8 incredible natural attractions by train
It’s true that trains can deliver you into the heart of most of Europe’s famous big cities. And many people make an effort to travel to natural attractions you can reach by train. But if you simply want to see incredible features from the window of a train, there are several natural landmarks and features you can view without leaving the comfort of your very seat. From soaring mountains to frozen glaciers, these are some of the top natural features in Europe that you can whizz past with your Eurail pass in hand.
Morteratsc and Palü Glaciers
There are several train rides in Europe that get you close to beautiful frozen rivers. Though many travelers opt for the eponymous Glacier Express for this reason, there’s another Swiss train ride that offers arguably better views of glaciers. The Bernina Express, which runs from Chur to Tirano, travels almost within touching of Morteratsc and Palü Glaciers. The train also stops at the dramatic Alp Grüm station, where you can hop off and snap the ultimate glacial selfie.
Good to know: If you’re traveling south (that’s Chur to Tirano), the best views are from the right side of the train.
The Rhine River may not be the longest you can view with a Eurail Pass in continental Europe. That title belongs to the Danube. Though the Danube is without doubt a beautiful river, the views of the track-based views of the Rhine are unbeatable. The scenic train that runs along the Rhine Valley line is at times just feet away from the famous fast flowing river.
Good to know: If you’re traveling from Mainz to Koblenz in Germany, be sure to sit on the right side for the best river views.
Norway’s Hardangervidda Plateau may be barren, but it’s easily one of the most remarkable natural features you can view from the train. The Bergen Railway takes you from Oslo to Bergen in fine style. You’ll have some of the best views of Norway’s simply spectacular landscapes, including the plateau itself.
Good to know: If you need to make your way back along the same route, you can book a night train that saves time and money.
Chamonix is one of Europe’s most revered ski resorts. It’s also home to the impressive Mont Blanc. You’d be missing out if you didn’t stop and spend at least a few nights in the region. But if you’re pressed for time, you can get incredible views of the peak from the comfort of a train. The Mont-Blanc Tramway skirts the foot of the mountain and offers incredible views.
Good to know: Your Eurail Pass valid in France and Switzerland offers free passage on the Mont-Blanc-Express. You can then board the tramway from within Chamonix.
The Black Forest is a vast mountainous region in southwest Germany. There you’ll find dense forests and the occasional quaint village. It’s easily one of the most impressive natural regions in the country. Many of the towns are worth exploring, but if you don’t want to stop, hop aboard the Black Forest Scenic Line. It places it cuts right through the stunning evergreen forests.
Good to know: Most of the forested section is between Hornberg and Lake Constance.
Europe isn’t short of natural features by train and that also include incredible lakes. Lake Geneva is perhaps the most impressive when viewed from the train. This crescent-shaped body of water sits idyllically between France and Switzerland. The nearby Alps tower above the crystal clear waters, and small villages dot the water’s edge on both sides. The best part? There are several trains that run along the shores. Some also venture and up into the mountains to offer epic views of the lake.
Good to know: Montreux, on the eastern side of Lake Geneva, is the starting point of the famous GoldenPass Scenic Line to Lucerne, which your Eurail Pass includes.
The resort town of Zermatt is famous for its incredible skiing and beautiful hikes at the base of the mighty Matterhorn. The town is car-free and the only way to reach it is by rail. This means that your approach by train is truly spectacular. Though the best experiences of the mountain will be on foot, the glimpses you get of it from the tracks are always special.
Good to know: Zermatt is the starting point for the famous Glacier Express to St. Moritz, which your Eurail Pass includes.
There are few natural attractions more breathtaking than Norway’s fjords. These dramatic natural features silence even the most traveled Eurailers. Most people will hike the mountains or treat themselves to a boat trip along the fjords, but the Flam Railway is one of the most impressive rail rides on the continent. It gets you up close and personal with the fjords, and positions you perfectly to spend a few days exploring them on your own steam.
Good to know: The route is open all year, but in summer you can include the train trip with a boat ride to Bergen.
There’s something remarkable about witnessing a breathtaking natural attraction floating past the window of your train. And although you should definitely hop out to explore each of these more carefully, if you plan your Eurail trip right, viewing these from the train can be the most spectacular introduction imaginable.
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