8 Dreamy Weekend Breaks On The Eurostar

Still avoiding planes but desperate to get abroad? All is not lost. The Eurostar from London St Pancras will transport you to straight to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, before connecting trains take you further afield. Here are some of our favourite places to visit, plus what to see, where to eat and where to stay once you get there…
GRANDS BOULEVARDS; ADRIEN OLICHON; JOHN JASON; KAREL BALAS

PARIS 

Whether you’ve visited before or not, a trip to Paris is always magical. Spend your mornings wandering down the Champs Elysée before whiling away the afternoon in the galleries at the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. In the evenings, pull up a chair at a traditional French bistro – our favourites are L’Avenue and Septime – where you can dine with a view of the city lights. Make sure to reserve a day to hit the shops, too. Head out to Le Marais, where you can find all the classic Parisian boutiques, as well as the designer outlet stores. Plus, with department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché on your doorstep, you’re bound to find a memento or two to take home. Before hopping back on the train, make sure you catch a glimpse of the big-ticket tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur and Notre Dame which, despite being seriously damaged in a fire in 2019, is still magnificent. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

This chic hotel is perfectly positioned for a whistle-stop tour of Paris. Elegant yet cool, it’s home to 50 simple, yet luxurious rooms, a courtyard restaurant serving up traditional French delicacies and The Shed – a rooftop bar that lets you escape the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Visit GrandsBoulevardsHotel.com

Airbnb: 

This charming artists’ apartment is accessed via a pretty courtyard. Inside, the rustic yet stylish décor makes you feel like you’re in your very own Parisian paradise, with everything you need for a luxurious weekend break. The location is the selling point, with the property just moments away from all the famous sites, as well as authentic bakeries, wine shops and patisseries. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There… 

One of the most frequented Eurostar routes is the one from London St Pancras to Paris. The direct journey takes just under two and a half hours, bringing you right into the heart of the city. Weekend returns cost roughly £80. 

BRUSSELS 

An underrated city break, Brussels is brimming with cool shops, great restaurants and quirky bars, with a decent dose of sightseeing opportunities, too. For a culture hit, head to the Grand Place. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cobbled square is buzzing with festivals and light shows, including the impressive biennial Flower Carpet. Shopping wise, explore the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – a 19th century shopping arcade – or hit up one of the many flea markets dotted around the city. For some open space, head to Parc de Bruxelles, the largest urban park right in the city centre. The entrance sits opposite the Belgian Houses of Parliament, and there are plenty of interesting monuments in the surrounding area. Belgium may be known for its chocolate, but don’t disregard dinner while in the capital city. Enjoy supper at Noordzee, a fishmongers which serves up creative finger food, or for something a tad smarter, book a table at Michelin-starred Comme Chez Soir. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

Just a five-minute walk from the station, this hotel is in an ideal location for a weekend spent exploring the Belgian capital. A historical building, it can be found under the vaults of the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert, with 23 rooms to choose from. We love the King Room – understated yet cool, it offers an impressive view of the hotel’s pretty courtyard from its balcony. 

Visit HotelGesGaleries.be

Airbnb:

This apartment has everything you need for a weekend getaway. Just a short walk from your door to the city centre, the nearest metro station is only a one minute stroll away. Expect to find plenty of independent boutiques and under-the-radar restaurants nearby, where you can enjoy dinner in an intimate setting. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There... 

The Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels is direct and takes just over an hour. A weekend return – leaving on a Friday morning and coming back on a Sunday evening – costs approximately £90.

ILNUR KALIMULLIN
Paris

LILLE 

If you’d rather bypass the Parisian crowds, head to Lille. Whether you’re an art lover or not, an afternoon spent at Palais Des Beaux-Arts never disappoints. A fine arts museum, it houses some stunning work by established and lesser known artists, with light and airy galleries throughout. History buffs should take a trip to the Citadel. Once a military base built by King Louis XIV, it’s now only open to the public on select days for guided tours. In Vieux-Lille, streets are peppered with luxurious delis, charming boutiques and wine bars offering some of the country’s best bottles – Au Gre Du Vin also serves up platters of local cheese. For dinner, reserve a table at L’Encume Des Mers, a fun seafood bar and bistro with an ever-evolving menu. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

The Mama Group’s Lille hotel is just moments from the two main train stations. There are 112 rooms ranging from Small to Medium, and Large to XXL. In the hotel’s lounge you can enjoy live bands and DJs, as well as a delicious drinks menu. The residents-only rooftop bar is an added bonus, boasting a 180° view of the city. 

Visit MamaShelter.com

Airbnb:

We love this charming Airbnb in the middle of Lille Old Town. Best for a couple, there’s a warm living area downstairs, while upstairs on the mezzanine level, you’ll find a cosy bedroom. There’s a small kitchen for your morning coffee, although we recommend making full use of the bars and restaurants in the local area. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There...  

The Eurostar from St Pancras to Lille is direct. The journey takes an hour and a half, with weekend returns often coming in at under £100.

AMSTERDAM 

Famed for its winding waterways and cobblestone streets, there’s plenty to explore in this city. After booking onto a canal tour or pedalling around the city on a bike, get your culture fix at one of the incredible museums in the Museumplein area. The Rijksmuseum is a must-visit for classical art lovers, while the Van Gogh Museum is where you’ll find the artist’s famous Sunflowers still life. After being on your feet all day, rest up in the Hortus Botanicus, a stunning botanical garden in the city centre. It contains over 6,000 different varieties of trees and plants, as well as a butterfly greenhouse. When it comes to shopping, we love Anna + Nina for homeware and trendy accessories, while De Bijenkorf is the place to head for a mix of big name brands and lesser known Dutch designers. Tuck into a sensational tasting menu at GUTS to finish off your day. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

Just a 15-minute walk from the main station, the trendy Hoxton Hotel is well-positioned to explore all the best shops, bars and restaurants the city has to offer. Once an old canal house, rooms here overlook the winding Herengracht and have plenty of characterful details. Flexible check in times mean you can drop your bags off with the concierge and head out as soon as you arrive. 

Visit TheHoxton.com

Airbnb:

This cool and stylish Airbnb is a great find right in the city centre. Overlooking the Vondelpark, lock your bike up outside before enjoying a pre-dinner drink on your private balcony. In the mornings, tuck into breakfast with a scenic view before heading out. This apartment sleeps up to three guests, making it a great choice if you’re heading on holiday with friends. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There...

The direct Eurostar route from St Pancras to Amsterdam takes approximately four hours. Weekend returns vary depending on the day and time of travel, but cost roughly £200. 

Antwerp
DANIELS JOFFE
Amsterdam
ADRIEN OLICHON

ANTWERP 

Perched on Belgium’s winding River Scheldt, the historic city of Antwerp dates back to the Middle Ages. Known for its glistening diamonds – there are over 1,500 diamond shops here – it also has a thriving art, design and fashion scene. For some culture, an afternoon spent weaving between the galleries in the Rubens Museum is a must, as are trips to some of the contemporary art galleries in and around the trendy Zuid (south). Enjoy dinner at The Jane, which couples cool interiors with an impressive menu, or opt for a table at Zilte, a twice Michelin-starred restaurant. Afterwards, head to the historic port – which transforms into a buzzy spot perfect for a night cap come sundown. If you’re looking to come home with a memento, take a trip to Graanmarkt 13. Every product sold here is hand selected by the owners, so you can be sure everything is stylish and chic. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

Hotel Pilar makes for a comfortable home away from home when visiting the Belgian city. Taking pride of place in a historical building overlooking the museum of fine arts, it’s just a stone’s throw from some of the neighbourhood’s coolest bars and shops. With just 17 rooms to choose from, all feature a carefully curated selection of interesting art and quirky furniture. 

Visit HotelPilar.be

Airbnb:

This arty apartment can be found on a quiet road in the city centre. Only 100m to the cathedral and 200m to the river, inside you’ll find high ceilings and pretty wooden floors, with arty finishes and pops of colour throughout. There’s plenty of space here, with a vast lounge, well-equipped kitchen and roomy bedroom. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There... 

Purchase an ‘any Belgian station’ ticket through the Eurostar website and the country is your oyster. Although the line isn’t direct, the ticket ensures you reach your final destination at no further cost. Go from London to Brussels before changing platforms and journeying to Antwerp. A weekend return costs approximately £120. 

BORDEAUX

Foodies and wine lovers should head to Bordeaux for a weekend break. A port city in southwest France, it’s known for its impressive 11th century gothic cathedral and pretty gardens that line the Garonne River. There’s an array of museums to add to your must-visit list here, from CAPC Musée D’Art Contemporain to the Musée Des Beaux-Arts. After a day on your feet, spend an evening at one of the city’s many wine bars. We love Cafecito, a wine bar-cum-tapas restaurant where you can sip on some of the region's best bottles while tucking into charcuterie and cheese. You can’t visit Bordeaux without booking onto a vineyard tour, either. Château Pichon Baron is one of the best-known in the region. It's approximately an hour’s drive from the city, so be sure to book a car or taxi to take you to and from your tasting. Fortunately, Uber operates in Bordeaux, so you’ve got a backup plan should you need it. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

Located in the heart of the city, La Course is just minutes from the serene Jardin Public. Rooms are light and airy, with wooden floors and plush beds on which to rest your head after a day of sightseeing and wine tasting. If you book the rooftop suite, you’ll have access to your own private plunge pool, too. Meanwhile, the mainline station is just 20 minutes away. 

Visit MrAndMrsSmith.com

Airbnb:

This pretty pied-à-terre is near to the waterfront and within walking distance of some of the best cafés, shops and restaurants in Bordeaux. Large windows help bring the outside in, while cosy soft furnishings and a warm bed make you feel instantly at home. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There... 

Hop on the Eurostar to Paris and change at Montparnasse to get to Bordeaux. The Paris to Bordeaux journey takes roughly two hours. Tickets cost approximately £200. 

GLEN CARSTENS PETERS
Cologne
JOHN JASON
Nice

COLOGNE

This 2,000-year-old German city is brimming with history and culture. There’s a plethora of tourist attractions to visit during your stay, from the impressive Cologne cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – to Museum Ludwig, an institution housing copious amounts of modern art. In the Old Town, you’ll find rows of pretty coloured buildings and cafés where you can sip on locally brewed craft beers. After a day drinking in the sites, tuck into a tasty dinner at FunkHaus, which serves up light and fresh dishes such as spinach and gorgonzola crepes and colourful bruschetta. Finish your day off with a walk over the Hohenzollern Bridge, where thousands of decorated ‘love locks’ pepper the metal frame. Cologne is particularly magical in November and December, when the squares are taken over with traditional German Christmas markets. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

This eclectic, design-led hotel can be found in a rotunda just a short walk from the city centre. There are 207 rooms to choose from, but we love the Medium Inner Circle option for its cool, retro vibe. This hotel is also home to the Monkey Bar. Perched above the skyline on the eighth floor, it offers a stunning view of the cathedral. Playful and fun, a stay at Hotel 25 ensures a memorable trip. Use the code 25h_sweetdreams when you book to receive 15% off your stay.  

Visit 25-hours-hotels.com

Airbnb:

A cool and quirky apartment, stay here if you’re looking for a central, riverside location that still offers a bit of peace and quiet. Inside, there’s a roomy double, as well as a sofa bed – sleeping four in total. There’s also a balcony on which to enjoy one of the complimentary drinks left by the owner. 

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There... 

Go from St Pancras to Brussels before changing trains to take you to Cologne. Your Eurostar ticket covers you for the entire journey, with total travel time coming in at just under four hours. Roundtrip tickets cost approximately £180. 

NICE 

For a seaside break, hop on the Eurostar to Paris before travelling down to the Côte d'Azur until you reach Nice. A cosmopolitan city right on the coastline, there are plenty of historical sites and impressive architecture to enjoy, as well as several pebble beaches. Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais before visiting the Musée de Matisse – which is home to an impressive collection of beautiful artwork – or Castle Park, a hilltop garden overlooking the ocean. Shop to your heart’s content in the Old Town, where you’ll find boutiques stocking mountains of basket bags, ceramics and summer dresses. After a day spent exploring, head for dinner at Peche A La Vigne, a seafood restaurant and specialist wine bar. For truly innovative dishes, book a table at Pure & V. It offers an impressive tasting menu of four savoury and two sweet plates, for €80 a person. But if you want to watch the sunset, nothing beats stocking up on baguettes, cheese and wine from one of the many nearby delis for a seaside picnic. 

Where To Stay… 

Hotel:

In the Vieux Nice – Old Town – this secret hotel can be found tucked between the many historical buildings. For an al fresco drink or morning coffee, head to the courtyard garden which overlooks the dome of the cathedral. The ideal sun trap, tuck into a traditional French breakfast – think pastries galore – or read a book with a glass of wine before heading out for the evening. 

Visit HotelRossetti.fr

Airbnb:

This contemporary Airbnb comes with a sea view and private balcony. Found in a pretty fisherman’s house, the décor is understated and simple. Meanwhile, the balcony is the ideal spot for breakfast in the sunshine or a cocktail later on. Everything you need is right on your doorstep, too, from bakeries to wine bars.

Visit Airbnb.co.uk

How To Get There... 

Hop on the Eurostar to Paris before changing at Gare De Lyon to catch a direct train to Nice. This option is one best suited to a week-long holiday, as the journey takes roughly six to seven hours in total. Tickets cost approximately £250. 

 

To book tickets for any of the above routes, visit Eurostar.com 

*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice, as well as guidance from your travel insurance provider, before you book. Please ensure you are aware of the social distancing and quarantine guidelines in place in each destination before you travel, too. Face coverings must be worn on public transport - including the Eurostar - at all times unless you are exempt. Prices of Eurostar tickets vary depending on date, day and time of travel.

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