The Jungfrau Railway © Jungfraubahnen2019
Do you like traveling by railway? When you sit back in the cabin, accompanied by the chugging sound of the train, you marvel at the picturesque landscapes fleeting through your windows. This iron giant roams across the land of Europe, from the Norwegian fjords to its glaciers, wandering in the valleys in Germany and Italy, flying above the rugged highlands in Scotland, and climbing up to the magnificent Jungfrau in the Alps. There is so much fun and so many stunning views from the train. Read on to find out the most scenic train journeys in Europe.
The Sphinx Observatory © Jungfraubahnen2019
The Jungfrau Railway in the Swiss Alps
If you are fond of the icy snow mountains in the Alps, don’t miss the scenic journey to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. Just imagine such a snowy world: icy air striking on your cheeks, snow crunching under your feet, and the impressive view of the Mönch, the Eiger, and the UNESCO World Heritage Aletsch Glacier that nearly takes your breath away. You can even spot the beauty of the French Vosges and the German Black Forest on a clear day. Hop in the world famous Jungfrau Railway, and whilst it climbs up 1393 meters to Jungfraujoch Station, what it brings you to is not simply a station, but another world.
Step in the blue train at Interlaken Ost. After one transfer in Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, you will arrive at Kleine Scheidegg Station with the yellow and green train, where the red Jungfrau Railway starts. From here, 3 quarters of the journey runs in the tunnel under the mountain. In just 35 minutes, the train brings you from Kleine Scheidegg (2,061 meters) to the highest railway station in Europe at Jungfraujoch (3,543 meters). Eismeer Station is in the middle of the route, where passengers can disembark to behold the stunning view of the glacier’s birthplace from inside the mountains.
As the train reaches Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, the fastest lift in Switzerland awaits you, bringing you to the Sphinx Observatory at the height of 3471 meters. And then, the miraculous Jungfrau Peak is right before your eyes. Among the glaciers, the flying snowflakes, and the mountains covered in snow 365 days a year, the Jungfrau, like a girl, lies on the Alps, pure and breathtaking at the same time.
Route: Interlaken Ost – Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen - Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch
The Jacobite Steam Train © Gray Line Scotland
The Glenfinnan Viaduct © Gray Line Scotland
The Hogwarts Express in Scotland
Starting from the Gothic Edinburgh, a 5 hours journey of wetlands, lakes, rivers, mountains, and some of the most remote stations on this island will bring you to Fort William. From here, board the famous Jacobite Steam Train and go on the journey to the fishing village Mallaig, where the Isle of Skye is just across the strait. The passengers will take in the stunning landscape of the Highlands, yet the biggest thrill is for the magic fans. After all, what they hop in is the Hogwarts Express and it’s going to be flying in the Scottish air.
Roaring through the mountainous landscape, the steam train will climb up unto the magnificent 21-arched Victorian Glenfinnan Viaduct. Take a look out of the carriage and behold the scenery. But watch out for the flying car driven by Harry and Ron. When the train stops on the viaduct, certainly you will be brought back to the scene as Harry encounters a Dementor for the first time in Prisoner of Azkaban. The journey is full of adventures into the wizarding world. To name a few, the Loch Shiel, being the Hogwarts Lake, is where the Triwizard Tournament takes palce, and Eilean na Moine, on this island lies Hagrid’s hut and the great wizard Dumbledore’s tomb.
This 84 miles train journey eventually brings you to its destination Mallaig, where, if you are lucky enough to have a clear day, you can admire a beautiful view of the Isle of Skye. Dreaming of taking the Hogwarts Express? Then follow Gray Line’s Magical Highlands Tour and get taken into the world of Harry Potter.
Route: Edinburgh - Fort William - Mallaig
The Black Forest © Magic Passion/Foter.com/CC-BY-ND
The Black Forest © Magic Passion/Foter.com/CC-BY-ND
The Hell Valley Railway in Germany
Do you want to step into Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales? The Black Forest is famed to be the inspiration of their stories. Why not just take a train from Freiburg, and let all the valleys, castle ruins, half-timbered houses, and historic towns on the way fill your journey up with magic? It is said that the Black Forest was named because in the Middle Ages, its towering trees were so intimidating and caused fear in people. Perhaps this explains why the train journey between Freiburg in the west of the forest to Donauescheingen in the east is called the Hell Valley Railway (Höllentalbahn).
The medieval Freiburg, praised as the Treasure of the Black Forest, lies at the beginning of this route. It boasts a magnificent cathedral from the 11th century. After the train leaves Freiburg, it meanders through the Dreisam Valley, before crossing the Black Forest, and then roams along the north bank of the river. Hinterzarten and Titisee are two famous resorts on the way. After the arrival at Titisee-Neunstadt Station, passengers can transfer to Donauescheingen, where the world’s most romantic river the blue Danube starts. (Due to the maintenance, the train service between Titisee and Donauescheingen is replaced by bus before October.)
In the beautiful scenery at Titisee, you will find yourself surrounded by mesmerizing mountains. In the summer time, people are swimming or boating in the lake. Titisee is also known as a spa resort and a shopping heaven. The beautiful lake is just a stone’s throw away from the train station. There is a lovely house, Drubba Shopping, with one side of wall designed as a giant cuckoo clock, a place where tourists flock to take pictures. They can also find a lot of cuckoo clocks made in the Black Forest at the shop, together with many more tax-free products of international brands. If you like the sweet Black Forest Cherry Gateau, then head on to Café & Brauhaus zur Mühle by the lake, and have a taste of Titisee’s fried trout, wheat beer, or the German’s tradition Schweinshaxe.
Route: Freiburg – Titisee - Donauescheingen
Simplon Orient Express © kmn-network/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus
Blue Mosque © Nikada/Getty Images
The Orient Express in Eastern Europe
You must have heard of the mysterious Orient Express, which linked Paris to Istanbul in the 19th century. In Agatha Christine’s famous Murder on the Orient Express, servants in uniform walk in the carriages while ladies and gents enjoy their talks and champagne. The stunning landscapes float through the windows. Even the tiles in the bathroom are opulently decorated. Want to stay in this moving hotel of Art Nouveau style? Then embark on Simplon Orient Express between London and Vienna, and prepare to be taken into the golden age.
Agatha’s plot, however, takes place in the eastern line of the Orient Express. Detective Hercule Poirot receives a telegram prompting him to return to London. He boards on the train in Istanbul, but a snowdrift traps the train near Vinkovci in the second night. The next morning, a malevolent man turns out to be murdered. The clues on him lead to several passengers, shrouds the train in mystery and fear. The Simplon train stopped running to Istanbul last century, but why not make use of some night trains to add some thrills on your journey?
Our train journey departs from Istanbul. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Pera Palace Hotel beforehand. It is said that Agatha wrote this masterpiece in one of its rooms. Then take the night train to Sophia and have a look at its iconic onion domes. You might even be able to enjoy your breakfast. In the morning, take the train to Belgrade, which brings you closer to the crime scene. It’s not a journey full of extravagance and fine meals like the Simplon route, but it certainly brings you enough thrills. Let’s just hope you have a safe and sound journey, without much drama going on.
Route: Istanbul – Sophia – Belgrade – Vienna
The Rhine Valley © Manfred Heyde/Wikimedia Commons
The Rhine Valley Railway in Germany
Medieval castles hidden in forests, immaculate vineyards, historic towns, rocks and cliffs, there’s so much beauty to behold in the Rhine Valley. Especially the route between Mainz and Koblenz, though stretching only 61 kilometers, its scenic journey along the Rhine makes you feel like dropping into a fairy tale. In the 19th century, Prussian kings, Romanticist poets and English painters, all of them came to the Rhine Valley and found its beauty, making this place one of the top destinations ever since.
As the train leaves Mainz, you arrive in the lower course of the river. Idyllic villages and old towns nestled at each twist and turn of the wandering river, trees and vineyards crawl all over the hills, above which, church spires and timber-framed houses can also be spotted. It is never dull to sit in the carriage, as castles are sporadically scattered along the valley and you certainly don’t want to miss them. If such a train journey in the floating heaven appeals to you, then take the MRB slow train and enjoy the beauty of the Rhine Valley. Remember to sit on the river side to catch the best view.
There are so many adorable towns, built by the medieval knights, sirs, princes and even bishops with the money they collected from the merchant ships passing by. The castles on the Rhine, though once damaged by the troops of Louis XIV, all have been renovated and maintained to this date. If you want to indulge yourself in the knight and damsel fantasies, then step off the train and visit some of these small towns. Alternatively, continue the journey to Cologne, where, you are going to feel the other ambiance of German cities.
The article was reproduced with permission from hi-europe.net.