8 Best scenic train journeys in Europe

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Europe is a diverse continent spreading over some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Apart from its thriving cities, Europe lends itself to landscape gazing and soaking up clean mountain air.

Somewhere in between sandy coastlines, rocky cliffs, and breathtaking snow-capped peaks, Europe is overflowing with great rail journeys and rail lines, some of which are definitely worth a detour.

We already explained how train travel can be liberating and relaxing and you can find more information about European night trains or an awesome train itinerary for Central Europe on our website.

Now we think you’re ready for a list of the most scenic train rides in Europe.

These are the 8 best train journeys in Europe

Semmering Bahn in Austria is number one in our list.

It’s not only a truly scenic route, it was also one of the most difficult rail lines to build and the first to be built over so many mountain passes.

In between the 15 tunnels this train travels through, you’ll get to soak in view after view. The route crosses 16 viaducts as well.

All this time, the tracks glide in between the Alpine peaks.

In 1998, Semmering became the first train railway to be included in Unesco World Heritage listings, because of the build difficulty of the track in early railway construction.

The railway first opened to the public in 1854 after years of planning and building in which over a thousand people died due to accidents and diseases.

That the building process was difficult is the least we can say. Altitude difference on this line is over 400 meters.

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The actual Semmering Pass begins at Gloggnitz, but it’s probably easier to travel the longer track due to connection possibilities.

Info

  • Country Austria
  • Where to where Wiener Neustadt to Bruck an der Mur - 100 km
  • Gloggnitz to Murzzuschlag Semmering Pass - 41 km
  • Distance and time needed 100 km for the entire track
  • 41 km for just the Semmering Line
  • Best Time to visit Any time

Highlights of the Semmering Line

Semmering Pass is a part of this railway and takes up 41 kilometers of the entire track. In this part of the line, most of the viaducts and tunnels are concentrated.

Tickets and Price - Semmering Line

Single tickets can be purchased at the OBB website. Train tickets are valid for all trips during one day for a price of 34€ at the OBB website.

If you’re holding an Interrail or Eurail pass, the trip is valid for the use of those rail passes.

Reservations are not required for this train ride.

Semmering Pass - Austria
Semmering Pass - Austria

Bernina Express

The Bernina Express connects Italy and Switzerland while you can watch glaciers slide by.

At the highest point, this trip takes you up to an altitude of 2250 meters. The track winds through tunnels and glacier passes, traveling through more than 50 tunnels and crossing almost 200 bridges.

This train ride is known for its high difference in altitude. From start to end point the altitude difference is about 1800 meters.

The Bernina Express passes through the ski destination of St Moritz. Train carriages are equipped for tourists who want to enjoy the view and the carriages have massive panoramic windows.

Info

  • Country Italy and Switzerland
  • Where to where Chur to Tirano
  • Distance and time needed 150 km over 4,5 hours
  • Best Time to visit Chur - Tirano - Chur train ride every day, all year long.

Highlights of the Bernina Express

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The highest train station en route is the Ospizio Bernina, which is a lovely sight. The Landwasser and Brusio viaduct are the most prominent landmarks on this route.

Tickets and Price - Bernina Express

You can buy single tickets for the Bernina Express at the Rhaetian Railway website for 55€ in second class and 97€ in first class. Return tickets can be purchased as well.

Interrail and Eurail passes are valid for this trip.

Reservations are required for the Bernina Express trip. Seat reservation costs around 12€.

The Glacier Express

Not too far away from the Bernina track, you could also travel another one of the scenic rail journeys: the Glacier Express.

This is one of the most scenic train rides in Europe and it passes through a few of the same stops as the Bernina Express.

Depending on your travel itinerary, one of these two trips would do, unless you want to combine both in one longer trip.

St Moritz is the playground and ski resort for the rich, while Zermatt is awesome for hiking and it’s also home to the Matterhorn: a very Instagrammable mountain!

It’s a great idea to spend a night in Zermatt.

Be warned: this train moves pretty slow and it will take you around 8 hours to travel the entire journey.

Info

  • Country Switzerland
  • Where to where Zermatt to St Moritz
  • Distance and time needed 8 hours slow travel
  • Best Time to visit All year - prices vary

Highlights of the Glacier Express

Landwasser Viaduct is also included in this trip. Rhine Gorge is also called the Grand Canyon of Switzerland.

Tickets and Price for the Glacier Express

Single tickets can be bought on the Glacier Express Website where you get to choose if you want to plan a package with accommodation included or rather a day pass for different parts of the route. Prices vary depending on the track of your choosing. The full journey will set you back around 135€.

If you hold an Interrail or Eurail pass, these travel passes are valid for the Glacier Express. You will still need to purchase a seat reservation supplement.

Seat reservation is required on this journey. Seat reservation supplements are more expensive in summertime and prices vary from 11 to 37€.

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Jacobite Railway or West Highland Line

Jacobite Railway is the one of the best train journeys in Europe and it takes you back in time.

It makes an appearance in one of the Harry Potter movies.

The old school steam train looks just as amazing as the scenery it slides through. Making its way through the superb surroundings of the Scottish highlands, the Jacobite Steam train travels all the way to the coastal town of Mallaig on the West Coast of the country.

Unless you plan on spending the night in Mallaig, round trips for this journey are advisable.

Pleasure trips on the Jacobite Railway are possible only in Summer and during Christmas season.

Note: there are toilets available for emergencies. They will be locked and you will be asked to hold your urges until you reach a train station where the train halts.

Info

  • Country Scotland
  • Where to where Fort William to Mallaig (and back)

Distance

135 km round-trip. The outbound trip from Fort William takes little over 2 hours with a 20 minute stopover in Glenfinnan Station. In Mallaig, you get almost 2 hours to go for a walk or discover the little town. The return trip takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Best Time to visit

Jacobite Steam train runs between April and October on specific times. During Christmas holiday season, a few rides are organized as well. Check the official Jacobite website to see if the dates match with your travel dates.

Highlights of the Jacobite train line

Glenfinnan Viaduct, as seen in Harry Potter. Loch Morag is the deepest freshwater loch in the UK and Loch Nevis, the deepest seawater loch in Europe.

Tickets and Price for Jacobite Railay

Tickets can be purchased on the West Coast Railways website. Single tickets are 30€ while return tickets are 40€.

Interrail and Eurail passes are not valid for this scenic train ride since the company is not part of the regular railway system.

Check out these amazing routes in Europe to discover by train:

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Rauma Railway

The Rauma scenic train ride in the South of Norway is commonly known as the wildest and most beautiful in the country.

This trip takes you past fjords, waterfalls and bridges.

Rauma River and Romsdalen Valley offer views on steep cliff faces and flowery meadows.

You can choose if you want to travel the entire length of this journey at once or you want to plan a few stopovers and make time for majestic hikes in this beautiful area.

This train is considered a sightseeing train, which slows down at incredible sights.

Info

  • Country Norway
  • Where to where Dombås to Åndalsnes
  • Distance and time needed 115 km - 1,5 hours travel time

Best Time to visit

The scenic train with sightseeing breaks is operational between the end of May and the end of August. In off season you can book the regular train between these two destinations. Prices are the same.

Highlights

Kylling Bridge is just one of the 32 bridges you’ll cross during this train ride. Stavem horseshoe tunnel makes almost a full circle while traveling through a mountain side. Trollveggen cliff face is with its altitude of 1000 meters the highest vertical cliff face in Europe, located near Romsdalen Valley.

Tickets and Price

Single tickets can be purchased on the Nordic Rail Website for around 28€.

Interrail and Eurail travel passes are valid on this journey, but you’ll still need reservations.

Reservations are required for this trip and cost around 5€.

Rauma Railway Kylling Bridge
Rauma Railway Kylling Bridge

Cinque Terre

This short scenic train ride in Italy is very popular and often crowded. If you know what the Cinque Terre coats line looks like, you can already start imagining the scenery of this journey.

A lot of travelers spend their entire holiday in this part of Italy, but you can also discover the area in a short amount of time. See what you can do with one day in Cinque Terre!

Info

  • Country Italy
  • Where to where Levanto to La Spezia
  • Distance and time needed This 30 km trip can be done in 30 minutes.
  • Best Time to visit All year

Highlights

The Ligurian sea with its cliffs and colorful villages.

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Tickets and Price

Single tickets can be purchased in the Italian Rail Website for 3,6€ one-way.

It’s also possible to buy a Cinque Terre Card

Interrail and Eurail passes are valid for this trip.

Reservations are not required.

Bergen and Flam Railway

This seven hour trip from Oslo, the capital of Norway, to Bergen is one journey you don’t want to travel by night!

The scenery on this trip is world famous. In Myrdal, you can make a detour to the Flam Railway.

Sit back and relax while a luxurious train takes you through the most stunning scenery in Norway.

The Flam Railway is an optional extension to this trip that you probably shouldn’t skip! Flam Railway was called the world’s most incredible train ride by Lonely Planet in 2014.

Do you plan on visiting Norway? Read these tips about travel to Norway first!

Info

  • Country Norway
  • Where to where Oslo to Bergen via Flam
  • Distance and time needed 7 hours Oslo to Bergen and 1 hour Myrdal to Flam
  • Best Time to visit Both train rides can be done all year.

Highlights

The changing scenery and Flam Railway. Kjosfossen waterfall.

Tickets and Price

Single tickets for both rides can be purchased at the NSB website.

If you’re holder of an Interrail or Eurail rail pass, you can use your pass as a valid ticket for the trip from Oslo to Bergen. Interrail Pass holders get a 30% discount for the Flam Railway.

Reservations are not required.

Montenegro Express

Crossing the border from Serbia to Montenegro can be done with this train trip.

It’s possible to ride the entire trip at once or break it up somewhere.

The Montenegro Express takes you through stunning landscapes, 254 tunnels, and 435 bridges.

Expect to see a lot of green everywhere you look, because during this trip you’ll travel through one lush valley after the other.

Info

  • Country Serbia to Montenegro
  • Where to where Belgrade to Bar

Distance and time needed

11 hours to cover 476 km. This trip can be split up into smaller sections.

Best Time to visit

At least one train every morning, all year long.

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Highlights

The Mala Rijeka Viaduct is one of the most impressive viaducts en route. The fortress of Lessendro is visible next to the train tracks while passing the beautiful lake Skadar.

Tickets and Price

Purchase single tickets at the Serbian Rail Website for around 26€.

Interrail and Eurail pass holders can use their rail pass as a valid ticket for this trip.

Reservations are required for this trip.

Montenegro Express
Montenegro Express - View from the train on the mountains in Montenegro

Conclusion: the best train journeys in Europe

Train travel in Europe is easy and convenient. Did I mention Europe has some of the most scenic train rides in the world? Guess I did! We only summed up some of the most interesting and scenic train rides, but there are many more. I remember how excited I was when we sam wildlife running along with our train while traveling through Poland and how that made this train ride just perfect for me.

Most of these scenic train rides can be traveled easily with an Interrail or Eurail pass. You can read more about train travel in Europe in our previous article about this subject.

How do you like traveling by train and which are the most epic train rides you’ve traveled?

Don’t be shy to let us know!

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Scenic Train Rides
Scenic Train Rides
Scenic Train Rides

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Addie

Wow, what a list! This looks like the best way to really see a lot of a country rather than spending all your time in one city.

Wow your photos are amazing! I had no idea riding a train can be such a great and beautiful experience!

Great post. I am total fan of train journeys in Europe. I completely agree with your list. I have to yet visit to Norway but will definitely remember your recommendations. I might get to t=ride on Montenegro train this year. I am happy that I have been to other train journeys and that was incredible experience.

I’ve been on the Jacobite one in Scotland! There’s some really cool finds on this list! The ones that doubles back and goes under itself looks CRAZY (the Bernina one)!

Gorgeous photos! I love train travel and these all look like they’d make incredible journeys. Have you seen the film Murder on the Orient Express? I’ve been OBSESSED with taking that trip ever since!

These all sound amazing – and your pictures are dreamy. I love long train rides so when I’m next in Europe would love to go on one of these xo

LOVE train adventures and travel by train anywhere in Europe is fantastic. We are BIG fans of narrow gauge trains … like the one in the Harz Mountains in Germany. Have you experienced that one yet? Not overnight … a short journey, but so fun.

Always nice to hear from other train travel lovers! 🙂 We never tried that on in Harz Mountains in Germany! But now we do! So we have to check it out! Thanks for the tip! Short Journeys can be really fun!

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