European train experience that's a bucket-list alternative - with £17 tickets (2024)

A LITTLE-KNOWN train journey in Europe has been described as an alternative to the Glacier Express - and tickets cost just £16.

Gazingout of the windowis one of the best ways to kill time on train journeys, with some routes far more enjoyable than others.



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The Glacier Express is routinely regarded as one of the most luxurious train journeys in the world, as passengers who reserve seats in its Excellence Class are guaranteed dreamy window seats as well as a five-course meal.

And thanks to these affluent features, it's safe to say that tickets don't come cheap.

However, one train route holidaymakers could substitute for the Glacier Express is the Vigezzina-CentovalliRailway.

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The cross-border service ferries passengers between Domodossola in Italy and Locarno in Switzerland, and it's already loved by rail experts and enthusiasts.

Travel writer Anna Richards compared the Vigezzina-CentovalliRailway to the Glacier Express in a recent article in the Independent.

She wrote: "This route offers epic views for a fraction of the price of theGlacier Express.

"It’s much shorter (50km and around two hours), but the flight-free travel company Byway assured me it was far less touristy."

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Stretching for more than 50km, the route passes through the hundred valleys - an area of land that was completely untouched before the train's arrival 100 years earlier.

With mountain landscapes, waterfalls, thick forests, secluded valleys and rugged cliffs all visible through the train window, it's certainly a route all holidaymakers should consider doing at least once.

Top 5 Picturesque Train Journeys in Europe

Other highlights include lakeside views of Lago Maggiore in northern Italy.

It also passes over 83 bridges and viaducts as well as going through 31 tunnels.

Important destinations along the route where passengers might want to disembark Intragna and Domodossola and Lago Maggiore.

Routes can start in either direction, with journeys lasting two hours, with tickets costing £16.70 per person.

The little-known train route has been praised by railway enthusiasts on TripAdvisor, with a 4.5/5 star rating.

One person wrote: "A wonderful way of journeying from Domodossola to Locarno in Switzerland."

Another person added: "This was an amazing experience, a beautiful scenic journey that I loved."

While a third said: "Wonderful scenery, remarkably green, wooded, an unusual view of a hidden valley.

"The train is obviously important for those communities, and it provided a lovely journey to Lake Maggiore from the mainline station at Domodossola."

Another trip that rail experts and enthusiasts seem to love is along a stretch of theItalian coast, and it takes just 25 minutes to complete.


The Italian Riviera is home to colourful buildings, stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and one ofEurope's most scenic trains.

Located along the Italian coastline in northernItaly, the Cinque Terre is a string of five villages, including Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

The route can start in either direction, but most holidaymakers begin their journey in Riomaggiore, with theItalian trainstopping at each of the stations, before arriving in Monterosso.

It takes roughly five minutes to travel between each of the stations in theCinque Terre.

Holidaymakers who've managed to nab a window seat can expect seaside views overlooking crystal-clear waters and ragged cliffs.

Other views include glimpses of the Cinque Terre'scolourful buildingsand green fields where farmers grow olives, grapes, and basil.


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Sun Travel's favourite train rides

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Sun Travel's journalists have taken their fare share of train journeys on their travels and here they share their most memorable rail experiences.

Sun Travel's favourite train rides

Davos to Geneva, Switzerland

"After a ski holiday in Davos, I took the scenic train back toGenevaAirport. The snow-covered mountains and tiny alpine villages that we passed were so beautiful that it felt like a moving picture was playing beyond the glass." - Caroline McGuire

Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen

"Nothing quite beats the Shinkansen bullet train, one of the fastest in the world. It hardly feels like you're whizzing along at speed until you look outside and see the trees a greenblur. Make sure to book seat D or E too - as you'll have the best view of Mount Fuji along the way." Kara Godfrey

London to Paris by Eurostar

"Those who have never travelled on the Eurostar may wonder what’s so special about a seemingly ordinary train that takes you across the channel. You won’t have to waste a moment and can tick off all thetop attractionsfrom the Louvre to the Champs-Élysées which are both less than five kilometres from the Gare du Nord." - Sophie Swietochowski

Glasgow to Fort William by Scotrail

"From mountain landscapes and serene lochs to the wistful moors, I spent my three-hour journey fromGlasgowto Fort William gazing out the window.Sit on the left-hand side of the train for the best views overlooking Loch Lomond." - Hope Brotherton

Beijing to Ulaanbatar

"The Trans-Mongolian Express is truly a train journey like no other. It starts amid the chaos of central Beijing before the city's high-rises give wayto crumbling ancient villages andeventually the vast vacant plains ofMongolia,via the Gobi desert.The deep orange sunset seen in the middle of thedesertis among the best I've witnessed anywhere." - Ryan Gray

This is only "upside-down" train in Europe - it's suspended in the air and tickets are just £2.50

Meanwhile, theStourbridge Shuttleclaims to be the shortest railway line in Europe, with its tiny track stretching for just 0.8miles.



European train experience that's a bucket-list alternative - with £17 tickets (2024)


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