From Aberdeen to Puglia, here’s how to get to some of 2020’s coolest travel destinations by train.
Wanderlust is becoming a guilty pleasure.
Our Pinterest boards full of images of far-flung places and daydreams of beach huts in Thailand are now singed with guilt. With our planet in crisis, we’ve been burdened with the knowledge that the 16 hour flight to Bali to attend a yoga retreat will amount to four tonnes of CO2. It’s a hefty dent in your carbon footprint, and a heavy weight on your eco-conscious.
The positive news? This turn of the travel tide means we’re looking at new, environmentally friendly options, which also have the potential to take our experiences to a more immersive level. In the last year, searches for train travel have risen on Pinterest by 107% and we’ve seen people all over the world take to social media to pledge that in 2020, they’ll be abandoning flying in favour of trains. This has also shone a light on the beauty of train travel, how much more relaxing it is than flying and the scenery you can observe while you’re doing it, giving you a chance to get to your destination better. Let alone how many seriously swanky train experiences there are out there.
If you’re just about ready to jump on board, but wondering where you’ll actually be able to go by train, then we’ve got some great news: some of the coolest travel hot spots of the last year are accessible by train. That’s right, we’ve taken inspiration for The New York Times travel list of 52 places to visit and picked out a few of our favourites that are easy to get to by train. In fact, we’ve even planned the route for you.
Some journeys are just one night, while others will take you a few days but mean you’ll get to see three cities instead of one, creating an all-round more enriching experience. See below for inspiration on where you should take your next holiday, with minimal damage to the planet.
It may not be the German capital, but Munich has a special charm that to some, makes it even more attractive than Berlin. Culture is the shiniest string in its bow, as the city is overflowing with world class museums and gems like the Bavarian State Opera House. Its gothic architecture is also something to be gawped at.
Getting there: Travelling to Germany by train is relatively straight forward, and it isn’t too expensive either. Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras to Paris Gare du Nore in just under two and a half hours, and from there a SNCF train from Paris Gare de l’East to München Hbf in five and a half hours.
Aalborg is Denmark’s fourth largest city and within it you’ll find an exhilarating mix of both natural and human-made landmarks, such as the mighty Limfjord waterfront which cuts into the centre. There’s also the vibrant Aalborg Street Food market, the pedestrian and cycling Culture Bridge and the Vestre Fjordpark, which has an open-air swimming pool that meets the sea.
Getting there: The best way to get to Aalborg by train is to make the journey part of the holiday. Travel by Eurostar and take the London to Brussels train which takes just under two hours. Change at Brussels Midi and catch the high-speed ICE train to Cologne and spend the night there. In the morning it’s time to venture to Copenhagen. To do this you’ll need to catch the InterCity train to Hamburg Hbf and then the Danish IC3 intercity train to Copenhagen. Copenhagen is an amazing city, enjoy a night here before interrailing your way to Aalborg. You can buy an interrail pass for Denmark for three, four, five, six or eight travel days within one month, with prices starting at €161 (£137). Using this you can travel across the country to Aalborg, seeing Frederica and Aarhus on the way, if you so wish!
Puglia is set to be the destination of 2020 after we saw it all over our Instagram feeds last summer, with every travel blogger worth their salt posting a picture in front of those white washed walls. It’s famous for its rustic charm, centuries-old farmland and a rugged coastline, where creamy building teeter above the (turquoise) water’s edge. In short, it’s bloody gorgeous.
The region also has a 1,000 year old wine culture, tracing back to when the Greeks first planted vines from their land across the Adriatic Sea, which means there’s plenty of tasting to do. Yippee.
Getting there: First take the Eurostar to Paris and whether you decide to stay another night to sample the luxurious hotels in the City of Lights, or just explore for the day, you’ll need to catch the Thello overnight train from Paris to Milan. Once you’ve woken up in Milan, enjoy a day in the city because it’s another sleeper that evening – which also means you’re saving on hotel rooms! Take the overnight train from Milan Centrale to Bari Centrale.
The popularity of UK staycations is going up, up and away, with no signs of coming back down to earth. But although there’s plenty see in both the capital city and countryside escapes around the country, Scotland is really the place to be. Aberdeen’s coastal location means it’s privy to pastel sunsets and wintery beach walks, while its plethora of cute cafes and boutiques will give you lots to nose around.
Getting there: The Caledonian Sleeper service runs from London Euston to Aberdeen overnight, allowing passengers on board from 8.59pm where they can make themselves comfortable until departure later that evening. You’ll arrive into Aberdeen at 7.40am the next morning and cheerily be woken with a Scottish breakfast and a brew.