The Greatest Train Journeys To Take Around The World

We can’t deny our love for beach holidays, but when it comes to romantic getaways, there’s nothing that beats seeing the world by stream train or shunting through lush landscapes. From the Italian route on the Orient Express to a view of the Canadian Rockies through panoramic windows, here’s our favourite train journeys you can board from around the world…

Glacier Express, Switzerland

This is the rail trip you need to take if you want to catch a glimpse of that famous Swiss scenery. This train has panoramic windows to make the most of the rolling hills and snowy mountaintops, so be sure to book yourself a window seat. The complete route travels from St Moritz to Zermatt and comes in at around eight hours. Which sounds like a long time, but the views are guaranteed to keep you occupied: you’ll travel across The Abdula Line, complete with the Solis and Landwasser viaducts and spiral tunnels, and The Rhine Gorge, also known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Switzerland’.
Price: Around £119 per person one-way, with options to reserve a seat and lunch bumping up the price
Length: 290km

Find out more here.

Northern Explorer, New Zealand

If you want to see the North Island but are a little short on time, this is the ideal way to get a look at all the hotspots – and the magnificent scenery in between. From Auckland through to Wellington, you’ll take in breathtaking vistas of rural New Zealand farmland and rugged landscapes before ascending up the Raurimu Spiral, passing the volcanoes of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu on the way. You’ll literally see it all on this trip: natural river gorges and rocky seascapes, and amazing manmade sights like the 79m-high Makatote Viaduct – all viewable from the large panoramic windows or the open-air viewing deck of the train.
Price: Around £113 per person for flexi fare
Length: 681km

Find out more here.

Tokaido Shinkansen, Japan

When these trains first started running in 1964 it took four hours to do the full 515km journey from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. Now, the superfast Nozomi trains take just two-and-a-half hours to that that exact same journey. There’s no point in going on this journey to take in the sights – it goes far too fast for that. But the experience of Japan’s bullet trains is one you must experience. Forget the stuffy tube journeys of London crammed with pushy passengers – here, people board in a neat line and sit in silence for the whole journey. Grab yourself an ekiben, too – a portamntau of the words ‘eki’, meaning station, and ‘bento’, a traditional Japanese lunch box, it’s a lunch to have at the train station. These are no ordinary packed lunches, though – different regions serve ekiben that is unique to them, and they take great pride in showcasing their speciality. Get yourself a box and watch the world go by (at huge speeds).
Price: Around 14,000 yen (£100) to reserve a seat on a Nozomi train
Length: 515km

Find out more here.

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

A gorgeous journey that can take anywhere from two to 18 days, this private train has four different packages through the Rockies to choose from, each offering a different slice of Canadian life. It travels along the old Canadian Pacific line to Vancouver, where you can see glacier lakes, lush green forestry, the kind of gushing rivers that’ll take you breath away and, of course, plenty of wildlife. These trains also boast panoramic windows – and if you go for the ‘Gold Leaf’ ticket, you can ride and dine in traditional Dome Cars where the windows stretch onto the roof of the train. And if you’re lucky, your driver might slow down if there’s a bear around.
Price: Prices vary depending on which package you choose, but one of their bestsellers, a Grand Rail Circle trip, starts at £3,970 for a 13-day trip
Length: Each trip varies

Find out more here.

The Bergensbanen, Norway

This scenic line from Oslo to Bergen is one of Norway’s best-kept secrets, exhibiting around 490km huge part of Norway’s natural beauty, from babbling rivers, cavernous canyons and harsh, icy landscapes. There are four daily trips, and you can even do the journey overnight if you fancy. This journey takes between six and seven hours from start to finish, but with such beautiful views, who’s counting?
Price: Prices start from around £100 one-way per person.
Length: 490km

Find out more here.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Italy

Everyone knows that the Orient Express is one of the most famous trains in the world, and now luxury travel company Belmond have recreated the opulence of that journey with their Venice Simplon Orient Express. Here, you’ll travel in private compartments complete with mahogany panelling and damask bedsheet, with breakfast in bed and welcome bubbles on arrival in London, while your four-course dinner will require black tie attire. Depending on what journey you choose, you can relax in the bar where a pianist will be playing the classics, as your train takes you through the likes of the Italian Dolomites and Swiss Alps. Pure indulgence at its very best.
Price: A trip from Venice to London starts at £2,200 per person
Length:  Each trip varies

Find out more here.

Cusco To Machu Picchu Train, Peru

If you haven’t got time to hike the infamous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or it’s just not your cup of tea, there are ways around it. The train, which leaves from Poroy, just outside of Cusco, travels through the mountainous landscape, passing the Urubamba River and Inca archaeological site, Ollantaytambo. You’ll alight in Aguas Calientes, a town bubbling with hot-springs and over which the ruins of Machu Picchu tower above. You can choose panoramic windows, which is slightly more expensive, but the cheaper classes do the same job – and you’ll be there in just three hours.
Price: From £59 per person, one-way
Length: 86km

Find out more here.

West Highland Line, Scotland

But you don’t have to go abroad to experience top-notch travel – we have some pretty great railway journeys right here in the UK. Once voted the top rail journey by Wanderlust readers, this 42-mile journey from Fort William to Mallaig takes you through mountains and glens, with stunning views of Ben Nevis and Loch Morar. Many, however, come to take snaps of the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is probably more famous these days for their part in the Harry Potter films as part of the route for the Hogwarts Express – jump aboard the Jacobite steam train to really get the full HP experience.
Price: From £37.74 return, per person
Length: 135km

Find out more here.

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