Paul Theroux, an American travel writer, set a big goal for himself in the 1970s: to take only trains from England to Asia. People think that “The Great Railway Bazaar,” the book he wrote about his trip, is one of the most beautiful works ever written about trains.
“If a train is large and comfortable you don’t even need a destination,” Theroux said. “A corner seat is enough, and you can be one of those travellers who stay in motion, straddling the tracks, and never arrive or feel they ought to.”
In a time when time is valuable, enjoy slow-moving travel on the ground, like in the glamorous old days. Luxury train travel shows that fly-by country is much more interesting when seen on the ground, whether you’re in the Andes or on a Japanese island.
Take your time on these fancy train trips that go through some of the most beautiful places in the world. Keep in mind that times and prices can change.
A Belmond Train in Britain, a British Pullman
Fans of the director Wes Anderson can go on a trip on an old train that was influenced by his unique style and attention to detail. “The Darjeeling Limited,” one of his most famous films, is about how much the director loved riding fancy trains. This is the “Cygnus” carriage from the British Pullman, A Belmond Train. It was built in the 1950s and can be used on exciting lines across England. With special rides like a murder mystery luncheon or dinners with celebrity chefs, this ticket is sure to take people back to the glamorous old days.
Japan’s Seven Stars Cruise Train
The Japan Cruise Train Seven Stars is often called the most luxurious train in the world. It combines old-fashioned luxury with cutting-edge technology on a railway. It says it was the first private sleeper in the country, and its first run was in 2013.
Seven Stars passengers will get to see both mountains and the sea on tours that last more than one day and go around the island of Kyushu. But just so you know, the train can only hold 28 people at a time. People who want to ride have to apply, and those who are chosen are then asked to buy their spot on an upcoming schedule.
Europe – Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
There’s a reason why the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a myth. London to Venice is the train’s main route. Along the way, it stops in Paris and Verona. Art Deco decorations on cars give the scene an air of old-school style. It is possible to get food along the way, so when you sit down to dinner, you might find lobster from Brittany or crisp tomatoes from Provence. Stop by the champagne bar after dinner for a party that will take you back to the heyday of high-class travel.
Royal Scotsman by Belmond, Scotland
Take a slow train ride through Scotland’s lochs, castles, and countryside. As the Royal Scotsman speeds through the Highlands, you can cosy up in your room with a tartan wool blanket or enjoy a scotch in the mahogany dining car. The Royal Scotsman is different from other luxury trains because it has a spa on board. You can relax with a facial, massage, or manicure in the spa car while taking in the beautiful scenery.
South Africa’s Rovos Rail
When you take the Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town, you’ll see a lot of different parts of South Africa. People who go on the three-day trip see a lot of different landscapes, from the fields of Highveld to the deserts of Great Karoo. From the open-air balconies on the viewing car of the train, the view is breathtaking. The train stops in the Cape Winelands so that people can have a drink before they are dropped off at the Cape Town station.
Andean Explorer by Belmond, Peru
A little over 600 years ago, the Inca Road System was a great piece of work. People used to walk or ride llamas along the 25,000 miles of road. Today, people can take the Belmond Andean Explorer to travel in style. The train leaves from Cusco, which was once the capital of Peru, and goes through the Andean Plains to Lake Titicaca. This train says it is one of the highest in the world because it is in Peru, which is very high up. Inside, the cars are decorated with handicrafts from the area. For example, there are alpaca wool rugs from Peru on the beds, and pisco sours are served in the bar car in the back.
Indian Maharajas’ Express
This train is regularly ranked as one of the most luxurious ways to spend a vacation on the rails. Maharajas’ Express trains have private butlers in every car, and there is a fancy presidential room for people who want to spend a lot of money. One of the most famous tours on the rail line is the seven-day Heritage of India tour, which goes to Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi.
The Train of the President, Portugal
The Douro Valley in Portugal is now known all over the world as a great place to eat. The Presidential Train runs from Porto to Quinta do Vesuvio, on the eastern coast of the Douro Valley. It takes some of the best cooks in the world to some of the freshest food in the world. Every day, well-known chefs come on board to prepare delicious food that is paired with wines from the area. People can take it easy in their own rooms and watch the Golden Valley from the windows while they wait for their meals.
From Australia, The Ghan
The Australian Outback doesn’t have to be a dirty adventure every time you go there. The Ghan Expedition is one of the best luxury train lines in Australia. It runs from Darwin to Adelaide over four days. The train has been running since 1929, but it has been updated to meet the needs of current travellers. Local foods like salty barramundi and grilled kangaroo fillet are served on board.
Canada’s The Canadian
Take a train ride across the “Great White North” and stay warm in the car. From Toronto to Vancouver, the Canadian serves the whole country. It will take four days straight to finish the route if you never get off the train. People will see rivers, cute small towns, and the majestic Rocky Mountains along the way. In the winter, the train is the best way to see snow-covered hills and endless fields of white powder.
The Gran Lujo Transcantábrico in Spain
Book a trip on the Transcantabrico Gran Lujo. Four of the cars are original Pullman cars from 1923, so you can mix your comfort with a bit of history. The trains are designed in a way that makes you feel like you’re going back in time almost 100 years. From the panoramic viewing car, people can see some of the most beautiful views in Spain. From San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, along the northern coast of the country, there is service.
The Russia Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
It’s been more than 100 years since the Trans-Siberian Express began, and a train line that old doesn’t come with a lot of fancy services. The train goes from Moscow to Vladivostok, which is on the coast of the east. Along the way, people can learn Russian, dance to a live pianist, or just hang out in the bar for as long as they want—it won’t close until the last person goes. The long trip that lasts 15 days costs $19,825 per person.
Asia Eastern and Oriental Express
This beautifully decorated train has been stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Singapore since 1993. These are three of Asia’s most beautiful towns. Inspired by the 1932 Marlene Dietrich movie “Shanghai Express,” the Eastern & Oriental Express’s furnishings have high-end features like Thai silk, Malaysian embroidery, and cherrywood panelling. The views from the train as it goes through dense rainforests or old buildings make the design look even better. Make sure you bring clothes that fit the scene—dinner calls for evening wear.