8 winter train travel moments with Eurail
During our last winter Eurail journey through Europe’s coldest corners of Scandinavia and Switzerland, we drank in spectacular views of snow-quilted fjords, valleys, and ski slopes – all from the comfort and warmth of the train. This trip gave us the chance to experience some of the most magnificent train routes we’ve been on and we’d like to share them with you. Enjoy our top eight winter train travel moments.
1. Admiring fjords and frozen lakes aboard the Arctic Circle train
Our first train journey with the Eurail Global Pass was on the Arctic Circle train, the northernmost route in Europe. From Kiruna in the Swedish Lapland to Narvik in northern Norway, the train slushed through the stunning snow-filled landscapes of Lapland. This particular scene was deeply etched in our mind as the train rode right on the edge of the Abisko Mountains, with the slopes on our left and a view of the fjords and frozen lakes to our right. It was undoubtedly the most magnificent view of the journey.
2. Experiencing Flåm Railway, one of the world’s steepest railway lines
During our journey from Oslo to Bergen in Norway, we made a detour at Myrdal train station to hop onto the Flåm Railway attraction. Lauded as one of the most beautiful train journeys in Norway, the journey climbs all the way to an altitude of 865 meters above sea level, through deep ravines, frozen waterfalls (that cascade down the mountain slopes in summer), and mountain farms that cling to the steep edges. The 20-kilometer journey is said to be one of the world’s steepest railway routes, with a gradient of 55/1000 on almost 80% of the way.
This picture was taken during one of the train stops, at the frozen Kjosfossen waterfall, where we drank in a view of the Flåm Valley as well. Eurail pass holders get a discount on the Flåm Railway attraction.
3. The coldest moment of our winter train travel trip: Kiruna, Sweden
When the Arctic Circle train made a quick stop in Kiruna on our way to Narvik, we encountered what was probably the coldest temperature on ourjourney. With an astonishing -45ºC (-49ºF) on the thermometer, the cold air was dry and brutal as we stepped out of the train to get a feel. Shivering and laughing, we joined a few other travelers and snapped some shots of the frosty railway tracks.
4. Hiking in the Pine Woods of Boden, Sweden
It was -35ºC (-31ºF) in Boden, Sweden but the sun had come out to play. The sparkling white snow and beautiful weather seemed perfect for a short hike around the Harads Forest where acres of pine woods sprawled across the hilly terrain. It was a beautiful spot for walking but after an hour out in the cold, our hair was turning into thin ice filaments and frost was forming on our eyelashes. Brrr!
5. VIP treatment on the Glacier Express scenic route
A train journey through Europe would not be complete without experiencing the world-famous Glacier Express scenic train in Switzerland. Even though the route was not fully covered by the Eurail pass, we knew it was a journey we did not want to miss, and it definitely did not disappoint. The St Moritz-Disentis part of the route is included in the Eurail pass, and the Disentis-Zermatt section is discounted by 25% discount. The seven-hour journey from St Moritz to Zermatt brought us from the eastern end of the Swiss Alps to the western edge.
Zipping high up into the mountains, the train passed through pristine mountain landscapes, deep gorges, beautiful valleys and 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. Find out how to take the Glacier Express with the Eurail pass.
6. Admiring the legendary Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland
After traveling extensively in Switzerland, our favorite place in the country has to be Zermatt. Perched in a valley right in the middle of the Alps and with dozens of snow-filled tracks, this ski town is a paradise for winter sport enthusiasts. But beyond that, Zermatt is a charming town with clusters of wooden lodges and alpine huts stacked on steep slopes and cafes lining snow-filled boulevards. On a clear day, the view of the Matterhorn Mountain from many points of the city is nothing short of spectacular.
7. Glimpsing Lake Geneva on the Golden Pass route
On our way to Lausanne on the Golden Pass scenic railway, we were told to prepare for the mind-blowing scenery. This memorable moment came when we emerged from a tunnel to see the impressive Lake Geneva and its surrounding wineries before us. Later that day we learnt that this tunnel is appropriately nicknamed “the WOW tunnel” by locals. The Eurail pass fully covers the Golden Pass route.
8. Watching the Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden
Watching the Aurora Borealis light up the dark skies of Lapland has always been on our bucket list. After an unsuccessful attempt in Iceland two years ago, we planned our trip to include arguably the best place to see the northern lights: Abisko National Park in Sweden. After a few cloudy nights, nature gave us a spectacular show. The sky danced and swayed with psychedelic green and yellow colors.
Keen to discover Europe by rail in all its winter glory? Find out about the different Eurail passes and enjoy winter train travel!