A scenic rail journey is more about the adventure itself rather than the destination. While it can be a great way to get from point A to point B, can often be its own vacation within a vacation.
The Bernina Express: Switzerland to Italy
This spectacular train ride will take you through the magnificent snow-capped mountain scenery of Switzerland, passing sweeping vistas of Alpine crossings and dramatic gorges, as well as nearly 200 bridges and over 50 winding tunnels. It begins in Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland, culminating in the charming town of Tirano, Italy which hugs the mountains on the border between the two countries.
Le Train Jaune, Pyrenees
Le Train Jaune, or “The Little Yellow Train,” is known as one of the great railway journeys of the world. The historic meter-gauge electric railway looks the kind of toy train you’d find in a model village. The route rises through the incredible scenery between the mountain villages of Villefranche de Conflent and Latour de Carol, creeping up to a height of 1,600 meters above sea level before descending to the high Pyrenean valley. It crosses original suspension bridges and forts that once helped to defend this border region.
The Glacier Express: St. Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland
The Glacier Express route is one of the most famous scenic rail adventures on the planet. This panoramic journey takes riders through the Alpine heartland of Switzerland, crossing from the east to the western Swiss Alps through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges. Known as the “world’s slowest express train,” you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible most landscapes and deep gorges, with the highest geographical point coming when traveling over Oberalp Pass at over 6600 feet above sea level.
Switzerland’s Chocolate Train
This train for those who like a little chocolate with breathtaking scenery begins in Montreux on the Swiss Riviera, bringing riders to Gruyere Castle for a taste of the country’s famous cheese before continuing on to the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory in Broc. Here you can sample plenty of delectable treats before returning to Montreux.
Netherland’s Famous Tulips
If you plan to visit The Netherlands in the spring, the Amsterdam to Groningen route is one of the most scenic in Europe. April brings out the peak of the brilliant colors that cover the landscape when tulips are in full bloom, passing plenty of windmills as well, for a quintessentially Dutch experience.
Rome to Verona and Venice
This ultra-romantic trip starts in the enchanting Eternal City, making a stopover in the city of Verona, famous as the setting for “Romeo and Juliet.” Take a stroll around the city to visit a 1st-century Roman theater and archaeological museum reached by crossing the river via the stone bridge, Ponte Pietra. When the train rolls on, you’ll head to Venice where you can take a romantic gondola ride for two.
15 Days of Castles in Scotland, England and Wales
This ultimate train journey for castle lovers is a 15-day trip that begins in Inverness, Scotland near Loch Ness with a tour of Urquhart Castel and ends at Gwynedd, Wales with a tour of Caernarfon Castle. A total of 580 attractions are featured in this adventure, with other sights including Stirling Bridge where William Wallace defeated the English in 1297, Edinburgh Castle and Dover Castle.
Montpellier to Nice in Southern France
On this trip through the stunning landscapes of Southern France, riders are treated to majestic cypress trees, expansive olive groves and fields of lavender from Montpellier to Marseille. Venturing closer to Nice, you’ll enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery along the Mediterranean Sea. By purchasing a France Rail Pass, you can take time to explore the small Provencal towns along the way, including Nimes and its impressive Roman amphitheater that is second only to the Colosseum in Rome.
Norway’s Flam Railway
This is a short but incredibly sweet one hour journey from Flam to Myrdal in Norway. You’ll rise from the shores of Aurlandsfjord, making a steeper climb than any other normal-gauge railroad on earth. The journey takes you through the steep and narrow Flam valley with views of towering waterfalls and mountain peaks, traveling slowly and stopping at the most scenic stops, including Kjosfossen waterfall which plunges for 305 feet.
Germany’s Black Forest Railway
Explore the incredible scenery of the Black Forest, named as such due to the dense growth of trees that blocked out much of the light inside it, on this rail journey that connects Offenburg and Singen. The nearly 100-mile long route passes through 39 tunnels with the stretch between Hornberg, Triberg and St. Georgen particular scenic. Much of it resembles something that seems to be straight out of a fairytale storybook – likely because this region was the setting for the Brothers Grimm tale, “Hansel and Gretel.”