The best European rail holidays for a hassle-free escape

A rail journey is one of the most wonderful ways to explore all the beauty and history that Europe has to offer. More and more holidaymakers are choosing trains over planes, allowing them to avoid long airport queues and to minimise their environmental impact.

An added benefit is that, on a rail holiday, the journeys become part of the experience, rather than an inconvenience. There are incredible views to be spotted as you whizz through Europe's stunning landscapes and, in some cases, luxurious dining and supreme comfort to be enjoyed on board.

The train itself often holds fascinating history to be discovered. Take the the Little Yellow Train of the Pyrenees, which is considered one of the world's great railway journeys. Opened in 1909, this historic, metre-gauge electric railway is a remarkable feat of civil engineering and will allow you to enjoy spectacular views of the rocky mountainous scenery.

This is just one of the many historic and scenic railway journeys you could take in Europe. With so many beautiful lines to be discovered, the choice can feel a little overwhelming. With this in mind, we've rounded up some of our favourite European railway trips to help you decide.

Enjoy the spectacular Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express

Another option for anyone looking to ride through the dramatic vistas of the Swiss Alps is a ride on the Glacier Express.

This train is known for being the world's slowest express train - it's an eight-hour experience with highlights including a climb to 2,033 on the Oberalp Pass and feasting on a three-course meal as the winter wonderland scenery passes by.

Try it: Explore Switzerland's winter wonderlands with us on a four-day winter break in March and October 2023, including a ride on the Glacier Express.


Ride the little trains of the Pyrenees through beautiful peaks

Nestled between the south west of France and Catalonia, the spectacular Pyrenees are home to some of Europe's most amazing mountain scenery.

Luckily, they are also home to plenty of charming, traditional train lines. Here you can ride the Roses Express up into the hills of the Cap de Creus National Park, take one of the world's great railway journeys on the Little Yellow Train of the Pyrenees and admire stunning mountain peaks while aboard Spain's Núria Valley Rack Railway.

Try it: You'll do all of this and more on our eight-day Pyrenees rail adventure in May, June or September next year.


Ride the Mont Blanc Express to Chamonix

Hop on board the idyllic Mont Blanc Express and you'll witness magical snow-covered landscapes as you whizz from Gervais-les-Bains to beautiful Chamonix.. This outstanding rail journey will take you through the magical Trient Valley, with its rocky outcroppings, forests, wild gorges and glaciers.

The line has connected Martigny in Switzerland to Chamonix in France for more than a century and it's a great way to travel between fairytale alpine villages.

Try it: Our six-day tour of Mont Blanc and Lake Annecy includes a ride on the Mont Blanc Express, with departures from May to October 2023.


Experience Lake Como, St Moritz and the Bernina Railway

This amazing train runs from St Moritz, Switzerland, and takes you along the east of the country on a spectacular four-hour journey. The Bernina Express will take you through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges and over the UNESCO-protected Landwasser Viaduct. You can expect 90 miles of stupendous Alpine scenery gliding past the panoramic windows.

Try it: You can ride the impressive Bernina Express on our exclusive eight-day holiday in May, October and December 2023.