Nice to Barcelona, by Train [Photos]

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Nice to Barcelona, 1st Class Train Scenery

Nice to Barcelona, 1st Class Train Scenery

I’ve had the pleasure of travelling by rail through Europe the last four months using Eurail Passes, and I’m constantly surprised by the spectacular views I have from the comfort of my train seat.

Even on trips that aren’t “officially” listed as scenic routes by Eurail have been stunning, such as from Hamburg to Copenhagen which involved the train going on the ferry to cross the Baltic Sea.

My all-day train ride from Nice to Barcelona was another example of beautiful scenery: marsh-like areas, wind turbines and sparkling blue waters. This route isn’t designated as a scenic ride on the Eurail.com map, but in my eyes is worthy of sharing with a showcase of photos from the train carriage window.

You can find more Nice to Barcelona train photographs on my Facebook page: facebook.com/exploreforayear.

1st class coach on train from Nice to Barcelona.

Industrial scenery on the south of France.

Mediterranean waters along the coast of France.

One car on a stretch of sand/land between train tracks and water.

Windfarms in France, also a common other European countries Germany, Austria, Denmark.

Portbou train station, one of the stops between Nice-Barcelona.

South of Spain France, approaching Barcelona (thanks to Heidi for the correction).

Aside: Inspired by my travel photos? You should plan your own trip or consider all inclusive holidays to somewhere warm and sunny.

Practical tips

  • Train ride takes 12-13 hours (yikes!), fortunately there are multiple stops and the scenery is beautiful.
  • For train schedules, check the Bahn.de website for “Nice Ville” to “Barcelona Sants”
  • The rail troute from Barcelona to Nice (and vice versa) requires train seat reservations. I made reservations at the Nice train station, but you can also make a reservation online or by phone.
  • If you’re going from Nice to Barcelona, sitting on the left side of the train gives you a view of the Mediterranean, and the right side offers a great view of the marsh-like scenery.

I didn’t stop anywhere on the south of France, but after seeing the coast line and the charming towns the train passed, this region is somewhere I’d definitely consider visiting on a future trip to Europe.

>> Have you ever been to the south of France? Do you think it’s worth visiting if I find myself in France again later?

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Disclaimer: My Europe train passes were sponsored by Eurail.com. All photographs, trip plans and opinions are my own. If you have questions about buying Europe train passes, facebook.com/eurorail is a great place to ask.


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External sources on France-Spain rail travel:

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Lily, 

    Really enjoyed the blog and especially the pictures. I was surprised about how long it took though. I checked http://Loco2.co.uk and saw that you can do it in 9 hours if you go via Montpellier. I am a European train specialist (or geek!) so if you want any help or advice just give us a shout. 

  • 12-13 hrs is pretty long but at least you get beautiful scenery to look out the window.

  • Lily,hope you get to visit the south of France,it’s BEAUTIFUL!!!  I traveled along the Riviera  and saw such scenery from my 1st class window.I too traveled with a Eurail pass.Highly recommend Arles and Carmargue …and the village Les Baux.Have fun!

  • I would highly recommend stopping in the South of France!  I did your reverse trip last summer by boat on the Windstar Cruise line – Barcelona to Nice.  We stopped at ports like Sete, Le Levando, Cannes, Port Vendres and Marseille.  The little french markets are amazing.  Watching the older men play bocce ball in the park is wonderful.  These little seaside towns are stunning.

    • Hi Dana,

      Wow, I had no idea there was so many possibilities for the south of France. I’m glad I wrote this blog post so that I could hear the suggestions from you and the other travellers. I love how you’ve described these places, there’s nothing more beautiful, yet simple, than watching how local people spend their time. I remember seeing lots of old men & women dancing to an accordion at the fortress in Belgrade, it was so joyful.

      I’m adding the towns/cities you listed on the “ideas for next visit to Europe” ;) 

      – Lily

      P.S. Just followed you on Twitter!

  • Southern France is full of jewels. I especially like the Languedoc area – with dramatic scenery and even more dramatic history :)

    • Hi Sophie,

      This is the first time I’ve heard of this “Languedoc” region you’ve mentioned, but Googling the town shows lots of beautiful photos of hills, castles, cute houses and even beach. Thanks for the tip on this, I’m adding it to the list of places to investigate for next time ;)

      – Lily

  • Peng Leong1

    NIce to Barcelona by Train,The Scenery is amazing!
    Beautiful photos!

    -peng

    • Thanks Mom! :)

      – Lily

  • Love train travel in Europe!  So easy and always enjoy the views, even if they aren’t the most “scenic” ones.  Hoping to visit the south of France for the first time next year…it’s tentatively planned :-)

    • Hi Ashley,

      I love train travel in Europe too! As you mentioned, there are so many routes that are interesting and beautiful, even if they’re not the “official” scenic routes. Good luck with your trip planning ;)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      – Lily

  • I’ve done this trek a couple times and agree, the scenery is amazing! (I did the Hamburg to Copenhagen one too–I couldn’t believe that the train drove into a ferry!)

    • Hi Michael,

      By “done this trek” do you mean you’ve hiked along the coast? That’d be amazing! I couldn’t believe the train went on a ferry either for the Baltic Sea, I think that’s the coolest train experience I’ve ever had. Any other interesting train rides you’ve had in Europe?

      – Lily

  • First class coach looks quite comfortable.   Perfect for enjoying these views.

    • 1st class was quite comfy and had lots of power plugs for the MacBook – very perfect indeed for long train rides :)

      – Lily

  • Anonymous

    i loved the South of France…I would go back there again in a heartbeat!

    • Hi Jen,

      Now you’re really making me want to go back there, especially when it gets colder in the northern parts of Europe/North America ;)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      – Lily

  • I went to Cannes during the film festival, which was interesting but impossible to stay during that time. Also checked out Monaco, St. Tropez and a town just across the Italian border. I’d say there are better beaches elsewhere but if that’s the closest spot on the Mediterranean to you, go for it! The culture in itself is worth a look. Wouldn’t be my top choice for a place to visit in France, though =)

    • Hi Andrea and John,

      I’ve never heard of St. Tropez, I’ll have to look into that when I come back next time – Cannes for the film festival is on the bucket list! If you have other recommendations of where to visit in France, I’d love to hear them. I’ve only been to Paris and Nice so far…

      Thanks for stopping by!
      – Lily

      • Goodness – where to begin! I love the Burgundy region and the little towns of Champagne and Dijon. Normandy is nice too. North of Paris you can visit Monet’s actual famous lily garden as well. So much to see. The big one I haven’t been to is Bordeaux but friends went last year and loved it.

  • Christine C.

    Hi Lily,

    LOVE your blog and photos.  I usually come here for travel inspiration when I’m taking a break at work…

    Anyway, I’ve taken the Nice-Barcelona train ride myself but your pictures are just amazing!  I think I may have slept for most of the ride and missed the beautiful scenery. :(  But it seems like the coastal towns have a different ambiance to them – everything is just a little more laid back.

    Looking forward to more updates!

    ~Christine

    PS. I can’t think of a better place to spend a birthday. HBD!

    • Hi Christine,

      It’s great to hear from you! And thank you for the birthday wishes! 
      I find myself sleeping a lot on rides too, especially on long distance trips when the train smoothly chugging along. I totally agree that coastal towns (and small towns) are more laid back, people are friendlier and there’s less tourists too. I used to think I loved only metropolitan areas, but now I’m definitely a fan of stopping at smaller towns when I travel.

      I have about 10 months of backlogged photos, so there’ll definitely be more updates ;)

      A hug & 2 cheek kisses, 
      Lily

  • Dang, first class looks cush!  I should be booking that instead of economy.  :)

    • First class is very cushy! There’s lots of power outlets and tables too – perfect for going through photographs on the computer or typing up blog posts ;)

      – Lily

  • Heidi

    Hello Lily,
    My husband and I travelled to the south of France a couple of years ago. It’s a region I would love to visit again.
    Just a quick note on the caption under your last photo…if you were approaching Barcelona on this particular trip, you would have been in the south of France.
    I very much enjoyed your pics and posting.

    Heidi

    • Hi Heidi,

      I’ve only heard nice things about the south of France. I can’t believe how blue the water was. Thanks for your pointing out the caption on that last picture, I just updated it to say France instead of Spain ;)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Lily 

  • Jan

    Hello Lily,
    I enjoyed your comments about the Nice to Barcelona ride.  I made that trip years ago by car.  It is quite beautiful.
    My recent train rides in Russia were far less inspiring.
    As for taking photos from the train:  use a polarizing lens to eliminate the glare of the window. Use the Sports setting to take multiple shots..maybe one will be good.  also try moving your camera laterally at the same speed as the train (not sure about this one.)
    Check out my travels and photos at http://www.travelwithjan.com
    Cheers,
    Jan

    • Hi Jan,

      Good idea with driving along the coast, that’d be great for stopping for a swim or to get good photos of the view. I have a circular polarizer but it didn’t occur to me to use it until you mentioned it now. Luckily, I have a handful of train days left, so I’m going to give that a try next time – thanks for the tip, and for sharing your blog too :)

      Warmest regards,
      – Lily

  • Hi Lily,
    The 12-13 hours train ride feels a bit boring, but the scenery alone makes it all worthwhile. I’m definitely going to use Eurail if I’m ever in Europe :)

    • Hi Eddie,

      A 12-13 hour train ride does sound long, doesn’t it? Luckily most trains have power outlets so I can also use my MacBook to watch movies, read or sort through photos while I’m on the train. I have to say that having a Eurail pass is really convenient, especially for travelling on hi-speed trains that don’t require seat reservations, like the German and Austrian train companies because it leaves more room for spontaneity.

      Feel free to let me know if you need any Europe trip planning help later :)

      – Lily