World's best train journeys

Posted Date: 31 October 2016
Best train journeys

Global train trips you’ll never forget

If you’re travelling from one spot to the next, don’t just get on a flight to get there, why not take a train and really savour the journey? After all, getting there is half the fun!

Trains are known to be one of the most relaxing forms of transport, with the added romance of old world glamour and luxury. Some travellers even plan their trips around certain routes, like the iconic Orient Express. Watch breathtaking scenery pass you by, all in the comfort of a cushy seat with service staff at your beck and call.

Here’s a great list we’ve compiled of the world’s very best train journeys to get you started.

Glacier Express, Switzerland

Route: Zermatt, Brig, Andermatt, Chur, St Moritz

Length of trip: day trip, 8 hours

Distance: 290km

Highest point: 2,033 metres

The Glacier Express is a luxurious train that winds through the beautiful mountain scenery of Switzerland.

It’s known as the ‘slowest fast train in the world,’ because although it is a modern fast train, the route is a complex one that goes via many tight passes, inlcuding 91 tunnels and 291 bridges.

You’ll travel from the picturesque car-free ski village of Zermatt, past the famous Matterhorn, through two UNESCO World Heritage areas to the beautiful St. Moritz. All this while being served a three-course gourmet lunch and listening to commetary about what you’re seeing, at an altitude of up to 2,033 metres.

What better way to relax while you head to your next destination.

Top tip: If you’re taking luggage, try to pack light so you can keep your bags with you at your seat.

If you have a suitcase, use the luggage rack above you, or next to you if there's one available, to easily keep an eye on it. Always keep it locked and be sure to check on it regularly. It might be worth investing in a lock wire that you can use to secure your luggage to the rack to avoid theft. 

Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru

Route: Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Cuzco

Length of trip: day trip, 10 hours

Distance: 200km approx. return

The Belmond Hiram Bingham is named after the explorer who discovered the Inca citadel, although it’s far more lavish than anything he would have encountered!

This train route is renowned as the most luxurious way to see this incredible location. You’ll start your journey at Cuzco and be treated to a traditional dance performance, before your nostalgic train journey to the ancient Machu Picchu at a high altitude of 2,430 metres.

You’ll be served both brunch and a delicious four course dinner on the trip, with five star service and on-board entertainment.

At the Inca site, you’ll embark on a 2.5 hour guided tour before returning home. True luxury at one of the most amazing, historic places on the globe.

Top tip: Machu Picchu is at very high altitude and people have been known to fall ill with altitude sickness. If you’re planning on doing this trip, make sure you stay hydrated and get plenty of rest – luckily, in the luxurious setting of this train, it won’t be difficult to rest!

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Route: Vancouver, Kamloops, Banff

Length of trip: 2 days, 1 night

Distance: 850km approx.

This is a unique opportunity to travel from bustling Vancouver to the scenic holiday town of Banff, while enjoying top class service and great food along the way.

This one’s an ideal trip for history buffs as the route is famous for uniting British Columbia with the rest of Canada over 125 years ago and follows the course of pioneering explorers from the 19th century.

Immerse yourself in the history of this epic route, while admiring vast canyons and spectacular mountains, travelling to an altitude of 1,383 metres. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of caribou, bears, eagles or even moose.

Top tip: In Canada, tips are a common courtesy extended to service staff. Make sure you leave a tip for the staff, to show your respect for local customs and gratitude for their service.

Venice-Simplon Orient Express, Italy, France and Britain

Route: London, Paris, Venice

Length of trip: 2 days

Distance: 1,600km approx.

The Orient Express is probably the world’s most famous train. This luxury train has been bombed, shot at and marooned in snow drifts during its 150-year history, yet still remains an icon of glamour.

Don’t worry though, it hasn’t encountered any disasters in recent years!

Step back in time to elegant, beautiful nostalgic décor and enjoy top quality service. The popular route from London to Venice is also a well-travelled one, so why not do it on-board this famous luxury train and enjoy the journey that bit more, while experiencing your own little slice of history.

Top tip: Venice is an easy place to get lost in and there are no cars to service the narrow lanes of this city. If you’re heading there, make sure you have a map and pack light enough to be able to carry your bags to your accommodation.

The Royal Scotsman, Scotland

Route: Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton, Boat of Garten, Aviemore, Dalwhinnie, Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh

Length of trip: 5 days, 4 nights

Distance: 850km approx.

Embark on a scenic tour of the Scottish Highlands aboard a luxury train with 5 star service. You’ll be welcomed on board by a bagpiper and champagne, before heading on a journey that shows Scotland in all its splendour.

See lochs, ancient castles and enjoy the most scenic rail experience of the UK. There are plenty of activities available too, with fishing, whiskey distillery tours and even golf!

Expect top notch service on this journey, with hors d’oeuvres served each evening in the observation carriage, sumptuous dinners in black tie attire and, of course, whiskey. Arguably the most important part, typical Scottish entertainment and hospitality – what better way to enjoy Scotland?

Top tip: This train has cabins, which means you only need to unpack once. Just like in any hotel, ensure your valuables are locked away in your room safe when you’re not using them, or even better, leave them at home if you don’t need to take them with you.

Maharajas Express, India

Route: Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Delhi

Length of trip: 4 days, 3 nights

Distance: 950km approx.

If you want to see the highlights of India from the comfort of your own lavish travelling hotel room, this is the train journey for you.

On this journey you’ll be spoilt for choice, visiting no less than 5 UNESCO world heritage sites including the iconic Taj Mahal. This is a true luxury experience incorporating beautiful meals, your own private butler, nightly entertainment, spa treatments and plenty of opulent palace visits.

There’s also the opportunity to meet elephants and potentially see tigers in the wild on a safari park excursion. All this while being welcomed at each stop with red carpets and rose petals! Treat yourself to a few days of feeling like royalty and explore India in a truly unique way.

Top tip: We see plenty of claims for tummy bugs from travellers in countries where the traditional fare is different from home. Enjoy the Indian food, but perhaps avoid the spicier or richer options if it’s not something you’re used to eating often at home.

Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Express, Russia

Route: Moscow, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ullan Ude, Ulaan Baatar, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok

Length of trip: 13 days

Distance: 9,289km

If you can’t get enough of rail travel, the Trans Siberian Railway is a must.

It’s the longest railway in the world and the journey offers nearly two weeks of incredible scenery and vast landscapes.

See the impressive and bustling Moscow and enjoy an exclusive tour of the Kremlin, before travelling through eight time zones across the Ural Mountains, through Mongolia and past the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal.

Along the way, you can visit the Museum of Military Machinery, enjoy operatic performances, go hiking, take cooking and language classes, visit a traditional Mongolian Ger and even try horse riding. All the while, passing through UNESCO world heritage sites, national parks, lakes, mountains and vast fields. Truly the most epic of train journeys!

Top tip: It may seem obvious, but this trip covers a huge range of terrain and climates, so make sure you have the right gear to keep warm when you need it. Some of our most common claims are for colds and flu!

Train travel is truly one of the best ways to get from place to place, while enjoying beautiful scenery and great service. Inject some style into your next trip and go by train!

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