Best Train Travel In The World

Best Train Travel In The World – Melanie Lieberman is the Global Features Manager and manages destination, hotel, cruise and product features and news. Formerly an editor at Travel + Leisure, her work has been featured in Bloomberg Pursuits, Jetsetter, Saveur, and more.

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Best Train Travel In The World

Best Train Travel In The World

While traveling by plane, it is possible to see wonderful views, especially during takeoff and landing. But when driving at 39,000 feet, there’s usually not much to see.

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This is one reason why train travel has long been one of the most popular ways to see the world. It’s often a more comfortable way to get from place to place – no small plastic bags of toiletries or endless crowds at airport security – and trains can pass through picturesque mountain valleys and connect charming remote villages. They constantly offer panoramic views of fascinating landscapes that are sometimes extremely difficult to access by other means.

(like the G train in New York), but sometimes a train ride can be a journey in itself. We’ve scoured the world, explored new routes, and talked to knowledgeable travelers about the world’s most scenic rail routes: you know, the kind that makes you poetic like Paul Theroux.

From the Amtrak train that leaves New York every morning to the ultra-luxury locomotive that takes people back to the golden age of travel (and literally between two South African cities), these are the 11 most beautiful train rides. on the ground.

Famous for its tours of Western Canada, this iconic luxury train operator launched its first US route in 2021. Travelers can take a two-day trip from the Rockies to Red Rocks from Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah. An itinerary that includes an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

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As the train runs only during the daytime, the towering Rocky Mountains give way to Utah’s almost Martian desert landscape, while passengers never miss a minute of the glass-domed train carriages with open-air viewing platforms. After all, Moab is the gateway to Arches National Park, named after its surreal sandstone arches and rock formations.

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“The journey between Kandy and Ella takes you past colorful villages, lush mountains, tea plantations and more,” said TPG writer Lori Zaino. “It’s a complete cultural experience – the locals in my car were singing and clapping constantly. Hang out the window (at your own risk) and watch the world go by for an adrenaline rush.

The seven-hour drive is extremely inexpensive and a great way to explore the Sri Lankan countryside. Make sure you choose a second-rate fare so you can look out the window and enjoy the view.

Best Train Travel In The World

To secure your ticket in advance, book through an agent (starting at around $15), like Zaino does. Even though tickets purchased at the station are only a few dollars, don’t underestimate the convenience of making a reservation before arriving in Sri Lanka.

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Book any train in Switzerland and possibly enjoy uninterrupted views of the Alps, charming mountain villages and glassy lakes. But for something more adventurous, head to Alpnachstad to ride the Pilatus Lucerne, the world’s steepest cog railway, which rises to just 45 degrees although the journey takes just 30 minutes.

However, you will be rewarded with stunning views from the top of Mount Pilate, and if you can, head to the countryside and hike, climb or picnic in the surrounding mountains and valleys. Round-trip fares usually start at 72 Swiss francs, or about $74.

Fly to Auckland and board the country’s longest-running passenger train, the Northern Explorer, passing Hamilton, Otorohanga, National Park, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu on the way to the capital, Wellington. Exploring New Zealand by train will see everything from volcanic peaks to rugged coastlines, stopping for a hike in the Tongariro Alpine Pass or strolling through the glowing worm-lit chambers of the Waitomo Caves.

“Every time I took a Northern Explorer train, I had to get between two places, but I was never too busy,” said travel writer and TPG writer Elen Turner. After all, a 12-hour trip isn’t the fastest way to get around New Zealand. So expect an absolutely smooth ride. Prices for adults start at NZ$219 (approximately $125).

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“Traveling in the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer train from Banff to Vancouver is one of those ‘you only live once’ experiences,” journalist Michele Sponagle told TPG about the original and best-known routes of the luxury train. “It takes you to some of the most remote areas – places you would never otherwise reach. Imagine a postcard-perfect landscape in every direction … (and) be prepared for an imperative digital detox, as you will often do.” do not receive cell phone signal or in-flight Wi-Fi throughout the journey.

The tour “First Crossing West” is a four-day journey from Vancouver to Banff crossing the Continental Divide and through so-called spiral tunnels carved into the Rockies. In 2023, fares start at $1,800 per person and include four meals, three nights in hotels, a tour and national park pass, as well as station transfers and baggage handling. Shorter trips with Rocky Mountaineer start at around $1,300 per person.

Opt for a luxury Belmond sleeper experience that offers both stunning views and sumptuous interiors, such as the Andean Explorer traveling from Cusco to Puno on Lake Titicaca, and the sparkling white stone city of Arequipa.

Best Train Travel In The World

No comfort is overlooked on the plane, and even the train is equipped with oxygen cylinders and masks for passengers who are uncomfortable with high altitude. Entry-level cabins are usually available for around $2,000 per person (based on accommodation for two), including meals and excursions.

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Since the 1920s, South Africa’s Blue Train has carried passengers between Pretoria (near Johannesburg) and Cape Town in luxury cars with panoramic windows – best for admiring the passing vineyards and key landmarks like Table Mountain.

“In 2012 I took the Blue Train with a South African friend,” recalls Nadine Jolie Courtney, luxury travel consultant at Elite Travel International. “I can’t imagine a more spectacular way to see the South African countryside… Code for white tablecloths, en suite bathrooms (with bathtub!), a dress dinner, and a stunning view… The night sky was particularly memorable. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many stars and it was like seeing the entire Milky Way.

Prices for 2023 generally start at 43,440 to 53,605 South African Rands or $2,500 to $3,000 per person.

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The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs along the Animas River from Durango to Silverton and into stunning canyon scenery in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. ROZANNE HAKALA/GETTY IMAGES

Best Train Trips In The World

“I will never forget the unique Colorado landscapes, the cliffs, and the surprise of what happened at the next bend,” recalled Swanette Smith, also known as Granny Points.

Drive an old coal-fired steam locomotive and enjoy stunning scenery as you cross the Animas River, cruise through the San Juan National Forest, and hug the mountainside.

“(It’s) short, very scenic,” said TPG executive editor and senior director Scott Mayerowitz, who said the 45-mile, 3.5-hour drive was really about the sights, not the destination. Tickets start at $105.

Best Train Travel In The World

In addition to reliable service and super clean cars, taking Japan’s bullet train is a great way to see the country’s scenery when traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.

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“I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of … (mountains) and Japanese cities on the way, and if you’re lucky, you can see the famous Mount Fuji,” said Adrianna Qi, senior marketing manager. (If you’re coming from Tokyo, watch out for the mountain to appear around 40 minutes into the journey – and make sure you’re sitting on the right side of the train.)

Christie Matsui, former senior executive assistant of both Qi and TPG, said beforehand that you would definitely want to pick up a bento box from the train station. Seven-day Japan train tickets start at $214.

Canadian travel writer and photographer Johanna Read told TPG, “On the Jacobite steam train that plays the Hogwarts Express in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, passengers feel like they’re going to Hogwarts.”

“From Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, the train traverses Scotland’s steppes and lakes and slows to take pictures as it passes the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in the movies. The end of the line is the very pretty seaside town of Mallaig from Hogsmeade.

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Read advises budget travelers to consider the “less magical” ScotRail train, which takes the same route.

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