Top 10 great rail journeys to take around the world

Top 10 great rail journeys to take around the world

I love train travel and it is always my preferred method of transportation for many reasons.

The ability to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery in a comfortable seat in a railway carriage has got to be the best way to travel.

I have been on some of the great rail journeys around the world although still have quite a few on my bucket list. I also love sleeper trains though admit they are not always the most comfortable method of travelling.

This list of top 10 amazing train journeys around the world includes some of the most luxurious trains but are also scenic shorter trips that can be more affordable for most travellers.

Here are the my first 5 choices for the best 10 railway journeys around the world? 



To take a trip on the Ghan is at the top of my bucket list. This epic journey across Australia takes you 2979 kms from coast to coast (Adelaide to Darwin and vice versa) and across the red centre of this amazing continent. There are a number of options to take on Southern Railway’s Ghan train service including the epic Ghan Expedition which takes 4 days and 3 nights to cross the continent. Imagine that? Well yes I can and I cannot wait to take this train.

The Ghan’s symbol is the camel and its name comes from the epic camel riders who blazed a trail into the red centre of Australia over 150 years ago.

To find out more about The Ghan check out their website – I look forward to the day when I can write up my experience of taking this epic train.

Top 10 amazing train journeys to take around the world


Mention beautiful train journeys and countries that spring to mind always include Switzerland. For good reason – the scenery in this beautiful Alpine country is breathtaking. I have taken many train journeys in Switzerland and have quite a few favourites including catching the train from Geneva to Zurich (Lake Geneva is gorgeous), the cog railway up Mt Pilatus and taking the train from Zurich to Milan.

However famous train journeys include the Glacier Express, the train journey to the Top of Europe and of course the Bernina Express.

A few years ago I took the Bernina Express from Tirano in northern Italy to Chur in Switzerland with my niece.  The journey takes about 4 hours and is one trip where sitting back sipping a glass of prosecco whilst passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is a must.

To find out more about the Bernina Express and other panoramic rail trips available in Switzerland read my post all about our experience as well as the Rhaetian Railway  website!

Why not include a trip on the Bernina Express into your Europe train trip itinerary?

great rail journeys - the-bernina-express | A Trip on the Bernina Express featured by top internation travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time


There are many different routes to choose from with this luxury train company based in South Africa. One of their routes runs 1,600 km from Pretoria to Cape Town and this is the route I have chosen for this list (though their 15 day Cape Town to Dar es Salaam route is a close second!)

Stops along the route Pretoria to Cape town include a visit to Kimberly where you can peer into the Big Hole and visit the Diamond Museum! If you are in Cape Town read my insider’s guide for the best things to do and see when you are there.

Check out the Rovos Rail site to book this amazing experience.

Rovos Rail in South Africa


Another classic journey is the Eastern and Oriental Express train service which runs between Bangkok and Singapore. Crossing from Thailand through Malaysia before finally entering Singapore (or vice versa) this trip is synonymous with luxury where the train itself is as much a part of the experience as the journey!

Stop off at the River Kwai and also in Georgetown Penang on the trip of a lifetime. Read more about this trip here!



I make no secret of my love for Norway! One trip that should be on any train lover’s bucket list is the stunning journey between Flåm and Myrdal.

Make sure to experience the beautiful boat journey from Gudvangen to Flam along the magnificent Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord before catching the train from Flåm up to Myrdal. The return train journey takes about 2 hours and you will see magnificent waterfalls, mountains and the fjord landscapes on your trip.

To find out more about the Flamsbana check out their website.

The Flamsbana in Flam Norway


For my 5th choice in my top 10 railway journeys around the world I have chosen the Caledonian Sleeper. We took this sleeper service a few years ago but since then the stock has been updated and therefore this journey remains high on my re-do list.

The Caledonian Sleeper offers a number of routes from England to Scotland ending in Aberdeen, Inverness or Fort William on the Highland route or Glasgow or Edinburgh on the Lowland route. (And vice versa obviously!)

We wanted to go to Fort William but unfortunately the line had been damaged following a massive storm so we travelled from Euston to Inverness but what a trip it was! Waking up to stunning Scottish scenery will be an abiding memory. If Fort William is your destination depart Euston at 9:15 pm and arrive in Fort William at 9:55 the following morning.

First Class (your own room and single bed), Standard Class sleeper room with twin beds (we took this) and a standard sleeper seat are options on this service.

Check out the Caledonian Sleeper website here!

caledonian sleeper from London to Inverness


Those are my first 5 choices of top 10 railway journeys around the world!  Have you traveled on any of these services? Do you have a favourite that is not on my list? Maybe it made it onto my final 5 choices  – CLICK HERE to find out which train trips I picked for the final 5!



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Author: Tracy

Tracy has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to 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!

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  1. May 9, 2017 / 2:23 am

    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 🙂

    • May 9, 2017 / 6:17 pm

      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. May 9, 2017 / 6:47 am

    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! 😉

    • May 9, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      You have to do the Flam railway Jurga! Lonely Planet voted it the most picturesque rail journey a few years ago!

  3. May 11, 2017 / 7:12 am

    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

    • May 11, 2017 / 9:47 am

      Ah yes the trans-Siberian/trans-Mongolian is in the next 5! So many great journeys to choose from!

  4. May 11, 2017 / 8:10 am

    I love trains – addicted to the Michal portillo series

    Looking forward to the second part #farawayfiles

  5. May 11, 2017 / 9:45 am

    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!

  6. May 11, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    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

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:57 pm

      Its so is Clare!A wonderful way to travel!

  7. May 12, 2017 / 7:16 am

    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

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:53 pm

      Ooooh have a lovely time!! It is a great trip!

  8. May 12, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    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!

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:51 pm

      I would love to take the bullet train in Japan! On our list!

  9. May 13, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    This is definitely the type of travel we would love to do in the future. The scenery looks just amazing. Great post. Have pinned for future reference. #feetdotravel

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:50 pm

      Us too! We want to travel as much as possible by train and have some of these as must-dos!

  10. May 13, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    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!

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:50 pm

      It is my number 1 on my list and hope to take it one day!

  11. May 14, 2017 / 7:34 am

    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

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      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!!

  12. May 14, 2017 / 10:10 am

    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!

  13. May 14, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    These train journeys look awesome! Would definitely like to try that Switzerland trip! Can’t wait for part 2! 🙂

  14. May 15, 2017 / 10:04 am

    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!

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:42 pm

      Thanks Annalise! Definitely try to take some of these trips if you can!

  15. May 16, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    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

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:41 pm

      Thanks Stephanie – hope you get to take some of these!

  16. May 16, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    These all look SO epic! I love trains so will definitely be added a few of these to my list 😀

  17. May 17, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    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

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:40 pm

      Me too! My Mum did that trip – we will have to wait a few years (or win the lottery!)

  18. We took the Flåm railway in Norway several years ago, and really enjoyed it. But my the other four look so good too. Scotland and Switzerland would top of my list! Thanks for sharing!

  19. May 18, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    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 🙂

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:39 pm

      Oh I would definitely try to take some train trips – there are some awesome ones in the USA to do too (wait for part 2!!)

  20. May 18, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    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!

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:38 pm

      Thanks Sam! We had great fun choosing our favourite trips!

  21. May 19, 2017 / 3:46 am

    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.

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:37 pm

      Yes we have been checking out the cost – much cheaper if you book in Australia as much in advance as possible but its still a once in a lifetime trip I think!

  22. May 19, 2017 / 8:41 am

    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!

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:36 pm

      Totally! I love any train travel so its with great excitement we book any trip involved trains!

  23. May 19, 2017 / 10:53 am

    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? 😉

    • May 21, 2017 / 5:35 pm

      Lol Shona yes it is! That can’t be missed off top train journeys! Hopefully we will get to try the Ghan soon!

  24. May 20, 2017 / 6:53 am

    The romance of train journeys is irresistible. Love all of these iconic rail journeys. Of course, nothing to beat the scenic trains of Switzerland, my favourite.

  25. May 29, 2017 / 8:59 pm

    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!

    • June 9, 2017 / 5:33 pm

      I need to get working on part 2! So many great train trips to take!