The most beautiful train journeys you can take across Europe
Travelling doesn’t have to just get you from A to B. These stunning train journeys can evoke the feel of a bygone era of luxury train travel through scenic Europe.
Luxury train journeys were first introduced in the 1860s, with the Orient Express becoming the most well known. Originally, it travelled from Paris to Istanbul and it’s still a six-day excursion you can book today.
Whether you’ve been inspired by stories of the Orient Express or the popular World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys TV show, here are some incredible train journeys you can take across Europe.
Rauma Line, Norway
Named Europe’s most beautiful railway journey by Lonely Planet, planning a trip on the Rauma Railway is a must for enthusiasts and explorers.
Departing from Åndalsnes and Dombås, the 1.5-hour journey takes you through the Romsdalen Valley and Reinheimen National Park, and boasts incredible mountain views. Highlights of the trip include the Trollveggen wall and crossing Kylling Bridge. It’s the perfect option for a day trip and exploring the mountain village of Dombås.
Bernina Express, Switzerland and Italy
The Bernina Express is the highest railway in the Alps and promises spectacular views at any time of the year as you travel from Italy to Switzerland during the four-hour trip.
The modern panoramic carriages mean you have unrestricted views as you climb up to glaciers, weave through alpine landscapes, and cross almost 200 bridges. Part of the railway was built between 1896 and 1904 and it now has UNESCO World Heritage status.
West Highland Line, Scotland
Running from Glasgow to Fort William, the journey on the West Highland Railway will take you through the rugged highlands and offers incredible views of mountains, heather moors, and lochs.
The train will also cross the viaduct at Glenfinnan, which has become famous after it featured in the Harry Potter films. The journey from Glasgow to Fort William takes around four hours, or you can continue to Mallaig, a bustling port on the north-west coast.
Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain
The journey between Barcelona and Montserrat takes around 1.5 hours, and some tickets will include a cable car ride to the top of the Montserrat mountain.
Not only can you explore the stunning Benedictine monastery, which dates back to 1025, and walk through the Montserrat Natural Park, the journey is worth the trip alone. You can relax on the way there as you take in the scenic views.
The Balkan Express, Serbia and Montenegro
Dubbed the “Balkan Express”, this train journey from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, to Bar, a coastal town in southern Montenegro, takes around 10 hours.
During the journey, you’ll cross more than 400 bridges and go through over 200 tunnels. The service is no-frills but the scenery more than makes up for it, you’ll pass through mountains, villages, and stunning countryside. If you want to explore more of this part of Europe, you can split the journey into several legs.
Central Rhine Railway, Germany
This train journey through Germany can offer views that feel as though they are from a fairy tale. The Central Rhine Railway, or Mittelrheinbahn, takes less than an hour, but it packs a lot in during that time.
You’ll be able to take in Germany’s Rhine Valley, parts of which has World Heritage status. It runs from Cologne to Mainz via Bonn and Koblenz. During the trip, you may even spot castles – there are more than 40 along the Rhine – so it’s a great opportunity to explore the local area too.
Semmering Railway, Austria
This route will take you across the Semmering Pass which was built between 1848 and 1854. It’s still considered one of the greatest feats of civil engineering and was the world’s first mountain railway.
The train will take you over viaducts and through tunnels among forested mountains and the spectacular Austrian Alps. It runs between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag and lasts around 1.5 hours.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier Express takes around eight hours and offers a full day of fantastic views as you travel from Zermatt to St. Moritz. It’s a great chance to slow the pace of a trip down and just enjoy the views.
Highlights of the trip include the alpine village of Zermatt, which has views of the Matterhorn, the Rhine Gorge, dubbed the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland”, and the Landwasser Viaduct.