10 Mini-break escapes where you don’t have to fly

We know the fear of flying can keep people grounded, be it the stress of the airports or the thought of flying terrifies you, but the good news is this doesn’t limit you to stays in the UK. With high-speed trains, waterways, and roads, it’s easier than you may think to venture a little further afield.

It’s easier than ever to enjoy a mini-break away without having to fly. While it may take a little longer to reach these destinations without flying, it’s incredibly easy because all the European rail networks are so well connected. It’s also a much more environmentally friendly way to travel. Take the train and explore some amazing scenery on the way, where even the journey can be fun, or travel on one of the European sleeper trains for an altogether different experience. There is no better time to take the train.

Here is a list of 10 mini-breaks where you don’t have to fly.

1. Brussels, (Belgium)

brussels, grote markt, brussels belgium

Just a 2-hour train ride from London lies the magnificent capital of Belgium, Brussels. One of Europe’s major city’s where you will find delights like amazing beers, some of the most delicious chocolate on the planet, splendid architecture, and who could forget, the best waffles. Oh and mussels, plenty of them, they love them here in Brussels, and you will find plenty of restaurants serving them.

The city is full of cultural delights and lots of history, with museums galore, the famous Grand Place and a whole host of other attractions, There’s more than enough to keep you busy for days.

2. Amsterdam, (Netherlands)

Amsterdam canal
Amsterdam

Eurostar now travels directly from London right into the heart of Amsterdam in under 4 hours, leaving you plenty of time to explore this wonderful city, with its abundance of world-class museums, canals, and some of the best nightlife in Europe. Sit back and relax while you are whisked between the two cities, knowing that you don’t have to deal with all the usual airport chaos, leaving you stress-free.

Read my guide on visiting Amsterdam here .

3. Reims, (France)

Palais du Tau
Palais du Tau, Reims

Nestled in the heart of the Champagne region of France lies the beautiful city of Reims. The city is a great place to visit if your looking for a romantic break or a break somewhere a little less busy but still offering plenty to do. There is wonderful scenery, great restaurants, fine champagne houses, and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the whole of France, plus much more. If you’re a fan of fizz then you simply must take one of the Champagne tours here www.grapeescapes.net. A ride on the train from London St Pancras will take you approximately 4 hours or if you wanted to drive then this will take around 6 hours.

4. Cologne, (Germany)

night scene, cologne, germany

Pick up the Eurostar in London and In a little over 4 hours, you can be in the gothic city of Cologne, with a quick change in Brussels along the way. Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and is situated along the Rhine. The beautiful gothic city is packed with stunning architecture including the twin-spired cathedral and with a ton of stuff to do including the museum Ludwig, the Kölntriangle, boat tours and scale the heights of the magnificent cathedral.
Cologne is a city you will want to add to your list.

5. Frankfurt, germany

Again boarding the Eurostar in London and a quick change in Brussels, you can find yourself in the splendid German city of Frankfurt. Frankfurt is Germany’s most modern city and a major European financial hub. This historic city suffered major damage during World War II and has undergone major renovation over the years and now boasts a fantastic futuristic skyline.
There are also over 30 museums in the city, as well as lots of open parks to explore.

6. Bruges, (Belgium)

brugge, bruges, belgium

Bruges is a beautiful, historic and romantic city in the northwest of Belgium, famous for its medieval architecture, canals, and it’s bridges. And the city is yours to explore in just under three and a half hours from London by Eurostar or take your car and reach the city from London in 4 hours.
You will simply not want to miss a visit to this charming city full of canals and chocolate.

For a guide on what to do in Bruges, click here.

7. Lyon, (France)

basilica, church, monument

Foodies call Lyon the gastronomic capital of France or even the world, with over 2000 restaurants to choose from, including several Michelin-starred. The city also has a ton of history and is packed with things to see and do including many museums, fabulous shopping districts, and some of the best festivals in the whole of France, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a cultural break. Lyon can certainly give Paris a run for its money and is an ideal destination for a mini-break.

Board the Eurostar in London and change in Paris or Lille and board a connecting TGV train to Lyon, with the whole journey taking less than 5 hours.

8. Avignon (France)

pont saint bénézet, pont d'avignon, rhône

This beautiful city in the southwest of France was once the center of the Roman Catholic world and was home to the Pope. In a little over 6 hours from London by train, you can reach this fascinating city, one of Frances’s most historic.
Why visit Avignon? Not only is it very a beautiful and relaxing city but it is also a city of great historic importance, the centre being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It was here, in 1309, that the French Pope, Clement Vchose to reside rather than in Rome and so Avignon remained home to successive Popes until 1377.  Visit the Palais des Papes and the Pont Saint-Benezet, take a boat ride along the Rhone and stop off at the beautiful town of Villeneuve-Les-Avignon for a wander through its clean, quiet, creamy colored streets, or, if you want busy, visit the flea market on a Saturday from 6 am to 3 pm.

9. Dublin, (Ireland)

dublin, temple bar, tourism
The famous Temple Bar in Dublin

A beautiful medieval city located on the east coast of Ireland, Dublin is a city you must put on your list. A city that has a ton of architectural gems, historical sites, wonderful green spaces and some of the best and most atmospheric traditional pubs around. No trip to Dublin would be complete without a few drinks in one of the many bars here, the hardest thing will be to choose which one, with over 700 in the city.

Within easy reach of the city center, there are a few beeches to explore and while they might not be Dublin’s highlight, it certainly makes for a great place to chill out and take a nice walk, with some stunning scenery on offer, or if you fancy braving it (or completely mad), a swim.

So come and immerse yourself in the wonderfully friendly, and warm Dublin culture, famous throughout the world.

The best way to travel to Dublin from the UK without flying is by ferry from Holyhead, a crossing run by Stena Line ferries with taking 3 hours 15 minutes.

10. Antwerp, (Belgium)

belgium, antwerp, office

Antwerp is one of Europes best destinations for a mini-break. It’s definitely worth you packing your suitcase for a couple of days in Antwerp, also known as the worlds capital of diamonds, due to the 84% of worlds rough diamonds passing through the city.
Antwerp is also the place to be for boutique shopping in Belgium, with some of the world’s most luxury boutique stores like Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
There is also loads to see in Antwerp, including the Steen Castle and the Antwerp cathedral, the huge new port house and even the main station with its fantastic architecture.

These are just a few places I have come up with that are within really easy reach of the UK without having to fly. So book your break and relax knowing there is no bass or of the airport, or putting yourself through the flight you hate.

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