Europe’s most beautiful train journeys

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(CNN) – The “Flight Shame” movement was born here and not surprisingly – Europe is home to a marvelous rail network, including some truly spectacular travel that is a vacation in itself. Here are the 10 most beautiful rides.

Derry-Coleraine Railway, Northern Ireland

There are seven miles of golden sand on the Causeway Coast, intact from the rocks. On a clear day, when the sea is so calm that it looks like a rock, you can see as far as the Scottish Isle of Isle. This is the perfect beach for quiet reflection.

Travel Maven Michael Palin called it “one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world” – what more do you need to know? The 38-minute journey follows the Foil River from Derry, passing through the countryside until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Benon Strand, one of which CNN Travel’s favorite beaches. The track runs right next to the sand here, however if you can’t resist walking on the beach you can get off at Castlerock right away.

From there, the train turns inland again, this time towards Coleran, following the Ban River. You’ll follow some important steps – the oldest human settlement on the entire island of Ireland is Mountsandel Fort, located high on the banks of the Bonn. It lived from 7600-7900 BCE.

Florence to Naples, Italy

Tough cliffs below Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.

Tough cliffs below Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.

De Agostini / Getty Images

Only one of the country’s main thoroughfares in Italy can be so beautiful. Italy’s main north-south line runs from Milan to Naples, and when the top part takes or leaves it, you will pass through several routes, heading south through the flat plains of the Po Valley and then through the mountain tunnels from Bologna to Florence. Italy’s most classic landscapes.

Leaving the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence, you will catch a glimpse of the famous Duomo, then cross the Arno before passing through Tuscany, the rolling hills on either side, then Umbria and Lazio.

Sit to the left for views of the ragged Apenine Mountains; Choose the right, and you’ll see Orvieto, one of the most beautiful ancient towns in central Italy, first sculpted from the Tuff Rock Bluff by the Etruscan civilization. Arriving in Rome, you will pass through the walls of the ancient city. Got more time? Stay after Rome to Naples for spectacular views of Vesuvius as you enter the city.

Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain

The Cremalera Rack Railway takes visitors to the slopes of the mountain.

The Cremalera rack railway carries visitors to the side of the mountain.

alzamu79 / Adobe Stock

Barcelona’s magnificent Placa d’Espanya is the starting point for a terrific trip to Montserrat, a saw-toothed mountain range at the rear of the seaside town, and home to Benedictine Abbey since the 11th century (although the current building is from 1800). The 23-mile railway line runs from Catalan countryside to the foothills, where since 1892 (with a break from 1957-2003) the Kramalera rack railway has been pulling visitors to the side of the mountain.

It’s a really amazing ride, having climbed 1,800 feet in the first 2.5 miles, aided by rack traction. Once you reach the level of the monastery, then you can take more funicular, Saint John, to the higher of the peaks. From there you can hike in the mountains.

Semering Railway, Austria

A seaming line was built to connect Vienna and Tristan.

A seaming line was built to connect Vienna and Tristan.

Thomas Eichinger / ImageBroker / Shutterstock

Nearly 200 years after its opening in 1854, the Semering Railway is still one of the most beautiful railways in the vicinity – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even better, if you are traveling between Vienna and Venice you can take this – it makes for a fairly stunning way to travel between the two most beautiful cities in Europe.

Running 25 miles from the Austrian Alps between Glognitz and Semering, Semering weaves through the mountains, taking 16 tunnels, 15 viaducts and more than 100 bridges, plus a mountain trail at about 3,000 feet and plenty of exciting curves.

Built as Europe’s first mountain railway to connect Vienna with Trieste (which was then the port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), it is still one of the great. If you are taking it as part of a long journey, you will recognize not only the beautiful scenery, but also the 57 cottages built for the railway staff at a distance along the line.

Bohinj Railway, Slovenia

The Bohinj line passes through Slovenia and takes you to the world's largest stone railway bridge.

The Bohinj line passes through Slovenia and takes you to the world’s largest stone railway bridge.

Dragonica / Adobe stock

Slovenia is an attractive place to travel by train, due to its location – its 800-mile railway line is part of a wide line connecting Italy to Hungary and Austria to both Croatia and Italy. This is no less epic – it is part of the line connecting Prague to Trieste, or in other words, landlocked Central Europe from the Adriatic Sea.

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One of Slovenia’s most historic lines, the Bohinj takes 28 tunnels (one of them less than 17,500 feet long) and 65 bridges – including the Solkan Bridge, the world’s largest stone railway bridge across the Soka River.

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Bergen Railway, Norway

Finns, on the Oslo-Bergen route, is a small village that can only be reached by train.

Finns, on the Oslo-Bergen route, is a small village that can only be reached by train.

dudlajzov / Adobe Stock

Built in 1909, the Bergen Railway connects the Norwegian capital with its second city. This is no ordinary tourist train, however – it is a spectacular seven-hour ride to Norway’s highlands, past lakes, highcable mountains, and the only village accessible by train: Finns, at the highest point of the railway.

At Myrdal, you can connect with the beautiful Flame Railway, whose hour-long ride takes you along high cliffs, greenery and stunning waterfalls – a checklist of classic Norwegian beauty.

Great for Ventimiglia, France, Monaco, Italy

The Nice to Ventimiglia line sweeps you to the bottom of some of Med's most beautiful villages.

The Nice to Ventimiglia line sweeps you to the bottom of some of Med’s most beautiful villages.

Francois Rox / Adobe Stock

You are here to see, of course – stunning views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, among some of its most delightful towns. But this 50-minute route is also one for the Russians of your inner journey, as it starts in France, dives into Monaco, returns to France and ends by crossing the Italian border.

For most of the trip, starting with the Nice Require Station, you’ll have beautiful views, past the cloaking of Art Deco Villas, and the simultaneous snatch of mead between the trees, and the throbbing along the entire bay, the towns are stacked on the sides of the cliffs. You will pass through some of the most fabulous towns on the C ડીte d’Azur, such as the Eze (above) and the lemon-filled Menton, as well as the main views of Monte-Carlo. When the smell of peacock bougainvillea comes into the air you will know that you have reached Italy.

Mostar from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Sarajevo-Mostar route takes you through a valley carved by the Emerald Neretva River.

The Sarajevo-Mostar route takes you through a valley carved by the Emerald Neretva River. Stock

The road between Bosnia’s eccentric capital and its tourist honeypot, the beautiful Mostar, is beautiful enough; But the two-hour train journey is another level, drawn down by green small mountains and shabby cliffs as it follows the Emerald Neretva River. You will arrive at Mostar – one of them CNN Travel’s favorite small town in Europe – Slightly above the famous bridge, built by the Ottomans before being destroyed by Croat forces in 1993 and rebuilt for stone in 2004.

West Highland Railway, Scotland

The 1,250-foot viaduct of the West Highland Railway was used "Harry Potter" Movies

The West Harland Railway’s 1,250-foot viaduct was used in the “Harry Potter” films.

Marcin Kadziolka / Adobe Stock

You will recognize Glenfinan Viaduct, which stretches 1,250 feet from the Scottish Highlands, with trains crossing the Finan River at an altitude of 100 feet – from “Harry Potter”, if nothing else.

Not surprisingly, this is one of the most spectacular train rides in the world – the epic scenery on Scotland’s most famous railway line draws you straight into the Highlands without leaving the carriage. Leaving Glasgow, it points straight northwest, ending at Mallaig, where you can take a ferry to the Isle of Sky.

Along the way, you’ll find Loch Lomand and Trossach National Park (yes, you chuck with Loch), next to Ben Nevis and next to Renoch Moore, where the line “floats” over peat bogs – with red deer. And often beat your nearest neighbors for miles.

Leadcoping to Meristed, Sweden

Sweden's most beautiful line takes you to the Kinnekule plateau.

Sweden’s most beautiful line takes you to the Kinnekule plateau.

Andreas Hoff / Adobe Stock

As the home of the “Flight Shame” movement, Sweden has no shortage of beautiful railroads – the Norwegian Line from Stockholm (in Norway’s Arctic Circle) is a real landmark. However, it takes a long time to plan.

To put it mildly, there is the Meristadt line from Lidcoping, which was voted by rail users in 2018 as Sweden’s most beautiful train journey. The single-track railway skirt around Werner, the largest lake in the country, rides on the Kinnekule plateau to the northeast for spectacular lake views. Tired of lake views? Keep an eye out for deer and moose around the line in the winter, or go in the spring when the wild garlic carpet on the plateau.

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