Travelling the UK by train is one of the most relaxing and scenic ways to discover the real landscape of Britain. With a fast and efficient rail network running up and down the country, you can escape the big cities and enjoy the rolling countryside in just a few hours.
With so many different routes and ticket types available, it couldn’t be easier to explore. No matter where you are in the country, there are plenty of destinations nearby for a day excursion or short break from the bustling city life.
From the Scottish Highlands to the coast of St. Ives, here are five of the best destinations you can visit in the UK, along with some useful tips for what to see and do when you get there.
For many centuries, Bath has been the place where people come to relax and unwind. The ancient Romans visited here for the hot thermal waters and the Roman baths are still a huge draw for the city and its visitors. The Victorians came here to shop and use the healing waters. As a result of the historic culture, the city is full of breathtaking Georgian architecture and modern eateries.
Bath is accessible from London in just over 1h 30m, making it the perfect place to escape on a Saturday afternoon for some lunch and a walk around. A visit to the Roman baths, which is just a 5m walk from the train station, is a must – the site is one of the best preserved in Europe.
York is a hugely historic city and one which has seen everything from Roman rule to being a Viking capital. Thanks to its colourful and ancient history, you’ll find things to do all around the city that are full of historical beauty and significance.
The narrow, winding streets are full of boutique shops and quaint tea rooms, as well as pubs and museums. Be sure to take a walk through The Shambles, which is a famous 15th-century street that has been named Britain’s most picturesque street. Travelling here is easy, with trains from Manchester Piccadilly taking just 1h 20m or 1h 5m from London.
For something that is a little different, explore the city’s paranormal past with a guided ghost tour. York has a rich ghost and haunting history with plenty of sites and destinations well worth visiting especially in the evening!
The Peak District
The Peak District National Park is famed for being one of Britain’s most ancient landscapes. With an endless expanse of rolling hills, forests and fields as well as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, The Peak District is ideal for a few hours hiking in the fresh air.
One of Britain’s greatest National Trails starts in the village of Edale, which is just a 45m train ride from Manchester Piccadilly, making an ideal day trip. Once there, check out The Peak Centre, which has a wide variety of activities on offer, such as rock climbing and fencing. With activities both indoors and out, there is plenty here to keep the whole family entertained.
A city full of culture, Liverpool is great for the music lover in you. Here, you can learn more about the band that shaped the music scene – The Beatles. Spend an afternoon at The Beatles Story museum or visit the houses where Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up.
If history is more your thing, then Liverpool you must visit the impressive seven museums, all of which are free to enter. From the Tate Liverpool to the World Museum Liverpool, a lot of the museums are located in the city centre or around the historic Albert Dock. Getting here by train takes just over an hour from Manchester or around 2h 30m from London Euston.
Although Liverpool is famous for its music and football, the city is also becoming somewhat of a destination for food lovers. Whatever cuisine you fancy, you’ll find a café or restaurant that is sure to satisfy your tastebuds!
Brighton is well known for being one of the UK’s most vibrant and exciting destinations. Full of shopping options, eateries, culture and just a stone’s throw away from the South Downs countryside, Brighton, 1h by train from London, is one colourful coastal city you will enjoy.
Once the historic centre of the city, the Lanes is a must-visit for a spot of shopping. It’s a set of winding alleyways that is packed full of fun and independent shops, from jewellers to record stores. If you fancy something that is more history-based, then a visit to King George IV’s palace is a must-do.
There’s also the Royal or Brighton Pavilion, the outside of which features a grand Indian style, while the interior is decorated like a Chinese palace. A guided tour is the perfect way to learn more about its amazing history.
For more inspiration head to our dedicated UK guide for ideas and train routes.
Author: Natalie Wilson, a freelance writer and journalism student