Although traveling by train may seem like an old-fashioned way to travel, train trips are growing in popularity. Not only does this vintage vacation experience take you off the beaten path, but it’s also better for the environment! Plus, the slow-moving pace and stunning scenery provide an excellent backdrop for reflection. No matter which continent you want to visit, you’ll have multiple options for an elegant, relaxing ride.
Intrigued by train travel? See the world in comfort and style on one of these luxury train journeys!
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express
The Orient Express is one of the most famous trains in the world, thanks in part to Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel. The Orient Express began making its iconic journeys from Istanbul to Paris in 1883. Today, it runs from London to Venice, with stops in Paris and Verona. On your journey, all the food served is locally sourced along the route. Though the carriages have been updated throughout the years, they still retain their vintage charm with 1920s Art Deco-inspired décor.
The Glacier Express
Want the breathtaking scenery and luxury experience of a train trip without spending the night on a moving locomotive? The Glacier Express is famous for being the world’s slowest express in the world, but you still complete your journey between the Swiss resort towns of Zermatt and Saint Moritz in a single day. On this 8-hour, 180-mile journey, you’ll see some of Switzerland’s most stunning natural features, including the Matterhorn and the Rhine Gorge. Guests who book in Excellence class are served champagne and a six-course meal with wine pairings!
British Pullman, A Belmond Train
What could be more luxurious than traveling in the same train that has transported British royals and government officials for decades? The Art Deco carriages of the British Pullman, operated by the Belmond Company, pull inspiration from the movies of Wes Anderson. Enjoy a peaceful ride out of London through the English countryside with delicious multi-course meals, or get a ticket for one of their special themed rides like the murder mystery luncheon.
There has never been a more luxurious way to see the Australian Outback. The Ghan—shortened from The Afghan Express, which is an homage to the camel trainers and riders who were instrumental in charting the country’s interior—runs a four-day route from the northernmost tip of Australia in Darwin all the way down to Adelaide on the southern coast. As you take in the immensity of the outback, you’ll also get to enjoy freshly prepared local cuisine, including kangaroo filets!
The Rocky Mountaineer
If flying internationally isn’t quite in your budget, you can still enjoy luxury train travel right here in North America. The Rocky Mountaineer is a luxurious way to spend a day seeing the majestic natural beauty of Western Canada. The train departs from Vancouver and runs to either Banff or Jasper in Alberta. Your voyage includes breakfast and lunch, a glass-domed coach for panoramic views, an outdoor viewing platform, and a complimentary selection of local beers, wines, and snacks. Though Rocky Mountaineer Train Company has only been around since the 1990s, it has provided world-class travel experiences to over two million guests.
The Royal Scotsman, a Belmond Train
Take a round-trip journey through the Scottish Highlands and style. The Royal Scotsman, another Belmond train, departs Waverly Station in Edinburgh, passes some of Scotland’s most picturesque lochs, castles, and natural wonders, then returns to Waverly. You can sample locally made Scotch, snuggle up in traditional tartan wool blankets, or book services in the onboard spa! The masseuses are even specially trained to coordinate their movements with the motions of the train.
The Maharajas’ Express
If you’ve got a trip to India on your bucket list, you might as well splurge and book the seven-day Heritage of India tour on the Maharajas’ Express. Each car comes with its own butler, and even the Junior Suites include a full-sized closet, private bathroom, and satellite TV. When you’re not enjoying exclusive activities in Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi, you can relax, read, and even play board games in the Safari Bar or the Raja Club.
The Transcantabrico Gran Lujo
Spain’s Transcantabrico Gran Lujo is a treat for foodies and history lovers alike. The train spends a week traveling across the country’s northern coastline from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela. You’ll get to sample the unique cuisine of each region you visit, from Galicia to Basque Country. See some of Spain’s most stunning vistas and stay in one of the train’s original 1923 Pullman cars. Since this train stays stationary overnight, you can even experience Spain’ nightlife!
Explore the varied geographies and cultures of South Africa on Rovos Rail. Before you even board, you’ll be treated to champagne and canapes in a private lounge at Pretoria station. Onboard, there’s a strict no cell phone policy, but with the exceptional views from the open-air balconies on the observation car to the variety of cultural, historical, and safari activities available during off-train excursions, you won’t even miss it. The three-night route from Pretoria to Cape Town is the most popular, but the company has recently introduced a 15-day itinerary from Tanzania to Angola.
Golden Eagle Danube Express
The Golden Eagle is known for running breathtaking tours through Eastern Europe and Asia, and their relatively new Danube Express line provides several unique ways to see Eastern and Southern Europe all year round. Some of their most exciting itineraries include: Castles of Transylvania, a seven-day tour from Istanbul to Budapest; the Christmas Markets of Central Europe, which visits Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich over the course of 8 days; and the New Year in Vienna tour, which runs from Budapest to Vienna and back in 9 days,
The Belmond Andean Explorer
The newest addition to the Belmond lines also happens to be the first overnight luxury train in South America. As it winds along the historic Inca Road System through the Andean Plains, it also claims to be one of the highest trains in the world! The Andean Explorer departs from Peru’s capital city of Cusco and takes a one- or two-night journey to Arequipa with an excursion at Lake Titicaca. The hand-woven alpaca-wool tapestries outfitting every bed provide the perfect combination of luxury and authenticity.
The Eastern & Oriental Express
After taking a pause due to the pandemic, the Eastern & Oriental Express will return in February 2024 with all new itineraries! The train will take a round-trip journey from Singapore through the jungles and coastlines of Malaysia and back. Inspired by 1932’s Shanghai Express, the interior combines cherrywood paneling, Thai silk, and Malaysian embroidery for a truly luxurious feel.
Cruise Train Seven Stars
There’s a reason why this Japanese train is often referred to as the most luxurious train in the world. Built in 2013, the Cruise Train Seven Stars combines old-fashioned luxury with the most advanced technology to provide an unparalleled experience as you circle the island of Kyushu on a multi-day tour. It’s so popular that you have to fill out an application and get accepted before you can purchase a spot! Everything onboard is handcrafted by Japanese artisans.
37 Amazing Amtrak Routes That Explore America’s Beauty
Train travel is underrated. It’s cheap, relaxing, scenic, and environmentally friendly. Amtrak, the nation’s rail network, has more than 35 routes and 500 destinations in 46 states.
You’ll have access to private sleeping rooms, quiet cars, dining and lounge cars, and comfortable seating with amazing views. Solo travelers can bring their bikes, couples can bring their pets, and families have plenty of space to keep kids entertained. Below we’ll explore all of the Amtrak routes you can currently take in North America.
Featured Image Credit: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.