27 of the world’s most spectacular train journeys

Train travel is as much about the journey as the destination. Pack your bags and step on board some of the world’s best rail journeys.

There’s something about train travel that inspires and excites from the moment you step aboard and hear the whistle blow. Whether it’s a long romantic journey with a surprise around every bend, or a fast train adventure where the landscape is a blur, trains are an exhilarating way to travel.

On a green note, trains also boast one of the lowest carbon footprints of all modes of travel. Taking a train instead of a car reduces emissions by approximately 80 per cent, whereas switching out a domestic flight for a rail journey can reduce your emissions by around 86 per cent. Book your ticket, settle into the window seat and watch the scenery go by. From spectacular views to divine interiors, these are the best train journeys in the world.

Europe

Venice Simplon-Orient Express

You may well expect Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to pop his head around the corner on the esteemed Venice Simplon-Orient Express. The train is renowned for its impeccable service and exquisitely designed carriages, where you can feast on a four-course dinner served by white-gloved waiters before slipping blissfully between crisp damask sheets. The train offers a range of itinerary options from overnight journeys from London to Rome to overland odysseys from Istanbul to Paris.
Journey length: one to five nights

Venice Simplon-Orient Express train lounge car

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express lounge car © Belmond

The Flåm Railway

The Flåm Railway is a spectacular train journey with panoramic views of the Norwegian fjord landscape. Travelling through 20 tunnels and past majestic waterfalls, it is often considered one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys. The train departs from the high mountain station of Myrdal and travels down to the Aurlandsfjord at Flåm station.
Journey length: one hour

Flam railway train Norway

Flåm Railway © Vy Norway

Glacier Express

 It’s scenery overload on the fabulous Glacier Express, a day trip between Switzerland’s St Moritz and Zermatt passing through more than 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges. Wind through spectacular valleys and past glorious peaks, all on show from the glass observatory-style windows in Excellence Class.
Journey length: eight hours

Glacier Express train Switzerland Excellence Class

Excellence Class © Glacier Express

Bernina Express

The highest railway in Europe and the steepest in the world, the Bernina Express connects Chur in Switzerland to Poschiavo and Tirano in Italy. One of the world’s best train journeys for witnessing incredible alpine vistas, the train is a must-try for every keen globetrotter.
Journey length: four hours

Bernina Express train in Swiss alps in summer

Bernina Express travelling through summer alps © Rhaetian Railway

The Orient Express

After a recent refurbishment, Accor’s Orient Express will revive its inaugural Istanbul-to-Paris route in 2025. Guests can relive the legend within historic carriages dating back to the 1920s and 30s. The grandiose interiors are both sophisticated and playful, featuring vaulted ceilings, bronze beading and even restored pieces from the original 1883 Nostalgie-Istanbul Orient-Express.

Orient Express La Dolce Vita

The Italian sister to the Orient Express, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita is taking to the rails in 2024. Choose from nine spellbinding itineraries, from Sicily’s coastal shores and Rome’s architectural awes to the Tuscan gem of Siena. The exclusive 11-car sleeper honours the quality craftsmanship of Italian design, featuring curved-edge interiors and warm earthy hues.
Journey length: one to two nights

Lounge on Orient Express La Dolce Vita

Stylish interiors on Orient Express La Dolce Vita © Dimorestudio

Espresso Cadore

Espresso Cadore is Italy’s state-run sleeper train that connects Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Alps in just 11 hours. Thanks to the train’s ample storage space, skiers and hikers keen to explore the gorgeous Dolomites region have plenty of room to bring along outdoor gear. Choose between shared couchette or private cabin sleeping options in beautifully refurbished vintage carriages.
Journey length: one night

ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian alps

The ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Espresso Cadore’s terminal stop © Adobe Stock

Golden Eagle Danube Express

Golden Eagle Luxury Trains offer grand tours weaving through some of the most magnificent cities in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and India, with excellent dining, service and tours. Immersive cultural experiences and unparalleled views make the Danube Express Eastern Europe Discovery, which includes stops in Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Berlin and Vienna, one of the world’s best rail journeys.
Journey length: 12 days

Danube Express on viaduct

The Danube Express offers a range of spectular itineraries © Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

Asia

Eastern & Oriental Express

Complete with a piano bar and impeccable service, the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express
train chugs from Singapore to Malaysia in utmost style. Pack your evening wear for dinner, with the dining room car resembling a stylish club lounge. After exhilarating days spent marvelling at wildlife at Taman Negara National Park, guests can relax in supreme sleeping quarters furnished with glossy green surfaces and timber-panelled walls.
Journey length: three nights

Onboard bar on Eastern & Oriental Express

Bar onboard the Eastern & Oriental Express © Belmond

Maharajas’ Express

Board India’s famous Maharajas’ Express and you’ll be treated like royalty. This train is designed to recreate the pageantry of the private carriages that once hosted Indian maharajas (princes). The two dining cars are certainly reminiscent of high society in their jewel-like quality, drawing the eye with elaborate wood carvings, throne-like chairs of emerald and fresco ceilings that shimmer under subdued lighting. 
Journey length: three to six nights

g_india-dining-car

Dining car © Maharajas’ Express

The Vietage

Slow travel through Vietnam aboard The Vietage by Anantara, one of the world’s best rail journeys for luxury lovers. With just 12 exclusive seats, head and shoulder treatments available on board and artisanal gastronomy, the train is none other than a moving resort. Embark on a magical day journey past picturesque lakes and historic relics, with the option to go between Da Nang and Quy Nhon, or Nha Trang and Quy Nhon.
Journey length: five to six hours

The Vietage train interior seating

Soak in stunning Vietnamese views © The Vietage

Kyushu Seven Stars

The Kyushu Seven Stars is the most exclusive luxury sleeper train in Japan, with tickets only available through a lotto entry. It travels around beautiful Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, and is one of the world’s best train journeys for experiencing traditional Japanese hospitality. The exquisite eight suites feature masterpieces by Japanese designer Eiji Mitooka and other artisans. 

100_rail_deluxe-suite-a-view

Travel in luxury © Kyushu Seven Stars

Africa

The Blue Train

Everyone from presidents to celebrities have ridden the Blue Train, the moving five-star ‘hotel-on-wheels’ which traverses South Africa’s vast breadth. On board, you can indulge in some of South Africa’s finest wines, while around-the-clock personal butlers will see to your every need. The route between Pretoria and Cape Town is a 54-hour journey of 1600 kilometres, passing through awe-inspiring mountain ranges and arid deserts and across untamed savannah grasslands teeming with wildlife.
Journey length: one to two nights

Lounge Car on the Blue Train South Africa

Lounge car © The Blue Train

Rovos Rail

Since 1989, Rovos Rail has been traversing Southern Africa in style, from the alluring vistas of the Northern Cape to the game reserves of the Namib Desert. Thirty six beautifully rebuilt suites welcome guests with buttoned upholstery, emerald carpet and gold-trimmed bellflower lamps, capturing the timeless grace of a bygone era. Passengers can witness wild antelope frisking through grassy pastures from the deftly-designed indoor-outdoor viewing platform at the train’s rear end.
Journey length: two to 15 nights

Deluxe double bedroom on Rovos Rail train South Africa

Deluxe double bedroom © Rovos Rail

Tangier to Marrakech

The AI Atlas Tangier to Marrakech line whisks passengers away on one of the world’s best train journeys; an unforgettable Moroccan odyssey. Depart from the whitewashed, hilltop buildings of port city Tangier and descend past ochre plains towards vibrant Marrakech, stopping through palatial rail stations along the way.
Journey length: five and a half hours

The UK

Royal Scotsman

Single malt whisky and valleys of heather are just some of the joys of the tartan-trimmed Royal Scotsman’s journey from Edinburgh across the Scottish Highlands to the country’s northwest coast. This ‘mobile’ Scottish country house sleeps 36 in ensuite staterooms, with meals served in two dignified dining carriages. An armchair in the observation car or the open-air veranda provide a wonderful vantage point as you glide past castles, villages and glens.
Journey length: two to seven nights

Royal Scotsman exterior Scottish highlands

Explore the Scottish Highlands by rail © Belmond

Jacobite Express

All aboard, Harry Potter fans! The Jacobite Rail, informally known as the Hogwarts Express, makes for one of the best train journeys in the world. A nostalgic steam train covering part of Scotland’s West Highland line, the Jacobite Express blends Scottish folklore with mystical scenery. Loch Eil and the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct are just a couple of highlights.
Journey length: two hours

The Jacobite Express steam train in Scottish Highlands

The Jacobite Express steam train © Adobe Stock

British Pullman

The Belmond British Pullman’s historic carriages embody the golden age of train travel in all its mystery and decadence. From onboard high teas, cabaret on rails and murder mystery experiences to excursion days exploring the narrow streets of Oxford, you’ll have every chance to immerse yourself in quintessential British culture.
Journey length: one day

Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a well-loved train journey that gives travellers the unique opportunity to board a classic Victorian steam locomotive. It travels eight kilometres from Llanberis to the scenic summit of Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. In 2024, the train will reopen for its 128th season.
Journey length: two and a half hours

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Ascend to new heights © Snowdon Mountain Railway

Ffestiniog Railway

As the oldest independent railway in the world, Ffestiniog Railway offers a locomotive experience like no other. As you set off on one of the world’s best historical train journeys, you’ll find yourself gliding past bucolic flower-dotted fields, rolling hills and idyllic lakes. Make sure to snap a photo of the train itself, too – the steam engine is just adorable.
Journey length: two and a half to seven hours

The Americas and Canada

Andean Explorer

Travelling by rail from Cusco to Puno on Belmond’s luxurious Andean Explorer is a memorable journey filled with colour and culture. Passengers can slow travel through the cascading hills and sweeping plains of Peru’s Sacred Valley, taking in the spellbinding views from curated sleeper suites styled with expressive Peruvian textiles and cream panelled walls.
Journey length: one to two nights

belmond-andean-explorer

The Andean Explorer © Belmond

Hiram Bingham

The gleaming Hiram Bingham takes three and a half hours to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco. Enjoy live music and exclusive Peruvian specialties while en route on one of the best train journeys in the world, or simply sit and soak in the views from the observation car.
Journey length: three and a half hours

hiram-bingham

Hiram Bingham © Belmond

Rocky Mountaineer

Snow-clad mountains, glacier-fed lakes, wildlife and impeccable service are all part of the Rocky Mountaineer experience. The journey from Canada’s Vancouver traverses the Rocky Mountains, passing through the Kamloops region and up to the ski resorts of Lake Louise and Banff. You travel during the day so you don’t miss any of the beautiful moving art galleries passing by your window. Go with the premium Gold Leaf Service to enjoy an exquisite glass dome car.
Journey length: one to two nights

Rocky Mountaineer scenery

The Rockies are best experienced by rail © Rocky Mountaineer

Amtrak Coast Starlight

Photo opportunities are endless on board Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, one of the world’s best train journeys. Travelling between Los Angeles and Seattle, the train passes through US hotspots Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland with stunning seaside scenery along the way. Accommodation options range from coach class seats and roomettes to bedroom suites.
Journey length: thirty five hours

coast-starlight-1a

The Coast Starlight © Amtrak

Oceania

The Ghan

The epic trip on The Ghan from Adelaide all the way to Darwin provides a great taste of the outback with stops in cultural hubs Alice Springs and Katherine. The train is named after the impressive Afghan cameleers who blazed a network of camel train routes throughout inland Australia in the late 19th century. Onboard, guests can expect excellent dining and stylish private cabins.
Journey length: one to three nights

The Ghan travelling over river in Australia at sunset

Traverse Australia’s majestic landscapes © The Ghan

Indian Pacific

Experience the magnificent landscapes of southern Australia’s interior, from the majestic Blue Mountains to the expansive Nullarbor Plain. The Indian Pacific journeys between Sydney, Adelaide and Perth during an unforgettable transcontinental crossing that covers 4,352 kilometres one way.
Journey length: three nights

Indian Pacific train at sunset

An unforgettable Australian journey © Indian Pacific

TranzAlpine

The TranzAlpine Train traverses New Zealand’s Southern Alps and runs from Christchurch to Greymouth. It passes stunning scenery including the green farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and steep gorges alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River. Access to such incredible views makes it one of the world’s best train journeys. 
Journey length: five hours

TranzAlpine train in New Zealand travelling along lake

Explore New Zealand’s gorgeous landscapes © TranzAlpine Train

Keep reading:
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Wake up in the Dolomites on board Italy’s new sleeper train
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