Be it jaw-dropping scenery, a rich historical significance, the tradition and atmosphere of the train itself – or a combination of all three – here’s our round-up of the world’s best.
Travel bucket list idea:
Lake Maggiore Express
Lake Maggiore, Lombardy, Italy|www.visitstresa.com|
Spend a day or more visiting the northern lake and the surrounding alpine valleys by train. The journey begins from any train station along Maggiore’s western shore to Domodossola, where you meet the scenic narrow-gauge Centovalli and Val Vigezzo train to Locarno in Switzerland. From there, sail back down the lake.
It’s a great way to drink in the beautiful scenery, with options for longer stops or overnights in the valley villages or Locarno.
Getting there & doing it
The trip can begin at any point along the route: on the website, click on any train station or lake port in Italy or Switzerland for ticket outlet info.
One-day tickets include a stop at Stresa, Isola Bella, Ascona, Locarno, or a valley village. The special two-day ticket offers free circulation on the whole lake: good value for visiting the Borromeo islands or beyond, or staying overnight along the way.
The new panoramic trains (indicated on the timetables) have big windows but little legroom compared to regular trains. Sit on the right side for the best views.
Remember your passport. Coffee and drinks are available on the trains, and it’s possible to book lunch (a fixed price tourist menu) on board as well. Otherwise bring a picnic.
If it’s clear in the morning, consider taking the boat ride first, and saving the dullest bit (the Domodossola train back to Lake Maggiore) for last.
When to do it
Journeys run April to May and mid-September to mid-October, Thursday-Sunday and holidays; from June to mid-September they also run on Wednesdays.
It’s especially pretty in the spring or in autumn for the colours. Try to go on a weekday, when it’s generally less crowded.
Round-ups that include this experience