Traveling with trains has lots of advantages: the opportunity to make friends along the way, constantly changing views behind the windows, the unique atmosphere and slow, memorable experience, just to name a few. Comfort is usually a part of the package too, especially when it’s about the luxury trains. For globetrotters and train-lovers, here’s a list of the best train journeys in the world.
1. The Bergen Railway, Norway
Oslo – Bergen
The highest mainline railway in the north of Europe, the Bergen Line crosses the impressing Hardangervidda mountain plateau at the height of over 1200 meters. Hardangervidda is Europe’s largest plateau of this kind and one of the biggest glaciers in Norway. On the way from Oslo to Bergen, you’ll also see the Hallingdal Valley, picturesque fjords, and snow-covered peaks. The journey takes approximately 7 hours, but you can also stop in one of the charming mountain villages located along the route. For all those who adore the northern landscapes, the scenic Bergen Railway is undoubtedly one of the best train journeys in the world.
2. The Royal Scotsman
The trains run across England and Scotland.
Are you a luxury-seeker? If yes, then the Royal Scotsman is made for you. A maximum of 36 passengers steps on the red carpet as they get on the train, to be then offered the finest Champagne and bath in luxury through the entire journey. The train features dining cars, five state cars, a crew car and, last but not least, the vintage observation car. From the comfort of your armchair, you can admire the spectacular Highlands scenery. You’ll discover the windows of the Royal Scotsman are way more fascinating than any screens: a constant film made of spectacular mountains, charming villages, and beautiful buildings will be there for you to watch.
In case you want to take a closer look at some of these gems, the organizers offer a possibility to stop along the way and visit castles, museums or gardens. Moreover, the journey is also a great chance to have a taste of some delicious meals, made of fresh ingredients purchased en route. In the evenings, travelers may enjoy cocktails and, sometimes, music performances. The Royal Scotsman departs from London or Edinburgh and takes the guests for tours lasting from 1 up to 7 days.
3. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
The trains run between various European cities.
One more gem for passengers who value luxury, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a mixture of elegance and comfort. Back in the 1920s and 30s, the best designers put a lot of effort to create the beautiful carriages that have been well-preserved and astonishing till now. Traveling by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, you’ll be surrounded by glamor and splendor all the way across Europe. Beautiful sleeping cars, fancy dining cars, and the bar car, all of them have a long history, and that’s why they not only look marvelously vintage but also have their individual characters and a unique vibe. Personal service, always chic and professional, fancifully dressed passengers (there’s an evening dress code), the finest cuisine served on silver plates, sparkling champagne and sophisticated setting – the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a real spectacle.
Since there are several different routes, the Express can take you to some of the greatest European cities. London – Paris – Venice is the classic way, and it takes one night to travel between the main destinations. For a day trip, Paris – London is the best option. Venice – Vienna – London takes four days and Paris – Budapest – Bucharest – Istanbul, the longest route, five days.
4. The Blue Train
Cape Town – Johannesburg
The Blue Train is advertised as a moving five-star hotel and this way of describing it is accurate indeed. You have two options to choose between: deluxe suites with a lounge, marble and gold fitted bathrooms and high-class beds, or even more delightful luxury suites with the comfiest beds, amazing bath tubs, a digital interactive entertainment system and selection of music and films for you to watch or listen during the journey. The passengers of luxury suites can call a private butler each time they fancy an aperitif or need assistance.
The food and Champagne that awaits you as you board are outstanding too. In case you don’t pack enough of shiny jewels to wear during the fancy dinners, there’s even a boutique. As if the wonderful service and equipment weren’t enough, the Blue Train offers a variety of stunning views as well. It’s one of the best train journeys in the world, not only because the train is so exquisite, but also due to the route’s scenic location. You can watch waterfalls, flower farms, misty mountains and rolling hills during the day and moon rising over the desert at night.
5. Qinghai–Tibet Railway
Xining – Lhasa
There are a few trips as stunning as the one from Chinese Xining to Tibetan Lhasa, even if you take into consideration not only trains but all possible means of transportation. The Qinghai–Tibet railway is almost 2000 kilometers long, and it includes the Tanggula Pass, a full mountain pass reaching up to 5000 meters above the sea level, which makes it the world’s highest railway. That’s not the only record, though. The train also passes Fenghuosha, the highest railway tunnel in the world and the New Guanjiao, China’s longest railway tunnel. Impressing, huh?
Now, you should also know that because of the high altitudes the railroad reaches, you need to have a Passenger Health Registration Card and sign it, confirming you know it’s a high-elevation journey and nevertheless you agree to take it. Sounds a bit hardcore, but unless you have some serious health condition that doesn’t allow you to travel to high altitudes, it’s all fine. The journey takes approximately 50 hours, and it’s a time filled with witnessing truly incredible mountainous beauty.
6. Cuzco to Machu Picchu, Perurail
Cuzco – Machu Picchu
The world-famous Machu Picchu is a top destination for many travelers, and many of them decide to reach it by train. No wonder they do so since it’s the fastest and simplest way. The trip takes around 80 minutes and although it’s quite short, plentiful breathtaking views are guaranteed: lovely green peaks, the enchanting Sacred Valley, Urubamba River and the canyon. If a trip in a backpacker style isn’t your thing, you can also aboard the Hiram-Bingham train. It’s an exclusive vehicle with beautiful blue and gold wagons and cozy interiors. Before reaching the destination, you’ll be served with some excellent Peruvian wine and a delicious gourmet dinner or aperitifs. There’ll also be a tourist guide to introduce the magical history of Machu Picchu to you.
7. The Trans-Siberian Railway
Three different lines are connecting Russia with Mongolia and China.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is legendary. It’s not only one of the best train journeys in the world but also incredibly attractive. Probably, if someone made a research on this subject, it’d turn out Trans-Siberian Railway is THE most famous railway of all. You can get on the train in Moscow, across the steppes of Siberia and reach the coastal Vladivostok, using the Trans-Siberian line. If Beijing is the place you’re heading to, then you should choose the Trans-Manchurian or Trans-Mongolian line. Of course, you can also stop somewhere on the way. The trip takes up to 7 days, depending on which line you pick and how far you choose to go. Either way, a journey with the Trans-Siberian Railway will surely be an unforgettable experience.
What do you think of these train journeys? Is taking any of them your dream yet? Let us know which one you’d choose first!
I would travel the Royal Scotsman!