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The Top 10 Exciting European Train Trips for 2024

Traveling the rail has a certain allure.

On trains, you can walk around and socialize with other passengers, dine in a restaurant car with white tablecloths, and sleep in a private compartment with immaculate bedding while listening to the sound of steel wheels swishing on the rails below you. Sometimes the enchantment is inside. There are moments when the enchantment is found outside, in the scenery the train travels through—an experience, an adventure, a window into a country’s soul.

The best train rides in europe are listed below; some are well-known, some are not, some are opulent and pricey, and some are genuine steals. The continent boasts some of the most picturesque train trips in the world, with scenery ranging from rural vistas and mountain villages to iconic bridges and alpine passes (with a dash of wildlife spotting thrown in for good measure).

The magnificent Bernina Express, the most captivating Swiss Alpine journey, and the breathtaking railway from Belgrade to Bar via the Montenegrin Alps are among the top European train journeys. The latter, which costs a mere €21, is among the most picturesque train journeys you’ve probably never heard of. Here are the top ten european train tours, taken from Lonely Planet’s Incredible rail Trips.

  1. Adopt a Carlisle, England address

Path: Arrive in Carlisle.

Best part? Admiring the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct, which offers a breathtaking perspective of northern England, especially when a steam train passes by.

Distance: 73 miles, or 113 kilometers.

One hour and forty minutes has passed.

The Settle-to-Carlisle railway line in England has long been associated with the struggle to protect scenic and historically significant sections of track. But this is not a line of ancestry. The railway, which is proudly a part of the British rail network and is regularly served by mainline trains, also frequently hosts steam specials and, on occasion, even more infrequently, mainline services pulled by steam.

The vistas from the carriages are virtually unrivalled on the English railway network, whether you’re feeling the hard-working growl of diesel-hauled regular trains in your ears or the fragrance of steam in your nostrils.

Mile after mile of breathtaking scenery of the North Pennines and Yorkshire Dales awaits passengers, broken only by incredibly charming stations that look like they belong on a box of cookies.

  1. France’s Le Petit Train Jaune

Route: Latour-de-Carol – Villefranche-de-Conflent

Best part? holding your breath while traversing the Pont Gisclard, which defies gravity.

Distance: 39 miles, or 63 kilometers.

Four hours and thirty minutes have passed.

Many French travelers have a special place in their hearts for the little, sunflower-yellow carriages of the Ligne de Cerdagne, which have been rattling and clattering their way across the Pyrenees’ rolling woods and sawtoothed mountains since 1910.

This mountain railway, also referred to as the Canary or Le Petit Train Jaune (Little Yellow Train), is often regarded as the most picturesque in France. However, it is by no means a luxury experience; rather, it is a rollercoaster ride that will feel the wind in your hair and the cool mountain breeze as you ratchet your way up to the highest train station in France. Yeah, that’s right!

  1. Railway from Belgrade to Bar, Serbia and Montenegro

Route: Bar -> Belgrade

Best part? Floating above the world’s tallest railway bridge, the 499-meter-long (1637-foot) and 198-meter-tall (650-foot) Mala Rijeka Viaduct, before the train crosses Skadar, the biggest lake in the Balkans.

476 kilometers (296 miles) is the distance.

Time: Twelve hours

This route, which roars over an unspoiled, mountainous scenery from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, to Montenegro’s Adriatic Coast, is best described as dramatic. Over the course of the twelve-hour ride, the train skims the surface of an ancient, tectonic lake, plunges into canyons, and vanishes into the Dinaric Alps. It also teeters on stilted bridges that cross river gorges.

Like the area it serves, most travelers’ maps fail to show the railway, which winds through the center of the Western Balkans. Travelers who are knowledgeable or fortunate enough to know where to dig will find an abundance of genuine culture and unspoiled natural resources at every corner.

  1. Schweiz’s The Bernina Express

Path: Tirano to Chur

Best part? Admiring the breathtakingly blue Lago Bianco from Ospizio Bernina, the highest station on the tour at 2253 meters/7392 feet.

Distance: 96 miles, or 156 kilometers.

Four hours and thirty minutes have passed.

We could ramble on and on about the glacier-capped peaks, waterfall-draped gorges, lakes of brilliant hues, and boundless forests of spruce that may be observed through panoramic windows on Switzerland’s Bernina Express, but we really believe that seeing is believing.

This narrow-gauge train, which takes around four hours to travel from Chur in Graubünden to Tirano in northern Italy, frequently ranks first in surveys of the most picturesque rail trips in the world. It’s undoubtedly one of Switzerland’s most picturesque train rides.

The railway, which traverses 196 bridges and 55 tunnels, is a marvel of early 20th-century engineering, even without considering the breathtaking Alpine scenery. There’s solid reason why the line is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

  1. England and Wales along the Heart of Wales Line

Path: Shrewsbury to Swansea

Best part? Getting out at the deserted Sugar Loaf Station and taking a stroll or having a picnic beside the famous knoll with the same name.

Distance: 121 miles, or 194 kilometers.

Time spent: 4 hours

This is the languid and, quite frankly, bizarre route from Swansea to Shrewsbury. This single-car train travels via tracks in Wales and England that could have easily been relegated to a museum or an out-of-print book, but have for some reason managed to withstand the test of time and continue operating as a passenger route.

A variety of landscapes can be expected, ranging from the sandy estuaries of South Wales, via charming farming communities, stretches of forest, and hill regions that you may not have known existed, to one of the most beautiful medieval cities in England. This 34-station, four-hour zigzag passes a high concentration of remarkably bizarre views, but very few important landmarks or rural settlements.

  1. Germany, Austria, and Italy’s Brenner Railway connects Munich with Venice.

Path: Munich -> Venice

Best part? Legs-up at the highest point of the journey, Brenner Pass, at 1371 meters (4498 feet).

563 km is the distance (350 miles)

Six hours and thirty minutes have passed.

There are two main factors that make the Brenner Railway appealing: wine and mountains. This was the first high-altitude train to cross the Alps, in the 1860s, however there may be more technically amazing examples.

You go through three nations on an unexpectedly quick day trip: Germany, Austria, and Italy. You also drop below the snow line to the sea level. Even though you’re constantly close to a highway, the views of the vineyard are breathtaking. Bonus: Munich and Venice, two magnificent European cities with historic architecture, are located at each end.

  1. Scotland’s Kyle of Lochalsh Line

Route: Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness

Best part? Traveling beneath the mildly rolling hills of Fionn Bheinn, a munro that rises sharply above Achnasheen.

Distance: 84 miles, or 135 kilometers.

Two hours and thirty minutes have passed.

There are many windswept railways in Scotland, such as the West Highland Line and the Far North Line to Thurso. The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is probably the most lonely of them, while being relatively unknown. Trains go intrepidly from Inverness through bleak glens and snow-capped munros, linking the chilly North Sea coast with the raging Atlantic rapids.

In addition to being a well-liked and poetic railway line, it serves as a helpful means for lone travelers to reach the Isle of Skye and inaccessible areas of the Highlands.

  1. From Nova Gorica to Slovenia’s Jesenice

Route: Jesenice to Nova Gorica

Best part? catching a peek of the picture-perfect castle, church, and crystal-blue water of Lake Bled.

Distance: 55 miles, or 89 kilometers.

Time: Two hours

This is an almost flawless railroad experience that most people are unaware of. On the other hand, you might get away with missing it. After all, the Bohinj Railway links two locations that might not mean anything to visitors from today. The Nova Gorica–Jesenice line may have been somewhat marooned by Europe’s shifting boundaries and politics, but that just makes it more alluring.

Not even a clue of what’s to come is given by an ordinary regional train that rattles out of a faded-grandeur station on the border between Italy and Slovenia. This route offers a breathtaking tour of Slovenia’s upland attractions, with photo opportunities aplenty as it climbs through mountain towns and villages along the Soča River, passes through outstanding Alpine scenery near Lake Bohinj, and passes by the renowned Lake Bled.

  1. The Centovalli Express: Italy and Switzerland

Route: Locarno -> Domodossola

Best part? Observing the Isorno Viaduct, the location of the first bungee jump in Switzerland.

fifty-two kilometers (32 miles)

Time: Two hours

This two-hour trudge from Locarno on the palm-lined shores of Lake Maggiore to Domodossola over the Italian border in Piedmont is somewhat of an underrated gem, sometimes overshadowed by Switzerland’s more well-known rail journeys.

Brush up on your Italian so you can swoon along with other travelers as the little train makes its journey through 34 tunnels and 83 bridges. Amidst the puckered backdrop of snow-capped mountains in winter, there are waterfalls shooting past cliffside views, hillside vineyards, gracefully arched viaducts, slate-roofed hamlets, glacier-carved ravines, and mile after mile of chestnut and beech forests. All of these sights are heart-lifting.

  1. Norway’s Bergensbanen

Path: Bergen to Oslo
Best part? staring between Geilo and Finse over the profoundly moving Hardangervidda landscape.
Distance: 308 miles or 496 kilometers
Six hours and thirty minutes have passed.

Even though this incredible train is among the marvels of the 19th-century railway construction, very few people outside of Norway are aware of it. It spans the whole gamut of Norway’s natural beauty in a little over six hours and about 490 km (300 miles)—climbing canyons, crossing rivers, digging through slopes, swooping past fjords, and traveling across desolate icescapes. Welcome to the Bergensbanen, a mainline into Norwegian wilderness that connects Oslo and Bergen.

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