One of the many wonderful things about London is the fact that it can be the gateway to a number of other excellent European countries and cities, without breaking the bank to boot. Whether you are local to the UK and simply passing through London on your way to places further afield or London is your starting point for a whistle-stop tour of mainland Europe, there are limitless options open to you.
Although London can boast five major airports if you are planning to visit Europe then you might actually find taking the train or coach to be a cheaper and simpler option. The coach is the best option for those wanting to travel on a budget although it is probably advisable to only choose this option if you aren’t travelling too far; even the hardiest of travellers would find being confined to a coach with only a couple of stops to be quite taxing. However travelling by train is surprisingly simple and convenient, and a lot kinder on the bank balance than even some short-haul budget flights turn out to be.
If you choose to travel from London by Eurostar then it is very straightforward to pick up another train from Paris and continue on your journey. Or to travel directly from London to other destinations via train. If you want some inspiration for a long weekend from London then read on:-
Perhaps an obvious choice but one of the simplest city breaks you can take direct from London is one to Paris. And there is so much to see and do in Paris that you wouldn’t be disappointed with your choice either! An overnight stay in London at a hotel such as one of the hotels near Chiswell Street London and the following day you could be boarding your train and in Paris is just a couple of hours. From the iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to cultural attractions including the Louvre and Notre Dame, not to mention the many wonderful restaurants, shops and beautiful open spaces; there is a lot to recommend Paris as the perfect place to take a short break from London.
This Belgian city is swiftly becoming a very popular place to visit for a weekend break because it has so much to offer tourists; and being less than 2 and a half hours by train from London means that it is also a fairly convenient destination too. The short distance means you can easily visit and make the most out of your weekend without having to spend hours in security lines at the airport, or long times waiting for train connections, all the while losing your precious free time. Brussels itself is home to plenty of well known museums and art galleries including Atomiuim and Mini-Europe as well as having a number of UNESCO sites and stunning architectural masterpieces to recommend it as a cultural destination.
Slightly further away with a train change required in the middle is Strasbourg which sits on the border between France and Germany. It would be well worth arriving in London the night before and staying somewhere such as The Montcalm Brewery Hotel on Chiswell Street London if you were planning a break to Strasbourg as the journey itself is just under 6 hours although it could be done in one day if needed. It’s location means that Strasbourg offers a wonderful blend of both French and German architecture and culture too. It is a pretty and picturesque town surrounded by canals and filled with cobbled streets and hidden gems. From boat trips on the Rhine to wine tasting, there is plenty to keep you occupied over a weekend break here.
Another city break which is set a little further away is Stuttgart in Germany. By train it would take you approximately 6 and a half hours to reach this German city but if you have either a love of cars or wine (or both!) then this is the ultimate destination for you. Home to the Porche museum and the Mercedes-Benz museum there is plenty to keep petrol-heads interested and surrounding the city are limitless vineyards and forests so whether you want a wine tasting tour or some freedom and fresh air, you will find something to suit you here. A change at Paris is all that is required to reach this wonderful German city and you could be exploring the Wilhelma, the Old Castle or relaxing with a glass of wine in hand.
If bargain hunting is your thing then you can’t go wrong with a journey to Lille. Home to Europe’s biggest annual flea market, on the first weekend of September the Grande Braderie de Lille fair arrives along with two to three million visitors all looking for that treasure or trinket to take home with them. From London it would take just under 4 hours to reach Lille and if the idea of rubbing shoulders with crowds of people doesn’t do it for you then there is plenty of other attractions to recommend the city of Lille. Just maybe give the first weekend in September a miss! Lille was once the merchant centre of French Flanders and there are plenty of Flemish influences present in modern day Lille from the culture to the cuisine. Landmarks such as Lille Cathedral and the Column of the Goddess are worth exploring and there are a number of museums which offer further insight into the history of the area too.
And of course we couldn’t complete this list without mention of London itself which is very worthy of a weekend break. From the world class museums and art galleries to the rich and historic landmarks, the cultural influences and the surprising amount of wide, open spaces, London can very much hold its own as a European city break destination.