The great grape getaway: Wine tasting Europe by train

There are times in life when having a car is more of an inconvenience than a luxury, and wine tasting is one of those times. Because let’s be honest, no one is really using the spittoon, are they?

So, as you can imagine, here at V&T, we were delighted to discover that many of Europe’s wine regions are accessible by train. And with Eurail’s Global Pass – and a good map – you can easily travel between countries, sipping at each stop carefree.

With hundreds of wine regions across Europe to choose from, a rail itinerary featuring some of the more undiscovered options to explore, is an epic way to drink in not only the fine wine of Europe – but also the beauty and culture of these countries.

Stop 1: Vienna, Austria

Vienna may be famous for its Imperial palaces, artistic and intellectual legacy (think Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud), and the MuseumsQuartier district. But venture a short distance from the Austrian capital city centre, and you’ll uncover over 600 vineyards making delectable drops ripe for a wine tasting. If you’re keen to stick close to town, Cobenzl and Kahlenberg, just north of Vienna, boast not just fine wine but epic views. And you can’t go past Mayer Am Pfarrplatz with their homemade seasonal specialities of typical Viennese delicacies for a meal. Staying overnight? Stick with the wine theme while staying at Hotel Rathaus Wien & Design.

Train Vines Eurail Vienna © Österreich Werbung _ Nina Baumgartner
See Vienna from the vineyards © Österreich Werbung | Nina Baumgartner

Stop 2: Gumpoldskirchen, Austria

After a restful sleep and hearty breakfast, catch a 30-minute train from Wien Meidling station to Gumpoldskirchen, your next wine destination. No Gumpoldskirchen experience is complete without trying a Zierfandler or Rotgipfler grape; both white wines are native to Gumpoldskirchen. Your visit might coincide with the Pleasure Mile wine festival weekend, which marks the town’s annual wine harvest in autumn. Later that day, take the train back to Vienna, ready for an onward overnight train ride to Zurich.

Hike through Gumpoldskirchen on the Train Vines tour with Eurail
Hike through Gumpoldskirchen © Raphael Cruz

Stop 3: Lake Zurich, Switzerland

Waking up in Zurich, treat yourself to a Zopf for breakfast. This traditional Swiss braided bread is usually served with butter and jam. Spend the morning exploring Zurich, especially its picturesque medieval lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town) by the Limmat River. m]Make time to also pop by the 17th-century Rathaus (Town Hall) before jumping on a train to Rapperswil Sg (Lake Zurich station). A few of our favourite vineyards here include Bachmann Winery, Diederik Winery and Höcklistein Winery. They all boast delicious drops of local wine, the Pinot Noir is a particular stunner. If you fancy extending your stay, make your way to the abbey-owned island of Ufenau on Lake Zuruich. Only accessible by boat, the island has been owned by the Einsiedeln Monastery since 965.

Zurich ©Zürich Tourism
Zurich ©Zürich Tourism

Stop 4: Freiburg, Germany

If you’re coming from Lake Zurich, your train to Freiburg, Germany, will take a mere two hours and 40 minutes, with a quick change in Zurich. Freiburg is a vibrant university city in Germany’s Black Forest and famed for its medieval old town. Its Gothic cathedral, Freiburg Minster, sits overlooking the main square, Münsterplatz, and a funicular runs up Schlossberg Hill, are both a must-do when visiting. Several wineries in Germany are run by the state. With Staatsweingut Freiburg (or, in English, Freiburg State Vineyard) is one of the finest. The state winery invests in research and further development of new methods to test new unique wines. With 37 hectares of land filled with vineyards of Riesling, Chardonnay and Burgundy grapes.

Explore Germany by train © Eurail

Stop 5: Mainz, Germany

Mainz is the next and final stop on this ventral Europe wine train tour. A 2,000-year-old city nestled on the banks of the Rhine River, much of the wine made in Mainz is by small, independent vintners. This adds an extra charm to the tasting experience. The organic winery, Weingut Schneider, has been cultivating wine since 1715 and is still family run by 6th generation winemaker, Mirjam Schneider. Nearby is Fleischer and Weingut, another 18th-century family-run winery. And just around the corner from Klein Weingut, also worth a wine stop. And this doesn’t need to be the end of your vine train adventures. You’re only a 30-minute by train away from Frankfurt to continue your vino and gastronomic adventures.

Plan the most epic travels – wine optional – using the most comprehensive European travel network with Eurail’s Global Pass. It connects travellers to over 30,000 destinations in 33 countries.

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