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Europe’s Most Stunning Train Trips, From Switzerland to Scotland

There’s no better way to travel across europe than by train. these rides are almost more captivating than their destination..

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Aerial view of train passing through famous mountain in Filisur, Switzerland

Switzerland is renowned for its scenic train routes—but don’t sleep on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Scotland too.

Photo by Guitar photographer/Shutterstock

Train travel in Europe is getting better and better. Expanded timetables, updated trains, extended routes, and new connections mean that there’s really no reason to get a polluting short-haul flight across the continent in 2024.

If you like your travel by night, a sleeper links Paris and Berlin again, while a brand-spanking- new service between Austria and Germany offers swanky new sleeping facilities and even capsule hotel–like pods for solo travelers. Poland has lucked out: 2024 brings double the connections between Kraków and Berlin, and Wrocław is now hooked up with Vienna. A new route from Liège to Maastricht via Aachen , meanwhile, unfurls Northern Europe to curious travelers who want to see something outside the capitals.

Hanging around in airports also means you miss out on some of the most beautiful countryside Europe has to offer. These 10 train trips carve through some of the most scenic landscapes in Europe. You won’t want to get off.

An aerial view of the historical Semmering railway bridge in Austria

Its 25 miles of track through Alpine scenery made the Semmering Railway an architectural wonder in the mid-1800s.

Photo by Photofex_AUT/Shutterstock

1. Semmering Railway, Austria

The Semmering Railway is one of the oldest railway lines in Europe and was the first to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Work on the railway started in 1848, and the line got the UNESCO nod exactly 150 years later. UNESCO tends to not get this kind of thing wrong: The railway was a marvel of engineering back then, and the line’s 16 viaducts and 15 tunnels have stood the test of time. Jump on at Vienna to get to Semmering. The route slices through 41 kilometers of fir-laden mountain passes in eastern Austria, treating passengers to jaw-dropping views of lush Alpine valleys.

The railway station of Calvi on Corsica, an island of France

The medieval town of Calvi is the end of the line for this scenic Corsica train route.

Photo by Littleaom/Shutterstock

2. U Trinichellu, Corsica, France

This little old-fashioned train shuttles you along the northwest coast of Corsica from L’Île-Rousse to Calvi, stopping in beach towns along the way. It’s a pick-and-choose train line: Most of the stops are on request. But don’t worry if you don’t like your choice—the tickets are hop on, hop off, so you can take a day to test all of the beaches on the Balagne coast, traveling with the sparkling Mediterranean on one side and craggy pine forests on the other.

A train at Manarola railway station, Cinque Terre, Italy

The village of Manarola has a population of just a few hundred and sits at 70 meters above sea level in the Liguria region.

Photo by Mikadun/Shutterstock

3. Cinque Terre Express Train, Italy

The Cinque Terre have to be seen to be believed: five villages comprising a mishmash of ochre, yellow, and pink houses pressed into cliffs on the Ligurian coast. Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are the five “terre” that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can explore all of them in one day—the train takes you from one end to the other in just 20 minutes.

A train on the Rhune mountain in French Basque Country

A 35-minute ride on the train up the Rhune mountain affords spectacular views in every direction.

Photo by ID-VIDEO/Shutterstock

4. Train de la Rhune, Basque Country, France and Spain

Can’t decide whether to holiday in France or Spain? Basque Country, a region with beautiful landscapes, straddles the two countries, and Train de la Rhune allows you to have the best of both worlds. The Rhune, a 900-meter-high mountain, rises out of the Pyrenees mountain range that fringes the border between France and Spain. The vintage “little Rhune train,” as it’s called, climbs this iconic summit over the course of 35 minutes past wild grazing ponies and small copses. At the end you’re rewarded with a breathtaking view of a patchwork quilt of green fields joining all seven Basque provinces on either side of the border.

Trains on the Belgrade - Bar railway line

If you have 11+ hours to spare, the Belgrade-to-Bar line offers endless views for just a few euros.

Martyn Jandula/Shutterstock

5. Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro

This is a bucket-list type of journey—and only costs about €24. The train going from Belgrade in Serbia to Bar in Montenegro (or the reverse journey) crosses 435 bridges over deep gorges, winds its way through imposing mountain passes and small towns that look like frontier outposts, and hugs bright, teal-blue lakes and rivers. The ride takes a solid 11 hours, though—and more if the train breaks down, which unfortunately has been known to happen .

A red diesel locomotive with a passenger train in Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s last narrow-gauge railway features a cute red diesel locomotive.

Photo by ZagAlex/Shutterstock

6. Rhodope Railway, Bulgaria

Step back in time on Bulgaria’s last operational narrow-gauge railway, running between the small towns of Septemvri and Dobrinishte in western Bulgaria. The railway connects remote mountain villages, so it’s a humdrum commuter train for locals, but the peaceful views of farmland, gorges, and woods are a draw for tourists. Fun fact: The highest train station in the Balkans is Avramovo, at 1,267 meters above sea level, and this train delivers you there, where you can alight for a quick photo op before jumping back on to continue the journey.

A train in Flåm valley in Norway

Norway’s Flåm railway takes in world-class views as it ascends almost 900 meters.

Photo by Mikhail Varentsov/Shutterstock

7. Flåmsbana, Norway

Do you know any other trains that make a special stop so passengers can get close to a huge, roaring waterfall? Kjosfossen waterfall is just one of the highlights of the Flåm railway line, which takes you from one of Norway’s most picturesque fjords, two meters above sea level, all the way up to the mountain station of Myrdal, at 876 meters above sea level. It’s regularly voted one of the most beautiful train trips in the world, and is certainly one of its most vertiginous, with 80 percent of the journey running on a gradient of 5.5 percent.

Swiss countryside seen through the wide panoramic windows of a train

Swiss trains boast large windows framing ever-changing scenic views.


8. Bernina Express, Switzerland

You can take this trip any time of year. If you go in summer, you’ll be threading your way through sunny green Swiss meadows, but on a winter trip you’ll see the landscape transform into a snowy winter wonderland. The Bernina Express is equipped with massive windows so you can see the scenery, but here’s a top tip: If you don’t mind swapping the fancy decor of the Bernina Express for something a bit less swish, you can also take one of the regional trains along the same route and even hop on and hop off with the same ticket. The route starts at Tirano in Italy, snakes round the iconic Brusio spiral viaduct, and climbs toward the mountains. After hitting the summit more than 2,000 meters above sea level, you slither down through the desolate Bernina Pass and dramatic Alpine valleys before arriving in Chur, Switzerland.

Stari Most bridge in the old town of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You must see Mostar’s Stari Most bridge when you arrive in the city.

Photo by Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

9. Sarajevo to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This train ride may be one of the best kept secrets in Europe. Sweeping, Jurassic Park–style views greet you as the train winds its way around rolling hills, taking you past deep gorges and emerald lakes. And although the journey alone makes the trip worth it, it also connects two of the most fascinating cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina . Explore Sarajevo’s layers of history, from the Latin Bridge, where Franz Ferdinand’s assassination ignited the First World War, to the Tunnel of Hope, a tunnel used to transport supplies during the siege on the city in the Bosnian War. The city’s also known, of course, for its great food, excellent coffee culture, and mix of architectural styles. When you’ve had your fill, head to Mostar to visit Stari Most bridge—which you have to see once in your lifetime.

Steam train crosses the Glenfinnan viaduct in the Scottish highlands.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to run through a wall to board the Jacobite “Hogwarts” Express.

Christopher Chambers/Shutterstock

10. Jacobite Express, Scotland

You probably know this train by its other name: the Hogwarts Express. Yes, this is the steam train that puffs its way over the majestic Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Harry Potter movies. It runs from Fort William to Mallaig, and in between, travelers are whisked past the best of Scotland’s epic Highlands scenery, from Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to its deepest freshwater loch, Loch Morar. On arrival in Mallaig, you can continue the journey by getting a ferry to the Isle of Skye, which has miles of hiking trails through fairy-tale landscapes.

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The scene route between Oslo and Bergen runs through the mountains of Norway

The 14 most scenic train journeys in Europe

Pack a book, hop on board and enjoy the most scenic train journeys in Europe, from west to east and north to south

John Bills

From glaciers and fjords to deserts and plains,   Europe ’s home to some of the world’s most mind-blowing natural landscapes. And so, logically, it makes a heck of a lot of sense that the finest scenic rail journeys in Europe – train routes which are specifically designed to show off those spectacular landscapes – are amongst   the best in the entire world .

The European continent’s finest scenic rail journeys also double up as pilgrimages to sites of incredible feats of engineering. These trains scale dramatic mountains, plunge through ginormous tunnels and span vast distances. You won’t just be gob-smacked by the view: you’ll wonder how on earth you’re able to experience it from the comfort of a locomotive.

And, before you say anything, no, scenic rail routes certainly aren’t just for rail geeks. Oh no. They’re also amongst the most comfortable and supremely romantic ways of getting around. As well as being much better for the planet than cars and planes, train travel is a destination in itself – and that’s even more the case with scenic routes. So, without further ado, here are our top 14 scenic railways in Europe right now.

RECOMMENDED: 🚂  The best train journeys in the world 🚅  The best train journeys in Asia 🚉  The world’s most spectacular train stations

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Best train journeys in Europe

Oslo to Bergen, Norway

1.  Oslo to Bergen, Norway

Connecting Oslo and Bergen is the fairytale Bergen Line. Take it in spring or autumn, and the voyage plays out like a living painting of all four seasons, as blustery flower meadows and lush valleys fade into icy forests of pine and glittering lakes. It’s a journey that’s quite possibly up there with the best in the world. It makes little difference which way you travel – views are equally OTT in both directions, on both sides of the tracks – but start in the morning to ensure you get a full day of views on the seven-hour trip. Ticket prices are generally quite affordable, but onboard food will set you back, so pack snacks.

Belgrade to Bar, Serbia and Montenegro

2.  Belgrade to Bar, Serbia and Montenegro

Often referred to as ‘the Balkan Express’, the 11-hour (on a good day) jaunt from Belgrade to Bar celebrates civil engineering and natural majesty. A whopping 435 bridges are traversed as the train trundles from the Serbian capital to Montenegro’s largest port, working as a time machine through the twentieth century in these parts. That means socialist architecture in Užice, modern ski resorts in Kolašin and the rapidly developing tourism of Montenegro’s southern coast. The last stretch is particularly stunning.

Palma to Sóller, Majorca

3.  Palma to Sóller, Majorca

The electric train line that links Majorca’s capital, Palma, with the northern town of Sóller was originally built to ship oranges across the island. Its vintage wooden carriages rattle out of central Palma, through the city’s hinterlands and across the great dry plains of southern Majorca. After a stop in Bunyola, it’s a steady climb into the foothills – followed by the sudden pitch black of the Sóller tunnel. And then comes the best bit: a winding route through the lush peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana, with incredible views over Sóller’s distant church, before the final descent. The whole trip only takes an hour, leaving plenty of time to catch the heritage tram down to Port de Sóller and cool off in the sea before the return leg.

Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, Wales

4.  Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, Wales

The small mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog has fallen on tough times with the demise of the slate mining industry, but the little steam railway that connects it with Porthmadog harbour is a gorgeous route showing Wales at its most magnificent. Most of the journey snakes through Snowdonia National Park, with plenty of stop-off options for travellers with time on their hands. The Ffestiniog Railway Company is also the oldest independent railway company on the planet, another layer of awesome to this gorgeous experience. 

Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland

5.  Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland

If you’ve high expectations of an experience named ‘The Glacier Express’, get ready for them to be exceeded and then some. This mountain marvel connects the resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz, and the panoramic views make this one of the best ways to embrace all this dramatic landscape offers. The seven-and-a-half-hour journey traverses 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and a whole lot of beauty. 

The Brocken, Germany

6.  The Brocken, Germany

Another gorgeous journey from base to summit, The Brocken Railway picks wide-eyed passengers up from the settlement on the edge of Harz National Park called Drei Annen-Hohne. When the ride is over, those passengers find themselves on top of the world, or at least on top of the Brocken, the highest peak in Northern Germany. The journey is all tight turns, dramatic valleys, snowy vistas and lose-yourself imagery at a maximum speed of 40km/h. 

Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain

7.  Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain

There are plenty of ways to travel from Barcelona to the base of Montserrat mountain, but we’re putting our eggs firmly in the basket marked ‘train’. Actually, that would be ‘tren’ in Catalan, but you get the idea. There is a wide range of tickets available for the journey, though we recommend getting one that covers not just your train from Barcelona and then either the cable car or rack railway up the mountain itself, but also entry into the Montserrat Museum.

Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

8.  Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

A constant on lists of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, Scotland’s Jacobite Steam Train is an 84-mile stunner traversing the magic of Scotland from Fort William to Mallaig. Booking ahead is an absolute must but totally worth it, as the journey transports visitors across a landscape that takes the term ‘rugged’ and redefines it in that inimitable Scottish way. Some call it the Hogwarts Express after its turn in the Harry Potter films, and you can insert your own magical comment here.

Myrdal to Flåm, Norway

9.  Myrdal to Flåm, Norway

Another frequent face on lists of the world’s best train journeys, the line between Myrdal and Flåm in Norway bridges the divide between impossibly cute and absolutely monolithic. That’s Norway in a nutshell, right? The small things are all quaint and idyllic, while the big ones bluster through stunning cliffs, jagged mountains and awe-inspiring scenery. The Flåm Railway climbs a whopping 867 metres into the sky and back, with a short shop at the Kjosfossen waterfall as the cherry on top. 

Chur to Poschiavo, Switzerland

10.  Chur to Poschiavo, Switzerland

Switzerland is every bit as spectacular as its reputation suggests it might be. Actually, this place is woefully undersold and the rail route between Chur and Poschiavo is further proof, a jaw-dropping run that takes lucky passengers through the heart of the Swiss Alps. The famous mountains unravel on either side of the train, scenery that tends to see passengers put their cameras down and stare at the wonders at hand. The Bernina Express continues toward Tirano in Italy for those who need even more scenery. 

La Rhune, France

11.  La Rhune, France

What an absolute stunner of a ride. From the foot of the Pyrenees to the top via an early 1900s cog railway, the quaintest of quaint trains scaling a mighty height. It can be a little jarring, but the cobwebs are soon blown away by the stunning vistas and the majesty that awaits at the summit. The train only runs from April to September, round-trip tickets cost €20 (an absolute bargain), and it begins its journey in the town of Sare, some 10km or so from Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

12.  Prague to Bratislava, Czech Republic and Slovakia

Okay, the scenery outside the window between Prague and Bratislava is nothing to write home about. Is it pretty? Sure, we’d expect nothing less from this part of the world, but the real fun of this route is found inside. A train journey spent in a Central European restaurant car is one of those most eccentric travel experiences, so make an immediate beeline for that part of the train when boarding. Line up some excellent Czech  pivo  and enjoy the conveyor belt of characters who will invariably make their way through the car. 

Málaga to El Chorro, Spain

13.  Málaga to El Chorro, Spain

While you can’t get a train across the thrilling and terrifying Caminito del Rey walkway, you can still experience a great journey on the way. The train from Malaga to El Chorro is a stunner, a fast route that takes less than 45 minutes and will set you back less than a tenner. That gives you just under 45 minutes to enjoy the stunning scenery and dredge up the courage to traverse the famous walkway. 

14.  Mostar to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn’t have many trains, but it remains an absolute must for lovers of rail travel. Why? Well, the stretch of track between Mostar and Jablanica quickly answers that question. It offers a jaw-dropping array of twists and turns that hug the cerulean blue of the ice-cold Neretva river, as jagged cliffs hem everything in from all sides. Sure, you need to get up early to catch the train, but it is worth that sunrise alarm. The route continues to Sarajevo, passing through charming Konjic and several satellite towns along the way.

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Best rail journeys in Europe

great train trips of europe

Sunday March 5 2023, 19:43pm

There’s something enduringly romantic about rail travel, from the rhythmic clatter of the train on the tracks to the vistas of mountains, lakes, rivers and cities as you speed across the continent. On longer journeys, you’ll have the added thrill of falling asleep in your private compartment and waking up at sunrise in a new place. Whether you opt for slow travel across the snow-covered Scandinavian Arctic, being whisked across rural France on the high-speed TGV or the unfettered luxury of black tie and bellinis on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, there’s a train journey for every budget. Here are the most exciting European rail journeys.

Main photo: Pinhao station in the Douro Valley (Getty Images)

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Porto Pino beach in Sardinia - Mandas to Sant’Anna Arresi is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

1. Mandas to Sant’Anna Arresi, Sardinia

Trenino Verde, or Little Green Train, trundles sedately across the mountains and valleys of the unspoilt southwest of Sardinia , crossing viaducts and dipping in and out of tunnels, a world away from the glitz and gin palaces of the northern Costa Smeralda. Starting from the medieval village of Mandas, it’s a day trip that’ll give you a real taste of the island that inspired DH Lawrence’s 1921 travel book Sea and Sardinia . Your home for the week is the sleepy town of Sant’Anna Arresi, a short hop from Porto Pino’s pristine beach.

The Railway Renon - a series of trips in the Dolomites is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

2. Four trips in the Dolomites

The spiky Dolomites are criss-crossed by narrow-gauge railways and funiculars, which form the basis of four excursions in this week-long idyll on the banks of Lake Molveno, in Trentino. Take a deep breath as the improbably steep Mendola funicular cranks a terrifying 2,800ft at a 64 per cent gradient, with magnificent panoramas from the top your reward. The Railway Renon, too, is 18 minutes of lip-biting drama — the historic carriages haul you up to a high mountain plateau to see 25,000-year-old earth pyramids, bizarre rock spikes left over from the Ice Age.

The Nuria Rack Railway in the Nuria Valley in Spain - French Catalonia and the Pyrenees is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

3. Through French Catalonia and the Pyrenees

The Petit Train Jaune (Little Yellow Train) clatters along 100-year-old tracks over gravity-defying suspension bridges, through tunnels and across flower-filled Pyrenean meadows on its 40-mile journey from medieval Villefranche-de-Conflent, in French Catalonia, towards the Spanish border. The ride is one of the day trips on this week-long break to the Catalan region, travelling by rail from London and staying in the resort of Roses, on the Costa Brava. Rail fans will also revel in the day on the Nuria Rack Railway, which travels eight miles to the Nuria Valley, where mountain pastures fringe a blue-green lake. Visits to Girona — including to Figueres, for the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation — provide a culture fix.

The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Riga - a trip through the Baltics is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

4. Scandinavia and the Baltics by train and ferry

Six countries in 15 nights, entirely by train and ferry: this trip just goes to show what you can pack in without flying. You’ll explore Copenhagen ’s colourful Nyhavn harbour, whizz over the graceful Oresund bridge and head north to Stockholm , then hop on the night boat to medieval Riga and Tallinn. You have two nights in Helsinki before a ferry to Travemünde and Lubeck in Germany. A final train journey will take you to Cologne for your last overnight stay. A tour manager smooths the way, and you’ll stay in smart, city-centre hotels.

Villefranche sur Mer - London to Nice is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

5. London to Nice

You could arrive on the Côte d’Azur frazzled from hours on the autoroute — or you could just relax on the train, racing from London to Nice on the Eurostar and TGV and using the city as a base for forays along the coast by rail: swish Antibes, Cannes and pretty Villefranche sur Mer are all easy day trips. In Nice , people-watch on the Promenade des Anglais, admire the Chagalls and Matisses in their respective museums and take a front-row seat for salad niçoise and catch of the day at Le Safari on Cours Saleya, the famous old-town market.

  • Eurostar guide: everything you need to know before you travel

The Victor Hugo market in Toulouse  - Paris to Toulouse is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

6. Paris to Toulouse

The high-speed link from Paris Montparnasse to Toulouse puts this cool university city within quick-getaway reach of the UK. You’ll be in La Ville Rose, named for the dusky pink of its terracotta bricks, in nine hours, ready to plunge into the edgy food scene of the Vieux Quartier. Check out the No 5 Wine Bar, twice voted best in the world, with more than 500 wines by the glass. Load up on cheeses and pâtés from the Victor Hugo market before canoeing on the Garonne, or cycling along the Canal du Midi. The three-star Hôtel Albert 1er is a lovely boutique hotel with a fine line in slow-food breakfasts; coffee comes from Café Bacquié, one of the city’s oldest roasters.

7. Regua to Pocinho along the River Douro

Like the immaculately terraced vineyards, the railway along the Douro Valley snakes round the contours of the hills, making for one of the prettiest train journeys in Europe. On this rail-and-walk fortnight you’ll enjoy daily guided group hikes along the river, across hilltops, through wild olive groves and between the sprawling port wine estates, taking the train between overnight stays in hotels. The trip starts with four nights in edgy, enchanting Porto , with family-run hotels in Miranda do Douro and Regua offering comfortable bases after long days on foot.

Statues on Charles Bridge in Prague - Paris to Prague is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

8. Paris to Prague

Getting there is half the fun on this romantic escape: jump on the Eurostar to Paris , then take the TGV to Zurich, where you’ll board the night sleeper. Look out for the moon reflecting on the snowy mountaintops as the track snakes along the curves of the Zürichsee and Walensee lakes. You’ll wake to a cup of tea and a lush Bohemian forest, arriving in Prague by 11am. You have three days to roam this unforgettably beautiful city, losing yourself in cobbled alleys and squares, admiring the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, and drinking in the atmospheric beer gardens.

The MOB GoldenPass Express train in Schönried, Switzerland

9. Montreux to Interlaken, Switzerland

This route — launched in December 2022 — winds its way from Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva to the glittering glaciers of Interlaken in three hours and 15 minutes. There are 150 seats spread over three classes to glide along in, second, first and prestige, the former with chairs that are warmed at the touch of a button and swivel to take in the 360-degree views from panoramic windows. It’s from these windows that the real magic unfolds: alpine valleys studded with bell cows, snow-dusted chalets and mountains reminiscent of those on Toblerone packets.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a train that will take you on one of the bets rail journeys in Europe

10. London to Venice on the Orient Express

For sheer opulence you can’t beat the classic journey on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, whisking you from London to Venice in a blur of black tie, bellinis and belle époque splendour. Doze off to the swaying of the train as it dashes through the night before being woken by your steward for breakfast amid the snowy vistas of the Swiss Alps. After two nights in Venice, the Frecciarossa — Italy’s flashy “red arrow” express — speeds you through the countryside to Rome for a further two nights.

  • Best heritage railways in the UK

Lake Bled in Slovenia - Lake Bled to Ljubljana is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

11. Lake Bled to Ljubljana, Slovenia

A tiny package of glacial lakes, ice-capped mountains, vineyards, meadows and a sliver of Adriatic coast, Slovenia is easy and rewarding to explore by rail. Your journey takes you from Lake Bled through a bucolic landscape of vineyards and cherry orchards to Goriska Brda, near the Italian border, before heading south to Ljubljana, the leafy capital. After two nights exploring its markets, intriguing streets and riverside cafés, you’re off to the improbably picturesque Piran — all Venetian façades, pretty squares and, around the marina, enticing seafood restaurants.

A Harzer Schmalspurbahnen locomotive on Brocken mountain in Germany - London to Essen is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

12. London to Essen

The dream for fans of steam: three days chugging along 87 miles of narrow-gauge lines on Germany ’s venerable Harzer Schmalspurbahnen. You’ll stay in medieval Wernigerode after a leisurely two-day train journey from London, then a Harz Rover pass gives you time to explore; the steam-hauled journey up the Brocken mountain is a highlight, as much for the Cold War museum at the top as the sweeping views. Half-timbered Quedlinburg can also be reached by steam train. The trip ends in Essen, with a chance to ride the Schwebebahn, a futuristic suspension railway that runs eight miles across the city of Wuppertal.

A bedroom on the Transcantabrico -  San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

13. San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

This seven-night “rail cruise” across Spain’s northern coast is slow travel at its most indulgent. Aboard the opulent El Transcantabrico, polished, inlaid wood features heavily in its four lounge cars — beautifully restored Pullman carriages dating from 1923 — and the suites are pretty sumptuous, too, with private bathrooms and living quarters. You’ll sleep well, as the train remains stationary after dark. The route hugs the coast from San Sebastian west to Santiago de Compostela through Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, rattling through lush countryside beneath the spiky Picos de Europa.

The Gare de Lyon in Paris - Paris to Milan is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

14. Paris to Milan

Reaching Italy’s palm-fringed Lake Maggiore is a breeze on the sleek Thello, which speeds through the night from Paris to Milan . Your base is the comfortable Hotel Cannero, alongside the pink and ochre villas on the waterfront of the pretty resort of Cannero Riviera. From here, explore the lake on boat trips to the Palazzo Borromeo and botanical gardens on the Borromean Islands, or spend a day in arty Stresa, from where a cable car whisks you up to Mottarone for sweeping lake and mountain views.

The Flam railway in Norway, one of the best rail journeys in Europe

15. London to the fjords

Visiting Norway the slow way takes six days there and back by train, starting from London, but overnights in hip Hamburg and Gothenburg are all part of the adventure. You get two nights in Oslo before speeding past forest and lakes to the fjord-indented west coast. At the Myrdal mountain station, high in the vertiginous Flamsdalen valley, you’ll switch trains onto the Flam railway, one of the world’s steepest standard-gauge lines, slowly trundling in and out of 20 tunnels on its hair-raising journey down to Flam itself, a sleepy village at the head of Aurlandsfjord. After three days exploring the walking trails around Flam, board the ferry for Bergen, sailing the length of Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord.

Kalami Bay in Corfu - Pairs to Corfu is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

16. Paris to Corfu

Lunch in Paris, dinner in Milan, then a beautiful train journey the length of Italy to the Adriatic port of Bari is the slow way to reach Greece . The night ferry to Corfu gets you in at sunrise, the Ionian sea sparkling against a landscape of forested hills and olive groves. You’ll spend seven nights in Corfu’s quiet northeast, at peaceful Kalami Bay, where tavernas line the shingle beach.

 Taormina in Sicily - going south through Italy to Sicily is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

17. South through Italy to Sicily

Take in the antiquities of Rome , the ravishing Amalfi coast and chic Taormina in one trip, speeding across Italy’s rolling hills and lush countryside by train and staying in locally owned four-star hotels. Pack a picnic for the train journey from Naples to Taormina and settle back to marvel at the views, with mountains on one side and flashes of sparkling blue Mediterranean on the other. For the 20-minute crossing of the Strait of Messina from Villa San Giovanni in Calabria to Sicily , the train is actually loaded onto a ferry, passengers enjoying the spectacle from the boat’s upper decks. You have optional day trips to Pompeii, Capri and Etna — but throw in some fun with the more immersive tours on offer: gelato-tasting in Rome, pizza-making in Sorrento and dinner with a local family in Sicily.

The Three Graces fountain in Bordeaux - London to Bordeaux is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

18. London to Bordeaux

The Eurostar and TGV combo from London to Bordeaux is so efficient that you can whizz from work to wine country in just six hours. Bordeaux sweeps in a graceful half-moon along the banks of the Garonne, the salty scent of the Atlantic on the breeze. There’s loads to see in a weekend: the elegant Place de la Bourse with its reflecting water mirror, the futuristic La Cité du Vin museum, the grand, 18th-century city centre and riverfront cafés and markets. Stay at the cool, Philippe Starck-designed Mama Shelter boutique hotel in the centre; the rooftop bar buzzes on balmy nights.

19. Across Corsica

Napoleon claimed he could smell the maquis, an intoxicating perfume of wild brush and herbs, as he crossed the sea to his beloved Corsica . You’ll have plenty of chance to breathe in the mountain air and soak up rugged coastal scenery on this week-long exploration of the island by the quaint Trinighellu trains. Highlights include the atmospheric port of Calvi; the old capital, Corte, its extraordinary citadel teetering on a vertiginous rock outcrop; and the captivating train journey from here to Ajaccio, across Eiffel’s Vecchio viaduct and through forests of pine and chestnut.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s former capital - Istanbul to Budapest is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

20. Istanbul to Budapest

Mysterious, mist-shrouded Transylvania lends itself particularly well to old-fashioned train travel. This private adventure on the luxurious Golden Eagle Danube Express starts in Istanbul , crosses Bulgaria and climbs through the wild, forested Carpathian Mountains before speeding across the vast Hungarian steppes into Budapest . Stops include medieval Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s former capital, where a jumble of stone houses cling to the banks of the Yantra River, as well as the turreted Bran Castle in Romania — said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula . On board, expect lots of polished wood and brass, fine dining and cosy compartments with private bathrooms.

View from a GoldenPass train in Switzerland - Montreux to Lucerne is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

21. Montreux to Lucerne

Connecting lakes Lucerne and Geneva, the GoldenPass Line in Switzerland is actually three separate trains that make the jaw-droppingly dramatic five-and-a-half-hour journey across the Bernese Oberland. A rack-and-pinion system cranks the train (and passengers) up over the Brünig Pass before you descend into Interlaken and rattle through valleys and meadows, past shimmering lakes and over high passes. Panoramic windows give uninterrupted views of the towering faces of the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau along the way. You’ll bookend the adventure with overnights in Montreux and Lucerne.

Lake Tornetrask in Lapland -Stockholm to Abisko is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

22. Stockholm to Abisko on the night train

Journey across wintry landscapes on the night train from Stockholm to Abisko, deep inside the Arctic Circle on the banks of frozen Lake Tornetrask. Activities you might book include trekking through snow-laden forests on snowshoes; dog sledding; ice fishing; and spinning across the icy tundra on snowmobiles, keeping an eye on the sky for the rippling green curtains of the aurora borealis. You have three nights for Arctic adventures, following train travel there via Münster and Copenhagen , and two in Stockholm.

Sunset over Salzburg - Vienna to Salzburg is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

23. Vienna to Salzburg

Vienna’s graceful baroque heart is easy to explore on bicycle, foot and tram. This eight-night holiday by rail gives you three nights in the Austrian capital and three in dreamy Salzburg, stopping in Frankfurt on the way out and Zurich on the return. Check out the Hofburg Palace and the State Opera, get your art fix at the Museumsquartier and gorge on coffee piled with whipped cream in the 19th-century cafés. In Salzburg, just two hours and 20 minutes away on the speedy Railjet service, there’s the legacy of Mozart and the von Trapps to explore.

On board the Al-Andalus train - Seville to Granada is one of the best rail journeys in Europe

24. Seville to Granada

Spain’s grand, belle époque Al-Andalus train takes a six-day circular route round the great Moorish cities of Andalusia , from Seville and Cordoba to Granada, sprawled at the foot of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. You’ll taste sherry in Jerez, poke around the ancient port city of Cadiz, tap your feet to flamenco in Seville and, of course, explore Granada’s exquisite Alhambra Palace. While the plush velvet and polished, inlaid wood make the vintage carriages a magnificent base, you won’t miss out on Andalusian cooking, as most meals are taken in local restaurants and you’ll stay two nights in Seville.

Additional reporting by Lucy Perrin

great train trips of europe

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Train & Rail Tours & Trips in Europe

Explore Europe with a train adventure that will take through world-renowned locations such as France (Paris), Italy (Rome, Venice and Florence) or the beautiful city of Prague. If you feel like going even further, Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) are a great choice. While you're in Europe, don't miss out on London and discover everything it can offer.

106 Train & Rail tour packages in Europe with 619 positive reviews

Berlin to Venice (15 Days) Tour

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Berlin to Venice (15 Days)

Berlin to Rome Tour

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Berlin to Rome

"All the places were amazing,but the hotels on Italy were not the same quality standards. They could be better."

Mediterranean Express: Rivieras & Railroads Tour

  • Active Adventure

Mediterranean Express: Rivieras & Railroads

"Hey is anyone going on the Mediterranean Express trip on 8th September, looking to get to know my fellow travellers a little before I arrive! :)"

Paris to Barcelona: Tapas & Train Rides Tour

Paris to Barcelona: Tapas & Train Rides

Central Europe Group Rail Tour (18-35) Tour

Central Europe Group Rail Tour (18-35)

"I am so happy I took this trip! I love that there is a planned activity in each city but you also get free days to explore on your own or with new friends. Every city was stunning and I met some great people as well. The thing that made me want to leave a review the most was honesty our tour leader , Cristina was a delight and a perfect balance for our group. She made this trip more memorable then I could have imagined and had great tips for each city too!!!!! Truly an unforgettable experience I would highly recommend. I wish I did the whole Europe tour instead of just central Europe."
  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Whole of Europe Group Rail Tour (18-35) Tour

Whole of Europe Group Rail Tour (18-35)

"Absolutely amazing experience, well organised and no problems which made my adventure run smoothly. Would definitely book threw this company again :)"

Contrasts of Switzerland (8 Days) Tour

Contrasts of Switzerland (8 Days)

"Guide was very knowledgeable and strong in many languages. The optional tours were great. Particularly the dinners created good interaction between the group and the Matterhorn was incredible. We missed the ice caves and would recommend the guides are advised to show this. I also recommend this to be added as an included tour."
  • €100 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

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Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice in 7 Days Tour

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Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice in 7 Days

"The beauty within the city is captivating and people that visit fall in love with it instantly. Italy has the most beaches in Europe with its 7,400 km coastline along with many marine parks as well. It was an awsome experience to be there.."

Scenic Switzerland by Train Tour

Scenic Switzerland by Train

"The entire itinerary was interesting. Our tour guide Tamas is so nice and accommodating and did his best to attend everyone's concerns or questions in a very professional manner. The hotels and meals are surprisingly good too. The entire trip was worth it."

Milan to Amsterdam Rail Express - 10 Days Tour

Milan to Amsterdam Rail Express - 10 Days

"The Milan to Amsterdam rail tour is an energetic trip with much to see. There's luggage carrying and quick paced walking involved. However, it was a enjoyable ten days spent with a very friendly group of people. Our excellent tour leader Darius, was very knowledgeable about all the places we visited and kept the group organized and timely. Darius was also personally helpful to me during a significantly distressing period and I am truly grateful for his assistance."

Train tours Italy: Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento by train Tour

Train tours Italy: Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento by train

"Elisabetta is excellent!"

Highlights of Europe (Classic, Summer, Start Amsterdam, End London, 13 Days) Tour

Highlights of Europe (Classic, Summer, Start Amsterdam, End London, 13 Days)

Italy By Train Tour

Italy By Train

"Our tour included a 2 day rail pass for Cinque Terre for a party of four, but it turns out what we received was only good for one day. We found this out when our tickets were checked by an official from TrenItalia. As a result we were each fined 55 Euros, plus we were required to purchase a ticket back to La Spezia. I have contacted Wingbuddy, but their after sales service is abysmal. They appear to be seriously understaffed. They no longer answer the phone for existing reservations, and they don't accept voicemail messages. As a result you need to send them an email, and it typically takes several days to get a response. This incident happened on Sept. 19, and as of Oct. 1 it has not been resolved. To date, I have received one email that says this will require investigation. While the rest of the experience was good, the poor customer service makes me very hesitant to recommend them."

London to Budapest by Train (Summer, 15 Days) Tour

London to Budapest by Train (Summer, 15 Days)

Venice, Florence and Rome escorted small group by train Tour

Venice, Florence and Rome escorted small group by train

"I cannot day enough about our tour. Touring with Elisabetta was like visiting Italy with a family member! Everything was excellent! My only complaint was that it went too fast❤️"

Reviews of Train & Rail Tours in Europe

"Overal a great experience, the guides ensure you have an authentic experience and take care of the difficult parts of traveling. It's a long trip and designed for those wanting to see much of central Europe in a short amount of time. I have taken away many good memories with the people I travelled with, and have formed a deeper understanding of western art, history and culture. Highly recommend."
"I have just returned from the whole of Europe tour trip and honestly it was one of the most amazing experiences ever!!! This trip has really helped boost my confidence in solo travelling in the future. I have made some lovely new friends and made many memories in each city we visited. Our tour guide Tom was very professional, lovely and great to have a laugh with! The tour was extremely well organised and definitely worth the money."
"My wife and I had a really fun time on the tour. We saw a great deal and enjoyed experiencing the different regions of Switzerland. Our tour guide Stephanie was excellent. She was always available for questions"
"Overall for a budget tour, this was a great tour. The tour guides were very knowledgeable. The accommodation was clean and spacious. The included meals were delicious. My only criticism is that there was not enough free time in Cinque Terre considering how much travel time was required."

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  • English: Train & Rail Tours & Trips in Europe
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10 of the Best European Train Trips

Our ten favorite European trains don’t necessarily offer the fastest journeys—just the most memorable. All aboard!

Much of European train travel is about efficiency and comfort—punctually leaving and arriving and having a cozy seat or sleeper compartment in which to devour the latest issue of the Economist . But rail travel in the United Kingdom and on the Continent is also about experience: gaping out the window at Alpine glaciers, savoring gourmet cuisine in a restored last-century dining car. Accordingly, our ten favorite European trains don’t necessarily offer the fastest journeys—just the most memorable. All aboard!

Sweet Switzerland: The Chocolate Train Route: Montreux to Broc, Switzerland Duration: 9 hours, 45 minutes, roundtrip This charming train running in summer and fall climbs from Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva to the medieval town of Gruyères, population 1,600, home to the cheese of the same name. Tour the cheese factory and the local castle, have lunch, then reboard the train and continue on to Broc. There you’ll bus to the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory, tucked between Lake Gruyères and mountain peaks, for free samples, before making the return trip.

Tunnels Galore: The Bernina Express Route: Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy Duration: 4 hours, 14 minutes This narrow-gauge, vertigo-inducing train takes on seven-percent inclines, a 360-degree spiral, 55 tunnels, and 196 bridges—reaching an apex of 7,391 feet and then descending 5,905 feet before coming to a stop. The word “express” refers to the availability of short-notice seat reservations, rather than the train’s velocity as it courses through the Alps south from Switzerland’s oldest town to a charming Italian town of just under 10,000 people. Part of the route is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A Hotel on Wheels: Trenhotel Route: Lisbon to Madrid Duration: 10 hours Leave Lisbon in the evening, enjoy a sumptuous meal and the increasingly rural scenery, slumber to the soothing rhythm of the rails, and wake the next day as you arrive in Madrid, rested and ready to tour the sixth-most-populous city in the European Union. Gran Clase includes a wake up call, club lounge access, parking, and en-suite facilities.

The Epic Journey: Trans-Siberian Railway Route: Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia Duration: 19 days This fabled route, an icon of Russian culture, crosses eight time zones to connect the Russian capital with a port on the Pacific Ocean. On board, poor mingle with rich, young with old, foreigners with locals. Social barriers disappear as passengers share a unique rail experience—and shots of $3-a-liter vodka. You can book a private car via a tour operator for added comfort; schedule any number of side excursions from trekking and scuba diving to city tours.

Waterworld: The Flam Railway Route: Flam to Myrdal, Norway Duration: 1 hour A must-do on any tour of fjord country, the Flam Railway, rising from a village on the shores of Aurlandsfjord, mounts a steeper climb than any other non-cog, normal-gauge railroad in the world. In just 12 miles, the train climbs over 2,838 feet to reach the mountain plateau of Myrdal in under an hour. See the Rjoandefossen waterfall with a free drop of 459 feet, and the Kjosfossen waterfall, plunging 305 feet, where the train makes a photo stop during the summer.

Bavarian Bullet: InterCity-Express (ICE) Route: Munich to Nuremberg, Germany Duration: 1 hour Want to go fast? This high-speed wonder zooms you between two historic Bavarian cities at speeds up to 199 miles an hour. “It’s amazing to watch the landscape change so quickly,” says Gillian Seely, a Boston resident who traveled widely by rail while living in Europe for 22 years. “The train is completely quiet inside,” she says. “Vibrations are barely enough to cause ripples in your strong German coffee.” In December, visit various German cities via the ICE rail network to take in traditional Christmas markets selling seasonal foods, handmade gifts, and gluhwein, a mulled spiced wine.

The Elegance of Yesteryear: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Route: London to Venice Duration: Two days, one night Step aboard the VSOE, as the train is known, and the calendar turns back to the 1920s and ’30s, the golden age of rail on the Continent. The operator spent $16 million restoring 35 sleeping cars to their original art deco sophistication; passengers are expected to dress elegantly for dinner: at a minimum, suit and tie for men and the equivalent for women; black tie and gowns encouraged. Awake to the sight of the snowcapped Alps and learn the story behind each of the restored carriages.

Roughing it by Rail: Balkan Flexipass Route: Belgrade, Serbia, to Bar, Montenegro Duration: 10 hours, this leg Explore the heart of the former Yugoslavia via a Balkan Flexipass (which offers unlimited travel for five, ten, or 15 days through Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey). Start in Belgrade, with its glitzy all-night club scene, hop off at any of various stops to shop or overnight, then board a later train to continue on to sleepy Bar, an ancient town influenced by various conquering cultures on the sun-swathed Adriatic. “Relax, and budget extra time for the inevitable delays,” says Chris Deliso, a travel writer who lives in Macedonia. “The trains are run-down, and the local characters you meet are salt-of-the-earth types.”

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Luxury on Wheels: The Balkan Odyssey Route: Venice to Budapest Duration: 11 days (including stays in Venice and Budapest) At the top of the food chain among European trains is the Danube Express, a private train with classical elegance, modern conveniences, and fine dining. On this route, which begins in the infamous waterways of Venice, you penetrate the heart of the Balkans and enjoy a walking tour of the medieval town that is rumored to be the birthplace of Dracula. Eventually you approach Budapest along the Danube, where the Hungarian Parliament Building marks the skyline.

A Nostalgic Journey: El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo Route: San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela Duration: 8 days Explore northern Spain in utmost luxury with a five-star journey through historic towns and evolving scenery. Combining original 1923 Pullman coaches with 21st-century modern comforts, this vintage train features spacious suites complete with a separate living room and en suite bathroom. After touring destinations like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the beaches of Ribadeo throughout the day, enjoy live entertainment in the evening while the train parks at a station until morning.

Read This Next

6 of the best luxury trains around the world, 10 airport and train station restaurants that are actually good, a practical guide to riding the rails in the us, a city guide to bergamo, italy.

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Hazel Plush | 07 December 2022

23 of the best rail journeys in europe.

See Europe how it was meant to be seen: from the window of a train! From mountain climbs to luxury sleepers, here's the rail adventures you must add to your bucket list...

1. Glacier Express, Switzerland 

Glacier Express, Switzerland (Shutterstock)

Glacier Express, Switzerland (Shutterstock)

Best for… Seeing Switzerland in the slow lane

The journey: Zermatt to St Moritz (290km; seven and a half hours)

We say… Don’t be fooled by its name: the Glacier Express averages 38kph, but who wants to rush when the scenery is this spectacular?

Linking two of Switzerland’s best-loved ski resorts, the route is an opus of snowcapped peaks, rugged valleys, 291 bridges and wild tangles of alpine forest. The view will keep you glued to the train’s panoramic windows – though the traverse of the towering Landwasser viaduct might have you reaching for a second glass of Valais wine.

Top tip: In Zermatt you can extend your trip by taking Europe’s highest cog railway to the summit of Gornergrat (3,089m). The view of the Matterhorn is worth it.

Read next  Switzerland's most stunning rail journeys

2. odontotos rack railway, greece .

Odontotos Rack Railway, Greece (Shutterstock)

Odontotos Rack Railway, Greece (Shutterstock)

Best for… Peaks and valleys

The journey: Diakopto to Kalavrita (22.5km; one hour)

We say… Making delightfully slow work of a wild Peloponnese gorge, this heritage railway – built in 1895 – is one of southern Greece’s final remaining narrow gauge lines.

It starts in the seaside town of Diakopto and weaves up to the mountain town of Kalavrita through hand-carved tunnels and plane-tree forests. En route, you’ll cross 49 bridges in total, as the Vouraikos River roils far below.

Top tip: To visit nearby Olympia’s ancient temples and stadium, take the small train from Katacolon – yet another narrow-gauge survivor.

3. Rhine Valley Line, Germany

The Rhine Valley Line, Germany (Shutterstock)

The Rhine Valley Line, Germany (Shutterstock)

Best for… A riverside ramble

The journey: Cologne to Mainz (152km; two and a half hours)

We say… The Rhine Valley Line finds its muse just after Bonn, where it starts to tightly hug the waterline. Sure, you could take the high-speed intercity route and save yourself an hour on your journey, but then you’d miss out on the patchwork of vineyards, Koblenz’s hilltop fortress and the legend of Lorelei Rock.

Top tip: Interrail passes are valid on this line – and get you a discount on KD Rhine Line boats.

4. Venice Simplon Orient-Express, UK, France & Italy

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Shutterstock)

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Shutterstock)

 Best for…The ‘golden age’ of rail

The journey: London to Folkestone; Calais to Venice (1,636km; 24 hours)

We say… While the final descendent of the real Orient Express met its end in 2009, a US businessman had long since bought up 1920s and ‘30s carriages (many belonging to the original service) and resurrected its route to Venice.

This journey is played out on two heritage trains – the British Pullman on the UK leg and the VSOE between Calais and Venice – and as the mountains and meadows slip by, you can sip martinis in the piano bar, devour lobster in its Étoile du Nord restaurant car and just dream.

Top tip: Though the southbound journey is popular, the northbound experience is just as fabulous – and doesn’t book up so quickly.

Read next The best new rail routes around the world for 2022

5. west highland line, scotland.

Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Lane, Scotland (Shutterstock)

Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Lane, Scotland (Shutterstock)

Best for… The wildest of Scottish rides

The journey: Glasgow to Mallaig (264km; five and a half hours)

We say… After slipping away from Glasgow, the West Highland Line weaves some of Britain’s wildest scenery: to lonely moorlands, forest-bound lochs and crumbling castle ruins.

Up here, you’re more likely to spot red deer than humans – though the Glenfinnan Viaduct is familiar thanks to its cameo in the Harry Potter films. If travelling southwards, sit on the right-hand side of the train for the best views.

Top tip: The Royal Scotsman and Jacobite Steam Train are rather luxurious – if pricey – alternatives to this £16.80 (one-way) ScotRail journey.

6. Bernina Express, Switzerland & Italy 

Bernina Express (Shutterstock)

Bernina Express (Shutterstock)

Best for… Jaw-dropping (and ear-popping) views

The journey: Landquart to Tirano (163km; five hours)

We say… Starting this summer, you get even more bang for your buck on the Bernina Express , as its trans-alpine journey has been extended for around 50km. It now starts (or terminates) at Landquart before looping through the Prättigau mountains and over Zügen Gorge’s sheer-sided ravines.

Running between May and October, its climax is the 2,253m-high Bernina Pass, the gateway to Italy. It’s a smooth ride but one that’s big on drama, encompassing dizzying and panoramic views from the Brusio Spiral viaduct along the way.

Top tip: For the best views, grab a seat on the rig.

7. Mariazell Railway, Austria

The Narrow Gauge or Mariazell Railway in the Austrian Alps (Shutterstock)

The Narrow Gauge or Mariazell Railway in the Austrian Alps (Shutterstock)

Best for… Alpine hikes and hijinx

The journey: St Pölten to Mariazell (78km; two and a half hours)

We say… Traversing one of the wildest regions of the Austrian Alps, this narrow-gauge service is officially split into two sections: ‘Valley’ and ‘Mountains’.

The former stretches from St Pölten to Frankenfels, a land of pretty grazing meadows and gentle pathways (tickets allow you to hop on and off), while the latter climbs up through the ruggedly handsome Erlauf gorge and the peaks of Ötscher-Tormäuer Naturpark. Allow a full day – at least.

Top tip: For widescreen views, grab a first-class panorama carriage (May to October on weekend and holiday services), while heritage rail fans love the 100-year-old Ötscherbär train that runs from June to late September.

8. Inlandsbanan, Sweden 

Inlandsbanan train pulling into Mora, Sweden (Shutterstock)

Inlandsbanan train pulling into Mora, Sweden (Shutterstock)

Best for… A jovial jaunt

The journey: Kristinehamn to Gällivare (1,288km; from two days)

We say… The Inlandsbanan is slow travel at its best, heading up past the Arctic Circle and into Swedish Lapland. In fact, its drivers love an excuse to stretch their legs, and scheduled stops to take a dip in Lake Siljan or visit Sami villages and their reindeer herds along the way are worth it.

Before you know it, you’re cooing over moose and foraging for berries under midnight sun (June to early July) – all thoughts of the timetable long forgotten.

Top tip: At each stop you can order fresh dishes from local restaurants, such as smoked Arctic char and lingonberry crumble.

 9. Trenino Verde, Sardinia, Italy

The Green Train travelling through Italy (Shutterstock)

The Green Train travelling through Italy (Shutterstock)

Best for… Island adventures

The journey: Palau to Tempio (59km); Sindia to Bosa (33km); Mandas to Laconi (37km); Mandas to Sadali (58km); Arbata to Gairloch (62km); times vary

We say… The best way to get under the skin of Sardinia is by catching the Trenino Verde – or Green Train – for a picturesque pootle around the island. The Mandas-Laconi line weaves through wild woodlands, the Palau-Tempio track culminates in a town famed for its cork groves, and Sindia–Bosa forges from the island’s untamed interior out to its western coast.

Top tip: Don’t be surprised if the conductor hops out to shoo sheep off the line, or to stop traffic at level crossings. Slow travel at its purest.

Read next Italy's most spectacular rail journeys

10. la ligne des cévennes, france.

La Ligne des Cévennes, France (Shutterstock)

La Ligne des Cévennes, France (Shutterstock)

Best for… Gallic grandeur

The journey: Clermont-Ferrand to Nîmes (304km; six and a half hours)

We say… Every twist and turn of this train line is an engineering marvel: it ticks off a mighty 106 tunnels and over a thousand bridges, as well as the seriously lofty (46m high) Chamborigaud viaduct.

With 29 long-legged arches arranged in a semicircular loop, Chamborigaud is a scene-stealer – although the track reaches its pinnacle on the summit at La Bastide (1,023m). There are gentler pleasures still to be found in the rolling vineyards of the Auvergne, the chestnut forests of Cévennes National Park and the track’s picturesque dalliance with the River Allier.

Top tip: Visit in springtime to see the area’s wildflowers in bloom.

11. Derry/Londonderry to Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Derry/L:ondonderry, Northern Ireland (Shutterstock)

Derry/L:ondonderry, Northern Ireland (Shutterstock)

Best for… A budget Irish beauty

The journey: Derry/Londonderry to Coleraine (55km; 38 minutes)

We say… This route doesn’t need five-star cabins or steam locomotives for wow-factor: it’s all about the scenery. Explore a banquet of windswept beaches, razor-edged cliffs and wild views on the no-frills Translink service.

Sit on the left-hand side (if travelling eastwards) and settle in for a ride that Sir Michael Palin hailed in his Great Railway Journeys series as “one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world”, as you hop-skip peregrine falcon habitats and the thread the longest railway tunnels in Ireland.

Top tip: Stop for a yomp on the wide, wild sands of Benone beach.

12. Linha do Douro, Portugal 

Pinhão Station, Portugal (Shutterstock)

Pinhão Station, Portugal (Shutterstock)

Best for…Giving the city the slip

The journey: Porto to Pocinho (160km; three and a half hours)

We say… Don’t take a day cruise from Porto: hop on the Linha do Douro instead. Most boat trips only venture as far as the port-producing village of Pinhão, but this train line ploughs further into the heartlands, past great walls of rock and rambling quintas (wine estates).

Better yet, the track swaps between shores, so there’s no such thing as a duff seat. Pinhão Station must be one of Europe’s prettiest terminals, trimmed with intricate azulejo tilework, but look out, too, for the towering gorge around Régua and the ancient rock art of the Côa Valley at Pocinho.

Top tip: In Pocinho, linger over lunch and local port at Taberna da Julinha (+351 965 398 826) – its steaks are worth the trip alone.

13. Septemvri to Dobrinishte, Bulgaria

Tsepina on the Septemvri to Dobrinishte, Bulgaria (Shutterstock)

Tsepina on the Septemvri to Dobrinishte, Bulgaria (Shutterstock)

Best for… Making new friends

The journey: Septemvri to Dobrinishte (125km; five hours)

We say… Bulgaria’s only operating narrow-gauge railway is a lifeline to its remote south-west, so make room for the babas (grandmothers) heading to market.

The train travels at a glacial speed (you can walk beside it in parts), but it’s a journey to savour, with stops for hiking in Bansko, Velingrad’s hot springs and Belitsa’s dancing bear sanctuary.

Top tip: The train only has a simple café on board, so bring a picnic.

14. El Transcantábrico Clásico, Spain

León, Spain (Shutterstock)

León, Spain (Shutterstock)

Best for… Exploring the north

The journey: León to Santiago de Compostela (643km; four to eight days)

We say… Never has the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela felt so indulgent. El Transcantábrico ’s lavish compartments and plentiful excursions make for an easy, enlightening ride.

The Clásico itinerary hugs the northern coast, with stop-offs at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, seafood suppers in Santander and, on longer trips, hiking in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Picos de Europa National Park.

Top tip: The rail network actually runs between San Feliz and Ferrol – a few kilometres shy of León and Santiago de Compostela – so the trip is bookended by brief coach journeys.

Read next  6 of the world's most luxurious sleeper trains

15. belgrade to bar, serbia, bosnia & montenegro.

Mala Rijeka Viaduct, Serbia (Shutterstock)

Mala Rijeka Viaduct, Serbia (Shutterstock)

Best for… A cross-country caper

The journey: Belgrade to Bar (476km; 10 hours)

We say… This Balkan line can’t be booked online with national operators, so you’ll need to get tickets at the counter, but once on board you’ll hop ravines and rivers with the greatest of ease, thanks to its 254 tunnels and 435 bridges.

It took railway engineers decades to blast through the Dinaric Alps, traverse the thick birch forests, skirt the shores of Lake Skadar and build the 200m-high Mala Rijeka viaduct, which, until 2001, was the tallest railway bridge in the world.

Top tip:  Local sources state this train is currently only operating a night time service. Boo we say! But look out for the return of its day time schedule. 

16. Golden Eagle Danube Express, Turkey to Hungary 

Golden Eagle Danube Express (Shutterstock)

Golden Eagle Danube Express (Shutterstock)

Best for… The east with ease

The journey: Istanbul (Turkey) to Budapest (Hungary) via Bulgaria & Romania (1,832km; seven days)

We say… On the Danube Express ’s ‘Castles of Transylvania’ route, you’ll whizz between two of Europe’s most beguiling cities in the lap of luxury.

Off-train excursions allow for easy exploration of medieval towns and Romanian castles, while the onboard experience includes opulent perks: think plush double cabins, starched linens and piano recitals.

Top tip: Spend your time socialising in the cocktail lounge; this journey tends to attract fascinating souls.

17. North York Moors Railway, England

Vintage passenger train on the North York Moors Railway (Shutterstock)

Vintage passenger train on the North York Moors Railway (Shutterstock)

Best for… A time-travelling treasure

The journey: Whitby to Pickering (38.6km; one hour, 45 minutes)

We say… With a shrill whistle and a scorching blast, this steamy trip into the North York Moors National Park begins in lively Whitby, so spare time to visit its recenty reopened Abbey.

From there, it travels windswept dales, lush carpets of heather and, so it seems, time itself. Though devoid of most mod cons, the NYMR’s hundred-year-old steam trains make surprisingly quick work of these rolling moors, as you stop off for picnics and village walks along the way.

Top tip: For a taste of life at the steamy end, join the railway’s ‘experience days’ and ride on the footplate.

18. Bohinj Railway, Slovenia & Italy

Bohinj Railway, Slovenia (Shutterstock)

Bohinj Railway, Slovenia (Shutterstock)

Best for… Slovenia made simple

The journey: Jesenice to Trieste (approx 150km; three hours)

We say… To ford the peaks of the Julian Alps to the northernmost sliver of Italian coastline, the Bohinj Railway must slice a route it has plied for over 110 years.

It was built as a strategic network for the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, but these days it’s catnip for hikers and cyclists who revel in the easy connections to Most na Soci, Lake Bled and Nova Gorica’s wineries.

Top tip: For a special trip, catch the heritage steam train (May to November) between Jesenice and Nova Gorica, where staff still don the uniforms of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

19. Semmering Railway, Austria

Semmering Railway, Austria (Shutterstock)

Semmering Railway, Austria (Shutterstock)

Best for… UNESCO-listed joys

The journey: Gloggnitz to Mürzzuschlag (41km; 40 minutes)

We say… Praised by UNESCO as ‘one of the greatest feats of civil engineering’, the Semmering teeters on two-storey viaducts and narrow mountain passes, with twists and steep inclines aplenty.

The reward for your fortitude? Swoon-worthy views of the Austrian Alps, and opportunities for great hiking or skiing. It took six years and 20,000 labourers to build this track, and this pioneering project from the 1850s became the blueprint for mountain railways all over the world.

Top tip: Gloggnitz is just an hour by train from Vienna, so don’t miss out.

20. Bergen Railway, Norway 

Bergen Railway, Norway (Shutterstock)

Bergen Railway, Norway (Shutterstock)

Best for… Scandi splendour

The journey: Oslo to Bergen (500km; six and a half hours)

We say… Even in the cosy comfort of your compartment, Norway’s desolate Hardangervidda plateau will send a shiver down your spine. While the forests and lakes outside Oslo are beautiful, it’s the Bergen Railway ’s eerily empty mountain passes that steal the show.

Stretch your legs at Finse, the highest station on the line (1,222m), to see where Robert Falcon Scott and his crew trained in advance of their infamous 1912 South Pole expedition. A lonely spot indeed.

Top tip: Hop off at Myrdal and pick up the extraordinary 20km branch line to Flam (one hour), whose spiral tunnels and steep gradient will sweep you up further into these breathtaking mountains.

21. Brocken Railway, Germany 

Brocken Railway, Germany (Shutterstock)

Brocken Railway, Germany (Shutterstock)

Best for… Saving your legs

The journey: Drei Annen Hohne to Brocken (19km; 51 minutes)

We say… The summit of Brocken (the Harz mountains’ loftiest point) is a doddle for these steam trains (which, if you book online, you'll have to do in German). They climb thick pines and wildflower meadows up to the 1,141m peak, forming one of three lines on the Harz Railway, Europe’s longest network (140km) still running daily steam trains.

Top tip: Buy a one-way ticket and hike back down, walking the famed trail to Torfhaus.

22. Ffestiniog Railway, Wales 

Ffestiniog Railway, Wales (Shutterstock)

Ffestiniog Railway, Wales (Shutterstock)

Best for… Steaming Snowdonia

The journey: Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (21.7km; one hour 15 mins)

We say… Operated by the oldestsurviving train company in the world, the Ffestiniog Railway has run for almost 200 years through Snowdonia National Park, and has a gleaming troupe of steam locomotives. The route is a rich feast of rivers, waterfalls, mountains and ancient woodlands, with a looping spiral section lending some thrills.

Top tip: Add on the Welsh Highland Railway – Ffestiniog’s sister route – between Porthmadog and Caernarfon to extend your fun.

Read next Britain's most scenic rail journeys

Discover more incredible rail journeys:, switzerland's most stunning rail journeys, spectacular rail journeys in the usa, interrailing on europe's orient express, related articles, looking for inspiration.

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On the Luce travel blog

Europe by train: Five great one-week rail trip routes

Posted on Last updated: December 11, 2023

Explore Europe by train with five of the best European rail trip itinerary ideas you can do in just one week, covering Northern Europe, Italy, Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal, and Scandinavia.

* This site contains affiliate links , where I get a small commission from purchases at no extra cost to you.

Europe by train: Five great one-week rail trip routes

Train travel is one of the best ways to explore Europe – the continent is fairly compact so it’s easy to get around and there’s a wide network of train routes and rail passes available, so you can just sit back and soak up the views. But if you want to explore Europe by train, most suggested rail itineraries are geared up for InterRailers with months to spare.

That’s not the only option though – you can have a mini European rail adventure too. Just choose a region and a few destinations and create your own route. Or if that sounds too much work, here are five of the best one-week European rail trip ideas to get you started.

Europe by train: The Flamsbana scenic train in Norway

Each of the routes is possible in a week’s holiday, but if you’ve got more time you can take it slower and spend more time in each place. The idea isn’t to wear yourself out trying to see everything in every destination, but to take in the highlights and get a taste for each place (if you find somewhere you love, you can always come back again and stay longer).

From Scandinavia to Spain, there’s the perfect European rail route for you – and if you’re ready to go, check out my detailed one-week itinerary posts, which are linked to after each route description and give you the full details of which trains to take, how much they cost, how to book tickets, what to see and where to stay along the way.

5 itineraries for exploring Europe by train

Europe by train: Swiss mountain railway at Kleine Scheidegg

Northern Europe: Canals and chocolate

Amsterdam > Bruges > Paris > Chur > Milan

This train journey takes you through some of Northern Europe’s higlights – from its cosmopolitan capital cities to its storybook canalside towns and on through the mountains of the Alps on board one of Europe’s most spectacular train journeys.

Start your trip in Amsterdam and spend the day exploring this vibrant city with its 50km of canals and 1500 bridges. Visit one of Amsterdam’s art and culture museums, take a walk around the UNESCO-listed Canal Ring or hire a bike to explore further afield.

Along the canals in Bruges

Then take an early train to the pretty Belgian city of Bruges (3 hours) for an afternoon feasting on local beer and chocolate. Next morning, climb to the top of the Belfort tower or take a boat trip along Bruges canals before catching an afternoon train to Paris (3 hours).

Paris has something for everyone – big-name museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, parks, pavement cafés and boutique shops. Or why not try out some of the city’s more unusual attractions , like the Promenade Plantée railway line turned park or underground Musée des Égouts?

The Musee d’Orsay in Paris

Then take the train on to Chur (5.5 hours) and spend the evening in Switzerland’s oldest city. Catch the Bernina Express the following morning – one of the most scenic train rides in Europe. This four-hour rail journey runs through the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps, across bridges and viaducts past Alpine meadows and traditional mountain villages.

The Bernina Express terminates in Tirano in Italy, where you change onto a local train to connect on to Milan (3 hours). Then spend your final morning shopping and sightseeing in the Italian fashion capital’s historic heart before heading home.

Read the full Northern Europe by train itinerary

A one-week rail trip itinerary in Northen Europe

Italy: Palazzos and pizza

Venice > Florence > Rome > Naples > Sorrento > Sicily

This rail trip is a feast of Italian culture, history, food and wine, travelling from Venice in the north to Sicily in the south. Begin your trip with a full day in Venice – cruise the Grand Canal, get lost in the backstreets and brave the crowds at St Mark’s Square and the Doges Palace. Then take an early train on to Florence the following morning (2 hours).

Spend the afternoon soaking up Florence’s artistic atmosphere, with galleries, museums, churches and palazzi overflowing with Renaissance masterpieces, and try some delicious Tuscan food and wine. Next morning, take the short train journey to Rome (1.5 hours).

Rome buildings at sunset

Explore some of Rome’s historic highlights, from the Colosseum and Pantheon to St Peter’s Basilica and the Trevi Fountain, before finding the perfect piazza for a sunset aperitivo .

Travel further south to the gritty coastal city of Naples (1 hour 10 mins) to spend the day exploring its archaeological treasures and stuffing yourself in the home of pizza before taking the Circumvesuviana railway south to Sorrento. Eat gelato and soak up the seaside views in Sorrento then spend the next day visiting some of the nearby sights.

The buried Roman city of Pompeii, Italy

You can go back in time with a trip to the buried Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii , climb Mount Vesuvius, take a boat trip along the coast to the colourful villages of the Amalfi Coast or head across the Bay of Naples to the glamorous island of Capri.

Then finish your trip by travelling south to Sicily. Getting there’s an adventure in itself – you can take the train all the way as it travels onto the ferry for the 30-minute boat trip across the Messina Straits. Once in Sicily, get a taste of the island by choosing from Taormina (6 hours 45 mins), Catania (7.5 hours) or Palermo (9 hours) for your final stop.

Read the full I taly by train itinerary

A one-week rail trip itinerary in Italy

Eastern Europe: Concerts and cake

Budapest > Bratislava > Vienna > Ljubljana > Zagreb

Head east to some of Europe’s cultural capitals to experience world-class art, architecture and music as you travel to five different countries in just one week. Start your rail journey through Eastern European in the Hungarian capital Budapest, with a full day to soak up the city’s culture, steam in its thermal spa baths and party by night in its ruin pubs.

St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna

Then catch a train to Bratislava in Slovakia (2.5 hours), a compact city on the banks of the Danube. Spend the afternoon checking out Bratislava’s mix of 18th-century and Socialist-era architecture, from the blue Church of St Elisabeth to the quirky ‘UFO’ Bridge.

Then travel on to Vienna in Austria (1 hour by train – or if you fancy a change from rail travel, the two cities are also connected by a boat which runs along the Danube).

Visit an ornate palace, take an architecture walk around the Ringstrasse, watch the horses at the Spanish Riding School, catch a Mozart concert at the State Opera House and fill up on delicious sachertorte at a traditional Viennese coffee house.

Lake Bled at dusk

Next travel on to Ljubljana in Slovenia (6 hours) along the route of the scenic Semmering Railway through Austria’s mountains. Spend the afternoon exploring the bridges and Baroque churches of Ljubljana’s charming old town and catch sunset from the castle.

Take a day trip from Ljubljana to beautiful Lake Bled (1 hour by train), famous for its island church, hilltop castle and creamy custard Bled cakes. Then end your trip in Zagreb, across the border in Croatia (2.5 hours), with a day wandering around the historic Upper Town, picnicking in Maksimir Park and visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Read the full Eastern Europe by train itinerary

A one-week rail trip itinerary in Eastern Europe

Spain & Portugal: Paella and port

Barcelona > Valencia > Madrid > Porto > Lisbon

This rail journey takes you across Spain and Portugal, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, with plenty of fantastic food and drink along the way. Start your trip in the Catalan capital city of Barcelona and spend a full day checking out Gaudi’s unique architecture, people-watching on Las Ramblas and soaking up the sunshine on Barceloneta beach.

Visiting Madrid on a budget

Then take an early train down the coast to Valencia (3 hours) where you have the afternoon to explore its mix of old and new – from the traditional buildings of the Ciutat Vella to the Space-Age City of Arts and Sciences – and try a paella in the city where it was created.

The next day take the short train ride inland to the Spanish capital Madrid (1.5 hours) for an evening of eating and drinking in the city’s tapas bars. Spend the next morning discovering Madrid’s parks, museums and historic buildings – from the famous Prado art museum and Mercado de San Miguel food market to the largest palace in Europe.

Port tasting at Taylor's in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto

Then travel across the border to Porto (6 hours 45 minutes via Vigo) and spend the next day taking a traditional rabelo boat trip beneath the six bridges over the River Duoro and port-tasting at the famous producers across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Finally travel south to Lisbon (3 hours) to end your trip with a feast of local seafood and pastel de nata custard tarts in Portugal’s capital. Check out the city’s street art scene, ride one of the vintage trams and get a workout climbing to the top of the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcantara or Miradouro do Graça for views across Lisbon’s red rooftops.

Read the full Spain and Portugal by train itinerary

A one-week rail trip itinerary in Spain and Portugal

Scandinavia: Fjords and funiculars

Copenhagen > Stockholm > Oslo > Flåm > Bergen

This final Europe by train itinerary takes in some of the scenic highlights of Scandinavia on a journey across three countries. Start with a full day in Danish capital Copenhagen – cycle the cobbled streets, ride the Tivoli Gardens rollercoasters, walk along the canals of Christianshavn and check out Nyhavn’s design shops and Michelin-starred restaurants.

The following day, take the train across the border to Sweden, travelling to Stockholm across the Öresund Link, a unique combination of a bridge and a tunnel (5.5 hours). Then spend the afternoon and the new morning exploring Stockholm.

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Wander through the medieval streets of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan old town, learn about Sweden’s most famous exports at the ABBA and Nobel Prize museums, or take a boat trip to explore some of the 30,000 islands which make up the Stockholm Archipelago.

Then catch an afternoon train across the border to Oslo in Norway (6.5 hours), where you have the next day to soak up Scandinavian culture at the city’s museums, art galleries and the impressive modern Opera House or historic 13th-century Akershus Fortress.

Historic buildings in Bryggen, Bergen, Norway

Next head west along the scenic rail route towards the coast – first taking a mainline train to Myrdal (4.5 hours) and then catching the stunning Flåmsbana mountain railway down to Flåm, passing mountain peaks, lakes and waterfalls (50 minutes).

Spend the night in Flåm on the edge of the fjords, and take a boat trip into the Sognefjord the next morning before travelling to Bergen (2 hours). Finish your trip visiting the colourful wooden houses of the UNESCO World Heritage Bryggen district, checking out the views from the Mount Fløyen funicular and eating seafood at Bergen’s fish market.

Read the full Scandinavia by train itinerary

A one-week European rail trip itinerary in Scandinavia

Don’t want to organise it yourself? You can also book a custom rail trip based on any of our Europe by train itineraries through our partners Byway ,* the flight-free holiday platform, which include transport and accommodation.

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Explore Europe by train with five of the best European rail trip itinerary ideas you can do in just one week, covering Northern Europe, Italy, Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal, and Scandinavia | Europe by train | Europe rail itineraries | InterRail itineraries | European train travel

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Monday 15th of May 2023

Hi Lucy, Hope you are well. Loved your article! Planning a trip with kids age 14 and 8. Want to see two countries ( france/switzerland) and end up in London. Would love to see switzerland through those lovely videos we keep seeing but also explore a bit more. How can we plan this best? Any advice/guidance will be much appreciated! Thank you in advance. Warm regards, Saba

Lucy Dodsworth

Friday 26th of May 2023

Hi Saba, depending on how long you have you could start in Milan and take the Glacier Express scenic train ( from Tirano to Zermatt, then travel on to Geneva and into France, either heading down to the South of France or north along the border to Strasborg and Colmar towards Paris.

Sonia henry

Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Hi Lucy trying to get from Athens by train what countries can I do

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Hi, you could travel up through North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany. Or another alternative is to take a ferry to Bari in Southern Italy and travel north from there.

Monday 27th of February 2023

Hi Lucy. Your feedback is very informative. I'm thinking about going to Norway in a couple weeks for about 7 days. What countries can I visit from Norway within that time? I'm looking to capitalize on as much places I can see. I mentioned Norway, but not quite sure as yet. I may consider Denmark. Let me know your recommendations.

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Hi Darren, my Scandinavia itinerary covers Denmark, Norway and Sweden is a week so that should be easily doable in your timescale. You can also catch the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn in Estonia if you also want to venture into the Baltics, there are frequent sailings and it's only around two hours.

Tuesday 20th of September 2022

Loved your article. Do you have any suggestions for an itinerary with an overnight train so that we can experience a night on a sleeper train (with a cabin and bathroom)?

Thursday 22nd of September 2022

Hi Pam, there are quite a few to choose from in Europe – I did a post on some of my favourites here but you could travel London to Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper or the ÖBB Nightjet trains run from Austria to France and Germany, and both have cabins with private bathrooms.

Monday 16th of May 2022

@Lucy, I want to travel by train from Athens to Amsterdam. Any advice?

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Afraid that's not a route I've done but this article on Seat 61 might be helpful:


Europe by Train: 20 Itinerary Ideas for 10 Days of Travel

There’s no better way to slow travel through Europe than by train. Here are 20 itinerary ideas for 10 days in Europe by rail – with options for every travel style, budget and season.

An epic European train journey through the Swiss Alps.

Europe is experiencing something of a railway renaissance, with old tracks being revived and new rail routes opening up.

Whether you’re looking for a fast-paced, multi-country itinerary or you prefer to explore one country in depth, travelling by train is an easy and affordable way to get around.

Some of these train journeys are among the most beautiful on Earth; others are a convenient way to get from A to B. Whatever you’re looking for, here are 20 of the best Europe 10-day itinerary ideas to get on board with.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

10-day itineraries for travelling Europe by train

Each of these Europe train itineraries is perfectly suited to 10 days of travel but can easily be shortened or extended depending on how much time you have.

Depending on your travel plans and just how far you plan to ride the rails, it might be economical to pick up a Eurail Global Pass.

Similar to a Amtrak Rail Pass in the US or the JR Pass in Japan, it can be used for multiple trips across the continent (it covers 33 countries in total). There are no fixed dates, and you have complete flexibility to design your own route.

Learn more about the Eurail Pass and purchase your pass online here through the official website .

Central Europe by Train: Hungary to Slovenia

  • Route: Budapest – Bratislava – Vienna – Ljubljana
  • Editor’s pick

Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

This route traverses four of Central Europe’s great capitals: Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Ljubljana.

Made for travellers who don’t mind moving at a fast pace and want to make the most of their 10 days in Europe, this itinerary hits all the urban highlights of Hungary , Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia with plenty of opportunities for day trips to castles, wineries and hiking areas in between.

Start in Hungary’s enthralling capital and spend a few days experiencing the best of Budapest . Don’t miss a morning wander around the covered market, a soak in the Gellert or Széchenyi Thermal Bath, and sunset at Fisherman’s Bastion.

After the impressive scale of Budapest, Slovakia’s capital (3.5 hours away by train) seems diminutive in comparison – but don’t be fooled, Bratislava has a lot to offer visitors. With one full day in the city you can catch all the highlights, starting with a morning walking tour of the historic Old Town core and culminating with a view from the castle grounds.

For something different, cross the famous UFO Bridge to wander around Petrzalka , a colourful neighbourhood on the opposite side of the river. Then indulge in a day trip on the Danube or through the countryside to visit Slovakia’s amazing castles, wineries and old towns .

Continue to Austria, following the mighty Danube river. For this leg you can choose between a morning train (1.5 hrs) or if the weather is good, the ferry (1.5 hours). Vienna needs no introduction – there are countless things to keep you occupied in this classic European capital for 2-3 days, ranging from historic cafes to museums and churches.

When you’ve had your fill, board the train for a final time for the scenic journey to Ljubljana. This train ride takes the better part of a full day and leads you through some of southern Austria’s and northern Slovenia’s most beautiful countryside. Stopovers in Graz or Maribor (Slovenia’s second-largest city) can easily be arranged if time permits.

Fall in love with petite and pretty Ljubljana by wandering the river’s edge through the Old Town, browsing the produce market and taking the funicular up to the castle. Bled is within easy reach (under 1.5 hours by train or bus) and you won’t regret adding on a half-day trip to visit the region’s most iconic lake .

Northern Italy: Milan to Trieste

  • Route: Milan – Verona – Padua – Venice – Trieste
  • Designed by: Sophie from Just Heading Out

Three cities in Northern Italy.

Italy has more than enough on offer to fill 10 days of travel or more . This route takes you to some of the most popular cities in the north of Italy plus a few underrated places.

Start in Milan, the elegant fashion capital. Spend two nights here to eat, drink, shop and see the highlights: The Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and the Castello Sforzesco. The next day, take either the regional train (2 hrs) or the fast train (1.25 hrs) to Verona.

Verona’s biggest claim to fame is as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , so you must visit Juliet’s balcony and Romeo’s house. But there’s much more to Verona! Climb up to the Castel San Pedro for a great view of the city, visit Castelvecchio, and see an opera performance at the historic Arena.

After two nights in Verona, board an early train to Padua (1 hr). Padua is noticeably less touristy than Verona or Milan. As one of the oldest cities in Italy , it features a beautiful historic city centre. Visit the Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens, and the Prato della Valle.

After dinner, it is time to take a train to Venice (30 mins). When you arrive, check into your hotel and rest up for three days of sightseeing . Aside from the highlights – such as Ponte Rialto, Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco – be sure to leave some time to explore the streets and get lost down the alleyways. A day trip to Murano and Burano is certainly worth the effort.

From Venice, it is a 2-hour train ride to Trieste. This underrated city lies close to Italy’s borders with Austria and Slovenia, and both influences can be clearly felt in the food, culture and architecture.

Trieste is the perfect place to slow down and relax for a day at the beach. Finish your trip around Northern Italy by visiting the Castello di San Giusto and Miramare Castle.

Southern Spain’s Andalusia: Madrid to Granada

  • Route: Madrid – Toledo – Cordoba – Seville – Granada

Three cities in Southern Spain.

While a road trip in Spain might be the best way to explore the country from top to bottom, you can still see a lot when travelling on the country’s railway network. This itinerary focuses on the southern part of the country: the culturally distinct and utterly mesmerising Andalusia region.

Spain’s capital is a natural place to begin. If it’s your first visit, pause for a day or two to visit the most important landmarks in Madrid before boarding a train to Toledo. Half an hour later, you’ll find yourself walking the streets of one of Spain’s most magical and history steeped cities . For all the best things to do in the imperial city, see this guide to Toledo .

For the remainder of your Spain train itinerary, divide your time between Cordoba (4 hours from Toledo by train), Seville (40 minutes from Cordoba) and Granada (1.5 hours from Seville). Each of these three Andalusian cities has its particular charms and fair share of awe-inspiring landmarks, most notably the Mezquita in Cordoba, the Alcazar in Seville and the one and only Alhambra in Granada.

If you have more time, finish with a couple of days on the coast or head west to Lisbon to continue travelling around Portugal by train.

Poland & Germany: Krakow to Berlin

  • Route: Krakow – Wroclaw – Dresden – Berlin
  • Designed by: Kami from Kami and The Rest of The World

Poland and Germany.

This train journey takes you through some of the most beautiful and interesting cities of Poland and Germany and allows you to see some lesser-known yet amazing corners of Central Europe.

Featuring historical sites, beautiful nature and hip spots, the itinerary is good for anyone who’s interested in culture and history but also wants to venture beyond the expected.

Start your journey in Krakow, the former capital of Poland and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You need at least two days to see all the main sights, starting with the Old Town and the Wawel Castle, the riverside and the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. Krakow is a perfect base for side trips, the most popular being the UNESCO-listed salt mine in Wieliczka and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Both are easily reached by train.

From Krakow, continue by direct train to Wroclaw (3 hrs), one of the main cultural capitals of Poland. Set aside a full day to see the city, taking your time to fall in love with the colourful Market Square and to find as many quirky dwarfs as possible. In the evening be sure to find the magical ‘neon yard’.

From Wroclaw, you can easily explore part of the Lower Silesia region – probably the most interesting part of Poland. Easy train trips include beautiful Swidnica , with its spectacular 17th-century Church of Peace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the stunning Ksiaz Castle (the third largest castle in Poland), numerous spa towns, and the Sudety mountains.

From Wroclaw, continue by train toward Dresden but stop on the way in Goerlitz, the city divided by the Polish-German border. It’s one of the prettiest and best-preserved German cities and you’ll surely recognise it from numerous movies, including The Grand Budapest Hotel and Inglourious Basterds . The train trip from Wroclaw to Dresden takes a little over 3 hours and Goerlitz is more or less halfway.

Even though the city was badly destroyed during WWII, Dresden has some of the most impressive Baroque architecture you can find in Europe. You need two days to see it properly, but the main highlights of the city are conveniently located in the centre.

Finish your trip in the cool and vibrant capital of Germany, Berlin (2 hrs by train from Dresden), where you can enjoy a variety of attractions – from historical monuments and mementos of 20th-century world events – and alternative sites such as Kreuzberg.

The Swiss Alps: Geneva to Tirano via the Glacier Express

  • Route: Geneva – Bern – Interlaken – Zermatt – St Moritz – Tirano
  • Designed by: Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

The Swiss Alps.

This 10-day itinerary is breathtaking all year round – but at the same time it’s winter-inspired as it follows some of the highest peaks in Europe and takes you to some of the most popular destinations for winter sports in the Swiss Alps.

Many of the stops are hard to reach, so the most convenient start is Geneva near the France/Switzerland border.

A day or two is enough time to explore Geneva, the largest city in Switzerland, before forwarding to the charming administrative capital of Bern (2 hrs). You can cover the main attractions of this small but beautiful city in a day – the connecting bridges are a must see – before the next stretch to Interlaken (1 hr), a resort town known as the ‘adventure capital of Switzerland’.

Interlaken is an ideal base to explore the many surrounding mountain peaks including the famous Jungfrau. The 3-Day Jungfrau Travel Pass offers great value for money when exploring this area’s mountains by train and cable car.

This Swiss rail itinerary then takes you high into the alps to visit some of the most beautiful winter resort towns in the world. The first is Zermatt (2.5 hrs), set beneath the majestic Matterhorn (AKA the Toblerone mountain). Cable cars from Zermatt whisk you up towards the peak.

A day is long enough to explore the town before joining the Glacier Express , one of the most scenic train rides in the world. After 7 hours riding the rails through mountainous terrain you’ll finally reach St Moritz where you can connect to yet another breathtaking train, the Bernina Express, to cross into Italy. The trip ends at Tirano (4 hrs). Spend a day in this resort town before continuing on to Milan or Turin for onward travel.

The Balkans by Train: Zagreb to Bar

  • Route: Zagreb – Belgrade – Bar

Zagreb, Montenegro and Belgrade.

Bus is by far the preferred way to travel around the Balkans region – but there is one rail route that should be on every traveller’s radar. The train from Belgrade (Serbia) to Bar ( Montenegro ) is easily one of the most scenic and yet underrated in all of Europe.

With 10 days up your sleeve, you can tackle this full-day journey (the day train is highly recommended) plus add a few days in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb , at the beginning of your trip.

Zagreb is often overlooked in favour of Venetian cities along the Dalmatian Coast – yet Croatia’s capital is easily one of its most beautiful destinations , albeit in a slightly unconventional way. Zagreb is loaded with history, street art and beautiful churches, including the iconic St. Mark’s, with its colourful tiled roof.

After a day in Zagreb, board a train for Serbia’s capital, Belgrade (6 hrs). The former administrative centre of Yugoslavia is a must-visit for those interested in modern history and Brutalist architecture. Spend a morning at Avala Tower , climbing up to the viewing deck for a panorama, cycle around the concrete jungle that is New Belgrade, and wander the old neighbourhood of Zemun. House of Flowers, the final resting place of Josip Broz Tito, is a fascinating visit – but if you only have time for one museum in Belgrade, make it the Tesla Museum.

Completed in 1976 and officially opened by President Tito himself, the Belgrade to Bar train passes over no fewer than 435 bridges on its way to the Adriatic Coast. It’s all about the journey: The part of Montenegro the train traverses is absolutely stunning , especially when the train passes over marshy Lake Skadar.

When you arrive in Bar, make a detour to Stari Bar to explore the ruined old town and the aqueduct before finding a spot to relax on the beach. Pleasant swimming beaches can be found down the coast in Ulcinj – itself a good jumping off point for travelling into Kosovo or Albania .

The Netherlands’ Randstad: Rotterdam to Amsterdam

  • Route: Rotterdam – Den Haag – Amsterdam
  • Designed by: Erin from Pina Travels

The Netherlands by train.

This European train route brings you to three beautiful Dutch cities within a region of the Netherlands known as ‘The Randstad’, the most heavily populated and developed part of the country.

On this route, you’ll get to experience the best of Dutch culture , architecture, history and food. Travel times between cities are short and direct, which makes this an easy train itinerary with maximum time to explore each destination.

The route begins with three days in Rotterdam. During WWII, Rotterdam was completely flattened by bombing. The city has since been rebuilt, and is now a modern metropolis that’s packed with history, art, good food and amazing architecture. While in Rotterdam, check out the city’s famous ‘cube houses’ to walk among the blocks and visit the Show Cube Museum . You’ll also want to check out the Erasmus Bridge, the Van Nelle Factory (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Market Hall, where you can enjoy Dutch art and food all under one roof.

From Rotterdam, take a quick 25-minute train ride to your next destination, Den Haag (The Hague). Plan to spend three days in this city, which is known for being the seat of the Dutch government since 1588. Den Haag is home to the Gothic-style Binnenhof complex and the 16th-century Noordeinde Palace, which is one of the Dutch Royal Family’s official palaces. You’ll also find plenty of museums, churches, and restaurants that are worth visiting.

Next, take a 45-minute train ride from Den Haag to the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam to witness the artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and iconic narrow houses for yourself. You’ll want to spend four days visiting popular attractions plus experiencing alternative things to do in Amsterdam .

Visit the Rijksmuseum to see the work of the Dutch masters and visit the Anne Frank Museum to learn the story of the Jewish wartime diarist. When you’re hungry, be sure to drop by Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis to try some classic Dutch pancakes!

Portugal by Train: Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela

  • Route: Lisbon – Coimbra – Porto – Santiago de Compostela
  • Designed by: Or from My Path in the World 


Covering three of the biggest cities in Portugal along with the endpoint of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, this route is perfect for history and culture lovers, as well as for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Portugal’s laid-back yet lively atmosphere , taste great food and wine, and meet friendly locals.

Lisbon is a contagiously vibrant city and it’s worth dedicating four days to experience the best of it, including its landmarks, museums, enchanting neighbourhoods and culinary and nightlife scenes. Some of the must-sees are Sao Jorge Castle, the National Tile Museum, Belem Tower, and the Santa Luzia Lookout Point – but the bucket list goes on and on.

A 2-hour train ride will take you to Coimbra, a postcard-perfect city on the Mondego River. Coimbra is known for its 13th-century UNESCO-Listed university, one of the oldest in Europe . While touring it, it’s possible to visit the Baroque Joanine Library, the Botanical Garden, gorgeous courtyards, and much more.

Other things to do here include visiting Sé Velha (Coimbra’s cathedral), admiring the Manga Cloister, and watching a Fado de Coimbra concert. This music genre originated in Lisbon but Coimbra has developed its own typical style.

After two days, continue to Porto (1.5 hrs), another must-visit place in Portugal . Spend another two days in this city, a fantastic base to explore the Douro Valley if you feel like hiring a car. Visit Livraria Lello (an astounding bookstore), wander through the Crystal Palace Gardens, visit the Bolsa Palace, and cross the bridge over to Gaia to tour some top port wine cellars.

Lastly, Spain’s train company, Renfe, can take you from Porto to Vigo (2.5 hrs) and from Vigo to Santiago de Compostela (50-90 mins), where you can spend your last day and a half. As the endpoint of the pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago, its highlight is, of course, the impressive UNESCO-Listed cathedral, built in the 11th-13th centuries.

Mainland Greece: Athens to Thessaloniki 

  • Route: Athens – Meteora – Thessaloniki
  • Designed by: Chrysoula from Greece Travel Ideas

Mainland Greece.

This 10-day train journey in Mainland Greece covers the country’s two major cities and the natural wonder of Meteora.

The train ride from Athens to the port city of Thessaloniki via Meteora is dramatic, as it passes through narrow valleys and steep mountainous countryside. The greatest treat is the chance to discover Meteora, with its amazing rock formations and six monasteries perched on high rocky crags.

Athens is rich in archaeological treasures that are easy to visit on foot. Other things to see include the Archaeological Museum, the various markets, and the Changing of the Guard ceremony in Syntagma Square. Four days or longer is required to enjoy all of these attractions.

The train from Athens to Meteora (Kalambaka station) leaves Larissis Athens station in the early morning and takes 4.5 hours. The journey passes through beautiful mountainous countryside with narrow valleys. It’s quite a long walk to the first of the monasteries and they are spread out across a wide area, so it’s best to take a taxi or pre-book a guided Meteora tour.

Most visitors to Meteora stay for two days in nearby Kastraki or the larger town of Kalambaka. All 6 of the monasteries are open to the public and accessible via stone-cut steps, but it’s advisable to limit yourself to 3-4 per day.

The train journey from Kalambaka to Thessaloniki takes 3.5 hours. Thessaloniki is an attractive port city with a rich history and reputation for good food, so it’s ideal to spend at least 2-3 days here. Thessaloniki has several notable Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman, and Sephardic Jewish monuments. In contrast, there are lovely beaches within easy reach, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife.

Czechia & Germany: Prague to Munich

  • Route: Prague – Nuremberg – Munich
  • Designed by: Riana from Teaspoon of Adventure

Germany and Czechia.

This 10-day train journey is all about beautiful buildings, rich history and – if you’re a fan – drinking lots of delicious beer!

Each of these cities has something special to offer and no shortage of things to keep you entertained. They’re also all quite close to one another, so you won’t waste too much time getting from one spot to the next.

The trip starts in Prague , one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe, where you’ll spend three nights. On day one, walk through some of Prague’s most beautiful neighbourhoods before checking out Vysehrad castle in the afternoon. End your first day trying Czech food classics such as pork, dumplings and of course, beer! 

Start the second day with a walking tour through the Old Town and Wenceslas Square, take photos on the Charles Bridge, then enjoy a river cruise in the evening. On your third and final day in Prague, see the John Lennon Wall, visit the famous Prague Castle, and end with a beautiful view from Letna Beer Garden.

From Prague, head out on a 6-hour train journey to Nuremberg, where you’ll spend three nights. Your first day in Nuremberg should be dedicated to exploring the Old Town. Don’t miss Weissgerbergasse, a street filled with historic timber houses.

Take a guided tour of the Nuremberg Memorial to learn more about the Nuremberg Trials and visit the courtroom where the trials took place. For more history, visit the Nazi Rally Grounds and Documentation Centre on the afternoon of day two. For something lighter, admire the artwork at Albrecht Dürer’s House and visit the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg.

To finish, take a one-hour train ride from Nuremberg to Munich for your final 4 days. Get your beer fix at a local beer hall or garden, tour the beautiful Old Town, including Marienplatz and Frauenkirche, shop the food markets, and visit local museums.

On your last day in Munich, head out on a day trip. Visit Dachau, the oldest and largest concentration camp in Germany for an important tour through history, or head to Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty .

Ukraine’s Big Three: Kiev to Lviv

  • Route: Kiev – Odessa – Lviv
  • Designed by: Amy from Moonshine and Minibuses

Three great cities to visit in Ukraine by train.

This itinerary hits the three most-visited cities in Ukraine , giving you an eclectic overview of Europe’s biggest country.

While you can take the day train in order to enjoy the views, Ukraine’s night trains are the recommended affordable way to cover a lot of ground quickly. If you’re nostalgic, the overnight trains are often a trip into the past!

Landing in Ukraine’s capital will launch you right into the middle of one of the most dynamic countries in Europe. From colourful medieval legends to stoic Soviet architecture , centuries of history are on display at every corner.

With four days in Kiev, join the pilgrims in the monastery caves of Lavra Pechersk and peek at mummified monks, explore the luxurious private residence of ousted President Yanukovych, and dine at restaurants headed by internationally renowned chefs.

Just when you’re getting into the groove of Ukraine, head to Odessa, the Pearl of the Black Sea, travelling either by intercity or overnight train. Odessa has a reputation for being a party town (that it gleefully lives up to), but in addition to the beach clubs and Gilded Age bars, make sure you take some time to learn about the history of the city. Established under Catherine the Great, it has a diverse and dramatic background.

After two or three days of living life to the fullest in Odessa, head towards Lviv. This city is nearly 800km from Odessa, so it’s best to take the overnight train. Considered a cultural hub, Lviv is a tapestry of idyllic European scenes, from its cobblestone streets to its skyline of church spires. Wander down alleys, pop into coffee shops, and peer into the myriad of churches.

End your trip to Ukraine at an underground bunker-style pub, a craft beer ‘theatre,’ or the regal opera house (or even the cocktail bar below it!).

Transiberian Express: Siberia to St. Petes

  • Route: Irkutsk, Siberia – Moscow – St. Petersburg
  • Designed by: Sinead from Map Made Memories

Siberia and St Petersburg.

This itinerary offers something for everyone as it combines historic sites and the fantastic architecture of the big cities with small-town rural Russia, nature trails and scenic landscapes.

Spend a day exploring Irkutsk on foot following the city’s ‘green line’, a tourist trail painted on the pavement that covers points of interest around the city. Take a full day trip to Lake Baikal 70km away. Shop in the fisherman’s market at tiny Listvyanka, visit the wooden Church of St Nicholas, take a boat trip on the world’s deepest lake, or enjoy a scenic hike in the hills surrounding the lake.

The train from Irkutsk to Moscow takes around three-and-a-half full days following a popular stretch of the Trans-Siberian Railway route.

When you arrive in Moscow, spend 3-4 days visiting the imposing Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb and the incredible Armoury. Tour opulent churches such as the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

For an amazing view of sprawling Moscow, head to the deck on the top of the Central Children’s Store, an enormous toy store in the centre. Spend a day riding the elaborately decorated Russian Metro system and make a stop at VDNKh to view the sculptures and to visit the Museum of Cosmonautics.

The journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg takes 4 hours on the fast train or 8 hours on a slower overnight train.

Enjoy a leisurely trip on St. Petersburg’s canals before exploring the elaborate Winter Palace (try to book tickets in advance as there are usually long queues). Make time to visit the ornate Church of the Spilled Blood, decorated from floor to ceiling in tiny, colourful mosaics depicting intricate biblical scenes.

The Best of Britain: London Loop

  • Route: London – Bath – Cardiff – Liverpool – Edinburgh – York – London
  • Designed by: Tracy from UK Travel Planning

Three cities in Great Britain.

This 10 day best of Britain by rail itinerary is the perfect way for first-time visitors to explore some of the most popular cities across Britain’s three nations. In addition to visiting the three capitals, the itinerary also includes a trio of England’s most beautiful and interesting smaller cities.

A round trip itinerary, the journey starts and ends in London. To start, explore the sights, landmarks and attractions of the UK capital . A guided tour may be the best option to make the most of your day.

Departing from London, head to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed city of Bath. Travel time by train between the cities is around 1.5 hours with direct services departing from London Paddington to Bath Spa. The main highlights of Bath include the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent. Sally Lunn’s is a popular cafe for a cake and a cuppa. On your third day, continue exploring Bath or jump on the train to Salisbury and Stonehenge.

After spending two nights in Bath, travel to the Welsh capital Cardiff (1 hr). In Cardiff, visit the castle, stroll the centenary walk or join a Gavin & Stacey or Dr Who themed tour.

Travel from Cardiff to Liverpool (3.5 hrs) and spend an afternoon exploring the main sights of the city including Albert Dock. Another option here is to take a Beatles tour and visit the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, fills the itinerary for days 6-7. There are plenty of things to do and see over two days, including Edinburgh Castle, walking the Royal Mile, shopping on Princes Street, and enjoying the views from Arthur’s Seat.

Then, travel from Edinburgh along the Northumberland Coast and through the cities of Newcastle and Durham before arriving in York (2.5 hrs). Walk the city walls, visit York Minster, learn about the city’s history at the Jorvik Viking Centre, and shop on the Shambles. For the best afternoon tea, head to the iconic Bettys Tea Rooms before travelling back to London on day 10 (2 hrs) to complete your loop.

To put a festive spin on this UK road trip, consider timing your journey to spend Christmas in London .

Norway by Train: Bergen to Oslo via the Flam Line

  • Route: Bergen – Voss – Myrdal – Flam Fjord – Gudvangen – Laerdal – Flam – Myrdal – Oslo
  • Designed by: Tracy from Tracy’s Travels in Time

Norway's cities, churches and fjords.

This rail itinerary from the coastal city of Bergen to Norway’s capital, Oslo, is perfect for those who want to experience the breathtaking beauty of this Scandinavian country. Train lovers will enjoy travelling on the Flam railway, which is recognised as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world.

Spend the first couple of days exploring the city of Bergen. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of old Hanseatic wharf and the buildings at Bryggen, Bergen’s fish market, and a ride on the funicular to Mount Floyen for spectacular views of the city.

On day three, hop on the train to the small resort town of Voss. The journey takes 1.5 hours with beautiful views along the way. If you’re visiting in summer, enjoy the hiking trails around Voss. In winter, make sure you book accommodation in advance as Voss transforms into a popular ski resort.

After spending the night in Voss, take the train to Myrdal (1 hr) where you alight and transfer to the Flamsbana Line. This is one of Norway’s most popular attractions, so book your tickets in advance.

As well as the Flamsbana, there are a few things to do and see in Flam including the museum – but the main attraction is the fjord on which Flam sits. Catch a boat and enjoy a spectacular scenic trip along two of Norway’s most famous fjords to the neighbouring village of Gudvangen.

The next few days offer the perfect opportunity to explore the local area. Stay in Gudvangen overnight before catching a bus to the nearby town of Laerdal via one of the longest road tunnels in the world.

Relax for a few days, enjoy a few hikes or cycle around. Explore the Gamle Laerdalsoyri village in Laerdal, whose wooden houses date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The Borgund Stave Church near Laerdal is the best preserved stave church in Norway and can be reached by bus or bicycle.

On day eight, take the bus to Flam (50 mins) and jump onto the Flam railway back to Myrdal. Trains run from Myrdal to Oslo up to four times a day, but be sure to check connections.

The final two days of this itinerary are spent in Norway’s capital, Oslo. Explore the city’s museums (fans of artist Edvard Munch can experience his works at the new Munch Museum) and enjoy the architecture, cafes and foodie culture .

Northern Spain: Madrid to Barcelona via Basque Country

  • Route: Madrid – Bilbao – San Sebastián – Zaragoza – Barcelona
  • Designed by: Vicki from Vicki Viaja

Beaches and churches in Northern Spain.

While many visitors to Spain only travel back and forth between the most popular destinations, this Spain 10-day itinerary leads you to the north of the country – an area known for its great food and unique culture.

The itinerary starts in the capital of Spain, Madrid. In three days, you can get a good first impression of Spanish culture and visit essential sights such as the Plaza Mayor and the Almudena Cathedral.

The journey continues to the north of Spain. In Bilbao (4-5 hours from Madrid by train), you can experience the unique culture of the Basque Country. Bilbao is also the ideal destination for art lovers. Besides the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, the art museum Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao awaits you.

San Sebastián, also called Donostia, is another example of a great city in the Basque Country. After taking the train from Bilbao (2 hrs), get to know the northern beaches. The most famous in the area is the Playa de la Concha. Don’t miss the sunset .

Continue 3 hours by train to Zaragoza, a beautiful city in Spain that is unfortunately overlooked by most travellers. The city is built in the typical Spanish style and its restaurants allow you to try lots of delicious dishes from the region. Particularly impressive is the Pilar, the city’s basilica, which is located in the center. It’s the largest of its kind in Spain and is considered one of the most important churches in the country.

The last stop is in the Catalan capital Barcelona , 90 minutes by train from Zaragoza. Spend a few days relaxing on the beach, soaking up Catalan culture, and discovering some of the most impressive buildings of the Modernisme movement, including the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.

East Meets West: Istanbul to Bucharest

  • Route: Istanbul – Edirne – Plovdiv – Sofia – Bucharest

Romania, Turkey and Bucharest.

This train journey is unique because it crosses continents, taking you from Istanbul from East to West, Asia to Europe, and through to Bulgaria and Romania. Trains in this part of Europe might be a little slower and less comfortable than what you’re used to, but that’s all part of the fun.

Start your epic rail journey the best way possible by crossing the Bosphorus into Europe. Istanbul is a huge, heaving city. Whatever time of year you visit – winter or summer – and however you choose to explore it – by focusing on the highlights, by wandering the less-touristy neighbourhoods or by letting your stomach guide you between the best restaurants and markets – you really can’t go wrong. Just make sure to set aside time for the Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar.

Before leaving Turkey , make an overnight rest stop in the city of Erdine (4 hours from Istanbul by train) to see the stunning 16th-century Selimiye Mosque before crossing the border into Bulgaria. As you continue moving north, you’ll see how the historic Ottoman influence has permeated the Balkans region.

While Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, has its draws and is worthy of a day or so of your time, Plovdiv is where you should direct most of your attention. One of the oldest cities in Europe, Plovdiv counts an immaculate Roman Amphitheatre and exquisite Bulgarian Revival architecture among its many virtues. To get there, you’ll need to take a bus or local train from Sofia.

The Sofia to Bucharest leg over the Danube river is another highlight of this itinerary – just be warned that it takes a full day to reach Romania’s capital and in the winter months , you may need to change trains at the border.

Devote some of your time in Bucharest to learning about Romania’s tumultuous recent history and don’t leave without visiting the vibrant Piata Obor market . One of the best things to do in winter is hop between the many cafes and wine bars, an experience that will show you a different side to the city.

Transylvania by Train: Bucharest to Sibiu

  • Route: Bucharest – Brasov – Sighisoara – Sibiu

Colourful houses in Transylvania, Romania.

A perfect extension on the previous itinerary (or a wonderful rail journey all on its own), Transylvania by train is a slow travel experience that will allow you to soak up the magnificent landscapes and wild nature this part of Romania is known for.

This trip is all about the fortified churches, Saxon cities and magnificent castles, with a side of hiking (or skiing) plus plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Transylvania’s unique culture along the way.

A road trip through this area of the Balkans will give you more flexibility, but the romance and nostalgia of the train can’t be beat. Connections are reasonable, times fast and fares extremely affordable, making this a great choice for budget-conscious travellers.

Departing from Bucharest, take an early morning train (1.5 hrs) to the small city of Sinai to visit the awe-inspiring Peles Castle. As you break through into mountainous territory and enter Transylvania proper, your first stop is Brasov, another hour north by rail. Brasov is the first of three charming cities on this itinerary and warrants at least two full days, with an afternoon set aside for visiting Bran Castle.

The fortified city of Sighisoara (4 hours by train) is smaller than Brasov but even more charming. Walk the old walls, admire the craft guild gates and climb up both the bell and church tower for a view.

Sibiu (3 hrs) is known for its distinctive vernacular architecture and grand main square – there are towers here that you can climb for an aerial view, too. Connections back to Bucharest are easy to find, or you can continue west to Timisoara then cross into Northern Serbia .

Classic Italy: Venice to Rome

  • Route: Venice – Florence – Rome
  • Designed by: Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster 

Three classic cities in Italy.

Train travel is arguably one of the most romantic ways to travel. So why not travel by train through three of Italy’s most romantic cities?

Venice, Florence and Rome are three of the most-visited cities in Europe and fortunately they are very well connected by Italy’s high speed rail network, which means you can easily visit them all in 10 days.

The beauty of this short Italy itinerary is that it can be done in either direction and thanks to the frequency of train departures, you can pretty much leave and travel onto your next destination anytime you want.

Start your trip in the serene ‘Floating city’ of Venice in the north, known for its charming canals, gondolas and beautiful architecture that lines the main artery through the city, the Grand Canal. There is a lot to see in Venice but for first timers, three days is plenty for the main highlights.

Jump on a 2-hour train and arrive in the heart of the Renaissance city of Florence for another three-day stay. Art lovers will trip over their tongues at the sheer volume of masterpieces to see in the city, while foodies will want to devour their body weight in Bistecca alla Fiorentina and drown themselves in Tuscan wine.

Finally, head to Italy’s magnificent capital city, Rome, where there are as many ancient ruins as there are churches – the main must-visit being St Peter’s Basilica inside Vatican City.

Three Great Capitals: Paris to London

  • Route: Paris – Brussels – London
  • Designed by: Dymphe from Dymabroad

Paris, London and Brussels.

This is the perfect itinerary by train for visiting three of the greatest European capitals.

Start in the French city of Paris where you can glimpse the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. To explore the highlights of the city, three days is a good amount of time.

The train journey from Paris to Brussels takes about 1.5 hours. The capital of Belgium houses some of the institutions of the European Union. After two days, continue to London (2.5 hrs) for Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, and Oxford Street.

There are plenty of Instagrammable places in London to check out. Three days in the city is plenty of time to see the most iconic sights.

Christmas Market Route: Frankfurt to Metz

  • Route: Frankfurt – Cologne – Aachen – Liege – Metz

Three famous Christmas markets in Europe.

This festive-themed train trip around Europe takes you between five of the region’s most atmospheric Christmas Markets in Germany, Belgium and France. Travel times are short, so you can easily accomplish this route while the markets are in full swing.

Frankfurt’s Christmas Market dates back to 1393 and is one of Germany’s largest and most spectacular festive events. While you wait for Römerberg square to transform into an open-air market, spend your days in Frankfurt roaming the riverside and the reconstructed Altstadt Old Town. For more things to do in Frankfurt, see this list .

If you’re looking for something special to buy from the market in Frankfurt, a locally made blue-and-white pitcher jug is a great choice. Save some room in your suitcase, though, because there’s lots more shopping to come.

Cologne (60 minutes from Frankfurt by train) and Aachen (30 minutes from Cologne by train) boast two more gorgeous German-style Christmas Markets.

When your time in Germany draws to a close, cross the border by train to visit Liege (20 mins) where you’ll find yet another classic market, this time with Belgian souvenirs and food . Finish with a scenic train trip through Luxembourg to the French city of Metz (4 hrs), where a special gastronomic market awaits.

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Awesome information. I am going to use this guide to enhance my travels abilities.

So happy I came across this post! What a great list! I really like the look of the Swiss rail trip.

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Lonely Planet's train expert picks his top 5 rail journeys for 2024

Tom Hall

Dec 19, 2023 • 6 min read

Nightjet train

New routes, faster trains, even renewed carriages, LP's Tom Hall says European train travel has never had it so good © South_agency / Getty Images

With new routes, faster trains and even renewed carriages, the great European rail renaissance shows no signs of hitting the buffers.

Indeed, it’s never been easier to book tickets – either before you go or on the move. Operators are now rewarding travelers who explore Europe by train and, for a rail system that has been around for ages, it still has plenty of hidden classics up its sleeve.

Co-author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Train Travel in Europe , Tom Hall surveys the scene for 2024 and suggests five rides to appeal to the rail buff in all of us.

Picture of a logo of an overnight train from Amsterdam to Innsbruck, also operated by Nightjet.

1. Paris to Berlin Nightjet, France and Germany

The revival of the Paris to Berlin sleeper service has done more than restore a key night train connection. This thrice-weekly ÖBB (Austrian Railways) service is one of the most celebrated new routes in recent years. It is a fantastic way for travelers to see both these cities in one trip, whilst enjoying a night on the rails too. The route hasn't had a night service since the pandemic and with no daytime link, this is the only direct connection between the French and German capitals.

Trains depart from Paris’ beautiful Gare de l’Est station. If heading east, arrive in time to admire Albert Herter’s vast memorial painting, The Departure of the Infantrymen , which honors the soldiers who headed to the front in WWI from the station. With an early evening departure, the sleeper arrives before 9am in Berlin. Coming west, there’s time for a lie-in before a 10:24am arrival into Paris.

The service joins up with cars heading to and from Brussels in Mannheim – where cars to Vienna are also detached – offering passengers an alternative connection to the UK via Eurostar. However, it’s the connection between Paris and Berlin that is the most eye-catching, not least because there’s already the European Sleeper train between Brussels and Berlin.

As ever with night trains the experience trumps punctuality, so build in some additional time for any onward journeys. From late 2024 the Paris–Berlin route will operate daily, and will also run with new-generation Nightjet carriages including innovative capsule-style private mini cabins for one .

A passenger train on the Brenner Railway in the Austrian Alps

2. Munich to Bologna, Germany and Italy

As memorable an experience as night trains can be, they don't offer much to see out the window – unless you count the occasional lengthy stop in a deserted station to add or remove carriages.

Despite being one of Europe’s most storied routes, the direct service from Munich to Bologna along the Brenner Pass line still feels like a back door into Italy from northern Europe. The seven-hour journey threads its way through Austria’s Tirol region, past pretty villages, going via the Alpine city of Innsbruck. It then traverses the pass through mountainous scenery and on through the Dolomites before reaching the beautiful city of Verona. From here, the route is flat to Bologna, arguably Italy’s most underrated destination.

While this service currently offers familiar EuroCity carriages, in spring 2024 the service will have new Railjet cars offering an updated, comfortable ride. They will include updated three-class seating and a dining car, making this a tempting option for a summer journey through the Alps.

A Eurostar high-speed train leaving Amsterdam Centraal Station for London St Pancras station on a summer's day.

3. Amsterdam to London, the Netherlands and the UK

In less than four high-speed hours, Eurostar trains whizz direct between Amsterdam and London . Running up to four times a day, the route is a popular alternative to flying. However, from June 2024 the route will go on an enforced hiatus for the rest of the year. This is due to construction at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

Whilst the work is taking place, there won't be space for the security and immigration facilities at the venerable terminus that Eurostar requires for travel to the UK. Instead, passengers will need to take a freshly rebranded mainland European Eurostar (formerly Thalys) train to Brussels  and use the passport controls there.

The Amsterdam to London service will return in early 2025 and more passengers will be able to use this route than before. In the meantime, travel in the first half of 2024 for the most convenient journey between the two capitals.

Trains from London to Amsterdam will still run direct during this time. The trains will just pootle back empty to Brussels. If this set-up sounds familiar, it’s because this was the arrangement when Eurostar first started operating in Amsterdam.

Mother and son tourists travelling by train between towns in Cinque Terre, Italy. The son is looking at beautiful landscapes

4. The Ionian Railway , Italy

For something different in Italy, aim for this slow train along its southern shoreline. Running for 472 glorious seaside-hugging kilometers, this seven-hour epic runs twice daily between Taranto and Reggio di Calabria , the latter best known as being one end of the boat train to Sicily . This service links quiet seaside towns on Italy’s instep, hugging the Ionian coast for much of the journey. As you might expect for a railway that doesn’t connect major tourist destinations, even in high summer this line has low passenger traffic, giving it a lazy and slightly secret atmosphere. In such a popular country that only adds to the appeal.

With a little imagination, the Ionian Railway can form the basis of a few days of exploration along the line such as ancient Metaponto and comparatively little-visited coastal cities like Crotone and Catanzaro. Alternatively, take the afternoon service. You can then put your feet up as this stately service rumbles on past endless sea vistas until Sicily looms into view across the Straits of Messina with the sunset for accompaniment.

Note: although this is an InterCity service, it behaves more like a regional train, stopping frequently – 23 times – and, crucially, it doesn’t have a buffet or dining car. Bring a picnic.

A Renfe Media Distancia train at Zaragoza-Delicias station in Zaragoza, Spain

5. Zaragoza to Canfranc, Spain and France

Despite being the birthplace of the artist Francisco Goya and home of the Aljafería Palace, a vast turreted Hispano-Islamic fortress, Zaragoza still somehow manages to fly under the radar. Yet Spain’s fifth-largest city is well worth a visit. It has a remarkable subterranean world of Roman remains and a museum devoted to origami. It also has a firm grasp of its culinary history, best explored on a tapas tour of the atmospheric alleys of El Tubo. They make it hard to leave.

Even Zaragoza’s station is an architectural highlight. It’s also the starting point for an unlikely adventure. Twice a day,  a regional service heads north into the Pyrenees . High up at an altitude of 1040m lies Canfranc, a vast Beaux Arts station building on the French–Spanish border. For many years this steep-sided valley was where passengers would change trains but it was struck into near silence in 1970 when a damaged bridge on the French side of the mountains led to the closure of the Canfranc route as a way to travel onwards to Pau in France.

That seemed to seal the fate of the “Titanic of the Mountains,” whose vast ornate exterior and grand salons fell into disrepair, only to be visited by curious day-trippers on hard-hat tours. However, a landmark hotel and spa opened in the station building last year, giving travelers a reason to linger at what remains a backdoor route from Spain to France. Two trains daily make their way from Zaragoza in a little under four hours. Whether you stay the night or not, the route onward involves a bus across the border to Bedous and a train from there to Pau, from where fast TGVs run to Bordeaux and Paris.

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7 spectacular European train trips you need to take this fall

Lori Zaino

There are many ways to explore Europe, from incredible hikes to scenic drives. An underrated way to enjoy the continent during the fall months, however, is by train.

With autumn's melange of hues (russet, mustard, sepia and beyond), embarking upon a rail adventure can be the perfect way to indulge in a bit of leaf peeping, via an array of different train routes.

Here are some of the most interesting rail journeys for admiring fall foliage and visiting charming fall destinations in Europe.

great train trips of europe

Domodossola, Italy, to Locarno, Switzerland, on the Foliage Train

great train trips of europe

There's nothing more apt for an autumnal railway adventure than a train named the Foliage Train. Operated by the Italian-Swiss Vigezzina-Centovalli Railway, this route is 52 kilometers (32 miles) long and travels between Italy and Switzerland .

The route weaves through wooded, mountainous scenery just north of the Monte Mottac State Reserve, passing hilltop villages and fertile valleys, and crossing over 83 bridges during the two-hour ride. Start in the medieval town of Domodossola and end in Locarno, a quaint Swiss town on the banks of Lake Maggiore.

Adult one-way tickets start at 33 euros (around $32) and include an optional stop at any of the charming villages the train runs through along the way (such as Malesco, Druogno or others). The train only runs during the autumn season.

Munich to Fussen, Germany, on the Deutsche Bahn

Hillside castle surrounded by fall colors

This train itinerary starts in Munich , where you can sip a stein of beer or some warming mulled wine before hopping on the two-hour route to Fussen.

The first section of the trip is fairly standard, but once you pass by Buchloe, you'll roll past deep valleys at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. Once you arrive, take a bus, catch a taxi or walk through the wooded path for about an hour to the famed Neuschwanstein Castle , admiring the changing leaves along the way.

Trains run on the hour, and one-way adult tickets cost around 23 euros (around $22) in second class and 38 euros (around $37) in first class.

Related: How to visit the magical castle that inspired Walt Disney

Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland, on the West Highland Line

Steam train crosses viaduct

Known as one of the most picturesque train routes in the world, Scotland 's West Highland Line runs from Glasgow to Mallaig. The five-hour journey is incredibly beautiful, passing through spots like Loch Awe, Loch Long and Loch Etive.

The highlight of the trip is the 1 1/2-hour stretch between Fort William and Mallaig, famous for the iconic, curved Glenfinnan Viaduct. You may recognize it from " Harry Potter " movies. The Hogwarts Express crossed it.

One-way ticket prices start at 29 British pounds ($32) for the entire journey from Glasgow to Mallaig, or just 7.80 pounds (about $9) for the section from Fort William to Mallaig.

Madrid to Aranjuez, Spain, on the Strawberry Train

great train trips of europe

This vintage train experience runs from Madrid to the nearby suburb of Aranjuez, famous for two things: its lavish, enormous palace and its delicious strawberries.

This particular route, Tren de la Fresa, is operated by an antique 1960s train departing from the tracks in Madrid's Ferrocarril Museum. The ride takes about an hour. Once you exit Madrid's suburbs you'll roll through the Manzanares Valley and its beautiful strawberry orchards. Although it's not heavily wooded, it's fun to see the changing tones of Don Quixote's landscape as summer turns to fall.

The train runs once per day on weekends at 10 a.m. to Aranjuez, returning to Madrid at 6:30 p.m. in September, October and on select dates in November (as well as in the spring).

Adult round-trip tickets cost 25 euros (around $24) and include strawberries on your return trip. You can also purchase packages that include entrance and tours to the Royal Palace and its gardens.

Related: 10 photos: Roaming around Madrid

Dombas to Andalsnes, Norway, on the Rauma Line

great train trips of europe

This one-hour-and-40-minute train journey is one of the most beautiful in Norway. It traverses jagged peaks and Norwegian villages like Lesja and Bjorli before ending up in the fjord of Andalsnes.

If you're a fan of the "Harry Potter" movies, one of the only parts of the films shot outside the United Kingdom was filmed on this railway. Highlights include crossing over the tree-flanked Rauma River on the Kylling Bridge, where you can catch a glimpse of the Vermafossen waterfall. Once you reach Andalsnes, hop off the train and walk over to the Romsdalen Gondola station to head more than 5,000 feet up on the fjord.

One-way tickets on the Rauma Line start at around 16 pounds (around $18) each way.

Villefranche-Vernet les Bains to Latour de Carol-Enveitg, France, on the Yellow Train

great train trips of europe

This bold-yellow SNCF train runs through the French Pyrenees on a route packed with impressive scenery which ranges from wooded pastures and tiny French hamlets to the valley of Tet.

The train crosses a number of viaducts, bridges, tunnels and a railway suspension bridge before arriving at Latour de Carol, a town that borders northern Spain. Once you hop off the train, you can actually cross the border to Spain on foot or pick up another train that will take you to Barcelona.

The route takes less than three hours, and prices are available on SNCF. Do note that, due to track construction, there may be limited trains this season.

Related: Which first-class high-speed rail service between Milan and Paris is best?

St. Mortiz to Zermatt, Switzerland, on the Glacier Express

Train with fall trees

Although the name Glacier Express may conjure up distinctly winter vibes, taking this Swiss route in autumn allows your eyes to feast on the medley of colors along Switzerland 's tree-covered slopes.

The ride is around eight hours, though you can take just part of the journey, too (some of the best views are between Andermatt and Disentis). Once you reach Zermatt, you can't leave without checking out the iconic Matterhorn, one of the most famous peaks in the Swiss Alps.

This particular train runs through October but takes a break in November before starting up again in the winter. One-way ticket prices are around 180 pounds (nearly $200) in second class and 200 pounds ($220) in first class, which offers a more spacious seating layout and upgraded service.

Related: How to plan your 1st luxury train trip

Take a train this fall

great train trips of europe

Trains in Europe are a fun and easy way to enjoy autumn foliage, as well as the perfect way to travel to autumn festivals and seasonal foods at your destination during this shoulder season.

Travel during this season can often be more affordable than in the summer months, providing the opportunity to save money and face fewer crowds, too. Trains are ideal for all types of travelers (families, couples and solo travelers), so consider ringing in sweater season with a scenic railway adventure.

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The Luxury train Travel Company

Luxury European Train Tours & Luxury Train Vacations Europe

Luxury european train holiday destinations & places.

Our range of luxury train tours in Europe lets you explore this fascinating continent in comfort and style. The slow pace of luxury rail travel in Europe gives you time to see the countries you pass through rather than just the tourist sites, and we think there is nothing like European luxury train vacations as a way to travel in Europe. Most luxury European train holidays focus on East and Central Europe, including the Balkans. Spain and Portugal also have luxury trains in Europe. Below you can browse all the destinations visited by our luxury train trips in Europe. Under each destination, you can view the luxury European train tours that visit each destination.

Luxury train holidays in Europe visit the well-known sites but also pass through places that are less visited and can make short stops to visit these places that regular luxury rail tours to Europe might miss. As the luxury sleeper trains in Europe act as a hotel on wheels, there is no need to pack and unpack, and the European luxury train trips allow for short visits to many places. This gives the passenger a more rounded experience of the countries they pass through. Taking a luxury train through Europe is a rewarding and relaxing way to travel with like-minded people.

Luxury Rail Tours In Europe

Just click on any of the tours listed below to open up or download a PDF file with the tour’s full details including dates and pricing.

● Please remember that booking as far ahead as you can in advance is essential for these trains ●

11 Nights from UK £ 14,795 / US$ 18,495 / € 16,795

Contact us for a quote in other currencies

Venice ● Trieste ● Ljubljana ● Sarajevo ● Mostar ● Dubrovnik ● Belgrade ● Skopje ● Sofia ● Plovdiv ● Istanbul

Venice ● Trieste ● Ljubljana ● Sarajevo ● Mostar ● Belgrade ● Bar ● Podgorica ● Skopje ● Sofia ● Plovdiv ● Istanbul

6 Nights From UK £ 8,995 / US $ 11,195 / € 10,195

Istanbul ● Veliko Tarnovo ● Sinaia ● Brasov ● Sighisoara ● Sibiu ● Kecskemet ● Lajosmizse ● Budapest

10 Nights From UK £ 13,695 / US $ 17,095 / € 15,495

Budapest ● Vienna ● Lake Achen ● Innsbruck ● Zürich ● Lake Como ● Milan ● Verona ● Trieste ● Lake Bled ● Ljubljana ● Venice

Budapest ● Vienna ● Semmering Pass ● Lake Achen ● Innsbruck ● Zurich ● St Gotthard Pass ● Lake Como ● Verona ● Trieste ● Lake Bled ● Ljubljana ● Postojna ● Venice

7 Nights From UK £ 9,395 / US $ 11,795 / € 10,695

Budapest ● Keszthely ● Tapolca ● Sopron ● Eger ● Lillafured ● Aggtelek ● Hortobagy National Park ● Tokaj ● Opusztaszer ● Szeged ● Budapest

5 Nights from UK £ 6,210 / US$ 7,590 pp

Contact us for quotes in other currencies

Epernay ● Reims ● Beaune ● Annecy ● Avignon ● Les Alpilles ● Arcachon ● Saint-Emilion ● Chenonceau ● Puy Du Fou

7 Nights From UK £ 7,995 / US $ 9,995 / € 9,095

A festive journey westbound across Europe from Budapest to Munich via Vienna & Salzburg

A festive journey eastbound across Europe from Munich to Budapest via Salzburg & Vienna

11 Nights From UK £ 14,795 / US $ 18,495 / € 16,795

Budapest ● Krakow ● Warsaw ● Malbork ● Gdansk ● Berlin ● Dresden ● Prague ● Salzburg ● Vienna

8 Nights From UK £ 11,195 / US $ 13,995 / € 12,695

Budapest ● Keszthely ● Graz ● Vienna ● Cesky Krumlov ● Prague ● Kosice ● Budapest

2 Nights From UK £ 4,400 per person

Travel straight into the heart of the Scottish Highlands, visiting enchanting sites of natural beauty and making the most of the thrilling outdoor activities

3 Nights From UK £ 6,400 per person

Explore the rugged landscapes of the West coast of Scotland

Embark on a captivating journey through Scotland’s untamed beauty.

4 Nights From UK £ 8,300 per person

Discover the wild wonders and picturesque scenery that Scotland has to offer

4 Nights From UK £ 8,900 per person

Dive into Scotland’s finest estates with untold stories and guided tours

Embark on an adventure with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, our partner for this unique journey through Scotland

5 Nights From UK £11,200 per person

Discover Scotland through the ages with unique sceneries and intriguing experiences

5 Nights From UK £ 10,400 per person

Be spirited away as you retrace part of the famed West Highland Line

A combination of the traditional Highland and scenic Western journeys

7 Nights From UK £ 14,700 per person

Explore the many wonders of the Scottish Highlands at a leisurely pace

Head West and explore the many wonders of the Scottish Highlands at a leisurely pace

8 Nights From UK £ 6,380 / US $ 8,860

Santiago De Compostela ● Ourense ● León ● Ávila ● Toledo ● Córdoba ● Seville

13 NIGHTS FROM £ 18,295 / US$ 24,695


Luxurious Train Rides Europe: Austria

Austria has some of the best mix of scenery and cities in Europe and is a popular destination for European luxury train travel. It has a well-developed and beautifully engineered rail network making luxury rail holidays in Europe reliable and exhilarating with routes through places like the Semmering pass. Vienna and Salzburg are the most popular cities visited in Austria visited on our luxury European train tours. Click on the European luxury train vacations below each Austrian destination for full details.


The Capital of Austria and the former Habsburg Empire is a city with a rich culture and some superb imperial architecture.


The birthplace of Mozart and, of course, setting for the Sound of Music, beautiful Salzburg is a centre of culture in Austria.


Semmering Pass

This rail pass connects Lower Austria and Styria. The Semmering Railway built from 1848–54 was the first mountain railway in the world.


Lake Achen is a beautiful alpine lake with stunning clear turquoise waters and a popular area for water sports and hiking.


Located close to both Germany and Italy Innsbruck is famed as a ski resort but also has many historical buildings in the centre of the city.


New Year in Vienna is a magical time of festivities and often snow. It is also famed for the classical Vienna New Year concert.

European Luxury Train Vacations: Bosnia Herzegovina

Bosnia Herzegovina is a relative newcomer on luxury train rides in Europe itineraries and is a country that would often be overlooked. The beauty of a luxury train across Europe is that it can pass through these less visited places and take in the better-known destinations. Sarajevo and Mostar are the most popular places visited on these luxury European train holidays, and both these destinations have recovered well from the war in the 1990s.


Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and known for its diversity of Christian Roman Catholic, Orthodox and the Muslim Ottoman.


Still shaking off its damage from the war in the 1990s the city is famous for its beautiful stone bridge which was rebuilt in 2004.

Luxury European Train Tours: Bulgaria

Bulgaria is located at a key point geographically between Europe and the near Orient and so features in quite a lot of luxury train vacations in Europe. The country has much to see and a good rail network for the European luxury train to use. Bulgaria has a long history and has been a pivotal country between Turkey and the rest of Europe. The main cities visited on luxury rail holidays in Europe are the coital of Sofia and the culturally rich cities of Veliko Tarnovo and Plovid.


Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe located on a large plain between the Rhodope Mountains and Balkan Range (Old Mountains).


Bulgaria’s capital is a dynamic place to visit with an architectural mix of Communist, Orthodox and European buildings.


Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Turnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire and is culturally rich in museums and historical sites.

Luxury Train Travel Europe: Croatia

Croatia is a Balkan country with a long and beautiful coastline. Its rail network is not as extensive as other Balkan countries. Still, it more than makes up for this with some outstanding destinations, not least Dubrovnik, making it a popular place to visit for luxury rail journeys in Europe. As well as Dubrovnik, other cities visited are Zagreb and Rijeka. Overall, Croatia is a welcome stop for luxury trains in Europe.


Zagreb’s chief attraction is the medieval ‘old city’ with architecture and cobbled streets reminiscent of Vienna, Budapest and Prague.


Rijeka is the main seaport of Croatia, located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea. It is compact and walkable city.


Once rivalling Venice, beautiful Dubrovnik is an UNESCO World Heritage city on the Adriatic Sea coast in the south of Croatia.

Luxury European Train Holidays: Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has one of Europe’s most famous cities, Prague, which is a must-see and featured on several luxury train journeys in Europe. The country has long been a stalwart for European tourism in the heart of Central and East Europe and has a well-developed train network. As well as the much-visited Prague, the luxury European train holiday also visits Cesky Krumlov, which has just as beautiful architecture as Prague but is far less well known.



Prague is one of the largest cities in Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries.


Cesky Krumlov

Český Krumlov is a beautiful town little changed over centuries full of Baroque buildings and with a castle and old-town square.

Experience Luxury Train Travel: France

Taking a luxury train in France offers an unparalleled travel experience, combining the romance of rail travel with opulent comfort. The journey itself becomes a highlight, not just a means to reach a destination. Luxury trains, like Le Grand Tour, provide sumptuous accommodations and fine dining, allowing travellers to relax in a refined ambiance reminiscent of a bygone era. The scenic routes traverse through France’s breathtaking landscapes, offering views of picturesque villages, vineyards, and historical sites, often inaccessible by other means of transport. It’s an immersive cultural experience, where travellers can enjoy French cuisine and wines while mingling with an international clientele. This mode of travel appeals to those seeking a leisurely pace, luxury, and a unique way to explore France’s rich heritage and stunning geography.


Enchanting lakeside gem with medieval charm, vibrant markets, and stunning Alpine vistas—a serene and picturesque fairy-tale escape.


A captivating seaside retreat boasting pristine beaches, renowned oyster farms, and the majestic Dune du Pilat.


Step into history with its majestic Papal Palace, vibrant cultural scene, and the iconic Pont Saint-Bénézet


Immerse in Burgundy’s heart, famed for world-class wines, historic Hospices de Beaune, and charming medieval architecture.


The Champagne capital, offering exquisite tastings, grand vineyards, and miles of underground cellars to explore.


A sensory delight with lavender fields, sun-drenched vineyards, ancient villages, and a deeply rich cultural heritage.


A historic city renowned for its magnificent cathedral, Champagne houses, and a rich tapestry of French heritage.

Luxury European Train Tour: Hungary

Hungary is a pivotal country in East Europe with an extensive and well-developed train network providing one of the best luxury train vacations Europe offers, fascinating cities and beautiful scenery. Some of the most luxurious train rides in Europe tour this country extensively to take advantage of this. The capital of Budapest is actually two cities Buda and Pest which are divided by the river. This city has some impressive architecture. The rest of the country has many towns and sights worth visiting on your luxury European train tour, and the nature of luxury train rides in Europe means that short stops can be made throughout your European luxury train trip.

Hungary Aggtelek

Aggtelek is famous for its karst caves with the highlight being the Giants’ Hall 125 meters long, 55 meters wide and 30 meters high.

Hungary Budapest

The capital of Hungary is a vibrant city noted for its classical music scene and nightlife as well as thermal baths and architecture.

Hungary Debrecen

Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary and a centre for Hungarian Protestantism as well as a large science university.

Hungary Eger

Eger is known for its castle, thermal baths, baroque buildings, the northernmost Ottoman minaret, cuisine and red wines.

Hungary Holloko

Hollókő is a preserved traditional settlement and a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a good way to understand local culture.

Hungary Hortobagy Park

The Hortobagy National Park is in the Hungarian plain in the eastern part of the country known for it’s wildlife and traditional culture.

Hungary Kecskemet

The city is well known for its secessionist architecture, museums, and for being the birthplace of composer Zoltan Kodály.

Hungary Keszthely

Located at the southern tip of lake Balaton the town is 750 years old. Gothic, baroque and Transylvanian architecture abounds.

Hungary Lajomizse

Lajosmizse is a town in Bács-Kiskun county. It is located at the end of a railway line from Budapest and has a museum of folk culture.

Hungary Lillafured

Lillafüred close to Lake Hamori is a beautiful small town built as a holiday resort and centred around the Place Hotel and gardens.

Hungary Opusztaszer Park


The Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park is an open-air museum of Hungarian history most famous for the Feszty Panorama.

Hungary Sopron

Sopron is a pleasant town very close to the border with Austria with winding streets and history dating back to medieval times.

Hungary Szeged

Szeged is the third-largest city in Hungary known or the cathedral and a wealth of Art Nouveau buildings, and for the fish soup Halászlé.

Hungary Tapolca

Tapolca is known for its cave system as well as the beautiful Mill Pond. Due to the limestone karsts of this area the water is very pure.

Hungary Tokaj

Tokaj is a famous wine growing region dating back nearly 1,000 years and the main square of the town even has a the Bacchus fountain.

European Luxury Train Vacation: Italy

From a tourism perspective, Italy needs little introduction. The country has been seducing travellers for centuries. It is relatively less well known though, for its trains aside from being the endpoint of the Orient Express, the crème de la crème of luxury train travel in Europe. The rail network in Northern Italy is extensive; this is where the luxury train travel through Europe focuses on. Who wouldn’t want to take a European luxury train trip that visits such stunning places as Venice, Milan and Lake Como. Under each destination, you can explore the European luxury train vacation options for Italy below.

Italy Lake Como

Beautiful lake in Lombardy surrounded by mountains. There are numerous pretty towns and villages around the shore.

Italy Milan

Milan is famous for fashion and shopping and has some beautiful architecture as well as the famous La Scala opera house.

Italy Trieste

Once a very influential and powerful centre of politics, literature, music, art and culture under Austrian-Hungarian dominion.

Italy Venice

Venice needs little introduction. Its sheer wealth of architecture and unique cancel system make it one of the world’s most visited cities.

Italy Verona

Verona is rich in history with an abundance of Roman roots still evident today along with world class art and architecture – and gelato!

Luxury European Train Tour: Montenegro

Tiny Montenegro only takes a few hours to cross, but this is not a problem for luxury train trips in Europe which can fit this mountainous country in on their schedules before railing on to the following country. Luxury European train tours visit the dramatically located coastal town of Bar and the capital of Podgorica before continuing to explore the rest of the Balkans.

Montenegro Podgorica

The capital of Montenegro is an interesting mix of old and new, Mediterranean and Balkan and is known for its cafe culture.

Montenegro bar

Bar has a wonderful setting on the coast backed by steep cliffs and mountains. Close by are the striking ruins of Stari Bar.

European Luxury Train Vacations: North Macedonia

Macedonia is another small Balkan country that most tourists would overlook. However, your “luxury interrailing Europe” trip can fit into their schedules as they do not need to overnight in hotels with the train acting as a hotel on wheels. This allows your European luxury train vacation to offer a short visit to fascinating Skopje, which features son several of Golden Eagle’s Danube Express train tours, including the very popular Venice to Istanbul route – one of the great luxury train rides in Europe.

Macedonia Skopje


Skopje is an old city with Ottoman and Byzantine era sights. The Tvrdina Kale Fortress has guarded the city since the 5th century.

Luxury Train Tours Europe: Poland

Most luxury sleeper trains in Europe focus on the southern part of East and Central Europe, but the southern Polish city of Krakow does make it into some of these itineraries, and rightly so. Krakow is one of Europe’s architectural masterpieces and is well worth a visit on any fancy train rides in Europe.

Poland Krakow

This former capital of Poland has plenty of medieval architecture which combines with a more youthful student population and culture.

Luxury Rail Tours in Southern Europe: Portugal

Opting for a luxury train journey in Portugal offers an unforgettable experience that blends the charm of vintage travel with modern indulgence. As you traverse through Portugal’s stunning landscapes, you’re treated to a visual feast of rolling vineyards, historic towns, and dramatic coastlines. Onboard, experience unparalleled comfort, exquisite dining featuring Portuguese cuisine, and impeccable service. It’s more than just travel; it’s about embracing the slower pace and elegance of a bygone era, while exploring Portugal’s rich cultural tapestry and scenic beauty in a uniquely luxurious setting.

Luxury European Train Holidays: Romania

Like neighbouring Bulgaria and Hungary, Romania is a popular destination for the most luxurious trains in Europe. This enigmatic country has a long history and spectacular scenery to enjoy on your luxury European train holiday. The fantastically named Danube Express train tour “Castles of Transylvania” encompasses a range of places, including Sighişoara and Bran and Râșnov, which are all tied up with the legend of Vlad the Impaler, whose bloodthirsty history inspired Bran Stoker’s Dracula!

Romania Brasov

A city of gothic spires, Brasov is the base to visit the castles in Bran and Râșnov and listen to stories about Vlad to Impaler!

Romania Cluj Napoca

Cluj Napoca

Recently ‘discovered’ by tourists Cluj has a vigorous mix of galleries, gardens, cafes, Gothic Churches and medieval towers.

Romania Sibiu

Sibiu has a mix of big architecture and bohemian flair and this city has long been a cultural destination in Romania.

Romania Sighisoara

The alleged birth place of Vlad Ţepeş (the Impaler), Sighişoara is a beautiful town full of narrow lanes and medieval architecture.

Romania Sinaia

Located in a dramatic valley the town is visited by hikers in summer and skiers in winter and also for the chief attraction of Peleş Castle.

Romania Timisoara

This large city has an attractive layout of squares and gardens as well as a good range of restaurants and museums.

European Luxury Train Travel: Serbia

Offering some of the best luxury train tours Europe offers, Serbia is a pivotal rail junction in the Balkans and a stop for many of the most luxurious trains in Europe. A landlocked country in the Balkans, Serbia came into being out of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Serbia Belgrade

Located where the Sava and Danube Rivers meet Belgrade is where the old world meets the new in this forward looking city.

Serbia Sargan Vitasi

Sargan Vitasi

This place is all about trains and the unusual narrow gauge railway that ran from Sarajevo to Belgrade with the section here restored.

Luxury Rail Holidays In Europe: Slovakia

Slovakia is a landlocked and mountainous country in Central Europe with beautiful cities and incredible natural sights. Slovakia can be visited on the Central European Classics and New Year In Vienna luxury train rides in Europe. The old town of Kosicce is a highlight, as well as Poprad, known as the gateway to the High Tatra mountains.

Slovakia Kosice

The old town is the attraction of this city with the greatest collection of Gothic towers, medieval bastions and baroque sculpture in Slovakia.

Slovakia Poprad

Poprad is a known as the Gateway to the stunning scenery of the High Tatras and this town makes for a good place to base and explore.

Luxury Train Travel Europe: Slovenia

Slovenia lies in South-Central Europe in the Julian Alps at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, bordered by Austria to the north and Italy to the west. The country is a stalwart of the best luxury rail travel Europe offers. Slovenia can be visited on the Grand Alpine Express, Venice to Istanbul luxury European train holidays.

Slovenia Lake Bled

Picture perfect and very popular Lake Bled is surrounded by the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and attractive churches and castles.

Slovenia Ljubljana

Slovenia’s capital green and liveable with a pedestrianised centre and fine architecture and bridges crossing the Ljubljanica River.

Slovenia Postojna

The Postojna Cave system is the thing to see here. Visitors can walk along 5km of the total 24 km of tunnels full of formations.

Luxury Train Holidays Europe: Spain

The Mediterranean country of Spain needs little introduction and is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for its stunning history, cities and culture. Lesser known is its extensive rail network used by luxury overnight trains in Europe. Spain can be visited on the Al Andalus luxury train tours of Europe, visiting Santiago to Seville and the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to Barcelona. More details can be found below.

Spain Avila

The old city walls consist of 8 huge gates, 88 watchtowers and 2500 turrets, is one of the best-preserved medieval in Spain.


Discover timeless beauty in its well-preserved medieval quarter, historic monuments, and a rich blend of cultural influences.


Home to some extraordinary islamic architecture, not least the Mezquita, this city also is quintessential Spain and not to be missed.

Spain Leon

Leon’s cathedral is one of Spain’s most impressive and largest and at night this city comes alive with bars and restaurants.


Experience the pulsating heart of Spain with world-renowned museums, lively plazas, and an unrivalled culinary scene.

Spain Ourense

Ourense is known for its hot springs and thermal waters as well as its 12th-century Cathedral and Roman era bridge, the Ponte Romana.

Spain santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

The final stop on the famed pilgrimage trail of the same name 300,000 pilgrims still walk here to visit the cathedral each year.

Spain Seville

Seville is one of Spains most impressive and pleasant cities with grand architecture and an Andalusian culture of food and drink.

Spain Toledo

Toledo is dramatically sited atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, it was known as the ‘city of three cultures’ in the Middle Ages.


A harmonious blend of futuristic architecture, lush gardens, vibrant festivals, and a rich, historic Old Town.

Luxury Rail Journeys Europe: Switzerland

Landlocked Switzerland offers unique luxury rail journeys in Europe with stunning mountainous scenery and cities and towns rich in a culture influenced by the surrounding countries, including Italy, France, Germany and Austria. Swiss rail is famous for its punctuality and breathtaking engineering feats over mountain passes. Although there are few luxury night train Europe rail tours, the trip does use luxury rolling stock for day trips with nights spent in hotels. Switzerland can be visited on the Grand Alpine Express and Swiss Rail Spectacular tours, making them great luxury European train holidays to be remembered.

Switzerland Andermatt


Andermatt is a village in the Ursern Valley in the Swiss Alps. The train station is on the route network of the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn.

Switzerland Basel

Located astride the mighty Rhine river the city is popular for it’s wealth of galleries, museums and iconic buildings.

Switzerland Bern

Switzerland’s capital has a beautiful listed old town of cobbled streets with 6km of covered arcades, cellar shops and bars.

Switzerland Brienz

A traditional village overlooking the lake of the same name, this is the quintessential Alpine setting among forests and mountains.

Switzerland Furka Pass

The steep Furka Pass at 2,431m) offers superb views and a memorable train ride during the summer months when the pass is snow free.

Switzerland Jungfrau

The Jungfrau, at 4,158 meters is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps. From here the views across the Alps are stunning.

Switzerland Lucerne

Popular with the likes of Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner Lucerne is as charming today as in the 19th Century and not to be missed.

Switzerland Reichenbach Falls

Reichenbach Falls

The Reichenbach Falls (of Sherlock Holmes fame) drop over a total height of about 250 metres and are reached by a funicular train.

Switzerland St Gotthard Pass

St Gotthard Pass

The St Gotthard Pass at 2,106 m (6,909 ft) is a mountain pass for road and rail connecting northern with southern Switzerland.

Switzerland St Moritz

The ultimate Swiss winter resort loved by celebrities and the well-heeled alike. Year round the beautiful lake and scenery can be enjoyed.

Switzerland Vitznau

Vitznau lies in an idyllic bay of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the Rigi making time well spent to explore the lake and the mountain area.

Switzerland Zermatt

Zermatt lies at the foot of the famous Matterhorn. The town has preserved its original character and is a car free zone.

Switzerland Zurich

The lakeside city of Zürich has the classic Swiss old town (Altstadt) and plenty of bars, art galleries and shopping opportunities.

Luxury Train Journeys Europe: Turkey

Turkey is a country full of wonder and history that straddles Europe and the near Orient and has long been a place of fascination for tourists. Some of the best luxury trains in Europe start of finish in Istanbul, and Turkey can be visited on the Balkan Explorer, Castles of Transylvania, Venice to Istanbul tours.

Turkey Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities sitting on the strategic Bosphorus with a skyline that speaks of its long history.

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Our luxury train rides in Europe cover a wide range of destinations from the Iberian Peninsular to the East, Central Europe and the Balkans. Above you will see all the luxury European train holiday destinations covered by our luxury European train tours, and each destination has the tours that visit it below.

How Much Do Luxury Sleeper Trains In Europe Cost?

The luxury train Europe price depends on both the trip chosen and the class of cabin you require. You can find all pricing by clicking on any luxury European train tour above, which will open up the European luxury train trip dossier, which contains pricing, dates, details of the itinerary and cabin classes available for that train. There is a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us about the European luxury train vacations you are interested in.

What Is The Most Luxurious Train In Europe?

It is often said that the most luxurious train in Europe must be the Orient Express which travels from London to Venice. However, this is a short train trip, and we recommend booking that as a means to get to Venice and start another European luxury train tour on a train like the Danube Express operated by Golden Eagle. These luxury train trips in Europe are much more extensive and complement the Orient Express. We mustn’t forget the luxury trains in Portugal and Spain known as the Al Andalus which we like for its old work decor – to some these could be the most luxurious trains in Europe.

Why Book A European Luxury Train Trip With

We have been offering luxury train vacations in Europe for many years. Our experience in dealing with Luxury Train travel companies and operators allows us to point you towards the best luxury train travel Europe offers. Price, cabin class and route are all important decisions, and we have vast experience and good connections with the luxury rail operators to secure the highly sought-after cabins. We are delighted to assist you in booking your European luxury train and experiencing the best possible luxury train vacation in Europe.

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The Best Train Trips in the World: 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards

By Todd Plummer

The Best Train Trips in the World 2023 Readers Choice Awards

Ah, the allure of train trips . Adventurers and the eco-conscious are drawn to this glamorous, old-world mode of exploration for the impeccable slow-travel vibes, but there’s also something to be said about the perspective found onboard a train; you’re experiencing the landscape and scenery in a way that you can’t experience in any other mode of travel. A train trip often brings you where everyday roads cannot, whether it’s through untouched Malaysian jungles on the revamped Belmond Eastern & Oriental itineraries relaunching in 2024, or high into the Canadian Rockies with Rocky Mountaineer. For our 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards —which capture the travel experiences our readers love best, from hotels and airlines to cruises , islands , and luggage —we called on all of you to rank the best of the best rail journeys out there. Here, dear readers, is how the dice fell.

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

If youre interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu  Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to...

20. Inca Rail, South America

If you’re interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu (and unless you’re a mountain goat, we suggest you do), Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to match—and it’s also worth mentioning that the First Class service is priced more accessibly than other luxury operators servicing the same route. While on board, you can expect a tasty menu prepared with organic ingredients grown right in the Sacred Valley, live Peruvian music, ample windows through which you can admire the staggering Andean scenery, and a spacious Observatory Lounge complete with open-air balcony. For fresh and frothy Pisco sours this good, this is one train that’s well worth the price of admission.

Take in all the sights and flavors of Spains iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train which over the...

19. Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, Spain

Take in all the sights and flavors of Spain ’s iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train, which over the course of a week makes its way between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela. You’ll enjoy on-board cuisine that celebrates each of the distinct regions through which this train passes, from Galicia to Basque Country. A unique aspect of this train is that it remains stationary overnight, allowing for late-night excursions and explorations that are uncommon on other sleeper train experiences.

Its been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the worldit takes eight hours to traverse the 180mile...

18. Glacier Express, Switzerland

It’s been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the world–it takes eight hours to traverse the 180-mile journey–but boy, do the views here invite a slow journey. Connecting the resort towns of Zermatt and Saint Moritz, the train provides an up-close perspective of some of this mountainous country’s most iconic natural features, including the Matterhorn, Piz Bernina, and the Rhine Gorge (dubbed Switzerland’s Grand Canyon). Book in Excellence Class and you’ll be served Champagne at your seat, followed by a six-course meal complete with wine pairings.

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17. The Canadian, Canada

Take in every mile of the vast Canadian landscape from The Canadian , a special sleeper service offered by VIA Rail, the country’s national rail carrier. Keep in mind that this train is more about sightseeing from the cars than actually getting off and doing anything. But if you’re traveling in the comfort of Prestige Class—with your own private cabin, private washroom and built-in TV screen monitor with video selection—you’ll be perfectly content to take in the journey from the privacy of your very own picture window.

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The Ghan Train Australia

16. The Ghan, Australia

Completed in 1929, The Ghan runs through the heart of the Australian continent , from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. It may have only started running its current route in 2004, but its history dates to the 19th century, its name harkening to the Afghan camel trainers and riders who first helped chart a course through the country’s interior. The three-day all-inclusive journey sees the train lilting its way through Australia’s Red Centre with diverse landscapes passing by. Travel through the expansive ridges of the MacDonnell Ranges, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Simpsons Gap, and visit the opal town of Coober Pedy.

JR Kyushu 363

15. JR Kyushu 36+3, Japan

This train’s unusual name derives from Kyushu being the 36th-largest island in the world, and there being three key stakeholders on this journey: the passengers, the local community, and the rail company, JR Kyushu. It isn’t a sleeper train, instead offering a series of weeklong roster of one-day itineraries around the perimeter of Kyushu–a do one, do them all, or do as many as you like situation–but the journey is no less enriching for it. The inside feels like a ryokan, featuring immaculate woodwork made from local techniques, comfortable furniture, and a mix of private and communal spaces. It’s a gorgeous way to get off the beaten track on this gorgeous Japanese island, packing in a number of stops and towns into a single day of productive–yet comfortable–sightseeing.

train interior. Belmond Eastern  Oriental Express

14. Eastern & Oriental Express, A Belmond Train, Southeast Asia

The E&O is the stuff of train enthusiasts’ legends, and in February 2024, this storied train will at long last resume service after its pandemic-era pause–sort of. The train’s journey originally connected Singapore and Bangkok, but as of the new year will offer journeys through the jungles and coastlines of Malaysia, but all originating in and returning to Singapore. It isn’t the classic E&O route, but these new itineraries will offer deeper explorations of Malaysia than ever before, including guided snorkeling on Langkawi and excursions to Taman Negara National Park. Despite the new itineraries, the train still has all the old world touches that people love: Order a Singapore Sling in the Bar Car, take it to the outdoor viewing platform as the Malaysian jungle rolls on by, and you just might forget what year we’re living in.

Image may contain Building Architecture Arched Arch Bridge Bridge Arch Vehicle Transportation and Train

13. Northern Belle, Europe

It’s all about the food—and the scenery, too, but mostly about the food—onboard this lovingly restored 1930s train , which zig-zags its way across the English, Scottish and Welsh countrysides. Each of the journeys on offer are day trips, so they require less of a time (and money) commitment than other luxury trains. But what the Northern Belle lacks in length she more than makes up for in quality: The meal services are exquisite, offering fine dining crafted mostly from U.K. suppliers, so you can enjoy classic British fare as the heaths, meadows, and dales roll on by.

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12. The Maharajas' Express, India

There are luxury sleeper trains, and then there are luxury sleeper trains like the Maharaja’s Express , where a greeting of marigold garlands and rose petals showered at your feet kicks off the journey before your personal butler escorts you to your room. The Junior Suite rooms are surprisingly spacious, especially by train travel standards, and come with full-sized closets, comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and satellite TVs. Both of the on board watering holes–the Safari Bar and the Raja Club–have plenty of chairs, comfy sofas, books and board games. Each day of the itinerary includes special opportunities to experience India through the train’s luxurious and singular perspective: like an early-morning champagne breakfast on a private hillside overlooking the Taj Mahal.

Belmond Royal Scotsman. train interior

11. Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland

It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? Nowhere is train travel more indulgent—or convenient!—than on Belmond’s Royal Scotsman , which departs from and arrives at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. With only 40 guests onboard, the train circumnavigates the heart of the Scottish Highlands, passing such landmarks as the Kyle of Lochalsh and Cairngorms National Park. There’s even a dedicated spa carriage, where the specialists are trained to synchronize their motions with the natural lilts and tilts of the train. If that’s not luxury, we’re not sure what is.

Belmond Hiram Bingham

10. Belmond Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train, South America

Named after the U.S. explorer who supposedly “discovered” Machu Picchu in 1911, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train line is as grand as the man’s claims. The round-trip journey connects the city of Poroy (just west of Cuzco) to the Lost City and Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. The Belmond Hiram Bingham turns on the turn-of-the-20th-century charm, from gleaming polished wood and brass surfaces to lavish meals and accommodations, which offer plenty of space to stretch out: the perfect setting for viewing the mountains and rivers zooming past the window.

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9. Golden Chariot, India

Experience a mix of Southern India’s greatest hits and lesser-explored destinations on board the iconic purple and gold Golden Chariot , which connects the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. All itineraries depart from Bengaluru, with options for both three-night and six-night journeys. This train’s strength is its access to off-beat attractions than what you’ll find on the well-worn Golden Triangle, such as the ruins of Hampi. With sparse crowds, and a comfortable train to retreat to at the end of each day, it’s an approach to India that captures all the magic this country has to offer.

Image may contain Transportation Train Track Railway Rail Vehicle Train and Locomotive

8. Golden Eagle Danube Express, Europe

A pioneer in luxury trains for three decades, Golden Eagle is perhaps best known for its Silk Road and Trans-Siberian routes, but the Danube Express unlocks an approach to Southern and Eastern Europe which is no less breathtaking and engaging. The “Castles of Transylvania” route from Istanbul to Budapest is particularly unique–spend all day learning about Vlad the Impaler’s history through guided tours, then spend all night luxuriating in the comfort of the bar car or in the privacy of your room. It’s a combination of Europe’s best cities and most dramatic natural landscapes that is hard to experience in one go any other way.

Rocky Mountaineer

7. Rocky Mountaineer, North America

Traveling in a coach outfitted with picture windows and glass-dome ceilings means that a Rocky Mountaineer journey leaves no sight unseen as you traverse the dramatic scenery between Vancouver , British Columbia and Banff or Jasper, Alberta. Sample local Canadian beer, wine and snacks as you kick back and enjoy the ride. The staff’s friendly service and animated storytelling help bring the landscape to life. It’s personal touches like those which keep travelers coming away from this trip amply satisfied time and time again. Since it was founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has transported more than two million guests, making it the largest privately-owned premium tourist train in the world.

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6. Rovos Rail, Africa

This extravagant railway has been traveling throughout Africa for over thirty years. The experiences start before you even board—when departing from Pretoria, Rovos Rail travelers are granted exclusive access to a private lounge, where Champagne and canapés greet them—and a strict “no cellphone” rule is maintained for your own good. Enjoy the moment(s) provided by this line, which range from cozy digs to formal-attired evenings, as well as full-sized, freestanding clawfoot tubs in the most grand compartments. All Rovos Rail journeys include off-train cultural, historical and safari excursions so guests can experience all the wonders that Southern Africa has to offer. The three-night Cape Town journey is a classic, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous and have a few more nights to spare, opt for the newer fifteen-day “Trail of Two Oceans” itinerary, originating in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, crossing Zambia, traversing a sliver of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and concluding in Lobito, Angola.

Belmond Andean Explorer

5. Belmond Andean Explorer, A Belmond Train, South America

Weaving through the Peruvian Andes at 14,000 feet, the Belmond Andean Explorer transports passengers between Arequipa and Cusco on one- and two-night journeys. There are just thirty-five cabins on board, each outfitted with alpaca wool blankets and handwoven fabrics for an authentic yet luxe feel. Two dining cars and two bar cars serve the whims of every guest with bites like alpaca tortellini and (of course) champagne. The train also makes excursions to Lake Titicaca , where guests can learn about local customs, visit Incan ruins, and take in breath-taking views.

Belmond British Pullman

4. British Pullman, A Belmond Train, England

The British Pullman ’s experience is magical no matter where you’re seated. Once you depart London , you’ll embark on a journey through the bucolic British countryside, touring cities and towns like Cambridge, York, and Canterbury along the way. The restored carriages date back to the 1920s and 1930s, so expect Art Deco touches, polished interiors, and classically prepared multi-course meals—this is the same train line that has served British royalty and government officials for years, after all.

train interior

3. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe

Year after year, the world’s most iconic locomotive continues to be a standard-setter in luxury. Of course, the decadent interiors are a fantasy of 1920’s Art Deco design, but it’s the impeccable service that keeps this train firmly ensconced in a class of its own. Bags are whisked off from the platform and magically reappear in your cabin, no glass ever runs empty, and the beds seem to make themselves anytime you step outside of your cabin. By day you can revel in the scenery of French countrysides and Swiss mountain scenes, and by night, the formal dress code feels anything but stuffy—in fact, playing dress up and making your way to the Champagne bar is, we think, one of the coolest experiences anyone could have on a train. For 2023, this over-the-top train is getting even more luxe updates, including eight new suites, two of which are original 1920s and 30s carriages carefully restored by expert French craftsmen and designers–so there’s no time like the present to book that bucket-list trip.

Palace on Wheels Train

2. Palace on Wheels, India

India’s best-known train, the Palace on Wheels , offers a number of trips that range from a couple days to week-long excursions. Embarking from New Delhi through the Land of Kings, trips take you through the famed Pink City of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, where guests are greeted by majestic UNESCO sites like the Amer Fort as well as 16th century palaces. You can also visit Agra, home to the Taj Mahal and the perfect stop for a tour of some of the country's most iconic sites. Along the way, enjoy regional cuisine in well-appointed, colorful carriages decked out in Indian textiles.

Seven Stars Kyushu

1. Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan

Train lovers consider this opulent Japanese locomotive among the most spacious and comfortable of them all. Every inch of Seven Stars' Kyushu train—from the beds, to the bathroom sinks, to the woodwork, to the porcelain dinner plates—is handmade by Japanese artisans, and the service is simply exquisite, with each journey limited to a positively intimate twenty passengers; but it’s not just about the onboard experience with Seven Stars. These four-day, three-night trips travel a circuit around the island of Kyushu, making stops at the region’s best shrines, onsens, porcelain studios, and more, so you truly feel like you’re exploring an authentic side of Japan , far away from the more obvious tourist tracks.

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Train Adventures

Great rail tours in europe.

With the stunning panoramic trains in Switzerland, across the Norwegian mountains, or on the Orient Express Route to Istanbul, train tours offer a relaxing way to see and experience a lot! HappyRail has been rail travel specialist for 20 years. ±100 unique rail tours. Comprehensive travel documents. On-the-road support. Best prices. The train journey from/to any station (some tours start from/to Thalys station or ferry port) in the Netherlands is included. Reserved seats in trains where reservations are possible (window seats!) and stays in small hotels within walking distance of the station, run by enthusiastic hotel owners. Switzerland Train Tours For those who can't get enough of luxury, comfort, and breathtaking views, Switzerland is a dream destination. Every train tour through Switzerland is unique, and with a wide range of options, there's always a tour that suits you. No panoramic train will be missed during a Switzerland tour. Thanks to the panoramic windows and the leisurely pace of the Glacier Express, you can fully enjoy the most beautiful parts of the Swiss Alps. The Bernina Express takes you through thirteen tunnels, 52 viaducts, and the famous spiral viaduct to the Italian border. Views of mountain passes and lakes will also be part of your tour. In short, a train tour in Switzerland offers endless variety and is highly recommended. Alps Train Tours The Alps stretch across eight countries, and the view of this beautiful mountain range is unique from every country. You can experience the views from four of these eight countries during the special 'off-the-beaten-track' tour 'from Allgäu to Engadin.' For those who prefer to stick to one country, there's an option for a tour through Austria, where regular railways offer stunning panoramas of the Alps and visit the most beautiful cities. Switzerland is also ideal for a train tour: a ride on the Glacier Express is the perfect opportunity to admire the Alps. To complete the tour, you can also travel to Italy from there to enjoy the other side of the mountains. For those who can't get enough of mountain scenery, you can even travel a bit further to the Dolomites, making your train tour to the Alps truly special. Mediterranean Train Tours The countries around the Mediterranean are suitable for more than just relaxation: they are also fantastic destinations for (active) train tours. You can discover the authentic villages of Cinque Terre in Italy best by train. During our 'Monti E mare' tour, you'll explore this beautiful part of Italy in a way that no other mode of transportation allows. Also, our city trip combination of Rome, Milan, and Venice is a must-try, with the high-speed 'The Frecciarossa' train being the ideal mode of transport. In Spain, a tour through the undiscovered north of the country or a luxury trip with the Al Andalus through breathtaking Andalusia might be the perfect journey for you. The true adventurer can make the crossing from southern Spain to Morocco and embark on our uniquely curated tour there. For those who prefer to stay in Europe, you can choose to combine a tour through Spain with Portugal by traveling with the Sud Expresse (Trenhotel) to Coimbra or Lisbon. For island lovers, train tours are possible in Sicily, Corsica, or there's a special train-boat combination along the volcanic Aeolian Islands. In the Mediterranean, there's a dream tour for everyone. Norway Train Tours Discover Norway at its best with one of our train tours. Our favorite is the Norway in a Nutshell: no highlight is missed. You'll ride through the diverse landscape between Oslo and Vatnahalsen on the famous Bergen Railway, in the luxury and comfort of Norwegian trains. You can continue the perhaps most beautiful train journey in the world with the world-famous Flåm Railway, followed by a boat and train journey through the impressive Nærøyfjord to Bergen. From Bergen, you can choose to continue traveling with the Hurtigruten to get a view of the beautiful Norwegian fjords, and the Dovre Railway is a train ride that cannot be missed during your train tour of Norway. If, after all these beautiful train rides, you still can't get enough of the stunning Scandinavian landscape, a train tour of Norway can also be perfectly combined with a train tour of Sweden and Finland! Sweden Train Tours The Inlandsbanan is one of the most beautiful train routes in all of Scandinavia. The 1296-kilometer railway runs straight through Sweden with the most beautiful views along the way: endless forests, rivers, bridges, lakes, and even wildlife will pass by during the journey. In addition to a visit to Stockholm, many come to Sweden for Swedish Lapland, known for its wild landscape and the chance to see the Northern Lights in winter. Cross the Arctic Circle in this area with the Arctic Circle train or travel with one of the many other comfortable night trains through the Swedish landscape. Finally, a train tour through Sweden can also be perfectly combined with a tour of Norway and Finland if you're looking for even more variation of unique natural phenomena. Finland Train Tours Finland is perhaps the most surprising country in Scandinavia, often unfairly overlooked by train travelers. Finland is one of the many highlights of Rail Baltica: a route that leads through the Baltic States to Finland. During this tour, you can explore especially Helsinki, but if you want to see more of the Scandinavian landscape, you can also choose one of our other tours through Finland. The Botniabanen (Sweden) and Finland combination are ideal for this! During this trip, you travel through Sweden, enter Finland along the old railway line, and can enjoy the lake area towards Kupio. Train rides in Finland can be perfectly alternated with boat trips, allowing you to admire the Åland Islands up close. A train journey through Finland is also perfect for combining with a side trip to St. Petersburg in Russia. Eastern Europe and the Baltic States From Berlin to Helsinki via the Baltic States: it's possible with Rail Baltica. During this tour, you'll not only discover the unique, often medieval, Eastern European cities like Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn but also witness the impressive Baltic landscape. During the journey, you'll mostly travel on modern, comfortable trains, but also on trains dating back to the Soviet era. If the journey through the Baltic States isn't adventurous enough, it's possible to extend the trip a bit by traveling to Helsinki via St. Petersburg, Russia. If you prefer to explore a country in detail, you're also in the right place in Eastern Europe. Countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, or Slovakia are often unfairly overlooked, making a train tour through one of these countries truly special. Travel in these countries is often possible with night trains, allowing you to travel from destination to destination at high speed and convenience. This makes Eastern Europe ideal for tours. Orient Express The Orient Express is perhaps one of the most famous trains in the world. Our tour with this legendary train takes you to Istanbul and Athens: two extraordinary world cities. During a tour with the Orient Express, you can enjoy ultimate luxury and comfort in the unique, restored, 1920s-style carriages. While you dine on exquisite meals with silver cutlery every day, the train travels almost silently through Europe. Along the way, you can disembark to visit various often medieval-looking cities, such as Brasov, Bucharest, and Thessaloniki. A tour with the Orient Express is not always about the destination but about the experience of pure luxury and adventure itself. Japan There is no better way to discover Japan than by train. Our train tour through Japan is ideal: all the highlights are included in our journey. A tour through Japan offers the perfect mix of modern and tradition. You'll travel with ultra-modern trains past beautiful rice fields, mountains, or to authentic temple villages. Think, for example, of the Narita Express to Tokyo or the unique Hakone Tozan Railway, a special zigzagging train ride where the conductor has to change places after each turn. The stations themselves are also a highlight in Japan: you won't find the skywalks at Kyoto station anywhere else in the world. Finally, almost all train rides are made with the Shinkansen, or the high-speed line of Japan. These bullet trains are known for their speed and punctuality. Japan is therefore not without reason the ideal country to discover by train.

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  • Best Family Vacations

10 Great European Train Trips for Families

great train trips of europe

Oct 4, 2013

See recent posts by Geri Bain

The camaraderie and freedom to focus on scenery and fellow travelers instead of maps and road signs makes train travel a wonderful choice for families traveling in Europe.

Trains are, of course, magical in their own right, especially for young kids. They’re big and powerful as they rumble and toot through exciting tunnels and over sky-high viaducts. Thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine and The Little Engine that Could , trains feel friendly, too. Plus, there’s room for the restless to ramble and stretch their legs, and often free Wi-Fi and outlets, too.

With its efficient, far-reaching rail networks, impressively grand train stations and wide range of price points and scenic routes, Europe begs to be explored by rail. From thrilling overnight odysseys to mountain-climbing steam trains, here are ten wonderful train trips for families:

great train trips of europe

1. The Jacobite Harry Potter fans will be thrilled to know that the actual rail cars and steam engine featured as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films are still in use through some of that very same wild scenery, including the very recognizable Glenfinnan viaduct, with its 21 soaring arches.

The route is called The Jacobite, and is operated by West Coast Railways. The 84 mile roundtrip journey, which only operates mid-May through late October, sets out from Fort William, near Britain’s highest mountain peak (Ben Nevis), and winds through valleys and glens, past the country’s deepest fresh- and sea-water lakes and the lovely white-sand beaches of Morar (featured in several films), on its way to the fishing port of Mallaig.

Fort William can be reached by train from Glasgow or London , either by day or on an overnight sleeper train. The final section is a stunning route, overlooking the shores of Loch Lomond and across the untamed Rannoch Moor. Once there, Inverlochy Castle, which meets guests at the Fort William train station, makes a fun home base.

great train trips of europe

2. Royal Scotsman The only thing more exciting than riding on a train through Scotland is sleeping on one — especially when combined with stops for clay shooting, falconry, fly-fishing and walks through battlefields and castles. Two- to seven-night journeys on the Royal Scotsman begin with a rousing walk through Edinburgh’s Waverly Station to the train, led by a bagpipe player dressed in full ceremonial kilted regalia. Itineraries include visits to Plockton, where kids will enjoy a boat excursion to a colony of wild seals, and historic and “haunted” castles.

This trip will appeal to kids drawn to elegance and getting dressed up. A maximum of 36 passengers enjoy afternoon tea, candle-lit dinners with rave-worthy cuisine and posh sleeping, dining and lounge cars. Note: There are no adjoining or family cabins or onboard Wi-Fi, and some routes, such as Whiskey Tastings, do not welcome young children.

great train trips of europe

3. The Chocolate Train What kid — or adult — wouldn’t love an all-you-can-eat Swiss chocolate tasting? That’s just one of the highlights of the Chocolate Train, an all-day (nearly 10-hour) trip that travels roundtrip from Montreux to the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory in Broc. To ensure that the sugar rush isn’t too intense, the train stops first at Gruyeres for a tour and tasting at the Gruyeres cheese factory, allowing plenty of time to explore the pretty medieval village and castle.

While it’s easy to organize the trip on your own, the excursion (greatly discounted with a rail pass) invites families to travel in style in a vintage Pullman “Belle Epoque” carriage or modern panoramic car. Plus, there’s a bus to carry the weary up the hill to Gruyeres castle, and no worrying about train schedules or tour times. Either way, the route affords awe-inspiring views of Lake Gruyeres with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop.

great train trips of europe

4. Bernina Express For sheer variety of terrain and culture, the train/PostBus Bernina Express route, also in Switzerland, can’t be beat. A large section of the four-hour train ride is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and panoramic, and on some departures, open-air cars are an added delight. Along the way, you can experience three of Switzerland’s cultures: Italian, German and Romansh, plus a swath of Italy. The route runs from Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland, and jet-setting St. Moritz, through the dramatic, glacier-clad Swiss and Italian Alps, to the palm trees and city-side sand beaches of Lake Lugano.

And it’s not just the scenery. Kids love the tunnels, towering stone viaducts and curving mountainside tracks, where people in the front and back of the train can practically wave to each other. Another favorite memory on this route is the three-hour PostBus segment from Tirano, Italy to Lugano, where their big-windowed bus has the right of way, tooting its “dee-da-doe” three-tone horn at the hairpin turns, often causing cars and trucks to back up and make way.

great train trips of europe

5. Transcantabrico Gran Lujo With a steam sauna and hydro-massage shower in every suite, posh panoramic lounge car, and only one spacious suite per train car, the upscale Transcantabrico Gran Lujo is one of Europe’s most luxurious trains. Each train has just 14 suites, each with a double or two twin beds and an optional extra bed. The train travels between Santiago de Compostela and San Sebastian, tracing Spain’s stunning cliff-lined northern coast, enhancing the journey with daily bus excursions and dining onboard and in top-rated restaurants along the way.

While the full-day sightseeing trips and leisurely meals may be too much for younger kids, there’s plenty to engage most middle schoolers and older kids, from Paleolithic cave paintings and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, to the pilgrimage trail of Santiago de Compostela — and they’re sure to appreciate the in-suite PC with free Internet and game console. More budget-friendly multi-day train tours, such as the Transcantabrico Classico and El Roble, also travel the region.

great train trips of europe

6. Elipsos Train After a full day of playing in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens and a boat ride along the Seine, families can board the Elipsos Train for Spain in time for dinner, and then let the clickety-clack of the tracks rock them to sleep. Overnight Elipsos trains connect Paris with the beaches and colorful Gaudi-architecture of Barcelona and Madrid, where a puppet show or rowboat ride at Retiro Park can be a special treat after touring the Prado Museum.

The Elipsos offers a comfortable alternative to flying, but the best part is the adventurous feeling of going to bed and waking up the next morning in a totally new country. Tourist (four-bed) and Comfort (two-bed) class sleeper compartments come with a sink, but no bathroom. More luxurious, Grand Class rooms come with single or double beds, a private bathroom and dinner and breakfast in the gourmet restaurant car. And for travel within Spain, AVE high-speed trains provide a nursery and play area, board games and outlets to power electronic devices.

great train trips of europe

7. Eurostar Unlike many top train rides, the Eurostar, which connects London with Paris and Brussels, is most loved for what travelers don’t see. Traveling city center to city center means no airports or traffic. And while kids may spot cows and sheep in the fields on both sides of the channel, the thrilling part comes in knowing that when the scene goes dark, the train is actually traveling underwater for more than thirty miles.

Moving at speeds of up to 186 MPH, the Eurostar crossing is surprisingly fast. About two hours after stepping off a double-decker bus in London, travelers can watch chocolate being hand-made in Brussels, savor freshly baked croissants in Paris, or with another 35 minutes, arrive at the gates of Disneyland Paris . There are three classes of service, all comfortable. When making reservations, it’s possible to reserve seats in a coach with baby-changing facilities, extra space for luggage or family tables. Also check out Eurostar’s Web site for downloadable, age-tailored activities. (It’s no wonder Europeans can’t understand why anyone would ever fly across the Channel.)

great train trips of europe

8. TGV The TGV, France’s high-speed train, offers a triple treat. First, the TGV has bragging rights as the world’s fastest train. It regularly clips along at speeds up to 201 miles per hour, and travels between Paris and the French Riviera in about 5.5 hours. Still, that’s not too fast to take in the scenery, from the pretty church-capped villages of the Rhone Valley in Provence to the Mediterranean Coast, with its castle-like hill towns and picturesque port towns.

Equally thrilling is the destination — the chic Mediterranean cities and beaches of the south of France. In addition to playing in the waves, you can see where stars walk the red carpet at the annual Cannes Film Festival and learn how Henri Matisse and other famous artists found their inspiration here.

Last, but not least, the TGV caters to families with special nursery areas, family seating with foldaway chairs and tables to give children open floor space for play. And during peak periods, there are organized games, shows, face painting and other activities in designated TGV Family sections of the train.

great train trips of europe

9. MittelrheinBahn The Rhine River, an important highway since ancient times, is the stuff of legends, and nowhere is this more visible than in the castle-rich stretch between Koblenz and Mainz in Germany. The Rhine River Valley route hugs the river along this more than 62-mile stretch, as it cuts through the steep-sided Rhine River Gorge.

One of the most popular local legends is attached to Loreley Rock, which leans out over the river at one of its narrowest and fastest points. The sound it makes as wind passes by is said to be the singing of Loreley. The siren is blamed for the many ships wrecked by the quickening waters.

Visiting the castles and museums in this region, kids will also hear tales of ancient rulers, fierce battles and royal intrigues. Frequent regional train service makes it easy to visit castles, museums, hiking/biking trails and a fairytale-come-true stay at one of the many castle-hotels in the region.

great train trips of europe

10. RailJet Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart called Austria home for most of his life, and there’s no better place to enjoy his music than in the cities and countryside that inspired him. Start by visiting Mozarthaus in Vienna , where an engaging audio tour spices up tales about his life with samples of his music and the catch a castle concert, performed by musicians in period garb.

From Vienna, it’s a two hour and twenty minute train ride to Salzburg. The route passes through hilly farmland and onion-spired churches. Aside from the wind turbines, the scenery seems to hearken back to Mozart’s time. Approaching Salzburg, the landscape grows more dramatic as the Alps become a towering backdrop.

Salzburg was Mozart’s birthplace and his childhood home is now a museum that showcases his past and his influence on modern music and the arts. But Mozart isn’t Salzburg’s only musical claim to fame. Much of The Sound of Music was filmed here, and fans will love singing “Do-Re-Mi” in the very gardens where Maria and the children did, as well as visiting the many other sites they’ll recognize from the Rogers & Hammerstein classic.

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The Independent

The most exciting new train journeys across Europe for 2024

I t’s getting increasingly easy to travel around Europe flight-free, thanks to a host of new train routes launching at a time when certain governments are going all out to reduce aviation-related emissions. France, for example, has banned domestic flights where rail journeys of less than two and a half hours are possible, and the EU plans to double its spending on high-speed rail by 2030.

New routes launching in 2024 range from inter-city services making twin-centre holidays in Europe a breeze to sleeper trains putting top ski resorts in easy reach of cities such as Amsterdam. On this occasion, our focus is on routes between destinations on the continent, although new rail connections will soon benefit those of us in the UK – Eurostar rival Evolyn recently announced plans to launch a high-speed Channel Tunnel rail service between London St Pancras and Paris Nord in 2025.

Here are the current hot tickets for anyone planning to ride the rails in 2024.

Read more on rail travel :

  • The most unforgettable train journeys around the world
  • All aboard the new train route exploring Mexico’s Mayan heartlands
  • Is this the age of the overnight sleeper train?

Brussels to Prague with European Sleeper

Launch date: 25 march 2024.

European Sleeper’s night train service from Brussels launched in early 2023 but rail infrastructure work meant it could only reach Germany’s capital – until now. From March 2024 it will run from Brussels to Prague , with a journey time of around 15 hours and stops in Amsterdam and Berlin . Keep an eye out for more European Sleeper routes – including ones between the Netherlands and the French Alps, and Amsterdam and Barcelona – in 2025. A word of warning – don’t expect turndown services and chocolates on your pillow. There are three classes of cabin, and the trains are best described as pre-loved – European Sleeper has relied largely on decommissioned train carriages which have been given a quick spruce-up and brought back to life. On the plus side, the company has promised new trains – and perhaps even a chocolate on your pillow – in the near future.

Berlin to Paris with ÖBB Nightjet

Launch date: 11 december 2023.

If a decommissioned German train carriage doesn’t do it for you, this next option might sound more appealing. In early December 2023 ÖBB Nightjet launched its new Berlin to Paris route, which operates three times a week and stops in Strasbourg, eastern France . Cabin options range from a seat in a standard compartment to slick bunkbed couchettes with room for up to six people and, at the top end, mini cabins for solos and couples. It’s also worth noting that ÖBB Nightjet plans to turn the route into a daily one in late 2024.

Amsterdam to Austria via Germany with TUI’s Ski Express

Launch date: 23 december 2023.

Getting to Austria’s ski slopes will become even easier this winter, thanks to TUI’s new Ski Express service, which connects Amsterdam with Austria via Cologne and Frankfurt. Cabin options range from economy to comfort private – book one of these and perks include a sink (OK, not necessarily the most exciting of amenities, admittedly) and steward service. But a word of warning for those prone to missing their stop – if you’re Austria-bound, it’s worth remembering that the train splits in the Austrian city of Wörgl, before serving two different skiing hotspots: Austria’s Tyrol and Salzburger Land regions.

Liège to Maastricht via Aachen with Arriva, SNCB and NS

Launch date: december 2023.

This particular train, which will operate a tri-country route between Belgium , the Netherlands and Germany , and is a collaboration between three train companies, has been a long time coming. The route was unveiled in 2019 but Belgian authorities scuppered plans for it to pass through the country due to safety concerns – more specifically, the insistence that all trains would need a European safety system known as ETCS. It’s finally being rolled out in December 2023, and Liège and Aachen’s status as major hubs for high speed trains means the service will make it much easier for travellers to access a large number of additional cities, including Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and Paris.

Brussels to Amsterdam with SNCB and NS

Launch date: december 2024.

Full disclosure – this one has been around for a while, but its status as one of Europe ’s most popular train routes is the reason train companies Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) and Belgian carrier SNCB have announced the number of services will be doubled this time next year. New trains have also been ordered for the route, and fewer stops on the additional services launching in December 2024 will mean shorter journey times. Passengers can expect to travel between the two cities in just under two hours, slashing 45 minutes off the current travel time.

Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo with FS Treni Turistici Italiani

Launch date: 15 december 2023.

Getting to Italy’s powder stashes is much easier from winter 2023, thanks to a new night train which connects Rome with Cortina d’Ampezzo, one of Italy’s most snow-sure ski resorts. Cabin options on this new route range from single-bed cabins to six-person sleepers, and the train has a dining car and bar. The 220-bed sleeper train will leave Rome at 9.40pm every Friday, arriving in Calalzo, a short bus ride from Cortina d’Ampezzo, at around 8am the next morning (this early start is why we suggest resisting grappa-fuelled all-nighters at the train’s bar).

Paris to Madrid with FS Italiane Group

Launch date: late 2024.

The exact launch date of this new service is yet to be confirmed, although we know it’s currently due to launch in late 2024 and will be run by Italy’s national state-owned railway, Trenitalia – a subsidiary of FS Italiane Group. Trenitalia’s high-speed Frecciarossa (meaning red arrow) trains will be used for the route and with a top speed of 249mph, it’s thought journey times will come in at just under seven hours. Brioche for breakfast and torrijas at tea time? Sounds like a no-brainer.

Northern and southern Italy with Orient Express

First, to clear things up: this particular Orient Express isn’t the Orient Express company which became Belmond in 2014 but a separate entity (owned by hotel behemoths Accor) which specialises in luxury trains and will soon branch out into hotels.  Confused? Us too. But back to the important stuff. Orient Express will launch a new seriously luxurious train, La Dolce Vita , in 2024. The exact dates are yet to be confirmed, but there will be six routes on offer and this luxury train line won’t be about high-speed train travel , but about carefully curated itineraries which meander between destinations in northern and southern Italy, including Rome and Venice , where the Orient Express group will unveil its first hotels in 2024.

Read more on our selection of rail trips

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A car damaged by a fallen tree branch in Belfast during Storm Isha on Sunday.

Wind warnings as 99mph Storm Isha hits UK

Forecasters warn of life-threatening gusts in coastal areas as weather causes travel disruption across country

Storm warnings have been issued across parts of Britain as Storm Isha takes hold, with potentially life-threatening gusts and travel disruption expected into Monday.

A “tornado watch” zone was in place for Northern Ireland , as well as parts of Scotland and northern England, but expired late on Sunday.

The Met Office issued two amber wind alerts and a red warning for parts of northern Scotland until the early hours of Monday, while rail, sea and air travellers faced disruption, with closures, cancellations and delays on a number of services.

In Belfast, a person was struck by falling debris after scaffolding became dislodged and was treated at the scene by emergency services.

Emergency services at the scene where scaffolding was dislodged in Belfast city centre during Storm Isha, injuring one person.

The Met Office said 99mph wind gusts were recorded in Brizlee Wood, Northumberland, along with90mph winds in Capel Curig in north Wales late on Sunday.

It urged people to check the weather and advice from their local councils, as it warned of power cuts, flying debris, travel disruption and dangerous conditions near the coast, including high waves.

The Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna told the PA news agency earlier: “There is a potential that we could see the odd isolated tornado largely tied in with the squally cold front mainly in western parts of the UK on Sunday evening.

“They can cause some significant damage, but often on a very localised scale. They often don’t tend to last very long.”

The body that represents Britain’s energy networks warned of risks to homes and vital infrastructure. The Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: “We’re expecting widespread gales to affect the UK. Amber warnings are in place for large parts of the country.

“There’s the potential for danger to life and damaging winds potentially leading to some power cuts in places. Some large waves around coastal regions could bring some debris on to roads and trees could come down.

Fallen tree on notting hill road in belfast

“We have a wind warning in place across the whole of the UK. It’s pretty unusual for the whole of the country to be under a blanket wind warning.”

Agencies across Cumbria declared themselves on standby for a major incident, with Sellafield nuclear site closing as a precaution on Sunday.

The Met Office has said “everybody” will be affected by the storm. Two 12-hour amber wind warnings remain in place from 6pm on Sunday until Monday morning. One stretches across central, eastern and western England and all of Wales, missing only London and parts of the south-east. The other covers all of Scotland and northern England and Northern Ireland.

ScotRail ceased rail services early on Sunday and confirmed there would be no Monday morning rush-hour services. Network Rail said it had “taken the decision to close the network to all freight and passenger trains from 22.00 [on Sunday night] until Monday morning”.

East Midlands Railway said delays and alterations to its services were “likely”, while no LNER trains will run north of Newcastle until midday.

Air traffic control restrictions are in place, leading to some flight cancellations and midair diversions. A flight travelling from Sharm El Sheikh to Glasgow airport declared an emergency due to Storm Isha. A spokesperson for Glasgow Airport said the TUI flight was “diverted to Manchester due to current weather conditions”.

Nats, the UK’s national air traffic control services, told the PA news agency: “Due to adverse weather conditions across the UK, temporary air traffic restrictions are in place. Restrictions of this sort are only ever applied to maintain safety.

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“Our teams are working closely with airports and airlines to minimise disruption. Passengers should check the status of their flight with their airline.”

British Airways said: “Like other airlines, we have had to make schedule adjustments due to the adverse weather conditions across the UK and Europe caused by Storm Isha. We’ve apologised to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans and our teams are working hard to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”

Heavy downpours battered some places, with 26 flood warnings in place in England and 27 in Scotland.

Waves crash against the harbour wall on Sunday in Porthcawl, Wales.

National Highways issued amber severe weather alerts in the north-west, north-east, south-west and south-east of England, as well as the east and west Midlands, from 6pm on Sunday until the early hours of Monday, and advised motorists to plan around disruption. There was a particularly high risk that taller vehicles and other vulnerable vehicles such as caravans and motorbikes could be blown over, it said.

The cold Arctic air that has given the UK sunny skies but freezing temperatures was subsiding, the Met Office said, and being replaced by an Atlantic influence that would bring a return to milder conditions, but also bring wet and windy weather across the UK.

The storm would move away on Monday morning, developing into very strong winds in the far south-east of England, and the risk of 70-80mph gusts in the early hours.

Petagna said: “Storm Isha will bring a disruptive spell of weather to the UK with strong winds across the whole country. Heavy rain will cause additional hazards, particularly in the west. A number of severe weather warnings for rain have also been issued. Keep up to date with the Met Office warnings and pay close attention to guidance from your local authority.”

A spokesperson for Energy Networks Association, which represents Britain’s energy network operators, urged people to check in with those who might need extra help, and to share information with friends and family.

The Met Office said the high winds would gradually ease through the day on Monday, while overnight into Tuesday would be calmer for most of the country, with lighter winds and fewer showers in the north.

But it warned that low pressure would bring further wet and windy weather from the west on Tuesday morning, which would spread eastwards across the UK.

Later in the week, conditions are expected to ease in the south, with temperatures expected to remain mild for the time of year. Any wet and windy weather is predicted to be confined largely to the north-west of the UK.

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Storm Isha batters the UK and Ireland: in pictures

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Storm Jocelyn hits UK with 71mph gusts, bringing more travel chaos

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Storm Isha: two dead after separate road collisions as UK travel disrupted – as it happened

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‘It was very scary’: Britons tell of damage and disruption from Storm Isha

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    Guide 28 best European routes where you should take a train instead of a plane Jordan Waller and Bill Fink Sept. 07, 2023 • 14 min read Jump to section This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

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    Best train journeys in Europe Photograph: 1. Oslo to Bergen, Norway Connecting Oslo and Bergen is the fairytale Bergen Line. Take it in spring or autumn, and the voyage plays...

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    Oslo to Bergen, Norway Best Places to Stay This jaw-dropping journey may be Europe's most spectacular train trip of all. Passengers roll through craggy mountain landscapes and across the gorgeous Hardangervidda Plateau to the highest station in Norway, Finse, at over 4,000 feet in elevation.

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    Travel from Prague to Zurich via Basel, Leipzig and Dresden. Why it's exciting: A night journey through eastern Germany, with breakfast with a view traveling along the scenic Elbe Valley between Dresden and Děčín, before finishing in one of central Europe's most beautiful capitals. Zurich, Switzerland is fast becoming a night train hub to match Vienna.

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    If you feel like going even further, Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) are a great choice. While you're in Europe, don't miss out on London and discover everything it can offer. 105 Train & Rail tour packages in Europe with 619 positive reviews Explorer Train & Rail +2 Berlin to Venice (15 Days) (including Salzburg) 4.5 (18 reviews) Destinations

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    Ride Famous Trains: Glacier Express, Jungfrau Railway, Jacobite Steam Train, Royal Scotsman, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Bergen Railway and more. Explore by Travel Type: Escorted tours guided by a tour manager, River Cruises on their own or paired with a scenic rail tour, and Independent itineraries to explore at your own pace.

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    23 of the best rail journeys in Europe See Europe how it was meant to be seen: from the window of a train! From mountain climbs to luxury sleepers, here's the rail adventures you must add to your bucket list... 7 mins 1. Glacier Express, Switzerland Glacier Express, Switzerland (Shutterstock) Best for… Seeing Switzerland in the slow lane

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    Amsterdam > Bruges > Paris > Chur > Milan This train journey takes you through some of Northern Europe's higlights - from its cosmopolitan capital cities to its storybook canalside towns and on through the mountains of the Alps on board one of Europe's most spectacular train journeys.

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    The best way to travel in Europe is by rail. Whether it is a scenic train trip between destinations or a luxury journey across a country, here are the top 10 European rail trips every traveler should experience. 1. Belmond Royal Scotsman A ride on one of the world's most luxurious trains, the Belmond Royal Scotsman, is truly like no other.

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    3. Amsterdam to London, the Netherlands and the UK. In less than four high-speed hours, Eurostar trains whizz direct between Amsterdam and London. Running up to four times a day, the route is a popular alternative to flying. However, from June 2024 the route will go on an enforced hiatus for the rest of the year.

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    Munich to Fussen, Germany, on the Deutsche Bahn Neuschwanstein Castle in the fall near Fussen, Germany. YOSHIHIRO TAKADA/A.COLLCETIONRF/GETTY IMAGES This train itinerary starts in Munich, where you can sip a stein of beer or some warming mulled wine before hopping on the two-hour route to Fussen.

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    Spain can be visited on the Al Andalus luxury train tours of Europe, visiting Santiago to Seville and the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to Barcelona. More details can be found below. The old city walls consist of 8 huge gates, 88 watchtowers and 2500 turrets, is one of the best-preserved medieval in Spain.

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    Train Journeys The Best Train Trips in the World: 2023 Readers' Choice Awards The world's most swoon-worthy way to slow travel? These train trips, from Europe routes to India and...

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  22. 10 Great European Train Trips for Families

    With its efficient, far-reaching rail networks, impressively grand train stations and wide range of price points and scenic routes, Europe begs to be explored by rail. From thrilling overnight odysseys to mountain-climbing steam trains, here are ten wonderful train trips for families: 1. The Jacobite. Harry Potter fans will be thrilled to know ...

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