10 European Destinations You Can Reach By Train
10 European Destinations You Can Reach By Train

10 European Destinations You Can Reach By Train

Travelling by train is more comfortable than flying, better for the environment and it’s getting quicker. Starting from London St Pancras, Eurostar takes you direct to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. With some easy connections, you can then get to several other European cities and quaint towns within a few hours (sometimes minutes). Here are ten rail-friendly places to consider for your next mini break…
Chateau Of Sully-Sur-Loire
Chateau Of Sully-Sur-Loire




Travel time from Paris Montparnasse: 1 hour 10 minutes

The Loire Valley is around an hour from Paris. From Gare du Nord, take the Métro to Paris Montparnasse and hop on the train to Chartres. Stop here to visit the stunning medieval cathedral, an icon of Gothic architecture first built in 1194, and now a Unesco World Heritage site where you can see the dress reportedly worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. If you don’t want to rely on a car, take local buses or hire bikes to tour the famed castles of the Loire Valley – Amboise and Château de Chenonceau are the ones not to miss. The region is also home to more than a thousand vineyards offering endless vintages to try.

Where To Stay

Luxe: Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé   

Luxe for less: Relais de Chambord


Travel time from Paris Gare de Lyon: 2 hours 40 minutes

With an early start from St Pancras – and transferring across Paris from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon – you can be in Provence by early afternoon. The honey-coloured walled city of Avignon was the capital of Christianity in the 14th century and is best known for its magnificent Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in Europe – as well as the stone bridge, Pont Saint-Bénézet, which features in the famous song ‘Sur Le Pont D’Avignon’. It’s also the perfect place to base yourself for explorations of the stunning Provençal countryside, with its sunflower fields and rolling hills of lavender, as well as its many vineyards.

Where To Stay

Luxe: La Divine Comédie    

Luxe for less: Cloître Saint Louis


Travel time from Paris Montparnasse: 2 hours 5 minutes

Thanks to a high-speed train from Paris Montparnasse to Bordeaux, you can leave London in the early morning and be in Bordeaux for a late lunch. Famous for its clarets, there’s a lot more to discover in and around this city than just wine. Within the world’s largest urban Unesco World Heritage site, you’ll find wide boulevards flanked by 18th-century buildings, pedestrian-only streets, grandiose squares and several museums. Rue Sainte-Catherine is the longest shopping street in France, with plenty of cafés and restaurants to stop at and refuel. The city’s surrounding vineyards take up 120,000 hectares, so you’ve got choices – one of the best ways to see them is to take a wine cruise along the river Garonne. You should also explore the ancient, fortified hilltop town of St Emilion to the east of the city and the Médoc region north of the city.

Where To Stay

Luxe: Les Sources de Caudalie

Luxe for less: Le Boutique Hôtel Bordeaux







Travel time from Brussels: 1 hour 5 minutes

Eurostar sells an ‘Any Belgian Station’ ticket which covers travel from the UK to anywhere in Belgium, changing in Brussels to an SNCB train to continue your journey. Just under an hour from the capital, fairytale Bruges is often called the most photogenic city in the world. With picture-postcard scenes wherever you look – colourful gabled houses, narrow streets, imposing church spires and calm canals – the historic centre is small and easy to walk around. Of course, Bruges is all about chocolate, chips and beer. Most chocolatiers will let you sample before you buy – Dumon, The Chocolate Line and The Old Chocolate House are all worth a visit. Chips are everywhere (there is even a chip museum) and some of the best can be bought from the carts next to the Belfort (the belfry) on Markt and from Chez Vincent on Sint-Salvatorskerkhof. There are hundreds of places to sample local brews – for one of the widest ranges (a choice of 400), head to Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

Where To Stay

Luxe: Hotel Van Cleef

Luxe for less: Maison Le Dragon




Travel time from Brussels: 40 minutes

Though Bruges is top of our list, Belgium’s second largest city is also worth a visit. On the Scheldt river about 25 miles north of Brussels, it is probably best known as a diamond centre – there are over 1,500 diamond shops here. But you will also find picturesque architecture, a stunning cathedral, a thriving art, design and fashion scene, and a plethora of restaurants, cafés and bars – the historic port transforms into a buzzy spot each evening, perfect for a pre-dinner drink or night cap. For some culture, the Rubens House is a must – Rubens lived here with his wife and children, painted here and died here, and the permanent collection includes a number of his and his contemporaries’ works. 

Where To Stay

Luxe for less: Hotel Franq



Travel time from Rotterdam: 40 minutes

A short hop from Rotterdam is Utrecht, Amsterdam’s baby sister, which was once the religious and commercial hub of the Netherlands. Its canal system is unique as the gabled houses here have lower floors that open at water level where ships used to dock to unload their cargo. Today, these form a second street level lined with restaurants, cafés, bars and hotels. A boat trip along the canals to the city limits is a must, as is a climb to the top of Domtoren, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands – on a clear day you can see all the way to Amsterdam.

Where To Stay

Luxe for less: Hotel Beijers


Travel time from Rotterdam: 15 minutes

Most people come to Delft for its blue pottery, but this pretty canal-ringed city in the west of the country also boasts some remarkable Renaissance architecture. Once the seat of the royal House of Orange, the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk overlooking the lively market square houses the family’s tombs. Vermeer – the artist whose most famous works include ‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’ – was born and died in Delft, and is buried in the Oude Kerk in the old town. The Vermeer Centre houses reproductions of all his works and demands a visit. 

Where To Stay

Luxe for less: Hotel Arsenaal



Travel time from Brussels: 1 hour 50 minutes

Spanning the Rhine river, this 2,000-year-old German city brims with history and culture. The world-famous Gothic cathedral with its gargoyles and twin spires is awe-inspiring – climb the 533 steps of the south tower for some incredible views. Fans of modern and pop art shouldn’t miss Museum Ludwig which houses some superb Picassos and Warhols. Delve deeper back into history with a visit to the Roman-Germanic Museum, which is filled with statues, mosaics and jewellery from prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. If you fancy some shopping, Schildergasse is the place for high-street brands or head to the boutiques of Ehrenstrasse. And of course, Original Eau de Cologne 4711 is one of the world’s oldest fragrance brands – head to 4711 Glockengasse, now a perfume shop and museum where the cologne was produced since 1799. There are several excellent restaurants along the waterside of Am Frankenturm.

Where To Stay

Luxe: Excelsior Hotel Ernst

Luxe for less: Hotel Wasserturm


Travel time from Brussels: 1 hour 15 minutes 

The spa town of Aachen, also known as Aix-la-Chapelle, is close to the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. Its thermal waters have made it a favourite spot for cures since Roman times. It was also adopted as Charlemagne’s main home, and in 794AD he established Aachen as the capital of his empire. Must-sees include the magnificent cathedral, Charlemagne’s burial place; the Gothic Town Hall that has seen the coronation of numerous emperors and kings over the centuries; the Centre Charlemagne is great if you want to learn more about his life and local history through the ages; and the Ludwig Forum has an excellent collection of modern and contemporary art. 

Where To Stay

Luxe for less: Parkhotel Quellenhof



Travel time from Paris Gare de Lyon: 4 hours 5 minutes 

Geneva is the biggest city in French-speaking Switzerland. It is sometimes labelled bland and lacking in culture but, as a diplomatic centre and home of the United Nations headquarters, countless international missions, non-governmental organisations and banks, it is unique and truly global – for instance, within the space of a few minutes you’ll hear several languages spoken. It’s a beautiful city with a great vibe and the scenery is special – picture the lake and its landmark water fountain, with the snow-covered Alps and Jura mountains in the background. Geneva is the perfect base to explore this corner of Switzerland as well as neighbouring Savoie in France. Popular destinations like Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux are all short day trips away, as are the famous Lavaux vineyards. Crossing the border into France, you can visit the likes of Chamonix, Annecy and Evian-Les-Bains. 

Where To Stay

Luxe: The Woodward

Luxe for less: Hotel Eastwest

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva



While the below travel times might look long compared to a flight, remember you’ll arrive in the centre of the cities, so there’s no need to take a taxi, shuttle or bus on arrival. In addition, check-in times are shorter. 

  • Paris – 2 hours 15 minutes 
  • Brussels – 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Lille – 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Amsterdam – 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Rotterdam – 3 hours 15 minutes

For further details, visit Eurostar.com

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