Top 10 Holidays by Rail
We thought we'd better create this Top 10 for the growing number of people who swear that there is no better way to travel than by train.
Certainly, you are able to appreciate the scenery much better than you can from a plane or a car, and it is environmentally friendly too, leaving a much fainter carbon footprint. The vast majority of our French holidays – as well as several Swiss and Spanish ones – can be reached comfortably in a day from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet; here we list our ten favourites:
Gastronomic Trails in Catalonia Walk, spain
This is one of our gentlest walking holidays
, so arriving in a leisurely fashion by train seems very fitting. Besides the scenery – over the course of the week you meander across the timeless inland plain to the rugged and beautiful Costa Brava – the holiday’s two great features are the high-quality hotels and exceptional cuisine.
Marine Self-Catering Apartment, Provence, France
Nestling amid quintessential Provençal landscapes with views that stretch as far as the Alps in clear weather, this self-catering apartment is a fittingly idyllic retreat
. The interior is charmingly decorated, having retained original features such as wooden beams and exposed stonework which lend it plenty of character. Travelling there by rail helps to set the tone for a week of relaxation and leisurely walking and exploration.
Châteaux of the Loire Cycle, Loire Valley, france
This had to feature in our Top 10 holidays by rail because, being in northern France, the Loire Valley is one of the regions that you can reach most quickly from London – you can be at your first hotel by a very respectable 4pm after a civilised 9am departure from London. For such a relatively short journey, the difference in climate is impressive: summers are much longer and warmer than they are in Britain, making it perfect for days of leisurely cycling
and long picnics in the grounds of the many splendid châteaux.
To the Pont du Gard Walk, Roman Provence, france
This is the walk
that we always recommend to anyone looking for a holiday on which the emphasis is just as much on the hotels and the gastronomy as it is on the walking. The scenery is beautiful, as is the 3- and 4-star accommodation in which you stay, and the cuisine is truly outstanding – one of the hotels boasts two Michelin stars! To really start your holiday in the style in which you mean to go on, we recommend upgrading to first class on your rail journey.
Dordogne Valley Cycle, Dordogne, france
As the train crosses gently undulating hills coated with fields of corn and sunflowers and dotted with honey-coloured farmhouses in the yards of which strut ducks and geese, it is hard to stop your mind from wandering to the dinners that await you. The rich regional cuisine is a real highlight of this holiday
(and all our other holidays in the Dordogne
), with duck, truffles and foie gras featuring widely on menus. As you cycle between 20 and 60 kilometres each day, you have plenty of excuse to indulge.
Mountains of the Auvergne Walk, Massif Central, france
The train ride into the Massif Central is another journey that really whets your appetite for the week ahead: the anticipation mounts in line with the height of the surrounding peaks. This is our most challenging walking holiday
in France, offering a real sense of satisfaction and achievement to keen walkers as it leads from valley to valley along panoramic broad ridges.
Villages of the Engadine Walk, Engadine Valley, switzerland
The Eurostar and TGV high-speed trains may be a modern marvel, but the fairytale villages that you discover as part of this holiday
in this little-known corner of eastern Switzerland are filled with an almost tangible sense of timelessness. To stroll past the sturdy stone houses decorated with intricate pastel murals of villages such as Guarda and Zuoz is to be transported back in time.
Landscapes of the Tarn Walk, Tarn, france
Of all the walking holidays in our Top 10 holidays by rail, this route has featured in our programme the longest, and has always been a popular choice among customers wishing to travel by train. What makes it such a long-standing classic
is the combination of friendly hotels, unspoiled scenery that becomes increasingly Mediterranean as you progress eastwards, and good regional cooking, all complemented by the feeling of being in a little-discovered corner of France.
Luberon Valleys & Villages Cycle, Provence, france
The Luberon is quintessential Provence. To get yourself in the mood, why not sit back and immerse yourself in either Pagnol’s "Jean de Florette" or "Manon des Sources", both of which describe the enchanting landscapes so lyrically, as you speed through increasingly southern-feeling scenery? Both our walking holiday
and cycling holiday
in this enchanting region will transport you back in time.
Grand Tour of Switzerland Journey, Switzerland
The journey to your starting point in eastern Switzerland may not be quite as spectacular as the railways you travel on over the course of the week – the highlight of which is undoubtedly the Glacier Express route over the 2,033-metre-high Oberalp Pass – but it certainly sets the tone for a week of awe-inspiring mountain views
and leisurely exploration.
If our Top 10 holidays by rail has convinced you to take the train to your next holiday, view the full list holidays accessible from London in a day