Most Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe

Most Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe

Sitting by the window seat, staring right through the glass. Overlooking the scratches and disturbances, gazing at the changing landscape as if they were stars in the sky.

Sometimes it’s lush green, sometimes there are blossoming fields full of flowers. Sometimes it’s all white, the snow covering the mountain peaks shines brightly as the sun shines.

I take my phone and try to take a picture. It’s not as pretty as what the lens of my eyes can capture. The journey continues, but this one, I wish keeps on going.

I have already mentioned why I love traveling by train across Europe. It’s like being in a movie amidst all things pretty! Only this time, the reality is prettier than the movie.

The joy and experience of train travel across Europe continue to be unparalleled for this is where you can find some of the most scenic train journeys across the continent.

We asked some of our fellow travel bloggers to share their picks!

Most Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe

1. Flåm Railway, Norway

Flam Railway, Norway

Suggested by: Katy Clarke | Untold Morsels

It is not the longest train journey but it is truly spectacular. The train route from Flåm on Norway’s Aurlandsfjord fjord travels 850 meters above sea level to the mountain station of Myrdal on its 20-kilometer journey. Operated by Norwegian State Railways (NSB), this is one of the steepest railway tracks in the world.

Along the way you pass gaping gorges, cascading waterfalls and small farms and villages that the railway was built to connect. Keep an eye out for the beautiful Reinungavatnet lake which is the source of waterfalls in this region. 

The journey takes around an hour, making only a few brief stops at small towns and villages along the way. Make sure to alight for the longer stop at Kjosfossen to experience the splash of the mighty waterfall on your face and the eerie beauty of a singing siren.

Most visitors to this part of Norway take the journey on the Flåmsbana railway and with good reason. It’s one of the best ways to experience the fjords and Norway’s spectacular natural environment.

Review: NSB: A Look At Norwegian State Railways

2. Duoro Valley Train, Portugal

Train Duoro, Portugal

Suggested by: Suzanne Jones | The Travel Bunny

The Douro Valley historical train sits hissing and steaming at the station in Régua. The black 1925 Henschel & Son steam locomotive has a few last-minute checks, blasts its whistle and hisses as the heavy engine steams into life. The train trundles out of the station and gradually picks up speed settling into a relaxed rhythm. The track hugs the sparkling Douro River near Porto and the scenery is stunning.

The river is lined by rolling hills and green terraces planted with regimented rows of vines. The train passes Quintas, homesteads and wine estates which nestle amid the lush greenness of the valley. I doubt the scenery has changed much since the line was built back in 1887. There are three types of a carriage; first, second and third class. Despite the hard wooden benches, I prefer third because of the wonderful views of the river and the track from the viewing platform at the back. The train stops briefly at Pinhão station with its pretty blue and white tiled walls before departing for Tua where it turns for the return journey.

The historic train runs from Régua to Tua and back operating from June to October. The journey takes around one hour 15 minutes each way departing Régua at 15:23 hours and returning at 18:32 hours. Ticket costs: Adult €42,50 and Children €19 (4 to 12 years old inclusive).

Review: Comboios De Portugal

3.  Odontotos, Greece

Zachlorou Train Station

Suggested by: Helena | Just For One summer

If you plan a trip to the Northern coast of Peloponnese peninsula, make sure to include a day spent riding the unique Odontotos Rack Railway into your itinerary. This short yet stunning ride through the striking Vouraikos Canyon will show you a different side of Greece, full of mountain vistas, rushing rivers and charming traditional villages and monasteries.

The historic Odontotos Rack Railway starts at the coastal town of Diakopto and runs through the otherwise inaccessible Vouraikos Canyon to Kalavrita some 22 kilometers away. During its 60 minutes journey, it claims to an altitude of 750 meters passing through uncountable tunnels and rickety bridges. The Odontotos train, part of the Greek Railway network OSE, runs multiple times per day no matter the season or weather. Tickets can be booked online or purchased at the train station or as part of the new Kalavrita City Pass including other attractions in the area. 

Starting from Diakopto, the small train passes through a pleasant countryside of fields and orchards. However, soon enough the terrain steepens and the canyon becomes narrower and wilder with the roaring Vouraikos river rushing through uncountable rapids at its bottom. At the narrowest part of the canyon at Portes (Gates), the train stops for a quick photo break. Look to your left to see the impressive narrows crossed by an old rusty pedestrian bridge.

For a bit of sightseeing along the way get off the train at Zachlorou station and climb to the imposing Mega Spileo Monastery clinging to the tall cliffs above. Or, if you like hiking and a bit of adrenalin, return down to Diakopto by foot following the railway tracks. As strange as it may sound, it is a popular activity and with a bit of caution on the bridges, it is also an awesome way to experience the beautiful nature of the gorge up close.

4. Train des Pignes

Train Des Pignes

Suggested by: Priyanko Sarkar | Constant Traveller

Runs between Nice and Digne-Les-Bains
Length – 150 km
Approx journey time – Approx 3.5 hours each way
Name of carrier: Chemins de Fer de Provence

The Train des Pignes is one of the best ways of approaching the French Alps region away from its Mediterranean spots and have the perfect day trip as well. On a particularly hot summer day in Nice, I discovered the best way to cool off was to take this train up to the mountains. Because it isn’t as well-known, I was able to buy tickets from the station 10 minutes before by 9.30 AM train was due to depart.

The Train des Pignes is a world away from the superfast rail lines that criss-cross Europe. This is a single line track train where we waited almost 20 minutes for the return train to pass before we could continue on to Digne. The train itself is operated by a private company and hence its station is actually at a different location than the main Nice railway station.

The train follows the Var river and makes stops at small French villages and medieval French towns like Entrevaux famed for its fortress. Eventually, after about 3 hours, I was in Digne. It seemed like a world away from the chaos and heat of Nice.

Digne is a quiet little town of about 17000 inhabitants. I spent most of my time walking in its main town center and visiting the Musee Gassendi. Known as a spa town, my only regret was not having made time for its thermal baths. I would urge you to look into it before you set out on this train journey. I had taken the 9.24 AM train from Nice and reached Digne around 12.45 PM. On the return leg, I caught the last train at 5.35 PM from Digne and arrived back in Nice at 9 PM having spent one of the most relaxing days aboard a train journey that was worth it in more ways than one.

5. Metlika, Slovenia

Metlika, Slovenia

Suggested by: Lavina D’souza | Continent Hop

The beauty of train journeys is that one can travel to remote locations that one may never hear of otherwise and get to see some of the best spots within the locality en route.

One such journey was from Metlika in Slovenia to Lljublana.

It was one of the cleanest and cheapest trains, I’ve ever traveled on and one of the most scenic. Metlika is located in the farthest corner of Slovenia, almost on the border of Croatia. The river Kolpa passes through Metlika and is one of the warmest rivers to try fun activities and swim in!

The journey took about 2 and a half hours, and the train had about three carriages. The beauty of the ride was that the train passed through forests and remote parts of Slovenia, whistling the entire way and making a low rumbling sound.

We passed beautiful villages, colorful houses, and numerous vineyards along the way. I could see many locals heading off on their daily activities thus giving me a glimpse into the local life too.

The final stop Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and is well connected to most regions in Slovenia. Popular for its architecture, it is definitely one of the prettiest towns in Europe!

Review: Slovenske Železnice

6.  Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Suggested by: Allison Green | Eternal Arrival

Undoubtedly, one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe – if not the entire world – is the train from the picturesque town of Zermatt to Gornergrat Station, one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland  This train takes you from the cute wooden timber houses of Zermatt, with their perfect Swiss balconies and flower boxes, all the way up to Gornergrat with views of the Matterhorn along the way. Gornergrat Station is at an altitude of 3,135 meters above sea level and is the highest open-air railway in all of Europe.

At Gornergrat, you have views of more than 20 peaks over 4,000 meters, including of course the Matterhorn, the most famous mountain in Switzerland! On the train ride itself, you will pass a massive waterfall, several views of mountains and glaciers in the region, and alpine lakes before arriving at Gornergrat. This adorable red train takes about 30 minutes to go from its starting point in the car-free village of Zermatt to the top of Gornergrat. Be sure to time your visit for a clear day so that you have good views of the mountains around you! The train line is served by Gornergrat rack railway (GGB), which is part of the Swiss Railways network. It is not included with Swiss Travel Pass but can be purchased at a discount if you have a train pass. 

7. Panoramic Train, Switzerland

Most Scenic Train Journeys Across Europe | Luzern

Suggested by: Michael Gerber | MSCGerber

The panorama train between Lucerne and Interlaken is probably one of the most beautiful in whole Switzerland, if not the world. While both of the cities are incredibly beautiful and are a magnet for tourists from all around the world – the train ride that connects these to pearls is not to forget!

And once you get into the panorama train (which has huge windows!) you will understand why: While enjoying a comfortable train ride to get from A to B you will also see some of the most beautiful landscapes of Switzerland, including beautiful lakes and mountain peaks. The train runs daily (almost on an hourly base) and is operated by the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways). That means it is also part of the public transport – and the ride is included if you own a Swiss Travel Pass.

However, it is highly suggested to make a reservation for the almost 2 hours ride between Lucerne and Interlaken, especially if you are traveling in busy months (generally speaking in Summer).

My personal highlight of the scenic train ride is the last minutes when the train is finding its way into Interlaken, including a view on a beautiful lake and the peaks of the Swiss Alps. In my opinion, this train ride is a must-do on your trip to Switzerland.

8. Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

Suggested by: Carolyn June | Holidays To Europe

One of Switzerland’s most popular day trips and one of the most scenic train journeys across Europe is the Jungfraubahn. Starting in the holiday town of Interlaken, the Jungfraubahn takes passengers on a scenic ride to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, at 3,454 meters above sea level. Operated by Jungfrau Railways, the journey includes three different train rides that all connect seamlessly, just as you’d expect in Switzerland. From Interlaken, travelers have a choice of two routes to reach the Jungfraujoch. The first travels to Kleine Scheidegg via Grindelwald aboard the Bernese Oberland Railway and Wengernalp rack railway before connecting to the Jungfraubahn for the final leg of the journey. The second route takes passengers to Kleine Scheidegg via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen (again with Bernese Oberland Railway and Wengernalp rack railway), where they transfer to the Jungfraubahn. Both routes take two hours each way. 

The journey to the Jungfraujoch offers spectacular views as the train winds its way up from the valley floor, past lush alpine meadows and tumbling waterfalls, to Kleine Scheidegg. One of my favorite views is the one looking over the Lauterbrunnen valley on the way to (or from) Wengen. At Kleine Scheidegg, the train station is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, through one of which a seven-kilometer tunnel has been carved. For around 30 minutes, the Jungfraubahn travels through the tunnel, an amazing engineering feat, to reach its destination, the Top of Europe.

Allow at least three hours at Jungfraujoch before you commence your scenic train ride back to Interlaken.

Review:

9. South Czechia, Czech Republic

Southern Moravia, Czech Republic

Suggested by: Sonia Sahni | Ticking The Bucketlist

The green fields of Moravia have made their way to screensavers and posters – courtesy the Windows XP default wallpaper. Needless to say, it had made its way to my bucket list. Earlier this year, I was at Bratislava and decided to tick this item off the list, thus making my way to the town of Brno in the Moravia region. The train journey from Bratislava to Brno gave me all the sights and scenes that I dreamt of- green lands, rolling planes, lush green fields, and a mystic woods. As my train zoomed through these picture-perfect landscapes, I swooned over a thousand times and wished that I could hop off the train and stay one of the wooden chalets that dotted the countryside.

The journey was about 2 hours long and cost me about EUR 20 for a return ticket. The return ticket was significantly cheaper than a one-way ticket. To buy the ticket, all I had to do was to show up at Hlavná Stanica (Central Railway Station) in Bratislava, queue at the ticket window and talk to the awesome lady at the counter, who spoke English perfectly well (finding English speakers can be a challenge in Eastern Europe at times)! There are two companies that operate on this route, the national Slovakian carrier as well as Regio Jet. I found the national carrier to be much cheaper than Regio Jet. Brno itself is a lovely town that has some of the best underground activities that one can think off – underground cellars, ossuary, and even a World War Bunker. It sure is a town worth a visit!

Review: Ceske Drahy

10. Harry Potter Train, Scotland

The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland

Suggested by: Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten | Travel By A Sherrie Affair

One of the most popular trains in the world, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan is the Jacobite steam train.  This is a very popular train ride so make sure to purchase your tickets way in advance, especially if you are wanting to sit next to a window or there is a group of you traveling together.  Also, it is important to check the schedule of when the train runs, for it is seasonal.

Your journey begins at Fort Williams, west Scotland, at the foot of the amazing mountain Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain in all of the British Isles.  You are given time to explore the train, take photos and video, even shop from the platform before it’s time to board.  Pretty soon it’s time to get moving.  You can enjoy champagne, chocolates, cheese, English high tea, and flowers if you choose while enjoying this amazing train ride. 

The train is headed to the town of Mallaig and it takes approximately,  2 hours and ten minutes which includes a stop at the Glenfinnan Station.  You will spend one hour and forty-five minutes in Mallaig.  The return to Fort William will take one hour and fifty minutes.   

The most awaited moment is when you go over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.  Get your cameras ready because it will fill just like you are in the Harry Potter movie! 

11.  Narrow Gauge Railway, Bulgaria

Balkan Station

Suggested by: Sarah Carter | A Social Nomad

One of the most special and scenic railway journeys in Europe takes in the highest pass in the Balkans.  The narrow gauge railway from Septembri to Bansko is a stunning ride through the Balkan countryside.  This is a slow train, there are few tourists and a few locals who frequent it.  Locals generally with product going to and from the market and the tourists heading from the ski resort of Bansko to usually Plovdiv via Septembri.

The end of this line is Dobrinishte, although most people will start in Bansko a few kilometers down the road and the other end of the narrow gauge track is Septembri.  In between, there’s the spa town of Velingrad and  Avramovo station, which at 1267 meters is the highest station in the Balkans.

There are toilets but no other services on this train and it doesn’t stop for long enough at any station with services for food or drink.  Bringing a picnic is well advised!  Seats are comfortable, and it’s warm in winter too.

The train is run by Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) and there are three trains a day in each direction.  The journey takes around 5 hours and costs 6.5leva (about 3 Euros)

12. Jenbach to Mayrhofen in Austria’s Ziller Valley

Train View Ziller Valey

Suggested by: Linda | Travel Tyrol

While there are many beautiful valleys in the Austrian Alps, not many are accessible by train. That’s why the railway journey through the Ziller Valley in Tyrol is one of the most scenic ones in Austria. The 32 km long railway track starts in Jenbach in the Inn Valley. From here, it enters the Ziller Valley and ends in the picturesque Alpine village of Mayrhofen. There are 17 stops along the way, some in lively traditional villages such as Zell am Ziller and some in quiet spots surrounded by farmland. Mountain and valley attractions which are easily accessible from the train include cable cars to mountain resorts, swimming complexes, a cheese factory, and a brewery. All stops are good starting points for easy hikes or to join up with the Ziller Valley cycling route. Bicycles are allowed on the trains.

Between May and October, you can even do the journey on a 117-year old steam train! This train is also used on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve. In May, it carries hundreds of Tyroleans in traditional dress to the Gauderfest, Austria’s biggest beer festival in Zell am Ziller. The Zillertalbahn leaves Jenbach every half hour between 06:30 and 20:00. If you want to do the journey on the steam train, it leaves Jenbach on Wednesdays and Sundays at 10:42 before starting its return journey in Mayrhofen at 16:00. Jenbach is ideally located on the main railway line between Innsbruck and Munich or Salzburg.

13. Bernina Express, Switzerland

Bernina Express, Swiss

Suggested by: Sierra Dehmler | Passport Voyager

One of the most stunning train journeys in the entire world can be found in Europe. The Bernina Express travels through staggering mountain landscapes and icy blue glaciers from Tirano, Italy to Chur, Switzerland, making it a major contender for every traveler’s bucket list!

Operated by Rhätische Bahn, the train runs from Tirano, Italy to Chur, Switzerland – with easy and frequent regional train connections on both ends of the trip. The Bernina Express runs year round, and while I went in the summer months, I’d love to go back for another trip in the snowy wintertime, because it looks like something out of a movie! The Bernina Express route takes around 4 hours, winding through the incredible Swiss Alps. 

The most fun surprise was when the refreshment trolley was pushed through the train, with a cuddly-looking stuffed Ibex leading the way. It made the train feel like the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and transformed the trip from beautiful to absolutely magical. 

For a comprehensive guide to the gorgeous Bernina Express route (including how to find the cheapest tickets and save quite a bit of money on this train trip), check out these helpful tips! Note that if you want to sit in the special panoramic cars of the Bernina Express, you need to make a reservation, which is an extra €14 per seat. Well worth it, if you ask me!

14. The Mocanita Hutulca Steam Train in Bucovina, Romania

Mocanita Hutulca, Romania

Suggested by: Teresa | Brogan Abroad

There are so many reasons to visit, but one of the things you should know before traveling to Romania is that Romanians are incredibly proud of their traditions. This is why today we are still able to enjoy a ride on the Hutulca steam train in the historical region of Bucovina, in the North of the country.

The Hutulca train makes daily trips from Moldovita to Argel, on a narrow gauge railroad that takes you through stunning landscapes of idyllic rolling hills.  And there is no better way of enjoying this natural beauty than from a steam train. The only caveat is that in order for it to run, you need a minimum of 10 passengers.

The route of the train is approximately 12 km and it takes a couple of hours. During the day, you will be able to enjoy traditionally prepared local cuisine. It was built in 1888 for forestry transport, and it was originally 24 km long, but over the years it fell into disrepair. Fortunately, it was brought back to life thanks to the interest it had from the tourist point of view. And I’m so glad they did. It is certainly an experience to remember!

Some of our other favorite scenic train journeys have been from Köln to Paris, Amsterdam to Giethoorn and of course across Italy! Traveling by train across Europe is extremely easy and convenient, especially with the Rail Europe Passes for single or multi-countries as per your itinerary.

So, what do you think? Have you experienced any other scenic train journeys across Europe? Which of these journeys would be on the top of your list? Share your stories with us below.

Don’t wait for too long, get started with planning your Eurail trip already!

To book your Rail Europe Passes, click here.

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