20 Stunningly Scenic Train Rides Around the World

September 1, 2014

When traveling by car or plane, you may not have the privilege to enjoy some of the stunning views our planet has to offer. But unlike the stress-inducing car and plane trips, train travel is arguably the best means of transportation to take in and relish the views of natural landscapes in a relaxed environment.

Need ideas for an amazing and absolutely stunning train ride experience? Here are some of the most awesome train rides in the world.

1. The Rocky Mountaineer

This train ride takes you on a two-day, all-inclusive trip through the Canadian Rockies, from Vancouver or Seattle to Calgary, Jasper or Halifax, providing you a great opportunity to explore impressive Canadian landscapes. The train service, which is the pioneer of day rail touring, serves excellent dishes to passengers on board. The Rocky Mountaineer’s dome cars and observation balconies makes for a great way to take in the stunning views along the way.

2. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

This world renowned train is a nice mix of elegance and comfort. The interiors of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express carriages are designed by famous designers including René Lalique. A ride on this train across Europe brings to mind the historical past of the continent, especially about train travel. Orient-Express train service has been in operation since the late 19th Century and it is still waxing stronger. A continental breakfast is brought to you by stewards, while lunch and dinner are served in three dining cars with classy ambiance.

3. The Ghan

Photo via: Sedunia Travel

Photo via: Sedunia Travel

This train ride, which goes through the heart of Australia, takes you through a dry terrain with panoramic views. You have the opportunity to know more about the flora and fauna of the desert terrain by taking the off-train excursion. The Ghan, which is managed by The Great Southern Rail, usually departs from Adelaide on Sundays on a two-night trip to Darwin, passing through Alice Springs and Katherine, covering 1,851 miles one way.

4. Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Photo via: Bestourism.com

Photo via: Bestourism.com

This has to be longest train ride in the world at 6,000 miles! The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, which was launched in 2007, covers two continents and takes people on excursions to places such as Ulaan Baatar and Vladivostok (in Russia) as well as to Mongolia and Kazakhstan. But if you are in for a longer trip, the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express offers a 21-day trip to Beijing. The cabins have cozy red velvet seats, TVs and DVD players while there is underfloor heating in the shower room.

5. Glacier Express

Photo via: Za

Photo via: Za

The leisurely pace at which this train rides is, perhaps, one of the reasons why many love it. The Glacier Express takes you on a seven-hour journey from Zermatt to the famous resort town of St. Moritz or Davos, ensuring you have more than enough spectacular alpine views to your heart’s content. It winds and undulates up and down the mountains, with side and top windows to ensure you have really breathtaking views of the region.

6. Danube Express

A relatively new train ride, Danube Express provides you the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes of Central and Eastern Europe in comfort and style. This luxury train, which was inaugurated in 2008, takes you on a journey through countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania to the city of Istanbul. Deluxe rail cars are provided with en suite facilities, while regular sleeping cars have shower and toilet at the extreme end of the coach. Quality dining and wining options are also available.

7. Hiram Bingham

Photo via: Hexagon Travel

Photo via: Hexagon Travel

Named for the American explorer who in 1911 discovered Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham offers you a chance to have jaw-dropping experience in Peru. The train, fashioned in the style of the 1920s Pullmans, takes you to two of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru — the colonial city of Cuzco in southeastern section of the country and the 15th Century Inca site of Machu Picchu — through the scenic Urubamba River Valley.

8. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

A great way to have a feel of rail travel as it was few centuries back, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train is fired by coal and operated with steam. The train, which was used in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (released in 1969), takes you on a ride through the sheer mountain passes between Colorado’s Durango and Silverton with spectacular views of the surrounding areas.

9. Talyllyn Railway

Photo by: Geoffe Cooke via Flickr

Photo by: Geoffe Cooke via Flickr

The coal-fired, steam-operated Talyllyn Railway boasts of carriages and locomotives dating all the way back to 1865. The historic train, which is said to have been the inspiration for the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series by Reverend W.V. Awdry, is worked on by volunteers. It takes you on a 14.5-mile round-trip through lush valleys with scenic views in Wales.

10. Alaska Railroad by Goldstar Service

Photo by: CN Southwell via Flickr

Photo by: CN Southwell via Flickr

This is a very wonderful way of exploring the beautiful landscapes of Alaska. The train ride, which operates from May through September, allows you to relish stunning sights from the windows of the double-decker dome cars or an outdoor balcony while traveling between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Stops are made at the impressive Denali National Park, Wasilla and Talkeetna.

11. The Grand Canyon Railway

Launched in 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway is a combination of spectacular views and history. The train ride takes you on miles and miles of Arizona desert from Williams all the way to the southern section of the Grand Canyon. It is a combination of cars from different periods. The coach cars are 1920s Pullmans, while the first class cars, cafe car and majority of dome cars date back to the 1950s.

12. TranzAlpine

Photo via: Grab One

Photo via: Grab One

The TranzAlpine train ride, lasting about four and half hours, makes for an exciting exploration of the South Island in New Zealand, covering wild areas of Greymouth and the beautiful city of Christchurch. You can enjoy sights of the impressive Waimakariri Rivers, Canterbury plains farmland and the stunning alpine viaducts on the way to Arthur’s Pass and more.

13. Manakara Express

Photo via: Africa Express

Photo via: Africa Express

While the train itself may not be a head-spinner, Manakara Express in Madagascar is arguably among the best in terms of the natural landscapes your eyes can feast on while on a ride. The very slow pace of this French colonial-era train as it makes its way from Manakara on the country’s southeast coast to Fianarantsoa in the highlands — a journey of less than 90 miles — will ensure you fully take in the views of the rainforest and mountain gorges you pass along the way.

14. Clermont-Ferrand to Beziers

Photo via: transpress nz

Photo via: transpress nz

This is one of the less used branch lines in France, which is replete with them. The rail line from Clermont Ferrand through the Massif Central takes you on a journey of natural wild areas. It overlaps Eiffel’s Garabit Viaduct in the vicinity of St. Flour, passing by the way of rivers Lot and Tarn to access the viaduct of Norman Foster, which is the highest road bridge in the world.

15. Bergen-Oslo

Photo via: Rail Europe

Photo via: Rail Europe

The train ride from Bergen to Oslo in Norway is full of exciting sights. Several cool fjords can be seen along the way, as you would expect to see in Norway, especially around the Voss area. There is an amazing branch along the railroad leading to the sea at Flam. The scenery is particularly spectacular in winter when the plains are covered with snow.

16. El Transcantabrico

A luxury train, El Transcantabrico takes passengers on an excursion that’ll last a week to places such as Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela and Leon in Spain, exploring historic and natural sites. The narrow gauge train can be described as a hotel on wheels with its en suite toilets and showers. Interesting sights on this train ride includes Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Altamira cave paintings, which are believed to be about 14,500 years old.

17. Centovalli

Photo via: My Switzerland

Photo via: My Switzerland

Connecting Italy’s Domodossola to Switzerland’s Locarno, Centovalli is said to have been named for the 100 valleys it has to pass through while making its way along the major River Melezza valley. Sights along the way include villages with dark stone houses with Italianate belfries at the centre.

18. Al Andalus Express

This train ride offers a great means of checking out the beautiful sights of the Andalusia region in Spain. The Al Andalus Express is a luxury train service offering an entire week-long round trip from Seville or Madrid. The rides are tailored to allow passengers have enough time for exploring during the day and sleeping comfortably at night, with the train usually travelling from place to place in the mornings. Aside natural attractions, the massive 8th-century mosque-turned-cathedral Mezquita, the Alhambra and the Ronda bullring, the oldest in the country, are some of the cultural and historical attractions that await.

19. The Blue Train

Photo via: Mail Online

Photo via: Mail Online

Covering more than 990 miles from Cape Town to Johannesburg, the Blue Train travels at a rather slow pace to allow you enough time to relish the scenery along the way. It isn’t just about the stunning views though, as this popular train is set out in a luxurious manner. You have the choice of either going with a luxury suite with a toilet and shower, or a deluxe suite with a full-tub bathroom and lounge. You are treated with champagne the moment you step on board the Blue Train, whose carriages have just four suites each.

20. The Indian Pacific

Photo via: Don't Fly Go

Photo via: Don’t Fly Go

Linking Perth and Sydney, the Indian Pacific train takes you on a route that is renowned as having the world’s longest straight track. Opportunity is provided along the way to check out the gold town of Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill. An Adelaide stopover is also permitted without any additional charge.