Europe almost seems designed specifically for rail travel, with so many nations to discover, each presenting incredibly diverse landscapes and vistas. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the continent is covered in a vast network of excellent trains, the most of which are accessible and reasonably priced. Here are some of our favourite, including Swiss alpine climbs, Italian seaside communities, and spectacular Nordic fjords.
Trenino Verde, Sardinia, Italy
The Trenino Verde, which translates to “little green train,” is a wonderful and surprisingly underrated way to experience the Sardinian countryside. The 272 miles (438 km) of track that make up this 130-year-old vintage railway’s five distinct routes across the nation wind through a variety of scenery, including olive fields, picturesque villages, shimmering oceans, rocky coasts, and towering hills.
West Highland Line, Scotland, UK
With its abundance of rocky Highland landscapes, undulating hills and windswept moorlands, it’s no surprise that ScotRail’s West Highland Line is sometimes referred to as Britain’s most picturesque railway line. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is located on the rail line between Glasgow and Mallaig, and it is the most picturesque (and well-known) segment of the entire route. Understand it? That’s because in the Harry Potter films, it’s the same bridge that the Hogwarts Express travels over.You may ride the Jacobite steam train seen in the movie across the renowned viaduct for an even more realistic Harry Potter experience. The 84-mile (135-kilometer) round journey between Fort William and Mallaig is comfortably covered by the seasonal service, which normally operates from early April to late October each year. An adult return ticket costs £52 ($61), which is a bit more costly than the ScotRail queue. A day return on the ScotRail service line costs about £16 ($19) during off-peak hours.
Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro
There aren’t many alternatives for train travel in the renownedly bus-heavy Balkans, but this epic 10-hour ride features some of the region’s greatest views of Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro. That includes the dizzyingly high bridge—which, up until 2001, held the record for tallest railway bridge in the world—that dangles precariously 656 feet (200 metres) over the Mala Rijeka viaduct. But to traverse all the mountains and gorges, there are only 435 bridges along the route.
The Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier Express, which connects Zermatt and St. Moritz, is a fantastic opportunity to take in some of the most breathtaking vistas in the Swiss Alps. The Oberalp Pass, the route’s highest point, and the Landwasser Viaduct, a six-arch bridge that rises 213 feet (65 metres) above the ground and plunges directly into a mountain tunnel, are just a few of the attractions along the magnificent route.
Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain
One of Catalonia’s most beautiful locations is the legendary hilltop abbey of Montserrat, but did you know you can go there by rail as well? The ToT Montserrat is a breathtaking route that connects Barcelona with the foothills of the mountain, where you may take either the Aeri cable car or the Cremallera rack train to the Montserrat Monastery. Any choice you make will be rewarded with expansive views of the rocky valley.