There are few things that sound as inviting as a trip. Spending some time away from home every now and then can take your mind off your chores and responsibilities. If you want to feel like you’re truly unwinding and leaving your problems behind, travelling somewhere else is the best present you could give yourself. However, a trip during the winter can sound like a bit of a hassle. After all, the weather is colder, your luggage will be heavier because you have to bring along jumpers and jackets, and there’s barely any sunshine at all.
That is, at least, if you have a pessimistic view about it. When you keep an open mind, you’ll realise that travelling in winter means you will get to experience a more realistic side of the places you visit as there aren’t as many tourists as in the summertime. You’ll visit more landmarks, both to soak in the culture and to escape the nippy air outside. And you’ll even manage to save up some money on accommodation.
And because the season calls for it, you want to choose a trip that can induce a certain air of romance and cosiness. The best option is to choose a train journey throughout Europe. And if you’re wondering why picking the train over something else like the plane or the car, the answer lies in the timelessness of train travel. In Europe, trips by train have a particularly long history, and they have been popular since the 19th century onwards. When you travel by train, the destination isn’t your only goal. The trip itself is a rare pleasure. If you haven’t admired spectacular scenery moving past while huddled inside on a comfy seat before, you’re in for a treat.
Here are some of the best train rides you should consider embarking on this winter.
It can seem like a no-brainer, but the bustling capital is lovely to visit during the cold season. From the decorations to the atmosphere and the many shops around, you may find your shopping energies renewed even with Christmas already gone. If you decide to treat yourself to a retail therapy session, London is the best place to do it, as you can find pretty much everything you could want. No matter what you want to do, you won’t get bored in London. The city is usually vibrant and busy, so there’s no shortage of activities you can try. From restaurants to ice skating rinks, well-known bus tours, and iconic landmarks waiting to be discovered, you won’t feel bored for one second.
Another advantage is that you can travel to London by train starting from several major European cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels and The Hague. As a general rule, the earlier you book your trip, the cheaper you will be. However, if you want to stay flexible and keep all your travelling options available, you should expect the prices to be somewhat more elevated but still reasonable and affordable.
The Belgian capital is one of the most picturesque destinations in Europe. With a history dating back to approximately 979, the city has no shortage of astonishing cultural landmarks and incredible architecture you must discover. And, of course, you can’t miss out on the specific wintertime activities taking place in Brussels, of which there are several you should add to your bucket list.
The sound and light show at Grand Place, the city’s main square, is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful in the world. There’s a different theme each year, so if you decide to return to Brussels for Christmas 2023, you’ll get to witness an entirely different show. One of the best things about it is that the show repeats itself throughout the night every half an hour, so if you’ve got a walk through Brussels planned out (a perfect idea if it’s your first time in the city), you can still catch it. The Winter Wonder festival includes open-air concerts, fairs, skating rinks and many other entertainment options, and of course, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to stroll through the Saint-Hubert Galleries. It’s not just for shopping but for the sheer beauty of the architecture and the all-around lovely atmosphere.
Much like in the case of London, finding a Brussels train is not at all difficult, and you can start off from all European capitals, including Paris, London and Amsterdam. Booking your ticket online helps you avoid paying an extra booking fee. And if you’re planning a weekend getaway, travelling on Saturday, Sunday and Monday is preferable to starting on Friday and finishing on Sunday if you want to stay within a predetermined budget.
Wales can boast some of the most beautiful narrow-gauge railways, so if you’ve wanted to visit the country before, there’s no better time to try. The railways that go through the country cover the mountains and the coastal scenery of Snowdonia so that you can enjoy various views. If you’d like to try something a little out of the ordinary, you can take a trip back in time and choose the steam-powered service of the Ffestiniog Railway. This train goes roughly 13 miles down to the coast, reaching Porthmadog. Afterwards, you can return to Caernarfon, where you can board a train connecting to the main line service and continue your journey from there.
The German capital is a must-see during winter, and luckily there’s a well-established network of high-speed trains that can take you there in no time. If you’re in Berlin during the holiday season, there are numerous Christmas markets you can visit. They offer different products and entertainment, and if you have enough time at your disposal, you should check out as many of them as possible.
If you feel up to it, you can start from Paris, move on to Brussels and then Berlin for a continuous, three-country extravaganza in some of the best cities in the world. You can also travel from Paris to Frankfurt and then move on to the German capital if you want to spend a little more time in Germany.
There’s perhaps no choice more obvious than Vienna when it comes to a winter trip. The city becomes genuinely magical during the cold months, and you won’t regret even for a second that you chose it as your destination. The Austrian Railways also offer the benefit of sleeper trains, so you start off in one country and then open your eyes to discover you’ve arrived at your destination. It’s the perfect option if you’re worried you may start to feel a little restless during the trip.
Travelling during wintertime is bound to make for a pleasant experience, but if you choose to journey by train, you’re one step closer to making it utterly unforgettable.