10 Must See European Cities to Visit by Train

Did you know Strasbourg is just over five hours from London – and simply beautiful…

glacier-express escorted tour

Air travel can be an exhausting ordeal at the best of times, and with the security checks, passport control & luggage recovery all making for a veritable medley of queueing, disappointment and delays, we’re all looking for a less stressful, but still swift and efficient means of visiting the continent.

Add in taxis and car hire delays, and it’s no wonder trains are making somewhat of a comeback for the discerning intercontinental traveller.

With this in mind we thought we’d put together some examples of where you can realistically visit by train for a weekend break, and how long you could expect to take to travel there.

Also, bear in mind that, almost unanimously, rail stations are located in city centres, station check-ins take a fraction of the time that are considered the norm in airports, and security measures are generally faster and more efficient than those of the aviation industry. All this means the chances are that you’ll take a similar time door to door by rail as you would by plane.

All the cities we’ve compiled here are less than 8 hours from London and have no more than a single connection.

For prices, and much more detail on what you can and can’t expect from any of these destinations, we suggest you call us on 01347 825292 and speak to an expert to help you plan your trip.


Get there in: 6h26m

Change: There is a direct Eurostar service every Friday at 7.19am

Why go? France’s substantial southern city is great for discovering the bars and restaurants of the Vieux Port, the beauty of the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde on its rugged hilltop, and the geographical splendour of the nearby Parque National des Calanques, where limestone inlets meet the coastline.

Why not take in Marseille as part of our Grand Tour of France experience?

Luxembourg Cityluxembourg city

Get there in: 5h28m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare de Paris-Est)

Why go?  Luxembourg City is great at surprising those who lay eyes on it in person. It is an unexpectedly and surprisingly attractive city, laid out above and down the sides of a steep gorge at the convergence of the Pétrusse and Alzette rivers. There are an abundance of boutiques and sophisticated shops abound on the Rue Philippe II, while delightful restaurants and quaint cafes surround the central square, the Place Guillaume II.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Luxembourg by rail.



Get there in: 5h21m

Change: Brussels

Why go? Cologne is a truly beautiful city, and arguably the most attractive city in Germany, and sits on the banks of the Rhine which is a huge part of its appeal. There’s no shortage of excellent places to eat and drink along the waterfront of Am Frankenturm and excellent modern art at the Museum Ludwig, and it cannot be denied that the truly magnificent cathedral – the Dom –which was once the world’s tallest building is the centrepiece of this must-visit city.

Make this Christmas a truly spectacular one with A visit to Cologne’s Christmas Market



Get there in: 5h17m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare de Paris-Est)

Why go? It’s France’s most easterly major city and is a unique blend of French and German influence (it was a German city between 1871 and 1918) most prominent in the Neustadt district (built under German rule) added to the city’s Unesco World Heritage inscription in July 2017. The heart of the town is thoroughly French– and the cathedral, Notre Dame, is magnificent, dramatic and certainly not to be missed.

We can offer a First Class trip to Strasbourg from just £449 – Call 01347 825292 for more details.



Get there in: 3h06m

Change: Brussels

Why go? In the far north of Belgium, to the extent it’s almost into the Netherlands, Antwerp is surprisingly easy to access by train, with Eurostar offering an “Any Belgian Station” ticket meaning Antwerp or any other city in the country is priced the same as a ride to Brussels. Take advantage of this and you may perhaps be able to justify a visit to the Diamond District – which, rather unsurprisingly, is alive with luxury jewellers.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Antwerp.


Place de la Bourse Bordeaux

Get there in: 5h25m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse)

Why go? Well, they do a rather good bottle of wine there, which is probably justification enough. Bordeaux’s role as France’s wine capital needs no further embellishment. But it has certainly been enhanced by the opening of the Cité du Vin– the must-see museum which celebrates the city’s devotion to wine. Of course, with fine wine comes excellent food, another area where Bordeaux excels in particular along the famous restaurant drag of Rue Saint-Remi.

Discover Bordeaux by First Class Rail with Planet Rail.



Quickest travel time (one way): 4h04m

Change: Brussels

Why go? No longer just a port town Rotterdam has truly shaking off its reputation of having little to offer beyond shipping containers and industry. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is an artistic Mecca which runs the gamut from Brueghel the Elder to Salvador Dali. Another must see is the enormous cable-stayed Erasmus Bridge, which resembles a swan rearing its neck giving the city a beauty that needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Rotterdam.


zurich by rail

Get there in: 7h31m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon)

Why go?  Zurich has a good deal to offer weekend visitors. Not least it has its unique waterside location naturally at the very north tip of Lake Zurich.

In addition, and an absolute must see for food lovers, you have the likes of Zurich West, a former industrial area of town which now boasts diverse food markets and boutiques to while away the hours.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Zurich.


stuttgart by rail

Get there in: 6h40m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare de Paris-Est)

Why go? Stuttgart is often overlooked when considering cities in Germany to visit and rarely seen on a must-see list of German cities, Stuttgart’s rail accessibility from London makes it a brilliant and slightly different option for a weekend away.

Its even more relevant for car fans in particular being the home of museums devoted to the German automobile institutions of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Stuttgart.



Get there in: 7h10m

Change: Paris (from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon)

Why go? A truly hidden jewel in France – though with over half-a-million inhabitants it’s not a tiny tucked-away sort of spot.

Montpellier does architectural elegance really well, in particular its Antigone district, with its neoclassical buildings, and with a near-Mediterranean location the weather and atmosphere is decidedly relaxed and sun-focused. It sits about 10 miles inland which means a visit to sandy crescents such as Carnon-Plage is perfectly achievable.

You can call 01347 825292 to speak with an expert who can help you plan your trip to Montpellier.

In Summary…

So, you can see how close some of Europe’s greatest cities are by rail; and with the First Class luxury of intercontinental rail, a relaxing weekend away or fully-fledged exploration across Europe is closer, and more affordable than you might think.