The 6 Most Beautiful Train Rides in Europe


In terms of travel, few transportation methods are as relaxing as a train ride. You don’t have to do any work – you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Plus, thanks to the hard-working engineers of the past, today’s trains are fully equipped for travel through some of the most scenic landscapes in the world.

If you’re planning on touring around Europe any time soon, you’re in for a real treat. Trains are one of the most popular modes of transportation for Europeans, allowing travellers to see everything from the comfort of their own cabin, at very reasonable prices. From romantic valleys to medieval castles, hopping on board a European train is one of the best ways to see a country.

1. West Highland Line, Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

West Highland Line, Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this train adventure should be at the very top of your list. For Potterheads and muggles alike, the Jacobite (aka The Hogwarts Express) is a steam train that runs 135 kilometres from Fort William to Mallaig. The views are breathtaking, from rolling meadows to toppling mountains. Plus, you’ll ride right over the top of the iconic Glenfinnan viaduct, an iconic landmark from the Harry Potter films.

  • Best time to visit: June to September (but book early, it does sell out fast)
  • Distance and time: 67 kilometres (each way), 2 hours

2. Bernina Express, Switzerland

Bernina Express, Switzerland

It’s not often you find a train ride listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, but you can see why this four-hour journey through southern Switzerland is included.

Starting in Chur, the bright red, narrow-gauge train trundles through the Engadin Alps for 144km through chic St Moritz until it reaches Tirano just over the border in Italy. The mountains are glorious – either covered in snow in winter or in lush meadows in spring and summer – and the train’s passage along the Landwasser viaduct is breathtaking.

  • The Bernina Express train offers passengers a 2 or 3 day experience

3. Cinque Terre between Levanto and La Spezia, Italy

Cinque Terre between Levanto and La Spezia, Italy

Five colourful, rustic villages give this 18km stretch of rugged coastline its name (‘five lands’), replete with cliffs tumbling into the picture-postcard turquoise Ligurian Sea, bucolic vineyards and olive groves. Regional trains stop at all five villages.

  • Best time to visit: February to October
  • Distance and time: 20km, 40 minutes

4. The Glacier Express, St-Moritz to Zermatt – Switzerland

The Glacier Express, St-Moritz to Zermatt – Switzerland

It’s hardly a trip to Switzerland if you don’t make your way up a glacier, and thanks to the Glacier Express, that bucket list item can be checked off rather leisurely. This panoramic trip passes right through the Alpine heartland of Switzerland, passing through 91 tunnels and crossing over 291 bridges. The trip may be a bit longer, but it’s definitely one of the most scenic tours in Europe, not to mention the best way to get from the Eastern to Western Swiss Alps.

  • Best time to visit: September
  • Distance and time: 300 kilometres, 8 hours

5. Rhine Valley, Germany

 Rhine Valley, Germany

Of all the train rides in Germany, the Central Rhine Railway is by far the most German and the most breathtaking. Filled with terraced hillsides and 14th-century castles, this picturesque tour chugs through some of the most quaint wine countries in all of Europe. Stopping at each village along the way, you won’t miss the castles of Marksburg, the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, or Burg Pfalzgrafenstein – all tucked carefully in the middle of the Rhine.

  • Best time to visit: Beautiful all year round, but summer months are warmer for walking tours at each stop
  • Distance and time: 60 kilometres, about 1 hour

6. Interrailing, France to Italy

Interrailing, France to Italy

Train travel through Europe is an adventure unto itself, and you can book an Interrail pass lasting between one and three months with access to over 40,000 destinations across 33 countries.

It can be hard to know where to start, so we recommend beginning with a cultural and culinary odyssey through France and Italy. Start off in Paris, the “City of Lights, Love, and the Louvre” and have a wander through the tangled streets of Montmartre before boarding the train to Lyon. Catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as whizz along to the culinary capital of France, where you can sample a saucisson brioche (a fancy, French sausage roll). Next stop is Milan, then you will head south through the Emilia-Romagna countryside to Bologna.

Grab a window seat as you journey through Tuscany and watch as the rolling vineyards and cypress trees unfold outside your window, before disembarking in Florence. The final stretch of the journey will take you past the pretty medieval city of Siena and on to Rome, which holds the key to one of history’s most fascinating civilisations.

  • Best time to visit: Beautiful all year round, but summer months offer beautiful Tuscan views
  • Distance and time: 1250 kilometres, 5 days


1 thought on “The 6 Most Beautiful Train Rides in Europe

  1. Picture no 5 is of the Golden Pass Railway in Switzerland. It runs between Zweisimmen and Montreux, but has connections on either side to travel further. I would appreciate if this could be corrected. Thank you, Rudi Jenni

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