All Aboard: 40+ Breathtaking Train Rides Around The Globe
Ah, the charm of taking a train ride. People are lured to this opulent, antiquated style of travel for a reason. Train rides that focus more on scenic routes rather than the destination have become so popular over the years. Moreover, most of them are prompt, exceptionally comfortable, and speedy. Train journeys represent the ultimate luxury in travel experiences.
There is an aspect to be enjoyed from the unique viewpoint offered by riding a train, as you can take in the surroundings in a manner that is impossible with other forms of transportation. When traveling by train, you can frequently access areas that regular roads cannot, such as remote Malaysian jungles, vast deserts, or the Canadian Rockies. Here are a few more train routes you should consider for your next one!
Golden Chariot, India
The famed golden and purple Golden Chariot links six Indian states. It is one of the most comfortable ways to experience the country’s sites. These are areas with popular Southern Indian attractions and less-traveled locales. All tours leave from Bengaluru, and there are three-night and six-night versions available.
The advantage of this railway route is that it can take you to less famous sights (including the ancient city of Hampi), unlike those on the well-trodden Golden Triangle. With this one, you can experience the full enchantment that India offers its visitors.
The Maharajas’ Express, India
The Maharaja’s Express welcomes you with marigold wreaths and fragrant rose petals scattered at your feet when you embark. After that, you will be escorted to your suite by your private butler. Compared to typical standards, the junior suites on this train are remarkably spacious.
They also have full-sized closets, separate bathrooms, and cable TV. There are numerous chairs, plush sofas, novels, and games in each onboard bar (the Safari Bar and the Raja Club). Every day on this route offers unique chances to discover India while enjoying the luxuries.
Deccan Odyssey, India
This 2,300-foot-long, spectacular 21-coach train is easily recognizable, even from afar, thanks to its regal blue hue. The train, run by renowned Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, is named for the Deccan Plateau. This line provides a few distinct weekly itineraries throughout Maharashtra.
There’s Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, a small gym, spa, bar, and library, plus a meeting room that transforms into a dance floor at night! Excellent dining is guaranteed at both onboard restaurants, run by Taj Hotels. Judging by this list, India should feature prominently in your list!
Inca Rail, Peru
When it comes to practicality, Inca Rail is hard to beat if you want to commute to Machu Picchu. Compared to other luxury operators on the same route, its First-Class services seem more reasonably priced. Also, it offers delicious food made with local organic products.
You will even get to enjoy lively Peruvian music while onboard. There are many windows where you can take in the breathtaking Andean scenery, plus a roomy observatory lounge with an outdoor balcony. This is one train journey that is definitely worth the cost.
Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
While on a Rocky Mountaineer trip, you will travel through the incredible landscapes connecting Vancouver, British Columbia, Banff, Jasper, and Alberta. You’ll also enjoy native Canadian wine, beer, and snacks, throughout your journey. The employees on board are said to be exceptionally helpful. Not surprising since, well, it’s Canada!
Also, their engaging narration aid in bringing the scenery to life. Such thoughtful details ensure that visitors consistently leave their trips feeling happy. Rocky Mountaineer has made a name for itself as the biggest privately-owned luxury tourist train in the world since its founding in 1990.
The Canadian, Canada
The Canadian is a special sleeper service provided by the Via Rail company, the nation’s rail carrier. While on board, absorb every inch of the enormous Canadian landscape. Remember that instead of stepping out and doing something, this train is mainly focused on sightseeing while in the comfort of your car.
However, if you’re taking the luxurious Prestige Class, where you have your own private cabin, bathroom, and integrated TV display featuring video choices, you’ll be more than happy to observe the ride from the comfort of your own private picture window.
Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland
As we mentioned before, sometimes the journey is what matters most. If you’re a firm believer in this, then there isn’t a more luxurious or practical way to travel by train than on the Belmond Royal Scotsman. It leaves and arrives at Waverley Station in Edinburgh with only 40 passengers on board.
This locomotive traverses the Scottish Highlands’ interior, passing notable areas like the Cairngorms National Park. There is even a unique spa carriage where the professionals are taught to coordinate their movements with the train’s movements as it runs on the tracks.
Golden Eagle Danube Express, Central and Eastern Europe
The Silk Road and Trans-Siberian routes are quite well-known. However, the Danube Express opens up a route to Southern and Eastern Europe that is just as magnificent and fascinating. The “Castles of Transylvania” journey between Istanbul and Budapest is especially fascinating.
While you’re here, spend the day taking guided excursions to find out more about the past of Vlad the Impaler, and then enjoy the entire night in the luxury of your fancy accommodation. This journey combines the most beautiful cities and the most stunning natural scenery in all of Europe.
British Pullman, A Belmond Train, England
The majority of luxury trains in the world appear to be found in England. Look at the Pullman, with its extremely comfortable atmosphere and its Art Deco features. You’ll travel through the picturesque British countryside after leaving London, stopping at places like Cambridge, York, and Canterbury.
Beautiful scenery is aplenty throughout the route. Expect gleaming furnishings and traditionally cooked multi-course meals as the refurbished carriages date to the 1920s and 1930s! It’s the very same train route that has so long serviced British leaders and the ruling class.
Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan
When it comes to the Seven Stars, it’s not just about the onboard journey. Every square inch of the Kyushu train was created by Japanese designers, starting from the beds and the bathroom fixtures to the furniture and the porcelain dinnerware.
The three-night excursions offered make a circuit of the island of Kyushu. You will be stopping at the finest shrines, onsens (hot springs), porcelain places, and other attractions along the way, giving you the impression that you are discovering a part of Japan that hasn’t yet been discovered by most of the world.
Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
This train is one of the most popular train rides in Peru. It gracefully passes around the Peruvian Andes at an impressive height of over 4000 m. Additionally, it features just over 30 cabins on board, and everything is furnished with natural textiles.
Each guest is treated to delicious snacks and champagne by two dining cars as well as two bar cars. The railway also offers trips to Lake Titicaca, where tourists may explore the Incan ruins and discover local culture while taking in the stunning scenery.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe
This is easily one of the most recognizable locomotives in the globe, and it manages to maintain its position as a leader in luxury. The outstanding service offered puts this line in a class of its own. Its luxurious furnishings are an ode to the Art Deco style from the 1920s.
Enjoy the best Swiss and French scenery while on this ride. This extravagant train is receiving even more opulent renovations in 2023, with eight additional suites, including two of which will be authentic carriages from the 1920s and 1930s expertly renovated by French designers and artisans.
Palace on Wheels, India
Even from the name, you can deduce that this train provides a variety of unforgettable experiences. The trips offered start in New Delhi and travel through Rajasthan’s renowned Pink City of Jaipur, where visitors are greeted by magnificent UNESCO monuments, including the Amer Fort.
You can also go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. This would be an ideal spot to pause on your tour and witness a number of the nation’s most famous landmarks. During this trip, you will enjoy local cuisine while traveling in comfortable, vibrant carriages decorated with Indian fabrics.
Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
This South American train ride is as fancy as a train ride can get. Those who know a bit of history can tell it’s named after the guy who “found” Machu Picchu. Starting from Poroy, the Lost City, as well as the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu, are accessed via a round-trip trek.
This ride cranks up the enchantment of the start of the 20th century, with its sparkling glossy hardwood and brass surfaces as well as opulent feasts and lodgings. All of these allow lots of space to spread out so you can enjoy the mountains and waterways racing past the window.
The Ghan, Australia
The Ghan, which was finished in 1929, is one of the best ways to see the land down under since it passes through the center of the Australian continent. The name “Ghan” comes from the Afghan camel riders and instructors mentioned in Australia’s history.
These people originally assisted in outlining a route across the country’s heartland. The train lulls across Australia’s Red Centre during the three-day, all-inclusive tour. You get a chance to explore the vast grooves of the MacDonnell Ranges, take in Simpsons Gap’s breathtaking splendor, and stop in Coober Pedy to see the opal mines.
Rovos Rail, Africa
These special trains are one of the most famous ones on the African continent. Guests on the Rovos Rail are given special access to an exclusive lounge after they leave Pretoria. Here, they are greeted with Champagne and canapés. The three-night trip to Cape Town is absolutely timeless.
But if you’re feeling particularly adventurous with a few extra nights left, choose the more recent fifteen-day “Trail of Two Oceans” route, which starts in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, ends in Lobito, Angola, and crosses Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia. Simply unforgettable.
Eastern & Oriental Express, Southeast Asia
This ride from Singapore to Bangkok is something of a legend among train lovers. It features an old-world dining area equipped with refined silver and white-linen draped tables, along with a bar car, which is evocative of jazz clubs from the 1920s. It’s a trip to a different era.
Also, the wood-paneled halls featuring silky trimming will appeal to classical-style aficionados everywhere. A trip aboard the E&O is undoubtedly reminiscent of a more lavish time. To properly admire the passing Malaysian jungles, get a cocktail from the bar, then walk to the external viewing area.
Northern Belle, Great Britain
Aboard this gorgeously preserved 1930s train that weaves through the beautiful countryside of England, Scotland, and Wales, the cuisine is king. The available itineraries are all-day trips; thus, they take up a lesser amount of time (and expense) compared to other luxurious trains we’ve featured.
The Northern Belle compensates for any length issues with excellence. You can savor traditional British cooking as the heaths, pastures, and dales pass by. This train truly offers some magnificent meals, which happen to be made primarily from ingredients sourced locally.
La Trochita (The Old Patagonian Express), Argentina
In South America, it can be hard to locate a passenger train, especially one this old. Riding La Trochita, commonly called “the Old Patagonian Express,” is like traveling through time. There are two choices for the three-hour looping scenic tours on this route.
One is via Esquel and Nahuel Pan, and the second connects El Maitén and Desvo Thomae. The government reinstated La Trochita as a tourist destination nearly two decades ago. This is THE journey if you want to see Argentina’s expansive and majestic scenery.
Al Andalus, Spain
This five-star premium sleeper train is also referred to as the Spanish Palace on Wheels. It is a chic way to explore several of Andalusia’s most well-known sights. The journey starts at the Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral, continuing on toward the Gothic cathedral in Seville and stopping at the Alhambra.
The journey is filled with numerous scenic stops. Once dusk falls, it’s time to indulge in tapas, gazpacho, and jamón ibérico, with an abundance of dry sherry. Overall, taking this train is the best way to experience the wonder that is Andalusia.
The Reunification Express, Vietnam
Some railroads rumble across ancient cities, while others soar along breathtaking coastlines. But both of these aspects are met by the North-South Railway, also referred to as the Reunification Express line. This route is among the most well-liked railway rides in Southeast Asia.
There isn’t a more spectacular way to arrive in Vietnam’s twin metropolises than by journeying more than a thousand kilometers between Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi in the north. There is also no better approach to discovering all the splendors in between than with this train ride.
The California Zephyr, USA
Amtrak’s California Zephyr train takes passengers through the breathtaking scenery of North America. On its traditional three-day trip from Chicago to San Francisco, this route travels almost 2500 miles (4000 km) through the prairies, the deserts, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada.
The entire trip is breathtaking. If you must only experience one portion, pick the thrilling 185-mile (298-kilometer) route from Denver to Glenwood Springs. Here, the railway passes through an unpaved wilderness of deeply steep gorges close to the sources of the Colorado River.
London to Fort William on the Caledonian Sleeper, UK
Throughout this overnight train journey, you’ll undergo a transition. It starts from the smoky suburbs and crammed concrete-lined paths of central London into the fresh air and expansive panoramas of the Scottish Highlands. Waking up to views of soaring granite peaks at your bedside is one of the biggest highlights of this ride.
It’s simply a shame that everything about it seems to end in an instant. The Caledonian is unquestionably the most enjoyable railway journey in Britain, despite the fact that it is relatively brief, particularly in comparison with the many overland journeys included in this list.
The Tranzalpine, New Zealand
This trip is regarded as one of the best and most picturesque one-day train excursions in the entire globe. It covers a wide range of very distinctive microclimates on New Zealand’s South Island. The TranzAlpine adventure in Christchurch, then travels fast over the Southern Alps’ snow-capped peaks.
You will be passing the Canterbury Plains en route. The South Island’s West Coast streams, lakes, and rainforests are visible after journeying through some of the nation’s more inaccessible alpine terrains. From there, solo travelers can enjoy more breathtaking seaside and mountain landscapes.
The Tokaido Shinkansen, Japan
No one rides the Shinkansen to take in the scenery since it passes by too quickly to savor. The onboard experience offered by Japan’s bullet trains, however, is unmatched. Travelers form a line on the train platform, board in a single file, and travel the entire way silently.
While on a Shinkansen, enjoy the Ekiben (boxed meals) offered. Ekiben is distinctive for each region of Japan since merchants are encouraged to highlight their specialties using regional, seasonal components. Purchase a box, relax, and enjoy the journey from start to finish.
The Trans-Mongolian Express, Mongolia to China
The Trans-Siberian Express passes through a route that is at the very top of most railfans’ travel wish lists. It’s a journey that connects Moscow with Beijing and has some of the most varied and amazing scenery you can experience during a single ride.
The last part of the journey, especially, is quite interesting. The landscape changes to barren red flatlands featuring grassy mounds spread across the horizon while traveling from Siberia into Mongolia. Travelers should be able to see the Great Wall squirming off in the far distance when they awaken in China.
The Riviera Railway, France to Italy
This journey starts in a posh metropolis and ends an hour and a half later in a humble yet picturesque market town in Italy. It is used by all commuter trains traveling from France to Italy. The double-decker train takes passengers through sun-dappled towns and villages.
It also passes the Ligurian Sea and travels via lesser-known seaside getaways like Cagnes-sur-mer, Juan les Pins, and Antibes. The train ferries passengers close to the picturesque coast with stops in Nice and Monaco before entering coarsely packed hills and slowing towards the historic Italian station.
The Sunset Limited, USA
This was the first branded train in the States, and it rides between New Orleans to Los Angeles. It rides across the Deep South in a little over two days. Take your place aboard the expansive observation car and get to view a wide cross-section of American culture.
Highlights along the journey include runaways, farmers, Amish carpenters, singers, and instructors. Travelers have lots of time to spend reading as they pass by the bayous of Louisiana, the succulent vegetation of New Mexico, as well as the deep-red sunsets of Arizona.
The Burma Railway (Death Railway), Thailand
During World War II, the Japanese pressed Allied war prisoners to work on a railroad linking Thailand and Burma. These men slaved to construct 257 miles of this railroad line in mere 14 months. Presently, only a mere 130 km section of the railroad still exists in Thailand.
The route maintains Ban Pong’s town as its starting point and terminates at Nam Tok, the current terminus of the Death Railway on the outskirts of Erawan National Park. This location is ideally situated east of Bangkok and northwest of Kanchanaburi.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway
This route reaches its highest point at more than 5,000 meters above sea level. Therefore, be fairly warned that though this is an amazing journey, you could experience altitude sickness. It connects Xining on the Chinese mainland with Lhasa in Tibet. To be honest, this one traverses dangerous terrain.
It was actually once thought impossible to complete. The Kunlun Mountains close in on the compartments as the train ascends, causing the air to become thinner and the dust to change to ice. Therefore pure oxygen is forced into the compartments to ensure ease of breathing.
The Mandovi Express, India
The Sahyadri highlands stretch on one end while the Arabian Sea glitters on the other. The Mandovi Express winds along the Konkan Coast in a little under twelve hours, passing the above views. Around 0700 hrs, the train speeds out of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus toward the suburbs.
As it descends toward Goa, the train passes over nearly 2,000 bridges, notably the tallest viaduct in India, while being surrounded by coconut gardens and palm trees. Additionally, the Mandovi Express boasts of having Indian Railways’ best pantry car. Great food and majestic views make for an excellent trip!
The Rupert Rocket, Canada
Few Canadians have been on the Skeena train (aka The Rupert Rocket), which departs from Jasper National Park in Alberta and continues well into the interior of British Columbia. The train departs three days a week and travels northwest, past the Cariboo Mountains, including a snow-covered Mount Robson.
It travels via little stops with names like Kwinitsa, Vanderhoof, and Penny (which houses less than 10 residents and a few dogs), passes First Nations reservations, sawmill villages, and freshwater lakes until finally terminating in Prince Rupert after an overnight stay in Prince George.
Sagano scenic railway, Japan
This 19th-century narrow-gauge railway lumbers about 15 miles per hour while giving travelers up-close vistas of the Hozu River. The exquisite aroma of cherry blossoms sweeps off the blushing Sakura during the spring. That said, most people prefer to visit in autumn.
That’s when the Japanese maples put on a show with a variety of hues that make the woods look like they are on fire. The mountainsides appear to have been painted with pots of paint as they blaze in hues of bright orange, tangerine, and crimson.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
From Engadine to the Matterhorn, the Glacier Express provides a sensory-rich adventure that only Switzerland is capable of providing. It transports passengers in comfort from opulent St. Moritz to comparably Zermatt, enticing them with beautiful sights and cutting-edge technological accomplishments.
Since the trip lasts roughly eight hours, the commute is also known as the “slowest express train in the world.” The Glacier Express offers unrestricted views of distinctive scenery with its enormous panoramic windows. During its long journey, the locomotive rumbles within 91 tunnels and traverses 291 bridges.
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, USA
This narrow gauge railroad is as historic as it gets. It has been operating since 1881! The roundtrip distance is approximately 45.2 miles, and the entire travel time is 9 hours and 25 minutes. Also, the track is a mere 3 feet wide, making it an engineering marvel.
This line is usually in service between early May and late October. Fun fact: this train is even more famous since it was featured in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
The Grand Canyon Railway, USA
This 130-mile round-way excursion starts in Williams, Arizona, roughly thirty miles west of Flagstaff. It then travels northward to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Travelers are urged to adopt an ‘Old West’ attitude while going through the stops.
You’ll be passing Williams’ Ponderosa Pine Forest, the wide prairie, and finally, the Pinion Pine Forest. Along with the breathtaking scenery, visitors might see an array of wildlife. The South Rim may also be explored for roughly three hours, featuring the iconic Grand Canyon Depot as the first stop.
Denali Star, USA
The Denali Star route’s focal point is Denali National Park. From Anchorage to Fairbanks, the full journey is more than 350 miles long, with stops in Talkeetna as well as Denali National Park. Two trains run daily from Anchorage and Fairbanks at 0815 hrs.
These end up reaching the intended location at roughly 2000 hrs in the evening. Most travelers will stay one or two nights at Denali Park or Talkeetna simply because of the distance, and many won’t go much farther North beyond Denali Park.
Napa Valley Wine Train, USA
Among the delights of the 36-mile round-trip route from downtown Napa to St. Helena is traveling past fields of grapevines, through agricultural land, and via lovely vineyards with an expanse of green hills. Board in the Napa industrial area and take in the city’s modern outdoor artwork.
These include sculptures, murals, landscape design, and parks. Continue on while enjoying fine cuisine and wines while passing the towns of Rutherford, Yountville, and Oakville. With a number of destinations and winery excursions available, it’s a quick and convenient way to discover and sample Napa’s wines.
Pacific Surfliner, USA
San Luis Obispo is where this Amtrak line enters the Pacific Coast. Ride 350 kilometers through picturesque villages, sandy beaches, and rugged coastlines from there. You can stop by the museums in Balboa Park, go dining in Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter, or both when in San Diego.
Afterward, join the Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara. Spend some time exploring Los Angeles’ Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles, or the Mexican marketplaces on Olvera Street. While you patiently await to get on for the next journey, eat at Traxx and enjoy a drink there.
The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland
This 84-mile return journey begins in Fort William and passes through rolling verdant hills, azure lochs, deep ravines, and sleepy towns. Traversing the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, which offers a view of Loch Shiel and the Jacobite memorial, is the centerpiece of this journey.
It served as the inspiration for the Hogwarts Express, thanks to West Coast Railways, which runs the Jacobite. The train passes through the charming communities of Lochailort, Arisaig, and Morar before making a brief halt at Glenfinnan Station. The train is active from April to October.
The Chepe Express, Mexico
Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon, which is estimated to be four times as big as the Grand Canyon, is, in fact, made up of multiple smaller canyons. The journey on the Chepe Express between Los Mochis on the west coast towards Creel takes approximately nine hours.
This duration depends on where you embark. The train travels over 37 bridges in addition to 86 tunnels. It was opened in 1961, several decades after construction had started. Fair warning; rough terrain, peaks, canyons, steep ravines, as well as farmland make up the environment of the route.
Metro-North Railroad Hudson Line, USA
This commuter departs the Grand Central Terminal in New York City and continues to Poughkeepsie by following the eastern bank of the Hudson River. The two-hour journey includes stops in historic villages with sights of the river, woodlands, and opulent mansions.
Regular passengers may take the view as a given, but tourists can take pleasure in the breathtaking round-trip voyage. The train departs Manhattan and travels north, passing Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and continuing through villages that are definitely worth stopping by and exploring.
Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia
Beginning in Cairns, this two-hour train journey travels through landscapes with forests, cascades, peaks, and ravines. One of Queensland’s most well-known wilderness areas, Barron Gorge, can be seen via the train just outside of Kuranda, which is where the train route ends.
Visitors can visit a café in Kuranda or buy artwork and crafts manufactured in the area. Other places of interest include a reptile park, a butterfly sanctuary, plus an aviary for birds. The almost century-old Kuranda Station is also included in the tourist experience.
Kandy to Ella Train, Sri Lanka
Passengers travel through outlying towns and villages, past cascades and verdant hills, as well as the nation’s famed tea estates on this seven-hour journey. Sri Lanka’s rail network was initially constructed by the British in the late 1800s to carry tea and coffee for exportation.
Nowadays, traveling by train is a preferred method for seeing the country’s varying landscapes, communities, and locals. Ella, the endpoint, is a small, exceptionally scenic town, but Kandy is bigger and boasts the picturesque Kandy Lake and the Temple of the Tooth.
Trondheim to Bodø, Norway
The Nordlandsbanen is the most extensive railway in Norway because it is the only one that traverses the Arctic Circle. From Trondheim to Bod, where ferries heading to the Lofoten islands sail, one can view woodlands, farms, hills, streams, and fjords.
In the Saltfjellet hills, there is a marker that denotes the Arctic Circle. Passengers get the opportunity to view the midnight sun during summertime and the aurora borealis in wintertime, thanks to the two trains (daytime ones) and the one sleeper that stops here.