Home THE JOURNEY Train 7 Must-See Locations For A European Train Holiday

7 Must-See Locations For A European Train Holiday

Photo by Andreas Stutz

There is nothing like a scenic train trip. You get to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, until you reach your next exciting destination. 

And Europe is the perfect place for interrailing and train travel, with lots of memorable railways, coming and going from some of the best locations in the world 

But if you’re thinking about exploring Europe by train this year, narrowing down where to go can be tough. 

With so many incredible cities, breathtaking rail journeys and panoramic views to choose from, you need to plan your route carefully. Particularly, if you’re only planning a short trip. 

Fortunately for you, we’ve done a lot of the hard work, so we can bring you a list of some of the must-see locations for your European train trip. 

Check them out below. 

1. Swiss Alps, Switzerland 

When planning a European train trip, you’d be crazy not to consider heading over to Switzerland. High up in the Alps, you can take the scenic Glacier or Bernina Express, marvelling at breathtaking landscapes, snow-capped mountains and charming alpine villages as you go. 

The Glacier Express travels from Zermatt to Davos and the journey lasts seven hours in total. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful views on one of the most iconic railway lines in the world. 

Alternatively, the Bernina Express travels through the Alps from Chur to Tirano via Davos. As well as passing through several picturesque Swiss towns, you’ll also cross different cultures and languages along the way. 

2. Cinque Terre, Italy 

For something a little warmer, why not travel along the Italian Riviera and explore the colourful seaside villages on the Cinque Terre Express? Starting at La Spezia, the route takes around 1 hour 30 minutes in total and ends in Levanto. 

This is one of Italy’s most scenic rail routes as it hugs the coast, passing by five Unesco-listed seaside villages in this celebrated national park. 

Along the way, you can hop on and off the train and hike the scenic trails, enjoy local seafood and take in the stunning coastal views. 

Alternatively, if you’d rather see some of the bigger tourist hotspots, why not take the train between two of Italy’s must-see cities from Venice to Florence? 

En route, you’ll pass the Renaissance towns of Bologna, Prato and Ravenna, before heading through the mountains and past the rolling hills of Tuscany. 

3. The Highlands, Scotland 

The West Highland Line takes you from Glasgow to Oban or Mallaig, two picturesque coastal towns in the Scottish highlands.  

This is one of the most visually appealing parts of Scotland; filled with valleys, craggy hills, dramatic scenery and vast lochs. The 180-mile-long route cruises through many charming Scottish towns and forests and onto Fort William. 

If you stay on the train and head to Mallaig, you can see the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle and you’ll cross the River Lochy. Along the way, you can spot the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its iconic use in the Harry Potter films. 

Or, for something more unique and luxurious (but also far more expensive) you could enjoy a journey on the Royal Scotsman, a sleek all-inclusive train with the plush interior of an Edwardian country house and plenty of fine-dining opportunities. 

You’ll leave from Edinburgh Waverley station and head through the heart of the Highlands. Tours range from around four to seven days with overnight stopovers. 

4. Spain 

Approaching Spain by train is one of the best ways to see this great nation and there are two routes in particular that are very rewarding. 

The AVE high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona via Zaragoza is one of the most popular routes, allowing you to stop at Zaragoza, Valencia and eventually Barcelona. You can explore each of these great destinations before hopping back on the train and off to the next. 

Along the way you’ll get to enjoy mountain views, breathtaking coastal scenery and charming towns from the comfort of your seat. 

Alternatively, if it’s sun and sightseeing you want, travel further south from Madrid to the Andalucían capital, Seville. This is one of the country’s most enchanting cities, home to Moorish architecture, quaint narrow streets, a beautiful cathedral and an incredible atmosphere. 

5. Austrian Alps, Austria 

The Mariazell Railway travels from St Pölten to Mariazell and takes about two and a half hours. 

You’ll travel through some of the wildest regions in the Austrian Alps that are otherwise tricky to get to, enjoying views of valleys and mountains, meadows and winding pathways. 

During the first half of the journey, you can hop on and off and explore the towns and villages on the way. 

During the second half of the journey, you’ll climb the rugged Erlauf gorge and ascend the peaks of Ötscher-Tormäuer Naturpark. So at this stage, just sit back, relax and take in the views. 

However, if you’re looking for a bit of destination hopping and maybe even a session on the slopes instead, another great route in Austria is the route from Salzburg to Innsbruck via Bischofshofe. 

You’ll head straight up into the Alps, still enjoying some of the region’s most scenic sights as you pass emerald rivers, hilltop monasteries and vistas that look like they belong on the front of a postcard. 

6. Norway 

The Flam Railway offers an enchanting journey that allows you to experience some of the most beautiful scenery Norway has to offer. 

In fact, this has been described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world as it runs from Aurlandsfjord to Myrdal station. The journey takes you high up into the mountains, past waterfalls and through 20 tunnels! 

Some say the viewpoints are so spectacular that one single trip is not enough and you’ll want to complete the journey again and again. 

7. Belgium 

Finally, Belgium is very easy to navigate by train and this is a great way to explore this wonderful nation. 

Though there are lots of great routes, Brussels and Antwerp are separated by just 41km of track so travelling between two of Belgium’s top cities is recommended. You will travel along a historic train line, created in 1835 to link Brussels and Mechelen. 

But one of the greatest parts of the train journey, other than the fact you have the opportunity to enjoy both Brussels and Antwerp, is Antwerp Central Railway Station. 

This spectacular building has become a tourist attraction in itself and was named the most beautiful train station in the world in 2014. Once you’re in the city, be sure to sample the local beers, stop by the cathedral and if you get the chance, walk St. Anna’s Tunnel.