Hopping the train from London? Us Brits have a long-standing love affair with trains.

We grow up listening to stories like The Railway Children, Paddington Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Harry Potter – tales in which trains and railway stations transcend the mundane into the fantastic. As children, we dream of jumping on a great steam engine and puffing off to distant, magical lands.

The railways hold on to a little of this magic for us, even as adults. London is the most connected city in the country, and if there’s somewhere in the UK you’ve always wanted to visit it’s never more than a few hours’ train ride away. Take a short nap in the carriage, and you’ll wake up to a beautiful, fascinating new scene.

If you’re hoping to indulge in this great British tradition – a marvelous journey by rail – here are the locations you simply can’t miss out on.

Edinburgh

We’ve spoken at length about the beauty of Edinburgh, but that’s because there’s so much of it to talk about. From its majestic castle to the magnificence of Arthur’s Seat, the city is overflowing with loveliness and whiskey. What more could you want? If you’re still not convinced, check out our list of top things to do in the Scottish capital. Our Edinburgh day tours will take you there and back in a day.

Paris

The city of love really does live up to its reputation. Under the comforting gaze of the Eiffel Tower, it’s iconic streets and skyline will thrust you back in time to a more romantic era. You’ll discover endless intimate moments within its winding cobbled streets, as well as some of the best art and food in Europe, if not the world. And if you were thinking you can’t reach it by train, think again. The Eurostar runs several times a day directly from London to Paris.

York

By far one of the most under-appreciated gems in the British Isles, this beautiful riverside city lies ensconced within ancient medieval walls. Spend some time walking its streets and you’ll experience the very best of what British life has to offer: cobbled roads, stunning churches, real ale, hearty northern cuisine, and some of the friendliest locals you could hope to meet. If you’re looking for a unique holiday experience to make your friends jealous, York is the place to go.

The Lake District

City breaks are wonderful. However, if you really want to experience a new level of breathtaking then the Lake District is the stop for you. Jump off the train into a rural paradise of rolling hills, valleys, and waterways in the UK’s largest national park. Ambling through the gorgeous footpaths and villages, you’ll discover a little piece of what the UK is really about. Go sailing, canoeing, hiking, climbing, or cycling through a landscape that will steal a little piece of your heart.

We hope you’re already picturing yourself on a train ride through the British countryside on the way to one of these magical locations. If you’d like all the planning and legwork done for you, take a look at our range of rail tours from London.