Eurail passes (which, for many European citizens, are better known as Interrail passes) are perfect for those looking to whizz across Europe, pausing to stop off at as many culture=packed capitals as possible. They’re a godsend for travellers with loads of time but not that much money, and are renowned for their discounts for both younger and older citizens.
For just €185 (£154 or $208), passholders get access to dozens of rail operators across 33 countries. The pass even covers boats and ferries – meaning that, overall, Eurail extends to more than 40,000 destinations.
However, people tend to think that Eurail, being such ridiculously good value for money, doesn’t get you on the swishest or fastest rail lines. But there they’d be wrong. Among all those routes and destinations, there are loads of beautiful trips you could take. Here are four of our faves.
The Bergen Railway
With views out over deep fjords and eerie frozen lakes, the railway between the Norwegian cities of Bergen and Oslo spans some of Europe’s iciest and most fascinating landscapes. The seven-hour journey covers just under 500 kilometres of spectacular Scandinavian scenery – and, seeing as it changes dramatically with every season, the Bergen Railway feels like a totally different experience every time you go.
Beginning in Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city, and pulling-in to Tirano over the Italian border, the Bernina Express is a scintillating passage through the Alps. The line snakes across viaducts and through tunnels, passing through some of the world’s most lavish high-altitude settlements, including both Davos and St Moritz. Expect to gaze out at an Alpine paradise through the Bernina’s purpose-built panoramic windows.
Rhine Valley Line
While the Rhineland is best known as an industrial zone, the Rhine Valley is one of Europe’s prettiest wine-growing regions. The Rhine Valley Line follows the river Rhine itself, winding through the valley with exquisite views out over calm water, vineyard-covered slopes and plenty of medieval castles and fortresses. It takes just over two hours to run between the towns of Mainz and Koblenz, which is more than enough time to take in the views.
Semmering Bahn was apparently the world’s first railway to make it onto the Unesco World Heritage list. Constructed in 1854, it was a major feat of nineteenth-century railway engineering – and it’s still easy to see the genius of its design. Trundling between the Austrian towns of Glognitz and Semmering, the bahn spans bridges, viaducts and tunnels, with terrific views out over lush evergreen forests and sheer mountainsides.
Find out more and buy a Eurail pass here.
Now discover the 11 most incredible railway journeys in the world according to us.