As lovers of train travel we have a long bucket list of rail journeys we wish to make across the world including many scenic rail journeys in Europe
In this article, you will discover 23 of the best train journeys in Europe. Some of these trips by rail are short and can be taken in a day. Others are longer and are as much about the experience of travelling by train as about the final destination.
One this I can guarantee is that you will be planning to incorporate some of these great train journeys in Europe into your future travel plans! As we have not (yet) managed to take every train trip possible in Europe I asked travel bloggers to share their favourite European rail journey.
You will find both practical and inspirational information included in our selection of 23 of the best train journeys in Europe.
- 1. Snowdon Mountain Railway – Wales
- 2. Golden Pass Train – Switzerland
- 3. Schafbergbahn – Austria
- 4. Newcastle to Edinburgh (East Coast Mainline) – England
- 5. Belmond Grand Hiburnian – Ireland
- 6. The Glacier Express – Switzerland
- 7. Arktika Express St Petersburg to Murmansk – Russia
- 8. Timisoara to Cluj-Napoca – Romania
- 9. The steam train of the Cevennes – Provence France
- 10. Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh – Scotland
- 11. Belgrade to Bar – Serbia to Montenegro
- 12. Flam Railway – Norway
- 13. West Highland Line – Scotland
- 14. The Bernina Express – Switzerland
- 15. Jungfrau – Switzerland
- 16. Copenhagen to Hamburg – Denmark to Germany
- 17. The Trans-Siberian Railway – Europe to Asia
- 18. The Whitby to Pickering Line – Yorkshire England
- 19. The Bergen Line – Norway
- 20. The Zugspitze – Germany
- 21. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley from Mainz to Bonn – Germany
- 22. Naples to Salerno – Italy
- 23. Copenhagen to Malmo – Denmark to Sweden
- Tips and resources to help you make the most of these scenic rail journeys in Europe
1. Snowdon Mountain Railway – Wales
The Snowdon Mountain Railway runs from Llanberis to the peak of Mount Snowdon which is the highest mountain in Wales at 1085 meters. The total length of the railway is 4 miles 1188 yards (7.53 km)
The journey to the top is made possible by 4 coal-fired steam locomotives which were built in Switzerland between 1895 and 1922.
As you climb the mountain don’t miss the amazing views of the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can also see all the way to the North Wales Coastline.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a 2.5-hour return journey to the peak of Snowdon. One hour up to the summit, half an hour at the summit and one hour back to Llanberis.
At the top, there is a scramble to reach the peak of the mountains. It is not for the fainthearted as you are required to climb some rock steps with no rails!
Chosen by Mark of Wyld Family Travel
2. Golden Pass Train – Switzerland
Switzerland has some of the most scenic train rides in the world, and one of the best of them is the Golden Pass train line. Covering 8 lakes and 3 mountain passes, some of the best of Switzerland’s natural beauty is on display on this route!
The Golden Pass route is the train line between Lucerne and Montreux, through Interlaken and Zweisimmen.
While you can travel on this route in either direction, I would recommend starting from Lucerne and making your way to Montreux – the grandeur of the views as you descend into Montreux through beautiful vineyards and with Lake Geneva spread out in front is absolutely breathtaking. Additionally, if you take the morning train, you reach Montreux by afternoon, giving you time to explore this beautiful city too!
The entire Golden Pass route takes 4-5 hours across 3 different sections where you need to change trains. The first section is Lucerne to Interlaken which takes ~1hr 45min and takes you through the stunning Swiss countryside and the lakes Lucerne, Sarner, Lungern, and Brienz.
The second section is from Interlaken to Zweisimmen takes ~1hr 15min.
The last section from Zweisimmen to Montreux takes ~1hr 45min and is the most scenic part of the entire train journey, helped by the huge panoramic windows on the train in this leg!
On this section, you cross into the Fench speaking part of Switzerland and the scenery has a more Mediterranean touch to it.
The Golden Pass train is operational year-round and is one of the best experiences to be had in Switzerland!
Chosen by Smita of My Faulty Compass
3. Schafbergbahn – Austria
The Schafbergbahn is a red cog railway that runs from St. Wolfgang at Lake Wolfgangsee in Austria up to the Schafberg Mountain. There are only two stops, the first at Schafbergalpe at 1363 meters and the second one at the mountain station at 1732 metres.
The railway line is only 5.85 km long, but the journey is just breathtakingly beautiful and a one in your lifetime adventure when you come to visit Austria.
With the nostalgic red cog railway, you will challenge a difference in altitude of 1188 meters. All in all, the journey takes about 35 minutes. In that time, you will always enjoy a marvellous panorama of Lake Wolfgang and the surrounding mountains. Once you reach the top, you will have the most amazing views down to the many glittering lakes of Salzburg and Upper Austria.
The red Schafbergbahn cog railway has a long history. Construction works already began in April 1892 and was opened already in 1893. Today it is one of the famous tourist attractions in Austria and a must visit when you go to Salzburg or Upper Austria.
Taking a ride with this nostalgic gear steam locomotive, which is among the oldest in the world, is an unforgettable experience!
Keep in mind that the journey with the Schafbergbahn is only possible from the beginning of May to the end of September. Best you go early in the morning, so you will avoid the crowds. Pre-booking is possible but not a must!
Chosen by Martina & Jürgen of Places of Juma
4. Newcastle to Edinburgh (East Coast Mainline) – England
I love travelling by train and would always choose it as my preferred method of transport. I find the sitting back and watching the world pass so relaxing; add some tasty snacks and good company to the equation and it is heavenly!
One of the prettiest journeys I have taken was the 92miles, around a 1.5-hour journey from Newcastle to Edinburgh. We have taken the train to Edinburgh many times as we got married in the city so frequently re-live the route and its special memories. It is also an incredibly beautiful route as the train line runs closely along the Northumberland coastline so the views are simply spectacular.
The route stays coastal for a large part of this journey, but my favourite parts are the golden sands and rugged shorelines of Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The views from Alnmouth across the Royal Border Bridge and into Edinburgh are well worth taking the journey for alone. Some of the trains stop at these places so time allowing, you are able to, why not hop off and get some beach time before arriving in the city? How many train journeys can boast that feature?
Make sure that you find time to see the beautiful Bamburgh castle which is between Alnmouth and Berwick and combines the beauty of the coastal landscape, golden beach and a magnificent castle- breathtaking.
Submitted by Melanie Varey from Two Plus Dogs
5. Belmond Grand Hiburnian – Ireland
Embark on a grandiose journey through the Emerald Isle by hopping aboard the island’s first luxury sleeper train.
Launched in 2016, the Belmond Grand Hibernian delves into the country’s mythical tales, dramatic seascapes, and picturesque towns. Your voyage begins in Dublin, and after spending a memorable night in the Irish capital, the sumptuous carriages whisk you around the island.
Brandishing the names of Ireland’s historic counties, each passenger car is embellished with images of Dublin’s elegant Georgian architecture. En-suite cabins serenade travellers with furnishings that draw inspiration from Ireland’s verdant greenery. From the colourful homes of Cork to the untamed Connemara wilderness, the views outside your cabin window will take your breath away.
The six-night ‘Grand Tour of Ireland – Southbound’ courses through the country’s scenic vistas while visiting majestic castles and opulent homes. Arrange a private tour of the Jameson Distillery just outside Cork, admire the stunning Westport House, and marvel at exquisite art inside Kilkenny Castle.
For a weekend jaunt, book the ‘Taste of Ireland’ itinerary to stop by Belfast and discover the cherished sights of Ireland’s Ancient East. Two nights on the Belmond Grand Hibernian transports you to Kilkenny city centre and attracts history buffs with a trip to the Medieval Mile Museum.
While in Belfast, passengers receive the royal treatment while touring Hillsborough Castle, the Northern Ireland residence of the British Queen.
The four-night ‘Legends and Loughs’ adventure soothes the hearts of foodies and nature lovers. Taste local flavors by wandering the vibrant English Market in Cork, then set off to Killarney National Park for a peaceful boat ride on Lough Leane.
Chosen by Anna of Spottico
6. The Glacier Express – Switzerland
The Glacier Express in Switzerland is known as the slowest express train in the world. It connects glitzy snow resort St. Moritz with the famous Zermatt, the backdrop of the iconic Matterhorn. The journey is ‘only’ 291 km (181 miles) long, but it takes the train a whopping 8 hours to get you from start to finish.
But travel on the Glacier Express is no punishment at all! Imagine it as a luxury, comfortable movie along with the most scenic views that Switzerland has to offer.
Every tunnel and every bridge brings excitement. You ride along the rivers and pass cute alpine villages where you can hear the clattering of cow bells in the hills in the distance.
The Glacier Express in Switzerland is a non-stop journey from St. Moritz to Zermatt or vice versa, but during the journey, you’ll find highlight after highlight.
To name a few to get you excited: the Landwasser Viaduct which is on every postcard of Switzerland. Or Oberalp, the highest point of the journey at 2.044 meters (6,706 ft.) and numerous switchbacks towards Andermatt. Of course, St. Moritz and Zermatt are each worth your time too!
But be aware, the Glacier Express is one of the most popular things to do in Switzerland and tickets during peak season sell out quickly! As an alternative, you can follow the same route of the Glacier Express but with local trains. You’ll see the same scenery but for a fraction of the price and no reservation costs. Check out all the pros and cons of the Glacier Express here.
Chosen by Naomi of Probe around the Globe
7. Arktika Express St Petersburg to Murmansk – Russia
The Arktika express runs from St Petersburg all the way to Murmansk. One of the largest cities above the arctic circle. It covers a distance of more than 1000 kilometres in around 24 hours. Being on the train for a full day sounds long, but with the beautiful scenery along the way time flies by.
The Arktika runs through a corner of Europe that gets few visitors but has pristine nature. From the shores of beautiful Lake Ladoga to the coast of the white sea and the taiga forests of the Kola Peninsula.
It’s Russia off the beaten path, but if you love nature consider a stop at Petrozavodsk or Kem to explore more of the province of Karelia.
The train from St Petersburg to Murmansk is a beautiful train journey any time of the year. In summer you can enjoy the polar nights with the midnight sun.
In autumn the trees turn golden and in winter it’s a magical winter wonderland with snow and frozen rivers. Once you reach Murmansk there are more arctic adventures waiting for you such as snowmobiling or husky dog sledding.
Travelling by train is just as much about the people you meet along the way as the journey. Russian people tend to share their food with other passengers. Bringing some snacks from your home country to give back will make you lots of friends on a Russian train.
Chosen by Ellis of Backpack Adventures
8. Timisoara to Cluj-Napoca – Romania
Romania lies in the southeastern side of Europe with a geographical terrain of hilly plateaus, vast green forests and wide level plains. Here you can witness the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains, the Transylvanian Alps, and in the southeast, the famous inland Black Sea.
One way to witness the fascinating terrain in Romania is touring via train on a scenic journey from Timisoara to Cluj-Napoca. Timisoara, the European Capital of Culture in 2021, is situated on the western side of Romania in the Banat region.
This city contains a magnificent Orthodox Cathedral with lavish paintings, impeccable gardens, and during the winter hosts some of the best holiday markets in Romania.
From Timisoara there are two train routes to Cluj-Napoca. One route is 134 miles and takes about 6 hours. This route is the fastest, passing through the charming Oradea, a city filled with inspiring Art Nouveau architecture.
Here you’ll see coloured buildings, a medieval fortress, and the stunning black Eagle Palace. The second route is approximately 8 hours and passes directly to the Transylvanian region via the cities Deva and Alba Lulia.
Both of these routes offer a beautiful scenic view through the Transylvanian region, showcasing the mighty forests and smooth plains. The train journey ends in the delightful Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca. Cluj-Napoca is known for its vibrant food scene, immaculate botanical gardens, and the beautiful Gothic style St. Michael’s Church.
If you’re planning on taking this route, I recommend packing several snacks, and purchasing tickets a couple days before your trip to avoid tickets being sold out.
Chosen by Ciara from Wellness Travel Diaries
9. The steam train of the Cevennes – Provence France
The steam train of the Cevennes is a delightful day out, for big kids and small! Off the beaten track in France and nestled within the wild and raw Cevennes, a train line snakes through the magnificent Gardon valley, between St Jean du Gard and Anduze.
The train is old-fashioned, without windows in the carriages and painted a deep red and ochre yellow. There are no mod-cons or air-conditioning here, just the wind as it rushes past the moving train and your own picnic, enjoyed as you admire the passing view.
As you chug slowly over the high bridges, the clear and shallow waters of the inviting Gardon below, kayakers and swimmers in the sparkling turquoise river wave up to the train as it passes, and everyone on the train waves back!
The driver usually stops on one of the viaducts, providing an opportunity to lean out and get a shot of the steaming engine in front with all its carriages following behind.
Hop off at La Bambousaraie and be amazed by the enormous bamboo and other exotic plants planted here. With lots of shady places to stop for a picnic and a maze for the children, this is the ideal lunch spot on a hot summer’s day.
The trip from Anduze to St Jean du Gard takes around an hour and a half, short but spectacular and one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe.
Start your journey in St Jean du Gard or Anduze and buy your ticket early at the station or book online as the train can get busy in peak season.
Chosen by Izzy of The Gap Decaders
10. Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh – Scotland
One of my favourite train journeys I’ve done is the two and a half hour trip across the Scottish Highlands from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh.
Desperate to see the Highlands, I was told by many friends it was impossible to get around the Highlands without a car. But I was determined to go via public transportation, and also had my heart set on seeing the Isle of Skye. Well, it’s not strictly true – you can travel by train through the Highlands on what is surely one of the most beautiful train journeys in Scotland.
So it was that I found myself in Inverness one wet and windy day so I could get the train to Kyle of Lochalsh. As soon as the train left the station, I felt I was passing through another world as we wove our way through the forests and around lochs. As we passed two men fishing, a bloodhound at their side, they stopped and waved to the train — can’t say that happens on many train journeys.
As the train wound its way through the moors, I looked out the window to see the landscape suddenly appeared purple; I was confused until I realised I must be looking at heather. The scenery was stunning, and best of all I didn’t have to drive and could sit back and enjoy it!
At Kyle of Lochalsh, you can easily reach the Isle of Skye via the bridge (whether by bus or taxi) and you definitely shouldn’t miss the Isle of Skye – especially not after coming all this way.
Chosen by Caitlin of The Vegan World
11. Belgrade to Bar – Serbia to Montenegro
The railway line from Belgrade (Serbia) to Bar (Montenegro) is one of the most underrated and beautiful railway lines in Europe (or maybe even in the world). The line is almost 500 km long but the journey is rather slow – according to the schedule the whole train ride takes 11 hours but the delays are frequent on Belgrade to Bar train.
There are two daily trains in each direction, one departing in the morning and one in the evening. Along the way, you pass some of the best views in the Balkans (especially on the Montenegrin part): breathtaking mountains like Biogradska Gora National Park and Lake Skadar – the largest lake in the region. Belgrade to Bar railway line is also an engineering masterpiece.
You can expect to pass 254 tunnels (each of them is marked with its number and length at the entrance) and 435 bridges. The biggest highlight is Mala Rijeka viaduct, a bit north of Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro). Until recently it was the highest railway bridge in the world, with a height of 200 meters. Passing the bridge can give you shivers, it is incredible.
If you want to admire the views you should take the day train from Montenegro or night one from Serbia. Since the journey can be a bit tiring you can stop along the way – good places for a break are Uzice (Serbia) at the footsteps of Zlatibor mountains or Kolasin (Montenegro) near Biogradska Gora NP.
Unfortunately, currently it is not possible to buy tickets online but the train is hardly ever full so you should easily get the ticket at the train station before the departure (however it is recommended to buy it in advance). One way ticket costs around 24€ in the 2nd class and 35€ in the first class.
Chosen by Kami of My Wanderlust
12. Flam Railway – Norway
The line between Flam and Myrdal in Norway is often described as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The journey takes 2 hours return (though you can connect with the Oslo to Bergen line at Myrdal)
Along the 20km line, you will cross one bridge, enter 20 tunnels and pass numerous waterfalls. In fact, the train makes one stop along the way. Alight the train at the Kjosfassen waterfall and have your camera at the ready.
This journey is a must for any visitor to the area and is spectacular in winter or summer. Combine the train ride with a boat trip around the fjords to Gudvangen.
It is important to purchase your tickets for the Flam railway in advance as it is very popular and can become booked up months in advance particularly in the summer months.
Don’t miss the Flam Railway Museum before you board the train. In the museum, you can discover all about the building of the line and the history of the area. The museum is free to enter.
There is a restaurant and shop in Flam so plenty to do and see while you wait for the next train or ferry.
13. West Highland Line – Scotland
The West Highland Line in Scotland is one of my favourite UK train journeys and probably one of the best scenic rail journeys in Europe. Whether you catch the Caledonian sleeper train service from London or hop on a day service from Glasgow this is one train journey you will not forget.
Incorporating the famous Glenfinnan curving viaduct (as seen in Harry Potter films) the train line wends its way from the Scottish city of Glasgow up into the West Highlands.
Have your camera at the ready as you pass landmarks such as Rannoch Moor, Ben Nevis and the Jacobite Monument at Loch Shiel. Change trains at Fort William and continue your journey to the coast at Mallaig.
Change at Mallaig for ferry services to the beautiful Isle of Skye. If you really want to do this journey in style book tickets on the private steam train the Jacobite. You really will feel like you are in a scene from Harry Potter as you cross the viaduct!
14. The Bernina Express – Switzerland
There are 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and the famous Lanwasser viaduct along the way. The railway line was built over 8 years between 1896 and 1904. The line is operated by Rhaetian Railway and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008
The route takes you past many beautiful Swiss villages including St Moritz. Sit back and enjoy the fabulous views and Alpine scenery.
If you plan to book a ticket for the Bernina Express and have a Swiss Travel Pass or Interrail or Eurail pass you only need to pay a small reservation fee. With its panoramic windows, it is worth paying to take the Bernina Express (you can do the same route via regional train) and experiencing this iconic Swiss train journey.
Once you arrive in Chur catching a train to Zurich is easy as you will find it is waiting for you on the platform opposite!
15. Jungfrau – Switzerland
Travel to the Top of Europe on the train journey up to Jungfraujoch in Switzerland. Travel by cogwheel track on your way to the highest train station in Europe.
The line was completed in 1912 and is a feat of Swiss engineering. There are two routes available to Jungfraujoch via Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. Either will take you to the mountain just make sure you are on the correct part of the train when it splits at Zweilutschinen.
At Kleine Scheidegg you change trains to catch the Jungfrau cog railway and the star of the show. This last part of the route takes you to a height of 3400 metres. At one point the train passes through a 7 km tunnel which was excavated through the rock the Eiger and Monch Alpine peaks.
Once at the top you will find restaurants, an observation deck, a museum and even an ice palace. Try to plan your trip on a clear day so you can enjoy the spectacular views.
16. Copenhagen to Hamburg – Denmark to Germany
Set to be one of the highlights of my trip from Gothenburg to London by train, the Copenhagen to Hamburg journey has been well known among train travel lovers for many years for the fact that it was one of the few trains in Europe (or the world) to go on to a ferry.
Operated by Danish Railways, there are frequent direct trains between Copenhagen and Hamburg, and it’s one of the only ways to connect on to Scandinavia from mainland Europe by rail. The journey between the two cities as of January 2020 takes 4 hours and 18 minutes, saving 20 minutes compared to the old route.
Until December 2019, the trains headed south through Denmark via Rodby, whereon the train would chug on to the Rodby-Puttgarten ferry. Passengers would disembark the train and enjoy views of crossing the Fehmarn Belt.
Now, although you don’t have the chance to see the train go on the ferry, the ride is still beautifully scenic as the train crosses the Great Belt Fixed Link which is a total of 18km of bridges connecting the islands of Zealand and Funen, with watery views any way you look.
On reaching Germany, Hamburg’s station makes for a grand arrival, too, with its imposing arches and general travel bustle.
If you’re looking for a unique train journey in Europe with watery landscapes and views out across the North Sea, I highly recommend this trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg.
Chosen by Ellie of Soul Travel Blog
17. The Trans-Siberian Railway – Europe to Asia
The Trans-Siberian is one epic train ride. While it starts in Europe, by the end of it you’ll be well into Asia!
It’s the longest train journey in the world, clocking in at 9,288 kilometres (5,772 miles). At least, that’s the distance from Moscow to Vladivostok. But many overland travellers choose to take a different route, heading south into Mongolia and then on into China. This route technically has a different name — the Trans-Mongolian Railway.
Whether you’re going to Vladivostok or Mongolia, you will spend six or seven days and nights on the train. I highly recommend breaking up the journey though, stopping at several points of interest along the way.
Keep in mind that the maximum length of a Russian tourist visa is 30 days, so you will need to plan your trip carefully, especially if you want to spend time in St. Petersburg and/or Moscow before the train journey.
Some interesting places to stop include Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk. If you want to visit Lake Baikal, you will need to take a minibus from Irkutsk to one of the small towns on the lake, then return to Irkutsk to continue the train journey.
Many websites will try to convince you that you need to buy your train tickets through a private agency. But these agencies charge high commissions and are completely unnecessary. One of my top tips for travelling in Russia is to buy all your train tickets directly on the Russian railway’s official website, which is bilingual in English and Russian.
Chosen by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
18. The Whitby to Pickering Line – Yorkshire England
The Whitby to Picking line was one of the first in Yorkshire when it opened as a single-track line in 1836. Today the line is known as the North Yorks Moors Railway (NYMR) and it is run by volunteers.
The famous Beeching closures of the 1960s had seen the line close in 1965 but a rail preservation society began the following year saw the first trains under the NYMR Trust running in 1970 for part of the route.
Rail journeys from Whitby to Pickering take around one hour and 45 minutes and are operated by the NYMR Trust as a, not for profit organization.
Running over the glorious North Yorkshire Moors, trains run as scheduled services and have special services for holidays too, most trains are diesel, but there are scheduled steam train services too.
The route has some famous stops – Goathland Station was not only featured in the first Harry Potter film as Hogsmeade Station, but the village of Goathland is also famous as Aidensfield, from the BBC drama Heartbeat.
There’s a corresponding walk that you can take from Grosmont Station along the original railway line to Goathland via Beck Hole. It’s a great way to see a little more of the countryside along the route. You’ll want to spend time in Whitby before you start your train journey, and the old market town of Pickering is a glorious base for the North Yorkshire Moors too.
Tickets for regular diesel trains are for standard class accommodation, but you can upgrade to first class for a small fee (£4) – its well worth it if they are running the observation car – a glorious faded vintage railcar with a dining room, bathroom, kitchen and armchairs as well as huge observation windows!
Chosen by Sarah of A Social Nomad
19. The Bergen Line – Norway
The 7-hour long insanely gorgeous train journey from Oslo to Bergen on Bergen Railway (Bergensbanen) is one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe. You’d not want to take your eyes off the window as nature never leaves you even for a millisecond. It’s wilderness at its best!
Northern Europe’s highest railway line, Bergen Line, travels a total distance of 496 km (308 miles) from Oslo to Bergen, making way across the Hardangervidda plateau (1237 m), crossing about 20 pretty fjord villages. Finse, at 1,222m, is the highest station on the line.
The train passes through some of the most breathtaking and dramatic landscapes in Norway. You’ll witness the long stretches of wildlands sprinkled with teeny-weeny villages, gushing waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, lush green meadows, alpine mountains, deep canyons, and Norwegian fjords.
The train has a cafe where you can enjoy a range of beverages and food – from waffles, pizza, sandwiches to pølse, and coffee while enjoying the beautiful vistas.
You can book your ticket online or get it from one of the vending machines at Oslo S or Bergen train stations. A ticket cost ranges between 300 NOK to 1000 NOK depending upon the class or timings you choose.
Make sure to book well in advance, especially during peak season. Bergen Line train journey is best taken during the daytime to admire the scenery – a no brainer, of course!
Did you know that you can experience two of the most scenic train journeys in Europe, on this route? Yes, there’s an option to change to the scenic Flåm Line at Myrdal, which takes you to Flåm in Aurland.
Chosen by Anjali of Travel Melodies
20. The Zugspitze – Germany
If you are looking for scenic train journeys in Europe, then Zugspitze in Germany should definitely be a good choice!
The Zugspitze is part of the Wettersteingebirge mountain range situated in the Bavarian Alps on the Austrian-German border. There are hiking trails to the summit but the best way to visit Zugspitze is a journey by train!
The access to the Zugspitze itself really is a huge attraction, as you can get to the very top by a rack railway called Bayerische Zugspitzbahn. It runs through a tunnel hollowed out inside the mountain.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most famous German railways. It brings tourists from the centre of the popular ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen right to the Zugspitze peak – the highest peak in Germany.
The first part of the journey from Ga-Pa to Eibsee is probably less exciting so you can start your trip right at the bottom of Zugspitze from the Eibsee station.
From here the tracks lead almost vertically uphill until they reach Rifellriss and then enter a 2 km tunnel. While in the tunnel you will be watching a short film about the history of this line. Then you will reach the altitude 2600 m above sea level where the train journey ends.
Unfortunately, even German engineering is not that great to get you to the top of the mountain by train. But don’t worry, to get there you can take a cable car which only takes 5 minutes to reach the top.
The entire route on the Zugspitze is 11.5 kilometres long and the train takes approx. 1.5 hours. A trip by rail to the top and then a cable car ride to Eibsee will cost 59.50 euros, which is a bit expensive, but the total experience is definitely worth that money!
Chosen by Darek of Darek and Gosia
21. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley from Mainz to Bonn – Germany
The Rhine River flows over 1233 km from Switzerland through Germany and the Netherlands and finally into the North Sea. A portion of the Rhine River in Germany is called Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is so beautiful that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
There are 2 ways to experience this region – boating in the river or railways that run along the river. This valley begins at Rudesheim/Bingen to Koblenz, a distance of 67km from 526th km to 593rd km of Rhine River. However the train runs along the river for a distance of more than 150km from Mainz to Bonn.
This journey takes about 1 hour and 45mins. While boating is slower and more relaxing, the train is faster and perfect if you have less time to spend here and if you want to experience the villages along the river as well.
The best way to experience this route is by just window-watching one way and to stop at one or many villages on the way back as time permits. The most picturesque villages on this stretch are Oberwesel and Bacharach.
This region is so beautiful that it has prompted poets & painters like William Turner to create masterpieces here. There are 40+ castles in this stretch – many of which are intact and some of them have been converted to hotels. To stay here with the view of the most beautiful valley is just the best!
This train is part of the regular national railways of the Deutsche Bahn and tickets can be bought online or at the station. Of course, booking it online, at least a week earlier, works out cheaper.
Chosen by Bhushavali of My Travelogue by Bhushavali
22. Naples to Salerno – Italy
Enjoy the landscapes of the marvellous Bay of Naples on an epic train journey. Running from Naples, the largest city in Southern Italy, to Salerno, the second city in the Campania Region, this train trip is something you should consider including in any Amalfi Coast itinerary.
Rather than hiring a car or taking a tour around one of the most stunning coastal sides of Europe why not take the train route? Not only is it guaranteed to take your breath away but this is an enjoyable, more environmentally friendly and cheaper way to enjoy this route.
Choose between the fastest train (Freccia Rossa, about €16) or the cheaper regional train (around €4) to transport you from the main train station of Naples to Salerno Centrale.
This exceptional gateway to the Vesuvius inland side is a fantastic journey transporting you between hills with sea views and mountainous landscapes. The entire route to Salerno, passing among the high cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, is about 40 minutes or so.
There is a point during this scenic train journey when you will enjoy views of the Gulf of Naples on one side and of Vesuvius on the other.
This train also passes Herculaneum and the beautiful Roman ruins at Castellammare di Stabia, a point where you should stop to continue the journey to the Amalfi Coast.
Vietri is the last stop before Salerno Centrale. Here you can enjoy the beautiful beaches, the cute town and peruse the handcrafted majolica and ceramics for which it is famous.
Chosen by Alessia & Toti of Italian Trip Abroad
23. Copenhagen to Malmo – Denmark to Sweden
This may be a short 30-minute train journey but the views of the Oresund bridge as you cross over from Denmark to Sweden have assured it of a place on this list.
The distance between Copenhagen is a mere 28 kms. Catch the train to Malmo from Kobenhavn H the cities central train station. Trains leave every 25 minutes so don’t worry about buying a ticket in advance.
During the train journey, the train crosses the Oresund bridge. The bridge was opened in 2000 and carries you over 8 kms before you reach an artificial island and descend into a 4 km long tunnel.
Alight the train at Malmo main station which is located a few minutes walk from the main tourist attractions of the city. There is enough to do and see in Malmo in a day and lots of different tour options. If you decide to stay the night there is a wide selection of accommodation options available too.
Tips and resources to help you make the most of these scenic rail journeys in Europe
With so many wonderful train journeys to choose from I am sure you will enjoy your trip whether you plan an entire holiday travelling via train (which we have done twice) or simply choose one of these trips for a day trip or excursion.
In this blog, my aim is to provide inspiration and practical tips and resources to help you plan your train trip so you will find lots of great train travel-related articles full of inspiration and practical advice. I also have a great selection of books about trains for adults and kids.
There are so many advantages of travelling by train – not only is it a fun way to see the world but it is also an eco-friendly and sustainable way to travel. Hopefully, you will be inspired on your next adventure to include a train trip in your itinerary.