Best Scenic Rail Journeys in Europe
Europe has some of the most beautiful locations in the world and one of the best ways to see as much as possible is travelling via train.
There are so many reasons to take a rail holiday, sitting back and watching the world go by out of the window as you traverse through new locations is a magical experience. Train travel offers something special, for starters you get to see a lot more compared to flying whilst it is a lot more comfortable than travelling by bus.
There are lots of cost effective train holidays in Europe so if you are looking for your next break and are keen to see some of the most scenic locations in the continent there are a lot of journeys available. But which trips are best?
View our list of the 10 most scenic train journeys you can take in Europe.
1. Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier Express is a very famous train route connecting two major mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz in the center of the breathtaking Swiss Alps (as seen in the image above).
If you have never been to the Swiss Alps before you are in for a treat. The scenery between these ski resorts is stunning especially during winter when you can see the snowy mountain peaks.
2. Cinque Terre, Italy
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and Cinque Terre is one of the highlights.
If you would like to venture slighly off the main tourist trail of Cinque Terre there is a really scenic 20km train journey between Levanto and La Spezia which if you book you won't be dissapointed.
The journey is fabulous, you will get to see colourful villages, lush countryside, vineyards and traditional Italian scenery out of a postcard. You can stop off at five villages along the route to experience the local Italian way of life as well as seeing the stunning coast and ocean.
3. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
The Trans-Siberian Railway is legendary. This is Europe’s longest railway trip and also one of the most epic journeys you can do in your life. The route travels 9,200km (5,700-mile) from Moscow to Vladivostok and is a bucket list trip do before you die.
You will pass so many different places and landscapes although general facilities and sleeping accommodation is pretty basic. If you are looking for an adventure the Trans-Siberian Railway is for you.
4. Bergen Train Line, Norway
If you are keen to get out and see the great outdoors then Norway should be a country high on your list of places to visit. Here you can catch the Bergen Train Line which operates between the capital, Oslo, and the country’s second city of Bergen.
You will get to ride on the highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe, crossing the Hardangervidda plateau at 1,237 metres (4,058 ft) above sea level. This journey is long (between 6/7 hours) but you will get to see spectacular landscapes and stunning rural locations.
This journey will leave you spellbound both in summer or winter.
5. French Riviera, France
The French Riviera is stunning and it is easy to see why this is one of the most popular summer destinations in Europe and home to so many celebrities
If you would like to see the stunning southern coast of France for yourself then there is the TER (Transport Express Régional) which connects the French Riviera stopping at some of the most scenic places in the world.
You can ride the TER from the Italian town of Ventimiglia or Monaco, and travel across to Cannes via Villefranche-sur-Mer, Èze-sur-Mer, Menton and Antibes (or vice versa).
Not many train rides in the world compare to this journey.
6. Snowdon, Wales
North Wales is a really underrated destination with scenery to rival New Zealand. One of the best things to do here is to go to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres above sea level in Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd.
You can book The Snowdon Mountain Railway and travel along a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway. It is a scenic tourist railway that travels for 4.7 miles from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon.
Once at your arrival you will get to see amazing views for miles around from the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.
7. Semmering Bahn, Austria
The Semmering railway in Austria, starts in Gloggnitz and travels over the Semmering Pass, to Mürzzuschlag. This was a feat of engineering when it was built as it was the first mountain railway in Europe built with a standard gauge track. Riding the Semmering Bahn is impressive, the views, bridges, tunnels and 16 viaducts is an amazing experience. Riding the Semmering Bahn is one of the top activities for tourists in Austria!
8. The Rhine, Germany
The Rhine Valley in western Germany is spectacular and one of the most scenic places in Europe. You can travel by rail through the Rhine Valley and get to see towns, villages, hills, rolling countryside, castles, vineyards and the famous river.
There are lots of places you can stop off including the town of Rüdesheim where you can take a cable car up to the Niederwald for panoramic views of the valley.
9. West Highland Line, Scotland
The 1 1/2 hour journey from Fort William to Mallaig is breathtaking, especially during summer. You will get to see scenery right out of Harry Potter with the beautiful Scottish highlands, lochs and coastline. Highlights include see Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain) and the Glenfinnan viaduct.
10. Bernina Express, Switzerland & Italy
The Bernina Express is a classic train route travelling from Tirano in Italy to ST Moritz in Switzerland. You will get to see the beautiful canton of Graubünden, alpine landscapes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the most scenic train trips in the world.
11. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
The Orient Express was a famous luxury long-distance passenger train service started in 1883. The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times.
Today you can relive the magic of the Orient Express by booking The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express which takes you not just across Europe, but to transport you back in time. The carriages come with polished wood, sumptuous upholstery and antique fixtures, the train epitomises the glamour and elegance of the Golden Age of travel.
Destinations include London, Paris, Venice and Verona. Tickets aren't cheap but if you have a love for trains, the places you will see are incredible and it really is like going back in time.
Have you been on any train journeys which you would recommend but we have missed off our list? Let us know in the comments section below.