Sometimes you just need a break from the big smoke. Or perhaps you’ve come to London and are thinking… Where can I get to, in double quick time, to make the most of my stay in the British Isles? Here are five ideas to help you do just that!
Just an hour train ride from London Victoria, or a little further from St Pancras International, Brighton is nestled beneath the South Downs National Park on the Sussex coastline.
I’ve written about Brighton before. I called it England’s City of Soul and that opinion hasn’t changed!
Brighton’s my hometown, and so I am a little biased in its favour; however, I have no doubt that, for a quick city break away from London, it should top your list!
Brighton is a quirky city. The Lanes are a treasure trove, with second-hand shops and quaint independent restaurants around every corner. Should you get bored of spending your hard-earned money on trinkets, clothes, and bites to eat, take in a show at Komedia or the Theatre Royal! Alternatively, you might choose to shoot down to the pier, or even take a tour around the wonderful Royal Pavilion and its Gardens!
Brighton, and the surrounding area, truly has something for everyone. Whether you are on a visitor to our country, or looking to see a little more of it as a British Citizen, Brighton definitely deserves your attention!
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From a guy who knows the area, don’t miss the chance to walk up on the South Downs. You get stunning views of Brighton to the South, and Sussex in the North! It’s well worth a gander.
Starting out from Paddington Station, you can shoot South West of London and, in under 2 hours, you’ll be slap bang in the center of the old Roman city of Bath.
Bath, as a city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the only whole city to be designated as such in the UK.
The Roman Baths are a huge part of that. The opulent architectural design, and beautiful surroundings to the baths, make them one of the best places in England to take a dip. Moreover, should you require a more modern option, Thermae Day Spa offers a rooftop pool with views across the city… Not bad at all!
The appeal of Bath is also it’s West Country Locale. It doesn’t feel like London, unless perhaps you go in the height of Summer when it’s wedged chock a block with tourists. Whatever time of year you go though, don’t forget that locally brewed cider is one of the perks of the region so grab a glass of Pilton, Perry, or Taunton’s best, if you’re so inclined!
A three-hour journey by train will take you from the heart of London, and Kings Cross Station, and into the sleepy northern city of Durham.
Durham isn’t to be missed. Granted, it is the smallest place on this list; however, it also oozes character and there are a huge number of opportunities for exploring in the region, just ask Dominic Cummings!
The Cathedral looks down on Durham from atop the bailey. It is beautiful inside, with stone pillars which made a cameo in the most recent Avengers movie! Beyond its relevance in pop culture though, the cathedral is a deeply spiritual place and a must see for anyone visiting Durham.
There are also plenty of independent eateries in the area to grab a bite eat. Burger joints, Tango and Fat Hippo, divide popular opinion amongst the student body in the city as to which is better, and La Spaghettata, an authentic Italian restaurant, offers a value for money eat at the heart of the city!
Beyond Durham itself, but only a reasonable drive away, Beamish open air museum tells the story of North East England’s history with an immersive experience perfect for a family visit, and Hadrian’s wall, an indelible mark left on Britain by the Romans, is equally accessible for a day-trip.
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It is well worth visiting a student college and bar if you can get in. Cheap pints and great atmospheres are to be had if you can get yourselves in!
A little further from London Kings Cross than Durham, but on the same line, Edinburgh is just 5 hours away by train. You may even choose to fly the journey in just an hour, for a not too dissimilar price. It can, in fact, be even cheaper to fly to Edinburgh than take the train.
Edinburgh is the Scottish capital and (arguably) the crown jewel of the northern-most country of the United Kingdom.
It is also the city of the world’s largest art’s festival! Fancy yourself as well cultured? If so, twenty-five days of August are dedicated to the performing arts! It’s the perfect time to go, but for the freezing cold temperatures.
All year round, Edinburgh castle is a treat ! It’s been a royal residence since at least the 12th century and still houses a number of treasures including the Scottish Crown Jewels. Have a look around and then head up Arthur’s Seat for the best view of the city. Arthur’s seat is an extinct volcano, and popular ‘short hike’, the top of which provides a fantastic panorama of Edinburgh. Well within walking distance of Edinburgh castle, it is a must visit for any tourist.
Don’t forget to try your share of Scottish delicacies whilst you’re in town too. From whiskey to haggis, and even battered mars bars, Scotland has some weird and wonderful things for you to try if you’re brave enough!
Is it strange that it is actually quicker to get a train from London to Paris than to Edinburgh? In under 3 hours, in fact as few as 2 hours and 20 minutes, you could be exiting your carriage in the City of Light. Again, a flight is a tad quicker, and that may be your preferred option, but don’t write off a train under the Channel.
Paris. Do I even need to give you reasons? Well I will run a few of them by you anyway.
The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Sacre-Coeur, and myriad other buildings. Paris is every artist’s eye candy. The Louvre contains everything from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and thousands of other exhibits as well.
If the art and architecture doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps the food and drink will. Escargot, macarons, foie gras, crepes, croissants, Kir Royals, and fantastic wine… Of course, Paris is not a cheap city; however, even one night of fine dining is a reason in itself to visit Paris, and an experience that will live long in the memory.
Paris is a city of ambiance, of romance, and of beauty. Yes, it has it’s less aesthetic parts, and’s taken a knock in recent times for excessive pricing and an arguably deteriorating social fabric; however, nonetheless, it will forever be a city worthy of your attention and your visit.