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9 fantastic flight-free adventures from London

You don’t need to fly to enjoy an extraordinary holiday. Lower in emissions, high in adventure, these amazing tours are easily reached by rail (or sail), and are environmentally friendly once you arrive...

The Jurassic Coast in Dorset (Shutterstock)

1. Take a walking holiday in Jersey and Guernsey

Hiking on Sark (Shutterstock)

Hiking on Sark (Shutterstock)

Step aboard the ferry to Jersey in Portsmouth and eight hours later, you're in another world: the charming Channel Islands. And what better way to discover its gorgeous beaches, beguiling towns and intriguing history than on this 12-day walking holiday with Ramblers Walking Holidays?

You’ll spend the first week walking on Jersey, exploring the island’s network of footpaths and quiet country lanes and using local transport to visit museums, megalithic monuments, fortifications and tropical gardens.

Come week two, you’ll head to Guernsey, discovering its World War II history and beaches, coves and spectacular heather-clad cliffs. Finally, a short ferry ride will take you to Sark, where traffic consists of tractors, horses and bicycles. 

While flights to and from Jersey are included, speak to the guys at Ramblers about a flight-free option. They’ll be happy to help.

Trip: Jersey & Guernsey

Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays

Type: Small group

When: May to Sep

How long: 13 nights

How much: From £1,379 (exc. ferry tickets from Portsmouth)

2. Sail France's glittering Cote d'Azur

The Cote d'Azur (Shutterstock)

The Cote d'Azur (Shutterstock)

With Eurostar running a direct train from London to Marseille all summer, a whole new world of bright skies and sparkling waters opens up to the sun-starved British. A world that includes hopping on a yacht and getting well off the tourist trail, and heading into the sultry Mediterranean.

This is your chance to live the life of a champagne jetsetter on a sparkling wine budget – and without the jets. You’ll discover the contrasts that lie along the coast of Provence, from the bright lights of Cannes and St Tropez to the hidden coves of the Iles d’Hyères Archipelago.

Hike, bike or stroll through national parks, olive groves and pine forests or relax on picturesque beaches and enjoy some of the best snorkelling in France. The food is pretty special, too - a mix of fresh seafood and delicious Provencal cuisine.

Trip: Cote d'Azur Sailing Adventure: Marseille to Nice

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: May to Sep

How long: Eight days

How much: From £1,206 (exc. Eurostar fares)

3. Pedal through the tulips in The Netherlands

Tulip farm in Holland (Shutterstock)

Tulip farm in Holland (Shutterstock)

The Dutch have long led the way towards sustainability. And with Eurostar now offering three daily trains direct from London to Amsterdam, you can take their lead on this biking and sailing tour in the Netherlands with Exodus.

Stepping aboard the beautiful old sailing ship, the Leafde fan Fryslân, you’ll sail through the Van Gogh-esque vistas, replete with storybook windmills, and towards the Wadden Sea and Lake Ijsselmeer.

There’ll be plenty of stops to explore the Dutch countryside by boat or by bike. You could cycle through the rainbow colours of a tulip farm in bloom, or explore the Dutch cheese market in Alkmaar, or walk along the wild, windswept North Sea beaches.

Trip: Holland Bike & Sail: Tulip Tour

Who: Exodus

Type: Small group

When: Apr

How long: Eight days

How much: From £1,349 (exc. Eurostar fares)

4. Boat and bike through Bordeaux

A misty morning in Bordeaux (Shutterstock)

A misty morning in Bordeaux (Shutterstock)

Buy your ticket on Eurostar website and you can get a connecting TVG train in Paris that will take you all the way to Bordeaux St Jean station. It’s not surprising, then, that 30% of BSpoke Tours' clients for this particular Bordeaux boat and bike adventure travel by rail.

Cycling through six famous Bordeaux wine regions, you’ll get plenty of time to sample the famous appellations of Pomerol, Sauternes, Médoc and Margaux.

Aboard the MS Bordeaux, you’ll navigate the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and explore the historic centres of Bordeaux and Saint Emilion and visit painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s former home, Chateau Malrome. Bikes with panniers, route maps and instructions and local support whenever needed are all included.

Trip: A Taste of Bordeaux Bike & Boat Tour

Who: BSpoke Tours

Type: Tailor-made

When: Apr to Oct

How long: Seven nights

How much: £1,125 (exc. Eurostar & TGV fares)

5. Discover Scotland’s wild coast

A puffin in Scotland (Shutterstock)

A puffin in Scotland (Shutterstock)

Discover the remote crofting communities and picturesque villages of the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, on this incredible nature cruise with Wildlife Worldwide.

You’ll set sail from Oban aboard the Polar Pioneer, sailing to some of the world's largest seabird colonies, filled with gannets, fulmars, arctic terns and delightful puffins. Excursions by Zodiac allow you to get close to seals, playing nearby in waters patrolled by whales and dolphins. 

And shore excursions will reveal a world of Neolithic sites, castles that were once strongholds of Scottish clans and wild landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world.

Trip: Scotland’s Wild Coast

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: June

How long: 11 days

How much: From £5,245 (exc. train fares to Oban)

6. Wander through romantic Avignon

Sunset in Avignon (Shutterstock)

Sunset in Avignon (Shutterstock)

Once the home of the Pope and Van Gogh, the delightful medieval city of Avignon is now within reach of the environmentally friendly traveller. Eurostar runs a direct train from London to Avignon all summer.

Better still: Ramblers Walking Holidays have created this walking holiday particularly for travellers who prefer getting to their destination by train.

Your first day will be spent wandering through the narrow cobbled streets of Avignon alongside a local guide, discovering the history and mystique of this magical city.

You’ll then spend a day following in the footsteps of Van Gogh, walking from St Remy through the Alpilles. Then you'll head deeper into the countryside, past the imposing Pont du Gard Aqueduct, through countryside filled with wild herbs and flowers, and through pretty local villages such as Arles - famed for its amphitheatre.

Trip: Romantic Avignon

Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays

Type: Small group

When: Apr, May, Sep & Oct

How long: Seven nights

How much: From £1,129 (inc. rail fares)

7. Spend a wonderful week in Paris

Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides in Paris (Shutterstock)

Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides in Paris (Shutterstock)

This is the kind of trip the Eurostar is perfect for. Picture it: a week-long adventure in the City of Lights, exploring Paris by Metro and indulging in all of its romantic, cultural and culinary delights.

You’ll be wandering the streets of Paris just two and a half hours after leaving London, spending your days taking cooking classes, enjoying art-themed tours and sightseeing. There'll also be plenty of you-time, perfect for sitting in a cosy café, sipping a coffee or flicking through Le Monde, and watching the world go by. 

You will also get the chance to venture further afield, to the palace of Versailles and the village of Giverny, home of Claude Monet and the inspiration of so many of his masterpieces.

Trip: France: A Week In The City Of Lights

Who: Evaneos

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Eight days

How much: From £3,710 (exc. Eurostar fares)

8. Watch waders in Friesland

Two male Common Redshank fighting in Friesland (Shutterstock)

Two male Common Redshank fighting in Friesland (Shutterstock)

Few places on Earth offer such variety and numbers of wading birds as the northern coast of the Netherlands in late summer. With regular Eurostar service to Amsterdam, combined with the expertise of Wildlife Worldwide, getting to see this wonderful sight is easier and more environmentally friendly than ever.

From Amsterdam, you’ll be transferred to Groningen, visiting key birding sites from a comfortable hotel base in Zuidhorn. The highlight, of course, is the UNESCO-listed Waddenzee (or Wadden Sea) - the world's most extensive uninterrupted system of intertidal sand and mudflats. Here, you’ll learn to identify different species, getting to know their varied plumages.

Unsurprisingly, this birding trip is extremely popular. It's short and sweet at five days long, too.

Trip: Waders In Friesland

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Aug

How long: Five days

How much: From £895 (exc. Eurostar fares)

9. Walk Dorset’s incredible Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast in Dorset (Shutterstock)

The Jurassic Coast in Dorset (Shutterstock)

Easily reached from London by train, this self-guided walking trip along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast with Exodus offers the unique opportunity to enjoy this incredibly unique environment by being friendly to the environment as well.

As England’s first UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast offers 95 miles of idyllic sandy beaches backed by ancient craggy cliffs and meadows carpeted with seasonal wildflowers.

You’ll follow paths to through traditional seaside towns, spectacular bays and beaches, plus delightful English villages – and 185 million years of the Earth’s history, with rocks and fossils dating to Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Discover more recent relics like battle-worn castles, Iron Age forts and WWII bunkers, too. Breakfast, accommodation, luggage transfers between hotel and route notes and maps all provided.

Trip: Jewels Of The Jurassic Coast Self-Guided Walk

Who: Exodus 

Type: Tailor-made

When: Apr to Oct

How long: Six days

How much: From £625 (exc. train fares)

Please note that for a couple of these trips, you'll need to inform your tour operator that you plan to make your own way to the starting point of the holiday

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