5 of the Best Countries in Europe to Experience by Train

Best Destinations in Europe / Travel Inspiration | June 11, 2018

Nothing quite compares to the experience of traveling throughout Europe by train. From the incredible views and the comfortable onboard accommodations to the ability to get from city center to city center quickly and easily, many consider rail travel to be the best way to see Europe and beyond.

And while nearly every country in Europe offers great train journeys, here’s our selection of those that offer the appealing combination of a well-connected train network, fast city to city lines, epic scenic trains, and the ability to see the best sights of the country by rail.  Whether you’re planning a bucket-list rail journey or just looking for a weekend break, read on for our picks of the best countries in Europe to see by train!

1. Switzerland

Tucked inside the small but incredibly beautiful country of Switzerland is one of the most efficient and scenic rail networks in the world. The idyllic terrain, dotted with wooden chalets, snowy peaks, dramatic waterfalls and mountain-fringed lakes, is completely accessible by train – at times spectacularly so. Take the famous Glacier Express route from Zermatt to St. Moritz over dozens of dramatic viaducts overlooking lush valleys. Glide through vibrant fields of wildflowers on the Golden Pass scenic train from Lucerne to Montreux. Or slowly climb up to the ‘top of Europe’ at the continent’s highest train station near the peak of the Jungfrau Mountain, marveling at the winter wonderland that surrounds you. Any season in Switzerland presents scenic delights – it all depends on what you want to see and do.

The following Railbookers’ train vacations feature some of the most scenic Swiss train routes:

Scenic Switzerland from Zurich

This all-encompassing eight-night rail odyssey of Switzerland takes in the best this wonderful country has to offer. Start with a two-night stay in grand St Moritz from where you take a ride onboard the stunning Bernina Express train. Take the spectacular Glacier Express train to historical Zermatt for two nights, and enjoy the iconic Matterhorn Mountain via the Gornergrat Cog Railway. Travel to lakeside Lausanne for a relaxing night before continuing your journey along the Golden Pass line to the traditional Swiss town of Lucerne. Enjoy three nights here with day trips on the world’s steepest cogwheel train line on Mount Pilatus, and also to the highest railway station in Europe on the Jungfrau Railway. Learn more…

Lucerne, Lugano and the Gotthard Express

Soak in the stunning scenery on this rail journey that takes you through Lucerne, Lugano and Milan. Enjoy spectacular mountain and lakeside views along with picturesque town squares in Lucerne. Take the scenic Gotthard Express from Lucerne to Lugano and learn the fascinating history and the legend of the Gotthard region while enjoying the striking scenery along the way. See what makes Lugano so special while being surrounded by the gorgeous Lake Lugano and the Lugano Prealps mountain range. Finally, take the short train journey to Milan and spend a night getting to know this vibrant city. There is so much to see on this scenic vacation, make sure you pack your camera! Learn more…

Switzerland’s Lakes and Mountains

Take the scenic trip of a lifetime through Switzerland on this exciting vacation by rail. Starting with overnight stays in Geneva and Montreux, continue the journey along the Golden Pass Line to Interlaken. Take a memorable trip to the highest railway station at the top of Jungfrau Mountain, before traveling through the Swiss Alps aboard the Glacier Express to Chur. Complete this incredible journey with a day trip across spectacular viaducts and past impressive glaciers on the Bernina Express to Tirano. Learn more…

For more information on all of Railbookers’ exciting train vacations in Switzerland, click HERE.

2. Italy

It’s common knowledge in Europe that train travel in Italy is faster, more convenient, and more relaxing than flying or driving. The efficient and comfortable high-speed train network links nearly every major city, centre to center, with no lengthy check-in, and no baggage fees or weight limits. Rome to Florence takes just 1 hour and 32 minutes, Rome to Venice takes 3 hours and 45 minutes, Rome to Naples is just 1 hour and 10 minutes, and Rome to Milan is just 2 hours and 55 minutes. Before you know it, you’ve seen the country by train!

Italy’s scenic regional trains connect to the city lines and round out the country’s excellent train network. From the iconic Bernina Express, which traverses southern Switzerland into Northern Italy in spectacular fashion, to the regional lines running along the colorful cliffs and the crystal clear waters of the Amalfi Coast, local, scenic trains provide a wonderful glimpse into the true culture and flavor of the country and its people.

These popular Railbookers train journeys feature some of the best train travel in Italy:

Ultimate Venice, Florence and Rome

Discover the charms and landmarks of three Italian gems on one scenic vacation along the rails. Explore the cities to their fullest with sightseeing tours and skip-the-line passes all included. Sail down the canals of Venice with a gondola ride, unearth artistic masterpieces in Florence and gaze in awe at the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome. Enjoy high-speed rail journeys connecting the fascinating cities. This is one Italian adventure you won’t want to miss! Learn more…

Venice and the Bernina Express

Take the most scenic route imaginable to Venice! Travel from Switzerland on the Bernina Express and wind through the spectacular Alpine scenery towards the warmth and magic of Italy. Spend nights in Zurich and Milan en route, and relax by the azure lagoon and tranquil canals of Venezia, one of Europe’s most iconic gems. Learn more…

Amalfi Coast via the Alps

Travel in style on this luxurious holiday to the beautiful Amalfi Coast via the fascinating cities of Geneva and Florence. Stay for four nights in spectacular Sorrento, overlooking the Mediterranean. Shop for Italian gifts in the elegant boutiques, wander through orange and lemon groves and take a boat trip to the dramatic, prehistoric caves dotting the coastline in one of Europe’s most beautiful regions. Learn more…

For more information about Railbookers’ rail vacations in Italy, CLICK HERE.

3. Spain

Boasting the longest high-speed rail network in Europe, Spain’s train network has advanced in recent years to become one of the best, with its high-speed AVE train network connecting Madrid to Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, among others, and scenic regional lines providing local flavor. Travel by rail and discover Moorish palaces and Baroque squares in Andalucia, colorful Gaudí creations in Catalonia, and a rich array of architecture and beautiful scenery along the way!

Check out these scenic Railbookers train journeys in Spain:

Ultimate Barcelona, Seville and Madrid

Discover the treasures of Spain on this eight night vacation by rail. Travel from Gaudi’s Barcelona southwest to Seville, ending your journey in Madrid. Enjoy included guided tours of historic monuments, including the Alcazar in Seville and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Discover the main attractions and hidden gems of each city you visit with handpicked included extras, and get ready to soak up some of the spectacular Spanish sunshine! Learn more…

La Coruna to Lisbon

Discover the incredible West Coasts of Spain and Portugal following Michael Portillo and the Great Continental Railways guide from La Coruña down to Lisbon. Explore a different side of Spain through the beauty of Galicia with stops in the largest city, La Coruña, and the capital Santiago de Compostela, before riding the rails through three of Portugal’s essential cities: the Duoro-side city of Porto, the historic university city of Coimbra and thriving coastal capital of Lisbon. Learn more…

Andalucian Explorer

Discover vibrant Madrid and the stunning seaside beauty and exotic Moorish roots of Southern Spain’s Andalucian region on this eight-night vacation by rail. Your journey begins in Spain’s vibrant capital of Madrid, where you’ll enjoy all the major sights of this diverse city. Then journey by train south to stunning Granada the next day, followed by historic Cordoba and the fascinating Andalucian capital of Seville. Finally, return to Madrid for an additional night to round out this complete Andalucian experience! Learn more…

CLICK HERE for more information on Railbookers’ train journeys in Spain.

4. France

If you’re planning a trip to France and want a real experience of the country, the train is definitely the way to go. Train travel between France’s iconic towns and cities is at once comfortable, scenic, romantic and fast! The country’s world-famous TGV travels at up to 199 mph, from city center to city center, in quiet, relaxed comfort. From Paris, get to most of the country’s most popular cities in under three hours – including Lyon in just under 2 hours, Bordeaux in just over two hours, and Lille in just an hour!

Railbookers’ exciting train vacations in France include:

Ultimate London and Paris

Discover two exciting European capital cities on this six-night journey by rail. Starting in London, see historic attractions such as the Tower of London and Big Ben and take a cruise along the River Thames. Visit a wide range of museums and attractions using an included London Pass with hop-on, hop-off tour and a skip-the-line ticket for the London Eye. Glide under the English Channel aboard the Eurostar to Paris and enjoy amazing food, unique shopping experiences plus the chance to explore a wide range of attractions with an included Paris Pass and Eiffel Tower Skip the Line tour with summit access. Learn more…

Avignon and Nice

Enjoy this romantic holiday to the beautiful French cities of Avignon and Nice! Famous for the stunning Palace of the Popes, Avignon is a city brimming with culture and wonderful gastronomy. Spend three days exploring the sights of the city before journeying by rail from Avignon along the beautiful French Riviera before arriving into Nice. Spend three relaxing days discovering Nice – stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, stretching elegantly along the Mediterranean coastline, visit the pretty markets and dine on wonderful seafood. Learn more…

Milan and Paris via the Bernina Express

Experience three great cities in three countries on one exciting European rail vacation! This amazing journey starts in stylish Milan, where you’ll take in the best of high-fashion, spectacular architecture and fine Italian cuisine. From Milan, take the world-famous Bernina Express through scenic Tirano, Italy and into the mountains of Switzerland to the idyllic Swiss town of Chur. Enjoy a relaxing day of fresh mountain air and the charming, old world pace of Chur before boarding the train to Paris for two days of the best sights and attractions in the iconic French capital. Learn more…

CLICK HERE for more information on Railbookers’ train vacations in France.

5. Germany

Rail travel in Germany is every bit as fast and efficient as you would expect, but what you may not expect are the jaw-dropping views on the many scenic routes that wind throughout the country. Think dense forests, snow-covered mountains, dramatic castles and sparkling lakes. One such train ride is also the shortest in Germany – at only 55 minutes, the journey along the Rhine River from Koblenz to Mainz offers riders fairy-tale castles and lush vineyards along the beautiful river’s slopes. It’s just a taste of the type of memorable train journey Germany is known for.

Consider the following train escapes when planning your next vacation to Germany:

Ultimate Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest

Discover four Imperial capital cities in one fantastic vacation by train. Travel through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary by high-speed train, taking in wonderful views while en route. With city passes, hop-on, hop-off tours, skip the line passes and exciting extras all included, you’ll be able to get the most out of your stay in these wonderful destinations. Learn more…

Munich, Vienna and Prague

Explore Munich, Vienna and Prague on this six-night vacation by rail. Enjoy two nights in the Bavarian capital of Munich before taking the train to Vienna and discovering the city’s wealth of museums, imperial palaces and baroque architecture. Then journey to Prague for spectacular sightseeing in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Learn more…

Cologne, Munich and Berlin

Enjoy a six-night vacation by rail visiting three exciting German cities. Starting with an overnight stay in Cologne, enjoy a wander around the Old Town and marvel at the Dom before moving on to the capital of Bavaria, Munich. Take in the Gothic architecture of this picturesque town and sample some local beers at a typical Bavarian tavern. Finally, ride the rails to Berlin! Discover the fascinating history of the Berlin Wall and explore the diverse range of shops and restaurants on offer in this remarkable city. Learn more…

CLICK HERE for more information on Railbookers journeys in Germany.