Best Eurostar destinations to visit in 2024

Since launching in 1994, the Eurostar has carried over 200 million passengers across the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

The famed train service whizzes travellers across the English Channel via the Channel Tunnel, completing the journey from London to its nearest stop, Lille in northern France, in just 1h 22m.

And although some of its previously popular routes, such as London-Marseille and the direct train to Disneyland Paris, have been scrapped due to a combination of Covid and Brexit red tape, the addition of routes to destinations including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Cologne has ensured that Eurostar remains an increasingly popular and environmentally sustainable way for Brits to travel.

What was once a groundbreaking service continues to innovate, and nowadays it provides a gateway to over 100 European destinations, as well as direct travel to much-loved European cities such as Paris and Brussels, with return tickets available for as little as £78.

Below, The Independent has compiled a list of some of the best places that you can visit directly with Eurostar.

Paris, France

Journey time from London: 2h 16m

A view of the Parisian skyline (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The French capital is Eurostar’s flagship destination, with journeys from London taking just two hours and 16 minutes. In 2023, Paris remains as popular as ever, welcoming over 30 million tourists per year. Its architectural sights and attractions are among some of the most visited in Europe, from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Art lovers can visit the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay galleries – containing works such as the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s self-portrait – while many visitors will take the opportunity to explore the city’s different districts (known as arrondissements).

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Many of the main tourist attractions are located in the 1st arrondissement, though neighbourhoods such as the quaint, atmospheric Latin Quarter (5th) or historic, traditional Le Marais (4th) are also well worth exploring. For those who really want to tick off all the sites on their trip, Montmartre (and Sacre Coeur, in the 18th) and the Champs-Elysees (8th) will undoubtedly be on the list.

Best time to visit Paris

June is a month where Paris really shines. The middle of the month plays host to the end of the French Open at Roland Garros, while the weather is usually pleasantly warm and the city receives less rain than almost every other month. With average highs of 23C and average temperatures around 20C, it’s the perfect time to explore the City of Light  – though be aware that in 2024, the city will host the summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games July, August and September.

Where to stay

The beauty of visiting such a large city is that you don’t have to stay in the centre to get the best experience. Le Pigalle is located in the neighbourhood of the same name, just a mile-and-a-half away from Sacre Coeur, the Champs-Elysees and the Louvre, while its prices are far more affordable than city centre rivals.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Journey time from London: 3h 50m

The journey to Amsterdam is one of Eurostar’s newest routes (Getty Images)

The three hour and 50 minute journey to Amsterdam has quickly soared in popularity since its launch in 2018 due to its simplicity and convenience. Another city that is beloved by Brits, the Dutch capital is famous for its picturesque, gabled-house-lined streets and network of interlocking canals, all of which are resplendent when the sun shines.

From the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum to the Anne Frank house, the city has plenty of cultural and historic landmarks. It is also a great size to explore on foot or by bike, whether wandering the streets of the controversial Red Light District (known as De Wallen) or more trendy neighbourhoods such as Oud-West or De Pijp.

Best time to visit Amsterdam

With a climate similar to that of the UK, Amsterdam is a European city that’s usually bearable to visit at the height of summer; July’s average temperature hovers around 18C (while average daily highs reach 23C). However, with plenty to see and do whatever the weather, it makes for a great year-round city break destination that’s just as charming in winter, autumn and spring.

Where to stay

Located on the grand Herengracht canal, the Ambassade Hotel is within easy walking distance of the Royal Palace, Anne Frank Museum and Rijksmuseum, and offers grand, elegant interiors in its canal-side building.

Brussels, Belgium

Journey time from London: 1h 50m

A view of Brussels’ Grand Place (Getty Images)

Another historic European city, Brussels also acts as Eurostar’s Belgian hub, with connecting trains available for equally scenic cities such as Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent. The journey is one of Eurostar’s shortest (at just over one hour and 50 minutes), though it’s great to spend more than just a day to the Belgian and EU capital.

The city centres around the Grand Place, a 17th-century Unesco Heritage Site adorned with Baroque and Gothic buildings that serves as the city’s central square. Museums such as The Atomium, Royal Museums of Fine Art and House of European History offer different exhibitions on Belgian and European history, arts and science, while those exploring further may come across Brussels icons including Manneken Pis, the Royal Palace or Cinquantenaire Park. When it all gets too much, sit down and sample some of the city’s famous beer, chocolate, waffles or fries.

When to visit Brussels

July and August are the warmest and driest months in Brussels, with average highs reaching 23C. However, travelling outside of school in late spring or early autumn will see accommodation and travel prices drop significantly.

Where to stay

With its own indoor pool, Finnish sauna and hot tub, 9Hotel Sablon is just five minutes away from Grand Place and is well-placed for exploring the city centre.

Lille, France

Journey time from London: 1h 22m

Lille is the Eurostar’s closest destination to the UK (Getty Images)

At just one hour and 22 minutes from London, Lille is Eurostar’s nearest destination and the gateway to northern France. Another 17th-century city, Lille is characterised by its Old Town area, with red brick buildings and paved pedestrian streets centring around its own ‘Grand Place’ (named after famed general, Charles de Gaulle) and buildings such as the old Stock Exchange (known as the Vieille Bourse).

While few cities can compete with the wealth of tourist offerings in Paris, Lille has its own notable gothic cathedral (Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, a fine arts museum containing works from artists including Goya and Picasso. You can also easily explore the city on foot, taking in its eclectic mix of Flemish, Baroque, Art Deco and modern architecture.

When to visit Lille

July is the best month to experience the northern French city, when weather is at its all-round best. Expect average highs of 23C, although this can drop as low as 14C at night.

Where to stay

Found on the city’s Grand Place, the Grand Hotel Bellevue is set in a Flemish building just 100 yards away from the metro. The hotel has been recently renovated and offers comfortable rooms with traditional decor and views onto the square.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Journey time from London: 3h 13m

Rotterdam is closer than Amsterdam on Eurostar, but makes one part of an excellent dual-destination break (Getty Images)

The Netherlands’ second city is much less visited than nearby Amsterdam but is a more modern, futuristic alternative to the historic capital. Architecture such as the Erasmus Bridge, the Cube Houses, the Markthal food market and even the city’s central station attest to this, as does the presence of skyscrapers and modern shopping centres in the central district. Nevertheless, the city still has several green spaces and older areas that have contributed to its contemporary identity.

First among the parks are Kralingse Bos and Het Park, where the Euromast tower provides excellent views over the city. To see where the city has preserved more of its history, head to the bustling Rotterdam Harbour – the largest seaport in Europe – and the Maritime Museum, or art and architecture museums such as the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen or the Netherlands Architecture Institute.

When to visit Rotterdam

Much like neighbouring Amsterdam, Rotterdam’s best weather comes at the height of summer when there are plenty of festivals and events on, but it’s similarly suitable to visit at any time of year thanks to its wide range of indoor activities.

Where to stay

Housed in a charming old building that was formerly the head office of the Holland America Line cruise operator, Hotel New York provides spacious rooms with modern interiors, two restaurants, its own terrace and extensive views over the harbour and the river.

Cologne, Germany

Journey time from London: from 4h 11m

The average journey time to Cologne is around five hours (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cologne is the only German city that you can reach on Eurostar trains – though you stop for a connection in Brussels – and is the furthest you can get using only Eurostar. This northern city is famed for its extensive carnival celebrations, it’s Christmas markets and a vast gothic cathedral that took around 600 years to complete. In 2024, it’ll be on the radar of even more tourists after being announced as a host city for the summer’s Euro 2024 football tournament.

One of the city’s most well-known exports is its kölsch, an ale brewed in the city and served in any of the many brauhäuser (brewhouses, which are the local equivalent of pubs) that dot the streets of the old town. Once you’ve taken in the sights and tastes around the cathedral, banks of the Rhine and the botanical garden, take your tastebuds on another journey at the Schokoladen Museum (Chocolate Museum) or indulge your artistic tastes at the Ludwig Museum, home to the third largest collection of Picasso pieces in the world.

When to visit Cologne

If you can brave the cold and potential snow, a visit in December will coincide with one of Germany’s largest and best Christmas markets, while February sees one of the largest carnival celebrations on the continent. To best enjoy the beer gardens and river views, opt for May or June.

Where to stay

The Eden Hotel Früh am Dom offers affordable accommodation in a convenient location near the cathedral. It is part of the Früh am Dom brewhouse, one of the most renowned in the city, and offers easy access to the old town and the riverside.

Travelski Express

Journey time from London: from 8h 17m

Les Arcs is connected to Europe by train from the town of Bourg St Maurice (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Although the Eurostar Ski Train has been scrapped, tour operator Travelski now provides package skiing holidays including train travel operated by Eurostar. You can visit destinations including Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d’isere, Val Thorens, Courchevel and Meribel, with direct trains running from St Pancras to Moutiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Trains depart on Saturday mornings, arriving in the early evening, and depart the resorts early on Sunday eight days later.

Packages offer “a broad range of accommodation options, from self-catered apartments to hotels and chalets”, and include a seven-day lift pass. The easiest resort to reach is Les Arcs; from Bourg, travellers can simply catch the funicular service up the mountain at no extra cost.

When to visit the French Alps

It is recommended to check conditions before you go (and many resorts will vary depending on altitude), but the best time to ski in the Alps is usually from January to early April, though the season can run from December to late April.

Where to stay

Dates and partner accommodation for 2025 is yet to be announced, but check regularly for updates.

Read our reviews of the best hotels in Europe

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