20 European Hidden Gems & How To Find Them by Train


During the month of March, our Google+ page highlighted 30 of our favorite “hidden gems” in Europe — museums, train stations, parks, streets — all sorts of fun lesser-known places. It’s part of a project called raileurope365, where we bring you one fact or tip everyday related to a certain theme. Going on now for the month of April: sustainability and outdoor travel!

Here’s a recap of 20 hidden gems we highlighted for the month of March, with some train information and insider tips scattered throughout!

Stockholm Metro System Rail Europe
Stockholm metro system

1. The Stockholm metro system. This stunning train system is actually considered to be the world’s longest art gallery. 90 of its 100 stations are decorated with elaborate murals, sculptures, mosaics, and more.

2. Estufia Fria Greenhouse in Lisbon, Portugal. A refreshing green space in a busy city.

3. Annecy, France. Its beautiful canals have earned it the nickname the “Venice of the Alps.” Annecy is just about 3.5 hours by train from Paris on the TGV.

serbia rail europe
Serbia, now part of the Eurail Global Pass

4. Serbia – a hidden gem of Eastern Europe! Now included in the Eurail Global Pass as of 2015. (Bonus: check out the train travel guide for Eastern Europe that we wrote for our friends at Hostelworld)

5. And while we’re on the topic of Eastern Europe… Plovdiv, Bulgaria was named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2015. You can read the full article here.

6. Zermatt, Switzerland. In 2015 this city celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 1st ascent of the Matterhorn peak. Zermatt is also where you can start or end your ride on the scenic Glacier Express train.

zermatt rail europe
Zermatt, one of many beautiful stops on your train ride through Switzerland!


7. The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia. Because the best way to get over your bad relationship is to spend an afternoon browsing the remnants of a hundred other people’s bad relationships.

8. Mons, Belgium: one of 2015’s European Capitals of Culture. Five new art museums will open this year, complimenting a few public art installations and major international exhibitions. View more information here.

9. Chambord: one of France’s most stunning castles. There are a few nearby train stations depending on which direction you’re coming from — Blois is one of the more popular choices.

chambord rail europe
Chambord: as stunning as castles get! Image c/o Atout France USA

10. Monaco: the second smallest country in the world. Monaco is only about 15 minutes by train from Nice!

11. Montserrat is one of Spain’s hidden gems: home to a beautiful monastery and unique rock formations. Travel Tip: if you’re traveling with a Eurail Spain Pass, one of the rail pass bonuses is a discount on the cable lines in Montserrat!

12. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II mall in Milan is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. And one of the most beautiful! Read more about classic sites and hidden gems in Milan and Paris here.

milan rail europe
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II mall in Milan – a shopping lover’s paradise!

13. As far as hidden gems go, Amsterdam is full of them. The Cat Museum is one of our particular favorites: it houses paintings, sculptures, books, and posters dedicated to all aspects of feline life. The museum is a nice lighthearted change from the prestigious Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums frequented by most visitors.

14. Plzen in the Czech Republic is the other European Capital of Culture for 2015. You may have heard of it because of the popular type of beer produced there: Pilsner. If you’re heading to Prague, Plzen is just a quick 1.5 hour train ride away, perfect for a day trip!

15. Gornergrat Peak is considered to be one of the best areas in Switzerland for views of the famous Matterhorn mountain. (Read more about Gornergrat and the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland.)

montenegro rail europe
Montenegro, now part of the Eurail Global Pass

16. Montenegro: It joins Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Poland as new additions to the Eurail Global Pass in 2015. Fun fact about this tiny country: it contains 4 national parks!

17. Piazza Navona: highly recommended by locals as one of the best places to visit in Rome. Asking locals for advice is one of the best ways we can think of to find hidden gems during your travels.

18. Sibiu, Romania. Romania is more than just Dracula and…well…Dracula. In recent years Sibiu has been voted a European Capital of Culture and Europe’s 8th Most Idyllic Place to Live. Get there with your Balkan Flexipass.

saorge rail europe
Saorge, France — have you ever seen any town like this?

19. Saorge, France, one of the “perched villages” of Provence. Can you imagine strolling those streets for an afternoon?

20. Frigliana, Spain. This was one of our most popular posts all month! Frigiliana is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful Moorish villages in Spain. Frigiliana is located within the Andalusian region (a bit east of Malaga), which is served by AVE trains from throughout Spain.

Do you have any European hidden gems you’d add to our list?

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