The World’s Most Memorable Train Journeys

The World’s Most Memorable Train Journeys

journey by rail delivers a smorgasbord of natural wonders and
local culture via a wonderfully antiquated mode of transport.
Whether it’s riding a packed commuter train into Delhi or
luxuriating in a private carriage on the Venice
Simplon-Orient-Express, train travel is back in vogue and there’s
something for everyone. From two-hour city hops to week-long
odysseys through the desert, these are the most memorable rail
routes out there.

This image is on holiday

The Canadian


Crossing the world’s second-largest country in just four days,
this transcontinental train transports you through Canada’s rugged
landscapes between Toronto
and Vancouver.
Leaving the beaux-art style halls of Toronto’s Union Station
behind, you’ll pass Ontario’s wild and glassy lakes before hitting
the so-called prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and
Alberta, with a stopover in Winnipeg. The highlight of the journey
has got to be the leg through the Rocky Mountains, when alpine
lakes, snow-covered peaks and the lush forests of Jasper National
Park will leave you struggling to tear your eyes away from the
window. Then it’s onwards into British Columbia, and the train’s
final destination.

The Jacobite Train


If you’re a Harry Potter fan, a trip on the Jacobite will fulfil
all your wannabe-wizard fantasies. Departing from Fort William near
Ben Nevis, this 84-mile journey to the fishing town of Mallaig
stops at picturesque villages such as Glenfinnan and Lochailort,
before swooping towards the Isle of Skye. Most notably, the train
crosses the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct – the very recognisable
route taken by the Hogwarts Express. The bridge overlooks Loch
Shiel and, if you’re lucky, the steam train will pause for a few
minutes giving you time to get snap happy with a killer view. The
two-hour service only operates from May
to October
– catching it on a clear summer day is hard to beat.

Trans-Siberian Railway


Connecting Moscow and Beijing, the epic route of Trans-Siberian
Railway famously traverses eight different time zones. In as many
days, you’ll leave Moscow’s avant-garde architecture and raw youth
culture behind and journey through the endless Russian steppe, past
the Ural Mountains and towns seemingly forgotten by the rest of the
world. Then it’s into the Gobi Desert and along the shores of Lake
Baikal before finally reaching Mongolia.

Colombo to Badulla

Sri Lanka

Lush landscapes mean Sri
offers some of the most scenic rail travel out there,
with one of best the routes being heading east from the capital of
Colombo. Taking you to Badulla in the hill country, where you’ll
pass through misty forests and tea plantations, the journey
encompasses Kandy, Nanu Oya and Ella, the portion between Haputale
and Ella being the most impressive. If you’re after a sea breeze,
board the coastal train from Colombo to Matara (the southern tip of
the island). Relatively hassle-free and pretty cheap, these steam
trains go slow, stopping at characterful train stations along the
way, when the rustic cabins fill with vendors selling everything
from freshly mango to crispy papadums.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


Once an international line between
, today the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers trips
from London to Paris and
, among others. The original 1920s, art-deco cabins are
done up with fine fabrics, glossy wood panelling, plush seating and
antique fixtures, and are serviced by impeccable stewards in
bellboy uniforms – it’s proper Grand Budapest Hotel stuff. With a
Parisian champagne bar and seasonal menu of freshly prepared
plates, the whole thing screams luxury, but you’ll want to turn
your attention outwards to catch a glimpse of the Alps, Romeo and
Juliet’s Verona and Venice’s grand plazas.

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California Zephyr


Probably the most picturesque train journey in the US, the
Zephyr whizzes you from Chicago‘s
towering skyscrapers to laid-back San
. Passing the Rockies and Sierras, this three-day odyssey
is ripe with contrasts; you’ll pass through the flats of Nebraska,
Colorado’s canyons, the Utah desert and Sierra Nevada’s snow-capped
peaks before finally reaching the Cali coast. Depending on your
budget, choose between a reclining coach seat, cosy bunk beds or an
en-suite bedroom.

This image is on holiday

Mumbai to Delhi


Since the British Empire, India has had one of the most
efficient rail networks in the world. Images of commuter trains
overflowing with people hanging off the sides may abound, but if
you want to explore this vast country properly, this is the way
forward (without the hanging). A popular northern route takes you
from metropolitan
to the markets of Delhi via colourful Rajasthan,
with the opportunity for some tiger-spotting in Ranthambore
National Park on the way. Trains are crowded and don’t have
air-con, but these local services are by far the most authentic way
to experience India,
and meet plenty of locals en route. The other option is the
luxurious Indian Maharaja Deccan Odyssey, which includes two dining
carts, a bar and lounge – plus a very heavy price tag. Those in the
south can jump on the Goa Express.

Hisatsu Line


With some of the most high-tech trains around – featuring seats
that swivel around so you never have to go backwards – boarding a
Japanese coach feels like something out of a sci-fi movie. To
experience this state-of-the-art travel and catch a glimpse of
Mount Fuji, book a seat on the bullet route from Tokyo
. If you’re keen for adventure and want to experience some
local culture along the way, take the Hisatsu Line on Kyushu Island
– it’s the country’s southernmost island and known for active
volcanoes, unspoilt beaches and hot springs. The century-old route
connecting Yatsushiro and Hayato runs north to south via onsen
resort Hitoyoshi, small picturesque towns with old wooden stations
such as Yatake, the Kirishima mountains and ends near Kagoshima Bay
where views of volcanic Sakurajima await. For a Japanese take on
the Orient Express, opt for the Seven Stars train – on this
journey, the views will be complemented by silk screens and local
seasonal food served on board.