The Most Beautiful Train Journeys in Europe

Rather than taking the plane, traveling by train allows you to enjoy incredible landscapes, and sometimes a few hundred kilometers from home. Our non-exhaustive selection of ten of the most beautiful trips to take at least once in your life in Europe.

Mountains, lakes, seas, the ocean… Europe has 47 countries. Landscapes are diverse across the continent. The opportunity to remember that you don’t necessarily have to go far from home or to the other side of the world to be out of place. The advantage of Europe is also to have a well-developed rail network. In terms of length, that of France is in second position after Germany with 27,594 kilometers (Germany has 38,416 and Poland, 19,235 kilometers). 

The train is also an obvious solution to reduce your carbon footprint. According to Ademe (Agency for the environment and energy management), traveling by train pollutes fourteen times less than the plane. In addition to being eco-friendly, it’s practical: no need to weigh your suitcase and put it in the hold, unlike on the plane. In addition to this, the travel possibilities are endless, allowing you to stop in several cities located on our route.

Here is our non-exhaustive selection of some of the most beautiful routes in Europe. Have a good trip !

NORTHERN EUROPE, FROM STOCKHOLM TO NARVIK

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Northern Norway is a great place to admire the Northern Lights and see breathtaking fjords, unique valleys jutting from the mountains to the sea. To reach Narvik, located beyond the Arctic Circle, take the train in the Swedish capital for a (long) unique journey of 18:30 hours. The arrival is scheduled in Lapland, just next to the Lofoten Islands.

Travel time: 6:37 p.m. for 1,400 kilometers.

BERNINA EXPRESS, BETWEEN SWITZERLAND AND ITALY

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It is one of the most atypical journeys on the continent. The railway line is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the program: 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, across the Alps. A breathtaking trip in winter with the snow or in the middle of summer with the green mountains. Departure can take place in two Swiss cities, Chur or Saint-Moritz. The finish is scheduled in Tirano, Lombardy, Italy. And to get to Lugano, catch the Bernina Express bus. 

Travel time: 7 hours for 144 kilometers and 3 hours with 90 kilometers for the bus.

DISCOVERING THE BALKANS, FROM SARAJEVO TO MOSTAR

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This area of ​​Europe is best visited by car or bus, so when a portion of the journey can be done by train, we take advantage of it. Part of the train line located in Bosnia and Herzegovina runs along a charming sky-blue river. Picturesque arrival in the city known for its old bridge, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travel time: 2 hours for 130 kilometers.

IN THE HEART OF NORWAY, FROM OSLO TO BERGEN

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It is one of the most exotic mythical journeys in the world. After leaving the Norwegian capital, the train runs along forests and lakes before heading deeper into the mountains and finally arriving in the country’s second city, Bergen, located on the edge of fjords.

Travel time: 7 hours for 500 kilometers.

ITALY BY THE SEA, FROM VILLAGE TO VILLAGE IN THE CINQUE TERRE

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© davidf/Getty Images

The Cinque Terre is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. An ideal configuration to discover them by train, stopping in the five famous villages: Riomaggiore, Manazola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare. Depart from Levanto to La Spezia for a quick and colorful ride. 

Travel time: 40 minutes for 20 kilometers.

SCOTLAND, FROM GLASGOW TO MALLAIG

© Irene Lorenz/EyeEm/Getty Images

The West Highland Line is one of the greenest train lines in Europe, especially between Fort William and Mallaig. This crossing of the Highlands notably passes by the Glenfinnan viaduct, which you may know as “the viaduct seen in the Harry Potter saga. » 

Travel time: 5.5 hours for 264 kilometers.

IN PORTUGAL, IN THE VERY GREEN DOURO VALLEY

© Mauricio Abreu/Alamy/Abaca

Between the north and the south, Portugal offers a beautiful diversity of landscapes. Near Porto, to the north, the Douro Valley is characterized by its hilly and very green scenery. The Linha do Douro goes from Porto to Pocinho, a small village which has a spectacular view.

Travel time: 3h30 for 200 kilometers.

TOURIST GETAWAY IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY

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Here, the trip is not quite the same since it is a tourist train inaugurated in 1924. It is also one of the last rack railways. The start takes place in Sare, about ten kilometers from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and the finish at the top of the Rhune, 905 meters above sea level. It marks the border between France and Spain. Depending on the weather, the lucky ones will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Basque Country. Please note that the train is closed from the end of October to the beginning of April. 

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Travel time: 35 minutes for 4 kilometers.

WILD SPAIN, FROM SAN SEBASTIAN TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Here is an exceptional trip, but unusual since it was designed to be done on board a luxury train, the Transcantabrico Gran Lujo. It connects the Basque Country to Galicia, along the Atlantic Ocean, and stops every day in a city, offering cultural and entertainment activities.

Journey time: 8 days and 7 nights for 643 kilometers. Edge of the Transcantabrico.

THE MYTHICAL ORIENT-EXPRESS, FROM PARIS TO ISTANBUL, SOON TO RETURN

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Finally, how not to end this selection with the most famous train journey in Europe. The first trip of the Orient-Express, between Paris and Vienna, took place in 1883, before continuing to Constantinople (since become Istanbul), in 1919. The last trip dates back to 2009. But good news: Accor is relaunching the mythical train. It will return in 2024, between Paris and Vienna, initially, with 17 cars. This trip also has a cost since the tickets will be sold from 4900 euros.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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