Embark on an unforgettable journey through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Europe with these top scenic train rides. As you sit back and relax in your train seat, you’ll be captivated by the picturesque scenes that unfold outside your window. From snow-capped mountains to charming villages, these routes offer the most rewarding way to explore the beauty of the continent.
So, which scenic train ride will you choose?
Best scenic train rides in Europe
The Bernina Railway: Chur to Tirano
Switzerland and Italy come together in a remarkable display of natural beauty on the Bernina Railway.
This scenic route takes you on a winding journey around bright blue lakes and across majestic viaducts. Fields transform into snowy mountains right before your eyes, leaving you in awe of the stunning landscapes.
While panoramic trains offer a luxurious experience, you can also enjoy the same beautiful route on regular trains without the surcharge.
The Bergen Railway: Oslo to Bergen
Prepare to be enchanted by Norway’s spellbinding landscapes on the Bergen Railway.
This epic 7-hour train journey takes you through fjords, glaciers, and Europe’s highest mountainous plateau. As you watch the breathtaking scenery pass by, you’ll be immersed in the natural wonders that Norway has to offer.
Make a stop in Myrdal and hop on the legendary tourist train to Flåm for an unforgettable detour.
The Black Forest Railway: Konstanz to Offenburg
Step into a fairytale as you embark on the Black Forest Railway in Germany. This scenic route takes you through lush forests and villages with traditional timbered houses.
The section between Donaueschingen and Hornberg is particularly enchanting, with picturesque views at every turn. Keep an eye out for the local double-decker trains that run along this route, and be sure to claim a top-deck seat for the best views.
The Salzkammergut Railway: Stainach-Irdning to Attnang-Puchheim
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Austria’s Salzkammergut region on this picturesque train ride. Marvel at the huge cliffs, picturesque villages, and glistening lakes that make this journey truly remarkable.
Located within the stunning Austrian Lake District, each station along the route beckons you to explore and discover hidden gems.
Be sure to get off the train at every station, and don’t miss the opportunity to visit Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful towns in all of Austria, by taking a ferry across the adjacent lake from the railway station.
The Belgrade-Bar Railway: Belgrade to Bar
For the adventurous at heart, the Belgrade-Bar Railway in Serbia and Montenegro offers an unforgettable Balkan train ride.
Surrounded by rocky valleys, rushing rivers, and wide lakes, this 12-hour journey showcases the stunning beauty of the region. Cross the tallest viaduct in Europe and immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery along the way.
If you want to maximize your experience, opt for the day train and soak up every moment of the amazing landscapes.
Cinque Terre: La Spezia to Levanto
Italy’s picturesque coastline comes to life on the scenic train ride through Cinque Terre.
As the train hugs the shore, you’ll feel like you’re floating across the water, passing from one picture-perfect village to another. Immerse yourself in the charm of this UNESCO World Heritage site as you explore the walking trails between the five seaside villages.
Don’t miss the delightful section between Monterosso and Vernazza, with its stunning views and vibrant atmosphere, and read this article on how to keep your Italy travels on a budget.
The West Highland Line: Fort William to Mallaig
Discover the untamed beauty of Scotland’s moorlands, lochs, and glens on the West Highland Line.
This train ride will take your breath away as you traverse the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, known for its appearance in the Harry Potter films. Enjoy the isolation of the landscape and marvel at the scenic vistas along the way.
While steam trains are available on this route, you can also opt for the local services operated by the Scottish rail operator for a more budget-friendly experience.
The Douro Line: Porto to Pocinho
Embark on a splendid journey along the Douro River in Portugal on the Douro Line. As the train snakes its way through the scenic valley, you’ll be treated to views of vineyard terraces on either side.
Admire the beauty of the petite, white, and blue-tiled train stations along the route, which add to the charm of the journey.
Take the morning train to allow ample time to explore the valley, tasting delicious wines and immersing yourself in the rich Porto architectural gems and the overall cultural heritage of the region.
The Little Yellow Train: Latour-de-Carol to Villefranche-Vernet-les-bains
Prepare for a thrilling ride on the Little Yellow Train in the French Pyrenees.
During the summer, you can even choose to ride in the open-top carriage and enjoy unobstructed views of the majestic Pyrenees mountains. This scenic route is located near the borders of Andorra and Spain, offering a unique opportunity for exploration.
Keep in mind that there may be occasional line maintenance, so it’s a good idea to check the train times in advance.
Rhodope Narrow Gauge: Septemvri – Dobrinishte
Travel back in time on Bulgaria’s Rhodope Narrow Gauge, the country’s last remaining narrow gauge train. This picturesque route takes you through mountains, forests, and charming villages with minarets, immersing you in the beauty of the Balkan countryside.
Starting at the Pirin range, the train journey offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Bulgaria. Before embarking on your trip, make sure to check the train route information on the BDZ website for the latest updates.
Tips to plan an unforgettable European adventure by train
Now that you have discovered these remarkable scenic train rides, it’s time to plan your perfect journey.
Remember to consider the timing of your trips, using an online sunrise and sunset calculator to choose the best train times for enjoying the scenery.
Also, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the stops along the route, as they often hold hidden treasures and unique experiences. Don’t worry about breaking the bank, as most of these scenic train rides are affordable regional services that locals use every day.
If you have an Interrail Pass, you can even enjoy these train rides at no additional cost or with a small reservation fee.
So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes – a dream for hikers! – with these 10 best scenic train rides. Sit back, relax, and let the beauty of the continent unfold before your eyes.