Europe's Top 5 Scenic Rail Journeys

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As air travel has become more and more of a hassle, train travel is becoming an viable alternative. Remember "it's the journey, not the destination" -- railroad journeys are both an unique experience, and they can take you to your destination as well.

Norway in a Nutshell

This is a route with no 'off season' -- snow-dusted in winter, set ablaze by autumn hues, sleepy in the spring and sparkling in the summer. Norway in a nutshell combines the Bergen Railroad, the Flam railroad, the Aurlandsfjord, the Naeroyfjord and the Stalheimskleiva road. Hard to pronounce, easier to enjoy, the route is possible in a day but turning it into a vacation with a night or two in Oslo is well worthwhile. From Oslo it is full steam ahead over the Flam railroad, descending deep into the fjord along the world's steepest regular-track railroad. You drop over 2,000 feet in an hour as the panorama shifts from grand mountains to sparkling waterfalls -- it's a short journey, but there will not be a second to take your eyes off the window!

Swiss Lakes and Mountains

Switzerland is a treasure trove of scenic railway journeys. In the summer months the verdant pastures roll lusciously from the edge of the tracks into the horizon, in the winter the country unfolds like a veritable Narnia. Travel from Montreux to Interlaken on the Golden Pass Line. Rise up over Lake Geneva, gaze in wonder at the Swiss Riviera, travel through a mountain tunnel and coast through resorts like Gstaad and Chateaux d'Oex. Hit the high point (over 4.000 feet) before Zweisimmen and snake through the Simme Valley. Perhaps layover in Interlaken and take a route to Europe's highest railroad station at the summit of Jungfraujoch.

London to Fort William

Arrive at London's Euston station after a days sight-seeing, doze off after a "wee dram" of whiskey and wake up the next morning across the border. It is civilized, time-effective and harks back to a different, more romantic era. And then there is the scenery. Fall asleep traversing London's suburbia and wake up seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the sun glinting through the blinds and deer bounding past the window. After exploring Fort William, the real treat begins. Often voted one of the world's most picturesque rail journey, you will catch glimpses of crofter's cottages, tiny churches, the pristine coastline and deep green mountain panoramas, before crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct famous for its starring role in the Harry Potter movies.
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Germany's Rhineland

Catch the train from London to Brussels and change onto a high speed train to Cologne before crossing into Germany. Board a train winding down the Rhine Valley through luscious greenery to Koblenz, abundant with palaces, churches, fountains and a real 'old world' charm. Cruise down the river or take a daytrip to historic Rudesheim, before heading up the Moselle. The tracks are paved through the heart of the Rhineland-Palatinate and trace the river banks along the Moselle Stretch from Koblenz to Trier -- Germany's oldest city -- which boasts a UNESCO-listed Cathedral and a picture perfect market square. After you have explored, continue on to the fairytale landscapes of Luxembourg to complete your vacation.

Munich to Verona via the Brenner Pass

Combine some of Europe's most stunning cities with rail travel as scenic as any of Europe has to offer. The Bavarian capital of Munich plays host to every charming Alpine cliche imaginable, which of course means you will find the finest surrounding mountain passes. There are fast trains that will take you from here to the Austrian skiing capital of Innsbruck, but why sacrifice scenery in favor of time when you are on vacation? Skirt around the bases of the Alps, meander past glittering lakes and glide through the resort town of Garmsich-Partenkirchen on the regional train instead. Lap up the snow dusted, mountainous views before taking to the tracks once more, this time past the vineyards and mountains of the Brenner pass to Verona.

Information provided by Railbookers, custom made rail vacation specialists, who share their top recommendations for scenic rail journeys in Europe.

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August 26th, 2015

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