Most lists of great European train journeys focus on the well known classic rail journeys – think novelty steam trains and luxury dining cars. But that’s not really what we’re about at Euroventure. Interrailing on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t take in some awesome scenery while you’re at it! Travelling by train means that you’ll never be too far away from an awesome viewpoint – but you don’t need an oak panelled luxury cabin to enjoy it! So ditch the gold plated price tag – here we’ve collected some of our favourite, most underrated and most scenic train journeys from across Europe. Why not include some of these in your Euroventure trip – loads of them appear in our most popular routes!
This route encompasses some of the incredible alpine scenery covered by the Glacier Express – the famous Swiss train with panoramic mountain views.
The route is exceptionally beautiful throughout, but particularly the area around Zermatt where you’ll spy breathtaking views of the Matterhorn up close. If you don’t fancy paying for the upgrade to this special Glacial service, you can still take the same journey on a regular train (it just doesn’t have the glass roof) for a fraction of the price.
Traditionally this route has always been served by the rickety train that winds along the Neretva valley – ducking through tunnels and snaking around the glorious peaks of the surrounding national park. At the moment the train is out of service, so the journey is restricted to coach travel. Despite the slightly less romantic form of transport, the views are just as stunning as the mountain road hugs the same valley as the railway. Hopefully, the railways will be back up and running soon!
While you might not know a lot about Bosnia yet, taking this route is guaranteed to make you wish you could spend longer there. The water is as pure and clear as it comes, gleaming turquoise between craggy peaks and lush forests. It’s glorious in summer but takes on a totally different feel when Autumn comes around. Rolling mist and ochre leaves lend the Balkan landscape a mysterious beauty – one of the truly great European train journeys.
This is one of our most frequented routes – winding right through the heart of central Europe, between two of its biggest and most visited capital cities. Between Pilma and Děčín, sitting each side of the German/Czech border, the route from Berlin to Prague passes through a region nicknamed “Bohemian Switzerland” – České Švýcarsko National Park. Following the Elbe river gorge, your train window will provide you with all the best views as it passes the mountains, emerald green forests and rock formations that make the area so popular.
Few coach journeys could be more enjoyable than the one that winds its way down the Croatian coast. Whether you do it all in one go or stop off along the way to admire the incredible medieval cities of Split and Dubrovnik, ensure you sit on the right-hand side to make the most of some of Europe’s most naturally beautiful coastlines. You’ll head inland at the border with Montenegro, but don’t worry; here’s where you begin your journey around the entire bay of Kotor. Trust us – you’ll be glad there’s no shortcut around the fjord when you get a full hour of these views.
Slovenia is a country which hardly lacks in natural beauty – and its train routes are no exception. The journey from the country’s chocolate box capital to Venice may not be a speedy one at around 7 hours, but you’ll be well rewarded for your time. This route is one of the most breathtaking in Europe. You’ll start by heading up to the mountain town of Jesenice, breathing in the fresh alpine air before beginning the descent towards the Italian border. On the way, you’ll pass the Julian Alps and Lake Bled to one side, the snow-capped mountains of Triglavski National Park and Lake Bohinj to the other. Once you’re past the mountains, you’ll wind your way down the river Isonzo towards the Italian border before admiring the vineyards of Veneto on your final approach to the canals and gondolas of Venice.
It might not link up with the rest of your European rail adventures, but we couldn’t leave the West Highland line out of our list. Crossing some of Scotland’s most rural and remote landscapes, your train window will give you a whirlwind tour of the region’s Lochs and distilleries – all from the world famous Glenfiddich Viaduct (as featured on the Hogwarts Express). Why not link some of the most scenic train journeys in Scotland up with the rest of your Euroventure – just stop off at London and then take the Eurostar across to Paris. Or explore the UK by rail!
If you’re more of a cold weather traveller you can’t get better than the epic rail journey up to Swedish Lapland from Stockholm. Passing through almost 900 miles of bleakly beautiful plains, the pine trees are slowly buried under a layer of soft snow as you speed further and further north. You’ll travel overnight in cozy sleeper compartments – magical! Plus, with nearly 24 hours of darkness a day in the Arctic winter, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the northern lights from your window.
You might not have heard of these two little border towns, but they sit astride some of the most spectacular mountains in Eastern Europe. The route from Poprad to Zakopone is actually by coach since the High Tatras sit on the border between Slovakia and Poland. Putting up with the winding roads will serve you well though – catch a glimpse of this gorgeous snow-capped mountain range through the dense forests and it’ll make it all worthwhile.
Going back to Italy, here’s one journey everyone’s heard of already; the Cinque Terre – or 5 Lands. Situated in the North Western coast of Italy, this National Park includes 5 rainbow-coloured towns which cling precariously to the Mediterranean cliffs, as well as the rolling Tuscan countryside which connects them. Take a day trip out from Florence or Pisa and admire the views from the tiny local train service that runs between La Spezia and Monterosso Al Mare.
Last but not least, we have another great Alpine gem – this time from Austria to Switzerland. Tracing the valley all the way through across the border, on a clear day you’ll get spectacular views of the towering alps on either side of your train. Summer gives you clear glacial pools, rocky craggs and glorious green meadows, while your winter outlook is more likely to be a smooth white blanket of snow and plenty of skiers! Either way, you’ll be assured of a stunning journey – and thanks to the all-weather Austrian efficiency you’ll be punctual to boot.
We could go on and on… But these are just a few of our favourite, most scenic train journeys to take in Europe.
In a continent with such a vast variety of climates, landscapes and cultures in such a small space it would be criminal not to admire the view as you travel – and what better way to do so than to make use of Europe’s awesome rail network. Learn more about travelling Europe by rail here – or check out our destination guide to see where you should travel in Europe!
If you fancy planning a route around some of these great European train journeys, check out our Ultimate guide to travelling Europe. Why not create your own trip and tell us what you’d like to see! Otherwise, check out our ready made routes for some ideas…