Four Cities to Visit from London by Train

Ever since I went adventuring in Bristol last year, I’ve been really keen to do more UK weekend breaks. Because while travelling around Europe and further afield is awesome, it’s sometimes easy to forget that I have some fantastic places to visit outside my ‘own backdoor’. Metaphorically, at least, my actual back door only leads to my overgrown garden, but you get what I mean.

For a start the UK is pretty…well, pretty. This post proves it. We have gorgeous landscapes, fun things to do, amazing architecture and brilliant food and drink. You’re close to home so don’t need to worry about losing your passport the night before, spending a fortune on using your phone or getting through airport security. 

Having friends that are based all around the country, I’ve spent a fair bit of time around some of the big cities of England and Scotland. I don’t have a car, and hiring one’s expensive, plus I’ve never driven on a motorway (blame my north Norfolk roots for that one). Coaches are cheap as chips, but also take bloody ages. So my favourite way to travel around the UK is the easiest one – by train. It’s comfortable, convenient and a great way to check out the scenery of the UK countryside as you travel. Plus, there’s a bar. I like that part a lot. Starting your weekend of fun with a post-midday prosecco? Perfect.

Recently, Virgin Trains celebrated their 20th anniversary (with a fun performance that you’ll find a video of at the bottom of this post!), and in partnership with their celebrations, I’ve compiled a few of my favourite UK cities (and one I’m yet to visit…) that are super easy to get to from London by train, to spend a day, a night, or even a long weekend in…

Spend a day in Birmingham
Time by train from London: 1h 22mins

Taking a day trip to Birmingham from London by train

I haven’t actually been to Birmingham in a while now, save for a changing trains stop-off quite recently. I’ve visited friends there quite a lot though, and I was actually pretty surprised at how much I liked it. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from Britain’s second largest city, but there’s actually a whole lot to do for culture lovers, food and drink fans and shoppers.

The Library of Birmingham is one of the most architecturally impressive modern buildings in the city, with its geometric circular patterns. Inside, you’ll find rare book collections and a ‘secret garden’ with views over the whole city. Birmingham Cathedral has impressive stained glass windows, and the Coffin Works gives a fascinating, if slightly morbid, peek into how this former business created some of the world’s finest coffin furniture.

As well as the Bullring and Grand Central for all your mainstream shopping needs, there are also plenty of more boutique and unusual places to explore. The Custard Factory isn’t a place where you can learn about how the yellow stuff’s made – it’s the city’s Creative Quarter, where independent shops and businesses call home.

If you’re there for longer than a day, there are also some awesome places to visit a little further out. The Black Country Living Museum is an immersive open air attraction exploring 300 years of history, where you can potter around the shops and houses. And for chocolate lovers, a visit to Cadbury World is a must!

Spend a night in Liverpool
Time by train from London: 2h 14mins

Taking a city break to Liverpool from London by train

If you head out early on a Saturday and travel back late on a Sunday, you’ve got plenty of time to pack in the best that Liverpool has to offer. 

Albert Dock is a great starting point for exploring the city, especially when the sun’s shining. These renovated red brick dock buildings are now home to museums, cafes and shops, including the Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story, an exhibition all about the city’s most famous musical export. If you’re a big Beatles fan, there’s loads more Fab Four related places to check out!

Other things to do that don’t involve the city’s musical history? Swing by Liverpool Cathedral and the Liver Building and be impressed by their architecture, or experience the more sombre, thought-provoking International Slavery Museum

When it comes to nightlife, I have plenty of fond memories of being out in the city. The Hope and Anchor is an awesome place to start your drinking, with craft beers, cocktails and boozy smoothies (#drinkclean?). I also have much hazier memories of dancing around to my fave rock and pop punk tunes in The Krazyhouse.

Spend a day in Stoke-on-Trent
Time by train from London: 1h 24mins

Visit Stoke on Trent from London

Stoke-on-Trent is the only place on this list I haven’t actually been to myself, but after seeing Erica’s post about it, I really want to go! 

As well as visiting big cities, I really enjoy taking trips to places that are a bit smaller and offer the ‘traditional English’ kinda experience. The main draw for me towards Stoke-on-Trent is their pottery attractions. You’d expect nothing less from the World Capital of Ceramics. There are over 20 pottery factory shops in Stoke, so it’s a perfect place to pick up gifts. And if you want to give something truly one-of-a-kind, you can take part in a pottery workshop and create your own piece.

For when you’re all ceramic-ed out, take a stroll around the gorgeous Trentham Estate. As well as the beautiful gardens, there’s also a MONKEY FOREST. The monkeys are allowed to roam free, so visitors making their way down the woodland trail have the chance to see them up close. 

Spend a long weekend in Glasgow
Time by train from London: 4h 31mins

Taking a city break to Glasgow from London by train

Everyone seems to have Edinburgh pretty high up on their UK travel lists. And it’s on mine too. However, I have a lot of love for it’s West Scotland counterpart, Glasgow. 

The Hogwarts-esque style of Glasgow University makes it a great place to walk around on a sunny day – you can even take a guided tour to learn more about the University, buildings and architecture. Check out some art at Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, take a stroll through stunning George Square and take a tour of Wellpark Brewery, the home of Tennent’s lager. There’s also the Glasgow Necropolis, where over 50,000 bodies are buried, filled with striking monuments. 

Plus, going by train is a pretty cool way to get there. Sure, you could fly – but you’d miss out on the parts of track that go through pretty countryside – from the Lake District right up to rural Scotland. Four and a half hours will fly by!

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All four of these awesome UK destinations are easy to get to with Virgin Trains. Check out how they celebrated their 20th birthday at Euston station with this video, and let me know your favourite places to visit by train in the comments!

*Post written in collaboration with Virgin Trains.
Images from Shutterstock.

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  • Georgina

    Yes! I did Birmingham for the Christmas market last year and it was really nice to get out of london for a weekend!

  • Emerald Dove

    Love this post! Liverpool is somewhere I’d love to visit. I’d highly recommend visiting Bath and Canterbury – they’re such beautiful cities

    • Ooh I loved Canterbury, went there quite a while back now! Bath is definitely on the list too!

  • Sophie

    Ah I’m always looking for places to add to my list in the UK. I’ve been to Glasgow and Liverpool and LOVED both. Maybe I’ll make it to Birmingham next!
    A Story of a Girl

  • Untold Morsels

    I’ve been to Liverpool and Glasgow but never Stoke-on-Trent or Birmingham except being stuck on the spaghetti junction getting quite stressed! My son is obsessed with custard so I guess that will be the next stop. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • That junction scares me as a passenger, so I’d definitely not wanna be driving it!!

  • hilary

    We loved Glasgow and hope to return one day. There are some really good ideas here, I’ve pinned for later! #farawayfiles

  • Bryna | Dotted Line Travels

    I second Liverpool! I loved it there. Being a big Beatles fan, I especially enjoyed going on some interesting Beatles tours. I miss that city!

  • So nice to see that Glasgow isn’t really that far from London! That would definitely make for a great weekend trip! #FarawayFiles

  • Travelling by train ROCKS! So much easier than driving from London!

  • AngeliePangilinan

    I am in awe with those gorgeous architectures! <3

    Angelie // Chocolate Hills ATV Tour – Bohol

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Oh I didn’t realise how close these cities from London! Since Glasgow is only 4 hours from London by train, I wouldn’t mind taking the train because of the beautiful scenery 🙂 #FarawayFiles.

  • Some great ideas for places to visit for anyone travelling to London and who doesn’t have a car.

  • I’m not sure i’d agree with the Stoke one, but maybe because i’m from the next town, and Stoke isn’t exactly seen as a great place. I do love Trentham Gardens though, we go there a lot, but from stoke you’d have to catch the bus out to here. I’ve never considered Glasgow but that university does look very pretty. I really want to visit Bath, Oxford and Cambridge!
    Amy at Amy & More

    • It’s always interesting to hear about places from locals! I think the pottery side is what draws me – it’s a shame to hear about the negative sides. I guess everywhere can be different from a local vs visitor perspective, I’m sure! Cambridge is absolutely gorgeous, would definitely advise a visit!

  • Stoke Tours

    As Amy says Stoke has had some bad press of late, unemployment, poor health and education stats etc but journalists from the Guardian and the Telegraph recently exploded the myths about it being unattractive by saying they really enjoyed their visits and that Goliath of reporting – The Times no less – last week placed us 11th in the UK in terms of cultural places putting us ahead of Hay on Wye, Cheltenham and even Stratford upon Avon. Now I trust The Times so tourists ….. come on down. You’ve seen The Great Pottery Throw-Down on BBC, now come and experience the real thing !!

    • It’s definitely interesting to see different views on a place – I hope the cultural success and good press for Stoke as a place to visit will have a positive impact towards the unemployment and education side, creating more economy in the city through increased tourism. I’ll definitely have to pop up for a visit soon, thanks for commenting!

  • Great post! I loved Liverpool – we didn’t know what to expect when we went to see friends play at the famous Cavern Club. We stayed at Albert Dock and loved it. Stoke-on-Trent is where my grandmother’s family is from and I hope to get there some day! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles – cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  • Great round-up of places! I love Liverpool and Bristol, and I just went to Glasgow for a long weekend as well. I haven’t been to Stoke but I’d be interested in checking it out! I also love Brighton by train from London – it’s super near and you can get such cheap advance trains! 🙂 x

  • Mary {The World Is A Book}

    These are such great options and as an American tourist, some I never would have even thought of. I love that each place offers so much and are easy train rides away. Out of all of them, I think Glasgow sounds the most appealing to me. Thanks for the ideas.