5 of the World’s Best Train Journeys

Let’s dream big and climb aboard some of the world’s most luxurious sleeper trains. 

Luxury long-distance rail travel offers discerning and adventurous travellers a unique opportunity to visit some of the world’s most memorable places in comfort and style. Look forward to elaborate meals, fine wines and elegant cabins whilst you enjoy a constantly changing view from the unique perspective of the tracks. 

Incorporating a special train journey into your trip can be a great way to see parts of a country you might otherwise have missed as well as offering the perfect opportunity to enjoy some unique indulgence and to strike up new friendships with your fellow passengers. 

1. Traverse Europe onboard the Orient Express

Luxury train travel immediately conjures up romantic images of the fabled Orient Express, transporting the rich and famous from Paris to Istanbul in complete opulence in the heady days of the 1920’s. 

Thanks to Belmond’s founder and his beautifully restored train carriages, it is still possible to make this same journey today and unsurprisingly is on many people’s wish list for marking a significant occasion such as honeymoons, birthdays and anniversaries. 

Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express  promises to take you not just across Europe, but to transport you back in time. Travel in original 1920s carriages with their Lalique glass panels, wood burning stoves and Art Deco marquetry epitomising the glamour and elegance of the Golden Age of travel.

TIP: The classic route is from London to Venice with one night on board but how about Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Berlin or Verona? The ultimate six day trip from Paris to Istanbul operates just once a year  – one to think about well in advance!

2. Traverse Australia on board The Indian Pacific

Australia is renowned for it’s vastness. What better than incorporating a a train journey to help you cover more distance without missing the sights. 

Named for the two oceans the train encounters on its journey, the Indian Pacific travels between Perth, Adelaide and Sydney on a spectacular 4352km crossing. Enjoy the 4 day/ 3 night trip in comfort and style.There’s no better way to experience the spectacular interior landscape of Australia than by the romance of rail.

The route traverses mountain ranges, passes through arid deserts and goldfields, rocky valleys and subtropical savannahs. Imagine wakening to the spectacular expanse of the Nullarbor Plain to watch the sunrise. Prepare to be captivated by the big blue skies and ancient stillness of the desert landscape, broken only by a mob of friendly kangaroos. 

You’ll be following in the footsteps of those who have dared to venture beyond the city limits – the legendary adventurers, goldrush prospectors and bush pioneers who forged their lives in Australia’s spectacular yet unforgiving interior.

Off Train Excursions are specially designed to fit in with the train timetable so you’ll have the opportunity to take in some of the area’s best sights and better yet, they are included as part of your journey aboard the Indian Pacific. They include a Blue Mountains excursion, outback experience and a trip to a goldmine.

TIP: You can also travel just part of the way if it suits your itinerary better. Select Perth to Adelaide or Adelaide to Sydney (or vice versa).

3. Indulgence on High in the Andes

The train may be new, but the journey has been years in the making. Board South America’s first luxury sleeper train and take in stunning vistas from one of the world’s highest rail routes. The Belmond Andean Explorer glides from Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, across the lofty Andean plains to the white city of Arequipa.

The luxury cabins will be your personal sanctuary, each with private ensuites. In the lounge car, gather with friends old and new around the grand piano as the majestic Peruvian landscape unfolds outside. There’s even a sumptuous spa car so as you meander through the Andes, relax and revive after a day of outdoor pursuits in the capable hands of the onboard therapists. You can choose from 4 different journeys including both one and two night itineraries.

Enjoy the off-train experiences. Take in the reflective beauty of Lake Titicaca. Explore the ancient etchings of the Sumbay Caves among the relics of the lost Incan empire. You can even extend your visit to Colca Canyon. 

TIP: For a better view, head to the observation deck. Take a long, deep breath of fresh Andean air, pisco sour in hand, as panoramas over the snow-dusted La Raya mountains capture your heart.

4. Step back in time and travel in style across Africa

Could rail travel get any more romantic than crossing the savannahs of Southern Africa with some fantastic game watching opportunities thrown in. 

Rovos Rail is rightly deserving of the international acclaim it receives for creating truly world class travel experiences. The train reflects the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era. Modern conveniences sit side by side with period Edwardian features and each suite is complete with en suite bathroom, twin or double bed and all the amenities you would expect of a modern five star hotel. For an extra special experience the Royal Suites, each of which take up half a carriage benefit from the their own private lounge area, full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower.

There are numerous journeys to choose from allowing you to cross borders and experience what different African countries have to offer in one trip. The 3 night trip from Pretoria to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe traverses Hwange National Park, a rich and diverse wildlife sanctuary where animals can be spotted from the train and a game drive excursion is enjoyed. The sojourn ends at the incomparable Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi River. 

For a real once in a lifetime opportunity consider the 15 day Cape Town to Dar es Salaam trip. This epic train journey travels through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania and is one of the most famous in the world. 

TIP: If your journey starts or finishes in Pretoria a highlight of your journey is a visit to the private colonial style railway station at Capital Park, Pretoria.

5. The World's most Iconic Rail Journey

Undoubtedly the world’s greatest railway journey, the Trans-Siberian Railway runs like a steel ribbon across mysterious Russia connecting east and west from Moscow over the Urals, across the magnificent and endless steppe and alongside the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake all the way to Vladivostok.

Take this 15 day trip on board The Golden Eagle, Russia’s only fully en-suite private train. You can expect well-appointed en-suite cabins, fine dining and elegant surroundings – no matter where you choose to explore. First-class service is included as standard, with a personal cabin attendant service, available at all times, to look after all of your needs.

As well as off-train excursions, the Bar Lounge Car and Restaurant Cars host a variety of entertaining and enriching activities such as Russian language lessons and engaging lectures on local history and culture from expert guest speakers. 

As evening falls, enjoy the sounds of the resident pianist playing on the baby grand piano in the Bar Lounge Car. Each night the bar stays open until the last person leaves.

TIP: Tours along the Trans-Siberian route in winter are an exceptional and unique experience. The special winter programme includes the opportunity to enjoy the iconic winter wonderland scenery by horse-drawn sleigh and the chance to watch ice fishing on Lake Baikal. To keep you warm in the Siberian winter when you are off the train, complimentary hats, Russian traditional felt boots and gloves are provided, specially designed to keep out the worst of the cold and they are yours to keep!