From heritage tramways to high-speed trains, train holidays in the UK can take many forms. Here’s a list of some great British train journeys you can take, either as part of your journey to a holiday destination or as a unique experience. Whether you like beautiful scenery, railway history, alternative holidays, or luxury train journeys, you'll find something you'll love on this list.
- Sleeper train journeys in the UK
- The Caledonian Sleeper, from London to Scotland
- The Night Riviera, from London to Penzance
- Beautiful train routes in the UK
- Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, Wales
- Steam train holidays in the UK
- Bluebell Railway, Sussex
- High-speed train trips in the UK
- Heritage train rides in the UK
- Train holidays to UK attractions and events
- Theme train experiences in the UK
- Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Lunch
- Harry Potter (Scotland) - Fort William to Mallaig, Jacobite steam train
Sleeper train journeys in the UK
Take a sleeper train journey in the UK for an unforgettable travel experience. Save time and money travelling while you sleep, let the train gently rock you into a peaceful night's rest, and wake up to beautiful scenery.
The Caledonian Sleeper, from London to Scotland
The Caledonian Sleeper is the UK's longest and most spectacular sleeper train route. Starting in London, the Caledonian Sleeper operates different routes directly to the north of Scotland, taking up to 14 hours to reach Inverness. The Caledonian Sleeper passes through spectacular landscapes, including several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as many picturesque towns and several major cities. The most stunning stretch of scenery is over Rannoch Moor from Fort William, from where you can take the famous Jacobite train over the Glenfinnan Viaduct to Mallaig.
You can choose between the Highlander (between Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort William) or Lowlander (between Edinburgh and Glasgow) Caledonian Sleeper routes. Trains from London leave six nights a week, separating at either Carlisle (to Glasgow and Motherwell) or Edinburgh (to Inverness, Aberdeen, or Fort William). There's a choice of different berth options, from single seats to luxurious First Class cabins. The Caledonian Sleeper also serves breakfast, so don't forget to choose what to wake up to when you make your booking!
The Night Riviera, from London to Penzance
The second-most famous, and perhaps most nostalgic, sleeper train in the UK runs from London to Penzance in Cornwall. This historic railway line hugs the coast for miles, offering phenomenal sea views for most of the trip (a lovely sight to wake up to!) After arriving on the Night Riviera in the seaside resort town of St Erth, take the opportunity to hop on another great British railway line. The trip from St Erth to St Ives, a tiny fishing village built in 1877, is today England's shortest heritage railway line. Tracing the coastline of a tranquil blue sea that gives this area the name 'The English Riviera,' you'll catch snippets of beaches and coves hidden around nearly every corner.
The Night Riviera service has many stops along the way from London to Penzance. You can pick up the Riviera route from Exeter. Another option is to book a daytime train on the same London to Penzance route, which is usually much faster than the overnight service and will give you a better chance of taking in the beautiful coastal scenery. Although we don't sell tickets for the Night Riviera service, you can book trains with us on the daily services from London Waterloo or Paddington stations to Penzance.
Beautiful train routes in the UK
Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, Wales
With scenery as beautiful and poetically inspiring as this, it’s one of the quaintest and most beautiful great train journeys in the UK. Two narrow-gauge railway lines, the Welsh Highland Railway and the Ffestiniog tracks merge at the sleepy seaside town of Porthmadog before winding their way for 40 miles through the remote, lush forests of Snowdonia National Park. These tracks were entirely rebuilt by volunteers following years of disuse, and it's easy to see why they were worth saving.
Young kids travel free and dogs are welcome on the train, so it's perfect for family train holidays. You can book tickets with us for trains from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog.
Steam train holidays in the UK
Bluebell Railway, Sussex
Chugging through quiet country plains where sheep graze and the occasional country town is the only thing interrupting the rolling landscapes, the Bluebell Railway offers a unique train experience of a bygone British era. This historic service has run from East Grinstead for almost 150 years, although many of the original routes it used to ply have been replaced by modern tracks and trains. Not all, though – a quaint steam train still runs a daily route from the original railway line. It’s a must-do train journey for anybody passionate about old British steam trains, since it gives an idea of what ordinary carriages were like compared to the full-service first-class carriages found on many romantic steam trains today. You can find tickets on our website from East Grinstead to a range of destinations.
High-speed train trips in the UK
If you're looking to get to your destination in a hurry, there's no better choice than taking one of the UK's high-speed train journeys. The most impressive is the Eurostar, which reaches speeds of up to 186 miles per hour and goes directly from London King's Cross St Pancras station to Brussels, Paris, and several other northern European cities in under two hours! Passing through the Channel Tunnel, the Eurostar offers the best of both train holidays in the UK and a trip to Europe. Since you get to go directly from one city centre to another, it's much quicker and efficient than taking a flight, so you'll have more time to enjoy yourself in mainland Europe.
Of all the other high-speed UK train journeys, the train from London to Ashford is probably the pick of the bunch for train journey holidays. A historic centre of Kentish culture, Ashford is also a modern hub for outlet and duty-free shopping and is perfectly located at the southeastern tip of Britain for continuing your trip overseas. Several bus and rail services connect Ashford International station to major European cities and towns. Find out more about Ashford and its bus and rail links on our website.
Heritage train rides in the UK
If you have a taste for historic train travel, it's hard to beat train journey holidays on the West Somerset Railway, a gorgeous journey through pleasant countryside and charming villages. Or, visit the fantastic Peak District for unbeatable hiking and cycling opportunities. Situated close to several major cities, with the closest station to the Peak District being Sheffield, this area feels like another world. The Peak District is a hub for heritage and steam train holidays, with numerous original lines snaking their way through the country.
Train holidays to UK attractions and events
Travelling by train is a great way to visit some of the UK's best attractions that are a little off the usual track. Places like Alton Towers, Stonehenge, and Windsor Castle are well-serviced by trains from London, Birmingham, Manchester, and other major cities. The advantages of taking a train are many, including not having to find parking, or getting lost on the way! Take a train to Uttoxeter, the nearest station to Alton Towers, Britain's best-loved theme park, for a thrill-seeking day out. Head to Salisbury, the nearest station to Stonehenge, to explore the UK's most famous Neolithic site. Or, head to the quintessential southeastern English town of Windsor, the nearest station to Windsor Castle, for an afternoon tea of scones and cucumber sandwiches, or a visit to the royal residence.
You can also travel by train to major UK events. Taking the train to Castle Cary, the nearest station to Glastonbury is a wise idea if you're heading to the world-famous music festival, especially if you're planning to party while enjoying the music! Another major event that's easy to reach by train is the acclaimed Farnborough Airshow, which takes place every two years in the British town that proudly claims to be the birthplace of British aviation. You can get to the event by free shuttle bus from Farnborough North, North Camp, and Aldershot, the nearest stations to the Farnborough Airshow.
Theme train experiences in the UK
Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Lunch
A totally unique and unforgettable experience, the Agatha Christie-inspired Murder Mystery Lunch train journey is fun for group trips, special occasions, or corporate events. Although this runs from London Victoria on the plush British Pullman service rather than on the Orient Express, the scenery and overall experience is just as impressive. Combining classic railway travel with an interactive theatrical performance, this is a must for any true ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ fan. If you’ve ever wanted to be part of one of the world’s most famous whodunnit stories, this is your chance!
Harry Potter (Scotland) - Fort William to Mallaig, Jacobite steam train
Speaking of living in a fantasy world, no train journey in the UK can compete with riding the Hogwarts train from the Harry Potter movies. One of the world’s most spectacular train rides, the Jacobite steam train route between Fort William and Mallaig, used for establishing shots of the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series of films, has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. You don’t need to crash through a brick wall on the platform to get on board – it’s much easier to just book tickets for this special steam train holiday online! You can book the Caledonian Sleeper route with us, getting you to Fort William directly from London.
Now you have an idea of the range of great train journeys you can enjoy, and information on how to find and book them. The problem now may be choosing which one is the best option for you! You can also discover top destinations, travel tips, money-saving ideas and much more in our summer train travel guide. And if you're looking for places to spend your holiday in the UK this year, check out our guide to 6 of the best UK staycations for 2021.