Most Scenic Trains in Europe

Europe’s Top 10 Scenic Railways 

Some railway journeys and excursions are destinations in themselves. That perfectly describes many of the famous scenic trains in Europe. Here is a list of our top ten most scenic train rides in Europe, all showcasing beautiful vistas and stunning scenery. Many of these railway excursions are included on Alpenwild’s Swiss Tours.

Glacier Express Train in Switzerland

1. Glacier Express: Zermatt, Switzerland – St. Moritz, Switzerland 

The Glacier Express train is the most famous train in the world and promotes itself as “the slowest express train in the world.” The train cuts through the Swiss Alps, providing passengers with some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. The trip takes about 7 ½ hours and travels through breathtaking mountain landscapes, deep gorges, picturesque valleys, 91 tunnels and across 291 impressive bridges. The train offers panorama cars with oversized windows that provide exceptional views and operates year round. There is an on-board kitchen with a restaurant serving local specialties or you can stock up on snacks to bring with you on this spectacular rail journey. You will need reservations to ride this train and there are 1st and 2nd class cars so you can also choose your level of comfort. Riding the Glacier Express is really about the journey and not the destination, so sit back and enjoy the remarkable scenery through the Alps. You can experience the Glacier Express in first class on our Scenic Alps by Rail tour.

   
Bernina Express Train in Switzerland

2. Bernina Express: Chur, Switzerland – Tirano, Italy

The Glacier Express may be the most famous train ride in the world but some have claimed that the most scenic portion of the Glacier Express is the Bernina Express leg from Chur to St Moritz. This route is one of the highest railways in the Alps and climbs up to the glistening glaciers before descending to the country of Italy far below. The train travels through 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and gets up to speeds of 70 miles per hour and the excursion takes about 4 hours. The highest point is about 2,253 meters above sea level. The railway line from Thusis to Tirano has UNESCO World Heritage status. The Bernina Express uses panoramic coaches with enlarged windows to maximize the magnificent views. There is also a multi-lingual (English, Italian, and German) audio guide on board. There are 1st and 2nd class cars and snack cars available during the train ride. Reservations are required to ride the Bernina Express and travel in first class on the Scenic Alps by Rail tour.  

   
GoldenPass Line

3. GoldenPass Line: Lucerne, Switzerland – Interlaken or on to Montreux, Switzerland

Unlike the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express, the GoldenPass is not a direct train. It is a scenic route serviced by special trains in 3 different sections. The GoldenPass Line leaves Lucerne and its charming lake and mountains to a gentle climb up the Brunig Pass. From here the train descends to Meiringin before passing Brienz and the Giessback Falls en-route to Interlaken. Between Lucerne and Interlaken Ost there are modern air conditioned trains with large panoramic windows and a restaurant. If you want to change trains in Interlaken, you can continue on to Montreux to continue along the Lake Thun shoreline. From Interlaken-Ost to Zweisimmen there are regular but comfortable trains, with rotating seats in 1st class. Between Zweisimmen and Montreux there is a classic train with Belle Époque coaches with a historical luxurious atmosphere or the modern panoramic train with extra large windows and in 1st class you will find 8 VIP seats situated in the front of the train. The view from here is even more beautiful than the one that the driver has because he has to keep an eye on the track. The total duration of this trip is about 5.5 hours but you can choose any section to enjoy a short excursion with diverse scenery. You do not need a seat reservation for the GoldenPass Line although reservations are recommended for some trains on the Montreux to Zweisimmen leg especially if you are interested in those VIP seats. You will get to travel on the GoldenPass Line during our Scenic Alps by Rail tour.

   
Mont Blanc Express

4. Mont-Blanc Express: Chamonix, France – Martigny, Switzerland

The Mont-Blanc Express is a scenic mountain train route that runs from the French station of St Gervais/Le Fayet, with a steep climb to the Chamonix valley, all the way through Chamonix and Argentiere, under the Col des Montets and down the other side into Martigny in Switzerland. This beautiful rail road takes you through some of the most amazing views that you ever seen. Between Chamonix and Martigny, you will have stunning views of Mont Blanc which is Europe’s highest peak and will pass through the cozy villages of the Trient valley, cross deep gorges with stunning waterfalls and through shady forests. If you are staying in the Chamonix Valley, a journey on the Mont-Blanc Express is free with a Carte d'Hote and is only about 1 ½ hour trip one way. Ask your host for the "Guest Card". This card will give you access to the whole of the Chamonix Valley public transport network between Servoz and Vallorcine for free. No reservations are required and there are frequent departures daily.

   
Chocolate Train in Switzerland

5. Chocolate Train: Montreux, Switzerland – Broc, Switzerland

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate and its railroads. The Chocolate Train is a great combination of both. It is a first-class-only excursion train that operates from Montreux between May and October. Coffee and croissants are served on the train, which offers scenic views of vineyards and rural countryside on its way to the medieval cheesemaking town of Gruyères. In Gruyères, the train pauses for an excursion by bus to a cheese factory and the local castle. Then you board the train again for the trip to Broc which is the home of the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory, where you can watch a multilingual video, observe chocolate production, sample the finished product, and buy Cailler or Nestlé candy bars at factory prices. Reservations are required and days are limited so be sure to check their schedules. Many of our trips will travel the last leg of this excursion from Gruyères to Broc. Our Cheese, Chocolate, and the Scenic Alps tour is a great trip to experience this.

   
Munich, Germany to Innsbruck, Austria

6. Mittenwald Railway: Munich, Germany – Innsbruck, Austria

Regionalbahn services operate hourly on the German side, running between Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This section of the journey is also scenic, as the train climbs up into the German Alps. The Mittenwald Railway, popularly known as Karwendelbahn, is a railway line in the Austrian and German Alps. It connects Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria with the city of Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol. The north to south route begins in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and winds through Mittenwald to the Olympic resort of Seefeld in Austria, before making an impressive descent into Innsbruck alongside of the steep Inn valley and over the river across a steel bridge. The total duration of the excursion takes about 2 ½ hours and no reservations are required.

   
Wilhelm Tell Express Paddle Boat

7. Gotthard Panorama Express: Lucerne, Switzerland - Locarno or Lugano, Switzerland

Switzerland is known for some of the most stunning scenery in all of Europe. The Gotthard Panorama Exxpress connects Lucerne to the Ticino canton, both of which are two of the prettiest parts of the country. While in Lucerne travelers will board a vintage paddle steamer to Flüelen which is a 2 ½ boat ride on Lake Lucerne. Upon your arrival, climb aboard the panoramic train for another 2 ½ hours which takes the Gotthard line up the Reuss Valley and through the Historic Gotthard Tunnel. It then emerges in the Leventina Valley in the canton of Ticino. The train portion of this trip whisks past cottages on pine-covered hills, immense valleys, sparkling streams and lakes, and snow covered peaks. Reservations are required and all tickets are considered 1st class. Guests who upgrade to the premium offer will receive a welcome souvenir, including a meal voucher good in the restaurant.You can travel in classic luxury on both the steam paddle boat and train on our Scenic Alps by Rail tour.

   
Centovalli Railway

8. Centovalli Railway Scenic Train: Locarno, Switzerland – Domosossola, Italy

The scenic train between Locarno and Domosossola runs through the magical “Hundred Valleys” - the Centovalli. It's considered to be one of the most beautiful views. The Centovalli Railway connects the Gotthard and Simplon lines as well as Ticino and Valais via the shortest possible route. The railway is an excursion train that takes visitors through the magnificent landscapes of Centovalli and Valle Vigezzo. The Centovalli Railway runs all year long with 1st and 2nd class cars and all are panoramic coaches. The duration of the trip is approximately 2 hours.

   
Train to the Jungfraujoch

9. Jungfraujoch: Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen – Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe

There is only ONE Jungfraujoch in the world and it is in Switzerland, in the very high Alps which is also the highest railway station in Europe located 3,454 meters above sea level. From either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen you will take the Wengernalp Railway to Kleine Scheidegg, beneath the Jungfraujoch with a view of the Eiger North Face. The final train is the Jungfrau Railway that starts at Kleine Scheidegg that will take travelers directly to the Jungfraujoch. The railway runs almost entirely within the Jungfrau Tunnel, built into the Eiger and Mönch mountains and containing two stations in the middle of the tunnel, where passengers can disembark to look out through pictures windows built into the mountainside. The rail journey up to the top is unforgettable as you will be on the largest glacier in the Alps and the Sphinx observatory at the top allows views all the way into Germany. You can also get out and hike on the glacier, check out the ice palace, and Lindt chocolate display. The total trip from either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen takes about 1 ½ hours.The Jungfraujoch railway is a popular excursion on many trips and is a highlight on our Swiss Bliss tour and Exploring the Jungfau tour.

   
Gornergrat Train in Zermatt

10. Gornergrat Railway: Zermatt, Switzerland

The Gornergrat Railway links the resort village of Zermatt, to the summit of the Gornergrat. The Gornergrat Bahn makes stops at five stations along the route. The Gornergrat railway station is situated at an altitude of 3,089 m (10,135 ft), which makes the Gornergrat railway the second highest railway in Europe after the Jungfrau, and the highest open-air railway in Europe. This railway offers some of the most world-renowned views of the mighty Matterhorn Mountain. The Gornergrat rail excursion is approximately 45 minutes to the top and travelers can ride up and back or opt to ride up and hike down. When in Zermatt, riding the Gornergrat Railway is a must with the stunning views of the Matterhorn. You can be guaranteed to experience this excursion on our Best of the Swiss Alps tour and the Eiger to the Matterhorn tour.