What is more romantic than traveling the world by train? Whether you’re traveling Europe, Africa, Asia or America, the best trains have such a magical and nostalgic feeling to them that you wish you could ride them forever.
Train rides make you think about life. Everything passes by in an instant; there’s no other option than to take in the view and amaze yourself with the astounding beauty of nature. And the best thing? It’s cheaper and way more sustainable than traveling by car or airplane.
Ready for a trip of a lifetime? Here are 10 of the most breathtaking trips in the world. Enjoy!
1. The Flåm Line, Myrdal - Flåm, Norway
Are you a thrill seeker and do you love roller coasters and heights? Then this train ride is exactly what you’re looking for. It takes you in about 1 to 2 hours from Myrdal to Flåm, via the steepest railway in the world. The slope is 55/1000 on almost 80% of the railway.
On TripAdvisor, this train ride is described as “The world's most beautiful train journey.”You’ll see waterfalls, snow-capped mountain peaks, dreamy mountain villages and, of course, Norway’s beautiful fjords such as the majestic Aurlandsford.
2. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
This is a scenic 2-day train trip through the Canadian part of the Rocky Mountains. Sit back and relax in your comfortable chair and let the highest mountains, deepest valleys and wild waters of Fraser Canyon’s Hell’s Gate pass you by.
Why don’t you go all the way and get yourself an upgrade? You can then admire the view from the glass wagons, enjoy the view from the balconies or indulge in their great restaurant.
During the night you stay in the city of Kamloops where you can peacefully admire the Canadian Rockies under a magical blanket of stars.
3. TranzAlpine, New Zealand
Beautiful New Zealand never ceases to amaze with its gorgeous scenery and friendly inhabitants. Jump on the TranzAlpine train, which takes you on a ride between Christchurch and Greymouth. The train is specially designed to offer you the very best view of New Zealand.
Behold the lovely countryside with its farms, the snow-capped mountains, the Southern Alps in Arthur’s Pass National Park and the stunning valleys of the Waimakariri River, Otira, the Taramakau and Grey Rivers.
4. Sri Lanka Colonial Train, Sri Lanka
According to many, the journey from Ella to Kandy in Sri Lanka is actually the most breathtaking train ride in the world. The train ride takes 7 hours and passes small villages, tea plantations, and mountain peaks. It’s so popular that you need to book a month in advance (unfortunately, you can’t book online).
If your time in Sri Lanka is limited, then know this: most backpackers choose Kandy as starting point, so you’ll have more chance to get a ticket for the ride from Ella to Kandy.
5. Maharajas Express, India
Traveling from Sri Lanka to neighboring India? Then don’t skip the Maharajas Express! Especially if you’ve had more than your fair share of budget local buses, this will be like a breath of fresh air. The train is one of the most luxurious trains in the world; there’s even a spa on board!
Of course, the interior is almost nothing compared to the jaw-dropping scenery of India that passes you by, such as the Taj Mahal, the wildlife parks and other amazing wonders of the world.
6. The Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow, Russia
One of the most famous and longest train rides in the world, the Trans-Siberian Express covers roughly 9,000 kilometers through Russia, Mongolia and China. Depending on how many stops you’ll make, you’ll be in the train for 7 to 21 days.
We encourage you to visit the Red Square in Moscow, the UNESCO site of the Kremlin Fortress in Kazan and have some borscht for lunch on the shores of the bright blue Lake Baikal.
7. Shangri-La Express, Beijing, China
This is without a doubt the most modern and comfortable train in China. It’s a 12-day journey which takes you through the Silk Route between Beijing and HongKong. You’ll enjoy mouth-watering dinners prepared by top chefs, take Chinese lessons on board and admire the spectacular scenery.
Don’t forget to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing and the 'singing' sand mountain near Dunhuang!
8. Kyushu Seven Stars, Japan
Why would you race to your final destination when the journey itself is so beautiful?! Forget about the bullet train that catapults its passengers from Tokyo to Aomori at a speed of about 300 km per hour. Instead, jump on board of the Kyushu Seven Stars and give yourself time to take in the breathtaking views.
You need to book at least a year in advance though, because this train is very exclusive. Which makes it even more special…
9. Bernina Express, Switzerland
This train ride has been described as one of the most scenic journeys. The train takes you from Chur and St. Moritz in eastern Switzerland across the border to Tirano in northern Italy. It takes about four hours and goes through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges.
Take it all in; the lush mountain scenery, the beautiful waterfalls, ice-blue glaciers, and ravines. Let the warm Italian sun greet you on your arrival.
10. The Rovos Rail, Cape Town, South Africa
Fun fact: founder of the Rovos Rail, Rohan Vos, named all of his trains after his own family members. The train ride takes about 3 days, during which you can admire South Africa’s grasslands and gorgeous mountains.
You’ll sleep in a very comfortable bed and end your journey in the vineyards of Kaap de Goede Hoop. Not a bad place to end up, right? Cheers!
Which train rides have you taken already? Do you have any other train rides that you want to add to this list?
Written by: Jessica Scheper