10 places you can reach by train for a more sustainable 2020 holiday

Ellie Ross
These are the best places to travel to via train in 2020. [Photo: Getty]

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There’s no getting around it – if you want to travel more sustainably, you need to ditch that long-haul flight.

Travelling by rail is a great alternative to flying or driving for those looking for a greener getaway. And it doesn’t mean you have to stick to the UK.

From Paris to the Greek islands, here are some great places you can reach by train for a more sustainable holiday in 2020. 

Paris, France | Book here

Eurostar has run direct services between London and Paris since 1994 – and it now takes just just over two hours to reach the French capital from London St Pancras.

Theme park lovers can stay on board for an extra 35 minutes and get to Disneyland Paris

The Parisian skyline at sunset. [Photo: Getty]

Brussels, Belgium | Book here

It’s not just Paris that’s an easy hop away by Eurostar. You can also reach Brussels in under two hours, perfect for a foodie weekend away (don’t miss sampling Belgian beer, pralines and waffles).

In April, a new direct return train will also run between London and Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Take in the sights of the Grand Place in Brussels. [Photo: Getty]

Corsica, France | Book here

The journey to – and through – Corsica is the highlight of a new, flight-free trip from Tailor Made Rail.

The 13-day journey – which kicks off with a Eurostar to Paris – includes a night on the Côte d’Azur before taking a ferry to the French island of Corsica. The trip includes overnights in Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio and Marseille before the return journey by rail. 

Santa Giulia beach in Corsica. [Photo: Getty]

Harz Mountains, Germany | Book here

Chug through fairytale Germany and the rugged terrain of the Harz Mountains on a new trip from Tailor Made Rail that has no flights involved.

The round-trip from London includes a three-day pass to explore the Harz Mountains railway network with its Brocken Railway – the highest peak in the Harz range – and overnight in Hannover. 

The stunning scenery at the national park at Harz Mountains. [Photo: Getty]

Bilbao, San Sebastián and Bordeaux, Spain and France | Book here

The slow, scenic train between Bilbao and San Sebastián is a real treat for foodies – both are top culinary destinations that will leave you hungry for more.

Bordeaux – a city that’s inextricably linked to the wine trade – is the cherry on top. Inntravel has a new rail journey travelling to all three with accommodation included. 

The picturesque Saint Emilion village in Bordeaux. [Photo: Getty]

Gothenburg, Sweden | Book here

Getting to Gothenburg is far more fun if you switch the plane for a train. Original Travel has a ten-day journey to the Swedish city that includes time in Hamburg – the nightlife capital – en route.

You also catch a ferry from Germany to Denmark, and spend two nights on the island of Marstrand with its cute wooden houses, and one night in a floating hotel.

The Old Town in Gothenburg, Sweden. [Photo: Getty]

Edinburgh, Scotland | Book here

It may seem quick and convenient to fly to the Scottish capital – but travelling by Caledonian Sleeper Train is far more fun, and makes the journey part of the experience.

The train connects London and Scotland overnight (you could also get off at Aberdeen, Fort William, Inverness or Glasgow) and it’s quite a magical experience to drift off to sleep in your cabin while in London’s urban sprawl and wake up to majestic Scottish mountains. 

The historic cobbled streets in Edinburgh's Stockbridge district. [Photo: Getty]

The Pyrenees, Spain | Book here

Travel by train to the Pyrenees – from London via Paris and Perpignan with a coach transfer to the Catalan town of Roses, which is your base for the week.

Rail specialist Arena Travel’s seven-night group trip includes a ride on the Roses Express through the Cap de Creus national park and a journey through vineyards on the Red Train. You also get three guided hikes, including one along the Refugees Trail, used by those fleeing to France during the civil war. 

Estany Primer lake in Andorra in the Pyrenees Mountains. [Photo: Getty]

Greek islands, Greece | Book here

Sunvil has launched “Greece by train” trips for 2020, including rail travel from London on trips to Corfu, Parga, Paxos, Lefkas and Sivota.

You’ll journey through France, crossing the Alps, to the Italian city of Milan. Then it’s onwards to Bari before a ferry to Corfu and Igoumenitsa. Trips are individually tailored and include B&B and self-catering accommodation. 

The beautiful colorful town of Parga. [Photo: Getty]

Tuscany, Italy | Book here

Catch the train to Italy for an eight-day foodie jaunt to Tuscany with Planet Rail

The trip kicks off with a Eurostar to Paris and then a TGV for an overnight in Turin, before tracing the Tuscan coast and arriving at the base for six nights at the Relais dei Molini. Taste local wines, try cheese making and join a cookery class. 

Escape to Tuscany for cheese and wine. [Photo: Getty]

Extremadura, Spain | Book here

Naturetrek is offering a number of flight-free trips for nature lovers, including a 12-day wildlife adventure to Extremadura, western Spain. You’ll reach this nature-packed outpost by ferry, rail and road and will have the chance to spot everything from griffon vultures to Spanish imperial eagles.

There’s also a boat ride in the Bay of Biscay (look out for whales and dolphins) and two nights in Madrid where you may spot urban birds on the Real Jardín Botanico.

A historic Roman theatre in Extremadura, Spain. [Photo: Getty]

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