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Tourist Trains

Scenic railways and heritage train rides in Europe


Tourist railways feature historic train rides and scenic routes to provide memorable day trips that are fun for the whole family! Photo: Achenseebahn at Seespitz station on Lake Achensee, Austria. ©Herbert Ortner.


Jenbach and Seespitz via Eben

The oldest steam cog railway in Europe lies nestled amid panoramic mountainscapes and a glistening lake as it has since 1889, when — with Emperor Franz Josef's blessing — the Achen Lake Railway commenced operations. Once a vital link in Tyrolean regional transport, today's railway serves local residents along a strand of five mountain stations and offers Austria's Alpine visitors a travel link to lake ferry, ski slope, and national OBB service. Trains run from early May to late October.

Vienna, Austria

This largely for-charter train de luxe offers a limited calendar of scheduled events. Along the only railway track to be named a Unesco World Heritage site, guests dine in imperial luxury on gourmet cuisine suited to a king. Dinner trains run Thursday evenings from early May through mid October. Annual events include Journey to Battle of Austerlitz weekend excursion and a New Years Eve Gala.

St. Pölten to Mariazell

A hit with tourists and trainspotters alike, the MZB maintains vital mainline service as well! Unlike most tourist trains, Mariazellerbahn is part of the country's national railway — OBB — and operates 24/7 year-round. Unlike most modern lines, the century-old train operates along narrow-gauge trackage. Tourists on pilgrimage to the shrine at Mariazell have relied on the railway since its inception, and commuters depend on the service for access to isolated settlements across Austria's remote eastern mountain province of Niederösterreich.


The world's oldest high mountain railway, Semmering was the first railway to be included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. Tight bends, steep gradients and numerous viaducts and tunnels reflect its prototypical engineering. Today, after 150 years of service, the Semmering-Railway continues to operate as part of the OBB national mainline. The website is in German only however UNESCO maintains a fine multi-lingual site.



Fortunate riders — between Thuin and Lobbes — escape down a secluded route unknown by automobiles and lost to "modern" civilization. Through the fields, an ancient church and monastery of Lobbes, the crossing of the River Sambre, are unique views that only tramway passengers can contemplate! Multilingual museum tours and private tramway trips arranged.



As one travels east through Europe, the number of tourist railways dwindles. So this narrow-gauge preservation railway is a rare treat. Operating Saturdays, May thru September, the brief run links the little hamlet of Lavassaare with the Railway's affiliated museum.



The only remaining common carrier out of 13 privately-owned Finnish narrow gauge lines once opened for service. Circa 1898 railway schedules steam runs on summer Sundays, June to August. Sivut suomeksi.



This traditional lakeside line provides a pleasent excursion through the French countryside aboard a restored vintage trainset. Station-side amenities range from picnic grove and children's play area to overnight camping and hotel/restaurant facilites.


"L'Ami Tram" -- The "Friends of Trams" operate the only touristic electric tramway in France -- recalling the historic streetcars of Lille as it follows a scenic route along the banks of the Doule. Sunday and holiday operation from May till October.


This one-time "sugar train" patrols France's last remnant of 60 cm narrow gauge line predating WW1. The route leads from the old refinery, through a lush "tunnel of green" along the banks of the River Somme, and onto the port of Cappy. Association Picarde pour la Pr"servation et l'Entretien des V"hicules Anciens operates the railway on Sundays and holidays, late April to late September; Tuesdays through Saunday, mid July to late August.

Aduze - St. Jean du Gard

Tucked amid south-central France's Cevennes range, the Train a Vapeur des Cevennes tracks a scenic 43 mi (13 km) course crossing viaducts and tunnels to reveal panoramic views of the rugged vall"e des Gardons. Guests so desiring may extend their trip with a visit to Bambouseraie De PraFrance, an acclimatized bamboo plantation. The Gardon Valley is also a popular recreation area for kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and hiking. Train operates daily from late March to late September; daily except Mondays till early Novenber.


The Eiffel Tower, seen from a steam-drawn coach, conjurs up a bit of deja vu in all who share the experience. No wonder visitors are willing to trapse halfway across the city to the Gennevilliers RER station just beyond the Periferique. From there one may board the Belle Epoque steam train and embark on a lazy excursion through the Parc des Chanteraines. Meandering through the park's wooded hills and green lawns provides a welcome break from the capital's frenetic pace. Train operates daily year-round and on summer evenings.

Nice & Digne les Bains

Known affectionately as the "Pine Cone Train," the name's exact origin remains a mystery — for some the reference is to a simple harvesting of cones; to others, the commemoration of a Christmas miracle. Steam-drawn trains roll through an ethereal landscape of painterly contrasts and details. Trains run daily.


A historic and scenic journey through the Renish Valley, along the German frontier. May-to-October Sundays plus occasional Saturdays and holidays. Train/boat combos available.

St. Lieux-les-Lavaur

Authentic steam train chugs through the countryside, crossing the Agout River over a viaduct of exceptional height and beauty. Trains run Sundays and holidays from late March through late October; Saturdays and Mondays added from Bastille Day till the end of August.


A vintage steam engine leads a train of restored carriages on a scenic roundtrip to and from the Bretton city of Pontrieux. All aboard Wednesday through Saturday, mid June to late September; also Sundays in July and August.

Col de Saint-Ignace

A unique rack railway balanced high in the Basque Pyrenees; the train scales La Rhune's 2970 ft (900 m) height, affording guests a rare impression of the Franco/Iberian frontier. Trains run mid-March to mid-November.


A charming steam train hauls a convoy of four wooden carriages through the romantic country landscape of the Vosges Piedmont. Sundays, holidays and selected weekdays from June through September.

Chamonix Mont-Blanc

From its base, in the lively Alpine French resort of Chamonix Mont-Blanc, CFM trundles across the famed "Mer de Glace — Sea of Ice" at the foot of the Mont-Blanc glaciers. Frequent departures, year-round.

Le Fayet/Saint Gervais

France's highest-climbing rack train passes woodland villages and mountain chalets and crosses Alpine meadows on its determined crawl to Aiguille du Go"ter; the railway's 15800 ft (4800 m) elevation terminus on the face of Europe's highest peak. That makes the year-round service of special importance to skiiers and other winter outdoors enthusists who dash about Mount Blanc's slopes and resorts. Hikers and picnikers may travel to Nid d'Aigle in summer at 7800 ft (2380 m).


K–nigswinter, North Rhine-Westphalia

In the heart of the Rhineland's Siebengebirge range, the world's oldest rack railway has scaled the 1053 ft (321 m) summit of Drachenfels (Dragon's Rock) mountain since 1883. Highlights include culture tour, nature tour and mountain-top weddings. Trains operate year-round (except December). Selected features: rail museum, train charters.


Emblematic of reunified Germany is this historic narrow-gauge network. A boon to tourism, HSB's restored lines, which criss-cross the old cold war frontier, restore much-needed access among the villages that dot the Harz' picturesque though trecherous range. Trains run year-round with reduced schedule in winter.


Families, train fans and tourists may choose from a varied calendar of steam-driven runs, holiday trains and more. International travel between Germany and Austria on summer Saturdays. Trains scheduled April through year's end.


One of the most beautiful railways in Saxony, historic steam engines follow its narrow gauge line for 14 mi (23 km)... along the bended river Prenitz, between slopes of the Erzgebirge Mountains. The online timetable has not been updated since 1999 when daily operation from June through September was supplemented by a string of holiday and special events runs.


Steam-drawn excursion includes museum stopover at Schierwaldenrath. On-site engine, car sheds and shop to explore. Operates on Sundays and holidays... Easter to the end of September.



The Netherland's longest operating tourist railway, at 17 mi (27 km), guides antique steam trains through the Groningse Veenkolonien — Holland's peat moor country. Most Sundays and selected weekdays, April to October plus special Christmastime runs. The site is also posted in Dutch and German.


Historic trains and trams mix it up along this stretch of the 'Historische Driehoek' (Historic Triangle), a journey through the ancient cities of Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhuizen. A museumferry trip on the IJsselmeer and a third leg aboard NS (Dutch Railways) completes the circuit. Ride Tuesday through Sunday, April to October; also summer Mondays and pre-Christmas.


Along the edge of the Amsterdam Forest clambor vintage trams (circa 1910-50) which once trundled the streets of Vienna, Berlin, Prague and other European cities.



Deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and snow-capped peaks form the backdrop for one of Scandinavia's greatest tourist attractions: a 12 mi (20 km) train ride that traverses some of the steepest rail grades in the world. Daily departures year-round.


Richly intertwined with the region's history, today Valdresbanen is reserved for a use most unusual in the world of railroadiana. Guests drive themselves, pedaling unique — if not peculiar — rail-bound tricycles along the scenic trackway. Rail-tricycles may be rented for two or more hours during the month of July.



Officially recognized as a National Antique, the Ełk Railway continues to transport freight and local residents as it has since its inception at the dawn of WW1. The classic narrow gauge steam train draws a steady stream of tourists who also appreciate the optional yard tour that accompanies their admission. Trains operate daily, year-round.


Palma - Soller

This early 20c narrow-gauge railroad originally hauled citrus across the island's rugged Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. Today, tourists marvel at the remarkable route's steep gradients, sharp curves, viaduct crossing and numerous tunnels. Highlights include trolley extension to Port de Soller; also special train.trolley/boat tour combo. Trains operate seasonally. Selected features: rail museum, holiday/event excursions.


Spain's only cog railway commenced service in 1931. From its perch in the Catalonian Pyrenees, the rack railroad conquers Alpine heights, its passengers witnessing nature's pagent along the way. Rail passage includes admission to exhibits and film. A variety of restaurants and overnight accomodations are available. Train runs daily except mid November. Accessible by RENFE rail.



Along the Anten Lakeside authentic steam locomotives and period railcars complete a series of heritage runs which include watering from historic faucet and turn-around via authentic hand-turned table. Trains run Sunday from late May to early Septenber; Tuesdays, Thursdays and aturdays in September.

Fagerrör & Trollskogen

Its horse-drawn predecessor built nearly a century ago, this narrow gauge timber train was converted to steam power after a few years of operation. Today, it is pulled by the very same steam engine that replaced the original horse power in 1910. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, mid June to mid August; daily during the last two weeks of July.


Grindelwald and Wengen

Separate männlichenbahn scale opposite mountain faces. Floating along a 4 mi (6 km) tramway, the world's longest aerial gondola links Grindelwald to Männlichen's mountain station, some 30 minutes away. From Wengen, it's a 5-minute ariel tram ride to the plateau outpost. The mountain's 7300 ft (2230 m) summit is a short hike away. Highlights include skiing, boarding and mountain biking. Trains operate year-round. Selected features: station cafe services, train charters, gift shop, gift certificates, online ticketing, wheelchair access.

Realp & Gletsch

Against a magnificent backdrop of Alpine scenery this remarkable steam driven adventure unfolds. Following a steep rack climb, the Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway bounds along a varied route: over bridge and through tunnel before making a dramatic descent to reveal the Rhone Glacier rising between snow-capped peaks. Trains run Friday to Sunday from mid June to early October; daily from mid July to late August.

St. Moritz/Chur/Davos-Zermatt

Burrowing through 81 tunnels and crossing 291 bridges, Switzerland's most famous narrow-gauge railway connects Switzerland's Eastern and Western Swiss Alps on its 7½-hour mountain adventure. Highlights include the Furka Base Tunnel, Rhine Gorge, Landwasser Viaduct and Oberalp Pass, at 6,670 ft (2,033 m), the journey's highest crossing.

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