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Europe's 10 best scenic train rides

Europe's scenic train rides leave you with memories you'll never forget. Quite simply, they're the most rewarding way of travelling around this beautiful continent! Sit back and relax into your train seat as scenes glide by your window like something from a movie. Here are some our favourite scenic routes within Europe. Which one will you take?

The Bernina Railway

switzerland-bernina-express-red-train-through-mountains

Scenic route: Chur to Tirano

Countries: Switzerland and Italy

It's no secret that Switzerland is home to several superb scenic trains, but this ride tops them all! As the train winds round bright blue lakes and across mighty viaducts, fields transform into snowy mountains right before your eyes.


Our travel tip: Panoramic trains operating on this route charge a small reservation fee. If you want to avoid the fee, you can take regular trains on the same beautiful route!

The Bergen Railway

norway-train-bergen-to-oslo

Scenic route: Oslo to Bergen

Country: Norway

Witness Norway's spellbinding natural landscape on this epic 7 hour train journey through fjords, glaciers and Europe’s highest mountainous plateau.

Our travel tip: Exit the train in Myrdal to take the legendary tourist train to Flåm (get 30% off with Interrail).

The Black Forest Railway

germany-black-forest-train

Scenic route: Konstanz to Offenburg

Country: Germany

If you’re a fan of fairytale forests and villages with traditional timbered houses, then don't miss riding the Schwarzwaldbahn. Keep an eye out for the lovely section between Donaueschingen and Hornberg.

Our travel tip: Local double-decker trains run along this route. As places on board are not allocated, be ready to claim the top-deck seats that have the best views!

The Salzkammergut Railway

salzkammergut-red-train-railway

Route: Stainach-Irdning to Attnang-Puchheim

Country: Austria

Boasting views of huge cliffs, picturesque villages and glistening lakes, this ride really stirs the imagination. Located within the attractive Austrian Lake District, you’ll want to get off the train at every station to explore.

Our travel tip: From the railway station in Hallstatt, take a ferry across the adjacent lake and visit one the most beautiful towns in all of Austria.

The Belgrade–Bar Railway

Lake-Skadar-montenegro-albania-lake-view

Scenic route: Belgrade to Bar

Countries: Serbia and Montenegro

Are you a true traveller at heart? Then this adventurous Balkan train ride is for you. Surrounded by rocky valleys, you'll pass rushing rivers, wide lakes, and cross the tallest viaduct in Europe. Did we mention it lasts 12 hours!?

Our travel tip: There’s a day train and a night train on this route. To get the most out of the amazing scenery, take the train service that departs in the morning.

Cinque Terre

cinque-terre-train

Scenic route: La Spezia to Levanto

Country: Italy

Italy’s most popular scenic rail trip may be short, but it sure is sweet! As the train hugs the coastline you feel as if you’re floating across the water, from one picture-perfect village to another.

Our travel tip: Follow the walking trails between the 5 seaside villages of the Cinque Terre. The section between Monterosso and Vernazza is particularly delightful.

The West Highland Line

west-highland-railway-scotland-glenfinnan-viaduct

Scenic route: Fort William to Mallaig

Country: Scotland, Great Britain

The isolated moorlands, lochs and glens along this train ride will take your breath away. As you cross the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, you might recognise it as a setting from the Harry Potter films.

Our travel tip: The Scottish rail operator runs local services along this route so there’s no need to pay over the odds to take the steam trains that ride the same way.

The Douro Line

portugal-douro-valley-wine-region

Scenic route: Porto to Pocinho

Country: Portugal

This splendid train ride snakes all the way along the Douro River. While the vineyard terraces either side of the valley are the main attraction, the petite, white and blue tiled train stations have their own charm too.

Our travel tip: The last return train departs as early as 17:22. Take the morning train to make the return trip, or spend a night in the valley sampling delicious wines.

The Little Yellow Train

yellow-train-through-mountains-pyrenees

Scenic route: Latour-de-Carol to
Villefranche-Vernet-les-bains

Country: France

In summer, this train has an open-top carriage! The unobscructed views of the Pyrenees make for one heck of ride. Close to the French borders with Andorra and Spain, this is all about the thrills of exploration.

Our travel tip: While this train is fully included in the Interrail Pass, there are sometimes works on the line so it's good to check train times in advance (French only).

Rhodope Narrow Gauge

bulgaria-blue-lake-mountains

Scenic route: Septemvri - Dobrinishte

Country: Bulgaria 

Travel back in time on the last narrow gauge train in the country. Beginning at the Pirin range, travel through mountains, forests and villages with minarets and soak up all the beauty the Balkan countryside has to offer.


Our travel tip: Septemvri is easily accessible from Sofia, but before you make the journey check all train route information on the BDZ website.

How to plan the perfect scenic train ride

switzerland-glaciers-express-mountain-view

Get your timing right

Use an online sunrise and sunset calculator to help choose your train times. You can't enjoy the scenery after dark.

Explore the stops

Don't miss your chance to get off the train at stations along the route. By doing so, you can truly be part of the world's best scenery.

Don't spend too much

Taking a scenic train ride doesn't need to be expensive. Most trains are affordable, regional services that locals use every day. If you have an Interrail Pass, you can board all the trains listed above at no extra cost.

Are you ready to see them all?

 

An Interrail Global Pass is your ticket to all of these epic train journeys. With borderless rail travel in 33 countries, there's nothing stopping you from riding them all!