Home » Sorry Switzerland, Europe’s most beautiful train ride is in the UK

Sorry Switzerland, Europe’s most beautiful train ride is in the UK

Sorry Switzerland, Europe’s most beautiful train ride is in the UK

The Ribblehead Viaduct over the Ribble Valley (Picture: Loop Images/Jason Wells/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A train route in the UK has been crowned the most scenic in the whole of Europe. 

The stretch of railway between Settle, North Yorkshire and Carlisle in Cumbria has been named the most beautiful in Europe by the travel experts at Lonely Planet. 

In a list of the 10 best train rides in the whole of the continent, this journey in the English countryside came out on top of routes in France, Germany and Austria

Notably, it also beat Switzerland’s Bernina Express, which is often named the bucket list route for train enthusiasts in the world.

Classic steam trains chug along the winning route’s tracks but a regular passenger service also transports people across the countryside as well.

An aerial view shows of the Ribblehead Viaduct, near Settle (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

The Settle to Carlise route is also favoured by walkers and hikers for those wanting to explore the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian fells on foot. 

The Ribblehead viaduct is included in this journey, and Lonely Planet named it the best part of the 1 hour and 40 minute train journey. 

The red train passing by Ardez village is the Bernina Express in Switzerland (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Whether you have the whiff of steam in your nostrils or the hard-working growl of diesel-hauled regular trains in your ears, the views from the carriages are pretty much unmatched on the English railway network,’ Lonely Planet gushed in its review. 

The website also said the stations along the route look like something you’d expect to see ‘on a box of biscuits’. Yum.

Settle Railway Station (Picture: Getty Images)

Opened in 1875, the iconic Grade II listed structure extends 440 yards (440m) and reaches heights of 104 feet (32m). The Yorkshire Dales National Park website called it ‘a stunning piece of Victorian engineering’.

The Settle to Carlisle journey has over 500 ‘excellent’ reviews on Tripadvisor, giving it an overall score of 4.5. A commenter known only as robbo1000 from Manchester called the trip a ‘fantastic train journey’.

They added: ‘It was a fantastic train ride through the Yorkshire Dales, even on a dull February day.’

The Ribblehead Viaduct is a Grade II* listed structure (Picture: Getty Images)

Another visitor, named Martin Collins, shared: ‘My wife and I had great expectations for this trip, and it lived up to them! The journey along the north Pennines was spectacular.

‘It was nostalgic to hear the steam engine pulling us up the relatively steep gradients. It was very hot and the views were clear’.

The rest of the lineup has many of the locations you would expect to see on a list of beautiful countryside locations, including the gorgeous hills of Switzerland and France.

The best train rides in Europe 2024

  1. Settle to Carlisle, England
  2. Le Petit Train Jaune, France
  3. Belgrade-to-Bar Railway, Serbia and Montenegro
  4. The Bernina Express, Switzerland
  5. The Heart of Wales Line, Wales and England
  6. Munich to Venice on the Brenner Railway, Austria and Italy
  7. The Kyle of Lochalsh Line, Scotland
  8. Nova Gorica to Jesenice, Slovenia
  9. The Centovalli Express, Switzerland and Italy
  10. Bergensbanen, Norway

In separate 2022 study compiled by Which? about beautiful railways in Europe, the Bernia Express through Switzerland also finished in third place.

And Bergensbanen finished in second place, behind the Ffestiniog Railway sevrice between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog in Wales.

How to get on the Settle-Carlisle train line

The route is part of the national rail network and despite the idyllic views, the Settle-Carlisle line is not exclusively part of heritage railways. This means people may take the train on this line as part of their commute. 

Northern Railway operates a service between both stations, with tickets priced as low as £10. The journey lasts for around 1 hour and 39 minutes and includes nine stops in between. 

Trains usually have around an hour’s gap between departures. Travellers can also get the train to Carlisle from Leeds, with the journey lasting 2 hours and 50 minutes.

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