UK weekend breaks you can get to by train

Whether you love or hate the festive season, the post-Christmas comedown can make the month of January feel like a long, dark endurance test. Lift your spirits, fight the weather-induced blues and plan a trip in advance to get you through, with these easily-accessible destinations for UK weekend breaks. Travelling by train can save money and spares the environmental impact of carbon-heavy car travel – plus you can take as many pals along with you as you like, and you’re not limited by trunk space.

Margate: a seaside break in Kent

Getty

This sandy seaside town is a versatile getaway spot for couples, families, friends and solo travellers: it has a little bit of everything, with excellent food options (try bagging a table at Sargasso or head to The Old Kent Market for informal street food), quirky cultural attractions such as the Shell Grotto and the world-famous Turner Contemporary art gallery all within walking distance. Check in to the Cliftonville Townhouse, a bright, breezy boutique hotel with balcony views, and wander into the centre via Curve Roastery for the best artisan coffee and fresh pastries. Bring an extra bag for all the vintage treasures you can find in Peony Vintage and Pie in the Sky.

Train station: Margate (MAR)

Lewes: a walking weekend in Sussex

Getty

Lewes is a lovely historic town in the South Downs, a National Park stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne, whose natural beauty – rolling hills, green valleys, white cliffs – makes for a leg-stretching, shoulder-dropping escape. Spend a weekend exploring the surrounding landscape, taking in the 360° views and blowing away the cobwebs. Go off-grid at this cosy shepherd’s hut (there’s even a private sauna for top-to-toe relaxing) and spend slow afternoons in town sifting through French linens at No 1 Antiques and second-hand fiction at the Fifteenth Century Bookshop.

Train station: Lewes (LWS)

Penzance: a coastal escape in Cornwall

Getty

IF travelling from London, take the overnight train from Paddington during shoulder season for better bedroom deals and fewer crowds: the refreshing sea air and an exhilarating (read: cold) ocean swim is a wonderful way to kickstart 2022, and you’ll be making New Year’s resolutions to incorporate it into your routine before you can say ‘frostbite’. Rent a wetsuit on the seafront for surfing and watersports, then warm up at the romantic, rustic Artist’s Residence hotel in a roll-top bath and a fluffy robe. 

Train station: Penzance (PNZ)

Newcastle: a celebration in the city 

Getty

Lumo’s new fast, affordable train between Edinburgh to London has opened up travel between the two capitals, but don’t miss out on the underrated city of Newcastle, where it stops on the way. Not only is it a buzzing student city, but there are plenty of places to celebrate a milestone, be it an anniversary, birthday or simply making it through the Christmas holidays intact – from The Alchemist’s weird and wonderful cocktails (think dry ice, bubbles and colour-changing concoctions) to Six at Baltic, with views of Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the quayside that can only be rivalled at boutique hotel The Malmaison.

Train station: Newcastle upon Tyne (NCL)

Portmeirion: a taste of Italy in Wales

Getty

Portmeirion is known as Wales’ own ‘little Italy’, with its romantic architecture and Baroque influences, designed by architect Clough William-Ellis who wanted to bring the Riviera to Wales. The pretty, pastel-painted village – complete with al fresco dining and an authentic gelateria – overlooks its very own peninsula, and since it’s privately owned, there are only a handful of places to stay, making it feel intimate and exclusive. From Minffordd, you can also board a beautiful old steam train that will take you to the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Train station: Minffordd (MFF)