To make your experience unforgettable in Europe, there is no better way to get around than through the rail system.
Trains are not only a more picturesque or romantic form of transportation but also leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet compared to flying, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Trains can now become the preferred choice for travellers in Europe, in particular for those travelling throughout France, as the country has banned short-haul flights.
In a bid to encourage more people to use more environment-friendly travel means, like trains, Lonely Planet has shared some of the best trips you can make in their latest train travel guide to Europe.
1. Paris to Berlin
Undoubtedly, one of the smartest ways to travel between romantic Paris and beautiful Berlin is on a modern train.
Both of these destinations are part of a very advanced rail network, so the trains running on the Paris – Berlin route have a fast travel time of about nine hours and admirable punctuality.
They offer fantastic equipment on board, providing everything you need for a stress-free ride. Passengers of all classes are welcome to take advantage of the comfortable seats, ample legroom, and more than just generous luggage space when travelling. The train schedule from Paris to Berlin is extensive and offers up to four daily departures, so you can easily choose a train that works best with your travel plans.
2. Bergen Railway, Norway
A trip to the Bergen line offers one of the most spectacular scenic experiences in Europe. It traverses Hardangervidda National Park on the Hardangervidda plateau, which is otherwise known as the largest mountain plateau in Europe, which reaches 1222 metres above sea level at the Finse train station.
The Bergen Railway was built in 1909 and crossed the highlands between Oslo and Bergen. These are the two largest cities in Norway. The Bergen Rail is a seven-hour journey between Oslo and Bergen.
Meanwhile, at a Myrdal branch line in Flåm, you will arrive at the steepest railway line in the world.
The best time to enjoy this stunning view is July or November through January.
If you are interested and want to learn more about this engineering achievement, you can visit the Flåm Railway Museum.
The 20 km long railway line is one of the steepest standard lines in the world, with 80 per cent of travel on a 5.5 per cent slope. There 20 tunnels, 18 of which were built by hand. One of the tunnels even takes a 180-degree turn inside the mountain.
3. West Highland Line, Scotland
If you plan to visit Scotland and its panoramic views from the window of a train, you should take the West Highland Line, considered one of the most extensive rail journeys in the world.
The West Highland Line in Scotland is undoubtedly a scenic trip, with rugged highlands, secluded lakes, coastline, Scotland’s highest mountain of Ben Nevis, and spectacular views from the Glenfinnan viaduct.
The journey from Fort William to Mallaig takes about an hour and a half. Once you arrive, you should not miss the food sampling in Mallaig.
This is one side of Scotland that can only be seen by train – a spectacular scenic rail ride that takes you north along the west coast, through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The line splits at Crianlarich, taking you via Loch Awe to Oban or Rannoch Moor through the remote desert and to Fort William and Mallaig.
The best time to get on the train is in June and August to enjoy this fabulous view.
4. Bernina Express, Switzerland and Italy
The Bernina Express train route takes travellers through incredible alpine landscapes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The route follows the two lines also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Albula and Bernina, with spectacular alpine views connecting northern and southern Europe.
The Albula and Bernina lines lie between glaciers in Switzerland and palm trees in Italy.
The Bernina Express is a scenic trip and is considered one of the most memorable train journeys in the world. It is part of a slow scenic alternative route between Zurich and Milan.
The duration between the road from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy is almost four hours and the most convenient time to ride is April.
If you have just arrived in this amazing place, you should not miss the visit to Chic, by the lake St Moritz.
5. Semmering Railway, Austria
The Semmering Railway, built over 41 km high mountains between 1848 and 1854, traverses a spectacular mountain landscape with many beautiful buildings designed for leisure activities.
It is one of the most outstanding civil engineering achievements from this pioneering phase of railway construction. The high standard of tunnels, viaducts, and other works has ensured the continuous use of the line to this day.
The Semmering railway passes through the Semmering Pass, taking 15 tunnels, 16 viaducts, countless crossings, and arched bridges over a wooded mountain range.
6. Central Rhine Railway, Germany
The Rhine Valley Line offers a smooth cruise through the German summer country. Along the way, visit the charming towns of Koblenz and Mainz, enjoying the relaxing views of the riverside vineyards.
In the Rhine Valley of Germany, the Rhine River is probably one of the most elegant arteries flowing through Europe.
Germany’s Rhineland offers boat cruise romance to all. Whether you get your hiking excitement by walking the iconic Rheinsteig trail, taking a stroll along the Rhine cycle trail, bathing in an ancient thermal bath, visiting one of the many fabulous castles, or enjoying the riverfront views with a glass of good local wine, this artery pumps a lot of heart.
7. Rauma Line, Norway
Fantastic ride on the beautiful Rauma line, a train ride that makes you experience an unforgettable experience, thus passing through the Romsdalen Valley, rich in the most spectacular mountain formations in Norway.
The Rauma Railway offers regular train departures between Åndalsnes and Dombås all year round. The train passes popular attractions such as the Kylling Bridge and the Trollveggen wall and through the remote desert area, Reinheimen National Park.
Moving over the Kylling High Bridge is one of the highlights of this trip that every tourist should visit.
Travelling this route will make you experience the sensational views of the high peaks, steep slopes, and mountain slopes that lead to the windy plateaus while tracing the Rauma River aboard the Rauma line in Norway.
The distance from Åndalsnes to Dombås is 114 km and takes about one hour and 40 minutes.
8. Cinque Terre, Italy
The most iconic points of the Italian Riviera are the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre, although it does not lack the rugged coastline or the romantic towns and villages.
Nestled in a mainly mountainous impasse on the eastern edge of the Italian Riviera, the villages of the Cinque Terre were formed by their deep isolation.
Regional trains also stop in the villages of the Cinque Terre.
Nestled among some of the most dramatic coastal landscapes on the planet, these beautiful, colourful cities can strengthen the most tired souls. Twisted paths traverse the sides of seemingly impenetrable cliffs and a 19th-century railway line, which traverses a series of coastal tunnels.
Cars have been banned inside the villages for more than a decade now.
These five villages are no longer the isolated villages they once were, but there is still a sense of authenticity here, with few roads, perfectly preserved architecture, and a network of stunning coastal and mountain trails.
9. Mittenwald Railway, Austria and Germany
The Mittenwald Railway, popularly known as the Karwendelbahn (Karwendel railway), is a railway line in the Alps to Austria and Germany. It connects Innsbruck via Seefeld and Mittenwald with Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
This railway is a beautiful border crossing road beyond the glittering lakes and mountain landscapes. When you arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can change trains and take in the scenic Bavarian railway Zugspitze, which goes to the top of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at 9717ft (2961m).
If you are interested in visiting this beautiful part of nature, you can go all year round. You should also not miss a visit to the commanding white castle in Innsbruck.
10. Glacier Express, Switzerland
To cross from Engadine to the Matterhorn Glacier Express offers a fantastic ride. During this relaxing trip from St. Moritz in Zermatt is just as sophisticated as the Glacier Express, allowing travellers to enjoy scenic attractions and high-end technical achievements. With its tall panoramic windows, the Glacier Express opens unobstructed views of unique landscapes.
It is delicate for ski enthusiasts (and, literally, uphill movers).
The Glacier Express is a train directly from Zermatt to St. Gallen. Moritz. The train is also called the ‘slowest express train in the world’: the journey takes about eight hours.
The good reason for this slow pace is that the train squeezes its way through the Alps, narrow valleys, narrow turns, 91 tunnels, and 291 bridges.