Travelling to—and through—Europe is on the lifelong to-do lists of many people both on the UK and US sides of the Atlantic. To those in the know, renting a car is not only expensive, it also leaves something of a decent-sized carbon footprint, and it’s slower than going across Europe via train. Plus, if you were to fly from London to Paris, or London to Berlin, that’s an even bigger carbon footprint, and you still have to worry about luggage limitations, and the potential for overbooking flights. That’s hardly a holiday at all.
Keep in mind that depending on your personal goals, itinerary, etc, you may want to purchase point to point tickets, or simply purchase a Railpass, which gives you lots of flexibility in the case of emergencies, or if you suddenly decide to change your route based purely on inspiration and whim. You can even combine both options, depending on how much detailed exploring you want to do in between main city-centre destinations.
Also, there are actually certain countries that are not very railpass-friendly, and will require you to make reservations ahead of time, the expense of which will add to the cost of your railpass. Railpass-friendly countries won’t require you to make reservations, so keeping that information in mind will help you decide how you want to plan out your travel budget, accommodations, etc.
Here are some of the best train trips from London to Europe, if you want to stick with the Eurostar rail system at first before exploring on more regional lines. Keep in mind also that many major European cities are several hours apart, so purchasing a Railpass is often a good idea as individual tickets for these major cities are pricey. Plus, a 1st class Railpass offers you time flexibility, so if you want to spend a good bit of time in any of the following cities, you’re not locked into times, dates, etc.
- London to Paris. Start your foray into Europe as simply as possible, with a classic ride from London’s St. Pancras Station to the City of Light. The 2-hour-16-minute ride is long enough for reading a book, or even a brief catnap. You might want to do just that, since you’ll need your energy for walking around such a famous city.
- London to Marseilles. At 6.5 hours, this clocks in as the longest ride from London to a major French city, but if you’re the sort to want to see other parts of France on a briefer itinerary than someone who takes their time getting back to London by way of regional rail systems and meandering around in general, then this might count as part of a weekend trip. And of course, with trains, you don’t have to drive. Just sit back and let the beautiful French countryside dazzle your eyes.
- London to Amsterdam. A trip into continental Europe wouldn’t be complete without a journey to one of Europe’s most famous cities. In just 4 hours and 38 minutes, you can have breakfast in London and have lunch in Holland’s capital city. Venice isn’t the only city with canals. Amsterdam has canal cruise tours you can get on and learn more about what makes this city tick.
- London to Brussels. Belgium is a unique country, what with the French and Dutch languages existing essentially side by side, for starters. So take a ride into Brussels and find out more about this capital city.
These are just some of the trips you can take into Europe from London, and all start on the Eurostar system. Remember that if you have a Railpass and wish to wander around a bit more freely before jumping back to London, know that regional tickets will cost a bit less than the Railpass, so mixing up the two forms of train travel is always a good bet. So whether your travel dreams lie in a weekend in the City of Light, or a long visit to Amsterdam, or anywhere else, let the train take you from London where you want to be.