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The draws of a luxurious European train journey are obvious; aside from the very notion of a train vacation being undeniably romantic, there’s the convenience factor, the incredible cuisine, the state-of-the-art accommodations, and, perhaps best of all, the ability to see multiple destinations all in one go. While both Belmond and Golden Eagles’ stately steam engines dominate the luxury train industry in Europe, impressing travelers time and again with five-star experiences across the board, several other luxury brands local to Norway, Spain, and Switzerland offer luxurious itineraries that deliver on everything from old-world charm to modern amenities. For those interested in adding the journey of a lifetime to their bucket list, browse the best luxury train routes through Europe below.
Bernina Express, Switzerland and Italy
Travel from the snowy Swiss Alps (starting at either Chur, Davos, or St. Moritz) all the way to Italy on the Bernina Express, which travels along arguably one of the most scenic routes in Europe. Guests will pass through a UNESCO World Heritage Site, around mountain twists and turns, and eventually into sunny Italy, bound for Tirano.
Al Andalus, Spain
This all-inclusive Andalusian train journey takes place aboard a veritable palace on wheels. Guests will discover this striking and historic region of Spain, including destinations like Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, and Cadiz, from the comforts of Belle Époque-style lounge cars and lavish suites. Expertly guided tours and terrific local cuisine both on and off the train round out the stylish accommodations and golden age experience.
Belmond Royal Scotsman, Scotland
The Scottish Highlands are a majestic sight to behold regardless of mode of transportation. But taking in the vibrant green landscape, storybook castles, and striking lochs dotting this historically significant region is unparalleled from the perch of the Belmond Royal Scotsman’s 10 train cars. The luxury sleeper train promises thoughtful details onboard, like Highland wool blankets and tartans, mahogany furniture, local Scottish cuisine, and traditional whiskey tastings.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe
Often heralded as the most glamorous means of exploring Europe, Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is an experience like no other. Board this superior steam engine and expect no shortage of luxuries, from the resident pianist in the Bar Car to art deco guest cabins and exquisite cuisine from executive chef Christian Bodiguel. London to Venice, Paris to Istanbul, Paris to Berlin, Paris to Verona, and London to Verona are a few of the itineraries available on this legendary train.
British Pullman, A Belmond Train, United Kingdom
Afternoon tea and Champagne abound when on board the Belmond British Pullman, a luxury set of train cars that are just as glamorous as they were during the golden age of travel. Whether you journey through Bath, Bristol, or simply board to experience the signature Murder Mystery Lunch, a journey on the British Pullman will be just as elegant as it is memorable.
Flåm Railway, Norway
If journeying through vast fjords, lush mountain passes, and thundering waterfalls appeals to you, Norway’s hour-long Flåm Railway route is the way to go. Widely considered one of the most beautiful scenic train routes in the world, this luxe steam engine takes guests from the mountain station of Myrdal to the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, ending at Flåm station.
Golden Eagle Danube Express, Europe
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains promise the epitome of opulence—and the Danube Express is no exception. With routes running through the Balkans, past the castles of Transylvania, and even a New Year in Vienna itinerary, this elegant train unveils Europe’s flourishing landscapes, cerulean coastlines, medieval antiquities, and myriad cultures—all from the comfort of well-appointed accommodations.
Majestic Imperator Train de Luxe, Vienna
Restored to preserve the glamour and integrity of luxurious European train travel, the Majestic Imperator Train de Luxe is one of Europe’s finest steam engines. Christened in 1998 by the youngest female descendant of Emperor Franz Joseph I, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, these short journeys take passengers from Vienna to historic, scenic regional sites for elegant experiences aboard the opulent dining cars.
The Presidential Train, Portugal
The Presidential Train, considered the crown jewel of Portugal’s railway system, epitomizes grace and sophistication. Elegant décor, mahogany furniture, and beautiful mint-green walls accent the historic steam engine, which was lovingly restored in 2010. Passengers can choose between one, two, and three-day itineraries across Portugal’s striking coastline landscape.