There are so many reasons I love trains! The fact you can just jump on board, relax and stare out the window is such a joy to me. Putting some music on and watching the world go by is not something we get to do often so I always make the most of it when I’m on a train. Throughout Europe there are some fantastic scenic train routes you can enjoy. Here are my favourites:
- The Glacier Express
- Habsburg Trail
- West Highland Line
- The Flåm Railway
1. The Glacier Express
Switzerland is one of my favourite countries in Europe. The snow capped mountains, old castles and nice people make it a wonderful country to spend some time in (but be warned, it’s not cheap!). The Glacier Express is like the Hogwarts Express but in real life! The route is extremely picturesque and the train is definitely a luxury experience, so all in all a great option for a long train journey!
Although doing the complete journey in one go is doable, I would recommend stopping off where you can/feel like it. Chur is an absolutely lovely city and worth spending some time in. I also used to spend a lot of time in Davos and might be a bit partial to this area of Switzerland, but it’s just gorgeous!
- How long is the complete journey: The entire route take just under 8 hours and covers 291km, but you can decide to do the route in parts. Visit the official website for more information.
- How much does it cost: buying the complete ticket from St. Moritz to Zermatt will set you back 152CHF (~123GBP) in second class and 268CHF in first class. Keep in mind you need to pay a fee for reserving seat (this is not an optional cost so you need to include this in your calculations!) ranging from 23CHF to 43CHF depending on low/mid/high season. You can also order food on the train, which we highly recommend. The plate of the day is 32CHF and a three course lunch is 45CHF. Considering how expensive Switzerland is, you would otherwise spend this in the kiosk on snacks before you get on the train.
2. Habsburg Trail
The Habsburg trail might be the coolest trail you have never heard of! It is definitely on my bucket list for 2020. For centuries the Habsburgs was one of the most influential royal house in Europe. On this trail you will be taken to Vienna, Graz, Ljubljana and Trieste. What do these places have in common? They all revolve around coffee! The Habsburgs are said to be the “first coffee hipsters” (read this article) so if you are into coffee this is one for you!
This package comes as a self-guided tour. It includes train tickets on Europe’s first Alpine railway to take you through scenic landscapes. You then follow a self-guided trail in each of the four cities as part of walking holidays with Inntravel. For me this is the best of both worlds! You get to stare out the window on a train and put your feet up (ok, maybe don’t put your feet up on a train). When you get off the train you stretch your legs on a beautiful self-guided city walk!
- How long is the complete journey: The standard package comes as 8 nights. There is an option to extend the package to 10 nights and include Lake Bled.
- How much does it cost: The 8 night package is available from £995 per person. If you decide to upgrade to 10 nights, prices start from £1330 per person. Train fares, hotels and breakfasts are included, but flights will need to be booked separately. See the Inntravel website for more information.
View this post on Instagram
3. Interrail adventure
I think I can safely say you’ve heard of Interrailing before. Interrail basically allows you to buy one pass for (almost) the whole of Europe. There are 37 railway and ferry companies in 30 countries that accept your Interrail ticket, so you can explore Europe by train on one pass! Although it is generally seen as a typical thing to do for millennials on a gap year, I’m pretty sure Interrailing is on most people’s bucket list!
With this type of train journey I can’t really help you in terms of route and/or itinerary as there are more than 40,000 destinations to choose from. Whether you want to explore one specific country or are planning to visit all 30 countries, it will be a trip you’ll never forget! If you’d like some advice on the best route to choose just have a browse online – there are lots of reviews available!
- How long is the complete journey: with Inter-railing you really decide for yourself. With so many stop offs to choose from the entire journey would take you years!
- How much does it cost: It depends on which type of ticket you get. There are ‘one country’ tickets that allow you to explore one particular country and are generally cheapest. Depending on how long your Interrail trip will take (ranging from 3 days to 3 months!) the tickets get more and more expensive. Don’t forget to look for any discounts on their website, for example you can get up to 25% off with a Youth Pass.
4. West Highland Line
This train journey is often described as the most scenic route in the world. It’s most famous for travelling the Glenfinnan Viaduct that was used in the Harry Potter films. But it has more to offer! Departing from bustling Glasgow, you will be taking in the wild landscape of Scotland on this train journey. There are multiple options to stop off on the way, but I’d recommend Ardlui for a spot of hiking in the most impressive landscape.
Without a doubt this is the dream train journey for Harry Potter fans. You could tie in this train journey with other famous locations in Scotland and revel in nostalgia. Even if you are not a big fan (or in other words, a muggle) you will still absolutely love this train journey. Once you are ‘up North’ anyway you could combine it with a visit to the Faroe islands (desperate to go here!!) or simply buy a return ticket and enjoy the scenic landscape again on your way back to Glasgow!
- How long is the complete journey: The train journey from Glasgow to Mallaig takes about 5 hours and 15 minutes.
- How much does it cost: For an award-winning route like this I find the tickets surprisingly well priced! If you book in advance you can get a ticket for as little as £11.80. Tickets on the day really depend, but range around £38. Have a look before you book!
5. The Flåm Railway
If you are heading up to Scandinavia and want to enjoy a scenic route through Norway, you might want to consider jumping aboard the Flåm Railway. Snow-capped mountains, impressive waterfalls and greenery are a treat to your eyes. There are multiple viewpoints and attractions (like a zipline) on the way. You can also opt in for the option to buy a one way ticket: you can hike or cycle the route back!
This might sound scary, but the route is only 20km long so is doable in a couple hours by foot! The route is absolutely stunning (Lonely Planet named it the best train journey in the world) so you will not get bored on the way.
- How long is the complete journey: The train journey is 20km long, goes through 20 tunnels and takes just under an hour.
- How much does it cost: 490 NOK (about £43). Check on the official website before booking your ticket.
View this post on Instagram
Norways most scenic train journey, The Flam Railway. Steep rocky cliffs, clear mountain rivers, green meadows, lush valley walls and snow-sprinkled mountains. You can expect the Flåm Railway to be impressive – after all, It is ranked as one of Europe’s most spectacular rail journeys. . . . #visitflam #fjord #futureofthefjords #fjordcruise #fjordsafari #nærøyfjord #aurlandsfjord #norway #norwegian #visitnorway #fjordnorway #flamsbana #flamrailway #wanderlust #travel #explore #experience #nature #adventure #holiday
Do you have any more impressive train journeys I need to know about? Let me know in the comments below!