The World's Most Scenic Train Journeys: Europe

17 Feb 2021

Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, "it's not the destination, it's the journey". What better example of this than a scenic train ride? We've picked out some of our favourite journeys from around the globe that we think should be on any rail lover's bucket-list.

In this instalment, we'll be looking at Europe, but you can also check out our favourite journeys in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.

Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, London to Venice

We couldn't write about train journeys without mentioning the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, one of the most iconic train journeys in the world, that's been featured in many works of fiction, from Agatha Christie novels to James Bond films. Not only will you travel across Europe, you'll travel back in time with antique finishes, Art Deco design, and original sleeping cars from the 1920s and '30s.

Glacier Express, Switzerland

First launched in the 1930s, the Glacier Express turned the sleepy mountain towns of Zermatt and St Moritz into bustling resorts. Glide through snow-capped peaks in comfort with climate-controlled cars, and take in the best views with panoramic windows.

The Caledonian Sleeper, UK 

There's something pretty magical about going to bed in one country and waking up in another. The Caledonian Sleeper whisks you from England to Scotland overnight, starting in London and arriving at destinations such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, or Inverness.

The West Highland Line, Scotland

While in Scotland, continue the rail theme with a trip aboard the West Highland Line. Travel from Glasgow to Mallaig to traverse the Glenfinnian Viaduct, famous for providing the backdrop for the Hogwarts Express journey in four of the "Harry Potter" films. That's not all there is to see though you'll take in some wonderful scenery as you roll through the Scottish countryside, including lochs, mountains, and heather-filled moors.

Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, Germany 

The Bavarian Zugspitze Railway starts off in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, then makes its ascent into the mountains. After a brief stop at Eibsee, where you can get out to explore the electric blue Eibsee lake, you'll continue up through Höllental or Hell Valley, with its narrow gorges and steep slopes that made the mountain so difficult to climb. Finally, you'll pass through a long tunnel and emerge at the top of the mountain, where you can take in uninterrupted panoramic views across Germany.

The Cinque Terre Express, Italy

Take in views of rolling vineyards, lush olive groves, and the turquoise Mediterranean as you  journey along the Italian Riviera on the Cinque Terre Express, stopping at the five towns of the famously beautiful Cinque Terre Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. See our ultimate guide to Italy.

The Flam Railway, Norway

One of the best ways to see the beauty of Norway's fjords is by train. The Flam Railway takes you from the Sognefjord in Flåm to the Myrdal mountain station, past deep ravines and dramatic waterfalls. 

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