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(This post about great train journeys to experience around the world was updated in September 2019)

 

I am a train lover and believe there is no better way to travel – if I can take a trip on a train I am the happiest person in the world. There are so many advantages to traveling by train and for me it is the most relaxing way to explore a country, a great way to meet the locals and my number one choice of transport when possible.

 

As someone who loves traveling by train I am always on the lookout for great train journeys to add to my bucket list. There are so many spectacular train journeys to experience all over the world (and I have so many yet to do) so to find out more I asked fellow travel bloggers and train travel enthusiasts to contribute their favourites to this post.

 

The result is a list of some of the great train journeys and most scenic train rides in the world. If you need some train travel inspiration when planning your next trip this article has it in bucket loads! 

 

Read about amazing train journeys including some of the world’s greatest railroads – great train journeys across Australia, must-do UK rail journeys, great train trips in Europe, American rail trips and more. Expect famous rail trips and perhaps a few rail journeys you weren’t aware of. 

 

I have arranged the train trips in geographical locations. Which of these 20 train journeys do YOU think is the greatest rail journey in the world? 

 

At the end of the post I have included a helpful map which shows the locations of these great railway journeys of the world.

 

6 OF THE BEST TRAIN RIDES IN EUROPE

 

LINHA DO DOURO (PORTUGAL) by The Road is Life

 

 

The Linha do Douro railway line connects the city of Porto with Portugal’s UNESCO heritage wine region, the Douro Valley. The Linha do Douro follows the Douro River upstream and finishes its journey in the small village of Pocinho, high up in the Alto Douro hills. If you’re thinking of taking a day trip from Porto, this scenic train journey is the perfect choice.

 

The Linha do Douro railway line begins at the São Bento railway station in Porto. With its beautiful blue and white tiled walls, this historic train station is a sight to behold. It won’t take long until you begin to see the incredible landscapes of the Douro Valley. It’s easy to see why this train journey is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. Spectacular views of the terraced vineyards sloping down to the Douro river will continually leave you speechless as the train winds its way along the riverside.

 

Taking the train from Porto to Pocinho allows for flexibility to stop off at some of the other picturesque towns along the route. The complete journey from Porto to Pocinho takes around 3.5 hours total but you have the option to stop at Peso da Régua and Pinhão before it reaches its final stop. Tip: Make sure to sit on the right side of the train for the best views/photo opportunities! 

 

A perfect day tripping option would be to take the train to Pinhão and then hop on a scenic boat cruise from there. River cruises leave daily from Pinhão at 10:30 and 14:00. This allows you to experience some of the most breath-taking sections of the river that cannot be reached by train.

 

Linha do Douro, Portugal
Linha do Douro, Portugal

 

 

 

THE BERNINA EXPRESS (SWITZERLAND)

 

The Bernina Express is often named as one of the most beautiful train journeys In the world. ThIs scenic rail journey is certainly one of the most spectacular in Switzerland – a country which boasts of many amazing rail journeys.

 

Travel from Tirano in Italy to Chur in Switzerland (or vice versa) through the UNESCO World Heritage area of the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscape. The train journey takes you over viaducts, through tunnels,  cross Swiss meadows and past mountain lakes and peaks. 

 

The journey takes 4 hours during which you cover 144 kms, pass though 55 tunnels and cross 196 bridges.All this whilst enjoying the superb scenery for which Switzerland is so famous. The Alpine meadows, mountain peaks and stunning blue lakes will take your breath away.

 

The railway was built between the years of 1896 and 1904 and is operated by the Rhaetian Railway. Part of the route on the Bernina Express is shared with the equally famous Glacier Express – another beautiful train journey to experience when in Switzerland.

 

For a more comprehensive guide to traveling on the Bernina Express click to read my article all about our experience including lots of tips to ensure you make the best of this fabulous experience.

 

 

The Bernina Express in a valley in Switzerland
Stunning views from the Bernina Express

 

 

 

THE GLACIER EXPRESS (SWITZERLAND) by Bangorni

 

The Glacier Express travels between the alpine resort towns of Zermatt and St Moritz in an unforgettable train journey that crosses some of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps.

 

It is also a journey famously known as the “Slowest Fast Train in the World” due to the high-speed train having to wind through some of the most mountainous terrains in Europe. With an average speed of around 24MPH it takes roughly 7-8 hours to travel between the two resorts, including a quick stopover in Chur along the way.

 

But I will forever recommend the full journey as the 2nd half of the Glacier Express, when travelling between Chur and St Moritz, is where the more iconic features of the train ride are found, such as the crossing on the Landwasser Viaduct (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

 

The train ride itself is otherwise ridiculously scenic, yet rather expensive (as is Switzerland) however, the route is also covered on the Eurail and Interrail passes with only a small additional fee for seat reservation. However, the train is rather luxury even in standard 2nd class coaches with panoramic window views in every car. The alpine resorts are also major attractions in themselves, and a night in Zermatt, with balcony views over the Matterhorn, is the perfect way to start the journey.

 

Landwasser Viaduct
Beautiful view of the Lanwasser Viaduct during the winter

 

 

THE SETTLE CARLISLE LINE (ENGLAND) by A Packed Life

 

Taking the scenic route from England’s Yorkshire Dales to the Scottish borders, the Settle Carlisle line is an epic journey through fells and dales.  If you think it’s just about the steam trains, then be aware that it’s possible to make the journey via regular scheduled services at normal train prices.  

 

This is an exciting trip.  For a start, Settle is the kind of station you might think has disappeared, full of chatty stationmasters, pretty boxes of flowers and photographers eagerly awaiting the train. 

 

Then there’s the journey itself, making the climb at a magic 1 in 100 gradient to Blea Moor by the stunning Ribblehead Viaduct.  You’ll pass through Dent Station, the highest mainline station in England, at 1150 feet above sea level.  Throughout the journey, walkers join and leave for adventures high in the Dales.  You’ll be very tempted to join them. 

 

Tips?  Either side of the train has spectacular views.  And check if there are steam trains running on the day you visit, as you might get some beautiful pictures across the Ribblehead Viaduct from that epic climb. 

 

Settle train station
A view of Settle railway station

 

THE JACOBITE EXPRESS (SCOTLAND) by Verses by a Voyager

 

One of the most picturesque railway journeys in the world is the Jacobite express in Scotland passing between the towns of Fort William and Mallaig. It is also known as the Harry Potter train after being featured in the Harry Potter movie.

 

Jacobite Express is in fact quite long but the area between Fort William and Mallaig is most beautiful, mainly because the train passes through the 21 arch viaduct called the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This area gained significant attraction of the people after the Harry Potter movie.

 

The train overlooks the mesmerizing Loch Shiel, another location where many scenes of the Harry Potter were shot and the Jacobite Monument. Before stopping at Mallaig, Jacobite Express calls at the Glenfinnan Station. This allows the passengers to visit the beautiful Loch Shiel.

 

The train isn’t very big and not very crowded too. It is, in fact, the best way to commute between the two towns, along with presenting the visitors with some splendid view around. While passing through the viaduct, the train stops for few seconds and present the passengers an opportunity to enjoy the breath-taking view as well as click some photographs. Jacobite Express is a must-visit for all the Harry Potter fans and is indeed one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.

 

The Jacobite Express
The Jacobite Express

 

 

THE FLAM RAILWAY (NORWAY)

 

The Flam Railway is an absolute must-do train journey in Norway. With spectacular views over the Naeoryfjord, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls it is no wonder this train journey was described at the most spectacular train journey in the world by Lonely Planet in 2014. 

 

The train takes 2 hours to travel the journey from Flam to Myrdal and back again. It is possible to alight at Myrdal and catch a train to Oslo or Bergen as Myrdal is a stop on the main Oslo-Bergen route. Along the way you will pass through deep gorges with steep mountain sides and spectacular waterfalls. The train stops along the route to view the impressive Kjosfassen waterfall.

 

In Flam don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Flam Railway Museum where you can learn more about the history of the train. Entrance is free.I would then highly recommend catching a ferry along the fjord to Gudvangen. What could be better – a train ride followed by a boat trip along one of most spectacular fjords in Norway.

 

You can read more about what to see and do in Flam and Gudvangen in my comprehensive guide to the area.

 

Flam Railway
An aerial view of the Flam Railway

 

BEST TRAIN TRIPS  IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

THE INDIAN PACIFIC by  Expert Abroad

 

I took my first journey on the Indian Pacific back in 1989. On that trip, I only travelled the first 20 hours of the three-day, 4352km journey, but I knew I wanted to come back and complete the full 65-hour route one day.

 

The train, named after the oceans it travels between, makes its transcontinental crossing, between Sydney and Perth once a week. The route takes in the full variety of landscapes Australia has to offer from the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains to red outback sands. You travel through the stunning Flinders ranges and along the world’s longest straight stretch of tracks that run 297km across the Nullarbor Plain.

 

Unlike trains that buzz around Europe and parts of Asia at light speed, the Indian Pacific moves at a relatively slow 115km an hour. During your three-night, four-day trip your time is filled with as much or as little as you want. There is no Wi-Fi onboard so it’s a great chance to switch off and connect with fellow passengers or if you prefer solitude start writing your memoirs!

 

Be sure to check out the audio track in your room, some of the stories and interviews are fabulous and a great way to get a good feel for the people of the outback.

 

I think one of the best things about the trip is that you get a chance to explore some of the towns along the way with off-train experiences. At each stop, you choose between 2-3 tours. We opted for a mining tour in Broken Hill and a wine tour of the Barossa Valley in Adelaide. There is also a special dinner under the stars at Australia’s biggest sheep station in WA.

 

Food is a huge highlight of this trip, and all drinks are included so bring your stretchy pants and polish up some of your best travel stories to share with your new friends over dinner.

 

The stops and experiences change depending on which direction you travel. We travelled west from Sydney to Perth. Check out some of the street art we uncovered in Perth on arrival.

 

indian pacific train
The Indian Pacific train

 

THE GHAN by Time Travel Turtle

 

Australia, with its enormous scale, has a huge range of landscapes. On the Ghan, you travel through many of them and it’s this constantly changing view out the window that makes this train journey so special.

 

The route goes between Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south and covers about 3000 kilometres. It roughly follows the trails used by early European explorers who took camels driven by men from Afghanistan (hence the name ‘The Ghan’).

 

You can take the train in either direction and there are a few options for trips. I would recommend the Ghan Expedition, which is a three night and four day journey that stops along the way for passengers to do excursions. You’ll stop in Katherine and can choose to see sights like Nitmiluk Gorge, there’s a day in Alice Springs, and a day in Coober Pedy to see the incredible underground houses.

 

The excursions are included in the price, as is all the food and drink on board the train. The meals are not just excellent quality, they are also designed to reflect the local ingredients of the regions that you’re travelling through. The wines are also chosen carefully to showcase the best Australian producers.

 

Most of the rooms are Gold Class, which means a couch that turns into two single beds on top of each other, plus a private bathroom and a small cupboard for storage. There are also a few rooms that offer a Platinum Class.

 

The journey is not cheap, but you do get an incredible experience with an emphasis on quality. It’s a great way to see parts of Australia that are hard to access – plus get from one end of the continent to the other in style!

 

 

The Ghan train in Australia
The Ghan

 

THE TRANZALPINE by Backyard Travel Family

 

The TranzAlpine train travels from Christchurch, on the east coast of the South Island, to the rugged West Coast and is easily the most scenic train journey in New Zealand.

 

Perhaps my favourite time to take this epic journey is in the middle of winter.  The roads are often closed to cars, but from the warmth of your train carriage, you can wonder in the snowy mountains as you traverse through the Southern Alps.

 

The train itself is far from ordinary, with large legroom, sweeping vista views through their large windows, free commentary on a headset explaining the tales of our land and air conditioning ensuring a pleasant journey through winter or summer.  

 

What many people do not know, is that you are able to stop along the way for only an extra $10 per stop.  This does not have to be a straight 5 hour journey across the island, why not build it into a couple of days?  

 

Top Tips:

Stop at Arthurs Pass and walk to Devils Punchbowl Falls, starting at the west end of the town.  This walk will take about an hour return for adults, or 90 minutes return for families with young children.

 

In the summer, the town of Moana is a perfect lakeside holiday spot.  Sitting on the shores of Lake Brunner, the lakeside beach can be surprisingly warm (much warmer than the sea) and is a lovely refreshing stop along the way.

 

The Tranzalpine train in New Zealand
The Tranzalpine train in New Zealand

GREAT TRAIN JOURNEYS IN AMERICA AND CANADA

 

THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER by Freedom 56 Travel

 

Traveling on the Rocky Mountaineer is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience.

 

You’ll see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world aboard this luxurious train including the gorgeous Canadian Rocky Mountains as well as almost-guaranteed sightings of famous British Columbia and Alberta wildlife like bears (black, brown & grizzly) elk, and big horn sheep.

 

This two-day trip from Vancouver to Banff or Jasper is taken aboard a very well-appointed and comfortable train in either Gold Leaf or Silver Leaf service.  Overnights are in a local hotel (we stayed in Kamloops).  Seating is extremely comfortable with heated seats and the ability to recline while you gaze at the stunning scenery.

 

Service aboard the Rocky Mountaineer is exemplary, and the food is amazing!  There are hosts on every train that take care of every detail of the trip, keep you entertained and are a great source of local knowledge.  Snacks and drinks are regularly offered and I can attest that you will definitely not go hungry!

 

Gold leaf service guests are seated in a 2-level domed rail car that affords the most expansive views of the passing scenery.  You can also access the back of car and go outside for truly unobstructed views.  Gold leaf service is well worth the added expense if you can manage it. 

 

The Rocky Mountaineer
Beautiful mountain view

ALASKA RAILROAD by Dame Cacao

 

One of the least-explored regions in the world, Alaska is often referred to as the last frontier. Traveling on the Alaska Railroad gives you a taste of that same northern wilderness, cutting directly south down the center of the country, from Fairbanks to Seward.

 

The railroad’s signature blue and yellow trains have become a popular backdrop for pictures, striking against the snowcapped mountains and deciduous forest. They’re also exceedingly comfortable to ride in, and not cheap, either. But the train is a very enjoyable way to see much of the Alaskan wildlife, without having to pay for an expensive guide or spend time driving into a national park, if you have limited time or funds.

 

Your conductor points out every moose and reindeer they spot along the path, and over the course of a few hours you can see a large chunk of mother nature’s amazing creatures. I’d recommend using the Alaskan Railroad to head south to Anchorage after flying into a more northern airport, like Fairbanks.

 

Due to the intense cold weather Alaska experiences for most of the year, high season tickets during June to August book up fast, so try to reserve those several months in advance. When you’re heading south, be sure to grab a window seat on the righthand side and invest in a long range camera lens

 

Read moreDame Cacao

 

View of Alaska from the train
View from the Alaska Railroad

 

THE EMPIRE BUILDER by Roaming Around the World

 

 

Riding the Amtrak Empire Builder is a fantastic rail experience, while crossing the US by train! It’s Amtrak’s most popular long-distance route and may rail enthusiasts say it’s Amtrak’s most scenic route too!

 

The 2,206-mile trip takes 48 hours to venture through nine different states. This epic rail journey across the Northern US begins in the heart of downtown Chicago at midday. From there, the train chugs into Wisconsin, crosses the mighty Mississippi River into Minnesota over a series of trestles, and continues onward into the vastness of North Dakota’s Great Plains.

 

Yet the real highlight of this rail journey occurs in Montana. It’s on the second day that the Empire Builder slices through the Rocky Mountains, right alongside Glacier National Park. Passengers are treated to the spectacular sight of the namesake glaciers that sparkle atop the mountains.

 

On the third and final day, passengers wake up to even more beautiful vistas outside the train windows. This time, it’s the thick forests of Washington’s Cascade Mountain range. The Empire Builder then goes onto a dramatic finish with sweeping views of Puget Sound, before terminating in bustling Seattle.

 

The Empire Builder itself is a comfy train that includes a restaurant car, café car, and a passenger viewing lounge with panoramic windows. Given that there are two overnights during the itinerary, it’s best to book a sleeper roomette for the lengthy journey. Reserve early to secure the best rates, in which roomettes cost about $315 per person, including meals.

 

The Empire Builder
The Empire Builder

 

 

 

THE COAST STARLIGHT (USA)

 

 

The Amtrak Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles is another popular train trip to take in North America. Catch the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, enjoy a few days in the city before you trip on the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles.

 

The Coast Starlight service runs from Seattle to Los Angeles and covers a distance of 1377 miles along the way. The journey takes 35 hours and stops at 28 stations and passes through the Washington State, Oregon and onto California.  It is possible to alight the train along the way. We spent 3 days exploring San Francisco before hopping back onto the train to LA.

 

I highly recommend booking a roomette which includes all your meals during the journey. Take a small travel bag with you as your main luggage will stay below and there is not enough room to have big bags in the roomette. During the day the roomette consists of two seats facing each other. In the evening while at dinner your hostess will make the beds.

 

Head to the observation car with its panoramic windows to enjoy the scenery which includes the Cascade Range and long stretches of the Pacific Ocean shoreline.

 

Read more about taking a trip on the Coast Starlight.

 

 

Coast Starlight train
Coast Starlight

GREAT TRAIN JOURNEYS IN SOUTH AMERICA

 

WARA WARA OR EXPRESSO DEL SUR FROM ORURO TO UYANI IN BOLIVIA by World Trip Diaries

 

One of Bolivia’s most visited attractions, the stunning Uyuni Salt Flats, are easy to get to by train. The train departs from Oruro and goes to Uyuni. There, most hotels/hostels offer free pick up at the station. 

 

The journey takes around 8 hours and it’s a beautiful one. It passes through villages, mountains, small salt flats, fields, and lakes. Watching the sunset through the window was a lovely experience.

 

They have two options, one is a trip during the day, and one is during the night. During the day trip, you can see all the beautiful landscape, have a snack, and watch 8 hours of Bolivian music videos and some dubbed action movies. 

 

There are also two different trains, Wara Wara or Expresso del Sur. The price is almost the same, and the service too. The Expresso del Sur train was a little newer but other than that, they worked the same, and even the snacks were the same. 

 

During the night, you can’t see anything at all but it’s quiet and peaceful. They give out blankets and pillows and the seats recline quite a lot so you can really sleep. Just make sure you keep your luggage with you. 

 

Uyani Salta Flats in Bolivia - great train journeys
Uyani Salta Flats in Bolivia

 

GREAT TRAIN JOURNEYS IN AFRICA

ROVOS RAIL by The Travelling Stomach

 

The luxurious Rovos Rail train is the best way to traverse the length and breadth of Southern Africa, meandering from Pretoria all the way down to Cape Town on one of their famous routes. Soak up the romance of the magnificent vintage train, the delicious food and impeccable service, as well as enjoying the various off train excursions and, of course, admiring the stunning scenery you can enjoy along the way.

 

Upon arrival at your station of departure your seamless check in process takes a matter of minutes as porters whisk away your luggage, and after a glass of bubbles you’ll be greeted by a member of the Vos family, founders of the company.

 

Rovos Rail routes vary from short 2 night trips to longer 15 day journeys spanning several African countries. Shorter routes include Cape Town to Pretoria, a Durban safari adventure including game drives within private reserves and the scenic journey up to Victoria Falls passing through the beautiful Hwange Park. Remember to check your itinerary in advance as temperatures along your journey can vary dramatically, you’ll receive an up-to-date weather forecast daily during your time on board.

 

Rovos Rail has got to be an absolute bucket list to experience. As soon as you step aboard the Pride of Africa you can lose yourself in the whimsical world of yesteryear, indulging in the delicious food, sublime wines and impeccable service you will receive on board. With various routes to enjoy guests come back to stay on Rovos time and time again, we can’t blame them, what better way is there to explore Africa than on Rovos Rail!?

 

Rovos Rail train
Rovos Rail South Africa’s premier train service

 

 

GREAT TRAIN JOURNEYS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

THE DOGU EXPRESS by Backpack Adventures

 

The Dogu express is one of the most scenic train journeys in the Middle east. The trip brings you from Ankara to Kars, the most northeastern part of Turkey, in 24 hours. It is one of the best ways to see the variety of landscapes in Turkey. The train crosses mountains, valleys and the Anatolian highlands with remote villages.

 

The train leaves Ankara around 6 pm. On time to see a beautiful sun set. The first part of the journey is in the dark though. The train is comfortable enough to get a good night of sleep before you wake up to some of Turkey’s most spectacular landscapes.

 

The train passes through parts of Turkey where few tourists come. These isolated regions in the Anatolian highlands are far from the coast and Istanbul, but they give insight into traditional Turkish life. The climate is harsh with cold winters and extremely hot summers. It’s a side of Turkey you don’t see or hear about often.

 

Turkish hospitality is waiting for you at the end of the line. Kars is a nice city with friendly people and great restaurants. Furthermore, Kars is a great place to start your trip in the remote north eastern part of Turkey near the border with Armenia and famous Mount Ararat. 

 

The Dogu Express
The Dogu Express

 

 

GREAT TRAIN JOURNEYS IN ASIA 

 

THE REUNIFICATION EXPRESS by Passing Thru

 

One of the best ways to see Vietnam is aboard the Reunification Express. This route was established in 1975 when North and South Vietnam were reunited at the cessation of what is called the American War in these parts. More than 40 years later, you can board the Reunification Express in Hanoi and travel south along the spine of the entire country, or do it in reverse from Ho Chi Minh City northbound.

 

We chose the Hanoi to Saigon train route and spent a couple of weeks along the route, stopping at destinations about a full day’s journey from each other. This led us to less frequently visited locations, and the lengthy amount of time we spent aboard the train itself provided a memorable and authentic introduction to one of the loveliest countries on the planet.

 

The train amenities are adequate provided you book first class, which is still an inexpensive bargain by Western standards. You’ll get an assigned, cushioned “soft seat” as opposed to a hard bench, and there will be hot and cold food served periodically by cart. Seats are two wide on either side of the aisle. Note there is minimal luggage space and oversized luggage storage is hit or miss. Tickets can be reserved online at any number of third party outlets.

 

If you’re seeking an overnight aboard, note the arrangements will be in four-berth, coed compartments. Also, note: while the trains we rode had definitely seen better days, service was timely and gracious. We highly recommend this trip.

 

Passengers on the Reunification Express in Vietnam
Passengers on the Reunification Express in Vietnam

 

THE HOKKAIDO SHINKANSEN by 2 Aussie Travellers

 

Since 2016 it has been possible to travel by high speed bullet train from Japan’s largest island of Honshu to the northern island of Hokkaido through a tunnel under the ocean.  The bullet train, called a ’Shinkansen’ in Japanese, travels on a new dual gauge line that took 11 years to complete fr

om Aomori through to Hakodate. 

 

The Hokkaido Shinkansen not only looks sleek and aerodynamic but can travel at speeds of up to 260 km per hour.  This speed is limited to 140 km/hr for the 54 kilometres through the Seikan tunnel which passes beneath the Tsugaru Strait.  It adds so much ease and comfort to the trip now taking only 4-hours to get to Hakodate from Tokyo and reducing the trip from Aomori to just one hour.

 

You can travel on the Hayabusa service using a couple of the Japan Rail passes and that makes it far more affordable for foreign visitors to get up to Hokkaido and experience the many things to do in Hakodate and beyond. 

 

Japan has an efficient long-distance train network and the Shinkansen are particularly comfortable with good leg room, wide seats and power points.  While comfortable to relax, even sleep, the view beyond the window is constantly changing and as you approach Hokkaido whether it’s the lush green of summer, or the white snowy expanse of winter, it’s spectacular.  

 

While on the train it is perfectly acceptable to bring a bag of your own food and drink or you can buy it from the trolley service on the train.  Platforms have both kiosks and vending machines with a good variety of snacks and meal options.  There are also plenty of other choices in and around the bullet train stations.  You might even try an ‘eki-bento’ a compact meal box option of Japanese dishes especially for train travel with each region having its own specialty version made with local produce.

 

THE HOKKAIDO SHINKANSEN
The impressive looking Hokkaido Shinkansen

 

THE GOLDEN CHARIOT by Once in a lifetime journey

 

The Golden Chariot is a luxury train in the south of India which has a few routes covering most of Karnataka as well as parts of Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala. The train runs in the dry season and opens the doors to a part of India where there are no other luxury train journeys. The remoteness of some of the tourist stops along the way makes train travel a great way to see the area.

 

The train typical starts and ends in Bangalore and stops everyday at a different location. The main route stops at the stunning Mysore Palace, Kabini park for a safari, Belur, Pattadakal, Badami, Hampi, and Goa while the other route heads towards Chennai, the Kerala Backwaters, Pondicherry, Auroville and Madurai instead of Karnataka.

 

While the Golden Chariot is not the most luxurious of the trains in India, it is the only one which offers rooms with twin beds perfect for families or friends traveling together. Food is always amazing with two dining options, Indian and Western, and great onboard service.

 

The Golden Chariot
The Golden Chariot

 

ELLA TO KANDY SRI LANKA by Globe Trove

 

I’ve been on a number of iconic train journeys in different parts of the world but if I had to pick a route that was both beautiful and famous then it would have to be the train journey from Ella to Kandy. While a lot of people travel from Ella to Kandy by train, the actual scenic part of the train route lies between Ella and Nuwara Eliya. The classic blue train makes its way from one hill station to the next while crossing through both valleys and hills.

 

The valleys pan out in front of you and are filled with tea plantations which is what makes it so iconic. Another fun part of the ride for many people is the fact that the doors are open, and they can hang out of the train. For us it wasn’t a new concept because we have traveled by trains in India but for many it is a novelty and one that I urge people to be cautious when doing because it isn’t safe.

 

Getting a spot to sit during the journey can be tricky because of how crowded the compartments are. Vendors make their ways selling all sorts of Sri Lankan delicacies from fruits to fried snacks and hot tea. It is hard to resist the smells and you invariably find yourself snacking while you enjoy the view.

 

Ella to Kandy train in Sri Lanka
Ella to Kandy train in Sri Lanka

 

 

COLOMBO TO JAFFNA IN SRI LANKA by Veggie Vagabonds

 

 

When you think of famous train journeys around the world you might not think of Jaffna straight away. And, actually, a lot of travellers may have never heard of Jaffna…

Jaffna is a small area in the north of Sri Lanka, an absolutely fascinating destination which is starkly different from the rest of the Island. Because of the civil war which rocked the region less than a few decades ago Jaffna still isn’t recognised as a tourist destination BUT I can safely say it should be!

And, it’s not just the destination which is so great, getting there is half the fun. You can take a train from Colombo the capital which takes about 10 hours (Sri Lankan time…) and is almost a highlight tour of the whole country.

This trains travels straight from the busy heart of the capital, through dense tea plantations in the highlands, into the cultural capital and then towards elephant territory further north. Keep your eyes peeled – if you travel during the migration period you could well see one!

Coming to your final destination you finally reach Jaffna, which is honestly even more memorable than the fantastic train journey. Prepare yourself for sizzling curries, spiritual temples and inquisitive locals!

 

Sunset view on the train from Colombo to Jaffna

TRANS- SIBERIAN by Temple Seeker

 

In order to celebrate my graduation, it had to be the most amazing train journey in the world – The Trans Siberian. This 7 day train journey from Moscow to Beijing was an eye opener – a travel experience within itself. The trips takes you through amazing scenery including the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal. When we weren’t admiring the views, we were hopping off to get 50p beers and Vodka by the litre for around £1 and enjoying a drink with our bunk mates! It was a surprisingly sociable journey!

 

There are a few things to consider when you are booking your ticket. The Trans-Siberian starts in Moscow (there is an alternative route that starts from St Petersbourg), and the classic route ends up in Vladivostock.

 

We ended up in Beijing ready to enjoy the highlights of China. The Moscow-Beijing route is interesting, especially when you have to change your money on the border and they swap the drinks cart! Should you wish to travel through Mongolia, you need to book the Trans-Mongolian.

 

Also consider how many times you want to stop off to visit places along the way – the ticket straight through is much cheaper, but doesn’t allow you to stop off and visit local areas on the way – you can only hop off at stations. Also, think about whether it’s worth paying for a private cabin – we shared and we were glad for the friends that we made along the way.

 

There are a couple of tips that might come in handy for your Trans Siberian adventure. Take tea, noodles, anything that just needs hot water adding, because boiling water is readily available in each carriage. Also, remember that you can’t use the toilets while you are pulling into a station!

 

Trans Siberian train
View from the Trans Siberian – truly one of the world’s greatest train journeys

 

MAP SHOWING THE LOCATIONS OF THESE AMAZING TRAIN JOURNEYS

 

 

 

Thank you to all the great travel bloggers for sharing these epic train journeys with us. I have certainly added some to my bucket list and can’t wait to take some of these great journeys around the world.

If you have enjoyed this article please consider sharing with other rail travel enthusiasts! 

 

RELATED POSTS  – MORE TRAIN TRAVEL INSPIRATION

Train travel is the best way to see the world – if you want the reasons why then check out this article!

Scenic rail travel in Switzerland doesn’t come more exciting that this one – a trip on the steepest cog railway in the world!

Norway is one of my favourite destinations and combining the fjords and a fabulous train journey is the best! Find out all about the Flam Railway in this article.

What better way to experience India than by train? This article details 10 of the most beautiful trips you can take!

Another fantastic continent to explore by train is the US. Check out 6 of the best Amtrak train journeys across the continent.

 

 

Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

52 thoughts on “20 great train journeys to experience around the world

  1. Kat says:

    I had experienced The Ghan back in the 1990s when I was a student in Australia. Although it was such a long journey, we had an amazing time and was awe-inspired by the vast Australian outback. I would love to try the Caledonian Sleeper in UK and Rovos Rail in South Africa some day. I recently read a book by Paul Theroux called the Great Railway Bazaar, have you read it? It’s about his train adventures in the 1970s travelling from London to Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, India, South East Asia, Japan and ended in Russia; the Trans-Siberian Railway which is also one of my dream rail adventures 🙂

    • Tracy Collins says:

      I can’t wait to take that trip! It is my No.1 train trip!And I keep meaning to read that book! Will move it to top of my list! I also want to take the Trans-Mongolian (think it may appear in the next 5!)

  2. Jurga says:

    These train journeys look amazing, Tracy!
    We might have to try the one in Flam this summer. I was doubting if it’s worth it, but since you say it’s one of the nicest train trips ever, I’m convinced! 😉

  3. Wilbur says:

    Some great journeys there Tracy indeed. The Ghan is a must along with the trans-Siberian for me. The Caledonian too I expect. I look forward to the other 5. Wilbur #farawayfiles

  4. Tracy Collins says:

    I would do those routes that way too but included the luxury trains as they are part of the experience (my Mum does those ones lol!!) We have taken the Bernina and Caledonian and Flam railways and loved them! The Ghan is the top of my list!! You have also mentioned 2 that will be on my next post!

  5. Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) says:

    I’ve been on the Californian Sleeper – it’s definitely the best way to get up to Scotland. I really fancy taking a train ride in Norway and I’ve always wanted to go on the Orient Express. Luxury train travel is absolutely the way to travel. Thanks for sharing these great ideas on #FarawayFles

  6. Katy Clarke says:

    I see many of these journeys in my future Tracy! In my immediate future we’ll be taking the Flåm railway journey in a couple of weeks! Excited. Thanks for all the inspiration #FarawayFiles

  7. Jane @ Raincity Librarian says:

    These all look amazing! Where I’m from we rarely travel by train, so I’ve always dreamed of the epic train journeys I saw on TV! The only real train travel I’ve ever done is in Japan, but I’m definitely hungry for more!

  8. Travel Lexx says:

    We have driven along the Ghan route and often quite near to its tracks but unfortunately didn’t see it first hand. It would be a fascinating journey just like the others on your list! Rail travel is something I have always loved but need to do more of!

  9. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I have not had a chance to do any of these journeys and hadn’t even thought of many of them in truth. The one I do want to do is the Trans-Siberian although I don’t know why, I just do! Can you count the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai as a great journey lol? I must admit, I have always wanted to travel on the Orient Express in the UK, it’s just always been out of my price range … maybe one day when I’m a successful travel blogger 😀 #feetdotravel

    • Tracy Collins says:

      I love train travel so it is always my method of getting from A to B if I can (not keen on flying!) – we would love to take the overnight sleeper to Chiang Mai! How was it?? There are lots of trips that are just dreams for now but perhaps one day!!

  10. Arianne says:

    The scenery is breathtaking1 I really need to get myself to Australia and take about a year exploring it! I also love riding trains so this is just the perfect list to follow. Truly enjoy reading this Tracy thanks for sharing!

  11. Annalise says:

    I never really think about train travel as anything more than getting from A to B although that could be because most of my train journeys have been the same home-uni route with not a lot to see… Maybe one day I’ll take a luxurious sleeper train and change my mind! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  12. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    I need to think more about Train Travel. You have captured some great railway journeys that I am interested in. I pinned this for my later use and would definitely love to take some of these travels. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

  13. Erin Gustafson says:

    We loved the Flåm railway – such a treasure! But wow that train from Cape Town – I’ll take one of those sofas yes please! Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to see part two! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles, Erin

  14. Scarlett Begonias says:

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been on a train other than the transit trains in NYC and other big cities, but it looks like a magical way to travel. I will be adding all of these to my bucket list now as you have inspired us to delve into train travel 🙂

  15. SamH Travels says:

    This list is awesome Tracy. The Glacier Express and Bernina express are on my to do list. I didn’t know about the Norway train journey, but I now want to do that too. I am looking forward to part 2!

  16. Barry says:

    Even though it takes longer I don’t mind travelling by train. Always fancied doing the Ghan in Australia but its crazy expensive at the moment. A few years back I took the train from Casio in NSW to Melbourne and back for a fraction of the cost.

  17. Only By Land says:

    I’ll be passing through Italy this autumn, you may have tempted me to take the train from Milan to Zurich. Last year I did take the regular train from Innsbruck, Austria to Liechtenstein (by bus), then to Zurich and some of the scenery was absolutely stunning. I’ll check out the Caledonian Sleeper website as I’m planning a trip to Edinburgh and Glasgow this summer. So many amazing train journeys around the world!

  18. Shona @ paraphernalia.co says:

    I’m very keen to add some train travel to my experiences and coming from Adelaide the Ghan has been high on my list. The Trans-Siberian is another that I’d love. Is the Rocky Mountain one with the glass roof in part 2? 😉

  19. ThriftyTrails says:

    The Rovos Rail looks like it’s straight out of a Harry Potter book! Love the old style looking trains. I would love to travel on a train with breathtaking views. Thanks for compiling this list so I can find one that really speaks to me. Looking forward to Part 2!

  20. Pingback: Catching the Bernina Express - Switzerland

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