It’s a new year, it’s January and it’s cold. We all need cheering up right about now and what better way than to visit a new city? Here are five destinations to get you thinking – they may be further afield, but with small fares and big personalities, they’re full of new sights and sounds.



Glasgow has it all, style, sophistication and a dynamic music scene. The city is also a shopaholic’s paradise with the “style mile” around Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Merchant City, home to a variety of boutiques and high street stores.

With over 20 museums including the Zaha Hadid designed Riverside Museum, as well as the Hunterian Museum with stunning interiors designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it’s easy to get a culture fix. To see a bird’s eye view of the city, take the lift to the top of the Glasgow Tower, which holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest fully revolving structure in the world!

After all that rotating around the city, you’ll need lunch, so head to Òran Mór, which offers a popular lunchtime theatre ‘A play, a pie and a pint’ or if you’re after a bit of banter (or blether as it’s known locally), head to the Islay Inn for live folk music and a traditional menu.

As darkness falls, model your stylish purchases back at Merchant City with its array of glam bars, restaurants and cafés. For sheer opulence and great cocktails visit Teller's Bar at The Corinthian Club or Blackfriars gastropub, which has a restaurant and bar upstairs, as well as a cool little club below hosting live music.

Trains to Glasgow from London cost as little as £30.

That’s the lowdown on just five exciting Virgin Trains destinations across the UK. With regular services from London Euston, these great city stops are all easy to visit in a day, or for a short break.

Riverside Museum Glasgow 



Famed for the world's biggest arts festival, Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, as well as iconic sites like Edinburgh Castle and the atmospheric Old Town, there’s a lot to pack into a trip to Scotland’s beautiful capital.

After lunch at Café Portrait in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, enjoy its many art treasures before exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed New Town with its stunning Georgian architecture. Or if you’re in a shopping mood, you can do it ‘til you drop in George Street and Princes Street.

For a pre-dinner drink, have a wee dram at the White Hart Inn where Robert Burns stayed during his last visit to Edinburgh, then head to the lively port of Leith for dinner at one of two Michelin-starred restaurants, Kitchin or Restaurant Martin Wishart.

Get on board – London to Edinburgh from £87.

Inside Edinburgh Castle 



Almost at the end of the line before the port of Holyhead, one of the smallest cities in the UK, Bangor punches above its weight culturally. Pontio, which means “to bridge” in Welsh, is the city’s multimillion-pound arts and innovation centre, staging drama, film festivals and the occasional circus event.

Meanwhile, the two-day, Bangor Music Festival is hosted every February and caters for contemporary music lovers. Other attractions in Wales’ oldest city include its 12th-century Cathedral, as well as Garth Pier, the second longest pier in Wales stretching 458m into the Menai Strait with stunning views and sunsets.

If you need to rest your feet and refuel, Bangor has a diverse range of dining options, including the Blue Sky Cafe for organic and fairtrade produce, while Noodle One serves a wide range of Japanese, Thai and Indonesian noodle dishes.

Hop between Euston and Bangor from £35.

Performance in Bangor 



The historic city of Lancaster is known nationally for its varied arts scene. The Storey Creative Industries Centre is home to the annual  Litfest in March, while music lovers can enjoy Highest Point, a three-day music festival held in Williamson Park in May.

For an ideal family day out, Williamson Park is also home to an Edwardian building that houses tropical butterflies, Koi carp and tortoises. Take a coffee break while exploring all Lancaster has to offer and head to The Hall, which serves brews by local institution, Atkinsons Coffee Roasters who have been roasting beans since 1840.

For lunch or dinner with a view visit The White Cross pub, a 19th-century warehouse with a pretty canalside terrace overlooking Lancaster Canal. If you’re in town on a Wednesday or Saturday, don’t miss one of the best markets in the northwest, the bustling Charter Market with a mix of locally made handicrafts, artisan bakeries and street food to tempt the taste buds.

Let us take you to Lancaster from just £43.

Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster 



Cumbria's capital city Carlisle was a Roman settlement, established to serve the forts on Hadrian's Wall. Nicknamed the Great Border City, modern day Carlisle offers cultural, dining and shopping opportunities, while the city’s compact historical centre features a cathedral, medieval castle and semi-intact city walls. The city's Guildhall Museum is located in a stunning 14th-century house, while the Sands Centre Sports Hall is Carlisle's main entertainment venue, attracting bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs, The Script, UB40 and The Specials, as well as comedians and theatre companies.

Bust some moves at the Carlisle Blues Rock Festival in September, or check out the Food Fair, held in a pedestrianised area of the city every August. The former bank turned gastropub The Last Zebra is a buzzy place for early evening drinks and hearty fayre, while David's, situated in an elegant, Victorian townhouse, offers British and European cuisine.

Get from London to Carlisle from £46.

Carlisle Blues Rock Festival 

If nothing tickles your fancy here, visit our train destinations guide. Wherever you’re headed, we’ll help you plan your journey from end to end. And remember, if you’re looking to go further afield, you can make your money go further too – have a look at our group travel deals and the Family & Friends railcard to find out more.
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