There’s not always enough time to devote a full stay at a given destination, which is where the day trip comes into play. Throughout my travels, if I’ve found myself with an extra day, I’ll take the train to another city to wander around. It allows me to see something new without having to deviate too much from my itinerary. I suggest doing a little bit of research in advance, namely how to get there and what to see, but past that, just allow yourself to get lost. It keeps you from rushing around to see all the “attractions.” The ideal day trips are within 2 hours distance so that you don’t spend your entire day on transportation. Your first stop upon arrival should be the tourist center for a map.
Berlin – Dresden, Germany
If you’ve soaked in all the alternative culture of Berlin and want to see a different perspective of a war torn city, visit the rebuilt Dresden, which was devastated by bombings in World War II. I saw the city through a tour with Viator, which took me to the riverfront, the opera house and the Frauenkirche. Give yourself plenty of time to wander the Dresdner Zwinger palace gardens.
- Distance: 193 kilometers/120 miles
- Time: 2 hours
- Best Way to Go: Take the DeutscheBahn EC train which goes in the direction of Budapest.
- Cost: €70 round trip
Montreal – Quebec City, Canada
On my first trip to Montreal, I wanted to do a day trip to Quebec City, but didn’t have the time or money. On my second trip, I knew I wanted to make it happen so I could see the stunning Chateau Frontenac and the walled city. I hopped on an early morning train and was in Quebec by breakfast. Since the city isn’t too big, I was able to see everything I wanted and hop on the train back at 7 pm.
- Distance: 252 kilometers/157 miles
- Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
- Best Way to Go: While buses also run between the two cities, I found that the Via Rail train is the fastest and most efficient, even if it does cost a little more.
- Cost: $60 CAD round trip
London – Bath, England
With a few days to kill before World Travel Market started in London, my sister and I hopped on the train to Bath, home of Jane Austen. We were able to see the Royal Crescent, pictured above, Bath Abbey, the Jane Austen Centre and the Roman Baths. It’s a good idea to get an open ended ticket so that you can hop on the train back to London as soon as you’ve seen as much as you want to.
- Distance: 185 kilometers/115 miles
- Time: 2 hours
- Best Way to Go: Buses run this route, but the train will be most efficient. National Rail runs from Paddington Station.
- Cost: £50 round trip
Sydney – Newcastle, Australia
I didn’t go to Newcastle for a day trip and instead stayed for almost three, but it’s an easy day trip from central Sydney. In fact, you can take public transportation the whole way there. While in Newcastle, visit the Bogey Hole and Nobby’s Lighthouse. Browse Cooks Hill Books and have a night out at one of the many pubs.
- Distance: 161 kilometers/100 miles
- Time: 2 hours
- Best Way to Go: Sydney’s public transport will take you from Central Station to Newcastle via the Central Coast line.
- Cost: $16.80 AUD return
Split – Zadar, Croatia
Back in 2010, I had a day left before flying out of Split and had already seen Diocletian’s Palace and everything else the city had to offer. I took a bus from the Riva to Zadar’s waterfront and was able to purchase a ticket the morning of. See the Sea Organ and the many historic churches, including those from Roman times.
- Distance: 158 kilometers/120 miles
- Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Best Way to Go: The Puntamika bus line runs direct several times per day every day, running along the scenic coastal highway.
- Cost: 120 kuna (€15) each way
Porto – Braga, Portugal
If you’ve indulged in too much port wine in northern Portugal, head further north to the European Youth Capital 2012. The university town has a stunning downtown area with gardens around every corner. Walk the stairs at Bom Jesus and sip vinho verde with lunch at Mar de Sinos.
- Distance: 56 kilometers/35 miles
- Time: 40 minutes
- Best Way to Go: Rede Expressos runs buses between Porto and Braga many times per day.
- Cost: €6 each way
Boston – Salem, United States
While Boston can Revolutionary War history, nearby Salem predates it with its famous Salem Witch Trials. Visit the Salem Witch Museum, which details the 1692 tragedy. Also see the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, where many of those wrongfully accused were buried. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables is also in Salem.
- Distance: 36 kilometers/22 miles
- Time: 36 minutes
- Best Way to Go: Take public transportation from Boston’s North Station on the Newburyport/Rockport Line to Salem.
- Cost: $3.25 each way