Europe's 10 best scenic train rides
Europe's scenic train rides leave you with memories you'll never forget. Quite simply, they're the most rewarding way of travelling around this beautiful continent! Sit back and relax into your train seat as scenes glide by your window like something from a movie. Here are some our favourite scenic routes within Europe. Which one will you take?
The Bernina Railway
Scenic route: Chur to Tirano
Countries: Switzerland and Italy
It's no secret that Switzerland is home to several superb scenic trains, but this ride tops them all! As the train winds round bright blue lakes and across mighty viaducts, fields transform into snowy mountains right before your eyes.
Our travel tip: Panoramic trains operating on this route charge a small reservation fee. If you want to avoid the fee, you can take regular trains on the same beautiful route!
The Bergen Railway
Scenic route: Oslo to Bergen
Witness Norway's spellbinding natural landscape on this epic 7 hour train journey through fjords, glaciers and Europe’s highest mountainous plateau.
Our travel tip: Exit the train in Myrdal to take the legendary tourist train to Flåm (get 30% off with Interrail).
The Black Forest Railway
Scenic route: Konstanz to Offenburg
If you’re a fan of fairytale forests and villages with traditional timbered houses, then don't miss riding the Schwarzwaldbahn. Keep an eye out for the lovely section between Donaueschingen and Hornberg.
Our travel tip: Local double-decker trains run along this route. As places on board are not allocated, be ready to claim the top-deck seats that have the best views!
The Salzkammergut Railway
Route: Stainach-Irdning to Attnang-Puchheim
Boasting views of huge cliffs, picturesque villages and glistening lakes, this ride really stirs the imagination. Located within the attractive Austrian Lake District, you’ll want to get off the train at every station to explore.
Our travel tip: From the railway station in Hallstatt, take a ferry across the adjacent lake and visit one the most beautiful towns in all of Austria.
The Belgrade-Bar Railway
Scenic route: Belgrade to Bar
Countries: Serbia and Montenegro
Are you a true traveller at heart? Then this adventurous Balkan train ride is for you. Surrounded by rocky valleys, you'll pass rushing rivers, wide lakes, and cross the tallest viaduct in Europe. Did we mention it lasts 12 hours!?
Our travel tip: There’s a day train and a night train on this route. To get the most out of the amazing scenery, take the train service that departs in the morning.
Scenic route: La Spezia to Levanto
Italy’s most popular scenic rail trip may be short, but it sure is sweet! As the train hugs the coastline you feel as if you’re floating across the water, from one picture-perfect village to another.
Our travel tip: Follow the walking trails between the 5 seaside villages of the Cinque Terre. The section between Monterosso and Vernazza is particularly delightful.
The West Highland Line
Scenic route: Fort William to Mallaig
Country: Scotland, Great Britain
The isolated moorlands, lochs and glens along this train ride will take your breath away. As you cross the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, you might recognise it as a setting from the Harry Potter films.
Our travel tip: The Scottish rail operator runs local services along this route so there’s no need to pay over the odds to take the steam trains that ride the same way.
The Douro Line
Scenic route: Porto to Pocinho
This splendid train ride snakes all the way along the Douro River. While the vineyard terraces either side of the valley are the main attraction, the petite, white and blue tiled train stations have their own charm too.
Our travel tip: The last return train departs as early as 17:22. Take the morning train to make the return trip, or spend a night in the valley sampling delicious wines.
The Little Yellow Train
Scenic route: Latour-de-Carol to Villefranche-Vernet-les-bains
In summer, this train has an open-top carriage! The unobscructed views of the Pyrenees make for one heck of ride. Close to the French borders with Andorra and Spain, this is all about the thrills of exploration.
Our travel tip: While this train is fully included in the Interrail Pass, there are sometimes works on the line so it's good to check train times in advance (French only).
Rhodope Narrow Gauge
Scenic route: Septemvri - Dobrinishte
Travel back in time on the last narrow gauge train in the country. Beginning at the Pirin range, travel through mountains, forests and villages with minarets and soak up all the beauty the Balkan countryside has to offer.
Our travel tip: Septemvri is easily accessible from Sofia, but before you make the journey check all train route information on the BDZ website.
How to plan the perfect scenic train ride
Get your timing right
Explore the stops
Don't miss your chance to get off the train at stations along the route. By doing so, you can truly be part of the world's best scenery.
Don't spend too much
Taking a scenic train ride doesn't need to be expensive. Most trains are affordable, regional services that locals use every day. If you have an Interrail Pass, you can board all the trains listed above at no extra cost.
Are you ready to see them all?
An Interrail Global Pass is your ticket to all of these epic train journeys. With borderless rail travel in 33 countries, there's nothing stopping you from riding them all!