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Across the Alps

 

The Alps are the most extensive mountain range within Europe’s boundaries. The stunning peaks stretch across several countries and are home to the continent’s most picturesque scenery. They’re also easy to explore by train. Here’s an overview of the best way to experience the Alps by rail. 

1. Annecy, France

Why go?

Annecy, in the north of the French Alps, is a perfect starting point for an Alpine itinerary. This beautiful city is lovingly called the Venice of the Alps, owing to the canals that cut through the medieval old town. It’s easy to reach from Paris and beautiful year-round.
 

How to get there

There are daily high-speed TGV trains from Paris to Annecy that take 3 hours and 40 minutes. An advance reservation is required.

 

2. Chamonix, France

Why go?

Chamonix Mont Blanc is one of France’s most famous resort towns and is easy to reach by train. The town is located at the base of the Mont Blanc, where France, Italy and Switzerland meet. It’s a beautiful year-round destination, but is most popular for its unsurpassed winter sports.
 

How to get there

There are regular trains from Annecy to Chamonix that connect in St-Gervais-les-Bains. The journey including transfer times takes approximately 3 hours.
 

3. Zermatt, Switzerland

Why go?

Zermatt, home to the jagged Matterhorn, is perhaps Switzerland’s most iconic alpine destination. It’s accessible by train only and its remarkable scenery is perfect for hiking in summer. Winter brings with it some of Switzerland’s best skiing conditions.
 

How to get there

The journey between Chamonix and Zermatt will take approximately 4 hours and typically requires changes in Le Châtelard-Frontière, Martigny, and Visp.
 

4. St Moritz, Switzerland

Why go?

St. Moritz is at the end of the scenic Glacier Express line. It’s an exclusive alpine resort set around an idyllic lake and surrounded by towering peaks. In summer it’s a hiker’s paradise. In winter the lake freezes over and winter sports enthusiasts take to the mountains.
 

How to get there

The journey between Zermatt and St Moritz is on the scenic Glacier Express line. There is one daily train in winter, and up to three in summer. An advance reservation is required.
 

5. Tirano, Italy

Why go?

The scenic Bernina Express train traverses the Alps between Switzerland and Italy, and delivers some of the most remarkable views and railroad engineering on the continent. It ends in Tirano, a quaint Italian city on the border that's perfect for an overnight stop while exploring the Alps by rail.
 

How to get there

The Bernina Express connects St Moritz with Tirano in Italy and requires an advance reservation. There are also regional trains that follow the same line. The journey takes just over 2 hours.

6. Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Why go?

Retracing your tracks on the Bernina Express offers a second perspective on this iconic ride, and the chance to visit an often-overlooked city (and country). Vaduz, Liechtenstein sits on the Rhine River close to the Swiss border. It’s impressively scenic, full of history, and offers easy rail connections to Austria.
 

How to get there

Retrace your steps on the Bernina Express line to Chur. From there, hourly trains that require a change in Sargans and Buchs will connect you to Schaan-Vaduz. The total journey time is approximately 5.5 hours.

7. Innsbruck, Austria

Why go?

Innsbruck is one of Europe’s winter sports capitals owing to its close proximity to the Alps. Its beautiful old town, endless attractions and vast scenic beauty make it suitable to visit year round.
 

How to get there

Trains from Schaan-Vaduz to Innsbruck connect in Feldkirch and run regularly throughout the day. The journey takes approximately 3 hours.

8. Salzburg, Austria

Why go?

This fairytale city is famous for its charming old town, dramatic hilltop castle, and incredible views of the Eastern Alps. It's also the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the famous musical Sound of Music.
 

How to get there

There are hourly trains between Innsbruck and Salzburg that take approximately 2 hours.