Special offer: All SNCF (France) tickets are 100% refundable up until 31 August 2020, or exchangeable without a fee. Read our regular updates on train services in Europe here. Sonderregelung: Alle SNCF (Frankreich) Tickets sind 100% erstattungsfähig oder umtauschbar ohne Gebühr bis einschließlich 31. August 2020. Lies unsere regelmäßigen Updates über Zugverbindungen in Europa hier. Offre SNCF exceptionnelle: tous les billets jusqu’au 31 août 100% remboursables, 100% échangeables sans frais. Lisez notre page dédiée aux nouvelles conditions de circulation en Europe ici. Offerta speciale: Tutti i biglietti SNCF per la Francia sono rimborsabili al 100% oppure si possono cambiare gratuitamente fino al 31 agosto 2020. Leggi i nostri regolari aggiornamenti sui servizi ferroviari in Europa qui. Oferta excepcional: Todos los billetes de la SNCF (Francia) son 100% reembolsables hasta el 31 de agosto de 2020, o canjeables sin cargo. Consulte nuestras noticias actualizadas sobre los servicios de trenes en Europa aquí.
May bank holidays by rail

May bank holidays by rail

May bank holidays fall 6 May and 27 May in 2019 and we recommend you book your trains soon to get the best fares. Let’s get out there and make May memorable.

May bank holidays are a bit like buses. There hasn’t been one for ages and then, all of a sudden, two come along at once. People used to mark this time of saying a final farewell to winter by dancing and drinking, feasting and frolicking. Indeed some British people still mark this time of year in the company of thousands of other people - at a standstill on the motorway, usually. Here are some of our recommendations for travelling by train, to places that are far from the madding May crowds.

The French Riviera by train

May is the most perfect month to visit the French Riviera and its exquisite environs. When it comes to early summer train travel, it’s France’s three MMMs that stand out. Travel from Paris to Montpellier, Marseille or Monaco for something coastal, chic and charming. From Montpellier, for example, you can hire a bike (plenty available in town), or use their local Vélomagg bike scheme to head to the Med, just 12km away. Ask the tourist board for a map of their ‘Pistes Cyclables’. A favourite route is from Montpellier to Agde, clinging to the coast for 64km, including the exquisite Etang de Thau wetland. You can get the train back to Montpellier from Agde too.

A breather from city breaks

May bank holidays are great favourites for city breaks, but with the crowds starting to pour into to many cities at this time of year, it’s a good idea to seek out escapes from some of the urban greats too. Read more in our day trips from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and London blogs for some ideas. Whether you want to go hiking, biking or seeking out lesser known museums and galleries, there is plenty of prettiness to be found on the peripheries of these great cities.

When trying to work out the best things to do in Barcelona, for example, you might want to add a day out of the city. In an hour by train you can get to Figueres, where the Teatre-Museu Dalí is a brilliant day trip from Barcelona. Right up there with the Prado and the Guggenheim in fact. You can even stop at Girona en route, as it only 40 mins by train and one of Europe’s most impressive walled cities. For something completely different, swimmers may also want to explore the open water swimming lanes that have been created in Barcelona and along the coast, known as Vies Braves. A bit like Park Run, but in the sea. 

The Lake District by train

Getting to the Lake District by train is pretty easy really, with prominent stations in Penrith and Oxenholme, both around 2 hrs from London. Further connections are available to stations such as Kendal and Windermere, making large swathes of the Lake District accessible by rail. Just one of fifteen national parks where you can easily escape the bank holiday crowds, read more in our National parks by train and Hostels by train blogs. It’s amazing to us that over 90% of visitors to national parks go by car. Please join us in opting for a lower carbon option.

Edinburgh by train

If you leave Edinburgh until August bank holiday weekend, you will get caught up in the Festival crowds as the Fringe Festival draws to a close that weekend. Head there in May to enjoy Scotland’s historic and hip capital city at a time that feels much more local than tourist-driven. You will also have longer days to get out and enjoy some spectacular day trips from Edinburgh. Getting there by train is quicker than you might think too, the journey from London, for example, taking just under 5 hours. To explore beyond the capital, read more about Scotland's best train routes.

Photo credits top to bottom: Chartres Cathedral iStock ©Razvan, Cycling in Girona iStock ©xavierarnau, Lake District National Park, iStock©stockcam , Edinburgh Dreamstime ©Shaiith

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