The Best Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe

The Best Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe

Train travel in Europe is not just a means of getting from one place to another; it’s a journey through time, nature, and culture. Whether you’re winding through snow-capped mountains or cruising along sunny coastlines, Europe’s scenic train routes offer unforgettable experiences. Here are some of the most spectacular train journeys across the continent that every traveler should consider.

The Glacier Express, Switzerland

Known as the “slowest express train in the world,” the Glacier Express offers a leisurely yet awe-inspiring ride through the Swiss Alps. Connecting the mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz, this eight-hour journey takes you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, and over the dramatic Oberalp Pass at an altitude of 2,033 meters (6,670 feet). Panoramic windows provide stunning views of lush valleys, picturesque villages, and the iconic Matterhorn. Travel tip: Book a seat in the Excellence Class for an even more luxurious experience with gourmet meals and drinks.

The West Highland Line, Scotland

Voted one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, the West Highland Line transports passengers from the bustling city of Glasgow to the tranquil town of Mallaig. This route showcases Scotland’s wild beauty, with rugged mountains, serene lochs, and historic viaducts, including the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, known to Harry Potter fans as the “Hogwarts Express” bridge. The journey also includes a branch line to the scenic fishing port of Oban. Travel tip: Plan your trip in the autumn to witness the striking colors of the Scottish Highlands.

The Cinque Terre Express, Italy

The Cinque Terre Express connects the five enchanting villages of Italy’s Ligurian coast: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. This short but spectacular ride offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, colorful cliffside homes, and terraced vineyards. The train runs frequently, making it easy to hop on and off to explore each village at your own pace. Travel tip: Purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which includes unlimited train travel between the villages and access to hiking trails.

The Flam Railway, Norway

Often described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the Flam Railway takes you on a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) ride from the fjord-side village of Flam to the high mountains of Myrdal. This hour-long trip features dramatic scenery, including deep ravines, cascading waterfalls, and snow-covered peaks. The train makes a brief stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall, where passengers can disembark for photos. Travel tip: Combine this trip with a cruise on the Naeroyfjord for a full day of stunning Norwegian landscapes.

The Bernina Express, Switzerland and Italy

Crossing the Swiss-Italian border, the Bernina Express offers a four-hour journey from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy. This route is a UNESCO World Heritage site and takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Engadin Alps, over the Bernina Pass at an altitude of 2,253 meters (7,391 feet), and past the glistening Morteratsch Glacier. The panoramic carriages ensure you won’t miss a moment of the spectacular views. Travel tip: Sit on the right side of the train for the best views of the Landwasser Viaduct.

Tips for a Memorable Train Journey

  • Book in Advance: Popular scenic trains often sell out, so it’s wise to book your tickets well in advance.
  • Travel Off-Peak: Avoid the crowds by traveling during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn), which also offer stunning seasonal landscapes.
  • Pack Light: Train compartments can be compact, so pack efficiently to ensure a comfortable journey.
  • Bring Snacks: While many scenic trains offer dining services, having your favorite snacks and drinks can enhance your travel experience.
  • Stay Charged: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone charger to capture the incredible views along the way.

Embarking on one of these scenic train journeys allows you to sit back, relax, and let Europe’s natural beauty unfold before your eyes. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or exploring the continent for the first time, these train rides promise memories that will last a lifetime.

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