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Vibrant Cities - By Train

train travelling through tunnel

All aboard for an Urban Adventure by train.

Explore the cultural cities and thriving urban centres of the Great West Way by train for a sustainable and relaxed holiday. Feel connected as you zip from city to city by rail using the Great West Way Discoverer pass.

Day 1

Bristol

Begin your eco-friendly rail holiday at a city that is truly green at heart; beautiful Bristol, full of independent shops and restaurants which prioritise local produce. For an eco-friendly way to explore, book with Bristol Tandem Hire and pedal your way around quiet back streets, keeping an eye out for vibrant street art.

This laid-back and creative city has lots to see and do, including centuries of maritime and industrial history to uncover. Take a tour of Clifton Suspension Bridge, an impressive industrial structure which spans the Avon Gorge, created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1830s. To see more of Brunel’s influence on Bristol, head to the harbourside where restaurants and bars look out over the water and you can step aboard the extraordinary historic ocean liner, Brunel’s SS Great Britain. For an unusual view of the city, you can climb the rigging (don’t worry, you’ll be safely strapped in to a secure harness!) to reach a viewing platform 26 meters above the ground.

Sample the delights of Bristol’s nightlife before you turn in for the evening; it’s a vibrant city with a buzzing music scene, top-notch bars and restaurants, plus plenty of theatres to choose from.


Day 2

Bath

On your second day, pop down the road to the sublime city of Bath – it takes less than quarter of an hour on the train! Visitors have been drawn to this area for thousands of years, and continue to flock to the city today; as you wander between elegant town houses, quaint tearooms, the glorious river and pretty parks, it isn’t hard to see why.

How will you spend your day in Bath? How about a look around town with Bath Open top tours – climb aboard their double decker open-top bus for the best seat in town. Or for a more unusual tour experience, book on to a walking foodie tour with Savouring Bath. You’ll discover the city’s hidden secrets and foodie stories and meet many of the makers who contribute to Bath’s thriving food scene. Perhaps you prefer to make the most of the city’s famous hot waters? Bath was built on this spot because of the incredible natural hot springs that bubble to the surface here. Explore the Roman Baths to find out about the grand bathing and socialising complex built 2,000 years ago, or indulge with a spa experience at Thermae Bath Spa or the Gainsborough Bath Spa. Head to Mary Shelley's House of Frankenstein to explore the life and works of one of the city's most famous literary residents - with a healthy dose of popular culture and scares thrown in. For something more high-octane, book on to an adventurous experience with Original Wild who offer paddleboarding and kayaking right in the centre of the city.


Day 3

Salisbury or Gloucester

Take a slight detour from the main Great West Way touring route on day three of your train travel journey. You can either head north to the Cotswold city of Gloucester - taking just over an hour and a quarter from Bath Spa - or south to Salisbury, in around an hour.

If you spend the day in Gloucester, you will discover a city which has graced our screens as the backdrop for many a film and TV show; Gloucester’s historic streets and many architectural gems make it a picture-perfect place to spend a day. There are 2,000 years of history to discover and admire, including Roman remains, the 11th century Cathedral, Victorian warehouses and numerous museums and visitor attractions. Finish your day with a meal or a drink at fashionable Gloucester Docks before heading back to Bath and the main Great West Way route for your overnight stay.

If you opt to spend the day in Salisbury, you will find yourself in a city that is both traditional and original. Here contemporary culture and medieval magnificence rub shoulders. Explore historic streets, modern art galleries, and welcoming places to eat and drink. From the station, you can hop on a bus to visit Stonehenge, England’s most iconic stone circle. Or walk into the city centre for a tower tour at Salisbury Cathedral, ascending to the ancient roof spaces of England’s tallest spire. End the day by jumping back on the train to Bath and watching the beautiful rolling green hills speed by outside - keep an eye out for the famous hillside white horse as you pass by Westbury.


Day 4

Swindon and Reading

Explore two of the Great West Way’s largest towns today – both just a short journey from Bath by train. First stop, Swindon. Located around 30 minutes by train from Bath Spa, here you can enjoy a morning of retail therapy at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon. The designer outlet is a short walk from the station and is housed in the beautifully renovated Grade II listed buildings of the Great Western Railway Works. You will find big reductions on top brands - with over 90 stores including fashion brands like Kurt Geiger, Superdry and Reiss – plus plenty of restaurants so you can enjoy lunch before returning to the train station for the next leg of your journey.

The train trip from Swindon to Reading is less than half an hour – just enough time to rest your legs before a busy afternoon explore West Berkshire’s largest town. In Reading you can enjoy the beautiful River Thames with a walk alongside the water or a boat ride from Thames Rivercruise or Salters Steamers. If you’re a history buff, head to the Abbey Quarter, Reading Museum, and the Museum of English Rural Life to discover hundreds of years of history, including Reading’s connections to Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. And to relax after a long day, there’s Thames Lido where you can enjoy a swim, meal or spa treatment.

Turn in for a relaxing night at one of Reading’s lovely town-centre hotels before your final day of discovery.


Day 5

Windsor

Half an hour on the train will take you from Reading to Windsor, steeped in royal history. With riverside pubs, quaint shopping streets, and thousands of years of history, this regal town is presided over by magnificent Windsor Castle, home to Her Majesty the Queen, and over 1,000 years old. Visit the castle to admire paintings by Holbein, Rubens and Van Dyck, walk through the spectacular State Apartments and explore the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. For a different view point from which to admire the historic town, take to the river with a Windsor Duck Tour or a boat trip with French Brothers. Or, how about a horse-drawn carriage ride through Windsor Great Park from the family team at Windsor Carriages? They have been showing visitors around the town for 170 years!

End your train travel journey through the cities of the Great West Way by continuing East along the route to London – just three quarters of an hour from Windsor by rail – or return to where you started; it will take you a couple of hours to reach Bristol on the train.

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Product Information

  1. Bristol

    Bristol

    Welcome to the city of bridges, balloons, boats, bikes, Brunel and Banksy. Regarded as the capital of the South West of England, lively yet laid-back Bristol is creative, cultural and vibrant with a rich maritime heritage. Whether you’re looking for a great day out for all the family, a romantic…

  2. Bath

    Bath

    The golden city of Bath has been welcoming visitors for over 2,000 years. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath is home to some of the most impressive architectural sights in the world such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney.

  3. Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein

    Bath

    Step into the dark world of Mary Shelley and her most infamous creation, Frankenstein.

    Facilities

    Bookable Product

    • TXGB Bookable Product

    Indicative Availability

    Book Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein Online

  4. Gloucester

    Gloucester, the capital of Gloucestershire is cradled by the picturesque Cotswold Hills.

  5. Salisbury

    Salisbur

    Salisbury is a famous Cathedral city of timeless beauty and fascinating history, that has been welcoming travellers since 1227.

  6. Swindon

    Swindon

    Swindon is a modern town surrounded by some of England’s finest countryside and famous attractions. Enriched with Victorian parks and gardens, museums including the award winning Steam Museum, and an art gallery.

    Originally, Swindon was a small market town mentioned in the Domesday Book. This…

  7. Reading

    Reading

    Be amazed by modern Reading – from remarkable medieval heritage and beautiful Thames countryside to award-winning shopping centres, there’s a surprise around every corner.

  8. Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

    High Street, WINDSOR

    Welcome to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

    Crowned by stunning Windsor Castle – the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and the Queen's favourite weekend home – and linked by the beautiful River Thames, the Royal Borough is one of South East England’s loveliest short…

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Bristol (51.45239,-2.5976)Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)16.19
Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein (51.38422,-2.36323)0.17
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein (51.38422,-2.36323)Gloucester (51.86555,-2.24624)48.78
Gloucester (51.86555,-2.24624)Salisbury (51.06784,-1.79751)84.7
Salisbury (51.06784,-1.79751)Swindon (51.5605,-1.78647)49.37
Swindon (51.5605,-1.78647)Reading (51.45239,-0.97383)51.83
Reading (51.45239,-0.97383)Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (51.48282,-0.61024)22.9
Total Distance *273.87 miles
Estimated Journey Time8.82 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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