No Train, No Gain – Europe Edition

Despite the fact that I traveled by train almost every day when I lived in Europe, I made very little use of the large number of scenic railways found throughout the Old Continent.

A few weeks ago I shared with you the great railroads that the USA has to offer. Now it’s Europe’s turn to impress with these ten mesmerizing train journeys that I for sure wish to take one day:

Norway 

The Kylling Bridge is an important part of the Rauma Railway. Photo Credit: Siri Spjelkavik/Flickr

The Kylling Bridge is an important part of the Rauma Railway. Photo Credit: Siri Spjelkavik/Flickr.

The Raumabanen follows the river Rauma. Along the way, you will encounter features such as the photogenic Kylling Bridge, as well as the Trollveggen, which holds the title of Europe’s tallest vertical rock wall.

Sweden

The Inlandsbanan is not for the hurried of heart. This blissfully peaceful route takes you through the pristine nature of Sweden’s Gulf side on an 800-mile long trip.

Scotland

The Jacobite crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Photo Credit: Loretahur/Flickr

The Jacobite crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Photo Credit: Loretahur/Flickr.

The Jacobite steam train departs near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to arrive after 84 miles at Europe’s deepest seawater lake, Loch Nevis. Especially Harry Potter fans will be delighted to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct up close and personal and feel like they are riding the Hogwarts Express.

England

The river Esk and railway. Photo Credit: Matt Buck

The river Esk and railway. Photo Credit: Matt Buck/Flickr.

The Esk Valley Railway takes travelers through the green hills of Yorkshire from Middlesbrough to the seaside town of Whitby. Part of the 36-mile long track passes through the North York Moors National Park.

Spain

El Transcantábrico. Photo Credit: Simon Pielow/Flickr

El Transcantábrico. Photo Credit: Simon Pielow/Flickr.

El Transcantábrico is dubbed as a “cruise on rails.” This luxury train takes you through the most stunning landscapes of Northern Spain. Beaches and mountains, as well as the culture of cities such as León, Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela will keep you occupied for days.

Switzerland/Italy

The Bernina Express negotiates the Brusio Circular Viaduct. Photo Credit: Hans-Rudolf Stoll/Flickr

The Bernina Express negotiates the Brusio Circular Viaduct. Photo Credit: Hans-Rudolf Stoll/Flickr

When you think of dramatic European scenery, the Alps immediately come to mind. The Bernina Express is the highest railway in this mountain range and it’s undoubtedly a fan favorite. One of the architectural highlights of this trip would have to be the Brusio Circular Viaduct, which is a 360-degree spiral railway that assists the train with negotiating the steep gradient.

Switzerland

A skier looks at the passing Glacier Express. Photo Credit: Kecko/Flickr

A skier looks at the passing Glacier Express. Photo Credit: Kecko/Flickr.

Feast your eyes aboard the Glacier Express. You will never be happier to be on the world’s slowest express train. It takes about eight hours to get from St. Moritz to Zermatt, where you will meet the iconic Matterhorn. Highlights of the route include the Rhine Gorge, Benedictine Abbey and the Oberalp Pass.

Switzerland

Other than beautiful scenery, Switzerland is also known for its chocolate and cheese. Aboard the Chocolate Train these two worlds meet. You will visit the town of Gruyère to learn about cheese making and discover the secrets of Swiss chocolate at Maison Cailler in Broc.

Austria

The Schafberg Bahn provides a picture perfect panorama. Photo Credit: Stefan Ledwina/Flickr

The Schafberg Bahn provides a picture perfect panorama. Photo Credit: Stefan Ledwina/Flickr.

In just 35 minutes the Schafberg Cog Railway takes you from its base in St. Wolfgang to the summit of the Schafberg. From the top you will have panoramic views of the lakes of the Salzkammergut, as well as the German lake, Chiemsee.

Serbia/Montenegro

The Mala Rijeka Viaduct takes the railway tracks to new heights. Photo Credit: Chico Boomba/Flickr

The Mala Rijeka Viaduct takes the railway tracks to new heights. Photo Credit: Chico Boomba/Flickr.

The railway connection between Belgrade in Serbia and Bar in Montenegro is popular with train enthusiasts. This Balkan adventure is like a retro railway experience filled with 254 tunnels and 435 bridges. The Mala Rijeka bridge stands out as one the highest railway viaducts in the world.

It’s safe to assume that both the United States and Europe are great places to enjoy the comforts and adventure of train travel. Whereas some of the journeys are short, others can take days or even weeks. No matter where the tracks take you, you will be in for an unforgettable experience.

Which railway has piqued your interest? Take a moment to let us know in the comments!

Ray originally hails from The Hague, Netherlands and one day showed up at Vacation Quest’s doorstep. When he is not traveling or writing, you might find him engaged in playing ping pong, swimming or planting tulips.