1. London

For culture, history and pretty much everything else, it's impossible not to mention London. It can be easily reached from abroad, arriving with Eurostar at London St Pancras. From this central location, you can hop on the tube to get to the shopping hub of Oxford Street, plus upmarket Bond Street and Regent Street. Or head over to iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. London is about more than shopping and sightseeing though, with world-class nightlife taking in virtually every type of gig venue, nightclub and bar you could hope for. Plus, check out the Royal Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall, for classical, opera, and ballet performances, as well as a host of glittering galas.

2. Brighton

You can travel from London to Brighton in around 50 minutes or so on the fastest services. Brighton is famous as a cheerful and welcoming seaside resort town, popular since Victorian times as a place to escape from urban life and to enjoy a day at the beach. Today, it’s grown into a bustling city that still maintains a unique, laid-back atmosphere. It's also known for its gorgeous Royal Pavilion, as well as the Palace Pier with its vintage rides and arcades. An extended weekend stay in Brighton can be spent sunbathing and swimming on the beach in summer or soaking up culture at venues such as the Theatre Royal. If you’re an active traveller, be sure to get out to the South Downs for walks and a look at the famous Long Man of Wilmington.

3. Inverness

Perched up at the other end of the UK, Inverness is the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. Even the most intrepid travellers often cite this area as being one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. Let the stresses of everyday life melt away as you go for bracing walks through deep green landscapes and to the lochs that surround Inverness. The legendary Loch Ness is nearby, so be sure to keep a lookout for the camera-shy monster, 'Nessie'. In the city itself, you can visit Inverness Castle. Relatively young at a couple of hundred years old, it is nonetheless beautiful. You can travel by train from Edinburgh to Inverness in about 3h 20m.

4. Cardiff

Cardiff has long been an important seaport in the UK, transporting Welsh coal to power the British Empire. In recent years, it’s seen a huge amount of investment and regeneration, turning it into one of Europe’s leading cities for culture and entertainment. Around the city centre and Cardiff Bay, you’ll find a wide variety of fine dining and cultural hotspots, such as at the Wales Millennium Centre. Here, you can enjoy live music, plays, dance performances and a rotating programme of events, including children’s festivals. The Senedd, or National Assembly for Wales, is open to the public for free and is housed in an ultramodern building, offering a glimpse into local politics. Travel by train from London to Cardiff in as little as two hours.

5. Bath

A unique town in the UK, Bath’s Roman ruins are especially well-preserved. Though you can't bathe in the ancient baths themselves, why not come to Bath for a relaxing weekend of pampering? Several hotels and smaller establishments offer excellent spa experiences, whether you fancy a quick facial or a deep-tissue massage. Once fully rejuvenated, head to landmarks including the Gothic Bath Abbey, dating from the 15th century. Bath also features a number of beautiful parks, including Victoria Park and Parade Gardens. It takes under an hour to travel from London to Bath Spa by train.

6. Liverpool

European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool is a Northern English cultural powerhouse. Birthplace of The Beatles, it’s always been known for its vibrant music scene and features a number of iconic museums. The Beatles Story is a magnet for fans of the band or anyone who appreciates music history, with exhibits on the band including rare artwork, outfits and instruments. Liverpool also features a large Chinatown area, perfect for a delicious dinner, as well as a vast array of pubs and clubs. It takes just over half an hour to travel from Manchester to Liverpool by train on the fastest routes.

7. Exeter

For a blend of urban and country life, an extended break in Exeter could be the perfect option. This peaceful cathedral town has a number of historic buildings and easy access to the beautiful Devon countryside. Its Guildhall has been running as the seat of local government for over 600 years and sits proudly on the High Street. While you’re exploring the sights and shops here, be sure to stop for a traditional Devon cream tea. The Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks are nearby, while Rougemont Castle is also located here – a beautiful building, it's well worth a visit during your stay. Trains from London to Exeter take around two hours.

8. York

For a picturesque slice of British life, York is sure to satisfy travellers on long weekend breaks. Steeped in history, you can visit sights including York Minster, which is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the whole of Northern Europe. Its origins stretch all the way back to the seventh century, and today it’s an enduring cultural icon in the UK. Other interesting sights include the York Dungeon and York Maze, said to be the largest of its kind in the country. York is a city that deserves to be taken at a slow pace, with its green surroundings and pretty cobbled streets that invite visitors to explore at their leisure. The journey from London to York takes under two hours, departing from Kings Cross.

9. Edinburgh

Another Scottish entry to the list, Edinburgh is a city to fall in love with. Most of its landmarks are concentrated in the Old Town, where you can stroll along the Royal Mile and take in the sights such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Alongside its heritage, Edinburgh is a fun-loving town, with plenty of pubs in the New Town area. This is also where you'll find the majority of the city’s museums. The Edinburgh Playhouse remains Europe’s largest theatre, with a capacity of 3,000 people. Getting from London to Edinburgh takes just over four hours, with trains departing from London Euston or Kings Cross.

Whether you’re looking to decompress in beautiful surroundings or want to let loose and dance the night away, travelling by train opens up a world of opportunities for long weekend breaks in the UK. Check out the deals and best times to visit and start planning your dream escape with us.