Trains are a beautiful way to see the world. Just sit back and watch as the world passes you by.
Riding the rail is romantic. It’s slow and relaxing travel, all about the journey not the destination. And on the world’s most luxurious trains you can see the world in style.
Train travel offers both a new experience and a new perspective on a destination. Well, not all travel on trains. Just the world’s best trains.
The most iconic of all the world’s luxury trains, a glamorous journey in a vintage carriage from an Agatha Christie novel. A stunning way to see Europe.
Now stopping in Prague, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is helping to introduce a new generation of travellers to the wonders of train travel.
EliteVoyage travel designer Matous Grund was on board the Orient Express from Paris to Vienna. His trip report details the experience and some very important considerations when planning this famous journey.
Transcantabrico and Al Andaluz, Spain
The Orient Express connects Europe’s most desirable city destinations. Spain has two luxury trains connecting amazing places you wouldn’t otherwise visit.
Crossing northern Spain from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, the Transcantabrico is an eight-day holiday in redeveloped 1920’s carriages. The Al Andaluz train measures 450 metres, taking travellers on a journey through Andalusia in southern Spain.
Neither of these trains can rival the glamour or opulence of the Orient Express. But they’re very good value and still comfortable.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
Amazing rail experiences don’t need to be overnight. Sometimes the railway is the easiest and most beautiful way to get around a country. Private consultant Tomas Safarik explored Switzerland by train in edition II of Explorer magazine. He said:
Taking the train isn’t a high-end thing in the Czech Republic. But I can imagine meeting a Swiss billionaire on a Swiss train, at least a millionaire who doesn’t own a chopper.
The Glacier Express is Switzerland’s signature rail journey, a beautiful day through the Alps. We know other equally impressive alpine routes to incorporate into your holiday.
Trains can be integral to your entire holiday experience, nowhere more so than in Japan. Shinkansen bullet trains are faster and more convenient than any other form of transport, including domestic flights.
Japan is vibrant, original, exotic and unforgettable. And unlike some destinations in Asia, it also has a world-beating infrastructure to make travel really easy, like the Shinkansen.
On a Shinkansen you really see Japan, as you explore landscapes and places between your destinations. And they’re more comfortable than any commercial airline you’ve ever flown on.
Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
Railways will show you places you otherwise didn’t know exist. You can explore remote areas that other travellers simply don’t go.
Running from Cusco to Arequipa in Peru, The Belmond Andean Explorer is the best celebration of this remote exploration, a two-night journey with luxury on a par with the Orient Express.
The Andean Explorer is the only sleeper train in South America. Crossing snow-capped mountains, desert plains and azure lakes, with cocktails and fine cuisine, it’s a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. The cabins even feature in-built oxygen, to counter the effects of altitude.
It’s well known that Canada has some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes. But how do you actually see them, in a country more than 100 times larger than the Czech Republic?
The Canadian is a 4,466 kilometre journey from Toronto to Vancouver, four days and four nights going east to west across the wilderness.
It’s not a luxury train per se and some people travel for four days on seats, in economy class! The only option to consider is the prestige class, with concierge services, private lounges and showers.
Maharajas’ Express, India
Like Japan, trains are an authentic way to explore India. Except in India, the trains are very uncomfortable, only passable for backpackers.
A possible and untested exception is the Maharajas’ Express, which operates seven-day trips from Delhi to Mumbai. It’s self-proclaimed the world’s most luxurious train and won World’s Leading Luxury Train at the World Travel Awards seven times.
But we don’t have personal knowledge of this travel experience, so cannot make any recommendations.
Rovos Rail, Southern Africa
Rovos Rail also claims to be the world’s most luxurious train. Ten years ago, our marketing director Stephen Bailey departed Cape Town, South Africa, in a deluxe suite on the Rovos Rail. He says:
It was a beautiful journey across beautiful wilderness on board a lovely train, but on some very old railway tracks that made the experience a little slow and unpredictable.
Rovos Rail operates various routes across Southern Africa, including up to Victoria Falls and into Namibia. Stephen’s recommendation is to get a Royal Suite with a private lounge and Victorian bathtub. And to avoid the more ambitious routes into Mozambique and Tanzania, as the railways themselves are in terrible condition.
Ghan Expedition Australia
There’s no such problem with poorly maintained wilderness railways in Australia, where there are four inspiring cross-country rail journeys.
The cabins are comfortable enough but as Tomas Safarik discovered on his recent trip, Australia isn’t about the accommodation, it’s about very unique experiences.
Of the four routes, we love The Ghan, a two-night journey across the heart of Australia, through the outback from Darwin to Adelaide.
Belmond Royal Scotsman
Finally, back closer to home, with the tried and tested luxury of a Belmond sleeper train.
The Royal Scotsman offers three to seven-night journeys exploring the splendour of Scotland, a romantic and eye-opening journey without needing to brave the Scottish rain outdoors.
This Belmond train summarises why luxury train travel can be so enchanting. Exploring new places in ease and comfort, with first-class service and a unique window onto the world.
Is Holidaying on a Train for You?
Trains are not very spacious. Even if you have an entire Belmond carriage, it’s not like sleeping in a penthouse suite. There are many things to consider before you book a train holiday.
So ask us. We’ve tried some of these trains, including the Orient Express. So we can advise you personally.