The Alps across countries dotted with magical-looking castles, picturesque rivers and valleys – traveling on trains in the European countries is an experience of a whole new level, which are cherished by all class of travelers across the world. In this post, we bring to you the 15 most scenic train rides in Europe.
Short ones – Less than 4 hours
- Bernina Express
Route: Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy
Distance & time: 123km, 4 hours
Where to book: www.raileurope.com; A €10-14 supplemental fee along with the Eurail Pass.
This ‘tunnel train’ running between the gorgeous cities of two countries deserves to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and you’ll nod in agreement the moment the journey begins. Beginning from Chur in southern Switzerland, this red colored, narrow-gauge train has its passage along the Landwasser viaduct spanning huge drops. The Alps look glorious, either carpeted with snow or gleaming in green with the meadows that spread far in the summer and spring.
But that’s not all. Apart from passing through more than 55 tunnels on its way, the train performs some daredevil feats, one that also involves a 360-degree spiral, a 7% incline, where it reaches an altitude of over 7000 feet and comes down to over 5000 feet before it stops at Tirano, which is home to less than 10000 people.
Experience engineering’s marvel while witnessing the glaciers, lakes, peaks, and villages of Switzerland’s High Alps from extra-large panorama windows. Soak in the sweeping views of the glaciers along the heritage lines in the Albula and the Bernina. And yes, not to miss the pristine lakeside of St Moritz on the way.
- The Rhine Valley, Germany
Route: Route: Cologne-Bonn-Koblenz-Bingen-Mainz
Distance & Time: 185 km, about 3 hours
Where to book: www.raileurope.com
Medieval Castles looking straight out of Fairytales, lush vineyards hugging the riverside along the hill in terraced style, the train ride to the Rhine valley’s quaintest villages isn’t short of romantic landscapes. Take the 50-minute ride between Koblenz and Mainz if you are running out of time but want to travel through the wonderland. Or witness how the landscapes manifest along the mesmerizing Rhine river. Also, make an ascend to the Loreley bluff in St Goarshausen as well!
- Rauma Line, Norway
Route: Dombas to Andalsnes
Distance & Time: 115 km, 2 hours
Where to book: https://www.eurail.com/en/eurail-passes. Eurail passes accepted. Sightseeing train runs end of May through the end of August. Normal trains run year-round.
While the tourists need no introduction to Norway’s spectacular Flam line, there is another equally beautiful if not any lesser for the ones looking for a shorter haul. This two-hour journey starts gently at Dombas, and as the time lapses, you’ll be witnessing the surreal valleys alongside river Rauma that boasts of magnificent towering peaks, fjords, deep gorges and alpine mountain meadows. If you are into hiking, then make sure to research along this route, for you may find many fantastic trails to camp away.
- West Highland Line, Scotland
Route: Fort William to Mallaig
Distance & Time: 67 km, 2 hours
Where to book: https://www.eurail.com/en/eurail-passes
Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Then this one will be your epic ride! You get to experience of boarding the Hogwarts Express as the train passes on the Glenfinnan viaduct on this scenic route dotted with rugged highlands, coastline at the horizon and isolated lochs. Also, don’t forget to soak in the splendid views of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis.
- Semmering Line, Austria
Route: Wiener Neustadt to Bruck an der Mur
Distance & time: 41 km, 45 minutes
Where to book: Austrian Eurail passes accepted.
Opened in 1854, The Semmering, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is truly an exceptional train ride that takes you through some of the most dreamy landscapes of the country. One of the first great alpine gauge railways, it was also the highest railway in the world. An engineering feat, the rail line truly deserves its place on the world heritage list for its elevated trail that passes through many tunnels and viaducts offering marvelous views of the Alpine meadows.
Long train rides: More than 5 hours
- Balkan Flexipass
Route: Belgrade, Serbia, to Bar, Montenegro
Distance & Time: 10 hours
Where to book: www.raileurope.com
The Balkans, the enigmatically beautiful part of Europe, has often beckoned the travelers with its quiet and imposing charm. Add to that a chance to explore this part of the world on a train journey, the trip couldn’t get more enticing!
Balkan Flexipass is a gateway to the Balkan paradise literally, which offers unlimited travel for 5, 10, or 15 days through Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. Start in Belgrade, the hip capital of Serbia known for its glitzy all-night club scene, hop off at any of various stops to shop or overnight. After all that heady nightlife, you’ll need a pristine place to cool off, and the sleepy Bar, an ancient town on the Adriatic in Montenegro will exactly provide you with that.
- Bergen Line, Norway
Route: Oslo and Bergen via Flam (Norway)
Distance & time: 550 km, 9 hours
Where to book: www.raileurope.com
If you want to experience a ‘top of the world’ feeling, then this rail route between Oslo and Bergen is what you need. The highest major rail line in northern Europe, this is also one of the most spectacular lines that pass through rugged, isolated mountains over 4000 feet.
The journey starts and ends on a fabulous note, as it rolls through the beautiful Hardangervidda Plateau to Norway’s highest station, Finse. As the snow-capped peaks lurk from your window, you realize how steep the line is, as the train drops over 2500 feet down to the fjord below as you hop onto Flam from Myrdal.
- Glacier Express, Switzerland
Route: St. Moritz to Zermatt
Distance & Time: 290 km, 7 hours
Where to book: Eurail passes accepted from St. Moritz to Disentis. From Disentis to Zermatt, pass holders receive a 25% discount.
The name Glacier Express is enough to stir the imagination of curious, dreamy-eyed travelers, and this is one of the few cases of travel where the name delivers, totally meeting its expectations! It is arguably the best one in Switzerland, the other closest being the Bernina express. Just imagine soaking in the view of the gorgeous Swiss Alps for over 7 hours from the panoramic windows, passing through the mighty Rhone and Rhine rivers, no wonder it goes straight in into the list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
The narrow-gauge track starts from exquisite Zermatt to St Moritz passing over 291 bridges and 91 tunnels. Also, make sure to gorge on the views of the wonderful Oberalp Pass along the way.
- Golden Pass, Switzerland
Route: Lucerne to Montreux in 3 trains
Distance & Time: 400 km
Where to book: http://www.goldenpassline.ch/en/ Eurail passes accepted.
The Golden Pass is the best ticket to Swiss Alps.There are other ways to get up and close in the Alps, but how about enjoying almost 360-degree views from the huge panoramic cars, passing through the picturesque Gruben, sipping the best coffee or wine? Sounds like a fantastic vacation idea, right? Well, all you have to do is to hop on to this one for a ‘Golden’ journey, which will present you with a little slice of everything Switzerland on its 3 train journeys, including high-alpine peaks, the popular Brünig Pass, bridges, 8 lakes, vineyards, and some major cities and rustic villages with magnificent backdrops, chalets with vibrant flowers and valleys. The best part is that you can do the entire circuit at once, or stop over to enjoy this part of the country on your terms.
- The Chocolate Train, Switzerland
Route: Montreux to Broc, Switzerland
Duration: 9 hours
Where to book: http://www.goldenpassline.ch/en/
For all those with a sweet tooth, the chocolate train is a heavenly ride in Switzerland, which is a feast for your senses! This incredible journey on a vintage train begins as a climb from Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva, which reaches the scarcely populated medieval town of Gruyères, home to the cheese of the same name, where you can binge on the delicious cheese as you tour the cheese factory, head to the local castle, and then hop on the train again to Broc.
Board a bus and get ready to treat your sweet tooth with mouth-watering chocolates at the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory, flanked by Lake Gruyères and the peaks of the Alps. A journey worth cherishing indeed, right?
- Inlandsbanan, Sweden
Route: Gallivare to Kristinehamn
Distance & Time: 1300 km, 14 hours
Where to book: https://inlandsbanan.se/
This Inland Line in Sweden takes you into the most remote Swedish territory as it heads over the Arctic at Kristinehamn. The wilderness of the country enfolds as the journey begins and you cannot help admiring the sheer beauty and the ruggedness as you encounter plenty of moose, elk, and reindeer along the way. You can stop along the way on convert this into an even longer trip, depending on how much you of the Nordic you wish to explore. It’s a slow-moving majestic train that provides you with all the comfort to get into the heart of Sweden.
- The Classic – Trans Siberian express
Route: Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia
Distance & Time: 9258 km, 19 days
Where to book: www.trans-siberia.com
The pilgrimage tour for all the train lovers in the world is the classic Trans Siberian express, which is an icon of Russian culture. It is actually service that crosses eight time zones to connect the Russian capital with a port on the Pacific Ocean and includes slow local stoppers to grand international trains running the main route, as well as two separate routes to Beijing in China.
This train lets you travel to the untouched parts of Russia takes you through different terrains across the cities, and not just that, you can go hiking or rent a car or just explore anywhere by opting in and out when you want.
- Luxury – The Balkan Odyssey
Route: Venice to Budapest
Duration: 11 days
Where to book: www.goldeneagleluxurytrains.com
Want to get a taste of luxury on the wheels? Board the Golden Circle Danube Express, the most glamorous train with classical elegance, modern conveniences, and excellent services that pass through the best of the Balkans. Soak in the views of the Alpine Alps as you penetrate the heart of the Balkans after you begin the journey from the waterways of Venice. This pompous journey ends in style by the banks of river Danube as the majestic monuments of Budapest manifest far ahead.
- Go Over the Arctic – The Arctic Circle Express
Route: Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik, Norway
Duration: 3 days
Where to book: https://www.scandinavianrail.com/
How about taking the route of Santa Claus in the Arctic? Or stay in an Ice Hotel? Sounds too good to believe? Well, this journey makes it all possible!
Get onboard the Arctic Circle Express to experience the beauty of Lapland. Go dog sledging in the snow, snowmobiling under the magic Auroras, do cross-country skiing through forests, watch the giants in the exciting killer whale safaris, and sleep in a bed made of ice at Jukkasjarvi.
Also, if spotting the Northern Light was one of the things on your bucket list, get ready to check that off at Kiruna where you get to witness the astounding midnight sun, polar night and the aura of the brilliant Northern Light.
- Sojourn in Spain – San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela
Route: San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela
Duration: 8 days
Where to book: www.renfe.com
If there is one experience where you get to explore northern Spain in utmost luxury, witnessing the scenery comprising mountains, rivers, historic towns and delectable cuisines, El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo Salon is the train to board. The vintage carriages of the 1920’s come with 21st-century modern comforts, including spacious suites with a separate living room and en-suite bathroom. Explore the cities in the day and spend the evenings on the train enjoying the live entertainment and pampering yourself with all the grandeur the train offers.
These are some of the ones that we got on our list. Have you been on any of these? How was your experience? And Which one is your favorite?
Let us know your train travels in the comments below. We are all ears! Also, comment to get discount vouchers