Train Trips in Europe

4 Top Train Trips in Europe

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Train journeys are one of the last remaining true bastions of luxury travel. Sure, a first class ticket on a leading airline on a major route is an experience to behold… but so is the cost. Train journeys put extravagant travel back into the reach of the everyday person. It is the closest that you can come to the golden age of travel today.

And there is no better place to rediscover rail journeys than where they began: Europe.

While luxury trains do run in North America, Australia and Asia, no one pulls it off as well as the Europeans. That made picking the top European train trips especially difficult. I have made my choices by region and tried to balance the overall experience with the cost. They are all between 6 and 10 days long.

Fodor's Essential Scandinavia (Fodor's Travel Guide)


1. Scandinavia’s Majestic Fjords: Nutshell, Sognefjord & Hardangerfjord

Even if you don’t know what a fjord is, you have certainly seen pictures of them before. They are the glimmering blue rivers flanked by tall mountains, white in winter and green in spring. Norway boasts almost 28,000 kilometers (17,500 miles) of them and this train-and-cruise escapade plonks you right in the center of them all.

The train journey begins in Oslo on board the famed Bergenbanen line that chugs past waterfalls, cliffs and farms. The descent towards the coast at Sognefjord on the Flåm Railway sets the scene for the second day, which is a cruise out to sea and along the picturesque coastline. See Bergen Harbor and UNESCO World heritage-listed Bryggen wharf.

The third day sees you ascending Mount Fløyen on the Fløybanen funicular. On day four, it’s a return to the fjords with a cruise to Eidfjord and Ulvik on the Hardangerfjord. The sight of 600,000 fruit trees in bloom welcomes you to Lofthus village. The fifth day is a train trip from Voss, back to the starting point at Oslo, ending the morning after.

  • Route: Oslo – Balestrand – Bergen – Lofthus – Voss – Oslo
  • Duration: 6 Days / 5 Nights
  • Cost: $1,875 per person (twin share)
  • Available: May – September

Find the details here.

DK Eyewitness Germany (Travel Guide)

2. Germany’s Mountains & Gorges

Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley deep enough that can keep you from experiencing the simpler side of Germany. The journey begins with a rail blitz across three countries. Set off from London with a Eurostar rail trip to Brussels and on to Cologne.

The second day kicks off with rail to Hanover followed by a coach to the Harz Mountains. Verdant green peaks stand on either side of winding rivers while mist engulfs part of the scenery day and night. Experience another type of rail travel the next day on the quaint narrow-gauge Brocken Railroad that interconnects local hamlets and villages.

Board the Selketal Railroad on Day 4 as it chugs on between mountains, along streams and over rivers. The sight of 1,600 timber houses awaits you at Quedlinburg. More classic Bavarian architecture on Day 5 at Wernigerode.

Days 6 to 9 will be spent in the Assmannshausen region near Frankfurt, which is a short train trip away. Explore the Rhine Gorge, including the mythical Lorelei Rock which is steeped in both romantic and frightening lore. Enjoy a tipple at the Rüdesheim wine tastings. Day 10 puts you on the return to London via Brussels on the Eurostar.

  • Route: London-Brussels-Cologne-Hanover-Harz-Gernrode-Quedlinburg-Wernigerode-Frankfurt-Assmannshausen-Boppard-Rüdesheim-Assmannshausen-London
  • Duration: 10 Days / 9 Nights
  • Cost: $2,395 per person onwards

Find the details here.

Sundays in Paris: An Insider's Guide to the Best Places to Eat, Drink and Explore - and Every Other Day of the Week

3. Quintessential Western Europe – London, Paris and Venice

Have you really been to Europe if you haven’t experienced its triple gems of London, Paris and Venice? Take in the sights and the sounds, the culture and the fashion of these three iconic cities over 6 days. There are few ways to do it better than on a name synonymous with luxury rail travel for decades: the Orient Express.

Set off from London on the Eurostar to Montreux via Paris and Geneva on Day 1. Day 2 is another train trip, this time directly to Venice. After 3 nights in the City of Love, including dinner at a Venetian palace, Day 5 is the highlight of the rail trip, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Akin to a 5-star hotel in terms of amenities and service, this luxurious train has hosted royalty and celebrities.

When that leg of the journey ends at Calais, it is simply a precursor to another luxury train, the Belmond British Pullman. The décor pays homage to the roaring ’20s, complete with the exquisite excesses that era personified. Enjoy this opulence as the English countryside idles past the windows before the journey ends in London.

  • Route: London-Paris-Geneva-Montreux-Venice-Paris-Calais-Folkstone-London
  • Duration: 6 Days
  • Cost: From $6,750 per person

Find the details here.

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe (Travel Guide)

4. Exotic Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe hides more untouched treasures of culture and beauty than many parts of the world, but it is often overlooked in favor of its Western neighbors. Don’t make that mistake. Get up close to ethereal nature and ancient heritage over 10 days as you travel across Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

This itinerary leaves you free to explore each of the stops – Warsaw, Krakow, Bratislava, Prague and Budapest – for two days. It is ideal for those looking to discover the hidden gems of art and culture in each city.

All journeys between these cities are by train, and the vast expanses of untouched forest and river between them are gorgeous. However, the cities themselves have retained a seemingly perfect balance between heritage and modernity. This trip often leaves visitors with a much broader concept of what ‘European’ means.

  • Route: Warsaw-Krakow-Bratislava-Prague-Budapest
  • Duration: 10 Days
  • Cost: From $1,881 per person

Find the details here.

Making it Work

Picking just 4 train journeys across all of Europe was a tough job. Each of these 4 covers a particular region that is a destination in itself. While some tour operators have fixed itineraries, you may prefer more flexible options.

If you don’t want to be tied down, forego the packages. Make a list of your must-see European destinations and book your train trips around them for the best of both worlds.

Europe by Eurail 2020: Touring Europe by Train

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