Top 10 Rail Journeys

To mark the introduction of our new journey along the iconic Semmering Railway, we take a look at some of Europe's best train journeys, from the world-famous Glacier Express in Switzerland to Spain's little-known FEVE.
  • The ground-breaking Semmeringbahn may be new to Inntravel, but it has been whisking passengers through the beautiful Austrian mountains ever since 1854, making it Europe’s oldest alpine railway. Beginning in Gloggnitz, to the south of Vienna, the line climbs over 455 metres and passes through an impressive series of tunnels and double-decker viaducts as it burrows through the high mountains. It is a monumental feat of engineering, and – in our opinion – a very deserved recipient of its UNESCO World Heritage status.
  • Cut into the cliffs high above the Dordogne river, ‘Le Truffadou’ is a heritage steam railway which owes its nickname to the years it spent transporting truffles along the valley. First opened in 1889, the line was temporarily suspended during World War I – when the rails were sequestered to provide steel for the war effort! – before closing more permanently in 1980. Today, a section of the line is once again open for business, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy a fabulous hour-long journey between Martel and St-Denis (selected days only).
  • The Douro Valley may be best known as the birthplace of Port wine, but it is also home to a rather wonderful railway which clings to the sliver of land between the river and the steep hills above. If you’re catching the train from Porto, we recommend settling into a seat on the right-hand side and waiting patiently (the ‘real’ views begin about an hour into the journey). You will be rewarded with an excellent panorama of this timeless valley, with its silver-green olive groves, half-forgotten villages and neatly striped vineyards.
  • When it comes to memorable rail journeys, there are few to rival the route from Myrdal to Flåm. The fact that this world-famous railway descends some 886 metres over the course of just 20 kilometres makes for a thrilling experience, further enhanced by the thundering waterfalls, deep ravines and innumerable tunnels that it passes on the way. Even when you reach the end of the line, the scenery is just as spectacular – the village of Flåm sits at the head of Aurlandsfjord, one of Norway’s most picturesque fjords.
  • Amid the lush green hills, secluded beaches and colourful fishing ports of Spain’s Costa Verde trundles a very special train. The Ferrocarril Española Via Estrecha, or FEVE for short, is not a particularly fast nor luxurious mode of transport, but it does provide a delightful means of exploring northern Spain: with no fewer than 100 stops, there are plenty of opportunities for jumping off and enjoying an impromptu coastal walk, some time at the beach, or even a tasty seafood lunch, and the decidedly leisurely pace of the FEVE is perfect for soaking up the sumptuous views outside.
  • The Centovalli is one of Europe's great train journeys, and owes its memorable name to the hundred delightful valleys it crosses as it winds from Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in Italy. The railway is particularly popular with walkers, affording easy access to a number of excellent trails, but it is far more than just a means of getting from A to B – spending some time on board the Centovalli gives a unique insight into one of the most beautiful corners of Europe.
  • Part of the appeal of travelling between Dresden and Prague lies in the knowledge that you are journeying through landscapes that were off-limits to the West just thirty years ago. Another attraction is the scenery: after jumping aboard your Eurocity train in Dresden, sit back and enjoy the ride as the route takes you into ‘Saxon Switzerland’, passing towering sandstone turrets and through the narrow gorge of the Elbe before crossing over the Czech border and making the final approach to Prague.
  • The Glacier Express is not just one of the most panoramic train journeys in Europe, but anywhere in the world, and there is no time of year when its mind-boggling beauty cannot be appreciated. We happen to think the route is at its most dramatic during the winter months, when the rolling meadows, silent forests, deep lakes and traditional villages are blanketed with snow, and the surrounding peaks glisten in the sunlight.
  • Some of the journeys which feature in this list are relatively short but have a real ‘wow’ factor. In the case of the Bordeaux-Nice railway, it’s the variety of scenery across the route as a whole which impresses. Travelling between Bordeaux and Carcassonne, you'll be struck by the ancient towns of Auch and Toulouse, whereas the next section – between Carcassonne and Avignon – sees you skirt the Rhône delta and the flamingo-frequented lakes of the Camargue. The final stretch to Nice is different again, characterised by the glittering waters of the Mediterranean.
  • A personal favourite of Inntravel’s rail specialist, Kylie, the Bernina Express is a narrow-gauge railway which weaves from St Moritz in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, and is named after the Piz Bernina mountain that towers above the route. With an incredible 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and ever-changing views – think green valleys, snow-capped mountains, pine forests, glaciers and waterfalls – this is a truly spectacular way to cross the Alps, and perhaps the most scenic train journey of them all...

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