London to Cardiff
A meeting of old and new
Travel by train from London Paddington to Cardiff Central in just 1h 59m if you’re catching the fastest service. Great Western Railway trains offer family tables, generous luggage allowances and plug sockets so you’ll be comfortable and well-connected during your journey.
Cardiff has seen dramatic changes over the past few decades. The town centre's new landmarks and Cardiff Bay's chic shopping and dining area are among the highlights. In particular, the Wales Millennium Centre is a leading arts hub for theatre and live music, including big-name musicals. The Millennium Stadium recently renamed Principality Stadium, is the home of Welsh football and rugby. Headline music acts also perform here regularly.
Of course, the Welsh capital is also an excellent place to learn about Welsh history. Cardiff Castle dates all the way from the 11th century. Explore its opulent rooms and take in the intricate Celtic craftsmanship. A 50-minute guided tour will fill you in on the history if you prefer. The National Museum Cardiff tells the story of the country through the ages. Its collections span dinosaurs and classical relics to a superb impressionist art section. What’s more, entry is free!
Hundreds of shops and vibrant nightlife
As well as the popular St David’s Shopping Centre, Cardiff boasts eight central shopping arcades. Ideal for browsing traditional boutiques at any time of year, the covered arcades are beautiful constructions to photograph too.
By night, you’ll have plenty to do in Cardiff. Did you know the city has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else across Britain? You’ll find many of these bars and clubs around St Mary Street in the city centre. As an alternative, the New Theatre is a magnificent Victorian-era playhouse, with excellent stage and dance performances.
London to Swansea
Conquer castles and take in the sea air
The journey from London to Swansea takes around 3h 8m by train – again leaving from London Paddington Station. Once you arrive, it’s a fabulous place to experience a mix of both modern urban Wales and its authentic historic side. Swansea is the country’s second city, with monuments including Swansea Castle and Oystermouth Castle. The latter sits among rolling hills, perfect for a walk in sunny weather. You’ll be rewarded with striking views out across the city and Swansea Bay.
Further down the way, Mumbles Pier dates from the Victorian era. It’s another superb place to take in the sights of the gorgeous bay. Enjoy a host of amusements with the family, including classic arcade games and bowling. Be sure to take a walk around the sandy beach.
Home of Dylan Thomas, surrounded by sublime coastlines
Literature lovers should pay a visit to the Dylan Thomas Birthplace. It provides an intimate look into the famed Welsh poet's early life, with restored rooms including the parlour and his father’s study. The Dylan Thomas Centre further elaborates on his life and work. Arrange a guided tour or browse the exhibitions yourself.
Swansea is also an excellent starting point for short boat tours. See the beautiful nearby coast or sail along the River Tawe. Many companies offer big group tours or private excursions for visitors. This is ideal for exploring the beautiful, unspoiled southern coast in comfort.
London to Pembrokeshire
Golden beaches and the birthplace of Henry VII
A slightly longer journey, travel by train from London to Milford Haven in around 5h 9m, including a change at Swansea. Whilst the first part of your trip will be with Great Western Railway, here you’ll be swapping onto a Transport for Wales train for the remainder of your journey.
Come for a long weekend and make the most of Pembrokeshire's stunning beaches. Leading down to the water from rolling green hills, coastlines such as those at Newgale are hidden gems in Wales. Newgale features hidden coves and caves to walk through, plus long stretches of golden sands. Marloes Sands boasts a wide beach at low tide, plus beautiful cliff formations and rock pools. Head to nearby Albion Sands and you’ll even spot the remnants of a shipwreck!
Pembroke Castle was built in the 11th-century and is Wales’ largest privately-owned castle. It’s open to the public and sits proudly on the Milford Haven Waterway. This is the birthplace of King Henry VII and features its Dungeon Tower and a cave beneath the castle to explore. It brings medieval and Tudor Wales to life in extraordinary detail.
Active holidays and seafood delights in Pembrokeshire
Milford Haven is also an excellent springboard for outdoor sports. Choose from cycling through the countryside, or rock climbing on the limestone cliffs. Water sports such as sea kayaking and surfing are also popular, so pick up some gear and enjoy the ocean's thrills.
Fishing is a popular activity in and around Milford Haven. This is also an excellent place to sample the catch of the day, with traditional restaurants dotted about town. Indulge in fresh cockles and clams or stick to the familiar and beloved battered cod and chips.
London to Bangor
History and coastal walks near Bangor
Unlike the other Welsh destinations we’ve mentioned so far, the train from London to Bangor departs from London Euston station. The journey to this picturesque town in North Wales takes around 3h 13m with Virgin Trains and is a direct service, so you have plenty of time to relax and watch the Welsh countryside roll past your window.
Bangor is the ideal spot for a rural retreat, whether you stay in town or head to nearby magnificent Snowdonia. Regarded as one of the UK’s greatest national parks, it's a marvellous destination for escaping the urban bustle. The enormous Caernarfon Castle is well worth a visit. It’s very close to the Wales Coast Path, for a day of outdoor exploration and history.
Within Snowdonia itself, there are so many choices for activities. Zip lines, horse riding, and hiking are just a few of the best ways to experience majestic Snowdonia. There are numerous walking routes for reaching the summit. The easiest is Llanberis, which covers a nine-mile round trip and takes about six hours to complete.
The majestic night sky and cultural Bangor
Snowdonia also attracts stargazers from around the world at its Dark Sky Reserve. The lack of light pollution and observatories make for superb spots to see the stars at night. This is a mesmerising experience on your trip to Wales, and a welcome escape from the bright night sky familiar to Londoners!
Back in town, visit Bangor Cathedral, one of Britain’s most ancient at almost 1,500 years old! It’s survived Viking pillages and fires and stands proudly as one of Wales’ finest monuments. The Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery is an inspiring venue. Come and look at the local art, inspired by the lush green surroundings Bangor is blessed with.
London to Aberystwyth
A Victorian resort with romantic vistas
Travel from London to Aberystwyth in around 4h 37m – again departing from London Euston station. The journey usually involves one or two changes along the way either at Birmingham International, Wolverhampton, Crewe or Shrewsbury, depending on the time you travel.
Aberystwyth is one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts. It’s found at the heart of central west Wales, sandwiched by rolling green hills and a stunning coastline. Cardigan Bay is close by, with flowering fields in spring and summer and beautiful walking trails along the sea.
Within Aberystwyth itself, enjoy marvellous sunset views at the Promenade. Take a traditional railway ride from here up to the cliffs during the day, where there's a camera obscura for making the most of the vistas. See if you can spot the rows of flags along the seafront. They represent countries less frequently featured around the world, reflecting Wales’ friendship with other small nations.
A culture lovers’ paradise in Wales
The National Library of Wales is also located in Aberystwyth. It features exhibitions on Welsh and wider British culture and history. The building itself is a stately construction and a real treat for bibliophiles. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is considered Wales' flagship cultural hub. It puts on everything from the latest films in its cinema, to talks on books, films, society, and more. Head to its bar for a drink in inspiring surroundings!
Finally, don't miss the opportunity to ride the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Legend has it the bridge here was built by the Devil himself. With the heavenly waterfalls and stunning local nature, you'll probably find that hard to believe!
Wales is a gorgeous country, with a proud history and distinct culture in Britain. Whether you’re looking for an active holiday around the Pembrokeshire Coast or want to stargaze in Snowdonia, a trip from London to Wales by train makes reaching it easy. To get your planning started or find out more, why not visit our dedicated trains to Wales guide.