Rail travel is a wonderful way to explore regions of the world, because you often get to see something unexpected. In cities and villages, you can scan the backyards of houses and how people live. In the countryside, you can view sceneries that are not necessarily visible for road travelers at all. Especially, in mountainous regions the sceneries can be spectacular. For instance, in Europe. Here are seven magnificent European train trips for those travelers who want to see the best sceneries from a train window.
Since many of the following scenic train routes and many railway tracks in general in Europe cross country borders, how do travelers manage their tickets and budgets? It is possible to buy a ticket for each leg of a rail trip, but it can be complicated and expensive. Europe’s railway companies have a common product known as the Eurail Pass that lets you travel along Europe’s rail network for a fixed price, for a chosen period, but choose your route flexibly. There are many choices for the Eurail Pass depending on how long and where you want to travel.
Here are seven scenic railway routes in Europe (chosen by Andrew Thompson).
Semmering Line in Austria
The Semmering Line is nothing less than a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is a short but spectacular rail route that travels across stone bridges, through long tunnels, and over high viaducts.
The main section of the Semmering Line is located between Wiener Neustadt and Bruck an der Mur. Several trains run the main section daily. It is covered by the Eurail Pass.
Golden Pass in Switzerland
The Golden Pass train runs between Lucerne and Montreaux in Switzerland. The route gives you a view to many Swiss highlights, including the Alps, vineyards and lakes, villages, and cities.
Regular trains travel along the Golden Pass rail daily. In addition, there are special trains, the Golden Pass Classic and the Golden Pass Panoramic, that run less frequently but are intended for sightseers. The route is covered by the Eurail Pass, and you don’t need a reservation for hopping onboard.
Rhine Valley in Germany
The river banks of Rhine are famous for its wines, castles and villages. The railway track between Mainz and Koblenz along the Rhine Valley throws you into scenery that is fascinating to study from the comfort of a train.
Regular trains make the trip in both directions every day. The route is included in the Eurail Pass.
From Vienna, Austria to Ljubljana, Slovenia
The railway track connects two capitals of Europe, both beautiful, historical cities. For six hours, the train travels along a mountainous landscape where lakes and rivers, castles and towns appear and disappear from the view.
A daily train from Vienna Meidling station follows this route. It leaves at 8:05 am. This route is covered by the Eurail Pass.
From Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro
Known as the Montenegro Express, this dramatic route runs on mountains. It is also a showcase of engineering: building of the track required 435 bridges and 254 tunnels.
Daily trains travel between the two cities. A popular layover is the town of Podgorica. The Montenegro Express is included in the Eurail Pass.
Inlandsbanan in Sweden
The railway track runs across a large part of Sweden from south, Kristinehamn, to a mining town of Gällivare in the far north. The 14-hour long journey shows you Scandinavian forests, more forests, and towards north, the landscape begins to change to an Arctic environment. Gällivare is located north of the Arctic Circle, where reindeer and other animals roam in the vast wilderness of Lapland. Here is a travel guide to Lapland (ebook download).
Trains run June to August and December to April. The Eurail Pass can be used but a reservation fee is charged.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Along with the popularity of Instagram, Cinque Terre may have become the most photographed place in Italy (instead of Pisa, the main square of Venice or Colosseum). A train trip gives you another view to the famous coastline. A journey between Levanto and La Spezia is brief but beautiful.
Several trains make the trip in both directions each day. Included in the Eurail Pass.