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Romeo and Juliet setting | Verona, Italy’s city of love

Romeo and Juliet setting | Verona, Italy’s city of love

Varying images may be conjured in your mind when considering a romantic Romeo and Juliet setting. Perhaps your view is bright and Baz Luhrmann like? Or, splashes of a fabulous stage version you’ve seen somewhere around the world – a ballet?

While I do love all that is this most famous of stories (especially Leo and Claire circa 1996), I hope you’re with me in picturing Verona as the true setting of Romeo and Juliet.

Over the years Verona, Italy kept popping into our sphere. We finally scheduled a trip due to so many friends mentioning the place!

 

Verona is an easy city to walk around. It’s ideal for a long weekend away, or a longer trip of three or four days.

We incorporated Verona into our train trip itinerary, where we started in Milan and finished in Venice.

There’s plenty of things to do in Verona. It’s not an overwhelming amount of choice though, which we liked.

First of all, there’s Juliet’s balcony Verona, an important part of the Romeo and Juliet narrative here. It’s pretty touristy, but a sentimental must-do in Verona.

For a list of the best things to do in Verona, read on…

Romeo and Juliet setting - romantic Verona Italy

Romeo and Juliet setting

If you’re a fan of William Shakespeare as I am, you’ll be interested in this spot as the original Romeo and Juliet setting.

You may want to book additional time in the area to explore other Shakespearean links because did you know Shakespeare set a third of his plays in Italy?

His most famous works are set in Verona, plus nearby Padua, Venice and Rome. It’s not known whether Shakespeare had the chance to visit Italy in his life, but he certainly dreamt of it as a location.

Interesting resources on ‘Shakespeare’s Italy’ include: 

  1. an Italy destinations feature published by Traveller Magazine;
  2. Research published by the British Library in London. This link explores “how Italian geography, literature, culture and politics influenced the plots and atmosphere of many of Shakespeare’s plays”.

 

Juliet’s balcony Verona Italy - visit and live out your Shakespeare dreams

Juliet’s balcony Verona

Verona is described as one of the most romantic cities in Italy, for the reason that it brings to life the setting for Romeo and Juliet. It is beautiful, and doesn’t disappoint.

Every day, crowds make their way through a narrow archway in the old town, that leads into a small courtyard of a 14th Century residence said to be Juliet’s house.

It was made world-famous in the 2010 film Letters to Juliet.

‘Secretaries of Juliet’ reply to letters from all over the world from this very space and advise on matters of the heart in a wide variety of languages.

Juliet’s balcony Verona - the setting for Romeo and Juliet in Italy

Another nice thing to do if you don’t hit a huge line of people, is pay the small entry fee to get into the house. It’s fun because you to can go up to Juliet’s balcony Verona and get a photo taken. Head inside the old house, explore, walk out onto the balcony and recite a line from the play.

Or not.

Also remember to take  marker (pen). You can add your love note to the millions already scrawled along the walls outside the house.

In need of a little luck? Legend has it that if you touch the right breast of Juliet’s statue underneath Juliet’s balcony in Verona, you’ll find your true love. Every little bit helps, right?!

An old whale bone in the medieval city centre Verona setting for Rome and Juliet

Things to do in Verona Italy

Verona itself is a delight.

“A city built on hills arranged like banks of theatre seats.” (BBC Travel)

From its romantic Adige River that runs through the middle of town, linked by pretty bridges to the beautifully maintained ‘old town’. It’s straight out of a Shakespearean romance.

Juliet’s balcony Verona is just one of the things to see here. Another of Verona’s unavoidable wonders is the sublime old town market square, Piazza delle Erbe.

 



 
The medieval walls have been beautifully taken care of, and as a result showcase some of the city’s finest architecture and ancient frescoes. They set the scene for a market and dining spot that – while mostly geared towards tourists – has been a meeting spot for people for centuries. That’s pretty special, we think.

Within the square you’ll find the Venetian lion which has gazed upon visitors since 1405. It was put there to remind residents that Venice was in charge (at that point, anyway).

Things to do including Juliet’s balcony Verona

Look up and around – everywhere

Always look up in old cities. Here, you’ll eventually spot a famous whale’s rib that’s been hanging from an iron chain since at least the 1700s. Legend goes that the whale rib will not fall until a person who has never told a lie walks underneath it.

It’ll probably stay there for a while then. The rib has not fallen, despite Popes and kings testing it.

A little less whimsical is the fact that the rib was likely a souvenir brought home to Verona from the orient by spice traders.

The best things to do in Verona include walking around and exploring along the riverbank, cross bridges, browse in old churches and generally be curious.

We’d advise getting out of the main part of the old town for a better deal on food and coffee. Walk across one of the bridges and see what’s on the other side.

Wonderful Verona walking tour through key sites

More great things to see in Verona:

  1. Castel St Pietro, positioned on the hill above Verona. You can walk up for a look. It’s a  mysterious fort that boasts cypress tree-lined avenue and offers a spectacular view across the city.
  2. Piazza dei Signori, a quiet, beautiful old square boasting lovely medieval arches and architecture.
  3. Toree dei Lamberti. Construction begun on this tower in 1171. You’ll spot it from the Piazza delle Erbe. In the Middle Ages, such towers would have helped to organise life, because the bell would ring to signal a fire, summon war councils and let people know it was time to finish work.
  4. Shopping in the Centro Storico, full of fabulous fashion and gorgeous Italian things to splurge on.
  5. Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, ‘containing’ the crypt where Romeo and Juliet got married. It’s a typical example of Romanesque architecture with 12th Century bronze doors and a ‘wheel of fortune’ rose window.
  6. Juliet’s tomb, housed in a 13th-century Franciscan convent. This is where Juliet died in the play. People pay tribute here to Juliet and Shakespeare. Even Charles Dickens visited.
  7. Castelvecchio, is the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled Verona in the Middle Ages.

 

Unmissable is the Verona Arena, a 1st Century open-air Roman amphitheatre that’s still fully operational. Locals and visitors can enjoy opera and concerts in the unique space.

Not only is it one of the best preserved ancient structures in the world, it’s touted as being one of the ten most beautiful places in the world that you could see a live show! The stone structures here have seen everything from gladiator games and jousting competitions to Adele and Elton John in concert.

Romeo and Juliet setting - stroll through Verona at night

Verona things to see and do: travel tip

Finally, we’d suggest you book a local experience to get the best out of the place. In Venice and Verona we purchased a walking tour with food experience. Our Verona option was an evening wander with Wonderful Verona.

Across three hours our host, Jessica, introduced us to Verona’s popular and secret sights, while pouring healthy glasses of local wines in choice locations. We’re all pictured above. It was very hard to leave Verona, thanks to this lovely localised experience and our stylish ‘dream loft’ Airbnb.

Got questions or a tip to add? Let us know in the comments below

In this series – a week across Italy by train:

Milan, budget travel tips

Milan to Lake Como, via Varenna and Bellagio 

Verona, Italy travel guide [you’re reading it]

Milan to Venice – how to take the train

How to find your perfect wine tasting in Italy experiences

Why you should find a food tour in Italy

Venice, Italy travel guide – things to know before you go

– ‘Italy by Rail’, a special travel feature in the June 2019 issue of Get it Magazine, Australia 💕

 

Milan to Varenna train – how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio

Milan to Varenna train – how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio

I had to dig around to find out how to get to Lake Como easily and cheaply, only to discover the Milan to Varenna train trip was my answer.

In the hope we can save someone else the hassle of figuring out how to see Lake Como and Bellagio in a day trip from Milan, details are here.

 

Why take the Milan to Varenna train route to Lake Como?

We’ve been lucky enough explore various parts of Italy previously. Rome is excellent, as are Florence, Siena and Tuscany. I didn’t know my way around this area though. I’d been inspired by a colleague at work who suggested getting around Italy by train. On planning a week away in April, Cooper and I chose an itinerary of Milan to Verona to Venice.

Lake Como is close to Milan, fashion and business capital of Italy. We knew we’d be flying into Milan, and didn’t want to miss the Lakes region.

At first I considered a guided day tour to Lake Como. It’s a viable yet expensive option. Most of these day trips are about ten to twelve hours long – that’s a big day.

We settled on taking the train from Milan to Varenna, a village on the shores of Lake Como, because:

  1. It’s an easy trip from Milan Central station, just over an hour
  2. It’s inexpensive at just over €6 each way
  3. Taking the ferry to Bellagio from here is easy and inexpensive
  4. Varenna is also a pretty little town on the lake.

 

Varenna on Lake Como

How to book and board Milan to Varenna train return

Our tickets were booked through thetrainline.com. I have the Trainline app on my phone that stores the tickets for display at the station or on board.

You’ll book from Milano Centrale (Milano Central station) to Varenna-Esino station.

I booked our fares for specific leave and return times. But, we just missed our train on the Sunday morning and staff said it was fine to take the next one, scheduled an hour later.

Our experience with Milan and Varenna train stations has been that they’re not very well signed. Platforms and trains can be hard to identify. If you’re taking the Milan to Varenna train return trip, give yourself time to get it right.

As we encountered a rainy day, we decided to go back to Milan an hour early. The trains going back are not signed well either. Additionally, they weren’t running to time. Little did we know, the day to follow this, the train to Verona ended up departing ten minutes before our stated ticket time.

At Varenna, we got on the wrong train. In a panic we got off at the next stop, a deserted platform. Fortunately we could walk back to Varenna in about twenty minutes along the lakeside.

It’s not a big deal, but double check and give yourself time.

Milan to Varenna on the train

Why Lake Como?

Lake Como is the third largest lake in the lakes district of Italy. That is behind Garda, which you can spot on the train ride to Varona, and Maggiore. It’s 46km long and at its widest is about 4.5km.

Imagine, snow capped mountains and a mystical body of water, home to centuries-old history and celebrities from near and far. Ferries glide in and out of hills that look like islands rising out of the deep blue. Pink and yellow buildings are tucked together along the bottom edge of the mountains. They’re divided every now and then by an ancient church steeple. Other homes line sections further up these hills. Their views must be marvellous, one can only imagine.

 



 

It’s all so pretty, almost looks like they’ve been drawn on. A real life oil painting on a canvas that’s kilometres long.

Roads, rail and tunnels are carved into sheer rock cliffs. Sculpted gardens are set along the waterfront with their Roman statues and water fountains. Little birds dance along cafe tables hoping for crumbs. Dogs chase ducks as clouds float down from the sky. The air is fresh and the world at peace. It’s as lovely as I imagined, and you’ll want to visit here too, trust us.

Visit Lake Como in a day trip from Milan

Exploring Varenna on a day trip from Milan to Lake Como

Varenna is situated in the Lombardy region. It’s very pretty and conveniently is only a five minute walk from Varenna train station. The village is picture-postcard beautiful with sweet winding alleyways and waterfront dining.

It’s easy to wander up and down the hills and along the lake’s edge, although wear comfortable shoes because the stairways are long and steep.

The option to travel from Milan to Varenna on the train proved a happy escape from the bustle of Milan. Even though we had a rainy day, the place was beautiful – worthwhile.

Getting to Bellagio from Varenna

Many people say Bellagio is the gem of lake Como. It’s a pretty village jutting out into Lake Como and is included on most day trip itineraries to Lake Como from Milan. It’s popular for cobbled lanes and elegant buildings.

It was our intention to visit Bellagio on our day trip from Milan via Varenna. By the time we arrived though, it was pouring rain so we chose to explore Varenna instead. No regrets.

There’s plenty of questions and some confusion on Tripadvisor about how to get to Bellagio and when the ferries go.

Most information is difficult to understand as it’s in Italian and the official website is hard to navigate. Take it from me (I like to be organised), don’t worry at all about it.

The ferry costs about €5 each way, and runs every 30 or 40 minutes. It’s slightly less frequent in winter, but the ferry terminal is manned and there’s plenty to do in Varenna while you wait to board.

The ferry dock taking you on a short trip to Bellagio is on the waterfront about five minutes from Varenna train station. You can’t miss it. If the day is clear, you’ll be fortunate to see gorgeous views of the colourful buildings on the hills surrounding the lake.

Italian treats abound

Questions or comments…

I hope this answers any of your queries or concerns about how to do a self-guided day trip on the train from Milan to Lake Como.

Varenna is a lovely option for its views, ease and style. It’s really simple to get to and from Bellagio. We spoke to the ferry team to clarify this. The train (if you don’t miss it) is comfortable and quick. A paid tour costs a fortune and hours out of your day. Even if you don’t go to Bellagio, Varenna is a beautiful glimpse into the tranquillity that is Lake Como. Despite rain and a number of missed trains, this day out was close to perfect.

On this week long trip, we travelled across the country to Verona and Venice on the train. Click the links to find out more.

Got questions or a tip to add? Let us know in the comments below

In this series – a week across Italy by train:

Milan, budget travel tips

Milan to Lake Como, via Varenna and Bellagio [you’re reading it]

Verona, Italy travel guide

Milan to Venice – how to take the train

How to find your perfect wine tasting in Italy experiences

Why you should find a food tour in Italy

Venice, Italy travel guide – things to know before you go

 

A Milan to Venice train travel adventure

A Milan to Venice train travel adventure

It’s a special year for me, so I requested a week long trip to celebrate, which is how Milan to Venice train travel became a ‘thing’ this April.

Why the train?

A friend inspired me to explore Italy by train. She highlighted that it’s relatively inexpensive (see thetrainline.com) and stress-free compared with driving. Many of Italy’s major cities are connected by rail. The reason we were talking about this in the first place, is that when we visited Tuscany, we drove, and it was stressful.

My friend was simultaneously travelling with her family by train, between Rome, Florence and Venice. It was easy.

Our Italian affair this April began at Milano Centrale Station, so we might explore this fashion capital that’s been dazzling visitors for years with its design-led initiatives and stunning structures.

Milan is brimming with beauty, and you can also take a train ride that’s just an hour to reach Lake Como for a self-guided day trip.

When planning our week in Italy, I had a destination in mind. It was actually somewhere that inspired Shakespeare, Verona. So, I took a look at what was accessible from London, and came up with Milan to Venice.

 



 

I studied a map and researched flights. We could fly into Milan from London City Airport (✔) and come back from Venice to Stansted Airport (✔). What to do in between then?

Milan to Venice train travel, touching over in Varenna (Lake Como) and Verona, the wish-list destination. Perfecto 👌 About two nights in each location would do the trick. Never enough time, but a start.

Varenna on Lake Como for a day trip from Milan by train

How to travel Milan to Venice on the train

If you’re based in the UK, several searches come up on Google when you’re searching for Milan to Venice train options. Italia Rail is one such option. But, Trainline pulls everything together just fine, as far as I’m concerned.

I booked our trips individually on Trainline:

  1. Milan to Varenna for a day trip to Lake Como, about £25 for a day return for two people.
  2. Milan to Verona, to stay for two nights, around £25 for two of us to travel one way. The trip was about two hours.
  3. Verona to Venice, about one hour train journey, costing approx £20 for two of us to travel.

Using the Trainline phone app, I stored our tickets and they were easy to retrieve and show on the train upon request.

Important to note:

I booked our train fares in advance. Closer to the time of travel, it turned out some of the train times were altered slightly. If we’d not arrived at the station early and double-checked the schedule, we may have missed one of our trains which left ten minutes prior to what we had on our ticket. Give yourself time and check schedules on the ground.

 

Travel Milan to Venice train and experience the unparalleled scenery that is Italy

Milan to Venice: the highlights

The Milan to Venice train trip and week away in Italy was pure magic.

Verona and Venice are particularly wonderful. Click the links to read our travel guides.

We utilised Airbnb for accommodation – Italy is notoriously expensive in this area. Airbnb together with travelling on the train kept our costs down, and our experience was indeed stress-free.

Train travel in Europe is a treat because of the scenery. We lavished in everything from the snow-capped Alps to little farming villages, vineyards, horses, chickens, ancient churches and glimpses of northern Italy’s great Lakes.

Milan to Venice on the train is an excellent option. If you have time, there’s many spots to stop off at. Next time around I’d love to see more of Lake Garda and the town of Padua, another inspiration to Shakespeare.

 

Got tips or questions? Let us know in the comments below 

 

In this series – a week across Italy by train:

Milan, budget travel tips

Milan to Lake Como, via Varenna and Bellagio

Verona, Italy travel guide

Milan to Venice – how to take the train [you’re reading it]

How to find your perfect wine tasting in Italy experiences

Why you should find a food tour in Italy

Venice, Italy travel guide – things to know before you go

 

The 7 most romantic things to do in Bath England

The 7 most romantic things to do in Bath England

Bath is the epitome of Georgian elegance and is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year. It’s a pleasurable day trip from London (take Great Western Rail from Paddington); or stay a night or two and truly indulge in all the romantic things to do in Bath!

Personally, I love Bath because it’s easy to get around but has all the perks of a city like shopping, coffee, plenty to see and do. Bath is rich in history – the buildings tell many lifetimes worth of tales, dating back to the Romans right through to Jane Austen, and even the birth of Royal Mail. And, aside from anything else, the city is strikingly beautiful.

It’s one for the romantics, for sure – a very special place, like York (which you also must visit). Here are seven of our sweetest ideas for you to explore…

7 romantic things to do in Bath, England

Bath Abbey Tower Tour

Bath Abbey is the divine structure that makes for a perfect meeting spot in the town centre. It is an utterly surprising find as you’re wandering the old streets, and you’ll have your phone in hand snapping pictures before you even realise what you’re doing!

Indulge in some people watching in the square, and when you’ve gathered your breath, climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of the area.

If this idea takes your fancy, you can book exclusive personalised tours which take place out of hours. Watch the sun set over this uniquely lovely place, away from the tourist crowds. More at bathabbey.org/towertours.

Things to do in Bath - Travel Live Learn Things to do in Bath - Travel Live Learn

Stroll along the Gravel Walk

This is fine for all, but Austen fans will especially rejoice because it is the setting of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s proposal in Persuasion.

Continue your wander through to Royal Victoria Park for a picnic, and wind up your exploration in the lovely woodland of the Botanical Gardens.

Be mindful after dark though, for although it might seem pretty at dusk it is said that a number of Bath’s former residents often also wander here. Particularly notable is a white haired man who will appear before you on the Gravel Walk, only to vanish back into the night. Spooky, although perhaps a romantic pursuit for the ghost-hunters (like me) among you…

Boo!

Things to do in Bath - Travel Live Learn

Take to nature – canal ride, row boat or horse drawn carriage ride

As you step off the train into the city of Bath, you’ll spot signs for visitor information centres. Drop in and enquire about one of the unique opportunities to interact with nature.

Particularly special on a sunny day, is the opportunity to hire a row boat or board a quaint vessel headed along the canals. There’s plenty of romantic little spots to stop at, like The Bathampton Mill pub, or choose a more remote countryside patch of green and relish in the serenity.

Back in town, we suggest skipping the cab line and instead take a horse drawn carriage ride around the city, just like in Austen’s romantic age. Be enchanted as you pass by grand spaces like the Royal Crescent, Royal Victoria Park and The Circus. Courtyard Carriages will make it happen.

Things to do in Bath - Travel Live Learn

Stay overnight in a romantic hotel!

Bath is brimming with excellent accommodation options for all budgets. If you’re willing to splash out for a special occasion and take full advantage of this city’s status as a centre for romance, this one looks nice – the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. It’s centrally located with sublime views of the city! We’ve not stayed here, but sure would like to. Seems so very Austen-esque.

Another decadent property I spotted on our travels was Bath Spa Hotel, a five star stay overlooking the breathtaking Bath landscape.

 

 

Jane Austen festival in September

Yes, yes and yes!

Indulge in regal splendour – performances, balls, workshops, promenades, fairs, lunches, breakfasts (and the odd Mr Darcy sprinkled around town for good measure)…

There are even short tours of the surrounding area on offer so you can get your entire literary and adventure fix with the least amount of effort. If you’re a fan of the author, don’t miss visiting in September. More at janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk.

Note: there’s a plethora of Austen experiences open all year round too if you can’t make it in spring.

Things to do in Bath - Travel Live Learn

Thermae Bath Spa

Bath is of course famed for its ancient baths and healing waters, and now thanks to Thermae, we can all take a dip.

After you’ve explored the interesting old ruins, step it up to contemporary times in an utterly indulgent and romantic manner. Thermae now boasts a sensational rooftop pool with sweeping city views. There’s plenty of other treatments you can enjoy too – the best of modern pleasures and old world lush blended into a sublime chance to unwind and feel the love.

Country walks and quaint villages

When we visited Bath recently, we actually took the Hop on Hop off bus tour, which features two routes through Bath. One travels around the city and explains the local history, and the other highlights the outskirts upon the hilltops overlooking the city’s skyline. This is an excellent way to get your bearings in the city. Helpful too, because Bath is very hilly so it’s easy to get tired making your way around. An option like this makes it simpler to identify the places you might like to go back to, and the skyline journey in particular showcases some lovely walks.

Suggested places to visit include the ‘prettiest village in England’, Castle Combe (accessible from Bath), Kennet and Avon canals which are some of the loveliest waterways working their way through England. The tour guide also pointed out walks you can try nearby to stops on the tour’s itinerary such as around Middle Hill Lodge.

Words can’t describe how lovely it is here, although many writers have attempted to do so throughout history. Why not visit and see for yourself? You may find the Visit Bath website useful, and book your train tickets in advance for the best deal, Trainline.

If you’ve found this helpful or have a tip to add, please let us know in the comments.

 

Keen to get around England but on a budget? Why not try house sitting: Find out more Or, give this place a go for great romantic staycation deals in London.

Filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle

Filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle

Rolling green hills, pretty ponds, and sheep calmly grazing across vast expanses of English countryside − it was all very dreamy, as we headed towards the filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle.

We’d been driving along a quiet winding road for a while and wondered where it was.

“If you tilt your head to the left, Miss, just over the tops of those trees, you’ll see it in a moment,” chimed the jolly cab driver I’d met just 15 minutes ago in the nearby village of Newbury.

Filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle

Filming location of Downton Abbey - visit London to Highclere Castle

As he spoke, indeed, it appeared! How amazing – Downton Abbey, or in real life, Highclere Castle – a very accessible day trip from London.

I couldn’t help the welling of excitement as we rounded the corner past more manicured greenery.

All of a sudden, England’s most famous stately home, Highclere Castle arose, grand as ever.

It reminded me of the excitement of when we had the chance to explore historical Blencowe Hall (part of my heritage and a stately place up in the north of England)!

It was just like in one of the world’s most-watched series’, Downton Abbey (sadly, final season aired in 2016, but as of an update to this blog, a film was released late 2019.

 

 

Exploring Highclere Castle (‘Downton Abbey’)

You too can play out your Crawley family fantasies by visiting the filming location of Downton Abbey, as do thousands of others who visit annually during the lavish property’s open periods (usually UK’s spring/summer).

The Jacobethan-style country house is set on 5000 acres (five times bigger than New York’s Central Park).

It’s an opportunity to step back into another world altogether.

Filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle - visit on a day trip from London

The library is magnificent, housing over 5000 classic editions; pause a moment in the posh dining room and ballroom (where many a romantic Downton moment has been stolen), and the bedrooms (there’s over 50!).

You can wander the formal gardens, plus enjoy a spot of tea and scones. It’s very special, almost royal like Buckingham Palace, that’s for sure.

When Downton filming is done, Highclere hosts expensive events and celebrity weddings.

It’s home to Lord and Lady Carnarvon, and the property has been in the Carnarvon family for over 300 years.

Back in its heyday, an army of 60 servants catered to the Carnarvons’ every desire. However, it costs around $1 million to maintain such a stately home these days, with just 20 full time staff.

 

Getting from London to Highclere Castle

It’s an easy day trip − around an hour’s train ride from Paddington to the quaint town of Newbury, then a friendly cab driver will ferry you to Downton… er, I mean, Highclere (but don’t worry if you get it wrong, they’re used to it!).

Good news for those fretting over the end of our favourite show or indeed excited for the new film – you can still make a pilgrimage here and enjoy ever more of England’s charms. Book your tickets here

 

Are you a Downton Abbely fan too? Drop me a line in the comments!

7 awesome reasons to travel on the train from London to Edinburgh

7 awesome reasons to travel on the train from London to Edinburgh

You wouldn’t expect the topic ‘taking the train from London to Edinburgh’ to come up as a dinner party topic, but for us recently it did! I was enjoying a nice chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc over dinner with friends (don’t you love the bottles with twist tops?!).

I mentioned excitedly as I emptied the last of the contents (a bottle doesn’t go far between four people), that I was travelling on the train from London to Edinburgh the following week. Anyone who has been to Scotland will enthusiastically agree it’s a beautiful, friendly country with a long history. Scotland offers amazing scenery, history and filming locations, castles, lochs and even a monster!

Suddenly I was asked what I thought to be a bizarre question, “why are you taking the train?”

7 awesome reasons to travel on the train from London to Edinburgh

…”Isn’t the plane much faster?”

This is when the conversation previously focusing on sport, politics, work and the usual banter steered towards the new topic of train travel. Each guest explained – with enthusiasm – their experiences travelling around the UK on the world’s oldest railway system.

After emptying the contents of a second bottle of Australia’s finest, I felt inspired, excited and a little curious by the prospect of travel on the train from London to Edinburgh (between four and five hours).

visiting Scotland - why you should take the train from London

7 awesome reasons to travel on the train from London to Edinburgh

Door-to-door

Unlike airports which are located anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes from a city, most major train stations are located in the centre of the city.

Avoid rush-hour traffic and an expensive taxi ride. I didn’t feel stressed travelling to the train station but I always have a small sense of anxiety when I travel to an airport.

Our travel from London to Edinburgh by train commenced at the centrally-located and well appointed King’s Cross station in London.

Hassle-free

What I really like about train travel is that you don’t have to arrive several hours before departure and then wait in a long security line.

When I arrived at King’s Cross 30 minutes before departure, everyone was relaxed, no one was rushing and I didn’t encounter any impatient passengers pushing and shoving waiting for the gates to open. No exorbitant prices for food and drinks either. I grabbed a latte, checked from which platform my train was departing, visited a few shops and even had a chance to explore the Harry Potter exhibit (as one does).

Scottish cow

Baggage and expenses

We’ve all experienced that anxiety about having to pay excess baggage fees, and that sheepish feeling of guilt when you know your bags are flirting with being slightly overweight.

Thankfully, conductors who I found friendly and helpful, didn’t even check how many bags I had or more importantly how much they weighed. No angry and surprised passengers standing helplessly when staff remove bags and demand a fee.

On the price side, if you’re familiar with the UK, you’ll know there are of course discount airfare options, but, did you know you can score a train ticket travelling from London to Edinburgh for as little as £25 if you book in advance? Try looking up fares on Trainline.

Comfort and relaxation

My core complaint when flying is the lack of leg room and being boxed-in amongst strangers. On trains there are seats in pairs, or sets of four (two either side), and some with the option of a table in the middle.

Plug a laptop in, catch up on blogging (or the latest episode of Arrow…; read, write, daydream).

Did I mention you don’t have to wear a seat belt and there’s no line for the toilet!? Winning!

Trains can be a little bumpy in a soothing way (like being rocked to sleep); nothing like when you hit turbulence and fear grips your body.

Scottish town - views across Edinburgh

The real bonus – scenery


Trains offer the chance to be engaged by spectacular scenery, unlike planes where, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of a landmark during take-off or landing. I love watching in wonder the rolling green fields, lazy grazing farm animals, charming villages and historical castles standing proud. A kaleidoscope of images, and the landscape of the United Kingdom is really so special, particularly when you travel from London to Edinburgh by train.

The time really does fly by, because the adventure is a travel experience in itself, rather than feeling like a ‘drag’.

Meeting travellers and making friends

A cafeteria and bar offering all the essentials was positioned up the back of my train. Making my way to this oasis felt a bit like imitating a trapeze artist on rope, but, my reward for a delicate balancing act, was that I found this spot to be a great place to meet fellow travellers. We shared tips and a few jokes over a cold beverage.

That said, if you prefer to enjoy a little quiet time, staying in your seat is a perfectly convenient option too, because a trolley of hot and cold delights makes its way through the carriages at intervals through the journey.

Scottish lake

Environment

An important fact, trains are less damaging to the environment and more energy efficient. Trains require half the energy per passenger per mile than air travel. Anything that is great for the environment is a winner in my books.

Sure, we all live active, busy lives and travelling by plane is less time consuming, but there comes a time when we must all stop, relax and smell the roses, so to speak.

I’m discovering train travel in the UK is the chance to experience real travel adventure; you can score tickets at low prices, and view the world while travelling comfortably. The time really does fly by (no pun intended). Definitely worth considering when you’re in our neck of the woods.

−Cooper