We’re in Europe and the UK for these rail rides, all of which can be combined with a longer holiday by train. And we’re featuring journeys you may never have heard of for extra interest and an unusual experience. And whilst a good strong British Rail cup of tea might be hard to find in Mostar, the trip will be well worth it!
Barcelona to Montserrat, Spain
Taking just an hour to bring you from bustling seaside Barcelona, with Gaudi’s inspirational Sagrada Família, this journey takes you to the foot of Monserrat mountain, a spectacular nature reserve. Travel to the top by cable car or rack railway for five kilometres, with outstanding views down (or up) the mountain through its panoramic windows. The train crosses the river Llobregat via a bridge, then travels through the Àngel and Apòstol tunnels to Plaça de la Creu.
Here you walk to the monastery, revered across Catalonia, for being the home of the Byzantine-style Virgin of Montserrat, one of Europe’s Black Madonnas. She is associated with miracles, is a site of pilgrimage and is said to have been here for more than a thousand years. Beside the monastery, the Museum of Montserrat contains many religious artefacts from explorations in the Near East. It also has exhibits by Picasso, Dalí, Caravaggio and other well-known artists.
Mostar to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Whilst these names may be familiar from difficult times in the past, nowadays Bosnia and Herzegovina is attracting travellers who are looking for somewhere a little different, that’s off the usual tourist trail. And the trains that run on this route are modern and well appointed. The journey from Mostar to Jablanica is truly astonishing running alongside the Neretva river in dramatic bends and curves, whilst high rugged cliffs tower above.
Sit on the left-hand side from Sarajevo to Mostar, the right hand side on the reverse route. Be sure to visit the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, causing WWI, and in Mostar, the re-built Sari Most (Old Bridge) is picture perfect and set in a UNESCO inscribed area of the town. On summer weekends, the train continues on to Ploče in Croatia.
Myrdal to Flåm, Norway
This famously scenic route runs through the Flåmsdalen valley from Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, at sea level through 20 tunnels up to the high mountains at Myrdal station at 867 metres. Here the railway connects to the Bergen line, and on to Oslo if you wish. The journey takes an hour through glorious hilly countryside, past the Kjosfossen waterfall, over 90 metres high and said to be home to the Huldra, a dancing woman or spritefrom Norse mythology.
Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland
A wonderous journey in the Highlands from Fort William to Mallaig, on the West Highland line, travelling the 84 mile round trip by steam train, known as the Jacobite. Starting close to Ben Nevis, the train steams through remote Highland countryside past lochs and stark scenery, the beaches at Morar to Mallaig, a busy fishing port, for a two hour stopover before the return journey.
Made even more famous as the Hogwart’s Express in the Harry Potter novels, with the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct having a starring role too, the train passes Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan monument, topped by the statue of a lone Highlander, that celebrates the last stand of Jacobite soldiers in 1746.
Pulled by a variety of steam locomotives, the beautifully restored 1960s carriages provide a nostalgic setting in which to enjoy the bewitching views.
Visit rail journeys and escorted holidays by train. Railbookers can devise a tailor-made trip, with hotel stays along the way, and they relish a rail challenge. Great Rail Journeys specialise in escorted group tours by train with a tour manager on board.