Train travel may have been around for almost 200 years but it is still one of the most popular forms of transport. Mechanised trains first appeared in the UK in the 1820’s and they are still one of the best ways to travel, if you want to sit back and enjoy stunning views of the countryside. There are a huge number of famous railway journeys that travel across some of the most beautiful countries in the world. The following are thirteen of the most spectacular train journeys on the planet.
13. The Ghan. Australia
Australia has some of the most incredible scenery in the world; from the tropical and vibrant landscape of the coast, through to the orange glow of the central deserts. The Ghan is such an exceptional train journey, as it starts from the northern coast of Australia, travels right through the heart of the country and ends up on the southern tip, taking in all the beautiful landscape in between. The journey lasts three days (two nights), over a distance of 2,979km and takes in the sights of Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide along the way. The Ghan really is one of the best ways to see Australia’s spectacular landscape.
12. The Glacier Express. Switzerland
The Glacier Express is one of the most famous train journeys in the world and it is easy to see why. The route starts off in the picturesque Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt and runs along a 7.5 hour route before finishing at the mountain resort of St Moritz. Along the way, passengers can enjoy the stunning views of green valleys, deep gorges and the breath taking scenery of snow-capped mountain tops. Although having the word ‘Express’ in its title, the Glacier Express is actually famous for being the ‘slowest express train in the world.’ The gentle speed of the train does allow passengers more time to enjoy the scenery though, which includes 91 tunnels and an impressive 291 bridges!
11. The Prince of Africa. Capetown to Cairo, Africa
The Pride of Africa not only offers passengers an incredible view of the spectacular African landscape, it is also one of the most luxurious trains in the world. The inside of the train is adorned with wood-panelled coaches and the impressive width of the train allows for spacious double beds and even a bath in the luxurious cabins. The incredible journey takes passengers through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, The Sudan and Egypt, with the highlight of the journey perhaps being a trip passed the world famous Victoria Falls. All this can be enjoyed while relaxing in the comfort of the luxurious five star restaurant on-board.
10. The Eastern and Oriental Express. Southeast Asia
The Eastern and Oriental Express travels between Bangkok and Singapore and is one of the most luxurious and spectacular ways to see Southeast Asia. The train has three different types of private, wood-panelled cabins, each equipped with a personal cabin steward, who is on call 24 hours a day. The spectacular journey, which lasts three days and two nights, winds its way through Laos, Malaysia and Thailand before arriving in Singapore. Along the way, passengers are treated to a huge variety of different landscapes, including dense rainforest, stunning coastlines, towering mountains, golden temples and ancient towns and villages. It is known as one of the most exotic journeys on the planet and fully deserves its place on the list of the world’s most spectacular train journeys.
9. The Venice-Simplon Orient Express. London to Venice
The Orient Express was one of the most famous trains in the world and the Venice-Simplon train is actually made up from some of the carriages from the original train, dating back to the 1920’s and 30’s. The Venice-Simplon train is now owned by Belmond Ltd and the company runs a route from London to Venice between March and November each year. If you want to be taken back in time to the early 20th century, while enjoying stunning views of some of Europe’s most breathtaking countryside, then the Venice Simplon Orient Express should not be missed. The route starts in London before winding its way through France, into the spectacular Swiss Alps, finally arriving in Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world.
8. The Palace on Wheels. India
If the combination of a train crossed with a luxury hotel is your idea of heaven, then a trip on the Palace on Wheels should be your perfect holiday. The coaches on the train were originally intended for ‘the erstwhile rulers of the princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India’ and so offer passengers genuine royal luxury! The journey lasts a total of 7 nights and takes passengers across the Rajput state of Rajasthan, which includes views of ornate palaces, ancient cities and desert forts. There is even the possibility of seeing the odd wild tiger from the comfort of your very own luxurious cabin!
7. California Zephyr. Chicago to San Francisco
If you want to see the sights of America, then the California Zephyr allows you to travel in style. The journey stretches across nearly the whole width of the US, starting in Chicago and travelling an impressive 2,438 miles west to San Francisco. It is one of the longest train journeys in the US. Along the way, passengers will see some world famous sights, including crossing the Mississippi River, winding through the Rocky Mountains, following alongside the Colorado River, climbing the Sierra Nevada before finally arriving on the west coast in San Francisco.
6. Toy Train to Darjeeling. India
The Darjeeling name may be most associated with the blend of tea but it is also the location of one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the ‘Toy Train,’ runs a total of 48 miles between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Although it may be one of the shorter journeys on this list, that doesn’t make it any less spectacular. The journey begins at New Jalpaiguri at around 100m and rises an incredible 2,100m before arriving at Darjeeling. The journey provides passengers with stunning views of the green valleys below and the snow-capped Himalayas above, passing over nearly 500 bridges along the way!
5. The Royal Scotsman. Scotland
Scotland has some of the most stunning countryside in the world and the Royal Scotsman allows you to see it in style. The journey begins in the stunning capital city of Edinburgh before winding its way into the Scottish Highlands, past beautiful lochs and breathtaking mountains. Passengers can sit back in comfort in the luxury coaches while passing by ancient castles and whiskey distilleries. If you don’t like the thought of being over-crowded then the Royal Scotsman should be your ideal choice. The train only allows a total of 36 passengers per journey and there is one member of staff for every three passengers!
4. The Blue Train of South Africa
South Africa is home to a wide variety of different terrain and landscape and a journey aboard the Blue Train allows passengers to see a huge portion of this scenery. The journey runs between Pretoria and Cape Town, across around 990 miles of South Africa’s stunning landscape. The route takes in the green and lush Winelands, the Great Karoo desert and the diamond mining region. The Blue Train is promoted as a ‘magnificent, moving five star hotel’ and contains luxury private cabins that include fully carpeted rooms with full size bath tubs. Passengers even have the opportunity to stop off and go on a wildlife safari!
3. The Copper Canyon Railway. Mexico
The Copper Canyon Railway took over 90 years and cost $90m to construct, but the end result is one of the most spectacular railway journeys in the world. The route was finally completed in 1961 and was designed to connect the central Mexican desert with the Pacific Ocean. The journey takes around 16 hours in total, starting out in Chihuahua and finishing 418 miles to the west in the coastal city of Los Mochis. Along the journey, passengers are treated to stunning views of the Copper Canyon as the train passes over deep ravines and by the side of breathtaking mountains. The Copper Canyon railway has even been described as the most scenic train route in the whole continent!
2. The Trans-Siberian Railway. Russia
The Trans-Siberian railway is officially the longest railway in the world, stretching over an incredible 5,772 miles and connecting Moscow with the far east of Russia. The ultimate Trans-Siberian experience is the 18 day journey that takes passengers from Beijing to Moscow. The route winds through Russia, with stop-offs at Ulanbaatar, Irkutsk and Ekaterinberg along the way, before finally arriving in Moscow. Passengers not only have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the route, they also have the chance to participate in husky dog sledding, snowmobile expeditions and even hiking around Lake Baikal in the summer months.
1. The Coastal Pacific Railway. New Zealand
New Zealand has some of the most spectacular landscape in the world and the Coastal Pacific railway offers passengers the chance to see breathtaking stretches of this scenery. The journey travels along the east coast of the South Island, between Christchurch and Picton, and takes around 5 hours to complete. The railway line hugs the coast along most of the route and offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Kaikoura mountain range on the other. Passengers even have the chance to stop off in Kaikoura for some whale and dolphin spotting!