The United Kingdom has some of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world. There's a lot to pick from, from a historic steam train with afternoon tea to a trip through a coastal town and sandy beaches... here are the best train trips in the UK and why you should consider them for your next trip.
Best Train Trips UK: Hidden Gems and Unmissable Journeys
Are you looking for charming rolling hills and outstanding natural beauty? Perhaps a ride through a historic city or frozen rivers and golden sands? These UK journeys have it all.
1. St Ives Bay Line
This St Ives Bay Line train journey is considered one of the most scenic in the whole of Britain. You can, in fact, enjoy spectacular views along the coast and then head for the beach and wander the art galleries and shops.
The line starts at St Erth station and goes all the way to St Ives. Although this is a very short ride (10 minutes or so), the views across the sea, especially from the right-hand-side of the train, are just fantastic.
2. Snowdon Mountain Railway
A narrow-gauge railway has been going up Mount Snowdon since the end of the 19th century. This train takes passengers all the way up Wales's highest peak, departing from Llanberis station every 30 minutes.
The climb is an impressive 1,064 meters to the summit, but you'll start appreciating the stunning scenery much earlier.
For example, as you go past the Ceunant Mawr waterfall and the old farmhouses. And, if you're lucky, you might spot a few peregrine falcons!
3. The Caledonian Sleeper
The Caledonian Sleeper connects London to Edinburgh (Lowlander route) and Aberdeen to Fort William and Inverness (Highlander route).
The train is more of a mobile hotel. Here, you'll find double beds, dimmable lights, and ensuite bathrooms, so you can arrive fresh for the day ahead.
Don't miss the restaurant carriage, which offers smoked salmon, haggis, neeps, tatties, and whisky cream sauce. And when you get to your destination, make sure you visit Edinburgh Castle!
4. Settle to Carlisle
This segment of a grand Victorian route opened in 1876 and stretches 72 miles across the Yorkshire Dales national park and North Pennines.
The first thing you'll notice is the fields of sheep and dey-stone walls, but you'll soon also experience tunnels, bridges, hamlets, rivers, and rock cuttings rising all around the carriages.
Plus, the Ribblehead viaduct, which is 104 feet tall! Before the train journey ends, you'll also get excellent views over the Vale of Eden and the historic city of Carlisle.
6. West Highland Line
This line is also seen as one of the most scenic rides in the world. The train leaves Glasgow and delves into the Scottish west coast traveling through the Glenfinnan viaduct, which you might recognize from the Harry Potter films.
There's so much more, though. The West Highland line offers views you can only get from the tracks, including Loch Awe, Oban, Rannoch Moor, Fort William, and Crianlarich. Keep an eye also for red deer!
7. Ffestiniog Railway
Credit: Ffestiniog Railway
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, the oldest independent railway company on the world, offers several memorable train journeys. It was established in 1832 and still takes passengers on trips from the Porthmadog harbor to the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The line is a single track. Between Porthmadog and Boston Lodge, the railway runs on the Cob, built in 1807, the higher section of which is still also a public footpath.
8. South Devon Railway
Credit: South Devon Railway
The SDR is a 14-mile round trip by steam train and one of Devon's most beloved tourist attractions. This long-established line will soon celebrate 50 years in preservation.
The journey takes you along the stunning River Dart valley between Totnes and Buckfastleigh. This is a perfect choice for the whole family, as the trip allows you also to visit three attractions for all ages: the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm, Buckfast Butterflies, and Dartmoor Otters.
9. Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
This journey takes a little under three hours but will allow you to treat yourself to circles around freshwater lochs, mottled moores, and little white houses hidden between trees.
If you have a chance to experience this train journey, make sure you make a stopover at Plockton, a pretty village with pocket-sized houses and palm trees!
Then, continue on to the Kyle of Lochalsh, from which you will be able to see the Isle of Skye.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best overnight train journey in the UK?
The Caledonian Sleeper service offers a memorable and comfortable overnight journey between London and various Scottish destinations.
It provides a selection of accommodation options, including comfortable berths and suites, allowing travelers to wake up refreshed in Scotland’s majestic landscapes.
Can I sit anywhere on a train UK?
In trains without mandatory reservations, passengers can sit in any unreserved seat.
However, during peak times or on specific services, reservations might be necessary.
Always check your ticket and the train's reservation policy to understand seating arrangements and avoid inconveniences during travel.
Is it safe to sleep on night trains?
Sleeping on night trains is generally safe, but travelers should remain vigilant and secure their belongings.
Avoid taking sleeping pills or consuming too much alcohol to stay alert.
Choosing accommodations with locking doors or compartments can also enhance safety during overnight travel.
Can you take food to train UK?
Travelers are allowed to bring their own food on UK trains. While many services offer catering options, passengers can enjoy their own snacks or meals during the journey.
Packing a picnic or favorite treats can make the travel experience more enjoyable and personalized.
If you've enjoyed exploring the best train trips across the UK, then you won't want to miss out on discovering stunning destinations around the world. Our curated list of best destinations is not to be missed. Check it out below!