Are you looking for a unique and breath-taking way to explore Europe? Look no further than the most scenic train rides in Europe! Hop on board and wind your way through some of the most mind-blowing landscapes on the continent. From phenomenal mountain vistas, to sparkling blue oceans waters and all the rolling hills, deep gorges, meandering rivers, or rustic vineyards in-between, we cover all the most breath-taking European train routes.
From the Montenegro Express to the Little Yellow Train, these train journeys are a must-see for any locomotive lover, nature enthusiast or Instagram addict. We've handpicked the best European rail journeys, each offering its own unique charm and stunning views of the surrounding terrains. In no particular order, we've provided detailed information on each, including the route, length of time it takes, and any points of interest. Some of these scenic journeys span weeklong cross-country journeys whilst others are simply a quick trip up winding, mountain slopes over gushing streams and over large chasms.
Unless you are lucky enough to already live in these locations, or you fancy booking a train trip in Europe, then you’ll need to know where the nearest airport is, and of course, where the nearest lounge is. Download our app to find the perfect lounge for the journey to your next adventure.
The train route starts in London and winds its way through the French countryside, passing through Paris and then on to Venice, Italy. The journey takes around 24 hours to complete, and it covers a distance of 1,620 kilometres. The last opportunity for VSOE travellers to depart from London is 2023. From the 2024 season onwards, the VSOE will only run between Paris Gare de l'Est and Venice with access from London via the Eurostar.
Along the way, passengers are treated to stunning views of the European landscape, including rolling hills, picturesque villages, and historic landmarks. The Simplon Tunnel was completed in 1906 and some say that the locomotive experience is like stepping into a time capsule, with a live pianist and guests adorning tuxedos and evening gowns to enjoy the delicious feasts available on board it’s no surprise the historic atmosphere and timeless glamour is so raved about. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the perfect trip for any traveller looking to experience the glamour and luxury of old-world train travel.
Nearest airport:Travelling home from Venice? Check out our Venice Marco Polo Airport lounges.
Route:London – Venice.
Points of Interest:Whilst the views are vast and varied, we loved the ‘midnight brunch’. After cocktails and piano music, the Bar Car offers a selection of midnight delicacies including lobster rolls and truffle club sandwiches.
Distance and duration:1,620 kilometres – 24 hours.
The Flam railway line first ran in 1940 as a cargo route, today however, this is one of Norway's top tourist destinations and has been hailed as one of the world's most picturesque train rides. This route is stunning year-round and due to the train goes slowly along the tracks so there are plenty of opportunities to capture the views. We recommend arriving early to ensure you can sit with your group as there are no seat reservations.
The journey takes around an hour, and there are several stops along the way where you can stop off and take in the incredible views. The nearest airport to Flåm is Bergen Airport, which is around 160 kilometres away. This train ride is a unique way to experience the beauty of Norway and any traveller visiting the country, should add it to their itinerary.
Route:Myrdal - Flåm.
Points of Interest:Audio and screen information on the train describes the history of the railroad and the surrounding area in multiple languages.
Distance and duration:20 kilometres – 40 minutes.
The route starts in Glasgow, carries you north along the west coast and splits at Crianlarich. Both routes will wind their way through the Scottish Highlands, and you can continue to either Oban or to Fort William and Mallaig. The journey takes around 4 hours and covers a distance of 264 kilometres, making it one of the longest train journeys in Scotland. Whilst the summer is perhaps the best time to visit to guarantee a bright sunny day, a snowy winter trip can also offer great views - provided the visibility remains good. We would recommend this journey in mid-October as the spectacular colours of the leaves changing are so vibrant at this time of year.
The nearest airport for this scenic journey is Glasgow International Airport, which is just a short distance from the city centre. If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, the West Highland Line is a must-do for any traveller visiting Scotland.
Nearest airport:Flying home from Glasgow? Check out our Glasgow Airport lounges.
Route:Glasgow – Oban / Fort William and Mallaig.
Points of Interest:Views of the Cobbler as you approach Arrochar, with its notorious rocky pinnacle or going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, that sits over the water of the Loch Shiel.
Distance and duration:264 kilometres – 4 hours.
The train journey starts in Zermatt and travels through the heart of the Swiss Alps to St. Moritz. The 7.5-hour journey covers a distance of 290 kilometres and climbs to an altitude of 2,033 meters at the Oberalp Pass, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Alongside the marvellous views you can see through the panoramic windows, the Glacier Express also offers luxury dining in the Excellence Class carriage. Each dish from the five-course menu is paired with a Swiss or French wine. Each plate is beautifully presented and full of flavour, a fabulous gastronomic experience to compliments the Swiss views. The menu varies depending on when you visit, but an example of the courses you can expect is: Tartar and cheese tart followed by a smoked trout, then pea mint soup before the beef tenderloin, next, a cheese plate and finally a delicious chocolate cake. The nearest airport to Zermatt is Geneva Airport, which is around 235 kilometres away. The Glacier Express should unquestionably be on your list of must-see locations in Switzerland if you're seeking for a once-in-a-lifetime train experience.
Nearest airport:Flying home from Geneva? - Check out our Geneva International Airport lounges.
Route:Zermatt - St. Moritz
Points of Interest:All of the panoramic views over the mountains but especially the view of the UNESCO listed Rhine Gorge.
Distance and duration:290 kilometres – 7.5 hours.
The train ride offers stunning views of the coastline and the Mediterranean Sea and stops at each of the five villages along the way, allowing you to explore the colourful houses and narrow streets. The train also passes through tunnels and bridges that offer unique perspectives of the stunning landscapes.
The Cinque Terre Express train runs frequently, especially during the summer. If seeing the five fishing villages along the Ligurian coastline from the train isn't enough, you can stop off at any 1 of the 5 village stations explore the charming villages, experience the local culture, indulge in local cuisine and hike the scenic trails that connect the villages. If you plan to visit more than two of the villages, we recommend purchasing the one-day Cinque Terre Train Card, which includes unlimited train rides and also gives you access to all hiking trails in the Cinque Terre National Park.
The Cinque Terre train journey is a unique and unforgettable way to experience the beauty of the Italian Riviera and is a must-do for those seeking adventure and stunning views. Visitors can arrive in either La Spezia or Levanto, and the closest airport is the Galileo Galilei International airport in Pisa.
Nearest airport:Travelling home from Pisa? Check out our Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport lounges.
Route:La Spezia - Monterosso al Mare.
Points of Interest:Of course the views of the notorious five colourful villages that make up Cinque Terre but also catching glimpses of the olive groves and vibrant vineyards.
Distance and duration:20 kilometres – 40 minutes.
In the winter the gentle snowfall makes this rail route romantic, whilst in the summer the scenes are blessed with a summer glow. Whilst both seasons offer their own unique beauty, during the summer months the train attracts more people, so its best that you reserve your seats in advance.
The route covers a distance of 191 kilometres and takes around 5 hours to complete. Along the way, you'll pass through rolling hills, lush forests, and sparkling lakes, as well as some of the most iconic landmarks of Switzerland, including the Swiss Alps, the Jungfrau and Eiger mountains, in addition to passing through the charming towns of Montreux, Gstaad, and Interlaken.
The nearest airport to Montreux is Geneva Airport, which is about an hour's drive away. If you're looking for a truly unforgettable train journey, the GoldenPass Line is a must-do for any traveller visiting Switzerland.
Nearest airport:Travelling home from Geneva? Check out Geneva International Airport lounges.
Route:Lucerne – Montreux.
Points of Interest:Stop off at Gruyère to visit the cheese plant or head on to Broc to observe how the delectable Swiss chocolates are made.
Distance and duration:191 kilometres – 5 hours.
What makes this journey stand out is the bright yellow colour of the train, garnering the nickname “canary” by the locals, the vibrant colour adds a charming touch to the scenic landscape. The route starts in the town of Villefranche-de-Conflent and winds its way up to the peak of Bolquère Eyne, which at 1,592 metres is France's highest railway station.
Being in the Pyrenees, naturally the views along the 3-hour route that covers 60 kilometres are incredible. The train route features many points of interest, including the fortified town of Villefranche de Conflent, the stunning Abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou, and the picturesque villages of Olette and Fontpedrouse. If you're interested in exploring more of the Pyrenees region, nearby attractions include the city of Carcassonne and the natural hot springs of Les Bains de Saint-Thomas.
The line serves 22 different stations and there is a whole new heritage to discover between each station. You should note that the train only stops automatically at 6 of the stops, if you wish to explore the other 14 stops you should request this in advance. This train runs all year round; in the Winter there is a cheaper fare, but we recommend visiting in the summer to take advantage of the Yellow Train's open top waggons for a true mountain experience. With its charming colourful locomotive, comfortable seats, and stunning views, this makes a great day trip for all travellers.
Nearest airport:Travelling home from Toulouse? Check out our Toulouse Blagnac Airport lounges.
Route:Villefranche de Conflent – Latour de Carol.
Points of Interest:Font Romeu is one of the more popular ski resorts in the Pyrenees and in summer the hiking trail is gorgeous (and manageable). Plus, the views from the train on the way up to the Pyrenean mountain village of Odeillo, Font Romeu are spectacular.
Distance and duration:63 Kilometres – 3 hours.
The Belgrade-Bar Railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in Montenegro, but to optimise your views we recommend sitting on the right-hand side of the train if you are travelling south and on the left if you are travelling north. We also suggest bringing some drinks and snacks as there is no onboard catering offered and a book to read as there can often be delays.
We recommend travelling at the height of summer so you can experience as much of the landscape as possible during the daylight hours, during the autumn and winter periods the sunsets earlier meaning you can sometimes be travelling through the most scenic parts of the trip at dusk. The nearest airport to Belgrade is Nikola Tesla Airport, which is just a short distance from the city centre. If you're looking for a truly unforgettable train journey, the Belgrade-Bar Railway is a must-do for any traveller visiting Montenegro.
Nearest airport:Flying home from Belgrade? Check out our Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport lounges.
Route:Belgrade – Barr.
Points of Interest:During the Serbian leg of the trip you’ll pass by many apple trees and raspberry bushes so closely in fact that you can pick them from the train windows.
Distance and duration:476 kilometres – 11 hours.
Due to the limited capacity of the train (28 passengers) excellent and highly personalised service is guaranteed. The train itself is a work of art, with elegant decor, comfortable cabins, and gourmet dining options.
The El Transcantabrico is an evocative way to travel through the landscapes of Northern Spain. Along the way, travellers can enjoy excursions to local landmarks, such as the basilica of San Julian de los Prados, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao as well as passing through historic towns and cities, such as Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo and some of Spain's most beautiful natural areas, such as the Picos de Europa National Park.
Nearest airport:Flying from Santiago? Check out our Santiago de Compostela Airport lounges.
Route:Santiago de Compostela – San Sebastian
Points of Interest:The Caves of Altamira are among this route's top adventures. They are renowned for their Upper Palaeolithic artwork and multicoloured rock paintings.
Distance and duration:670 Kilometres – 8 days.
The train journey is popular amongst tourist for its breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains and forests and allows you to experience the beauty of the Greek countryside in a unique and unforgettable way.
It should be noted that the seasonality affects the frequency of the trains, so do check ahead of travelling - in summer there are double the number of trains than in spring. We should also warn that due to the narrow gorge the seats are a lot slimmer than usual, though we found that this makes for a friendlier atmosphere.
The journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete and covers a distance of 22 kilometres, there are a few different departure times available – we recommend taking the first train up and boarding the last train down to ensure plenty of time to explore the town. Alternatively, this is a popular hiking route so you could hike either up (approximately 5 hours) and take the train down or vice versa – if you choose to do this, pay attention to approaching train when entering the tunnels. The nearest airport to Diakopto is the Araxos Airport, which is around 60 kilometres away. This is a must-do experience if visiting Kalavryta.
Nearest airport:Flying home from Athens? Check out our Athens International Airport lounges.
Route:Diakopto – Kalavryta.
Points of Interest:Aside from the impressive cliff faces, waterfalls and lush green vegetation, allow time to explore the town of Kalavryta enjoy a lunch and visit the Museum of Kalavryta Holocaust.
Distance and duration:22 Kilometres – 1.25 hours.
This charming route covers 122 kilometres, and passes through picturesque landscapes, including glaciers, mountain peaks, alpine forests and crystal-clear rivers through quaint Swiss towns like St. Moritz and Tirano. The nearest airport to Chur is Zurich Airport, which is just over 100 kilometres away. If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Bernina Express is an adventure not to be missed.
Nearest airport:Flying home from Zurich? Check out our Zurich Airport Lounges.
Route:Chur to Tirano.
Points of Interest:This route follows two UNESCO World Heritage listed lines and scenery varies from Swiss glaciers to Italian palm trees.
Distance and duration:122 kilometres – 4 hours.
The Black Forest Railway (aka Schwarzwaldbahn) starts in the city of Offenburg in the Midwest and winds its way through the mountains, passing through picturesque villages, lush forests, and stunning mountain scenery all the way to Singen in the Southeast. The best time to go on the Black Forest Railways is during spring and autumn, when the weather is mild, and the forests blaze with vibrant colours.
The journey takes around 3 hours to complete and covers a distance of 149 kilometres, though with hourly runs there is plenty of time to get off at any of the stations, admire the views, and enjoy a local lunch. The Black Forest Railway – Baden is perhaps the most popular route however there is a network of rail routes climb up and around the hills of the Black Forest, the majority depart from the Rhine Valley which encompasses the Black Forest from the west and south.
Nearest airport:Travelling home from Zurich? Check out our Zurich Airport lounges.
Route:Offenburg – Singen.
Points of interest:Visit the birthplace of the Danube, one of Europe's longest and most powerful rivers, and stop off at Donaueschingen to sample the local cuisine.
Distance and duration:149 Kilometres - 3 hours.