123 major European cities that you can reach by train from London in one day

123 major European cities that you can reach by train from London in one day

123 major European cities that you can reach by train from London in one day

Most of Europe is easily accessible by train

Most of Europe is easily accessible by train

Those were difficult years for train travel. In the heady days of February 2020, The Telegraph touted train travel as the perfect way to explore Europe – more fun than flying, better for the environment, and ever more efficient, with our research uncovering 124 amazing cities that they could be reached from London in a single day.

Then came the pandemic. Holidays were banned for months, prompting rail operators to decimate their services, and when tourism was finally rebooted, wildly different testing and vaccination rules made train travel across two or three countries a far less prospect. tempting.

Now, however, things are improving. All but four European countries (Spain, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Luxembourg) have lifted every single Covid restriction and rail services have almost returned to pre-pandemic capacity, so as the autumn holiday season approaches, we have made a new inventory. of the options for British travelers.

Each point on the map below represents a destination; the darker the dot, the longer the journey. Select a spot to find out which city it represents, how long it takes to reach by train and three reasons to go, then follow the links for more tips on planning a trip.

The good news is that only one city – the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana – can no longer be reached by train on the same day you leave London. 123 impressive cities that we think are worth (at least) a weekend of your time still possible, from Aarhus in Denmark to Zaragoza in sunny Spain.

The bad news is that some journeys have gotten a little more complicated. Eurostar suspended its summer service to the south of France in 2020 and remains on ice. This means that trips to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille all require a change in Paris, adding an extra layer of planning to trips, if not additional travel time.

In addition, some of its services to Paris and Brussels had previously been suspended to unload passengers at Calais-Fréthun, a few miles from the center of Calais, a journey that took 61 minutes. Not anymore. Those hoping to visit the French port would do well to choose the ferry rather than the new option of two hours and 29 minutes via Lille.

“The train bound for the south of France will not return this summer as we are focusing on our main routes between the capitals, which have the highest demand,” said a Eurostar spokesperson. Furthermore, we do not yet have a date for the resumption of direct services to Calais. He added that his services are currently running at around 80% of pre-pandemic capacity.

While some journey times have increased since 2020 (for example, trips to Barcelona and Hamburg will take more than 30 minutes longer), others have decreased. Genoa and Vaduz are more than 30 minutes closer and the long journey to Venice can be done over an hour faster.

The closest destination is no longer Calais but Lille, 1 hour and 22 minutes from King’s Cross St Pancras. The farthest you can reach in a single day is now Bratislava, the Slovak capital, a 16-hour and 24-minute odyssey with stops in Paris, Stuttgart, Munich and Vienna.

Thirteen fantastic locations can be reached in under four hours, including Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges and Antwerp, and 43 can be reached in under six, including Frankfurt, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Lyon.

Perhaps the most surprisingly fast journey is to San Sebastian. In just nine hours and nine minutes you can swap London’s concrete and glass jungle for the pintxos bars of the Basque Country, with changes in Paris and Hendaye, where you have to replace the high-speed trains with a 37-minute tube.

Sleeper trains

Our map only considers the places you can reach in a single day. If you prefer the idea of ​​a night service, which has the added benefit of saving you the cost of hotel accommodation, there are a few options.

The Intercités de Nuit service allows you to fall asleep in Paris and wake up in Marseille, Toulon, Cannes or Nice.

Austrian operator ÖBB’s Nightjet connects Paris with Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, and Vienna with Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Venice.

EuroNight takes passengers once a day from Munich to Budapest (with a stopover in Vienna).

The Metropol sleeper connects Prague and Budapest (with stops in Brno and Bratislava).

Czech Railways offers night service from Prague to Zurich and, in joint venture with the Polish State Railways, from Prague to Krakow.

Italian night trains will take you from Milan to Palermo in Sicily.

A new operator, Midnight Trains, has promised to launch a series of night train services by 2024, with cities like Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Porto in the sights.

Unfortunately, Thello’s night service from Paris to Venice, with a stopover in Milan, was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic and has now been permanently suspended. The same goes for the Trenhotel Lusitania, which previously connected Madrid and Lisbon.

Lunch stops

To get to 87 of the 123 cities on our map, you’ll need to change trains in Paris. But where to refuel? Our Paris expert recommends avoiding the rather disappointing bistros lining the streets in front of the station and instead head to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, where you’ll find yourself on the edge of the Indian and Pakistani neighborhood of Paris. Among many excellent canteen-style vegetarian restaurants, Saravanan Bhavan is an extra favorite due to its delicious selection of South Indian cuisine, including the excellent dosa. The perfect light lunch before or after the train.

If your outbound train leaves from Gare du Lyon, you could do much worse than having dinner at Le Train Bleu. This sought after and iconic restaurant is among the best to grace any train station in the world.

To reach 23 of the 123 cities, a change in Brussels is required. Not far from Brussels Midi, where the Eurostar services arrive, is the Colonel. He specializes in beef, but everything on the menu – charcuterie, scallops and skrei (Norwegian Arctic cod) – is worthy of attention.

This article is kept up to date with the latest information.

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