Europe's most scenic rail journeys

26 Aug 2019

Whether you're crossing a narrow viaduct high above an Alpine valley or emerging from a mountain tunnel to views of the sparkling Ligurian Sea, travelling by train is both a more eco-friendly alternative to flying and often the most scenic way to reach your destination. We've spoken to our friends over at Trainline and have put together a list of some of the most scenic European rail journeys to inspire your next adventure.

1. Zermatt to St Moritz (Switzerland)

We couldn't write about scenic railways without mentioning Switzerland. Board the Glacier Express and travel through the breathtaking Alps, passing along viaducts, canyons and tunnels to arrive at the resort town of St Moritz in Eastern Switzerland. Find out more about the Glacier Express route.

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From there, you can also take the super-scenic 45-minute train journey to Ospizio Bernina. Find tickets here. 

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2. Rimini to Brindisi (Italy)

This dreamy route takes you along Italy's Adriatic coast, from the beachside nightclubs of Rimini to the slower-paced port town of Brindisi. Make sure you get a window seat for views of the glittering ocean, fishing villages, and the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. Compare prices from Rimini to Brindisi here. 

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We recommend breaking up the journey with a stop-off at Bari, Puglia's labyrinthine old town. Why not spend a night here to check out the thriving local foodie scene and seaside charm?

3. The Looe Valley line (Cornwall)

This journey follows the East Looe River from the market town of Liskeard to the fishing port of Looe, through wooded valleys with glorious views of the river meeting the sea. This route is also great for birdwatchers -- look out for little egrets, grey herons, oystercatchers and curlews. Tickets start from just £4.40 one way, search yours here.

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4. Marseille to Monaco (the French Riviera)

Start in the port city of Marseille, then travel along the pebble beaches of Nice on a journey that's almost 50% coastal for picture-perfect sights. Expect sparkling sea views as you zoom along the French Riviera before arriving at Monaco's glitzy harbour filled with bobbing mega-yachts. View train times and compare prices. 

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We've handpicked a selection of hotels along this route. If you choose to stop off in Nice, check out Hotel Apogia with exclusive extras for Travelzoo members. For your arrival in Monaco, we've got a 4-star Monte-Carlo seafront hotel (with a private beach!)

5. Paris to Venice

For a more affordable alternative to the Orient Express, take an overnight Thello train from the City of Light to the beautiful waterways of Venice. Stay in either a 4- or 6-person couchette, perfect for travelling as a group, or treat yourself to a premium cabin (sleeping one or two people) with a private bathroom. You'll go through the French countryside, the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites. Check prices for the overnight Thello train here.

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We've secured an exclusive deal for Travelzoo members to spend a night in Paris at Hôtel Basss before heading off on your trip. When you arrive in Venice, why not check-in to the 4-star Hotel Savoia & Jolanda with excellent views over the Venetian Lagoon?

6. The Cinque Terre Express (Italy)

Tick off five UNESCO World Heritage-listed seaside villages and take in views of soaring cliffs and rugged mountains on this train running from La Spezia Centrale to the coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Levanto. Even if you've only got a day, you can spend a bit of time in each village as trains depart every 15 minutes. Plus, these mini trips can cost you less than, £5 each way! Read our ultimate guide to Italy here.

7. The Brenner Pass Route (Italy to Austria)

This route has been used since pre-Roman times for connecting Venice all the way to the Austrian Alps. One of the most scenic parts of this 3-hour trip is the slow climb from Verona to the Dolomites -- watch the scenery change from Renaissance-era villages to thick pine forests and snow-capped peaks. Check out the train route and timetable here. 

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Cheap train tickets

You can save an average of 51% when you book your tickets at least a week in advance*. For the best prices on train tickets, you usually need to book in advance.

How to buy train tickets in Europe

Once you’ve decided on your routes, you can compare and book train tickets for Eurostar and 200 other rail companies via the Trainline app. Book your tickets easily in English in GBP, and keep all of your tickets safe in one place (in the app) ready for your travels.

*Average savings on all fares booked at the Trainline at least one week before day of travel on UK Advanced Fares vs Anytime Fares purchased on day of travel. Subject to availability. Excludes coach.

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