The most outstanding train journeys in Europe (2023)

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The somewhat inconspicuous rail route between Innsbruck and Munich, via Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald, offers a number of scenic surprises. It is operated by Deutsche Bahn and the Austrian Federal Railways and includes a stop on the Mittenwald Railway, but because it is not the fastest route between the two cities, it is overlooked by many.


Online maps and automated route finders will tend to push you towards the faster but less interesting InterCity line between the two cities. But the most memorable trip goes through Seefeld and it is called "Over the Top". On a clear day, it offers views of the Zugspitz, Germany's highest mountain, and the rest of the route offers remarkable alpine views. Getting to the Innsbruck valley is really something, especially in the winter months when thick layers of snow cover the track and mountains.


And because the route isn't a branded scenic line, it costs a fraction of the other, better-marketed attractions, and you'll leave with a sense of satisfaction.

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The 41 kilometers of AustriaSemmering BahnThe line may be relatively short, but it cuts through alpine terrain so spectacularly that it's come the entire routeUNESCO World Heritage Status(not to mention the UNESCO label for "one of the greatest achievements in civil engineering").


Although it dates back to the 1850s, this line, which runs between Gloggnitz and Murzzuschlag, is still in immaculate condition and offers plenty of excitement via its striking stone bridges and 15 tunnels.


(Video) 10 Most Beautiful Train Journeys In Europe - Train Travel Video

Of course, true to Austrian style, trains run efficiently here and the scenery is everything you'd expect from a route through the incredible Alps.

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The steep slopes and colorful seaside towns of the Cinque Terre are among the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. Many flock there simply to soak up the sun on one of the iconic beaches or hike the rugged cliffs, but the area also offers an amazing train ride to include in your itinerary.


The Cinque Terre train operated byTrenItalia, runs between La Spezia and Levanto, stopping at various points along the way. It is not a long journey; if you take the train from start to finish it will only take 30 minutes. But most choose to stop at iconic towns along the way and meander along the cliffs. And thanks to the panoramic view of the sea and the coastal atmosphere, this is a truly unique European rail experience.

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SwissGoldenPass juntosconnects Lucerne with Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva. In just five hours, it offers a condensed package of Swiss highlights, complete with stunning views of picturesque villages, vast mountains, fertile valleys, and pristine rivers and lakes.


The trains are sleek and ultra-modern, but if you upgrade to the GoldenPass Classic carriages halfway, you can experience what it was like to travel during the golden age of rail travel. Running from Zweisimmen to Montreux, these retro trains feature gold-plated luggage racks, wood trim, carpeted aisles, comfortable armchair seats, and waiters who take your food or drink order at your seat.


Many take the trip from start to finish simply to explore the scenic beauty along the way. But most break their journey en route to Lake Geneva with a stop in the popular resort town of Interlaken, boasting spectacular lake and alpine views and all the amenities of a major resort town. Or they hop on another train and head up the valley to the achingly picturesque town of Lauterbrunnen, just 20 minutes from Interlaken.

(Video) Best Train Rides In Europe | Travel Video

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While in St. Moritz, you could also hop aboard the Glacier Express' biggest rival,Bernina Express. Starting technically in Chur, Switzerland's oldest city, but connecting several small towns along the way, the route traverses the Alps, sometimes improbably, and reaches Italy.


Though shorter than its icy competitor, this line is no less dramatic. At the highest point, you'll cross the Bernina mountain pass and traverse three pristine lakes and a large glacier before plunging towards Tirano on a brilliant set of tracks.


UNESCO recognizes this railway line for linking two historic railways and several isolated mountain villages once separated by the massive Alps. To achieve this, engineers built dozens of tunnels and viaducts into precarious mountain passes, and as such, for many passengers, the journey isn't really about the scenery. Two structures in particular will get techies out of their seats: the 213-foot Landwasser Viaduct and the circular Brusio loop viaduct.


The Bernina Express ends in Tirano, but if you want to return to Swiss soil, there are official Bernina buses that run around Lake Como and take you back to another Swiss paradise in Lugano.

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Heexpress glacierit is perhaps the most iconic scenic train ride in Switzerland, if not the world. Over the course of eight hours, it cuts a line through the Alps between two of the country's most exclusive destinations: the car-free ski resort of Zermatt, famous for its jagged Matterhorn, and the refined and elegant town of St. Moritz by the lake.


(Video) Europe's LONGEST and most UNIQUE sleeper train

Despite its name, the ride is anything but fast. Instead, the Glacier Express moves at a leisurely pace that allows you to take it all in. So many hours on a train may seem like too much, but given the extraordinary scenery you'll see through the large windows along the way, you'll hardly complain.


In winter, the train ride lives up to its name, offering views of an icy Swiss wonderland dotted with cross-country skiers, icy rivers and thick white snow several meters deep. In summer, the snow melts to reveal lush green fields, rolling trails and rushing rivers, with the highest peaks still shrouded in white.


Glacier Express trains are the epitome of modern; they offer sit-down service, first-class flatware, meticulous climate control, and the requisite picture windows that let you crane your neck to see the peaks of the Alps. All of this comes at a price, especially if you leave after first class, but for many, this trip ranks at the top of best travel lists.

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There are several efficient ways to travel between Zurich and Lugano, and the newly renamedSan Gotthard Panorama Expressis not one of them. This is because this train, formerly called the Wilhelm Tell Express, does everything in its power to show the best of the Swiss landscape between these two cities, even at the expense of speed.


The route not only takes you across 205 bridges, through seven circular tunnels and into the depths of the Alps via the 15-kilometre Gotthard Tunnel, at the time of construction the longest in the world, but which also allows you to exit the train and complete part of your journey via a historic steamship.


The landscape is constantly changing, and if you travel from north to south, you arrive from beautiful alpine surroundings to almost cozy lakeside villages with palm trees and stone houses in the southern part of the country.

(Video) Cinque Terre Express: Ride Along Italy's Beautiful Coastline | Europe's Most Scenic Train Rides


Although there are year-round light rail services that offer elements of these attractions, the unique combination of boat, Gotthard tunnel, and nature on this seasonal line makes it a must-see.

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Unlike the famous and carefully marked train journeys of western and central Europe, the line connecting Montenegro's Bar and Serbia's Belgrade doesn't have a carefully thought-out name, flashy website, or series of catchy hashtags following it. . In the absence of these, or any real official online presence, most travelers have referred to it as Montenegro Express or Balkan Express.


These trains also lack climate control, dining cars, first-class compartments, and any real commitment to a schedule. But what Montenegro Express lacks in branding, it makes up for in charm.


The line goes back to Josip Tito, the first president of Yugoslavia. She opened it in 1976 to run his blue train, which ferried him and several celebrity guests across the Balkans in style. Though the luxury train now languishes in a shed on the outskirts of the Serbian capital, a collection of dilapidated carriages continue on the path it set, winding through hundreds of exciting tunnels and bridges, including the Mala Rijeka Viaduct, the most top of Europe.


Despite the lack of amenities, this unforgettable full-day adventure costs just a handful of pennies and far exceeds anything you can find in a leisurely scenic drive out west. That's because you'd be hard-pressed to find a train journey on the mainland that offers a story like Josip Tito's, combined with engineering marvels in the form of 254 tunnels and 435 bridges that you traverse over and over while sometimes going up and down. . downright scary mountainous terrain from the air.

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(Video) We Took The Worlds Most Beautiful Train Ride (The Bernina Express Pass from Italy to Switzerland)


The most outstanding train journeys in Europe? ›

The Glacier Express may be the most famous train ride in the world but some have claimed that the most scenic portion of the Glacier Express is the Bernina Express leg from Chur to St Moritz.

What is the most scenic train in Europe? ›

The Glacier Express may be the most famous train ride in the world but some have claimed that the most scenic portion of the Glacier Express is the Bernina Express leg from Chur to St Moritz.

What is the best trains to travel Europe? ›

Best train journeys in Europe
  1. Oslo to Bergen, Norway. Connecting Oslo and Bergen is the fairytale Bergen Line. ...
  2. Belgrade to Bar, Serbia and Montenegro. ...
  3. Palma to Sóller, Majorca. ...
  4. Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, Wales. ...
  5. Zermatt to St. ...
  6. The Brocken, Germany. ...
  7. Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain. ...
  8. Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland.
Mar 31, 2023

What is the most memorable train journey? ›

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada. Canada's Rocky Mountaineer is counted among the best train journeys in the world.

What is the prettiest train in the world? ›

1. The Bernina Express, Switzerland. If you're looking for the most beautiful train ride on earth, you know that Switzerland has to be number one on this list.

Which railway train route is the most beautiful train route? ›

Konkan Railway

The train travels through 92 tunnels and 2,000 bridges, including the Panvalnadi bridge, which is one of the highest in India. With landscapes covered in lush greenery, a Konkan Railway journey is a treat, especially during the monsoon season.

How do I travel all over Europe by train? ›

Interrail and Eurail passes are two types of European rail pass, used for travelling Europe by train. Both types of pass are very similar in usage – your nationality or residence decides which sort of pass you need. Each pass allows you to travel within and between European countries by train.

What is the best connected train station in Europe? ›

Leipzig Hauptbahnhof in Leipzig, Germany leads the list of best railway stations in Europe. The station offers the greatest number of domestic destinations and an array of shops and restaurants. Several different railway companies use Leipzig Hauptbahnhof which made it stand out in the top 5.

What is the best train to see the Alps? ›

The Glacier Express

The Glacier Express - known as the 'Slowest Express Train in the World' (and arguably the most scenic) - connects the mountain resort towns of Matterhorn adjacent to Zermatt and St Moritz in the Swiss Alps.

Which country has the nicest trains? ›

1. Switzerland. Tucked inside the small but incredibly beautiful country of Switzerland is one of the most efficient and scenic rail networks in the world.

What is the longest scenic train ride in the United States? ›

The California Zephyr train travels one of America's longest—and most scenic—railway routes between Chicago and San Francisco. Over 51 hours, it passes through the plains of Nebraska (shown), the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the deserts of Nevada.

Where is the longest train ride in the world? ›

The longest railway line in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway stretches across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok, which is next to the Sea of Japan.

What is the mystery train in the world? ›

Around two dozen intrepid passengers were preparing to board a luxury train that would expand the frontiers of travel. The train's destination: Constantinople (now Istanbul). Its name: the Orient Express—an intercontinental rail service that would soon become a global legend.

What is the rarest train in the world? ›

Fairy Queen (locomotive)

Which is the most luxurious class in train? ›

Maharajas' Express is the flagship luxury train of IRCTC and is the newest luxury train in the country. The 23 carriage long train houses four different types of accommodation viz. Deluxe Cabins, Junior Suite Cabins, Suites and Presidential Suite.

What is the largest train route in the US? ›

California Zephyr
TerminiChicago, Illinois Emeryville, California
Distance travelled2,438 miles (3,924 km)
Average journey time51 hours, 40 minutes (eastbound) 52 hours, 10 minutes (westbound)
23 more rows

What is the prettiest Amtrak ride? ›

The California Zephyr

The California Zephyr is also one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Cutting west through the farmland plains of Nebraska, it's up into the Rocky Mountains for the heart of the ride to the Mile High city of Denver, and then Salt Lake City.

Is there a train that goes all around Europe? ›

Eurail is a single rail pass that grants access to 40,000 destinations across 33 different countries in Europe. In other words, it's the most flexible and convenient way for visitors to explore the continent with ease.

Can you take luggage on trains in Europe? ›

There are no strict luggage limits on trains in mainland Europe. Eurostar allows each adult two pieces of luggage each, each measuring up to 85cm, so large suitcases are no problem. You'll also be able to take a piece of hand luggage each, as well as pushchairs and prams at no additional charge.

Can you hop on and off trains in Europe? ›

Get your Interrail Pass

The Interrail Pass opens doors to 33 countries. You'll enjoy mind-blowing views from comfy trains. As you hop off along the way, experience Europe's rich culture and vibrant nightlife. It's not surprising that so many people prefer to discover the continent by rail.

What is the fastest train to travel Europe? ›

How fast are high-speed trains in Europe? High-speed trains in Europe can reach speeds of up to 198 mph (320 km/h). Some of the fastest trains in Europe travelling at these speeds include AVE, TGV and Frecciarossa 1000.

What is the most popular train station in Europe? ›

Gare du Nord in Paris, France, handles approximately 214.2 million passengers each year. It is the busiest station in Europe and in the world outside of Japan.

What is the name of the famous train in Europe? ›

The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variations. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury rail travel.

What is the most scenic train ride from Italy to Switzerland? ›

A ride on the Bernina Express is a 4-hour, 144 km (90 mile) journey between icy Switzerland and sunny Italy, through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, with Alpine gradients as steep as 1 in 7, on a railway built in 1896-1904 and now declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What is the most beautiful train ride connecting Switzerland and Austria? ›

The Bernina Express train route takes you through incredible alpine landscapes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site - it's that amazing. Think of all the clichés about the beauty of scenic train travel and multiply them by 1000. You'll end up on this journey through Switzerland.

Does the Orient Express go through the Alps? ›

Thrilling Journeys Between Paris and the French Alps

Step aboard the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and embark on a magical train journey through the snow-capped peaks of the Rhône-Alpes.

What is the train that goes all around Europe? ›

Eurail is a single rail pass that grants access to 40,000 destinations across 33 different countries in Europe. In other words, it's the most flexible and convenient way for visitors to explore the continent with ease.

What is the slowest but most scenic train ride in Europe? ›

The Glacier Express is the world's slowest train, taking more than eight hours to travel between Zermatt and St. Moritz in Switzerland at an average of 18mph. Along the way, it passes over nearly 300 bridges, travels through 91 tunnels and takes in endless stunning Alpine views.

What is the mysterious train of Europe? ›

The train consisted of three carriages, two sleeper cars, a dining car, and two luggage wagons. Each wagon—built of teak wood, heated by steam, lit by gaslight—was about 57 feet long. On October 4, 1883, the Orient Express left Paris from the Gare de l'Est, shown here in a mid-19th-century photograph.

Which country has the most beautiful train? ›

Glacier Express, Switzerland

One of the most beautiful countries in Europe in terms of scenery, Switzerland is also famous for its railways, which are clean, punctual, and — through sheer luck of being in such a mountainous country — spectacular.

What is the most beautiful train ride through the Alps? ›

The Glacier Express - known as the 'Slowest Express Train in the World' (and arguably the most scenic) - connects the mountain resort towns of Matterhorn adjacent to Zermatt and St Moritz in the Swiss Alps.

What is the best way to travel between countries in Europe? ›

Trains are generally the best way to get around in Europe. The rail network is comprehensive, ticket costs are rather affordable, and the scenery is gorgeous. Trains are a great way to visit many destinations quickly and efficiently. We loved travelling by train in Europe!

What is the most photographed train? ›

The Trans-Siberian Railway

Epic in every sense of the word.

Which is the most difficult train in the world? ›

The death railway is also known as the Burma railway, and it is the Thailand Burma railway which was a 415-kilometer railway between ban pong, Thailand, and Burma. It was created by the Japanese emperor back in 1943 to support the forces in the Burma campaign of World War 2.

Is it cheaper to drive or train around Europe? ›

Every year, as train prices go up, car rental becomes a better option for budget travelers in Europe. While solo car travel is expensive, three or four people sharing a rented car will usually travel cheaper than the same group using rail passes.

What is the world's most unique train? ›

The Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) is the world's most authentic luxury train. Its 1920s-vintage Art Deco cars, sparkling in their navy and gold livery and snowy white roof, take your breath away.

Which country is best for train hopping? ›

Russia is a very good place for train hopping. There is an extensive rail-network with a lot of passenger and freight trains, which have a big amount of handles and footrests. Hopping a trains in many regions of Russia is much more common than in most European contries and has it's own history.

Which country has the cleanest trains? ›

1. Hong Kong. Hong Kong's MTR (mass transit railway) is renowned for being clean and fast.

Which country is best for train travel? ›

Here are the best countries for train travel where you can enjoy a train journey and have a marvelous vacation.
  • Australia. ...
  • Italy. ...
  • Spain. ...
  • France. ...
  • Germany. ...
  • South Africa. ...
  • Canada. ...
  • Turkey. Turkey is a land of redefined beauties.


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