Five Week Europe Itinerary – London to Barcelona by Train

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Fast train at a station with people waiting to board
TGV France

Are you ready to embark on a month-long European adventure, savouring each moment as you journey from London to Barcelona?

When good friends contacted us for itinerary suggestions for London to Barcelona, we were happy to put pen to paper with a slow travel itinerary.

Their specifics were France and Spain, two fantastic destinations with abundant history, great cities to visit, and fantastic food delights.

We have chosen a slow travel experience with train travel, incorporating stops in iconic cities like Paris, Lyon, and Montpellier. We have also included other train stops for day trips from the main cities. 

Get ready to explore, indulge, and create unforgettable memories at a leisurely pace.

Because travelling by train is one of the best ways to see Europe, we can personally recommend Trainline.

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London to Barcelona by Train – A Five-Week Itinerary

Church with large dome and two clock towers with red London buses in front
London’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral

Are you yearning for an unhurried European adventure filled with cultural immersion and memorable experiences?

The key to slow travel is selecting places to settle in comfortably while being easily accessible to nearby attractions. 

Slow travel offers the perfect opportunity to savour each moment as you journey from London to Barcelona, with enchanting stops in Lyon and Montpellier along the way.

Consider destinations that offer a mix of cultural richness, natural beauty, and convenient transportation options.

We have made suggestions for the length of stay in each city, but you will need to add extra nights for day trips.

Accommodation Recommendation in London: Choose a hotel within 30 minutes of central London, accessible by London Transport tubes, buses and trains. You can use your Debit card or purchase a London Transport Oyster card.

Train Travel from London to Europe

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Kick off your journey in London and board the Eurostar train for a seamless journey beneath the English Channel to mainland Europe. 

Why spend your time racing to an airport hours before you leave? Lining up to be screened, only to have another wait before you can board, and another wait for bags at your destination before finding your way to the city centre.

So exhausting.

Yes, there will be a passport screening for Eurostar and a short wait before you board your train. But then, you can enjoy the comfort and convenience of train travel as you watch the scenic landscapes unfold outside your window.

Eurostar Tips:

  1. Download the Eurostar or Trainline app in advance to get better ticket prices.
  2. Bags can be stored in carriage racks or between the seats.
  3. Bring your snacks or purchase from the restaurant carriage.

Let’s dive into this leisurely itinerary, from London to Paris to Barcelona, highlighting the charms of each destination and suggesting day trips to enhance your exploration.

Local Tip: Eurostar departs from St Pancras International Station, London and arrives at Gard du Nord, Paris.

Paris: Iconic Landmarks and Leisurely Day Trips

Eiffel Tower
The iconic Eiffel Tower, Paris

Paris ticks all the boxes for charm and beauty. We have returned many times, always staying for at least three nights as there is so much to see and eat. 

Paris is an easy city to walk.

You can spend your days exploring iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral (when it reopens) and the Louvre Museum.

Embrace the Parisian way of life with strolls along the Seine River, indulgent café breaks, and walks in picturesque parks like Jardin des Tuileries.

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For places to visit in Paris, we have extensive walking guides for either side of the Seine.

Accommodation Recommendation in Paris: Choose a boutique hotel in Montparnasse. Many of the places to visit in Paris are within walking distance. The closest train station is Gare Montparnasse.

Our recommendation is a 5-night stay at Hotel Edouard Vi Montparnasse.

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Plan Your Day Trips from Paris

Glass and bottle of champagne
House of Tattinger, Reims

One of the joys of slow travel is the opportunity to venture beyond your base and discover hidden gems within easy reach. It’s a chance to explore smaller nearby towns and cultural treasures.

Day Trips from Paris

  • Versailles: Experience the opulence of the Palace of Versailles and its magnificent gardens, just a short train ride from Paris.
  • Champagne Region: Indulge in a day of champagne tasting in Reims, known for producing the world’s finest bubbly. Take the train from Grand l’Est to Reims for a walking tour and tasting.
  • Giverny: Step into the world of Claude Monet at his former home and gardens, where you can stroll among the iconic water lilies that inspired his masterpieces. Take the train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon Gare, then the bus to Giverny – La Musardière for a short walk to Monet.

We use the Rome2Rio App to find train details and times to help plan.

Where to next?

How about staying in Lyon or Montpellier and exploring some of the beauty of southern France?

Local Tip: Take the train from Gare de Lyon to Montpellier via Lyon.

Lyon: Gastronomic Capital of France

Cobble street at night
Rue St Jean by night in Lyon, France

Next, venture to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.

Visit the UNESCO-listed Old Town, stroll along the banks of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and admire the stunning views from Fourvière Hill.

Delight your taste buds with traditional Lyonnaise cuisine Bouchon and explore the city’s rich cultural heritage.

We suggest a 2-night stay unless you plan a day trip to the Beaujolais wine region or the picturesque village of Perouges, which is only 30 minutes by train from Lyon.

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Day Trips from Lyon

  • Beaujolais wine region: Travel north of Lyon for a wine-tasting tour of these light-bodied red wines. The starting point of Villefranche-sur-Saône is 30 minutes by train for an organised wine-tasting tour of family-owned Beaujolais wineries. 
  • Perouges: This beautiful medieval village will transport you back in time as soon as you enter the ancient stone gate. Wander along the cobbled stone streets of artisan shops and marvel at the medieval half-timber houses.

Now, we are going to one of our favourite cities in France, Montpellier.

Montpellier: Mediterranean Vibes and Historic Charms

A Guide to Montpellier Best Things to Do
Promenade du Peyrou, Montpellier, France

While continuing your journey south, arrive in Montpellier, a vibrant city along the Mediterranean coast.

Immerse yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of this historic city, where medieval streets blend seamlessly with modern architecture. Explore the lively Place de la Comédie, wander the botanical gardens, and soak up the sun on the nearby beaches.

Our recommendation is a 3-night stay near La Place de la Comedie.

Day Trips from Montpellier:

View of a stone wall and buildings across a green lawn
View of Avignon

You are spoilt for choices for day trips from Montpellier. A simple trip is taking the Tram from La Place de la Comedie to the beach for glimpses of flamingoes.

  • Avignon: Take the hour and half train to Avignon, to visit the famous Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and Pont Saint-Bénézet (Pont d’Avignon). Explore the well-preserved medieval pedestrian streets and soak up the atmosphere of this historic city.
  • Aigues-Mortes: Step into the Middle Ages with a day trip to Aigues-Mortes, a fortified town surrounded by impressive ramparts. This town has a fascinating history as a strategic port during the Crusades.
  • Arles: Immerse yourself in Arles’s vibrant art and history with a day trip to this ancient Roman city. Explore the well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, stroll through the charming streets that inspired Vincent van Gogh’s famous paintings, and visit the UNESCO-listed Arles Historical Center to admire its architectural treasures.

Next on your travel itinerary is Spain and the vibrant city of Barcelona. However, if Spain is on your bucket list, we have added Madrid and Seville. Now, Spain has fast trains.

Local Tip: Montpellier to Barcelona is a four-hour train trip.

Barcelona: Mediterranean Sun and Catalonian Adventures

Unusal houses of varying shapes
Park Guell, Barcelona

Barcelona is where the Mediterranean sun meets vibrant Catalonian culture.

Here, you can explore the whimsical world of Antoni Gaudí at iconic landmarks such as Sagrada Família and Park Güell. Indulge in delicious tapas and soak up the lively atmosphere along the city’s bustling promenades.

Local Tip: Eat at Restaurant Tantarantana, Barcelona

Day Trips from Barcelona

  • Montserrat: Escape to the mystical mountain of Montserrat, home to a Benedictine monastery and breathtaking panoramic views of the Catalan countryside.
  • Costa Brava: Discover the rugged beauty of the Costa Brava coastline, with its secluded coves, charming fishing villages, and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
  • Sitges: Relax on the golden beaches of Sitges, known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, historic old town, and lively beachfront promenade.

Accommodation Recommendation: Choose a stylish apartment in the trendy El Born neighbourhood or a boutique hotel near the iconic La Rambla.

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If you want to explore more of Spain, two of our favourite Spanish cities are Madrid and Seville. Because both are accessible by fast train from Barcelona, you can change your itinerary by spending less time in France and more in Spain.

Embracing Slow Travel: Crafting Unforgettable Memories

As you reflect on your five-week journey from London to Barcelona, which included enchanting stops in Paris, Lyon, or Montpellier, cherish the memories of leisurely exploration, cultural immersion, and unforgettable experiences.

When you embrace the essence of slow travel, you’ll find your 5-week itinerary has been on your terms.

Staying longer to walk each city more than once will stay with you long after your European adventure ends.

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