An often overlooked mode of travel, trains can be a more sustainable and scenic alternative to plane trips. And, with their often roadless routes, they can be some of the only means of experiencing certain inspiring scenery up-close. Here are some of the best train trips in the world, both for the unique views they offer passengers and the overall travel experience.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe
If you want to live out a 1920’s fantasy, what better way than the Orient Express? One of the most famous trains in the world, the 1920s Art Deco style decor on the interior of the train will transport you back in time. The modern Orient Express contains private compartments with mahogany paneling, beds layered with demask sheets, and a staff known for their impeccable service, this train sets a new standard for luxury travel. Watch the beautiful Swiss Alps and French Countrysides pass by your window as you’re dressed formally, having a drink at the train’s champagne bar and listening to the live band play.
The Ghan, Australia
The Ghan transports passengers through the heart of Australia, from Adelaide to Darwin. Originally completed in 1929, the train’s name was inspired by Afgan camel trainers and riders who originally helped chart the course of the train through the country. Although it has been around for the last century, it only began running its current route in 2004. The Ghan was voted among the best trains in the world in the CN Traveler Reader’s Choice Competition in both 2020 and 2021. This train’s three-day route takes lucky travelers through a series of scenic and inspiring landscapes including the ridges of the MacDonnell Ranges, the opal town of Coober Pedy, and Tarcoola’s former goldfields.
Belmond British Pullman, Europe
If you want to feel like you’re stepping into a Wes Anderson film, this is the train for you. The Belmond British Pullman features a historic 1950s Cygnus carriage designed by Wes Anderson himself. This carriage also features two private coupés which include private boarding/check-in, place settings and glassware hand-selected by Anderson, Veuve Clicquot, and a private tour with the Train Manager. Regardless of whether you’re able to book one of the highly coveted seats on this carriage, the British Pullman experience is still unique and inspiring. Departing from London, the train takes its passengers on a journey through the British countryside with beautiful views of cities such as Cambridge, Canterbury, and York.
Seven Stars, Japan
Not only is the Seven Stars one of the most beautiful and spacious trains in the world, its route is also designed to give travelers an authentic travel experience rather than a tourist one. Every aspect of the train has been handmade and designed by Japanese artisans, including the best, woodwork, porcelain dinner plates, bathroom sinks, and more. The train’s circuit travels across the island of Kyushu over the course of four days and three nights. It’s not only a beautiful onboard experience, but along the journey Seven Stars stops at the best shrines, porcelain studios, and onsens.