Europe’s most scenic rail journeys

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From the Scottish Highlands to Serbia to Montenegro, the European rail network is full of breathtaking routes. In this article we list some of the most scenic train routes.
People usually consider train travel a necessity to get around. What most of them don’t know is that Europe has some of the most beautiful train routes in the world. According to the Telegraph, of the 25 most beautiful train journeys, 11 are on the European continent.
Let’s take a look at some of the most scenic train journeys in Europe.



West Highland Line, England
Crossing the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, the West Highland Line is one of Britain’s most scenic railway lines and in 2009 was crowned Best Rail Journey at the Wanderlust Travel Awards.
The line was first opened in 1894 to link Glasgow and Fort William, while the Mallaig extension, which was built to link the hinterland to the coast, was opened in 1901.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier line crosses the Swiss cantons of Valais, Uri and Graubünden in eight hours and is considered the slowest express train in the world, not a problem in this case as it allows the natural beauty of the route to be enjoyed at leisure.
It was opened in June 1930 with the aim of connecting the towns of St Moritz and Zermatt, which were becoming popular winter destinations for Europe’s upper classes.
With its modern, purpose-built panoramic carriages built in 2006, the Glacier Express is a luxury way to travel throughout Switzerland, and with the option of excellent class you can travel in the luxury panoramic carriages, with a five-course meal included.
Linha do Douro, Portugal
Located in northern Portugal, the Linha do Douro (Douro line) connects Porto to the village of Pocinho, which stretches 175 km near the Douro river.
Considered one of the best rail journeys in Europe, the line has undergone modernisation works as of May 2020.
With an investment of €4 million, rail infrastructure manager Infraestruturas de Portugal completed three slope stabilisation works to strengthen safety conditions along the line.
Semmering Railway, Austria
Built between 1848 and 1858 by designer Carl von Ghega, the 41 km-long Semmering Railway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
Linking the towns of Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag, the Semmering Line was one of the first mountain railways ever built.
The railway, which includes 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts, 118 stone bridges and 11 iron bridges, offers spectacular views as it was designed to work in harmony with the environment.
In 2012, work began on a 27 km base tunnel, one of the longest railway tunnels in the world. The developments, which include parallel bores with a diameter of 10 metres connected by cross passages, cost EUR 3.3 billion and are expected to be completed by 2026.
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