For generations, a family holiday in the UK has meant loading up the car and heading off to the seaside, an inland beauty spot, or one of the great cities that dot the islands. But for even longer, those same journeys have been made by train.
Now, it’s time to big up rail holidays as a way to get away once more.
Why get the train? For a start, it’s a greener way to travel, and that alone should appeal to families. But it’s also much more relaxing. No sitting in squashed-up seats for hours, waiting in queues, or dodging traffic. The moment you sit down on the train, the holiday has started.
You can even make the most of the onboard WiFi when travelling by train.
There are no parking fees to pay or spaces to find, either. Train stations are often in the city centre or the heart of the resort, so you can start enjoying yourselves straight away.
So where are you going on your family weekend away? There are some great ideas for cheap holidays by train in England, Scotland, and Wales that remind us all what a fun, exciting, and beautiful nation we live in. Here are our top five weekend breaks by train in the UK that will surely be a hit with the whole family.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s great cities, London is well known as a centre of commerce, government, and culture. But don’t forget that it’s got a host of amazing family attractions, too.
From the fascinating draw of Madame Tussauds to the dizzy heights of the London Eye (or the dizzier heights of the Shard), it’s easy to plan a short break in the capital. You can spend it learning about the history of the city or just having great family fun and eating at fun places.
Despite its reputation, a trip to London doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are plenty of ways to have a cheap family day out in London, and going by rail will go a long way to saving those pennies.
London’s roads are notoriously congested, and you’ll have to pay a charge anyway, so opt for train travel and a Visitor Oyster Card, and you’ll have the run of the city for as long as you want.
To start your family train holiday today, take a look at our trains to London.
If you’ve got kids who love thrill rides, amusement arcade games, and sandcastles, you can’t go wrong with Blackpool.
The northwest’s most exciting resort offers all the ice cream and candy floss they can eat, making it the perfect choice for a weekend break by train in the UK.
The world-famous Pleasure Beach has record-breaking white knuckle rides galore, alongside some gentler rides for those who can’t quite take the heat. Blackpool is also home to the Tower Ballroom, a Strictly Come Dancing staple.
No trip to Blackpool is complete without a visit to the top of the Tower, and the piers and Winter Gardens, of course. In short, if you’re looking for fun-filled family breaks in England, there are few places like Blackpool to guarantee smiles and very satisfied kids.
To travel here for a northwest family holiday, you can get one of our trains to Blackpool.
When it comes to the best UK city breaks by train, Edinburgh is a must. Scotland’s capital is a place of culture and is famous around the world for its annual festival, especially the Fringe.
While much of the Fringe is definitely not for minors, there are always plenty of family-friendly acts, from street performers to special children’s shows. The festival also has lots on offer for families, so check out the schedules for both.
Of course, for every festival-loving family, there’s one who’d rather avoid the busy streets and hotels every August. They come for visits to Edinburgh Castle and the Dungeons, or to climb the Scott Monument and Arthur’s Seat.
Other families might prefer to take in the sights and sounds of the Royal Mile or go on an escorted tour of the sites that inspired the Harry Potter books. There’s also Edinburgh Zoo to visit!
Book your trains to Edinburgh today and see what the city has to offer.
4. North Wales
The railway linking North West England with the Holyhead ferries and Ireland beyond has been in place for over 150 years, and many seaside resorts have popped up along the way.
Names like Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Prestatyn, Conwy, Llandudno, and Penmaenmawr have been synonymous with sandy beaches, castles, sticks of rock, and fresh air for generations.
Family trips in North Wales don’t have to stick to the North coast, of course. Inland, you’ve got the splendour of Snowdonia to explore, including a trip to the top of Snowdon on foot or even by rail. There’s also the Snowdon Mountain Railway, one of the UK’s great rail journeys.
Within Snowdonia, you can reach the beautiful village of Betws-y-Coed by train, which is right next to Zip World Forest, a really fun day for families. You can also visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo where you can see a wealth of wonderful animals (including pandas) in Colwyn Bay.
To explore North Wales, you can get the train to Holyhead.
5. The Lake District
One of the best weekend train holidays in the UK for families is in the beautiful county of Cumbria.
Trains go right into the heart of the southern Lake District at Windermere, and once you’re there, there’s a decent bus service all over the National Park. So why not take your family to see all this beautiful part of England has to offer?
Whether they like to experience breathtaking views from the top of any of the peaks or find their lake legs on a cruise or some form of watersport, it’s all here to enjoy. The region is dotted with lovely settlements, too, and there are plenty of hikes and trails to explore.
From bustling towns like Bowness, Ambleside, Keswick, and Kendal to the dozens of sleepy villages around the valleys, each has a story to tell. It’s the perfect place to spend a day, a weekend, or a week.
If you’re looking for zoos, you’ll find two of them. There’s the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick in the North and the South Lakes Safari Zoo, where you can get to see big cats, giraffes, bears, birds, and more from all around the globe.
Book your train to the Lake District and enjoy a family trip to this stunning part of the UK.
We said five, but Liverpool is such a fantastic spot that we had to include it. Liverpool is perfect for a weekend break by train, with plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone happy.
You can discover the city's rich history at the Museum of Liverpool, where interactive exhibits will engage kids of all ages. A river cruise from the iconic Albert Dock is a great way to view Liverpool's landmarks from the water.
Sports fans won't want to miss a behind-the-scenes tour of Liverpool City Football Club at Anfield Stadium.
And, of course, there’s something for the wildlife enthusiasts. A short train ride from Lime Street takes you to Knowsley Safari, where you can get up close to lions, tigers, rhinos, and more.
To travel here with the family, book one of our trains to Liverpool.
Family weekend breaks in England, Scotland and Wales
Wherever you are in Britain, you can hop on a train and be at one of the isle’s fun, fascinating, or exhilarating places in a few hours.
Stay for a week or a weekend, or even take a day trip to one of your neighbouring attractions. Train breaks in the UK are here to stay, and it’s time to get involved. Start planning your trip today.