Train travel was the most luxurious way to travel in the past and over the last few years, it has made a resurgence and no matter where your destination there are sure to be a choice of luxurious train journeys on offer. Never before has there been so many companies promising to pamper you through some of the most remote, exotic, romantic and beautiful landscapes. Dan and I have fallen in love with train travel over the last few years with our favourites being the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland and the Belmond Hiram Bingham in Peru! Train travel is a truly unique way to travel and allows you to sit back and relax and truly take in the majestic scenery around you. Here’s a look into some of the very best train journeys around the world and the incredible scenery you’ll experience along the way!
VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT EXPRESS
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is one of the world’s most famous Luxury trains and is truly a wok of art in itself and an Art Deco icon. From the first glimpse of the gleaming carriages, you know that one of the most memorable journeys of your life has begun! The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express boasts delightful vintage cabins, gastronomic cuisine and lively entertainment, ensuring your journey on this luxurious train is one of the world’s finest travel experiences. You’ll be witness to some of the most stunning scenery in Europe as you take one of their journeys to the great European cities, including London, Venice, Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest.
Eurostar recently opened its plush Paris lounge at Gare du Nord – that observers say resembles more of an exclusive Parisian apartment than a waiting room for the zippy 2 hour and 15-minute journey from the City of Lights to the Big Smoke. Marble fireplaces, a cocktail room and sunken bar await the weary traveller, and a Raymond Blanc-inspired menu is due to debut later this year. But aside from the glamour, what has made Eurostar a staple for aeroplane-adverse travellers looking to get from point A to B is the quality of the service, the down-to- earth friendliness of the attending staff and the ever-increasing desire to shrink distance and time between two of the greatest capital cities on earth.
The Ghan is a three night, 2979km journey from Darwin to Adelaide (or vice versa) that allows travellers to cross the Australian continent from North to South whilst experiencing the endless red-earthed landscape of the Australian outback. The legendary Ghan takes you deep into the heart of Australia and gives you access to parts of Australia that most people will never come close to. You’ll relax in luxury, dine on some of Australia’s finest exotic local fare and experience excursions and special stops that you will never forget.
PALACE ON WHEELS
India’s Palace on Wheels is one of India’s many luxury trains but is the one that started the trend. This 7-night journey sees you take a round trip from Delhi that also takes in top Indian sights, such as the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur, the Taj Mahal and Ranthambore National Park! The Palace on Wheels comprises of carriages of former maharajas, meaning the Maharaja way of royal living will be yours for this incredible week! You will be served sumptuous Indian cuisine by staff wearing turbans and immaculate white tunics! They ask you to rediscover the romance of Royal Rajasthan aboard Indian’s first and most revered luxury train!
The Glacier Express is the most memorable, comfortable and beautiful way to see the Swiss Alps. The Glacier Express links the iconic ski villages of St. Moritz and Zermatt. It isn’t exactly an “express” train as it has actually been nicknamed the slowest express train in the world! The 7 ½ hour journey covers 290km and crosses steep mountain passes and impressive viaducts! You travel through an impressive 91 tunnels and cross 291 bridges as you experience the alpine wonders of one of the most naturally beautiful countries on Earth! The Glacier Express is famous for its panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, breathtaking rivers, peaceful alpine pastures, magical castles, and charming villages. It’s also famous for its unrivalled pampering of travellers throughout the train journey. So sit back, enjoy your lunch and delicious Swiss wine as you lock the memories of this journey in your mind forever.
The Blue Train traverses South Africa diagonally from Pretoria to Cape Town. The 27-hour, 1,600km passes South Africa’s breathtaking scenery, stopping at the diamond mines of Kimberley on the way south and the eccentrically colonial outpost of Matjiesfontein on the way north. Kings, presidents, celebrities, honeymooners and travel lovers alike have all indulged on this magnificent, moving five-star “hotel-on-wheels”! Luxury surrounds you and all passengers rave of the incredibly friendly and helpful staff! Many of the butlers have worked on the train for years and are on call to you 24/7. Some of the luxury double sweets aboard the Blue Train even have full sized bathtubs! If that’s not a luxury train journey then I don’t know what is. There truly would be nothing quite like relaxing in a bubble bath, champagne in hand as you watch the savanna roll by…
The Gold Leaf Service of the famous Rocky Mountaineer offers one of few five-star rail experiences in North America. The Rocky Mountaineer offers number of journeys but their most spectacular would certainly have to be the classic Banff to Vancouver route. Most tourists prefer to visit during the summer season, but September to mid-October may possibility be the most romantic time to travel, when the leaves turn into their stunning Autumn colours and fresh snow begins to stay on the top of the mountains. Couples can even rotate their seats so that they face each other during the journey, which adds to the romance of the journey. The Rocky Mountaineer is so much more than just a train journey, it allows you to unlock the hidden world of unparalleled beauty as you carve through otherwise inaccessible terrain in the unbelievably beautiful Canadian Rockies.
Seven Stars is the first luxury sleeper train in Japan and is without a doubt Japan’s most luxurious train. The train has seven carriages that hold just 30 people in 14 suites. There are two itineraries available, a two-day option or a four-day loop journey. Both are in such demand that the company selects applications by lottery! The interiors showcase the very best in Japanese craftsmanship and style. Passengers enjoy the stunning scenery of Kyushu as the train passes by and enjoy all that the Seven Stars journey has to offer.
BELMOND ROYAL SCOTSMAN
Stepping aboard the Royal Scotsman train is stepping into a different world. You’ll learn to appreciate the romantic age of travel where the journey of getting there was just as much fun as arriving. A journey aboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman is an incredible way to see the magnificent Scottish Highlands and countryside. You will cruise past ancient mountains and mysterious lochs, golden glens, charming villages and stop by castles and distilleries. The bar on the train even has more than 50 kinds of whisky! You’ll be sharing your journey with a maximum of only 36 guests at any one time and from the moment the piper welcomes you aboard in Edinburgh you are in the very best of hands.
The Bergen Railway between Oslo and Bergen is considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides. The 7 hour journey brings you across one of Europe’s highest mountain plateaus, and takes you to through spectacular scenery. From Myrdal you can also take a detour to the famous, spectacular Flåm Railway which is one of the world’s steepest railway lines. The trip takes you across the Hardanger plateau, the largest wilderness area in Europe and the scenery is breathtaking.
GOLDEN EAGLE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS
Last but not least is one of the most epic train journeys on Earth, the Trans-Siberian Express which has an incredible itinerary that spans eight time zones!! The Golden Eagle is a luxury version of the Trans-Siberian Express with guests having their own en-suite bathrooms, climate control, laundry services, TVs, a resident pianist, an English speaking doctor and all the luxury you could ask for! Also, to help passengers acclimatise, five-star luxurious accommodation in Moscow and Vladivostok are provided. The two week journey feels more like a cruise than a typical train journey as the train stops every day for excursions!
Do you also love train travel ? What have been your favourite journeys?