Fancy a holiday in Europe? Now is the perfect time to book those Easter getaways or to start planning your summer break. One option to consider is the Eurostar, where you begin your trip from St Pancras station in London. Following on from our article on the cheapest student holidays, The Mancunion has handy recommendations for what to do when visiting any of the five cities accessible via the Eurostar.
Journey time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Paris is the city of love. It’s home to couture, bursting with art, gastronomy, underground jazz and fashion. Get the best insight into Parisian culture with the city’s galleries like the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre, where you can grab a crêpe in nearby Tuileries Park.
A visit to the hilly Montmartre is also worth the climb, to discover the streets which birthed the Impressionist movement. There are stunning views across the city from the Sacre Coeur atop the hill, especially at dusk.
Explore via a boat cruise on the Seine, where Paris’s landmark Eiffel Tower monument can be enjoyed at a distance from the crowds of tourists.
Hop on a boat towards the beautiful Galeries Lafayette if you’re ready to splash some cash, or simply enjoy a stroll through the streets of the French capital.
Finally, be sure to sample some of France’s famous food culture, through food tours, street-side cafés or one of the city’s many food markets.
Journey time: 4 hours
Although it’s the longest trip on the Eurostar, making the visit to Amsterdam is definitely worth it. Amsterdam is known for bikes, canals and its youthful liberal atmosphere – a perfect student haven. Any visit to Amsterdam starts with the waterways of the ‘Venice of the North’, which is best explored on foot. Watch the world go by whilst checking out the local coffee bars, clubs and districts.
There are many cultural sites to take in within the city, including the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum showcasing Dutch art and Anne Frank’s house. There’s also the opportunity to visit the beautiful tulip gardens famous within Dutch history, perfect for a pretty picture or two to show off your travels.
Wind down in one of over 200 cafés ingrained in the city’s 17th Century architecture. Sample the Dutch coffee or Amsterdam’s cannabis-infused cuisine.
Journey time: 2 hours
As the capital of Belgium and the unofficial capital city of the EU, Brussels is a hub of activity all year round. As a global world centre, it boasts a rich heritage of Art Nouveau architecture, home to the undisputed father of the movement Victor Horta.
The city is also known for its food. Indulge in endless chocolate, waffles and beer. Basically, get smashed post-sugar rush. After all, Brussel’s cuisine is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritages!
Brussel is bursting with sites to keep you from getting bored. Its attractions perfectly demonstrate the mixture of modern and historic, offering something for every type of tourist. Any extra time in the city is best spent enjoying wandering amongst this melange of time frames. And if you like, stray from the typical walking tour to specialise in chocolate, comic strips or beer.
Journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes
As the shortest train journey on the list, there’s even more time to fill your trip to Lille with exciting things. Lille is the capital of Flanders and there’s some stunning architecture and sights on offer in the north of France. The cobbled streets of the Old Town can be enjoyed from the ground. Alternatively, climb the 500 steps of the Belfry tower for views across the city.
You may wish to extend your walking to take in one of Lille’s diverse food markets or peaceful parks, like Parc de la Citadelle which borders the city zoo. City landmarks include the 1000 sq m Grand Palace, Palais des Beaux-Arts gallery and La Vieille Bourse, the 350-year-old city stock exchange with a stunningly ornate façade.
Journey time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Rotterdam is another option in The Netherlands, boasting the largest port in Europe. Broadly, its architecture is much more modern than the other cities on this list. You can soak it up with an architecture walking tour, visiting landmarks like the Cube Houses and The Markthal. Even just a walk across the iconic ‘Swan’ bridge will give you a sense of the city’s landscape, which is nicest at sunset.
In fact, there’s a bustling nightlife in Rotterdam – one of Holland’s trendiest cities – with possibilities for all kinds of evening entertainment. Daytime gastronomic experiences are also available. The Market Hall is certainly worth a visit for its international cuisine and stunning arched ceiling. The districts of Old Harbour and Delfshaven are equally picturesque, as some of the only areas of the city which survived the bombing of World War Two.
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