London plus one: it just makes sense! There are so many amazing cities to explore in Europe, many of them within a quick train ride of London. Using the UK’s capital as a jumping-off point, you can easily make your London vacation into a European vacation. Experience a new culture, taste the regional specialties and explore some of the world’s great museums, historic sites and urban spaces — here are five cities to add to your London vacation!
Just a quick flight or high-speed train ride away, Edinburgh is an ideal addition to your London vacation. You’ll learn about a whole new corner of the United Kingdom as you explore the Scottish capital. Plus, you’ll enjoy a city which is renowned for its extraordinary architecture, history and setting. Did you know Edinburgh sits beneath the soaring crag of an extinct volcano?
That’s right, Scotland’s capital city can be overlooked from the 800+ foot summit of Arthur’s Seat, meaning you can literally go on a mountain hike from the center of town. The sometimes-challenging walks appeal to just about everyone, mainly because the view from the top is so extraordinary. Arthur’s Seat is part of Holyrood Park, the royal park at the Palace of Holyrood House which anchors one end of the city’s “Royal Mile.”
Along the Royal Mile you’ll find Edinburgh’s Old Town, an impressive collection of historic attractions and architecture. Narrow lanes, cobblestoned corners and intriguing staircases make the Old Town a fascinating place to linger and explore. And at the far end of the Royal Mile, you’ll find Edinburgh Castle perched upon yet another volcanic outcropping. It’s a truly unique city. Get there by train — just four hours from London — or by a quick flight.
Dublin’s legendary history and hospitality makes the Irish capital an ideal plus-one to your London vacation. From the recent history of Ireland’s turbulent twentieth century to the medieval vaults of its cathedrals and castles, Dublin is rich in historic markers dating back to the age of the Vikings. Plus, this famously literary city is filled with the favorite watering holes, historic houses and scenic landmarks that inspired some of the English language’s most celebrated authors.
Sightseeing through history in Dublin means more than battles and literature, though! It’s also home to the famous Guinness Storehouse, where you can discover the origins of Ireland’s most famous export, Guinness stout. You’ll even have the opportunity to lift a pint of your own as you overlook Dublin from the 8th-story Gravity Bar, the city’s highest bar.
From the General Post Office, where you can still trace the bullet holes in the stately columns that date back to 1916’s rebellion, to the hushed halls of Trinity College‘s vaulted libraries, to the vast fields and forests of Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest urban greenspace, Dublin is a place to come face-to-face with history, and experience the peace at Ireland’s green heart.
Read more about Dublin: Six Ways to See Dublin Like a Local
Paris is always a good idea, and if you’re already on a London vacation, it’s just a quick ride via high-speed train from the heart of London to the center of Paris. Talk about convenience – multiple trains per day zip between these two cosmopolitan capitals, meaning you can go from fish and chips to pan au chocolat and back again in just a day. But you might want to stay a bit longer.
After all, there’s so much to explore in Paris. You might think to start with the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, but don’t forget the stunning Musee d’Orsay, set within a beautiful historic train station and home to the world’s largest collection of impressionist art. Visit Monet’s Water Lilies in the oval, purpose-built rooms the artist designed in the Musée de l’Orangerie. You’ll need time to linger over dinner, when a three-course meal with fresh crusty bread is a matter of course. And naturally, you’ll want to take a half-day (at least) to visit the royal opulence of the Palace of Versailles.
Read more about Paris: 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Paris in Fall
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The “Venice of the North” is a perfect addition to your London vacation. This city is famous for images of narrow houses standing shoulder to shoulder, their bright colors reflected in the canals running past them, while bicycles zip over bridges and longboats hum through the water. When you’re not wandering the streets soaking up the Old World ambiance, you can explore the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt House, or the Rijksmuseum, visit the Renaissance splendor of the Royal Palace, and contemplate more recent history at the Anne Frank House.
And when you’re not soaking up the history, you can soak up some delicious eats. Amsterdam has a knack for delicious dining. Consider sugary little pancakes called poffertjes, those delicious caramel-filled stroopwafels hot from a street vendor, or bitterballen — a savory little fried meatball of sorts that is perfect for soaking up Amsterdam’s excellent beer selections.
Amsterdam is served by high-speed train from both London and Paris, so it’s a great addition to a London and Paris trip!
Read more about Amsterdam: 5 Essential Tips for Visiting Amsterdam
What can we say about Rome that hasn’t already been said? It’s known as the Eternal City with good reason — this place has been standing head and shoulders above the rest of civilization for five thousand years, and it’s not in a hurry to give up its status. From the Roman Forum and the Coliseum, remnants of an ancient empire which changed the world, to the elegant statues and fountains which litter the old city from Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical days, Rome is simply a must-see. Add it to your London vacation with a simple flight, or include Paris for an incredible multi-city experience.
Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to decide what’s best about Rome: the ancient wonders, the vast art collections, or the glorious, glorious food.
Read more about Rome: 10 Free Things to do in Rome
To make your London vacation even easier, you can book a vacation package including all of your flights, hotels and even reserved rail tickets with just a few clicks! It’s the simple way to start exploring Europe on your own. Or you can join a fun escorted tour itinerary including cities like London, Amsterdam, Paris and Bruges, offering included tours and admissions but still allowing you plenty of free time to explore on your own.