We’ve already made the case for why traveling through Europe by rail often beats booking with the budget airlines. But if that wasn’t enough to convince you, we think that images of some of the most beautiful train routes, all bookable with a Eurail pass, will seal the deal.
The Bergen Railway, Norway
From glistening fjords and magnificent glaciers, to frozen lakes and snow-capped mountains, it’s difficult to pick a highlight on the Oslo to Bergen route, operated by the Norwegian State Railways. The train travels over Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest mountain plateau, and climbs as high as 4,000 feet above sea level at Finse.
The Bergen Railway is included in any Eurail pass valid in Norway. The private Flåm Railway line can be done as a side trip, with 30 percent off for Eurail pass holders.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
Operating between the chic Swiss resort towns of St-Moritz and Zermat, the Glacier Express offers a taste of the high life — literally. The train crosses the 6,669-foot-high Oberalp Pass. Despite the “express” in its name, this route is actually rather slow, taking seven-and-a-half hours to travel 180 miles. All the better to settle in and savor the Alpine views and mountain villages.
From St-Moritz to Disentishe, the Glacier Express is included in a Eurail pass valid in Switzerland. On the stretch between Disentis and Zermatt, passholders get a 25 percent discount on fares.
Black Forest Line, Germany
Germany’s atmospheric Black Forest — shrouded by a dense canopy of evergreens — is the setting of Europe’s most-loved fairy tales. Traveling the 93-mile Black Forest Line on the Deutsche Bahn from Offenburg all the way to the shores of Lake Constance, you’ll climb up to more than 2,000 feet, wind past mountains and rock faces, and pass small storybook villages that could easily have stepped out of a Grimm’s tale.
The Black Forest Line is included in any Eurail pass valid in Germany.
Cinque Terre, Italy
The Cinque Terre’s colorful homes, tumbling down steep cliffs, having been photographed countless times, but the rugged string of seaside villages is worth seeing in person. Traveling between La Spezia and Levanto, Trenitalia’s regional Cinque Terre trains stop at all five famous towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
The Cinque Terre train is included in any Eurail pass valid in Italy.
Greek island hopping
Despite the name, you are not limited to the rails with rail pass. The Eurail Greek Islands pass offers six ferry trips within one month for €142 ($155). Four of those trips can be taken within Greece, to any of twenty-seven different islands, and two can be international trips between Italy and Greece. You could sail from Venice to Patras, for instance, and then transfer to Piraeus (included in the Eurail pass), cruise over to Santorini to see its famous white-washed buildings and sunsets, then hop over to Kos and to Rhodes, then back to the mainland and on to Bari, Ancona, or Venice in Italy.