Train travel is making a comeback. It’s less stressful than flying and more exciting than driving. Plus, Europe boasts some beautiful train routes. These journeys offer close-up views of stunning landscapes and thriving towns.
It could even be argued that hopping on a train is the best way to see Europe. It allows you to connect with the continent’s diverse beauty and history. Some parts of Europe are even expanding their train networks today. Let’s now dig into five of the most amazing train trips you can take across Europe.
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#1: The Cinque Terre Express, Italy
Although we’re only highlighting five train journeys today, there are plenty of impressive train routes to guide you through some of Europe’s most scenic landscapes. We recommend checking out some additional lists if you’d like to know more. Regardless, one journey that must be on all train journey lists is The Cinque Terre Express.
This journey spans 28 kilometres, starting in Levanto. It stops at all five villages of the Cinque Terre area before ending in La Spezia. It’s best to travel between mid-spring and early autumn. If you do, you can avoid the big crowds and intense summer heat.
On this trip, prepare yourself for a visual feast. Look for the terraced vineyards high up on cliffsides overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea below. Each of these five villages is picturesque.
Planning your journey is also very easy. You can book your tickets on Trenitalia’s official website. It also runs frequently, so you don’t have to worry about catching the next train back. You can instead enjoy yourself at each village and take your time.
One other important thing to note is footwear. These towns have hilly terrains and deep stairs. They also have narrow pathways carved from stone centuries ago. Make sure you have the right shoes to move around comfortably.
#2: The Linha do Douro, Portugal
The Linha do Douro in Portugal is next on our list. Just like Cinque Terre, it’s best to experience in late spring and early summer. This is the time of year when the vineyards are lush and colourful.
This train ride is known as Portugal’s most beautiful railway route. It takes passengers on a scenic adventure along the breathtaking Douro Valley from Porto to Régua, Pinhão, and Pocinho. It leaves from Sao Bento station in Porto, where you can get tickets. You can also buy them online from Comboios de Portugal’s website.
If you’re a wine lover, you’re in luck. There are local wine estates along the journey, known locally as ‘Quintas.’ Here you can sample some world-renowned Port wines and take in the views. There’s also regional food often sold onboard. Don’t worry about needing something to pair with your wine.
It’s also a good idea to take note of specific train stations along the way. These are historically important, old-world stops. Today they stand as charming landmarks amidst modern development. You’ll also notice the vines along the cliffside. These are centuries-old grape vines, another important part of Portuguese history.
#3: The West Highland Line, Scotland
The UK’s beauty is underrated. The West Highland Line does a great job of showcasing how beautiful it is. This route is just under 70 kilometres long and goes from Glasgow to Mallaig. You will pass right through the heart of the Scottish Highlands.
As is a recurring theme in this list, late spring or early summer are the peak times. This time of year has a higher chance of clear skies and bright landscapes. Prepare to see lots of green. You’ll see Glencoe, Loch Lomond, and Ben Nevis along the way. These places show off some of Scotland’s most stunning sights.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this journey might feel familiar. That’s because parts of this route were used in filming. The Glenfinnan Viaduct has been a filming location for lots of TV shows and movies.
#4: Mostar-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
We now head to the Balkans for our fourth journey, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This route has a bit of everything: stunning views, unique architecture, and lots of history. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Railways website makes it easy to get tickets. You can also buy them at train stations if you’d prefer.
One of the best parts of this train ride is the natural beauty. You will see deep canyons that are carved into mountainsides that are thousands of years old. You’ll also see the historic Neretva River winding its way alongside the track at certain points.
There are also human-made wonders, too. Some of the architecture scattered throughout towns goes back to the Ottoman dynasty. It’s also a good idea to read up on Bosnian history before you go. You will see buildings and villages that go back a long time, and it’s good to have some context.
The best thing about this trip is the pace. It doesn’t rush you. Each stop presents different scenes and diverse landscapes. Take your time and really take in Bosnia’s natural beauty.
#5: Semmering Railway, Austria
Last on our list is the Semmering Railway, right in the heart of Austria. Unlike the other journeys we listed, winter is a perfect time for this one. The beautiful snowy landscapes are a sight to behold.
This journey will take you under 15 tunnels and across 16 viaducts, an impressive feat of engineering. So impressive, in fact, that the railway has been recognised by UNESCO for its design. Speaking of UNESCO, you’ll pass through the majestic Semmering Pass on this trip. That is a World Heritage Site, due to its natural beauty and historical significance.
Like the other journeys, tickets are easy to obtain. The OBB (Austrian Federal Railways) website has got you covered, as does any major station. One tip: If you’re travelling from Vienna to Graz, choose a seat on the right-hand side. This will give you prime alpine views.
These train rides are more than just travel. They’re unique experiences on their own. Each journey is a beautiful and green way to see Europe. Strongly consider travelling by train the next time you’re in Europe. You won’t regret it.