When it comes to travel, scenic train rides are the cream of the crop. Sure, flying may be convenient and offer fantastic views (if you’re lucky enough to get a window seat), and driving can have its own charm (if you manage to avoid traffic and find parking), but there’s nothing quite like the romance and glamour of the railway. Trains can help you make the journey to your destination just as memorable and enjoyable as all those adventures you'll have when you actually get there… bet you can't say that about the motorway.
So, forget your dreary morning commuter train full of pale, depressed faces and fall back in love with train travel! From stunning highland vistas to epic mountain climbs and coastal adventures, these are our favourite train journeys in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
We asked our very own resident rail historian, Tim Dunn, about his favourite scenic train routes in the UK. Grab a cuppa and get comfortable, because here they are!
A short but sweet jaunt in Cornwall with coastal sights aplenty. At only 15 minutes long, you’ll wish this particular train ride could go on for a little bit longer! Nonetheless, you’ll be treated to stunning views of surprisingly tropical bays as well as some luscious countryside. A line operated by Great Western Railway, book a ticket from St. Erth to St. Ives and make sure to board the train as soon as possible for a seat on the right-hand side – or risk missing out on those all-important sea views!
A line that connects the two coastal towns of Oban and Mallaig to Glasgow and the heart of Scotland, this is a route that comes up time and time again when we talk about our favourite scenic train rides in the UK. Not only will you get to enjoy stunning views of Scottish lochs and mountains, but it’s also even possible to ride a steam train along this route. ‘’Like the one in Harry Potter?’’ We hear you ask, yes, exactly like the one in Harry Potter. Hop aboard the Jacobite and cross over the Glenfinnan Viaduct to recreate the famous movie scene for yourself. If you can’t secure a seat onboard the Jacobite, then ScotRail also operates services along the same line.
Want to learn more? Visit our Trains in Scotland page.
We just love coastal train journeys, and this is another one that’s simply unmissable. Book a service from Pwllheli to Aberystwyth and watch on as the sea rolls by on your right-hand side. What’s so great about this route is that when it weaves away from the coast slightly inland, you’ll be treated to lovely views of Snowdonia National Park. Our favourite highlight for this route, however, has to be the crossing of Barmouth Bridge around the midway point in the journey. A close second would be the majestic castles dotted along the line, but we’ll leave those for you to discover…
Want to learn a bit more before you book? Visit our Trains to Wales page.
It’s no surprise this is the 2nd train line in Cornwall to grace this list. The area just has so much to offer that you wouldn’t be able to see it all in one trip. So, if St. Ives Bay leaves you hankering for more train-y goodness in the South West of England, why not check out the Looe Valley Line? Passing through verdant woodland as it hugs the shores of the Looe River, this Cornish train is, once again, operated by Great Western Railway. Keep an eye out for the various types of birds (and other wildlife often seen in the area) from your train window!
Want to read more about the area before you book? Check out our trains to Cornwall page.
Don’t forget, we’ll show you the cheapest possible fares for your journey when you book in advance through us. Got a Railcard? Then you're in luck, as you can use most Railcards to get discounts on your train tickets. Not got one? Visit our Railcards page today. Confused about train tickets in the UK? Visit our Ticket types page for a complete and comprehensive breakdown.
Great train journeys aren’t just confined to the UK, and we urge you to get out into Europe and try some of the following lines for yourself! If you didn’t know already, we can help you get to Europe by train, as well as help you to get European train tickets. It’s as easy as searching for a London to Paris train journey in our booking widget!
Passing through scenic Northern Italy twice en route to its final destination, this line operated by the Swiss company, SBB, is one that you have to see during your lifetime. You’ll start off in Zermatt, with some awesome views of the Matterhorn, before passing through viaducts, tunnels and canyons and arriving in St. Moritz – a gloriously beautiful resort town in Eastern Switzerland.
Interested in reading more about the route? See information on trains from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
Ah, an 844km cross-country train journey, now we’re into serious train lover’s territory. With that being said, the great thing about travelling from Paris to Venice on the Orient Express is that you won’t want the journey to end. From the grand and elegant 1920s carriages (one of which even features a classic piano) to the sumptuous food served up by expert chefs, this is a train route that combines scenic views with luxury service. You’ll see Paris, the French countryside, the Swiss Alps, the Italian Dolomites and Venice on this whirlwind journey.
Unfortunately, we don’t sell tickets for the Orient Express, but you can find cheaper services between Paris and Venice with us.
What could be better than a sunny holiday in the south of France? A scenic train ride in the south of France, of course! A route that spans over 150km, around 50% of the journey is spent hugging the coastline – resulting in some fantastic sights. You’ll feel like royalty as you weave inland and back out towards the coast at Cannes on the latter part of the journey, with sun, sea, sand and mega-yachts all visible from your window.
You can buy train tickets from Marseille to Nice with us, but be sure to book in advance to secure the right price for you!
A line that spans over 370km, the 7-hour journey from Bergen to Oslo isn’t for the faint of heart. Sleeper services are available, but why would you want to sleep when there are fantastic views to be enjoyed? Sit back, relax and cast your eye to the window as you climb up to a staggering 4,058 ft above sea level. You’ll chug past verdant countryside, thundering rivers and imposing mountains on your way to The Tiger City.
Unfortunately, we don’t sell tickets for this route. (Don’t worry, we’re as disappointed about it as you are)
If you’d like to travel around Europe by rail on-the-go, without having to stop and buy tickets at each station, it might be an idea to pick up an Interrail Pass before you go. They often work out at great value, while allowing you to explore the continent at your own pace.
It's hard to recommend just a handful of the best rail journeys in the world, with so many gorgeous routes and equally stunning trains to enjoy. A quick search in google will show you extensive articles dedicated to steam trains, luxury carriers and other ancient gems in operation in far-flung corners of the globe. But alas, here’s our extra-special top 4 picks for wonderful train journeys around the world. If you ever get the chance to ride one of these, you’ll know you’re a hardcore train fan!
The best way to see the Canadian wild up close and personal for yourself, the Rocky Mountaineer is a glass-domed luxury train that’s designed to provide only the most scenic views of areas that would otherwise be inaccessible for most people. Requiring you to sleep onboard the train for at least one night, the four routes available are arguably unrivalled in terms of sights and service.
Famed for ridiculously high speeds (200mph!) and incredible punctuality, the Japanese bullet train (or Shinkansen, if we're a little more accurate) is one of the best-known rail services in the world. The ride will be less about taking in the sights compared to some of the other routes on this list, but you simply have to experience a journey on the Shinkansen and marvel at rail technology at its finest.
With a Japan Rail Pass, Japanese trains can actually be really good value for money. And, best of all, you can easily purchase a JR Pass from us, for either 7, 14 or 21 days.
Operated by Amtrak, the Californian Zephyr travels from the windy city of Chicago, across the United States of America before reaching San Francisco. Known as one of the most beautiful train journeys in North America, the Californian Zephyr climbs through the heart of the Rockies and past the snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada.
In total, the route stretches over 2,438 miles (3,924 km) and takes approximately 51 ½ hours to get from one city to the other. Once you’ve arrived at Emeryville (for San Francisco), you can grab your beach gear and head to the Pacific Ocean!
Rivalling the Trans-Siberian Railway in the epic cross-country railway line stakes, The Ghan’s route from Darwin to Adelaide allows you to see the wild, hot centre of Australia from the comfort of your own private cabin. You’ll go from coastal metropolises to awe-inspiring desert landscapes and back, meaning The Ghan should be at the very top of any avid train fan’s list.