of the capital of the North – which is handy, being the UK’s second largest city, it’s nice to find yourself in the middle of it all. A good way to get your bearings is to go on a free walking tour that meets close by to the station at the Sackville Gardens by the Alan Turing Memorial at 11a.m. The tour crams in tons of facts into the three hours you spend wandering around the city and it will give you some good insights on the city’s architecture and sites.  

If you’re then in the mood for something a little less fact-based, then you’ll be able to blow off some steam at either Breakout Manchester or Lockin Escape which are both escape-room style activities. Or you could play a round at the kooky Juckyard golf. All these activites are less than half a mile from the train station. Some of Manchester’s best galleries such as the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester Art Galley can be found within walking distance too, if the weather takes a turn for the worst. The nearby Police Museum is also worth a look in.

Another reason to be #LovinManchester by @0161manchester

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Where to wine and dine: Abode Hotel Manchester is a great first or last stop. Afternoon tea here is spot on and it’s also a great spot for a fancy farewell drink. If you are looking for something more low-key, Jamboree Foodfest and Bar’s global menu and vintage style decor is a welcoming place if you don’t fancy dressing up.

Brussels

The Eurostar will whisk you from London city centre and into Brussels in under three hours (and that’s including the half hour wait at the station). A further 20-minute walk will see you in Brussels’ city centre. The walk there is pretty great too as you’ll pass pretty Art Noveau buildings along the way. Once in the city centre, grab a coffee, (we recommend the highly rated Aksum Coffee House) and then spend the day exploring on foot.

The Grand Place, Mannekin Pis and Saint-Michel Cathedral are all walking distance as well as quirky attractions such as the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and street art at Gare de la Chappel. Back in the direction of the station, stop off at Cantillon Brewery if you wish to try some Belgian beer before the train home.   

🌎Brussels, Belgium 🇧🇪 📸Photo by: @thefella

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Where to wine and dine: The dining choices towards the station are limited compared to Paris, but the centre has plenty to choose from. A trip to Belga Queen will leave you feeling entirely fancy in the surrounds of a converted bank that has a delicious brasserie menu. Another top choice is La Mer du Nord where you can sample (relatively) cheap seafood or be sure to try one of the other restaurants on Place Sainte-Catherine, that is renowned for it’s seafood fare.

Ready for a city day-trip? Find the best train fares on the Trainline and download the app for live train times and mobile tickets.


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