There’s something refreshingly traditional about travelling by train, and often the rail journey can be a destination in itself! Dining cars with full-service meals, uniformed wait staff, fascinating off-train excursions – there’s so much to love about travelling by train.
We’ve gathered together our top 6 “Great Trains” experiences to get you on the right track:
THE BLUE TRAIN
Follow in the footsteps of kings and presidents who have travelled on this magnificent moving five-star “hotel-on-wheels” from Pretoria to Cape Town (or vice versa). Spot occasional wildlife as South Africa’s awe-inspiring landscapes pass by your window. The cuisine that comes out of a tiny galley is exquisite and matched with the very best South African wines. The 24-hour personalised butler service is enough to win over even the most seasoned traveller.
Rocky Mountaineer takes you through pristine Canadian wilderness to witness towering mountain ranges, rushing waterfalls, snow-capped glaciers and quaint alpine towns. Look out for bald eagles, ospreys, and even black bears along the way. Different routes offer a variety of scenery, and can be combined with further touring or even an Alaskan cruise.
EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS
The Eastern & Oriental Express train travels for two days between Singapore and Bangkok (or further afield if time and budget allow). Gleaming green and cream carriages evoke the great bygone age of luxury train travel and are a world of opulence and fine craftsmanship. Watch the unfolding views from the observation car, and stop to explore ancient villages, tranquil rural landscapes, historic monuments and tea plantations.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE DANUBE EXPRESS
Our favourite journey aboard this luxury train is from the romantic city of Budapest to Venice through the lush landscapes of the Balkan states. Stop along the way to visit the 14th century Bran Castle (rumoured to be Dracula’s Castle), haggle in the ancient bazaar of Mostar, and enjoy some wine-tasting in Eger. You have two nights in Venice at the end to top it all off!
PALACE ON WHEELS
The opulent days of the Raj linger on aboard India’s luxury trains. Our favourite is the Palace on Wheels, previously frequented by the maharajas of the princely states of Rajasthan, Gujurat and the Nizam of Hyderabad no less! The regal theme continues with visits to magnificent forts and palaces, the Taj Mahal, of course, and you can stop off at Ranthambore National Park to try and spot the rare Royal Bengal tiger.
Arguably one of the most beautiful journeys in the world is across the Peruvian Andes aboard the Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca. Spectacular Andean scenery appears out of every window, and you stop in some truly out-of-the-way authentic places to interact with the locals and catch of glimpse of a still traditional life in the highlands.
You don’t have to be a train-spotter to enjoy travel by rail — these luxury trains are experiences anyone with a hankering for travel in style and elegance can absolutely relish — all aboard!
Words: Caroline Clegg, World Journeys