While relaxing with a book or a glass of wine, changing views leap from one side of your carriage to the other. There will always be dramatic, window-wide vistas to soak up on the best routes, whether you have a posh spot in a panoramic carriage or a reservation in a retro waggon hauled by a steam locomotive. Seasoned travelers clamor for tickets on these ten incredibly beautiful train rides around the world, which range from one-hour jaunts to multi day odysseys.
Have a look:
The Tokaido Shinkansen
The Shinkansen ran from Tokyo To Osaka, but the superfast Nozomi that runs past Mount Fuji now covers the 515km journey in just two and a half hours. No one travels on the Shinkansen to look at the scenery because it passes too quickly to appreciate. The onboard experience of Japan’s bullet trains, on the other hand, is unparalleled, with passengers forming a neat line on the platform, boarding in single file, and sitting in silence for the duration of the journey, picking through ekiben. Ekiben are unique to each region of Japan, combining eki, which means station, and bento, which means packed lunch. They allow vendors to showcase their specialties using local, seasonal ingredients.
The Nordlandsbanen Railway
The Nordlandsbanen Railway is Norway’s longest and the only one that crosses the Arctic Circle. It is, then, redundant to say that this makes one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. It travels from Trondheim through farms, forests, mountains, rivers, and fjords before arriving in Bod, where ferries to the Lofoten islands depart. The Arctic Circle is marked by a monument in the Saltfjellet mountains. Passengers can see the midnight sun in the summer and, with luck, the northern lights in the winter from here – there is a sleeper train as well as two daytime trains.
Jacobite Steam Train
You’ll be glued to the window of this nostalgic steam train as it clickety-clacks through the Scottish Highlands. The route cuts through a wild landscape of rugged peaks, misty glens, and glassy lochs between Fort William and the small fishing port of Mallaig. Look out for Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak, and the 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct, which has been in use since 1901. The viaduct was featured in the Harry Potter films when the Jacobite Steam Train portrayed the Hogwarts Express. The train’s carriages from the 1960s are pulled by vintage steam locomotives known as Black 5s.
This Amtrak route follows the Pacific Coast from San Luis Obispo, where you can explore the lively college town or visit nearby wineries or a historic mission. From there, enjoy 350 miles of ocean views with beaches, rocky coastline, quaint towns, and little between you and the blue Pacific. Visit the museums in Balboa Park or dine in Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. If you have time, stop at train stations along the way that are within walking distance of local attractions.
The Riviera Railway
All commuter trains run along this route from France into Italy, which begins in the opulent Riviera city of Nice and ends 90 minutes later in the lovely rambling Italian market town of Ventimiglia. The double-decker train follows the curves of a sparkling Ligurian sea through lesser-known coastal hideaways like Cagnes-sur-mer, Juan les Pins, and Antibes, transporting passengers through sun-kissed towns and villages where bougainvillea cascades down the walls of pink and yellow apartment blocks and men with orange chests play pétanque.
Corsica has 144 miles of narrow-gauge track that was built through mountains over the course of 22 years in the late 1800s. That endeavor, which took an incredible 22 years, resulted in one of Europe’s most dramatic railways, with 32 tunnels and 52 bridges and viaducts, including one designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Pont du Vecchio. The most spectacular stretch is between Corte and Bocognano, which follows the Gravona valley through gorges and past the spectacular Bride’s Veil waterfall, which is 70 meters high.
Hiram Bingham Orient Express
The vintage-style Hiram Bingham Pullman train winds its way along the Urubamba River valley between Peru’s colonial city of Cusco and Machu Picchu Pueblo. Along with pisco sours and live music, the journey to Machu Picchu offers some spectacular sights: verdant Inca terraces, colorful villages clinging to the forest-clad hills, grazing llamas, and distant ruins. The ancient Inca citadel, which attracts tourists but is still enchanting, remains the showpiece.
Napa Valley Wine Train
One of the pleasures of the 36-mile round trip from Downtown Napa to St. Helena is riding through rows of grapevines, across farmland, and past picturesque wineries against a backdrop of green hills. Board in an industrial area of Napa and take in views of the town’s outdoor contemporary art, including murals, sculpture, landscaping, and parks, as promoted by Rail Arts District Napa. Continue through the towns of Yountville, Rutherford, and Oakville, stopping for gourmet meals and wines along the way. With a variety of stops and winery tours available, it’s a convenient and safe way to explore and taste wines. The train cars themselves are enjoyable, adding to the vintage feel of train travel.
Be a part of one of America’s most historically important and explicittly beautiful train rides. The Sunset Limited, America’s oldest named train, travels from New Orleans to Los Angeles in just under two days. Take a seat in the panoramic viewing car to meet a diverse cross-section of American society, including musicians, teachers, and retirees, as well as farmers, Amish carpenters, railroaders, and runaways. Passengers have plenty of time to read, strum guitars, or spot jack rabbits and golden eagles soaring overhead as they travel through Louisiana’s bayous, New Mexico’s cacti, and Arizona’s deep red sunsets. Don’t forget to keep a few dollars on hand for when the train arrives in El Paso and the famous Burrito Lady awaits on the platform with a freezer box.
The Blue Train
The Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town is one of the most luxurious in the world, with prices starting at £895 per person. However, there are two non-luxury options on the same route that begin in Johannesburg rather than Pretoria. The Shosholoza Meyl train is the most affordable, but it still includes sleeping cars and a restaurant. The Premier Classe train features private sleeper compartments, all meals, and a lounge-bar car. Passengers enjoy the same views of the Karoo desert, the Hex River Pass, the Cape wine region, and Table Mountain, but at a fraction of the cost.
Which of the most beautiful train rides in the world have you checked off your bucket list, and how was your ride? Share with us in the comments below.