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The best train routes to take in Europe this summer

Hugo van Vondelen

Product Specialist

Rachel Schnalzer

Senior Writer

15 May 2024

 

Swimming in pristine lakes. Strolling through vineyards. Exploring a delicious and imaginative “Ice Cream Trail.”

 

Summer is a magical time to explore Europe’s hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Not sure where to begin? We compiled a list of our favourite train routes to take during the warmer months. 

 

Grab your Pass, book any necessary seat reservations and pack your bags – adventure awaits.

Vineyards outside Villany, Hungary
 

1. From the city to the vineyards

Pécs to Osijek

 

Go from a glamorous, artistic city to rolling vineyards on the train journey from Pécs to Villány in Hungary

 

Pécs, a 2,000-year-old city situated 200 kilometres south of Budapest, has no shortage of historical and cultural highlights for travellers to experience. In addition to strolling Pécs’ ancient downtown, be sure to visit sites such as the Mosque of Pasha Qasim and the Early Christian Necropolis, as well as the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter to catch the city’s latest exhibitions. 

 

From Pécs, take the regional train towards Villány, a Hungarian town known for its vineyards. Take it slow and spend an afternoon walking through the vineyards and Villány’s charming streets. 

 

Finish your adventure with a regional train ride to Osijek, a Croatian city many travellers miss in favour of the country’s tourism hotspots. Don’t miss the ferry ride along the Drava River, which offers travellers a refreshing way to cool off in the summer heat.

Lienz, Austria
 

2. A relaxing alternative to the Brenner Route

Villach to Brenner

 

The Brenner Pass train journey from Munich to Italy is spectacularly scenic – and frequently travelled, particularly during the summer.

 

The good news: it’s possible to experience the region’s beauty with an alternative route through some of Austria’s loveliest small towns. Begin in Villach, a laid-back city on the Drau River. After exploring Villach and the plentiful nature around the city, take a regional train to Lienz.

 

Lienz, surrounded by the Dolomites, is home to a stately castle and ample hiking trails that travellers can take to reach stunning meadows, lakes and waterfalls. 

 

After you experience Lienz, it’s time to make your way to Brenner – along the way, enjoy the view of the Val Pusteria, one of the longest valleys in the Alps.

Nature outside Poprad, Slovakia
 

3. A summer-only mountain adventure

Poprad to Nowy Sącz

 

Searching for another ultra-scenic train journey? Make a beeline to Poprad, a Slovakian city that makes a convenient jumping off point for exploring the High Tatras Mountains

 

On weekends from June until September, travellers can take a direct train from Poprad-Tatry over the Polish border to Muszyna, a picture-perfect spa town. After kicking back and relaxing in Muszyna, take another train ride through the lush, rugged Poprad River Valley to Nowy Sącz. 

 

Nowy Sącz has plenty of charms to tempty summer travellers – but perhaps most unique is its official “Ice Cream Trail.” By following the trail, travellers will experience a taste of local life in Nowy Sącz, one mouth-watering scoop at a time.

The Danube Delta in Romania
 

4. A journey to the Danube Delta

Bucharest to Tulcea

 

Nature lovers, you’re in for a treat. On a train journey from Bucharest to Tulcea in Romania, you’ll pass the Danube River twice, ending your journey at the mighty Danube Delta. 

 

The Danube Delta, which feeds into the Black Sea, is the biggest and best preserved delta in Europe. It’s an important natural destination, home to over 300 bird species and 45 species of freshwater fish. 

 

Begin your trip with a few days of sightseeing in Bucharest, and then take a six-hour train journey to Tulcea, switching trains halfway in Medgidia. From Tulcea, travellers can join sightseeing tours of the delta and other excursions into nature.

An aerial photo of Szklarska Poreba
 

5. Adventure in the Giant Mountains

Liberec to Wroclaw

 

Travellers can find adventure all year round in the Giant Mountains, a destination beloved among skiers and hikers. To reach the trails with ease, begin your journey in the Czech city of Liberec, situated in the foothills of the mountains. 

 

Then, take a winding rail journey to towns such as Tanvald and Harrachov, each a convenient starting point for outdoor activities. After experiencing the nature outside each town, continue on to ​​Szklarska Poreba, crossing the border into Poland. Located near one of the mountains’ highest peaks, Szklarska Poreba is home to about 100 kilometres of hiking trails.

 

Wrap up the adventure with a visit to Wroclaw, accessible by direct regional train from Szklarska Poreba. In addition to strolling along Wroclaw’s historic streets and bridges, treat yourself to the city’s famous gingerbread, a local specialty for the past 800 years. 

Raichle Palace in Subotica
 

6. A brand-new international train route

Szeged to Novi Sad

 

Good news for European train travellers: international rail travel is once again possible between Hungary and Serbia. 

 

This summer, you can easily travel Szeged in Hungary to Subotica in Serbia, with trains departing multiple times per day. Spend time walking the streets of Szeged, marvelling at the city’s Art Nouveau architecture, before continuing on your journey to Subotica

 

Travellers should make sure to spend a day or two exploring the city, another Art Nouveau gem. Don’t leave town without a visit to Raichle’s Palace, a lavish, colourful building that is now home to the Gallery of Modern Art Subotica. 

 

From Subotica, travel south by train to Novi Sad, a lively city famous for its mighty fortress and the Exit Festival, a music festival held at the fortress each summer. 

Riga's main square
 

7. Cross-border connections in the Baltics

Riga to Suwalki

 

Speaking of new international connections, trains running between Vilnius in Lithuania and Riga in Latvia began last December. This summer is an ideal time to experience the highlights and hidden gems of both Baltic capitals.

 

Begin by wandering through Riga’s Old Town and, afterwards, take a stroll down Miera Iela, an artistic street with plenty of cafes, shops and other delights. Then, take a four-and-a-half hour train ride to Vilnius, home to another fascinating Old Town. 

 

Wrap up your journey with a train ride over the border to Poland. Take a few days to relax and unwind at the lakes located around ​Augustow and Suwalki in northeast Poland. They offer a peaceful place to reflect on your train journeys and start dreaming of your next adventure.

Ready to experience summer in Europe? With Interrail, you can: 

Tour Europe by train with 1 Pass
Experience the highlights and hidden gems 
Travel flexibly on trains that don't need reservations
Stay conscious and travel sustainably