It’s hard to think of anything that’s wrong with Easter. Set to coincide with the turn of winter into spring, it marks a time of renewal, regrowth and more time to spend together. With longer evenings and hopefully better weather come the prospect of exploring new places, seeing new sights and enjoying time with the people we love. The days are already drawing out so it’s only natural our ways of spending time together should turn outwards too.
But exploring the UK together can sometimes be a bit fraught. This is a busy country and it can seem even more so when you’re trying to find ways to be alone. Deciding who’s going to drive, negotiating traffic and finding parking spots can often spoil a day out for couples before it even gets going. So why not try something different this Easter and have some time away together by train. Once you’ve settled down side-by-side in your seat, you’ll find you have time to gaze out of the window, enjoy a coffee and perhaps even chat with each other for the first time in ages. And of course, you’ll have your couple's day out to look forward to.
Whether you’ve got time for a long weekend or just a day in a lovely spot, we have some great ideas for days out by train. We also have a few hints and tips about how to make sure both of you have a great time. Keep reading to find out more.
If looking up at the Spinnaker Tower cricks your necks, why not launch yourselves off it? You can expect 100-metres worth of adrenaline on this descent of Portsmouth’s iconic landmark and if you’re brave enough to look, you’ll also get to share some amazing harbour views.
Train station: Portsmouth Harbour station
Walk from station: 5 minutes
Cost: £140 (gold package)
Booking: At least three months in advance
Pack: Tighter fit warm clothing, trainers
Be prepared for: Weather and perhaps a few nerves
We want to be together: Ask if you can hold hands on the way down
Abseiling is a hungry business so after your abseil why not ditch the ropes and head even higher up the Spinnaker Tower for high tea in the clouds and a more relaxed look at the views. Or for popular café eats, wander around to the Point to enjoy a view of the tower from the Spinnaker Café.
If you’d like a night to absorb your experience, Portsmouth has plenty of options. For listed building luxury just 2-minutes from the train station try the Ship Leopard Boutique Hotel on the Hard or for something more budget-friendly go for the Holiday Inn Express just round the corner at Gunwharf Quays.
If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be thrown down a rapid, this is your chance to find out. You won’t need any previous experience but confidence in the water is required. Your instructor will tell you everything else you need to know.
Train station: Cogan station
Walk from station: 10 minutes
Cost: £65 (for 2 hours)
Pack: Swimwear, a towel, £1 for a locker. Specialist equipment provided.
Be prepared for: Falling in
We want to be together: The whole family will want to join you on this one so keep it quiet!
Once you’ve dried off you could take the train back into Cardiff Central station to find a whole range of eateries and places to stay but a more satisfying option might be to walk over to Portway Marina where you’ll find The Deck restaurant on the waterfront.
There’s nothing like jumping from rocks into chilly sea water to help you work up an appetite, which is good news if you’ve just hopped off the train at Par because Howl Brewery offer a fabulous activity, pizza and beer package.
Train station: Par Station
Walk from station: 17 minutes
Cost: £45 - £100
Pack: Swimming costume, towel and trainers
Be prepared for: Wildlife, rocks and a unique view of the coast
We want to be together: Who will take the biggest leap first?
Par is a holiday resort and will just about be waking up at Easter. Back towards the station you’ll find the four-star Royal Inn but Par Sands Holiday Park is nearer to the beach and has an indoor swimming pool to help you get over all that cold water.
You don’t have to visit the Netherlands to experience stunning tulip displays. This year’s tulip festival at Arundel Castle will have over 100,000 blooms all arranged to impress and even celebrate the forthcoming coronation of King Charles III.
Train station: Arundel station
Walk from station: 10-minutes
Cost: £14 (garden only)
Booking: Online but tickets can be bought at the gate
Pack: Comfortable shoes and a jacket
Be prepared for: The urge to take copious photos
We want to be together: Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and find your perfect spot
Arundel Castle has a restaurant, coffee shop and garden tea terrace but responsible picnicking is also allowed. Arundel has a range of self-catering cottages, some of them with riverside views.
Scene of royal weddings and funerals as well as home to the Royal Family, Windsor Castle is familiar to us all but nothing beats a real-life visit. Hop on the train to walk in the steps of 40 monarchs, watch the changing of the Guard, then marvel at the gold covered Grand Reception Room.
Train station: Windsor and Eton Central station
Walk from station: 6 minutes
Cost: £28 (advance)
Booking: Tickets can also be bought on the day
Pack: Comfortable shoes, your best curtsy
Be prepared for: A steep walk up to the castle, plenty of walking, airport style security
We want to be together: Enjoy a royal wedding moment on the steps of St George’s Chapel
If you fancy high tea at the castle, head to the Undercroft Café where you can sometimes also buy ice cream produced from Windsor’s own dairy herd. If you didn’t expect to find accommodation so near the Castle, you might be interested in Travelodge Windsor Central just a six-minute walk away.
RSPB Insh Marshes sits in the shadow of the often-snowclad Cairngorms and takes in 10 square kilometres of Speyside floodplain. In the spring the magnificent whooper swans are starting to leave for Iceland but you can expect to spot snipe, redshank and lapwing as well as hear the bubbling song of the curlew.
Train station: Kingussie station
Walk from station: 31 minutes
Cost: Free (donations welcome)
Booking: Not required
Pack: Warm clothes, walking footwear and a picnic
Be prepared for: The nearest toilets are in Kingussie
We want to be together: Whooper swans mate for life (up to 24 years)
Insh Marshes is more about wildlife than facilities but you’ll find cafes back in Kingussie and a whole range of eating and staying options just up the track in Aviemore. We loved the Winking Owl’s dog-friendly bothy bar.
Attenborough Nature Reserve, opened in 1966 by the great man himself, is a large complex of flooded gravel pits that prove green space and a home for wildlife can be created from once industrial sites. Watch out for butterflies, dragonflies and migratory waders while you listen for the bittern’s strange boom.
Train station: Attenborough station
Walk from station: 10 minutes across an amazing wetland landscape
Cost: Free (donations via Broxtowe Lotto)
Booking: Not required
Pack: Binoculars, walking footwear and a warm jacket
Be prepared for: Dog must be on leads, wheelchair friendly nature trails
We want to be together: Perhaps a little competition. Who can hear a bittern, spot an oyster catcher and work out which flowers the insects are visiting first?
Attenborough Nature Centre has a café, and ice cream pod as well as a picnic area. We recommend visiting all three and if you fancy exploring further into Nottingham, why not stay at the Village Hotel just a 20-minute walk away.
Set decadently between lunch and dinner, afternoon tea always feels like a treat, especially if you’ve been exploring or shopping together. We’ve found some delightful afternoon tea locations right across Great Britain and they’re all just a short walk from a train station. Relax, sip delicately and don’t forget to check the jam and cream etiquette before you spread.
Harbour Kitchen St Ives is a 7-minute walk from St Ives Station
The Grand Hotel is right next door to Torquay Station
Hotel du Vin is an 18-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Station
The Alpine Coffee Shop is almost on the platform of Betws-y-Coed Station
The Majestic Hotel is a 12-minute stroll from Harrogate Station
The Ness Walk Hotel is a lovely 17-minute riverside walk from Inverness Station
The Compleat Angler is just 12-minutes across the Thames from Marlow Station
Train journeys aren’t just about getting there. Our Great British train lines offer views of some of the most amazing scenery available and always give a different perspective to travelling by road. We definitely have our favourites and we think you’ll like our top five British train lines too.
When you travel by train, your journey is part of the experience so quality time on board really matters. We know you can’t control everything, especially the type of leaves but we do have a few tips on how to make your couples train trip as enjoyable as possible. From platform know-how to getting the best train seats, we have a few tips.
If you’re trying to strike a balance between the best train destinations and your travel budget, it makes sense to give ticket splitting a try. Booking your train trip as a single journey can sometimes cost more than booking it in shorter sections. Doing this used to take a lot of time and effort but the Trainsplit app has made it easy and really cost effective. Simply enter your travel date and train stations then let Trainsplit check all the ticketing options for you. You’ll get a choice about which one you choose, and the app will tell you whether you’ve saved money.
You’ll find the Trainsplit app on both Google Play and in the App Store. Make plans together or surprise the one you love. Whichever you choose, we wish you a fantastic couple's day out by train.
Living in Devon, Fi is an outdoor writer, blogger and children’s author. She is also an Ordnance Survey Champion and a keen walker and outdoor swimmer. Fi tries to enjoy as many of her outdoor activities as possible by train instead of by car.