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One of the most unique ways to spend a weekend break in the UK with the family is to book a rail break. It’s a type of vacation that involves taking a train to travel from one destination to another. Aside from being environmentally friendly, travelling by train allows you to enjoy some of the UK’s most stunning sceneries from the train window.

Whether you seek to uncover the enchantment of bustling cities like Manchester and London or marvel at Edinburgh’s breathtaking scenery, here are the best UK destinations for weekend rail breaks with the family.

1. Manchester

Manchester has world-renowned attractions with enough history, arts, and culture, allowing families to enjoy, get creative, and explore on their weekend rail breaks. As a year-round destination, you’ll always find something to do and discover regardless of the season. Those looking to combine a city break with exploring nature can stop by the Peak District on their railway adventure.

If you have creative little kids, take them to the Legoland Discovery Centre to immerse them in a world with millions of Lego bricks. It’s a fantastic way to hone your kids’ creative skills, best suited for those between 3 to 10 years of age. One of the highlights is the LEGO 4D Cinema, showcasing the latest LEGO mini-films.

If your kids are fascinated with marine animals, visit SEA LIFE Manchester, a brilliant aquarium with an impressive ocean tunnel and ocean-themed rooms. Here, your little ones will come face to face with giant turtles, sharks, jellyfish, octopus, crabs, and more.

Since Manchester is known for its football team, your weekend rail break won’t be complete without stopping by the National Football Museum. Whether your kids love football or not, they will love learning about the history of the sport and the lives of some of the greatest football players of all time.

2. London

Given the overwhelming things to see and do for families in London, it makes for the perfect destination for weekend rail breaks with the family. It has everything you could ever wish for, from beautiful architecture to rich history, gorgeous parks, and child-friendly attractions. A weekend is not enough to see all the best things the city can offer for families.

Trains are the most convenient way to get to London from various parts of the UK, which makes the city a top destination for railway breaks. If you’re visiting for the first time, spend your first day discovering the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Big Ben, the Tower of London, and the London Eye.

London has many excellent museums that your kids will love to explore. Check out Madame Tussauds, which has life-like wax figures of some of the world’s most famous personalities, from Queen Elizabeth to Charline Chaplin. The Victoria and Albert Museum is another place worth visiting, which has fascinating exhibits to delight kids of all ages.

For outdoor fun, visit Hyde Park, home to a tranquil lake offering the perfect setting to enjoy the great outdoors. Here, you can rent rowing boats to explore the lake. In summer, the lake has a paddling pool suitable for your little ones.

3. Bristol

Bristol is jam-packed with fun activities for all ages, from art galleries to parks and museums, making it an ideal destination for weekend rail breaks with the family. Rain or shine, there’s always something to keep your little ones entertained. 

The 12-acre Bristol Zoo Gardens is one of the best attractions to take your kids. It’s home to magnificent creatures from every corner of the globe, from monkeys to long-tailed macaques and lemurs. They will also come close to Asiatic lions and other exotic animals.

Your curious kids will love exploring the SS Great Britain, a historic steamship considered the world’s first ocean liner. Both young and old will have a great time strolling through the decks, checking out the first-class cabins, and marvelling at the stunning ocean views.

If you need to spend time indoors, head to Jump Bristol, an indoor play centre where kids can have a blast trying out the bouncy castles. There are also themed areas, such as the pirate galleon, space zone, and enchanted castle. With numerous super-sized inflatables, your kids may not want to leave the play centre!

4. Edinburgh 

Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most welcoming cities, making it an excellent place for those looking for a family weekend break. For families with kids, Scotland’s capital will delight you with its historic castle, medieval history, and more. 

A tour of Edinburgh Castle should be on top of your list of things to do on short rail breaks in Edinburgh. Book a guided tour and stroll through the place as you listen to stories about the castle. Your kids will enjoy seeing the Crown Jewels, Mons Meg, the Great Hall, and the panoramic views of the city.

If your kids are used to long walks, hike through the Royal Mile, the city’s main thoroughfare, linking the Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Walking the path is like stepping back in time, with its ancient stone buildings and cobblestone streets.

If you and your kids are Harry Potter Fans, don’t miss the chance to walk the Potter Trail, where you visit places that inspired JK Rowling to write the book. You’ll visit locations that inspired the characters and scenes in the famous novel.

5. Cardiff

Cardiff is one of the UK’s most remarkable family-friendly destinations, making it a great place to visit for your weekend rail break. From interactive museums to tranquil green spaces, spending a weekend in Cardiff will leave you and your kids with fun memories. 

The Cosmeston Medieval Village is a fascinating place to visit with the kids. It’s an open-air museum showcasing medieval life, allowing you a peek into the peasant life from the 14th century. Consider booking a guided tour with a costumed guide to learn more about the place.

Your curious kids will love to explore Techniquest, a modern museum featuring interactive science exhibits. It’s very educational, where kids can learn many things, from gravity to pulling leavers and firing rockets.