If you are looking for ideas for presents which involve travel, here are some of our favourite European urban adventures to tickle your fancy.
Giving the gift of travel is one thing, but adding an urban adventure into the mix means that Christmas is definitely not just for a day. Here are some of our present ideas that proffer memories lasting a lifetime. By taking the train you add to the whole experience with a stress-free journey, where you can sit back and just be in the moment.
Abseil in London
Buy a gift to abseil down the UK’s largest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to get 2020 off to a high. Or, if the 114m height makes you feel a bit wobbly, just opt to take the giant slide down instead. For a few other ideas of how to spend time enjoying outdoor London, see our blog here.
Ballooning in Switzerland
Head to Château-d'Oex International Hot Air Balloon Festival, 25 January-2 February 2020. In its 42nd year, you can buy passenger flights throughout the Festival. Just one hour from Montreux by train, when you wish someone a peaceful New Year, this must surely be one of the best ways to start off as you mean to continue.
Chocolate masterclass, Brussels
Raise the bar this Christmas by treating the serious chocolate lover in your life to a masterclass with the Art of Chocolate’s experts. In the heart of Brussels where you feel like a child in a sweet shop. For more chocolate binges in beautiful places, read our blog about the best chocolate makers and factory tours in Europe, all accessible by train of course.
Eat on Eiffel Tower, Paris
Dinner at Le Jules Verne, the recently renovated restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, packs a pretty Parisien punch when it comes to gifts. And views. In the words of Jules Verne: “Look with all your eyes, look.” For more ideas on how to make a Paris present packed to the brim with treats, see our blog on day trips from Paris. Spend a day walking in Fontainebleau Forest, or take a train to Vernon and visit Claude Monet's stunning gardens.
La Pedrera, Barcelona
Go all Catalan this Christmas and buy tickets to the evening experience at Gaudí’s magnificent La Pedrera, with guided tours of the Flower and Butterfly Courtyards, as well as the Warrior Rooftop. With Cava and sunset to boot of course. This is also a wonderful time of year to visit the Santa Maria de Monsterrat monastery with fewer visitors heading to this spiritual haven than in summer months. Just one of several excellent day trips from Barcelona.
Opera at La Scala, Milan
Book tickets to one of Europe's oldest and most celebrated opera houses as a special gift. Romeo and Juliet at La Scala - How’s that for a Valentine’s trip if you want to be really together and book in advance? You might also want to consider travelling on a sleeper train from Paris to add to the romance of it all.
Thermal spa in Seville
Aire is a candlelit thermal spa in an ancient palace in the heart of Seville, with hammam style treatments and pools, plus a rooftop one overlooking the cathedral. Now that’s one delicious orange in your stocking this Christmas.
Venice Masked Ball
You are onto a Christmas winner with tickets to the Mascheranda Grand ball, during the Venice Carnival in February. Just one of many events taking place in palazzos and piazzas around the city.
Image credits: Abseiling at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London ©CatherineMack, Eifel Tour iStock ©MarcosMartinezSanchez, Piazza alla Scala in Milan iStock ©pierluigipalazzi, Seville Cathedral iStock ©Tao_Shen