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Ideas & Inspiration Koln to Klagenfurt - Europe's Epic Express Train Journeys
Europe's Epic Express Train Journeys

Koln to Klagenfurt - Europe's Epic Express Train Journeys


Why you should take this trip:

The European Rail Timetable includes a page of what its fabulous compilers consider to be Europe's most scenic railway routes.
This list had a huge role in terms of inspiring the creation of ShowMeTheJourney and our founder, Simon, has now travelled on 90% of its suggestions.

Exceptionally scenic routes, the best of the best, are singled out in the timetable and this epic journey includes two of these; the journeys by train between Bonn and Mainz, and that between Salzburg and Villach
Therefore we had to include it on our Most Epic Journeys By Direct Train round up and the highlights of this wonderful journey are towards either end of the trip.

Cologne to Mainz:

The first of these highlights occurs shortly before Bonn when the railway line begins to run beside the River Rhine for its stunning passage through the stunning Middle Rhine Valley.

The train will very briefly head north on departure from Köln Hbf, but will then turn to the south, so when boarding sit on the left for the best of the views between Köln and Mainz.

These views below were captured between Koblenz and Mainz and we've included them to give an idea of what you can expect to see; and also to show that even in relatively poor visibility, that this is a journey worth taking!

Through the Rhine Valley by train
The stunning train journey between Koblenz and Bingen

As can be seen it's worth making this journey even when the weather isn't perfect, as the views don't stretch off into the distance - as long as you can see the opposite bank of the river valley, you'll have a journey to remember!

A fascinating aspect of the journey is the panorama of the vessels that you will see on the river, including numerous river cruise boats.

Chasing the river cruise boats down the Rhine Valley by train

If you have seen a TV ad for one of these and thought, 'doesn't that look beautiful', well you can see many of those views from this train!
The stunning train journey between Koblenz and Bingen

What makes the journey so magical are the many schloss/castles that are scattered along both banks of the river; and give this part of the journey a fairytale quality.
You can just about see an example just to the right of the valley in this view below.
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey

Mainz to Salzburg:

Between Mainz and Stuttgart, the highlight will be the crossing of the River Rhine, particularly if the train uses the Südbrücke Bridge just to the south of Mainz.

On departure from Stuttgart, the train will reverse direction and between there and Ulm the best of the views are over on the right.
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey
The citizens of Geislingen are no doubt grateful for the barriers that have been erected to shield them from the noise from the railway line, but they diminish the views over the town, which had been a highlight of the journey.

Try to stay awake for the less interesting section of the journey between Augsburg and Rosenheim as there is more fabulousness to come; though the train will reverse direction on departure from Munchen Hbf.

Salzburg to Villach:

On departure from Salzburg, the train will travel parallel to the River Salzach and there are some great river valley views on the right of the train, particularly after the first tunnel that the train will pass through.

Between Bischofshofen and Schwarzach St Veit, the river is on the left.
Unfortunately when we travelled this way, it was pouring with rain, hence the lack of images.

The train will begin to ascend on departure from Schwarzach St Veit where the railway line heading off to Zell am Zee can be seen over on the right
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey

The railway line this train travels over between Schwarzach St Veit and Spittal is known as the Tauern Railway/ Tauernbahn.

After Bad Hofgastein the train will ascend up the valley to Bad Gastein and the best of the views here are on the left.
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey

On departure from Bad Gastein, the railway line threads through a valley on route to the Tauern Railway Tunnel and the best of the views here are back over to the right; look out for the waterfalls!
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey

The second highlight of the journey comes when the train exits the tunnel and begins to descend to Spittal.
For around 25 mins there are stunning birds-eye views across the valley, from the right.

These three images below were all captured on this part of the journey.
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey
On the Cologne to Klagenfurt train journey

Villach to Klagenfurt:

The journey then ends with a flourish with lakeside views over the Worthersee between Villach and Klagenfurt, which are also on the right.
Looking over the Worthersee on a train south of Klagenfurt

For more than 15 mins the train travels right beside the lake, though you'll need to be travelling when days are at their longest to make the most of the views, as this train will be scheduled to be nearing journey's end around 19:00.

(The video was take from a train travelling in the opposite direction).

However, it is this lake 'The Worthersee', which lends its name to the train which makes this epic journey.
Looking over the Worthersee on a train south of Klagenfurt

How to take this journey:

All the practical information you need to know about making this incredible journey - including details of the tickets, trains and stations...

This journey is also featured on ShowMeTheJourney's list of 1 x train per day routes.


Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.


This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.


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