Scenic train journeys across the world

Glacier Express, Switzerland.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia/ Champer/ CC BY-SA 3

At times there is nothing more relaxing than just sitting back and watching the changing colours of the landscape from a window pane. It’s a soothing balm for frayed nerves as you board a train, leave the skyscrapers behind and begin a journey that will take you through some of nature’s most scenic and gorgeous vistas – from lofty mountains, glaciers, lush forests, green meadows to mighty rivers. At times you may have to make the train your home for more than a night, but when it’s a luxury train, that is simply the cherry on the cake.

Glacier Express, Switzerland
If you’re in Switzerland for a holiday, try not to miss the legendary train ride from St. Moritz to Zermatt which takes you past rolling meadows, scenic villages, gushing streams, 91 tunnels carved through mountains and more than 250 bridges. The world’s slowest express train showcases the best landscape of the Swiss Alps over seven and a half hours as it climbs over 2000 metres in height.

Trans-Siberian Railway.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia/ Petar Milošević/ CC BY-SA 3.0 (2)

Trans-Siberian Railway
Picture this – crossing around 7,500 kilometres in about 6 days as you traverse two continents with the landscape changing dramatically as you move from the Russian capital to the Chinese capital. There are three routes, but the trip which starts from Moscow in Russia, goes through Mongolia and finally ends at Beijing in China, is the most interesting. This Trans-Mongolian route goes through small towns, villages, moving from birch forests, the grasslands of Mongolia and enters China through the Gobi desert.

Rocky Mountaineer.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia/ The Land/ CC BY-SA 3.0 (2)

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Leave the hip and cosmopolitan city of Vancouver on board the Rocky Mountaineer for Banff and let nature surprise you as you go past mighty canyons, gushing rivers and dense valleys. On this two-day train journey, you stay overnight at Kamloops. The first day’s highlights include Fraser River Valley, Fraser Canyon and the Thomson River while the next day you go through tunnels, Rogers Pass, Kicking Horse Canyon, Spiral Tunnels and glaciers of the Canadian Rockies. It reaches Banff in the evening.

Palace on Wheels, India
A week aboard the Palace of Wheels shows you some of India’s most popular tourist spots in the most luxurious way, taking you back into a royal era. Think air-conditioned coupes with attached showers, each one named after different cities the train goes to, two restaurants, a bar and lounge, a library and a spa. It leaves from New Delhi, takes you to explore the desert state of Rajasthan and goes on to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.

Pride of Africa.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia/ David Brossard/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Pride of Africa
Start your sojourn from Cape Town in South Africa and end your trip 28 days later in Egypt. Gear up for a long but a once-in-a-lifetime journey, which takes you from the south of the continent through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and ends in Egypt. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go everywhere on the train. You also get to go on a private aircraft and a luxury cruise ship. You’ll be in this luxurious train as you go from Cape Town to Victoria Falls and then take a flight to Zanzibar. It is surely a long trip, but worth it.

Indian Pacific.
Image courtesy: Wilipedia/ Bahnfrend/ CC BY-SA 3.0 (2)

Indian Pacific, Australia
Zip across Australia by taking this incredible train ride that goes from Sydney to Perth or vice versa in just four days. Go through the lovely Blue Mountains and then the barren desert till you reach Broken Hill. Along the way you will stop  at Adelaide, Cook, Nullarbor, and the mining town of Kalgoorlie.

 Hiram Bingham Orient-Express, Peru
This train spells luxury from the moment you enter the railway station in Poroy, close to Cusco till you reach Machu Picchu. Billed as one of the most luxurious trains in the world, Hiram Bingham will spoil you silly during the three-hour journey with the choicest of wines, champagne and a lovely brunch. And the scenery will not disappoint either as you go past Sacred Valley of the Incas at Ollantaytambo in the Andes till you finally reach Macha Picchu.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Pallavi Pasricha is a commissioning editor at Lonely Planet India.


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  • Prasenjit Dasgupta

    Dear Madam,

    I think the journey by the western ghats on the Konkan railways should be included in the list it goes through 100+ tunnels and several waterfalls and is one of the most beautiful train journeys

  • shshi kumar

    Very nice

    • shshi kumar

      Very nice

  • rahul

    I think th train journey in Alaska Skagway, should be included it is one of the best I have been on.

  • P.J .Varghese

    On the way to Calicut.In between Shornur to Nilampur by train. we can’t imagine this is one of the most interesting in Kerala .The train passes through the bucolic villages ,paddy fields , forest and the journey takes 2 hours and cost below Rs 10/-.