Why take a plane when you can experience the most scenic train rides in Europe? Thanks to locomotive engineers and builders, the most scenic train rides in Europe will take you from snowy Alps down to sparkling lakes.
Which are the most memorable and picturesque journeys to take? Here are 10 of the most scenic train rides in Europe.
West Highland Line, Scotland
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! Okay, not really. In real life muggles call it the Jacobite Steam Train. Instead of taking you to Hogwarts, this train will take you through some of the most magical scenery Scotland has to offer. Running from Glasgow to Fort William then on to Mallaig, your train will pass the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films, along with a daunting landscape of mountains, steep-sided lochs, and heather moors.
Bernina Express, Switzerland to Italy
Ever heard of a railway being a UNESCO World Heritage site? The Rhaetian Railway is that exactly. This mountainous railway runs through deep alpine valleys and snow-capped mountains from Switzerland to Italy. Take the ride of your lifetime on the Bernina Express, a train which takes you between Chur (Switzerland) and Tirano (Northern Italy). Panoramic windows included for the best views!
Glacier Express, Switzerland
Commonly regarded as one of the world’s most scenic train rides, this is one of Switzerland’s most popular train routes. Connecting two popular mountain resorts, the Glacier Express starts in Zermatt and travels to St. Moritz. Like the Bernina Express, the train has panoramic windows to best show off the majestic Swiss mountains.
Bergen Line with Flåm Railway, Norway
The Bergen Line is one of the best ways to see Norway’s beautiful landscape. Linking Oslo to Bergen, many visitors choose to stop before Bergen at Myrdal Station and connect to the popular Flåm Railway. It is one of the steepest railway lines in the world, dropping 867m in just 20km. The train runs through spectacular scenery – vertiginous mountainsides, foaming waterfalls, through 20 tunnels, and offers so many viewpoints that a single trip is not enough.
Cinque Terre Express, Italy
Five colourful, rustic villages give this 18km stretch of rugged coastline its name, which means ‘five lands’. Despite being just 35 minutes, this train journey between Levanto and La Spezia is one of the most popular train rides in Europe. The colorful villages have been here for a thousand years or so, and along with their vineyards and olive groves make for quite a view. For the full experience, take the regional train rather than the express.
Montenegro Express, Montenegro to Serbia
The fact that the Montenegro Express travels through 254 tunnels and over 435 bridges to climb from the seaport of Bar to Belgrade gives an indication of the spectacular scenery it passes through. Take in views of the impressive Lake Skadar, southern Europe’s largest lake, into the mountainous Biogradska Gora national park. The train then makes its way through Serbian hills before arriving in Belgrade, 12 hours and 475km later.
Rhine Valley Line, Germany
See stunning German landscapes straight from a fairytale in the Rhine Valley – castles rising above swirling waters and vineyard-laden slopes. The Rhine Valley Line offers a laid-back cruise through the German wine country, first pulling out of charming Mainz and meandering the River Rhine. It will be 50 minutes until you reach Koblenz, where the Moselle River meets the Rhine.
Semmering Railway, Austria
Semmering Railway is the world’s first railway to make the UNESCO World Heritage list, so that should give you an idea of how picturesque the journey is. The train route runs between Glognitz and Semmering, crossing over Semmering Pass, 16 viaducts, 15 tunnels and arched bridges on a forested mountain stretch.
Rauma Line, Norway
Norway is undeniably one of the most scenic countries in the world, and the Rauma Line from Dombås to Åndalsnes is a great way to see the country. Take in sensational views as you travel through picturesque mountains, over imposing bridges, through winding tunnels and past the tallest rock-face in Europe; the Trollveggen. Rattling across the lofty Kylling Bridge is also one of the main highlights of the journey.
InterCity Rail, Italy
Not every rail journey involves a bonus sea voyage. But board the direct service from Rome to Palermo, and you’ll find your train on a ferry going across the Strait of Messina! The trip takes a little less than 12 hours, passing the Tyrrhenian Sea coastline. Highlights also include views of Mount Vesuvius, the Bay of Naples and the countryside of Calabria, Italy’s toe.