Sitting back and watching an ever changing landscape through the window is one of the things which makes a good train journey so magical. And – as they say – it’s about the journey, not just the destination.
Across Europe there are some incredible railway journeys you can take, but you do not have to travel far to enjoy one of these amazing experiences. According to Lonely Planet, one of the best rail experiences in Europe is right here in the UK – and not too far from Greater Manchester.
The travel experts have released a new guide on train travel in Europe, which is becoming more popular as an alternative to carbon-heavy flying. Among the top five journeys is the Llandudno to Porthmadog loop.
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This breath-taking train journey takes in the stunning scenery of North Wales, traveling from the seaside town of Llandudno, stopping off at Blaenau Ffestiniog on the way to Porthmadog. The route incorporates two narrow-gauge railways, making it easier to navigate the mountainous landscape.
Lonely Planet recommends catching a service from Llandudno Junction through the Conwy Valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. You can catch a direct train from Manchester to Llandudno, which takes around two hours, or change at Chester, so you do not have to worry about having a car.
From here you can change for the famous Ffestiniog Railway, which travels down to the coast for 13 miles to Porthmadog. You’ll be treated to glorious views along the way including waterfalls, streams and deep valleys.
You’ll notice the grittiness of the former slate mining town giving way to lush greenery. The line twists and turns through the Snowdonia landscape giving you the chance to look back at the train as you turn round bends.
The train finishes its journey at the bustling harbor town of Porthmadog, which originally developed to export slate but is now a popular destination with tourists. It’s also near the pretty village of Portmeirion, which looks like an Italian resort.
On the return you can catch the Welsh Highland Railway, which winds itself around the base of Snowdon, to the gorgeous walled town of Caernarfon. It’s the longest heritage railway in the UK and takes you to the foothills of Snowdon.
The 25-mile journey takes around two hours, giving you plenty of time to sit back and admire the scenery. Arriving in Caernarfon you’ll spot the town’s impressive castle, one of the most famous in Wales.
It’s the perfect place to finish your journey and from here you can catch a bus back to Bangor and return to the mainline. Or you extend your trip and stay for a few days.
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