London Breaks by Train | 11 Best Escapes for 2024

by | Last modified on Jan 1, 2024 | Travel

Find out what the 11 best London breaks by train are for 2023. Including city, coastal and country getaways to make the most of your weekends, without the need of a car!

When I lived in London, like many, I didn’t own a car, so travelling by train was essential if I wanted to explore the UK. I soon discovered that London has a great rail network and started to make the most of my time off by planning London weekend breaks by train. There is so much to see and do in the UK!

Use this London breaks by train guide to plan your next getaway. All the breaks are easily accessible to get to by train from London. The time by train has been indicated. I’ve included a mix of big cities and famous landmarks, as well as some smaller, more unusual off-the-beaten-track, destinations.

The list is split into 4 types of breaks:

  • Best City Breaks from London
  • Best Country Breaks from London
  • Best Seaside breaks from London
  • Best Overseas Train Breaks from London

Best city breaks

London city breaks by train

1. Oxford

Distance by train from London: 50 minutes
Good for: History and sightseeing, cruising the river

It takes less than an hour to reach Oxford, making it one of the best and easiest London breaks by train. Oxford is a seriously picturesque city with beautiful buildings at every turn and endless cobbled streets. Oxford is a well-known student hub, so the restaurants and nightlife is rife. There’s lots of sightseeing and historical buildings to explore, and no visit to Oxford would be complete without a cruise on the river.

Top things to do in Oxford:

  • Take a river cruise either on a boat tour or trying your hand at punting
  • Catch an exhibition at the Modern Art Oxford
  • Join a behind the scenes Oxford University Tour
  • Knock back a pint at the Lamb and Flag pub – a famous joint frequently visited by both JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis
  • Broaden your horizons at the Pitt Rivers archaeology and ethnography museum

2. Bath

Distance by train from London: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Good for: History and museums, spas and afternoon teas, ideal for couples

Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The city is stunning! You’ll find yourself stopping on every corner to take photos and marvel at the architecture.

Bath is a small city packed with things to do. There’s loads of museums – most notably the world famous Roman Baths. You can do as the romans do and enjoy time in the natural thermal spa. There’s also a great selection of restaurants, bars, theatres and music venues.

Top Things to do in Bath:

  • Visit the Roman Bath Museum and the Fashion Museum
  • Soak away a few hours in the thermal spas, before indulging in an afternoon tea
  • Catch a show at the Theatre Royal Bath or a film at the luxurious Tivoli cinema
  • See the city from a different angle and book a Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Have a picnic in the Parade Gardens
  • Visit the impressive Bath Abbey
London weekend breaks by train

3. Edinburgh

Distance by train from London: 7.5 hours (on a sleeper train)
Good for: London city breaks by train, ideal for couples, lots of history and attractions

If you are looking for memorable London weekend breaks by train, look not further than Edinburgh! Edinburgh is one of the UK’s top holiday destinations. What makes it especially great for a London breaks by train is the journey itself. Board the famous Caledonian Sleeper train in Euston, get cosy in your bunk and wake up 7.5hours later in Scotland!

Once in Edinburgh, there is so much to see and do with many iconic landmarks! The city is beautiful and rich with history so just wandering the streets is enough. If you fancy a different Scotland break, the Caledonian also travels to Fort Williams, Inverness, Aberdeen and Glasgow

Top things to do in Edinburgh:

  • Learn some history and enjoy the views at Edinburgh Castle
  • Explore the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Hike to the the famous Arthur’s Seat viewpoint
  • Get silly at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
  • Visit the National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

4. York

Distance by train from London: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Good for: History and museums, spas and afternoon teas, ideal for couples

York is a charming and historic cathedral city in North Yorkshire. It takes less than 2 hours to reach, making it an ideal London city breaks by train. The city has lots to offer from quirky shops, tasty food, energetic pubs and the famous Minster.

Top things to do in York:

  • Visit York Minster and catch the breathtaking views from the top
  • Head to the National Railway Museum
  • Wander down Shambles street with all it’s timber framed buildings, shops and restaurants
  • Walk along the York city
  • Jump on a memorable river cruise

Best Country Breaks

london countryside breaks by train

5. Frome

Distance by train from London: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Good for: Quaint English town, independent shopping and markets, country walks and pubs

If you are looking for a bit more countryside and quiet from your London rail break, then Frome is a great option. This small town in Somerset is packed full of character and is often voted one of the best places to live in the UK. The town centre has many independent shops and Instagram-worthy coffee shops. Make sure you plan your visit for the famous Frome Independent Market which happens on the first Sunday of the month.

Surrounding Frome is beautiful countryside – go for a walk up Cley Hill, alongside Vallis Vale river, do one of the many hikes on the Longleat estate (seeing the Heavens Gate view point is a must) or venture further afield to the Mendip Hills or the stunning Cheddar Gorge.

Top things to do in Frome:

  • Visit the huge Frome Independent Market, which happens on the first Sunday of the month
  • Hit the independent shops in Frome town centre
  • Go for a country walk and lunch stop at one of the many country pubs in the area
  • Catch a gig at the Cheese and Grain
  • On a hot day, go for a swim at neighbouring Shepton Mallet, a lido heated by the heat waste from the brewery next door!

6. Monmouth

Distance by train from London: 2 hours 15 minutes
Good for: Hiking and beautiful Wales views, afternoon teas, countryside escape

Monmouth is a beautiful Welsh town, a great place for enjoying the surrounding nature. There’s a huge number of afternoon teas in the area – so an indulgent cream tea is a must! With so much countryside nearby, there’s loads of outdoor activities up for grabs – from hiking, cycling, kayaking and wild swimming. There’s over 1,000 miles of public footpaths to walk in the area.

Things to do in Monmouth:

  • Take a kayaking trip down the River Wye
  • Go for a hike on one of the many routes in the area
  • Indulge in a delicious afternoon tea
  • Visit the Shire Hall Museum
  • Make sure to take in nearby Tintern Abbey and Sydmonds Yat viewpoint

Best Seaside breaks

Beach break by train from London

7. Brighton

Distance by train from London: 1 hour
Good for: Days on the beach, food and clubs, lively seaside atmosphere

Brighton is a great choice if you are looking for London breaks by train that combines the seaside with all that comes with a bustling city. This seaside resort is just 1 hour from London by train. The beaches are well equipped with cafes, deckchair/kayak/sup hires, chip shops and arcades. Once you’ve had enough lounging on the beach, you can then head into the town for food and a drink – Brighton is especially well-known for it’s high number of vegetarian and vegan options.

To really see Brighton at its best, visit when the world famous Pride event takes place.

Things to do in Brighton:

  • Take in the views from the 150 meter high British Airways i360
  • Explore Brighton Palace Pier
  • Hit The Lanes for shopping, food and drink
  • Explore the Sea Life Centre
  • Spend a day relaxing on the beach

8. Whitstable

Distance by train from London: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Good for: quintessential seaside escapes, chips on the beach, colourful beach-huts

Whitstable is a good option for a weekend getaway from London if you want a picturesque seaside town, but somewhere more quiet and less urban than Brighton. Whitstable is on the north coast of kent and has classic multi-coloured bead huts. You can do all the classics here – sea swims, fish and chips on the beach and 2p slot machines. That town has a good range of tasty restaurants and independent shops.

Things to do in Whitstable:

  • Spend the day on the beach
  • Grab and ice cream and wander Whitstable harbour the Harbour Market
  • Enjoy all the classic seaside foods: fish and chips, seafood and brunch
  • Visit Whitstable Castle and gardens

9. St Ives

Distance by train from London: 8.5 hours (on a sleeper train) followed by 30minutes on the bus
Good for: a coastal break by train, ideal for sunny beach days, quaint Cornwall seaside town

Get the Night Riviera Sleeper train is an adventure in itself. Board in Paddington before cosying down in your bunk bed for the night. You’ll wake up a world away from London in Penzance in Cornwall. From there, hop on a bus which takes half an hour to St Ives.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Cornwall and St Ives remains my favourite place to visit. It has several beautiful beaches, picturesque cobbled streets with lots of independent shops. Great food and art galleries. Everything is walking distance meaning you don’t need a car to get around.

Top things to do in St Ives:

  • Spend a sunny day on the beach, swimming and eating ice cream
  • Visit the Tate St Ives museum, followed by the Barbara Hepworth Museum
  • Enjoy a boat trip to see the seals (and maybe dolphins if you are lucky)
  • Get lost in St Ives cobbled streets
  • Take your children to see the Kidz R Us show

Best Overseas Breaks

london breaks by train

10. Amsterdam

Distance by train from London: 4 hours and 10 minutes
Good for: Art and museums, french cuisine, romantic getaways or a family-friendly Disney trip

Amsterdam is a much-loved Europe city break from London. There’s something for everyone in this cycle-friendly city. From good food, a lively nightlife, excellent shopping and museums. A trip to the Anne Frank Museum is essential, as is taking the ferry across to Amsterdam-Noord where you’ll discover the A-dam viewpoint.

Things to do in Amsterdam:

  • Visit the trendy Jordaan neighbour hood for shops and cafes
  • Explore the Anne Frank Museum
  • Get arty at the Van Gough Museum
  • Take a boat tour on the canal
  • Do a day trip to nearby Brussels for chocolate, beer and windmills

11. Paris

Distance by train from London: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Good for: Art and museums, french cuisine, romantic getaways or a family-friendly Disney trip

How lucky are we in London to have a train that takes us to a different country?! It amazes me that you can jump on the Eurostar in London and a couple of hours later re-emerge in the city of Paris. Paris is a huge city with so much to see and do. Packed full of art museums, iconic landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower) and far too many irresistible French cafes.

Although Paris makes a great romantic escape for couples, the nearby Disneyland theme park also makes it an ideal family friendly getaway from London!

Things to do in Paris:

  • Explore the numerous art galleries, most famously the Louve and Museum d’Orsay
  • Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Catch the Moulin Rouge show
  • Take a river cruise down the Seien River
  • Spend a day at the Disneyland Theme Park

I hope you found this guide helpful! You can follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. To find out more about me, my adventures and my travels, head here.

Bex Band

Bex Band

Welcome to my blog! I'm an award-winning adventurer, bestselling author and founder of Love Her Wild. My work and adventures have featured in BBC, The Guardian and Condé Nast. I love nothing more than travelling and getting outdoors on solo and family adventures. Using my years of experience, I provide advice and inspiration on various topics, including wild camping, charity challenges, glamping and travel itineraries.


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