From a beautiful six-day luxury journey through northern Spain to a brisk 45-minute rickety train ride cutting through the Swiss Alps, these are 20 of the most scenic train rides in Europe. Get your suitcase and credit card ready, because you might just want to leave straight away.
As I deepened my commitment to sustainable travel in the past few years, I found myself turning to trains as my main mode of transport in Europe. In doing so I have been lucky enough to see some of the most spectacular landscapes whizz by, from the comfort of – sometimes – plush train carriage.
Let me tell you picking but 20 spots to grace this list of epic train journeys in Europe was much harder than it might look. Some of my fondest travel memories were made on the rails, but those I will save for another day. Read on, be inspired, and set forth to travel to Europe, via train.
Caroline Muller is an award-winning travel blogger. She writes and photographs full-time while oscillating between Sicily and Brussels as a home base. She has documented over 60 countries across six continents and does not plan to stop any time soon. A staunch vegetarian for over 25 years, she loves exploring local cuisine in search of that perfect (plant-based) mouthful.
With this blog, she hopes to help you travel slower, more sustainably and a hella lot more meaningfully. Pack your bags!
How to Take the Train Through Europe
If you are new to the wonderful world of train trips in Europe, it might seem a little daunting at first. As each country has a different set of trains, with various abbreviations and booking systems. Let’s delve into this delicious sustainable form of travel.
HOW TO BOOK TICKETS | I always make an itinerary, check the schedule and compare tickets for my train trips in Europe via the Omio platform. It’s easy to use and accepts various forms of payment.
DO I NEED TO PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE | It’s safe to say if the journey is scenic, many others will also want to take it, especially in high season. If you can, book in advance. In the below section, I mentioned which rides are essential to book in advance and which routes can be booked on the spot.
DO I NEED A VISA TO CROSS BORDERS | Train trips across Europe sometimes entail crossing over into different countries. This happens pretty regularly even. Once you are inside the Schengen territories there are no border controls between the countries.
HOW DO SLEEPER TRAINS WORK | If you book a sleeper train in Europe, a blanket and pillow will be provided for passengers who have booked passage inside a sleeper carriage (e.g. with beds). Be mindful of your valuables as the trains tend to make stops throughout the night.
20 Most Beautiful Train Rides in Europe
Exploring Europe via train is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Cutting through stunning valleys, slate-gray bluffs, sparkling surfs and some of the most well-kept travel secrets of the continent. It is the quintessential slow travel experience, and boy does it save time in searching for a parking spot.
I scoured the continent in search of some of the best train rides in Europe and had a little help from a few fellow travelers. Below you will find a carefully curated selection split into northern, central, eastern, and southern Europe.
7 Scenic Train Trips in Northern Europe
1. BERGEN TO OSLO (NORWAY)
Explored by Helen from Helenonherholidays
Travel Time: 6 to 7 hours || Ticket Fee: Start at NOK1.245,49 (€105; US$97)
What to expect on your train trip: A trip on the Bergen to Oslo railway line is one of Europe’s most scenic train journeys. The 231-mile line between Norway’s two largest cities was opened in 1909 and was a tremendous feat of engineering, requiring 50 tunnels and steep mountain climbs.
Why travel by train from Bergen to Oslo: While it takes between 6 and 7 hours, you’ll be glued to the views for almost the whole journey as you pass scenic lakes, beautiful forests, cute Norwegian villages and the spectacular Hardangervidda mountain pass, which is still snow-covered in June.
How to get there: To begin the journey, you can fly into either Bergen or one of the airports in and around Oslo.
Booking your tickets: You can book tickets online through the Norwegian railway company Vy; for the cheapest prices you should book well in advance or check out check out Omio. Alternatively do Norway in a Nutshell, starting in Bergen and ending in Oslo. This self-guided tour, includes the most scenic parts of the Bergen to Oslo railway, a fjord cruise on the Nærøyfjord and a trip on the Flåm Railway, before rejoining the Bergen to Oslo line at Myrdal.
Additional things to do in the area: Other places to break the journey include Voss, where you can enjoy a wide range of activities including hiking, white water rafting or a trip on the Voss Gondel cable car. Alternatively, you could stay the night at the highest station on the line at Finse, where you can hire bikes in summer or learn to snowkite in winter.
2. FLAM RAILWAY (NORWAY)
Explored by Martha from MayCauseWanderlust
Travel Time: One hour || Ticket Fee: Start at 450NOK (€38; US$41)
What to expect on your train trip: The 20km (12.5 mi) long track takes you through stunning mountain scenery from the chilly, often snow-capped peaks at Myrdal down to the pretty fjord town of Flåm. It is the steepest standard-gauge railway in Europe and covers a vertical distance of 862m from the highest point in the mountains to the lowest point on the shore of Aurlandsfjord.
Why travel on the Flam Railway: If you love scenic trains and long to experience the beauty of the Norwegian mountains and fjords, you will love the Flam Railway. Pass along alpine mountains, steep gullies, gushing waterfalls and epic valley views while an audio guide narrates in several languages, including English.
The train makes a brief stop along the route, allowing travelers to admire a thundering waterfall called Kjosfossen – and you might want to have a waterproof jacket with you for this, as it can be rather wet!
How to get there: Take a day trip from Bergen to Oslo, via a fjord cruise including the Flåm Railway. The nearest international airport is Bergen. Getting to Flåm from Bergen and/or Norway’s capital, Oslo will entail taking the Flam Railway for a portion of the route.
Booking your tickets: Tickets are available on the national train website, Vy.no or to find the cheapest price check out Omio. Be aware that you can’t book a specific seat on the Flam Railway (or Flåmsbana, as it’s called in Norway), and only some seats have windows that open, so you might want to arrive early to ensure you get the seat you want.
3. DUBLIN TO GALWAY (IRELAND)
Explored by Christine Rogador from Ireland Travel Guides
Travel Time: 2h30 || Ticket Fee: €13.99 (US$15)
What to expect on your train trip: The train journey takes travelers through the heart of Ireland, providing spectacular vistas of the countryside. Leaving the urban sprawl of Dublin behind to head deep into the Irish midlands, dotted with charming villages, rushing rivers and the occasional castle sprinkled in for good measure.
Why travel by train from Dublin to Galway: By far the most scenic mode of transport to travel between Dublin and Galway. Points of interest along the route include Althlone, a little town perched on the banks of the River Shannon. The Athlone Castle and eponymous bridge whizz by mid-journey.
A little further along lies Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site with beautifully preserved ruins. This historical site is not visible from the train, hop off at Athlone Station if you want to explore. At the station, various options are available to get to Clonmacnoise, the easiest being to simply rent a car for half a day.
How to get there: The nearest international airport is located in Dublin.
Booking your tickets: Tickets can be bought at the ticket counters in Dublin (Heuston Train Station) or online. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel times, to secure the best seats and prices.
4. JACOBITE EXPRESS (SCOTLAND)
Explored by Jess from Uprootedtraveler
Travel Time: 6 hours round trip or 3 hours one way || Ticket Fee: Start at £65 (€75; US$82)
What to expect on your train trip: One of the undisputed most beautiful train routes in Europe. A 135 km (84 mi) round trip in a vintage train. The steam engine huffs and putts its way through the impossibly green Scottish Highlands and is lovingly known as the Hogwarts Express in Scotland.
Why travel on the Jacobite Express: Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, this train ride is absolutely worth taking—in fact, it’s frequently ranked as one of the most scenic train rides on the planet.
The train departs from Fort William and passes along the Atlantic coastline, all the way to the fishing village of Mallaig. The train stops in the town for about 90 minutes—the perfect length of time to grab lunch or go on a wildlife tour of the Atlantic—before heading back to Fort William.
Along the way, you’ll pass all kinds of Scottish superlatives, including Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom; Loch Morar, the deepest freshwater loch in the United Kingdom; and Loch Nevis, the deepest seawater loch in the entire continent. But the most famous landmark that you’ll pass is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which has famously been used as a filming location in a number of the Harry Potter films.
How to get there: Take a day tour from Edinburgh (includes filming location of Harry Potter); Day tour from Inverness incl. Loch Ness. Alternatively drive to the Fort William station, make sure to get there 30 minutes before departure as the parking tends to fill up.
Booking your tickets: The train only runs from April through early October. Book tickets online or over the phone with the train’s operator, West Coast Railways, but be sure to book your tickets well in advance. They often sell out over six months ahead of time!
5. SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY (WALES)
Explored by Lowri from Many Other Roads
Travel Time: 2h30 || Ticket Fee: Heritage Trains £55 (€64; US$70); Diesel Trains £42 (€49; US$53)
What to expect on your train trip: The journey begins at Llanberis, situated at the foot of Mount Snowdon. As the train climbs to the summit, passengers are treated to breathtaking panoramic views. The landscape transforms from lush green valleys to rugged mountain terrain
Why travel on the Snowdon Mountain Railway: The Snowdon Mountain Railway is often celebrated as one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe, and for good reason. The views from the summit of Mount Snowdon are absolutely breathtaking, on a clear day you might even be able to spot Ireland.
Along the route, the train passes by Hebron Station, Halfway Station, Rocky Valley, and Clogwyn Station before reaching the summit. The Mountain station has refreshments, toilets, and a gift shop but the trains do not.
How to get there: To experience this incredible mountain train journey, fly to Cardiff, Liverpool or Manchester Airport. Then you can either hire a car or use public transport to reach the starting point.
Booking your tickets: The train runs between late spring and the end of October, weather permitting. April to May trains will run to Clogwyn (roughly ¾ up the mountain). Later during the year trains run until the Hafod Eryri, the UK’s highest visitor center, 1,085 meters above sea level. Tickets can be booked online, and well in advance!
Tip: There are two types of trains a simple diesel train and a steam train. The heritage steam trains run from the 10th of June to the 13th of September (weather permitting), with departures running on weekdays only.
6. LONDON TO EDINBURGH ON THE CALEDONIAN SLEEPER (UK)
Explored by Francesca from Little Lost Travel
Travel Time: 9 hours || Ticket Fee: Seats start at £50 (€60; US$68); Suits start at £140 (€162; US$175)
What to expect on your train trip: The Caledonian Sleeper is one of two sleeper trains in the UK and is hailed by Lonely Planet as one of the greatest train journeys in Europe, if not the world. Departing from London Euston, it travels through the night up the north of England to Scotland. Waking up to the sun rising over the Scottish Highlands is a magical experience.
Why travel on the Caledonian Sleeper: The sleeper train takes one of two highly scenic routes: the Highlander Route which travels to Edinburgh and splits into three. Each section goes to either Aberdeen, Inverness or Fort William. One notable stop on the Fort William leg is Corrour, the UK’s most remote train station.
The second route is the Lowlander Route which splits apart at Carstairs with one half going to Edinburgh and the other to Glasgow. Don’t worry, the staff will see you safely onto the right carriage depending on your destination!
On board, you have a variety of accommodation types depending on budget. The cheapest option is the seated carriage, Similar to a normal train, you sit in a seat for the night but you also get a secure locker, an overhead light, a charging port and room to spread out.
The other more expensive options are the cabins with beds. The Classic Room is the cheapest as it features a bunk bed and a sink. The Club Room En-Suite is similar but it also has an en-suite bathroom. The Caledonian Double En-Suite has a double bed and an en-suite bathroom. You can buy your ticket from the Caledonian Sleeper website.
How to get there: Departes from London Euston train station
Booking your tickets: Book your tickets online. Pre-booking is required.
7. LONDON TO BATH ON THE BELMOND BRITISH PULLMAN (ENGLAND)
Explored by Angela from Where Angie Wanders
Travel Time: Full day excursion || Ticket Fee: Start at £340 (€400; US$420)
What to expect on your train trip: The round-trip journey is nothing short of spectacular. Aside from the luxurious train carriages, the experience itself is equally one for the books. The outbound journey includes a sumptuous champagne brunch while a four-course meal awaits you on the journey home.
Why travel on the Belmond British Pullman: If you are looking for a fantastic day trip by train from London to Bath, the luxurious 1920s Art-Deco Belmond British Pullman is the perfect choice.
This iconic British train is part of the international Orient-Simplon Express group, the difference being that the Belmond Pullman doesn’t leave British shores. It’s an experience like no other riding aboard a train that was a favorite of the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth ll.
As your day trip from London to Bath aboard the Belmond British Pullman begins, the scenery changes from London’s urban sprawl to the beautiful English countryside. Once in Bath, you have 4 hours to explore the city. Stop off at the Roman Baths, step inside Bath Cathedral and wander along the lanes that weave around the city.
You can move around the train, and it is interesting to read the history of some of the individual carriages on wall-mounted plaques.
How to get there: Starts in London Victoria Train Station and ends in Bath, Somerset.
Booking your tickets: Book your tickets online and well in advance.
6 Scenic Train Journeys in Central Europe
8. BERNINA EXPRESS (SWITZERLAND)
Explored by Caroline from VeggieWayfarer
Travel Time: 4 hours || Ticket Fee: 60 to 150 CHF (€52-€150; US$65-US$185)
What to expect on your train trip: Traveling on the Bernina Express promises a breathtaking journey through the heart of the Swiss Alps. As the train winds its way from Chur (Switzerland) to Tirano (Italy), passengers are treated to panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and charming villages.
Why travel on the Bernina Express: The route crosses the iconic Landwasser Viaduct and the Bernina Pass, reaching an altitude of 2,253 meters. The journey is a marvel of engineering, with the train navigating steep gradients and tight curves. Inside, the carriages boast large windows for optimal sightseeing. Travelers can anticipate a comfortable ride, highlighted by the spectacular landscapes and the immersive beauty of the Swiss Alps.
How to get there: The nearest international train station and airport are Basel
BUDGET TIP | Tickets for the Bernina Express are included in the Swiss Travel Pass
9. GLACIER EXPRESS (SWITZERLAND)
Explored by Lavina from Continent Hop
Travel Time: 8 hours || Ticket Fee: Second class starts at 159 CHF (€168; US$ 185)
What to expect on your train trip: This eight-hour trip crosses the majestic Swiss Alps, showcasing Switzerland’s splendor and magnificence. Prepare to be captivated by the vistas of snowcapped mountains, cavernous ravines, and picturesque valleys.
Why travel on the Glacier Express Train: Embark on the renowned Glacier Express Switzerland, traveling from Zermatt to the sophisticated mountain retreat of St. Moritz. The path links two of Switzerland’s most well-known regions, dotted with architectural wonder and numerous tunnels & bridges. The panoramic train cars give you an unparalleled front-row seat as the train cuts through the most beautiful mountainous backdrops.
How to get there: To reach Zermatt, Geneva Airport (GVA) and Zurich Airport (ZRH) are the nearest airports, while Zurich Airport is the most convenient gateway to St. Moritz.
Booking your tickets: The train has three classes: Excellence Class (includes a 5-course meal); First Class and Second Class. Each class has panoramic windows but the first and second classes have limited window seating. Purchase online or compare prices via Omio
Additional things to do in the area: Along your journey, consider a brief detour to experience the enchanting Lucerne in Winter.
BUDGET TIP | Tickets for the Glacier Express are included in the Swiss Travel Pass
10. GORNERGRAT (SWITZERLAND)
Explored by Zoe from Together In Switzerland
Travel Time: 30 minutes || Ticket Fee: Start at CHF 92 (€97; US$105)
What to expect on your train trip: The Gornergrat Railway in Switzerland is one of the prettiest train routes in Europe. Short and sweet! It is the highest open-air railway and has spectacular views of the famous Matterhorn.
Why travel on the Gornergrat train: The start of this scenic train is from the village of Zermatt, popular both in Winter and Summer time for outdoor activities. The journey takes just over 30 minutes and you’ll end up at 3,135meter elevation with the Gornergrat peak.
As the train gently climbs from the village up into the Alps, the air gets a little thinner and the temperatures start to drop. Top tip: Try and sit on the right if you can either going up or down, the views of the Matterhorn are most enjoyable.
How to get there: The start of the route is from the village of Zermatt.
Booking your tickets: A highly suggested recommendation is to buy your tickets in advance for your chosen day, especially during peak Winter and Summer seasons. However, you can buy tickets on the day at the ticket entrance of the Gornergrat railway.
Additional things to do in the area: Once at the top, you can choose to enjoy a few things, such as stopping and getting a refreshment at the restaurant, enjoying the 360 views, visiting the observatory, and even staying the night at the peak’s hotel. You can also choose to take a hike nearby such as to Rotenboden or to hike down a little and rejoin the train journey further down for your way back.
TIP | The 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat is the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. Rooms have a view over the Matterhorn! The hotel is located at the endstation of the Gornergrat Railway
11. LAUTERBRUNNEN TO WENGEN ON THE WENGENERALPBAHN (SWITZERLAND)
Explored by Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina
Travel Time: 13 minutes || Ticket Fee: CHF8 (€8;US$9)
What to expect on your train trip: Wengen is a car-free village above Lauterbrunnen, and it can only be accessed by the Wengeneralp train, if you don’t want to hike to Wengen.
Why travel on the Wengeneralpbahn: The Wengeneralpbahn is one of the most iconic train rides in Switzerland. It is the longest continuous cogwheel train route in the world. The picturesque train ride is located in the Bernese highlands and connects Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald with the Kleine Scheidegg, with the most popular stretch being between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen.
Train rides run every 30 minutes, from 6 am to 12 am, starting at Lauterbrunnen to the ski resort of Wengen in Switzerland.
How to get there: Getting to Lauterbrunnen, and the start of your journey, is fairly easy with public transport. Fly into Bern, the capital of Switzerland, next hop on a comfortable train ride to Lauterbrunnen. The journey takes roughly 1h30.
Additional things to do in the area: This area has been popular in all seasons with visitors from all over the world. Extend your train journey and head to the famous ski resort Grindelwald. As the train navigates the mountainous landscape you will get spectacular views most notably at the Kleine Scheidegg. Here you can get off and take another mountain train to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest train station situated at 3454 meters above sea level.
BUDGET TIP | Tickets for the Wengeneralpbahn are included in the Swiss Travel Pass
12. LUCERNE TO MONTREUX ON THE BELLE EPOQUE TRAIN (SWITZERLAND)
Explored by Caroline from VeggieWayfarer
Travel Time: 1h54 || Ticket Fee Single Trip: 1st class – CHF 35 (€32, US$35); 2e class CHF 20 (€18, US$20).
What to expect on your train trip: Step back into the Orient Express! The carriages exude radiant old-world charm and the seats are very plush. Travel from Lucerne, hugging Lake Lucerne to end in mountainous Montreux. Food and drink are not available on the train.
Why travel on the Belle Epoque Train: I absolutely loved taking this train. As is the case with all the trains in Switzerland, the service is impeccable and the carriages are in pristine condition. You will be hard-pressed to find such a beautiful train that is as affordable.
How to get there: We got on at the station of Montreux and headed towards Lucern. To get here we hopped on the train in Lausanne.
Booking your tickets: Travelers with a Swiss Travel Pass do not need to make a reservation, simply hop on the train.
Additional things to do in the area: We took this train while spending 3 days in the Vaud region. We explored beautiful Lausanne, went wine tasting in the Lavaux, and hiking in Chateau d’Oeux.
13. WERNIGERODE TO TOP OF BROCKEN ON THE BROCKENBAHN (GERMANY)
Explored by Caroline from VeggieWayfarer
Travel Time: 1h54 || Ticket Fee Round Trip: €49 (US$53)
What to expect on your train trip: The Brocken train is one of my favorite train rides in Europe. I went on a snowy December day and we gently swayed from Wernigerode to the top of the Brocken Mountain. As the train cut through the forest, it gave way to a beautiful snowy landscape.
Why travel on the Brockebahn: The Brocken Train, also known as the Harry Potter Train of Germany, is a historic railway line in Germany that winds its way through the picturesque Harz Mountains. Its history dates back to the late 19th century when it was primarily used for the transportation of goods and people.
How to get there: Make your way to Wernigerode in the Harz Mountains for the 1h54 ride. Alternatively, take the car and park in the large parking lot behind the Schierke Station for a 30-minute train ride.
Booking your tickets: Book your tickets well in advance, online (German site). Make sure you choose tickets for the steam train and not the regular train. Ticket prices are the same, regardless of where you get on. Weather permitting you could opt to hike down from the top of the Brocken back to Wernigerode.
Additional things to do in the area: There are plenty of things to do in the Harz Area including a visit to the half-timbered houses of Wernigerode or Quedlinburg, exploring the mines in Goslar, or a hike around the Brocken Mountain.
6 Scenic Train Routes in Southern Europe
14. PALMA TO SOLLER (SPAIN)
Explored by Joanna from The world in my pocket
Travel Time: || Ticket Fee Return: €32 (US$35)
What to expect on your train trip: A pretty train ride in a historical wooden train dating back to 1913. Transporting you from the capital to the west of the island, Sóller across mountainous landscapes.
Why travel on the wooden train in Mallorca: The wooden train from Palma to Sóller is one of the most popular attractions in Mallorca. The journey starts in the center of Palma. Slowly, it moves away from the urban areas, passing through olive and orange groves, before moving further into the pine woods. You can see the mountain ahead.
As the train starts climbing, to cross the mountains, prepare to pass through no less than 13 tunnels. The train stops at a viewpoint, above the town of Sóller, so that passengers can take panoramic photos.
How to get there: The train ride starts in Palma. Tickets include a tram from Sóller to the port
Booking your tickets: Getting a ticket for the train is very easy, directly from the station in Palma. You can’t buy tickets online, only in person at the station, and only with cash. Cards are not accepted. The train runs only a few times a day, so if you are visiting Mallorca during the high season, make sure to get to the station at least one hour before.
15. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA TO BILBAO ON THE COSTA VERDE EXPRESS (SPAIN)
Explored by Caroline from VeggieWayfarer
Travel Time: 5 nights 6 days || Ticket Fee: €9,000 (US$10,000) per cabin
What to expect on your train trip: A luxury train gliding past lush green landscapes, peppered with charming coastal towns that make up Spain’s Green Coast. The relatively unknown Costa Verde Express offers passengers an unparalleled experience through one of the most enigmatic parts of the country.
Why travel on the Costa Verde Express: This six-day slow-train sashays across northern Spain; kicking off in Santiago de Compostella, hugging the rugged coastline of Galicia, Asturias, and Cantabria, before gliding into the final stop, Bilbao.
With a strong focus on regional products, local guides visiting off-beat locations in Spain, and, lest we forget, a plush train lined with 23 sleeper carriages, each with its own en-suite bathroom.
How to get there: The journey can be done from either direction e.g. starting in Santiago de Compostela or in Bilbao. Both have international airports as well as daily connections from Madrid with the RENFE train network.
Booking your tickets: Tickets need to be booked on the official website. Best to book in advance as they tend to sell out, despite the high price point.
Additional things to do in the area: I spent an additional two weeks in the region of Asturias iat the end of this trip and can only recommend it. This part of Spain has remained blissfully untouched by over-tourism
16. SEVILLA TO MALAGA ON THE AL ANDALUS TRAIN (SPAIN)
Explored by Caroline from VeggieWayfarer
Travel Time: 7 days || Ticket Fee: €9,500 (US$11,000) per cabin
What to expect on your train trip: The Al Andalus is the quintessential luxury on rails. The plus carriages were once used by the English monarchy in the 20’s. Travel through some of the prettiest tourist hotspots in southern Spain while enjoying gastronomical meals made with local ingredients.
Why travel on via train from Sevilla to Malaga: This part of Spain tends to get very busy and is not that well connected via public transport. Jumping on the luxurious Al Andalus means traveling without the crowds, and enjoying the knowledge of local guides. Stops include Sevilla, Jerez, Cadiz, Ronda, Cordoba and Granada.
The Al Andalus is positively dripping old-world charm but manages to do so with all the modern amenities. It is the best-selling luxury train ride in all of Spain, with tickets selling out oftentimes a year in advance.
How to get there: Sevilla has an international airport, as well as daily trains running from Madrid.
Booking your tickets: Book your tickets in advance on the official website of Al Andalus
17. PORTO TO DOURO VALLEY (PORTUGAL)
Explored by Soumya of Stories by Soumya
Travel Time: 2h15 || Ticket Fee Single Journey: €15 (US$17)
What to expect on your train trip: This train ride is nothing short of magical. Glide along the verdant rolling hills of the Douro Valley carpeted in opulent vineyards with picturesque wine estates. A shimmering Douro River snakes through the region and is a constant companion on your train journey.
Why travel via train from Porto to the Douro Valley: This epic train ride begins in the bustling city of Porto and weaves its way into the Alto Douro Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Commonly known as the Douro Valley, the Alto Douro Region is the heart of Portugal’s wine country.
The Porto to Douro Valley train ends in the small hamlet known as Pocinho. along the route, the train makes two very popular stops: Regua and Pinhao. Make sure to grab a seat on the right side of the train to enjoy the best views, especially on the section between Regua and Pinhao.
Pinhao, with its beautiful azulejo-covered walls, is the most charming station en route. Here, you can also enjoy traditional Rabelo boat rides or go wine-tasting in local vineyards. Quinta do Bonfim is one of the most popular vineyards nearby.
How to get there: Porto has a well-connected international airport or a direct train from Lisbon. Board the train at the Porto Sao Bento or Porto Campanha train station in the direction of Pocinho.
Booking your tickets: Book your tickets directly at the station or check prices and the schedule online via Omio.
Good to know: If you’re visiting Portugal between July – October, then you can ride the Douro Historical Train, a quintessential steam locomotive with 5 antique carriages, that takes you on a nostalgic ride of the past.
18. 5 TERRE EXPRESS (ITALY)
Explored by Paola from Famiglia Itinerante
Travel Time: Between 5 and 18 minutes between villages || Ticket Fee Single Journey: €5 (US$6)
What to expect on your train trip: The 5 Terre Express is an iconic European train trip. The train routes cover the most beautiful villages along the Ligurian Riviera: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Why travel on the 5 Terre Express Train: It is the only way to navigate the popular Cinque Terre clustering of villages. Many of the areas in the villages have been pedestrianized. Those that have not experienced heavy congestion, especially during the summer months when this part of Italy is bursting with snap-happy visitors.
Relax on the sandy beaches of Monterosso, wander through the narrow alleys of Vernazza, soak in the tranquility of Corniglia, marvel at the breathtaking views of Manarola, and immerse yourself in the captivating atmosphere of Riomaggiore.
How to get there: Your adventure begins in La Spezia, the perfect starting point for exploring Cinque Terre. The nearest airports are Pisa and Genoa.
19. TYRRHENIAN COAST CALABRIA (ITALY)
Explored by Ausra from The Road Reel
Travel Time: 3h26 with IC train || Ticket Single Fare: Prices start at €22 (US$25)
What to expect on your train trip: A train ride along the Tyrrhenian Coast in the Calabria region, southern Italy is one of the less-known scenic trail journeys in Europe. Wind between the shimmering blue sea and cottony green hills of Calabria, passing numerous coastal towns and characteristic mountain villages.
Why travel via train along the Tyrrhenian Coast: There is no dull moment when taking the Calabria train, with one of the most impressive stretches being between the seaside town of Tropea and the fishing village of Scilla. You can start your journey in the central station of Reggio di Calabria at the very tip of the toe of Italy’s boot and continue until you reach Maratea in Basilicata, or go further to Salerno in Campagna.
How to get there: The closest airports in Calabria are Reggio Calabria (REG) and Lamezia Terme (SUF).
Booking your tickets: Compare train fares and schedules online
Additional things to do in the area: If you have a few days in Calabria, you may split the journey and visit a few charming seaside towns. Scilla, Tropea, Pizzo, Paola, Diamante, San Nicolla Arcella are great stops. Maratea in Basilicata is also worth more than just a glimpse through the window.
From Reggio di Calabria, the train ride to Maratea takes approximately 3 hours, and 5 hours to Salerno, depending if it is a fast train (Intercity, Frecciarossa) or a regional train. Note that some routes require 1 change either in Paola (for Maratea) or Lamezia Terme (for Salerno).
One Beautiful Train Ride in Eastern Europe
20. BELGRADE TO BAR (MONTENEGRO)
Explored by Kami from MyWanderlust
Travel Time: 11 hours || Ticket Fee Single Journey: €24 (US$28)
What to expect on your train trip: The railway line sprawls for almost 500 km, connecting the Serbian capital – Belgrade, with Bar, the Adriatic port in Montenegro. The whole journey takes around 11 hours, passing through 254 tunnels (each of them is marked with its number and length at the entrance) and 435 bridges.
Why take the train between Belgrade and Bar: The Belgrade to Bar train is one of the most underrated attractions in the Balkans, yet this route is by far one of the best train journeys in Europe.
The views are especially spectacular in Montenegro, where the railway line goes through magnificent mountains.
Shortly before Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, you will pass the highlight of this route – Mala Rijeka viaduct, which is almost 500 meters long and 200 meters high, and until 2001 it was the highest railway bridge in the world.
Other interesting places you can see along the way are the Zlatibor Mountains in Serbia, the Prokletije Mountains in Montenegro, and the Skadar Lake, divided by the border of Montenegro and Albania. The train also goes through a small part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, although it doesn’t stop there.
How to get there: Usually, there are two daily trains on the Belgrade to Bar route, the day and night one. To enjoy the ride and the views to the fullest, take the day train if going from Montenegro or the night one from Belgrade. If you don’t have time to spend all these hours on the train, you can only use the route in Montenegro and travel between Bar and Kolasin or Bijelo Polje; there are also more trains per day on this route.
Booking your tickets: Unfortunately, you can’t buy tickets for Belgrade to Bar train online; you can do it only at the train station. In the summer season, it’s recommended to buy the tickets in advance as the train can get full.
FAQ Scenic European Train Trips
What is the prettiest train ride in Europe?
That is a very hard question to answer, as it highly depends on your definition of pretty. Personally, I love the luxury of the Costa Verde Express (Spain), the authenticity of the 19th-century Brocken steam train (Germany) and the views on the Bernina Express (Switzerland)
Which country in Europe has the best trains?
If you are looking for the prettiest landscapes, it is hard to beat Switzerland. Trains are known to be clean, run on time and have friendly staff. Many of the trains are included in the Swiss Travel Pass;
How much are train journeys in Europe?
Train Rides in Europe: Yay or Nay
I might be biased, but my favorite mode of transport through Europe is the train. Granted, it might take a little more time but I would rather look at landscapes whizzing by than the hodgepodge of stores and drab gray walls that make up airports.
There is nothing quite like swaying to the gentle clickety-clackety tunes of a train to forge new friendships and learn about the culture of the country you are visiting. The many train rides in Europe I was lucky enough to take have given me invaluable insight into general etiquette and the art of communicating when one does not speak the same language.
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING EUROPE BY TRAIN
ITALY: Day trips from Rome by train
FRANCE: Day trips from Paris by train
NETHERLANDS: Places to visit near Amsterdam by train
NETHERLANDS: Public transportation in Amsterdam
BELGIUM: Day trips from Brussels by train
SPAIN: An adventure on the Costa Verde Express
SWITZERLAND: Three days in Switzerland by train
EUROPE: Landmarks in Europe worth visiting
EUROPE: Beautiful Islands in Europe