Travel Europe by Train: The Fastest, Most Scenic and Popular Routes

Glacier Express train in Switzerland The Glacier Express train in Switzerland

For a vacation where the journey is just as important as the destination, consider taking the time to travel Europe by train. From the balmy Mediterranean to the snow-capped Alps, there is a wealth of scenery to view from your window seat. Take a look at our selection of Europe’s fastest, most luxurious, popular and scenic routes before you book your next trip.

Travel Europe by Train for Timeless Luxury

If money’s no object, book yourself on the grande dame of European trains – the Orient Express. The going rate for a single one-way fare from London to Venice costs about $2,500. This legendary train has been reimagined for the silver screen with 2017’s remake of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, “Murder on the Orient Express.” The real version is now known as the VSOE (Venice Simplon-Orient-Express). After a multi-million-dollar restoration, the line was relaunched with art-deco décor and luxury finishes that will transport you back in time – and also to and from European capitals like Paris, Budapest and Istanbul.

Dining aboard the Orient Express is an experience unto itself with exceptional ingredients sourced along the train’s route. The champagne bar boasts top vintages poured into fine Lalique crystal amidst the backdrop of 1920’s glamour. After your evening meal, tuck into a plush cabin with all the modern comforts and a steward standing by for any late-night requests. The newest option in accommodations is the Grand Suite – a bedroom with living space and a rare en suite bathroom.

The sister train of the Orient Express is the Royal Scotsman, offering grand journeys departing Edinburgh and traveling throughout Scotland. Onboard this exclusive European train, you’ll share the ride with only 35 other guests. The Royal Scotsman makes stops at historic castles, private estates and whiskey distilleries. Observe the rolling countryside from either the Edwardian Observation Car or the verandah in the rear of the train. With decadent dining and lively entertainment, the Royal Scotsman is truly one of the most luxurious train in the world.

Travel Europe by Train - Fast!

For those with the need for speed, hop aboard the fastest train in Europe – Italy’s “Red Arrow” with a top speed of 320 kph. This speedy European train carries passengers from Milan to Florence or Rome in under three hours. It’s also environmentally friendly – the train’s components are nearly 100% renewable.

The AVS 103 in Spain is the second fastest train in Europe and the fourth fastest in the world.  With high-speed rail as an option along with an extensive service network, traveling on a Eurail Pass makes good sense. And remember - reservations are mandatory for high-speed European trains. 

Also read: Tips for Planning a Trip to Italy

Travel Europe by Train on the Most Popular Routes

When the ‘Chunnel’ was opened in 1994, the underground route between London and Paris aboard a Eurostar train surged in popularity. The high-speed train now offers a ‘Business Premier’ class of service which includes speedy check-in, a private premium cabin along with an onboard meal by Michelin-starred Chef Raymond Blanc.

A Eurail pass can pair numerous Eurostar routes with other train tickets to offer transportation throughout Europe. Other popular routes to use with a Eurail pass include short intra-country hops between Rome and Florence and Madrid and Barcelona. Traveling by train between these must-see cities is easy, affordable and fast.  

Travel Europe by Train for Scenic Views

Switzerland is home to many of Europe’s most scenic train routes. The Swiss pioneered modern tourism by developing a reliable train network which made the Alps easily accessible to tourists.

The Chocolate Train is a perennial favorite taking visitors from Montreux to Gruyères where a pair of factories educate visitors and offer samples of the namesake cheese, then continuing on to Broc where you can visit the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory. The chocolate factory tour is very informative and ends with a generous tasting room that offers a sample of every product that they produce.

The Glacier Express is a famous scenic train link between St. Moritz and Zermatt. And the Golden Pass route meanders along Lake Geneva with a stop in the posh Alpine town of Gstaad. Extend your trip beyond the rails with a gondola ride up to the summit of Schilthorn mountain, where the James Bond movie ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was filmed.

Also read: Tips for Planning a Norwegian Cruise: From Fjords to Northern Lights

Travel Insurance for Trains and More

As you travel aboard European trains, any number of unexpected events* could interrupt your trip or cause you to cut it short. With so much at stake, both in terms of safeguarding an enjoyable trip as well as the financial investment of a European vacation, international travelers should be sure to secure the appropriate travel insurance plan.

From stolen passports to a missed connection due to adverse weather, travel insurance can help provide the peace of mind for travelers that an unfortunate incident on their European train adventure won’t sidetrack their entire trip.

Also read: Why Travel Insurance is a Smart Decision for a European Vacation

*Travel insurance only provides coverage for certain unexpected events covered by the plan. View a sample Description of Coverage/Policy for more details.

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Travel insurance for Europe and beyond
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