Relaxation and Wellness on European Trains

Train travel might cost more than zipping through the sky in a plane, but it’s often the better choice for eco-conscious travelers. It’s also increasingly a luxury experience.

Ruchita Shah is a journalist in Mumbai, where local trains are the lifeline for many city-dwellers who spend hours commuting every day. She founded a program in 2017 where yoga teachers perform poses on the train, with permission from railway officials.

French Alps

In the Alps, yoga is more than just exercise, it’s also a way to relax and unwind. There are a wide range of yoga instructors and retreats that offer everything from beginner classes to advanced. And with so many options, it’s easy to find a practice that suits your style and schedule.

Whether you’re looking to stretch out the knots and cricks in your back or simply want to get some fresh air, train travel is an excellent option for your wellness getaway. And with a number of scenic routes in the French Alps, there’s no shortage of ways to soak up breathtaking mountain views.

A great option is the Mont-Blanc Express, which runs between St Gervais/Le Fayet and Chamonix, passing through cozy villages in the Trient valley, across deep gorges with waterfalls, and over the Col des Montets before arriving into Martigny, Switzerland. With 291 tunnels and impressive bridges, it’s one of the most spectacular train journeys in Europe.

Another great option is the Train des Merveilles, which translates to “train of wonders.” While it’s not quite as spectacular as the Mont-Blanc Express, it does boast some pretty incredible scenery. Departing from Nice five times a day, this route takes you through the stunning Mercantour National Park and beyond to the lake-filled wilderness of the Haute-Savoie region. With a round-trip ticket, it’s perfect for those who want to relax and unwind during their Alpine getaway.

The Chiltern Railway has taken things a step further and offers complimentary yoga classes on certain trains as part of a new mindfulness zone. These classes are a wonderful way to put down your phone and focus on yourself while enjoying a relaxing journey. You can even try your hand at the choo-choo pose or the aisle twist to see how well you do!

Yoga and commuting are the perfect combo for Mumbai-based journalist Ruchita Shah. Seeing how millions of people use their local train as their lifeline or second home, Shah came up with the idea of leading yoga sessions on board while travelling. And so far, her efforts have been fruitful as her sessions are attracting more and more participants each year.


Trains are the best way to connect with Tuscany’s gorgeous landscapes, whether you’re headed up and over the Brusio viaduct or meandering along the valley floor. During a trip to this region of Italy’s heartland, you’ll soak in the liquid dreamy panoramas of vineyard-lined hills, cypress trees, and terracotta roofs.

Getting around within Tuscany’s larger cities and towns is simple enough, especially if you opt for high-speed Italo or Frecciarossa trains like those connecting Rome with Florence, and Bologna with Venice. Slower regionale or intercity Trenitalia trains ply the route between Rome and Florence, with stops in smaller towns such as Pisa and Lucca. Some of these trains may continue north to Milan or Venice.

Buses are another option for visiting Tuscany’s small towns and rural areas, particularly those without rail connections. Many local companies, such as SITABUS and TuscanyBus, have buses that link city centers with smaller villages and towns. The good news is that public bus schedules tend to be more reliable than those of trains, and a number of local operators offer English-language service.

To reach the island ports of Elba and Giglio, ferries depart several times daily from Piombino. Ferry schedules vary depending on the season, but you can expect trips to take about an hour. Some ferries allow cars, while others don’t.

If you’d prefer to see more of Tuscany on foot, hiking and multi-day walking tours are an excellent choice. Hike and Bike Italy and Camino Ways offer guided or self-guided trips, including multi-day tours that follow the Via Francigena, or Way of St. Francis, into Sicily and beyond. In addition to soaking in the scenery from your cabin, you’ll also have plenty of time for a leisurely stroll or a rejuvenating dip in one of the many mineral springs and thermal baths that dot the area, such as the eye-catching pool in Bagno Vignoni, once a pilgrimage stop. There are a number of thermal spas that are free to visit, and others that require admission or treatment packages. The waters are believed to have healing properties for vascular, rheumatic, and respiratory ailments.


Train travel isn’t something one normally associates with yoga, but Austria has some of the most scenic routes in Europe. The country, wedged between Switzerland and Germany, has mountainous territories that offer plenty of technical challenge to railroad designers and awe-inspiring views for passengers.

Amid the stunning landscapes and culturally rich cities, you can glide through the countryside on a luxury train. A Eurail pass will allow you to explore the country at your leisure while enjoying a comfortable seat and a beverage from the onboard bar. Whether you’re travelling in Second or First Class, your journey will be an experience to remember.

For a touch of history, step aboard the Majestic Imperator train de luxe, an opulent carriage inspired by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The train is decked out in golds and deep greens, wood-carved Italian chairs and paintings of the Royal Family. Take Salon 1, a replica of Emperor Franz Joseph I’s parlour car that can accommodate up to 14 people. Each cabin offers luxurious amenities such as fine dining, a bar and a cloakroom.

There’s also the option to celebrate New Year’s Eve aboard the Majestic Imperator, where you can dance into the new year while the clock chimes midnight. After a champagne welcome and a dance-off, you can sit back and enjoy the fireworks over the city of Vienna.

A trip to Austria is a wonderful way to explore the European continent’s stunning alpine scenery, culturally rich cities and charming small villages. Discover the best of Bavaria with trips to Neuschwanstein Castle and the Oktoberfest, or enjoy a graceful baroque heart in Vienna. Then savor the delights of Salzburg, where Mozart and the von Trapp children left behind a legacy as magical as their music. Whether you’re exploring a region by rail or savouring its delicious food and chocolates, Austria has something for everyone.


As anyone who’s crammed themselves into a crowded train will tell you, commuting can be stressful. But what if you could do something to make your journey less tense? The answer is now available on British trains thanks to new offerings that range from yoga to mindfulness.

For those of you who aren’t sure what this means, it simply involves doing things to focus on the here and now. That includes breathing, relaxation and focusing on the scenery around you. The idea is to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life – the noise, the deadlines and the stress – and to focus on your wellbeing.

Trains can be a great way to decompress, especially when the route you’re taking passes through picture-postcard countryside. But it can be hard to find a spot to stretch out, particularly if your train is packed. That’s why Chiltern Railways has teamed up with Oxford Mindfulness Centre to offer travellers complimentary yoga classes on select services. The classes are designed to help people switch off their phones and take a break from the noise of daily life.

It’s not the only new development on UK trains that combines exercise with wellness. You can now learn how to knit, doodl and macrame on board a train thanks to new carriages dedicated to arts and crafts. The move is a part of the Traineeships for All initiative, which aims to help young people into training and apprenticeships in the rail industry.

And for those with a dog, there’s even a yoga class specifically for humans and their canines. It encourages the minds and bodies of both to relax, and has a global Instagram community of nearly 6,000 followers.

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