The European rail system is counted as one of the best in the world because of its speed, efficiency and on-time performance. The ever changing scenario and the countless towns and cities in Europe make a European rail holiday the cherished dream of many. Europe is home to many renowned sights and attractions in the world including the Seine, the Colosseum, the Cinque Terra and many more. The trains of Europe will take you to your choice of destinations comfortably and swiftly. The hi-speed trains like Eurostar, the ICE trains of Germany, Bernina Express of Switzerland and the Flam in Norway are some of the reputed rail systems in Europe. Let us find out how to tour Europe by rail and enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful continent.
The Trans-Siberian Railway (19 days)
This famous route is an icon in Russian culture as it crosses as many as eight time zones to connect Moscow, the Russian capital, with Vladivostok, a famous port in the Pacific Ocean. On board the train you will find a lovely mix of people – foreigners, locals, young and the old. There are no social barriers on board this famous train and everyone enjoys shots of vodka which cost only USD 3 per liter.
The Bernina Express (4 hrs!)
Well you may be surprised but this 4 hr train journey deserves to be featured in this list. This narrow gauge train travels from Chur to Tirano and almost induces vertigo in many people as it crosses through as many as 196 bridges, 55 tunnels, 360 degree spirals and 7% inclines. It reaches a massive height of 7391 ft and comes down to 5900+ ft before fully coming to a stop. The train chugs its way through the Alps from the oldest town in Switzerland to the charming Italian town that has only 10,000 people. A part of this route has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Francisco de Goya (13h30m)
This train route is often referred to as the ‘hotel on wheels’. It operates from Paris to Madrid and the journey is covered in 13 ½ hours. The train leaves Paris in the evening and the guests are treated to a 3-course dinner which they enjoy while viewing the rural scenery. The rhythm of the rails will put you into a deep slumber and you will reach Madrid almost as soon as you wake up. Madrid is the 3rd most populous city in the world and one of the most important tourist destinations. If you are booked into the Grand class, you will get a welcome drink, gourmet dinner, breakfast and bathroom with shower.
The Castles of Britain (15 days)
If you want to explore the historic fortresses of UK then you must combine 2 week BritRail Pass with the Great British Heritage Pass. The holder will be entitled to more than 500 attractions and you get a chance to hop-on and hop-off for local tours. Start your tour in Inverness in Scotland with a tour of the Urquhart Castle. Continue to Stirling Bridge and then move on to the Edinburgh Castle. You can check out the wartime tunnels of Dover Castle, the Caernarfon Castle and lots more.
The Chocolate Train (9h roundtrip)
This is the most charming rail journey in Europe. The train runs in the summer and fall only. It starts from Montreux which overlooks the beautiful Lake Geneva and travels to Gruyeres which is a medieval town famous for the cheese by the same name. Start by touring the cheese factory and the local castles and then have lunch before you board the train again for the journey to Broc. Here you can take a bus for the journey to the Cailler – Nestle Chocolate Factory (the train is aptly named!) for free samples and then make the return trip.