Thanks to its close geographic location to the UK, the European mainland is an easily accessible and popular destination for many. Yet, whilst traditional holidays may have looked towards flights and ferry crossings when planning their trip, nowadays there is a new way to explore Europe – by train.
Rail holidays, no matter what their destination, offer plenty of benefits to travellers. Giving you the chance to truly enjoy the sights of different cities whilst being transported in a luxurious and relaxing carriage, European city weekend breaks are the perfect rail holiday experiences – but where can you go?
The city of romance, Paris is always top of the list when it comes to European cities. From the imposing structure of the Eiffel Tower to the elegance of the Sacré Cœur and Notre Dame, this is one city packed with history and intrigue.
Make sure you sample some of the local delicacies to get a true feel for the French way of life. With plenty of rail holidays passing through Paris as they follow the River Seine, you can also explore famous regions such as the Dordogne, Nice and Lille.
When to visit: winter is a great time to see the illuminated Eiffel Tower matched by festive decorations and sample Christmas markets whilst summer gives you chance to watch the waters of the Seine sparkle under the sun.
Another fantastic European city, Brussels boasts impressive architecture, a warm welcome and plenty of Belgian chocolate! The city's location makes it a capital for the European Union, being nestled in the crossroads between Germanic and Romance provinces. Despite the strong integration of different cultures that this produces in the city, Brussels still has its own charm and identity unlike anything else found in Europe.
Whether you choose to take a rail tour of the city on its own or combine it with a trip across other notable destinations – including the medieval city of Bruges – Brussels will provide plenty of intrigue.
When to visit: to avoid the crowds and peak prices, travel in early summer or early autumn; the climate will also be more temperate at this time.
A bustling calendar of festivals and events, Amsterdam is one city that knows how to party. Yet, alongside its coffee shops and famous red light district, there is plenty more to this influential city.
The site of the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam has become a cultural and historical mecca for those who want a glimpse into this dark period in history. These attractions and the stunning natural scenery draw in excess of 3 million tourists each year, with rail holidays offering a unique way to explore a city which is more commonly associated with the pedal power of bicycles.
When to visit: a great city to visit at any time of year, those looking for a cheaper deal may want to look at off-peak periods, just outside of summertime, to avoid the crowds.