Train journeys evoke nostalgia amongst travelers. Our parents recall the halcyon days of steam trains taking them to exotic destinations, embarking with the entire family, immersed in breathtaking vistas involved in animated small talk.
While the world offers many dream railway rides across continents, Europe is a destination that stands apart from all others. It encompasses rivers, mountains, vast verdant fields, castles, fauna and flora, all in one package.
Railway journeys in Europe are safe, comfortable and a true value for money, if organized diligently. There are a plethora of agencies both large and small to suit everyone’s pocket.
Switzerland, the land of chocolate and milk, should be at the top of your ‘to travel by railway’ list, especially if you are seeking a few serene quiet days away from the hustle and bustle of technology infested life-style. If you are in search of an all-inclusive, carefree and flexible railway package, then look no further than the Swiss Travel Pass which opens up a nice sweet box of possibilities and options to choose from. The validity of STP extends up to 15 days.
Train rides in Switzerland offer great choices of varying prices and duration depending on your mental compass. One should not miss the train from Montreux to Broc. The journey kicks off from Lake Geneva to the medieval hamlet of Broc, which is famous for cheese making factories. The 10-hour ride includes cheese tasting…at the expense of the calorie count though.
When you have had your fill of unparalleled beauty of Switzerland and crave for a wild ride, take the Bernina Express from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy. It is not for the faint-hearted, though, as the train descends from Swiss Alps at 7,391 feet to 5,905 feet. It courses through 55 tunnels, and 196 bridges, finally depositing you at the station of a small town of Tirano.
‘Adventure is for the adventurous’ so, if you fall into that category, then the 19-days journey from Moscow to Vladivostok is your dream come true. If you, however, feel dizzy dealing with jet or train lag, you should cross this one out because the journey covers eight time zones. Siberia is notorious albeit incorrectly synonymous with Gulag and hardship. The journey will blow your mind with the raw beauty of the versatile landscape expanding from the Moscow River to the Pacific bordering China and North Korea and across to Alaska. It is a life-time experience mingling with diverse cultures both on and off-train.
Who does not know Agatha Christie and her magnum-opus ‘Murder on the Orient Express’? That definitely should not dissuade you from indulging in a nostalgic journey from London to Venice. The ride takes just two days and one night of your assuming the title of a knight, a baron, a prince, a lady or a socialite as long as you do not reenact the mystery. The journey is super luxurious with a unique seven-star quality. The scenery from London to Venice is a bonus.
Once you have satisfied yourself with the haunting charm of inundated castles, and gondolas of Venice, it’s time to move on yet another adventure to Budapest on Danube Express, passing Sighișoara, Romania, possible birthplace of Count Dracula, for the horror buffs, dissecting the heartland of Balkans and into the Danube River. This journey takes around 11 days on a train and the accommodation in different cities and is known for its first-class wining and dining.
The discovery of the Balkan does not end with the Danube Express. There is the famous Flexipass of Rail Europe that takes you through Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. This journey takes around 10 hours. Destinations covered by the train offer an amazing array of cultures, languages, cuisine, and history that ranges from ancient to contemporary.
Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, ‘a five-star hotel on rails’ is an eight days luxury ride from San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela. The journey starts from the beautiful coastal picturesque town of San Sebastián in the Basque region surrounded by mountains. It meanders through fields, mountains, and rivers to arrive at its destination of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia region. The place is famous for its 12th Century cathedral, famous for the burial site of one of the apostles.
Train journeys across Europe are spectacular and must be part of your annual itinerary to your heart’s content. For the enthusiast in you, this list should cover some of the best rides you can possibly embark on. So pack your bags, wave your handkerchief at your loved ones, and experience an adventure like no other.
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