The world’s best train journeys

There’s something nostalgic yet refreshing about train travel. Leave the devices and their respective chargers at home and wind down with some old-fashioned hospitality and cross-country journeying as you see the world from a unique perspective. Here, we look at the iconic, the luxurious and the simply spectacular.

The Ghan, Australia
The Ghan is Australia’s premier rail journey, with scores of travellers making the iconic 2980km trip from Adelaide to Darwin via Central Australia every year. Its history can be traced as far back as 1878, when initial building begun in Port Augusta.

Named after the Afghan cameleers whose help was vital in completing the section of railway to Alice Springs, the Ghan takes 48 hours to reach its final destination and leaves twice a week from Adelaide and once a week from Darwin.

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Ride The Ghan and glide through the red heart of Australia in comfort. Click here for this great deal
(Image: Great Southern Rail) 

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Cruise through Canada in comfort and class when you hop aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Bespoke glass-domed coaches, fine dining options and GoldLeaf Service come standard, plus an outdoor deck succeeds at really assaulting the senses (in the best possible way).

Grab a glass of local wine and soak up the stunning surroundings while on one of four routes: Vancouver to Banff and Calgary, Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops, Vancouver to Jasper via Quesnel and Seattle to Vancouver.

Once exclusive to Canadian shores, the Rocky Mountaineer now crosses into the USA, taking passengers through Seattle and Washington. If you are interested in this part of the journey, be sure to embark from Seattle.

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Explore the stunning Canadian scenery onboard the famous Rocky Mountaineer
(Image: Facebook / Rocky Mountaineer)

Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Europe
First departing from Moscow in 2007, the Golden Eagle has luxury in spades and an ensuite in every room. Discover the Trans-Siberian experience as you travel from Moscow to Vladivostok with the option to sojourn on the Silk Road, take a tour of Russia’s Arctic and bask in unforgettable panoramic views of the Caspian Sea.

With two dining cars and a plush lounge furnished with sofas you’d swear were tailored specifically to your body, two Imperial Suites (120-square-feet) are available for the up-market traveller, or anyone who fancies a king-size bed, dressing table and living-room section. Click here to book your holiday today.

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Explore Russia in true luxury onboard Golden Eagle
(Image: Facebook / Golden Eagle Luxury Trains)

Indian Pacific, Australia
With the Ghan traversing the vertical length of our vast country, its Great Southern Rail sibling, the Indian Pacific, takes the country’s larger horizontal stretch in its stride.

Spend three nights and four days in exquisite carriages as you journey 4352km through Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie. Holding the title of longest (straight) railway track on the globe, it’s mind-blowing to realise one can travel from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Large and mighty, the Indian Pacific offers unique glimpses of the imposing Nullarbor Plain landscape, the Blue Mountains and a number of other picturesque locations. It leaves twice a week from Perth and Sydney. Step aboard the iconic Indian Pacific and book your adventure today.

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Sit back and relax onboard the Indian Pacific (Image: Great Southern Rail)

Belmond Royal Scotsman
Dig out your kilt and dust off the bagpipes (or just pack a tweed jacket) and join the captain and crew of the Belmond Royal Scotsman.

Leaving from Edinburgh and transporting just 36 passengers, this exclusive and intimate train will do more than take you through the Scottish Highlands; it will also take you back in time. From the 1928-era dining car to Edwardian polished brass and intricate fabric upholstery and trim, the whole affair is ornate without being ostentatious.

Our favourite section, however, is the Observation Car with open-air veranda, where you can keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster and admire the historic castles and gorgeous glens that float by. With a variety of itineraries available from two to seven nights, a journey on Belmond Royal Scotsman is an experience to be treasured. Book your Highland journey here.

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Indulge onboard the luxurious Belmond Royal Scotsman
(Image: Facebook / Belmond Royal Scotsman)

Glacier Express, Europe
Meandering through Switzerland’s awe-inspiring Alps is one of Europe’s most prestigious trains, and the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express.

For seven hours, lucky guests are moved from Zermatt to Davos or St Moritz in panoramic viewing cars fit for a queen.

The pleasant day trip sees the train gliding smoothly over 291 bridges including the stomach-dropping Landwasser Viaduct and through 91 tunnels of varying elevations.

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Be amazed at the beautiful landscape of the Swiss Alps (Image: Facebook / Galcier Express)

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
Looking more like a highly polished museum than a train, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is an Art Deco darling of epic (and lavish) proportions. Flawlessly restored 1920s vintage cars will seem familiar to Agatha Christie fans, but we’re certain the romance will sweep any passenger off their feet as they make the iconic trek from Paris to Istanbul.

Alternative routes guide travellers through Europe’s finest cities, including Venice, Prague, Budapest Vienna and London.

The French fare on-board is five-star and as mouth-watering as you’d expect, so spend the night, or spoil yourself with a 3-day trip on this sparkling jewel of the rail industry.


Cross from Paris to Istanbul in top-class comfort

Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu, but thought backpacking and hiking were the only modes of transport to get you there, listen up: Belmond’s Hiram Bingham accommodates 84 passengers in a series of 1920s-inspired blue and gold Pullman carriages.

The quality of the furnishings is sublime, but no varnished wood or glossy brass knobs can detract from Machu Picchu, the 15th-century wonder that has been attracting tourists since the early 1900s.

Take a cocktail lesson from the experienced barman while en route from Cusco and groove to traditional Peruvian music after a four-course dinner (included in the ticket price) in one of two designated cars.


Discover incredible Peru onboard the Hiram Bingham

TranzAlpine
Our friends across the ditch lay claim to the outstanding Christchurch to Greymouth TranzAlpine rail journey, and it’s one that will have you seeing our close neighbours in a whole new light.

The country’s landscape has long been utilised on film, and TranzAlpine offers visitors their own rugged adventure firsthand.

For example, while stopped in Greymouth, intrepid travellers can climb the Franz Joseph glazier. In just four and a half hours (the perfect half-day trip), New Zealand puts on a show-stopping display that includes the Southern Alps, sweeping Canterbury Plains and majestic Waimakiriri River.

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Sit back and enjoy the stunning views from your carriage window on the TranzAlpine
(Image: Facebook / KiwiRail Scenic)

Maharajas’ Express
Create your own Slumdog Millionaire fantasy when you book a trip on the Maharajas’ Express. Designers and engineers have done a superb job at recreating the carriages to a standard that India’s ruling Maharajas would once have enjoyed.

Pleasing all the senses in equal amounts, this is one colourful train trip you won’t forget. 

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Let the Maharajas' Express take you to see the sights of exotic India 

Spend between three to seven nights journeying from Delhi to Mumbai (via Rajasthan) in the lush suites and spacious dining cars. A safe and effective way to see India, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur are just a couple of spots that will leave you speechless along the way.

What incredible train journeys have you taken? Share in the comments below.

(Feature image: Great Southern Rail)

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