There’s something so very old-world and charming in a train journey. Some of the most scenic routes high up in the hills or through blissfully green valleys are still train routes. Not all places in the world are navigable by motor car. Here are the great train journeys around the world offering not-to-miss scenic rides.
1. Venice Simplon-Orient Express, Europe
This express has been immortalized in cinema and by royal patronage. It was built in the early 20th-century, and is an ode to the elegance of the times. It still offers impeccable service on its rather scenic journey via Venice, Paris, Vienna and Budapest, Copenhagen and Stockholm.
2. The Trans-Siberian Train, Russia
The Trans-Siberian is a 10,555 km long ride from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok across tundra and forest. $1 billion was spent to upgrade this route. The train offers both pricey private compartments and cheap 40-bed carriages, along with endless refreshments for all.
3. The Canadian
This cross-continent, 4466-kilometer, 4-day rail journey between Toronto and Vancouver is a real joy. You’ll enjoy fabulous views of green forests surrounding blue lakes and distant cloud-topped prairies. The glaciers of the Rocky Mountains are a compelling sight, as are the waterfalls at Jasper. As for wildlife, the occasional bear, elk and deer are definite.
4.The Amtrak Surfliner, Carpinteria, Southern California
This train takes you from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, hugging the blissful Pacific Coast Highway. It stops at the architecturally magnificent Union Station and then through Los Angeles’s urban sprawl before hitting the coast. As it goes, you get stunning views of the ocean. Before reaching San Diego, the train passes the coastal beauties of Oceanside, Solana Beach and Del Mar.
5. Hiram Bingham Express, Peru
The lovely blue and gold train looks travels between Poroy, near Cuzco, and Machu Picchu in Peru, passing the most enchanting scenery. Enjoy the amazingly panoramic views of the Urumbamba River and the Andes ranges. Wild llama herds cross the train route as you pass quaint old villages. Get ready for classy gourmet meals including champagne for breakfast, as you journey towards the famous Incan ruins.
6.Glacier Express, Switzerland
Even though this train moves slowly, the mountain scenery just makes up for it. The seven-hour journey from St Moritz and Zermatt alpine resorts goes through 291 bridges and 90 tunnels. On the way are deep gorges, high peaks, plunging valleys and endless flower-filled meadows. During winter, the views offer a winter-white wonderland of delights.
7. Nice-Cuneo Line, France
The Cuneo-Ventimiglia-Nice line connects the Italian Riviera and Piedmont with the magnificent South of France. The 3.5 hour journey is a treat for the eyes. From the tall and majestic Alps you will journey down to sea level, and cross tunnels, viaducts and gorges along the Côte d’Azur. Watch enchanting Alpine villages and medieval Italian towns pass by, as you take in the beautiful Provencal landscape.
8.Palace On Wheels, India
The Palace on Wheels used to be a royal transport. Today the train serves sumptuous food, served by servants attired as royal staff. The train journeys from Delhi and passes through glorious Jaipur, Jodhpur, Agra and others before getting back to Delhi. The train stops for several hours at each sightseeing spot such as the Ranthambore National Park, Taj Mahal and palaces of Rajasthan.
9. The Ghan, Australia
This train journeys from Adelaide to Darwin, stopping at Alice Springs and Katherine. The great outback of Australia lies in between. The train also takes you to Coober Pedy, where you can watch opals being mined. If you are a platinum traveler, you can enjoy the journey in a Platinum Club luxury lounge and dining carriage.
10. Rovos Rail, Africa
This delightful luxury train journeys through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, taking the Garden Route. The train carries no more than 72 passengers at a time. The service is top-notch, including Victorian-style bathrooms and lounges with wood-paneling. It follows several routes, both short and long journeys. There’s a 14-day route from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, passing some exclusive scenery and wildlife on the way.
This is one of the most picturesque journeys you could take. The train was built to provide better rail access to Oslo and Bergen in the 1920s. The spectacular views of the tall Norwegian mountains and the delightful fjords are fabulous. The train winds its way through hush tunnels behind roaring waterfalls, and curves round hairpin bends as it navigates the steep descent to Norway.
12. The Eastern Express, Turkey
The Eastern (Doğu) Express journeys from Ankara to Kars, passing the stunning Euphrates River along the way. The train goes through vibrantly green valleys and long tunnels, coming out suddenly to face another beautiful valley. The entire journey is a treat for the eyes and rest for the soul.
13. Tokyo To Sapporo, Japan
From busy Tokyo, one bullet train rushes you into the winter wonderland of Honshu Island. Then the next bullet zips you to Hokkaido, whipping through the world’s longest underwater tunnel, the Seikan tunnel. The final leg of the journey is on another bullet, which zips past a mountain still growing and pristine blue lakes to arrive at the city of Sapporo.
14. Silk Road Train, Western China
Incredible old-world scenery of old mountains on one side and the desert on the other – that’s what awaits you on this journey from Turupan to Kashgar. It’s literally a journey from China’s lowest point to the border of Kazakhstan, all 1,000 kilometers of it on the old Silk Road. The yellows and browns of the passing scenes slowly give way to red, blue, purple and finally black as the night falls.
Train journeys are romantic; they are a wonderful way to learn more about our world, and to meet people. Many relationships have been founded on trains and partnerships confirmed. A train journey is a cultural as well as a spiritual experience, no matter where you travel.