The real Semmering
Semmering is a relatively well-known name. We can come across the name of Ore Mountain Semmering, Prague Semmering or Saxon Semmering. All these names are synonymous with a technically demanding ascent track, tunnels and viaducts. But only one Semmering is the original, the right one, the one in neighbouring Austria. It’s a section of track that’s almost 42 km long between Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag. It’s part of the so-called southern railway linking Vienna with Graz and Mürzzuschlag.
From these cities, the trains continue further south for example to Slovenia. The railway line across the Austrian Semmering Pass is so unique that it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. This track is considered to be the first mountain railway in the world. The construction of the railway was started in 1848 and at the time of its foundation it refuted all the ideas on the railway transport possibilities at that time. The amazing scenery of the wild mountains certainly captures the imagination of photographers.
From glaciers to palm trees
Spiral tunnels, gorges, castles, viaducts. Swiss nature in the palm of your hand. In 2008, the Bernina lookout railway in eastern Switzerland was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. From Swiss Chur through a diverse landscape, we can reach Tirana in Italy. Thanks to the red, shiny Bernina Express train, the Alps can be spectacularly overcome in just a few hours. During a four-hour ride, the train with panoramic windows approaches glaciers, climbs to an altitude of 2,253 m and then descends to town full of sun and palm trees. The symbol of the whole route is the Landwasser Viaduct.
Train of pine cones
Let‘s leave the mountains for a moment and head for the railway that leads through charming villages, olive groves, a landscape scented with thyme and lavender. We can take a nostalgic train Le Train des Pignes train in France for our trip. Train of pine cones. Why the name? Pine cones from local forests were used in the 1930s for heating steam locomotives. The “pine train” line runs from Nice to Digne-les-Bains, a spa town at the foot of the Alps. The track rises from the seashore around numerous villages to the Alpine foothills. The train passes 47 bridges and 27 tunnels on a three-hour ride. On this nostalgic trip we can go on pleasant hikes and walks from individual stops and train stations on marked hiking trails through the beautiful Provencal countryside to the mountain villages.
To the heart of the High Tatras
We don’t have to go far for another unforgettable train journey. To our neighbours to Slovakia - the smallest high mountains in the world can be reached by the diverse and unique sub-Tatra railway route. The High Tatras are the imaginary crown of Slovakia. Unique natural scenery, high rock peaks, deep valleys, clear glacial lakes. For example, we can get off the train in Poprad and go to Popradské pleso, Strbske pleso, Tatranska Lomnica or Lomnicky štít peak. The diversity of the Tatra nature attracts visitors to discover it. Travel on board of Leo Express trains from Prague via Pardubice, Olomouc, Ostrava, Žilina to Poprad. Directly to the entrance gate of the Tatra Mountains.
text: Markéta Andrová
you can find the whole article in the summer issue of the Leo Express magazine