Intercity train at the Gotthard railway, switzerland

These Are The Top 5 Destinations For Unforgettable Train Journeys in Europe

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While there’s no shortage of stunning places around the world that have embraced and perfected the concept of rail travel, there’s just a special type of charm to a European train ride.

Be it the movies we’ve seen or just the fact that it’s hard to come across another continent where major hotspots are located so close to one another, train journeys have become their very own attraction among those traveling to Europe, and it just so happens that now is the perfect time to embark on the ride of a lifetime.

Intercity train at the Gotthard railway, switzerlandIntercity train at the Gotthard railway, switzerland

With that said train systems can vary wildly across different countries, which is why finding a place where you’ll travel comfortably while also being able to take in some gorgeous views is of the essence.

That’s why, based on empirical data as well as our very own experiences, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of the 5 best destinations for unforgettable train journeys in Europe.

All aboard!

5. Spain

renfe train, spainrenfe train, spain

The AVE trains operated by Renfe, Spain’s national state-owned railway company, are some of the fastest, best-quality productions in all of Europe.

Capable of going well over 190 mph (306 kph) these trains can take you from Madrid to Barcelona, Seville to Valencia, and Alicante to Granada in a matter of hours.

Ticket prices will, of course, vary depending on the frequency and length of your trip; but getting from Madrid to Barcelona, which is one of the most popular routes, can be as cheap as $20-something.

And, rest assured, whichever route you choose, the sights of imposing mountain ranges, carnation fields, and sun-kissed shores will follow you along the way.

4. Germany

train passing through hamburg, germanytrain passing through hamburg, germany

Fast, punctual, and efficient – Germany’s rail system not only lives up to everyone’s expectations, but it’s also one of the biggest networks in the entire continent.

No wonder locals love train travel so much!

And as of December 2023, with the launch of Deutschlandticket, it’s possible to get a $55 monthly pass (depending on the exchange rate, that number can often be even lower) that lets you use every regional train and bus for an unlimited amount of time – talk about a great deal!

3. Italy

Freccia Rossa Fast Trains At Train Station Milano Centrale, Milan, Lombardy, Italy, EuropeFreccia Rossa Fast Trains At Train Station Milano Centrale, Milan, Lombardy, Italy, Europe

You already know how gorgeous of a country Italy is, but did you know that its rail system is one of the fastest and most convenient in the entire continent?

Trenitalia, the primary train operator in the country, is doing a great job at managing their (while not luxurious, comfy, and well-maintained) trains – and their tickets come at some pretty reasonable prices, too.

However, be warned that the rail system’s overall quality can vary by region and that the trains up north are notably better operated than, say, the ones you’ll find in Sicily.

Overall, though, routes between most major cities rarely take longer than 3.5 hours, and tickets hover around $30; however, if possible, always make sure to book ahead of time since last-minute tickets will be pricier.

2. Austria

Salzburg Austria train in mountainsSalzburg Austria train in mountains

If you’re a sucker for gorgeous sights, a train ride through Austria is just the perfect experience for you!

This is one of the most impressive railway systems you’ll ever come across, at least in Europe, with most trains operating at a respectable 145-160 mph (233-257 kph).

However, speed is the last thing you’ll be enjoying during these rides, as the state-of-the-art technology used to facilitate the booking process, exciting routes that go through some of the continent’s most coveted attractions, and UNESCO-protected views that you’ll come across along the way will immediately grab your attention.

1. Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland. Gornergrat tourist train with waterfall, bridge and Matterhorn. Valais regionZermatt, Switzerland. Gornergrat tourist train with waterfall, bridge and Matterhorn. Valais region

Today’s winner is none other than Switzerland, a country with a rail network so gorgeous and well-maintained that it’s become an attraction to experience on its own.

In fact, many travelers on a budget are taking long train rides through the country in an effort to experience its iconic views without having to spend an arm and a leg on accommodation – who said visiting Switzerland needs to be expensive?

Glacier Express, in particular, stands as one of the most iconic routes on Earth, and the fact that it’s one of the slowest “high-speed” trains you’ll ever come across works out in your favor since you’ll want to soak in the views that appear along the way as much as possible anyway.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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