What’s there? Picture-perfect palazzi and villas, farm stays, rural treasures, national parks and amazing culinary delights.
How to get there: Take the Eurostar to Paris, where you can change to the Palatino overnight sleeper and wake up in Rome. Here you’ll catch the InterCity along the coast to Catania, Syracuse or Palermo. In an even bigger twist to conventional travel, the train crosses the Straits of Messina aboard a train ferry – it’s one of the few places in Europe where this still happens.
Travel costs: Eurostar from London to Sicily from £180 return.
What’s there? A sand-fringed Mediterranean coast, lakes teeming with pink flamingos, deep-green forests and gently rolling plains.
How to get there: Allow 48 hours to take the Eurostar from St Pancras to Marseille, which involves one easy change in Lille. After staying the night in Marseille you can get a ferry (ferry by name but cruise boat by nature) and enjoy a Mediterranean journey to Tunisia. Notable sights en route are fortress-turned-prison Château d'If (it was the setting for 'The Count of Monte Cristo') as you’re leaving Marseille and the ruins of Carthage as you arrive into the Bay of Tunis.
Travel costs: Eurostar London-Marseille from £119 return; Marseille-Tunis ferry from £281 (inc. cabin berth).
What’s there? All-encompassing nightlife, ancient beauty and history-rich landmarks.
How to get there: Another two-nighter. Take the Eurostar to Paris and the Palatino overnight sleeper to Bologna, where you can hop on an air-conditioned train to Bari in Italy. Take a few hours to explore the old town before the best bit: an overnight ferry to Patras in Greece, where you can take in views of Ithaca and Cephalonia on your way past. From Patras you can take a connecting bus to Athens.
Travel costs: London to Bari from £180 return, Bari to Patras by Superfast Ferries from £74 return and bus from Patras to Athens from £19 return.
What’s there? Winding streets of ancient medinas, Roman ruins, dramatically craggy valleys and the hiking-worthy High Atlas mountains.
How to get there: It will take around 48 hours to reach Morocco. The Eurostar transports you from London St Pancras to Paris, where you’ll change to a trainhotel to Madrid, with pretty views of picturesque French villages. By the time you wake the views will have changed to distant snow-capped mountains, and when you get off the train you’ll have time to explore Madrid before catching your evening high-speed express train to Algeciras. Your second night will be spent in Algeciras, before a ferry takes you to Tangier. If you’re headed for Marrakech then the Express train completes your journey.
Travel costs: London-Paris from £69 return, Paris-Madrid from £128 (sleeper), Madrid-Algeciras from £34 return. Ferry to Tangier from £34 return, train to Marrakech £24 return.
What’s there? Glittering beaches, turquoise seas, emerald green mountains, bullrings, tasty food and in parts a happening night scene.
How to get there: Spain is a piece of cake to get to without leaving the ground – so much so it’s surprising more people don’t do it. The Eurostar gets you to Paris where you’ll change to the Elipsos trainhotel overnight. And the next morning you’ll wake up in Madrid or Barcelona. If you’re headed for another Spanish destination a connecting train will have you in Seville, Malaga, Granada, Valencia or Alicante in a matter of hours - otherwise Ibiza and Majorca are both reachable by ferry.
Travel costs: From £69 return for Eurostar from London to Paris; from £128 return Paris to Madrid/Barcelona train (sleeper) or Barcelona including a bed in a 4-berth sleeper for the night.
What’s there? Beautiful scenery, from rocky coves to pine-fringed beaches, bustling nightlife and picturesque ancient Roman ruins.
How to get there: A winning combination of trains and boats and no planes, but you’ll need to make sure you get your timings right as the ferry only runs a couple of times a week. First travel from London to Bari in Italy (Eurostar to Paris, the overnight sleeper train to Bologna and a fast train on to Bari) and then sail from Bari to Croatia, where you can depart at your pick of several destinations including Dubrovnik, Split and Rijeka.
Travel costs: Trains from London to Bari from £180 return, Ferry from Bari to Croatia from £36
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