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10 of the World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys for 2024

Departing the station and embarking on scenic train journeys can provide a superabundance of newfound and stimulating experiences. One of the many captivating aspects of venturing along the world’s most scenic train routes is that it’s as much about the journey as the destination. Experiencing the most scenic train rides in the world bestows ample opportunity to relax in a luxurious carriage, savour a beverage in an observation car, and engross yourself in the often dramatic and breathtaking panoramic views. Let’s look over ten extraordinary scenic rail trips, ranging from one-hour junkets to multiday adventures highly coveted by train enthusiasts.

Scotland’s Jacobite Steam Train: One of the World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys

It is reasoned by many to be among the most beautiful train rides in the world. It offers participants a charming and distinctive two-hour journey from Fort William to Mallaig along one of the world’s most scenic railways. Passengers board this evocative steam train at Fort William before rolling over the tracks, puffing steam, and immersing those onboard in one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Passengers are accorded breathtaking views of Ben Nevis as the journey goes through the rugged landscape, foggy glens, and shimmering lochs. The 1960s carriages offer old-world charm, and the stunning distinctive locomotive known as Black 5s provides first-class scenic train travel.

Scenic railway journeys switzerland

Canadian Rocky Mountaineer: A Top Scenic Rail Trip

The Canadian Rocky Mountaineer offers the most beautiful train ride, proving time travel is possible. These two-day scenic train trips follow the path of the great 19th-century explorers as you depart Vancouver and head for your final destination, Banff. Following the 1885 Canadian Pacific trail, the Rocky Mountaineer cuts through Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies. Offering first-class Gold Leaf service, passengers can relax in the glass-domed compartment of the opulent double-decker car and savour one of the world’s most beautiful railway journeys while experiencing world-class dining and partaking in unlimited cocktails.

Peru’s Hiram Bingham Orient Express: A Scenic Train Trip to Machu Picchu

This three-and-a-half-hour enchanting voyage is undeniably one of the world’s most scenic railway journeys and curves through breathtaking landscapes as it makes its way from the colonial city of Cusco towards Machu Picchu Pueblo. Daily visitor numbers to Machu Picchu are limited to protect this 15th-century wonder of the world. Still, these scenic rail trips provide the height of luxury train travel as they wind along the Urubamba River valley and treat passengers to mind-blowing views of the verdant green terraces, tree-lined hills and brightly coloured villages, remote ruins, and herding llamas, placing these adventures on the Hiram Bingham Orient Express at the summit of South Americas most scenic train trips.

Scenic railway journeys rovos namibia

Japan’s Royal Express: A Scenic Coastal Train Journey

A collection of the world’s most beautiful train journeys wouldn’t be complete without praise heaped upon Japan’s pristine, gleaming blue Royal Express train that takes passengers on what many would consider the country’s most beautiful train ride from Yokohama to Shimoda. These three-hour scenic railway journeys leave the hectic mainline station south of Tokyo, clinging to the spectacular coastline that only gets more scenic the further you go towards the Izu Peninsula. Japan’s most scenic train rides grant passengers picture-postcard views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Izu Peninsula, and Sagami Gulf, supporting them to be not only the country’s most beautiful trips but also among the most scenic train rides in the world.

Swiss Alps Bernina Express: A World-Class Scenic Railway Experience

The Bernina Express unquestionably delivers one of the world’s most scenic railway experiences as it moves through the Swiss Alps from the Alpine city of Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in the Italian province of Sondrio. These four-hour journeys represent the world’s most beautiful train journeys and promise insurmountable Alpine panoramas that include stunning snow-capped glaciers, expansive crystal-clear lakes, and flower-filled meadowlands. The train itself offers vast windows that allow passengers to sit back, relax, and take in everything these scenic train trips provide as it heads towards the Poschiavo Valley before crossing the border and reaching the journey’s end in the stunning Italian town of Tirano.

Scenic railway journeys eastern oriental express

India’s Maharajas’ Express: A Majestic Scenic Railway Journey

The globally acclaimed Maharajas’ Express is possibly the most luxurious rail service available and travels along one of the world’s most beautiful railway journeys. This spectacular quest can last between 4 and 7 days, and it includes voyages between Delhi and Mumbai. Enjoying the same luxury once only experienced by the ruling maharajas, passengers on one of the world’s most scenic railways enjoy brief stops at Ranthambore National Park, where leopards, tigers, and crocodiles can be sighted. These scenic railway journeys will also visit Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, temples, palaces, and forts. As the world’s most scenic railway journeys go, this is at the top of many enthusiasts’ wish lists.

The Ghan: Australia’s Ultimate Scenic Train Adventure

The Australian Outback offers the country’s most beautiful train ride in the form of the Ghan train. This transcontinental phenomenon adventures through Australia’s isolated Red Centre to Darwin in the north. Departing Adelaide, this 3000km journey qualifies among the most beautiful train rides in the world because it offers an exceptionally intimate view of South Australia and the Northern Territory. The Ghan voyages right through the heart of the country on its way to Alice Springs, providing an opportunity to see tropical savannah and open eucalyptus woodlands featuring a thick, tall grass layer.

Scenic railway journeys andean explorer

Germany’s Rhine Valley Rail: A Scenic Train Travel Gem

It may only be a 55-minute sortie between Koblenz and Mainz, but it delivers no end on spectacular scenery and easily makes the top ten most scenic railway journeys in the world. It qualifies among the most beautiful train journeys in the world because it cuts through some of the most picturesque Rhine villages in Germany. This country region is peppered with extraordinary vineyard terraces and storybook castles. Often allocated the title “The Romantic Rhine”, this landscape is astonishingly pretty and comfortably makes the grade one of the most scenic train trips, with the only downfall being you’d love it to be longer.

South Africa’s Rovos Rail: A Scenic Railway Odyssey

Pretoria to Cape Town is often talked about as being among the most scenic train rides in the world and one of the most luxurious. This Rovos Rail journey affords passengers the best of, from onboard accommodation and service to the most beautiful train ride. Those fortunate enough to have passage on one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys are gifted incredible views of the grasslands of gold-rich Highveld, the desolate desert landscapes of the Karoo, and the Western Cape’s vast vineyards. From Devil’s Peak and Lions Head to Table Mountain, scenic train travel doesn’t come more spectacular than this.

Norway’s Bergen Line: A Scenic Railway Spectacle

Norway’s Bergen Line is a nearly 400km railway line that bisects some of the country’s most remote, unforgiving, and astounding landscapes. Passengers can savour these scenic train journeys between Oslo and Bergen after departing the nation’s capital. After leaving this vibrant and lively city, passengers will witness a dramatic change in the scenery as the modern architecture gives way to waterfalls, fjords, and spectacular valleys on these scenic train routes. The world’s most scenic railway journeys here are had as you go further from Oslo, with high-alpine scenery and views of the stunning desolate Hardangervidda mountain plateau.

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The Best Train Trips in the World: 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards

By Todd Plummer

The Best Train Trips in the World 2023 Readers Choice Awards

Ah, the allure of train trips . Adventurers and the eco-conscious are drawn to this glamorous, old-world mode of exploration for the impeccable slow-travel vibes, but there’s also something to be said about the perspective found onboard a train; you’re experiencing the landscape and scenery in a way that you can’t experience in any other mode of travel. A train trip often brings you where everyday roads cannot, whether it’s through untouched Malaysian jungles on the revamped Belmond Eastern & Oriental itineraries relaunching in 2024, or high into the Canadian Rockies with Rocky Mountaineer. For our 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards —which capture the travel experiences our readers love best, from hotels and airlines to cruises , islands , and luggage —we called on all of you to rank the best of the best rail journeys out there. Here, dear readers, is how the dice fell.

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

If youre interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu  Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to...

20. Inca Rail, South America

If you’re interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu (and unless you’re a mountain goat, we suggest you do), Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to match—and it’s also worth mentioning that the First Class service is priced more accessibly than other luxury operators servicing the same route. While on board, you can expect a tasty menu prepared with organic ingredients grown right in the Sacred Valley, live Peruvian music, ample windows through which you can admire the staggering Andean scenery, and a spacious Observatory Lounge complete with open-air balcony. For fresh and frothy Pisco sours this good, this is one train that’s well worth the price of admission.

Take in all the sights and flavors of Spains iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train which over the...

19. Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, Spain

Take in all the sights and flavors of Spain ’s iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train, which over the course of a week makes its way between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela. You’ll enjoy on-board cuisine that celebrates each of the distinct regions through which this train passes, from Galicia to Basque Country. A unique aspect of this train is that it remains stationary overnight, allowing for late-night excursions and explorations that are uncommon on other sleeper train experiences.

Its been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the worldit takes eight hours to traverse the 180mile...

18. Glacier Express, Switzerland

It’s been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the world–it takes eight hours to traverse the 180-mile journey–but boy, do the views here invite a slow journey. Connecting the resort towns of Zermatt and Saint Moritz, the train provides an up-close perspective of some of this mountainous country’s most iconic natural features, including the Matterhorn, Piz Bernina, and the Rhine Gorge (dubbed Switzerland’s Grand Canyon). Book in Excellence Class and you’ll be served Champagne at your seat, followed by a six-course meal complete with wine pairings.

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17. The Canadian, Canada

Take in every mile of the vast Canadian landscape from The Canadian , a special sleeper service offered by VIA Rail, the country’s national rail carrier. Keep in mind that this train is more about sightseeing from the cars than actually getting off and doing anything. But if you’re traveling in the comfort of Prestige Class—with your own private cabin, private washroom and built-in TV screen monitor with video selection—you’ll be perfectly content to take in the journey from the privacy of your very own picture window.

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16. The Ghan, Australia

Completed in 1929, The Ghan runs through the heart of the Australian continent , from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. It may have only started running its current route in 2004, but its history dates to the 19th century, its name harkening to the Afghan camel trainers and riders who first helped chart a course through the country’s interior. The three-day all-inclusive journey sees the train lilting its way through Australia’s Red Centre with diverse landscapes passing by. Travel through the expansive ridges of the MacDonnell Ranges, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Simpsons Gap, and visit the opal town of Coober Pedy.

JR Kyushu 363

15. JR Kyushu 36+3, Japan

This train’s unusual name derives from Kyushu being the 36th-largest island in the world, and there being three key stakeholders on this journey: the passengers, the local community, and the rail company, JR Kyushu. It isn’t a sleeper train, instead offering a series of weeklong roster of one-day itineraries around the perimeter of Kyushu–a do one, do them all, or do as many as you like situation–but the journey is no less enriching for it. The inside feels like a ryokan, featuring immaculate woodwork made from local techniques, comfortable furniture, and a mix of private and communal spaces. It’s a gorgeous way to get off the beaten track on this gorgeous Japanese island, packing in a number of stops and towns into a single day of productive–yet comfortable–sightseeing.

train interior. Belmond Eastern  Oriental Express

14. Eastern & Oriental Express, A Belmond Train, Southeast Asia

The E&O is the stuff of train enthusiasts’ legends, and in February 2024, this storied train will at long last resume service after its pandemic-era pause–sort of. The train’s journey originally connected Singapore and Bangkok, but as of the new year will offer journeys through the jungles and coastlines of Malaysia, but all originating in and returning to Singapore. It isn’t the classic E&O route, but these new itineraries will offer deeper explorations of Malaysia than ever before, including guided snorkeling on Langkawi and excursions to Taman Negara National Park. Despite the new itineraries, the train still has all the old world touches that people love: Order a Singapore Sling in the Bar Car, take it to the outdoor viewing platform as the Malaysian jungle rolls on by, and you just might forget what year we’re living in.

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13. Northern Belle, Europe

It’s all about the food—and the scenery, too, but mostly about the food—onboard this lovingly restored 1930s train , which zig-zags its way across the English, Scottish and Welsh countrysides. Each of the journeys on offer are day trips, so they require less of a time (and money) commitment than other luxury trains. But what the Northern Belle lacks in length she more than makes up for in quality: The meal services are exquisite, offering fine dining crafted mostly from U.K. suppliers, so you can enjoy classic British fare as the heaths, meadows, and dales roll on by.

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12. The Maharajas' Express, India

There are luxury sleeper trains, and then there are luxury sleeper trains like the Maharaja’s Express , where a greeting of marigold garlands and rose petals showered at your feet kicks off the journey before your personal butler escorts you to your room. The Junior Suite rooms are surprisingly spacious, especially by train travel standards, and come with full-sized closets, comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and satellite TVs. Both of the on board watering holes–the Safari Bar and the Raja Club–have plenty of chairs, comfy sofas, books and board games. Each day of the itinerary includes special opportunities to experience India through the train’s luxurious and singular perspective: like an early-morning champagne breakfast on a private hillside overlooking the Taj Mahal.

Belmond Royal Scotsman. train interior

11. Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland

It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? Nowhere is train travel more indulgent—or convenient!—than on Belmond’s Royal Scotsman , which departs from and arrives at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. With only 40 guests onboard, the train circumnavigates the heart of the Scottish Highlands, passing such landmarks as the Kyle of Lochalsh and Cairngorms National Park. There’s even a dedicated spa carriage, where the specialists are trained to synchronize their motions with the natural lilts and tilts of the train. If that’s not luxury, we’re not sure what is.

Belmond Hiram Bingham

10. Belmond Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train, South America

Named after the U.S. explorer who supposedly “discovered” Machu Picchu in 1911, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train line is as grand as the man’s claims. The round-trip journey connects the city of Poroy (just west of Cuzco) to the Lost City and Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. The Belmond Hiram Bingham turns on the turn-of-the-20th-century charm, from gleaming polished wood and brass surfaces to lavish meals and accommodations, which offer plenty of space to stretch out: the perfect setting for viewing the mountains and rivers zooming past the window.

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9. Golden Chariot, India

Experience a mix of Southern India’s greatest hits and lesser-explored destinations on board the iconic purple and gold Golden Chariot , which connects the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. All itineraries depart from Bengaluru, with options for both three-night and six-night journeys. This train’s strength is its access to off-beat attractions than what you’ll find on the well-worn Golden Triangle, such as the ruins of Hampi. With sparse crowds, and a comfortable train to retreat to at the end of each day, it’s an approach to India that captures all the magic this country has to offer.

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8. Golden Eagle Danube Express, Europe

A pioneer in luxury trains for three decades, Golden Eagle is perhaps best known for its Silk Road and Trans-Siberian routes, but the Danube Express unlocks an approach to Southern and Eastern Europe which is no less breathtaking and engaging. The “Castles of Transylvania” route from Istanbul to Budapest is particularly unique–spend all day learning about Vlad the Impaler’s history through guided tours, then spend all night luxuriating in the comfort of the bar car or in the privacy of your room. It’s a combination of Europe’s best cities and most dramatic natural landscapes that is hard to experience in one go any other way.

Rocky Mountaineer

7. Rocky Mountaineer, North America

Traveling in a coach outfitted with picture windows and glass-dome ceilings means that a Rocky Mountaineer journey leaves no sight unseen as you traverse the dramatic scenery between Vancouver , British Columbia and Banff or Jasper, Alberta. Sample local Canadian beer, wine and snacks as you kick back and enjoy the ride. The staff’s friendly service and animated storytelling help bring the landscape to life. It’s personal touches like those which keep travelers coming away from this trip amply satisfied time and time again. Since it was founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has transported more than two million guests, making it the largest privately-owned premium tourist train in the world.

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6. Rovos Rail, Africa

This extravagant railway has been traveling throughout Africa for over thirty years. The experiences start before you even board—when departing from Pretoria, Rovos Rail travelers are granted exclusive access to a private lounge, where Champagne and canapés greet them—and a strict “no cellphone” rule is maintained for your own good. Enjoy the moment(s) provided by this line, which range from cozy digs to formal-attired evenings, as well as full-sized, freestanding clawfoot tubs in the most grand compartments. All Rovos Rail journeys include off-train cultural, historical and safari excursions so guests can experience all the wonders that Southern Africa has to offer. The three-night Cape Town journey is a classic, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous and have a few more nights to spare, opt for the newer fifteen-day “Trail of Two Oceans” itinerary, originating in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, crossing Zambia, traversing a sliver of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and concluding in Lobito, Angola.

Belmond Andean Explorer

5. Belmond Andean Explorer, A Belmond Train, South America

Weaving through the Peruvian Andes at 14,000 feet, the Belmond Andean Explorer transports passengers between Arequipa and Cusco on one- and two-night journeys. There are just thirty-five cabins on board, each outfitted with alpaca wool blankets and handwoven fabrics for an authentic yet luxe feel. Two dining cars and two bar cars serve the whims of every guest with bites like alpaca tortellini and (of course) champagne. The train also makes excursions to Lake Titicaca , where guests can learn about local customs, visit Incan ruins, and take in breath-taking views.

Belmond British Pullman

4. British Pullman, A Belmond Train, England

The British Pullman ’s experience is magical no matter where you’re seated. Once you depart London , you’ll embark on a journey through the bucolic British countryside, touring cities and towns like Cambridge, York, and Canterbury along the way. The restored carriages date back to the 1920s and 1930s, so expect Art Deco touches, polished interiors, and classically prepared multi-course meals—this is the same train line that has served British royalty and government officials for years, after all.

train interior

3. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe

Year after year, the world’s most iconic locomotive continues to be a standard-setter in luxury. Of course, the decadent interiors are a fantasy of 1920’s Art Deco design, but it’s the impeccable service that keeps this train firmly ensconced in a class of its own. Bags are whisked off from the platform and magically reappear in your cabin, no glass ever runs empty, and the beds seem to make themselves anytime you step outside of your cabin. By day you can revel in the scenery of French countrysides and Swiss mountain scenes, and by night, the formal dress code feels anything but stuffy—in fact, playing dress up and making your way to the Champagne bar is, we think, one of the coolest experiences anyone could have on a train. For 2023, this over-the-top train is getting even more luxe updates, including eight new suites, two of which are original 1920s and 30s carriages carefully restored by expert French craftsmen and designers–so there’s no time like the present to book that bucket-list trip.

Palace on Wheels Train

2. Palace on Wheels, India

India’s best-known train, the Palace on Wheels , offers a number of trips that range from a couple days to week-long excursions. Embarking from New Delhi through the Land of Kings, trips take you through the famed Pink City of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, where guests are greeted by majestic UNESCO sites like the Amer Fort as well as 16th century palaces. You can also visit Agra, home to the Taj Mahal and the perfect stop for a tour of some of the country's most iconic sites. Along the way, enjoy regional cuisine in well-appointed, colorful carriages decked out in Indian textiles.

Seven Stars Kyushu

1. Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan

Train lovers consider this opulent Japanese locomotive among the most spacious and comfortable of them all. Every inch of Seven Stars' Kyushu train—from the beds, to the bathroom sinks, to the woodwork, to the porcelain dinner plates—is handmade by Japanese artisans, and the service is simply exquisite, with each journey limited to a positively intimate twenty passengers; but it’s not just about the onboard experience with Seven Stars. These four-day, three-night trips travel a circuit around the island of Kyushu, making stops at the region’s best shrines, onsens, porcelain studios, and more, so you truly feel like you’re exploring an authentic side of Japan , far away from the more obvious tourist tracks.

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13 Most Scenic Train Rides in the World

Take a journey through some of the world's most beautiful landscapes with these scenic train rides, from the Rocky Mountains to the Swiss Alps.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

There's never been a better time to explore the world by rail. Some of the world's most scenic train rides were created mainly to take passengers through beautiful, perhaps inaccessible locales, while others connect cities and towns, replacing air travel for shorter trips with convenient downtown stations and frequent schedules. On some trains, the beauty of the interior décor rivals that of the passing scenery, and many train stations are destinations in themselves, with art, vintage architecture, gourmet dining, and classic cocktail venues. Here are 13 of the most scenic train journeys around the world, from Japan to the United Kingdom.

Pacific Surfliner, United States

This Amtrak route hugs the Pacific Coast starting from San Luis Obispo, where you can explore the lively college town or venture out to nearby wineries or a historic mission. From there, ride in comfort for 350 miles of ocean views with beaches, rocky coastline, quaint towns, and little between you and the blue Pacific. In San Diego, visit Balboa Park museums or dine in Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter. If time allows, take advantage of train stations along the way that are within walking distance of local attractions. In Santa Barbara, head to the nearby beach or Funk Zone , an artsy collection of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, or sample California wines as you stroll and sip through the Urban Wine Trail. Union Station in Los Angeles is a destination in itself with historic art and décor, or venture out to Downtown L.A. or the Mexican markets on Olvera Street . Dine or enjoy a cocktail at Traxx while you wait to board for your next adventure.

The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland

Starting in the Scottish Highlands town of Fort William near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, this 84-mile round-trip train journey winds through green hills, crystal blue lochs, deep valleys, and quaint villages. A highlight of the trip is the crossing of the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct with its graceful curves and towering columns, overlooking Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. Harry Potter fans will recognize this view as well as the steam engine and carriages which became the Hogwarts Express, courtesy of West Coast Railways which operates the Jacobite. The train stops briefly at Glenfinnan Station and then passes the lovely towns of Lochailort, Arisaig, and Morar. At the last stop in Mallaig on Scotland’s west coast, passengers have about an hour and a half to explore before the return trip to Fort William. The Jacobite Steam Train runs from April to October, and purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.

Napa Valley Wine Train, United States

Riding through rows of grapevines, across farmland, and past picturesque wineries with a backdrop of green hills is one of the pleasures of the 36-mile round-trip journey from downtown Napa to St. Helena. Board in an industrial section of Napa and enjoy views of the town’s outdoor contemporary art with murals, sculpture, landscaping, and parks promoted by Rail Arts District Napa . Continue through the towns of Yountville, Rutherford, and Oakville with gourmet meals and wines to enhance the journey. It’s a convenient and safe way to explore and taste wines, with a variety of stops and winery tours available. The train cars themselves are part of the fun, adding to the vintage feel of train travel. Mahogany paneling, polished brass, opulent fabrics, and etched glass partitions were just a few additions in the extensive renovation of the historic cars.

Grand Canyon Railway, United States

This 130-mile round-trip journey begins about 30 miles west of Flagstaff in Williams, Arizona and heads north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park . On the way, passengers are encouraged to get into the Old West spirit with musical entertainment, cowboy characters, and other surprises while the terrain changes from the Ponderosa pine forest of Williams to open prairie and back to Pinion pines near the Grand Canyon. In addition to the spectacular landscape, guests might spot wildlife that includes elk, mountain lions, deer, bald eagles, owls, and California condors. The daily departure time is 9:30 a.m., and the trip takes two hours and 15 minutes. Visitors have about three hours to explore the South Rim, starting with the historic Grand Canyon Depot dating back to 1910. Guests can enjoy ranger programs, a scenic walk along Hermit Road or the Rim Trail, the El Tovar Hotel, and magnificent views in every direction.

The Chepe Express, Mexico

This journey crosses some of Mexico’s most spectacular terrain, much of it inaccessible by other means. Said to be four times the size of the Grand Canyon, Copper Canyon in the northwest state of Chihuahua is actually several canyons, the deepest at 6,167 feet. The length of the ride depends on where you board, but the trip on the Chepe Express from Los Mochis near the west coast to inland Creel will be about nine hours. Opened in 1961 after several decades of construction, the train crosses 37 bridges and passes through 86 tunnels. The landscape includes rugged terrain, mountains, gorges, deep ravines, and even agricultural areas. A few tips: Book your trip in advance or use a tour company to arrange your visit. When heading eastward, sit on the right side of the train for the best views.

Metro-North Railroad Hudson Line, United States

This commuter train originates in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and travels along the eastern shore of the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie. The trip takes about two hours and passes through historic towns with views of the river, forests, and stately mansions. While daily commuters might take the scenery for granted, sightseers can enjoy the beautiful round-trip journey for less than $50. Heading north out of Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal — a must-see destination in itself — the train passes Yankee Stadium in the borough of the Bronx and continues along the river through towns well worth the time to stop and visit. Beacon is a walkable artist community offering galleries, boutiques, and the Dia Beacon contemporary art museum. The river and its lush surroundings attracted wealthy individuals to build fabulous mansions, many of which are open for tours. These include Boscobel in Garrison, Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow , Springwood in Tarrytown, the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, and Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie. Check tour hours before stopping, and for the best views, sit on the train’s left heading north.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia

This journey takes guests through one of the world’s oldest rainforests in Queensland, Australia. The two-hour trip begins in Cairns and passes scenery that includes trees, waterfalls, mountains, and ravines. Barron Gorge, one of Queensland’s most popular national parks, can be viewed from the train or by driving a short distance from Kuranda at the end of the train line. In Kuranda, guests can shop for locally made art and handicrafts or stop at a café. A bird aviary, butterfly sanctuary, and reptile park are other attractions. Historic Kuranda Station, over 100 years old, is part of the experience, too. Some visitors choose to take the railway in one direction and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in the other to fully experience the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Glacier Express, Switzerland

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

This train travels between Zermatt and St. Moritz , Switzerland, through the Swiss Alps with breathtaking views of mountains, streams, and quaint towns. Starting in the mountain village of Zermatt near the Matterhorn, the journey continues past rocky peaks, crossing the Rhone into the Upper Rhone Valley. The Oberalp Pass, near the source of the Rhine River, is the highest point of the trip at nearly 7,000 feet. From there, the train descends along the Rhine Valley with one of the most dramatic views of the trip, the Rhine Gorge, sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland.” Continuing south through a narrow valley and through the Albula tunnel, the eight-hour journey ends in St. Moritz, Switzerland’s elegant vacation resort city. The train’s panoramic windows make viewing easy, and headphones are provided for narration. Several classes of service are available, and there’s a snack trolley, full meals, and an onboard bar. With an Excellence Class ticket, exclusive amenities include a premium multi-course meal with local wines and a special seating area.

TranzAlpine Train, New Zeland

The four-and-a-half-hour journey between Christchurch and Greymouth on New Zealand’s South Island is run once daily by KiwiRail as one of their Great Journeys of New Zealand. Departing Christchurch at 8:15 a.m., the train passes through farmland, past sheep and cattle, and then on towards the Southern Alps. After about an hour, the climb into the mountains begins, across steel bridges over deep gorges and through short tunnels. There’s a short stop at Arthur's Pass station and then a trip through one of New Zealand’s longest tunnels, over a deep valley, and across another river with views of waterfalls. After a one-hour stop in the small town of Greymouth, the train returns to Christchurch, making the coast-to-coast round trip about an 11-hour journey. Reclining seats, panoramic windows, and skylights make the ride comfortable and rewarding. The café offers food, snacks, beer, wine, and spirits. Heading to Greymouth, the best views are on the right side of the train.

Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

This seven-hour trip takes passengers through remote villages, past waterfalls and lush green hills, and through the tea plantations for which the country is known. Originally built by the British in the late 1800s, Sri Lanka’s rail system was originally used to transport tea and coffee for export. Now, the train is a favorite way to explore the country, view the varied scenery, and observe villages and local people along the way. Ella is a hill country village, worth exploring before you board or when you arrive. Kandy, located in central Sri Lanka, is larger with sacred Buddhist shrines and scenic Kandy Lake. Most of the trains offer first-class observation cars with air conditioning, and some provide sleeping berths and reserved seats. From Kandy, the better views are on the right side. Tickets are available at train stations throughout the country, and the schedule can be checked online .

Rocky Mountaineer Rockies to the Red Rocks, United States

Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer offers four scenic train routes through some of North America’s most stunning landscapes, complete with luxurious cars outfitted with glass dome windows. The Rockies to the Red Rocks route travels between Moab, Utah and Denver, Colorado, with a stop in Glenwood Springs, where you’ll spend the night to break up the trip. Throughout the two-day journey, you can enjoy incredible views while traveling along canyons, mountains, and rivers and enjoying the food and beverage service on board.

Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan

Hirokazu Fukushima/Courtesy of Kyushu Railway Company

Travel around the lush Japanese island of Kyushu in comfort on the Seven Stars in Kyushu train from Kyushu Railway Company. The “ Seven Stars ” name isn’t just a sign of high-quality service; according to the website, it represents the seven-car train, the seven prefectures of Kyushu, and the seven major attractions of the island "nature; food; onsen (hot springs); history and culture; 'power spots' to refresh the mind, body, and soul; humanity; and trains." Pick from four-day, three-night or two-day, one-night journeys that begin and end in Hakata.

Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter Train, United States

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Take in views of the icy Alaska wilderness aboard Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Winter Train . As you might have guessed from the name, this route gives passengers the exciting opportunity to look for the northern lights once they arrive in Fairbanks, the train’s final destination. The 12-hour journey from Anchorage is long, but large picture windows and comfortable seats make for a cozy spot to sit and watch the frozen scenery pass by.

You will be redirected to your dashboard shortly. We will also call you back in 24 hrs .

  • 15 Most Beautiful Train Journeys In The World For A Timeless Experience In Magical Landscapes

What makes the train journey extremely fascinating is the fact that they mostly run along the periphery of cities; penetrating the vast landforms, embracing the wilderness. Far away from the population, the rail meanders close to nature. A speeding train, with its huffing and puffing locomotive, pulling and holding the bogies across difficult terrain makes sure that the journey is worth your while.

There are some of the most beautiful train journeys in the world that cut through some of the most difficult glaciers, tunnels, imposing alpine, while tasting the drops of surpassing streams, and carrying along the scent of barns, infinite pasture, and rich farms! A ride on these train journeys would leave you pulsating, make you eerie, and take you into a dreamy world where wide angle views are a privilege.

Embark on these 15 memorable train journeys and surprise yourself with stunning vistas that are nothing less than a moving celluloid. Hop on!

1. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia

Trans-Siberian Rail enroute Moscow in Russia

Image Source

Span: Moscow to Vladivostok

Covering 9300 km, and making 120 stops across Russia, the Trans-Siberian railway is the longest and the greatest train journey of all time. The 6-day 5-hour incredible ride crosses the record 8 time zones and several awe-inspiring spots across Russia. It’s indeed a treat to find yourself aboard this ride!

Find more details about the train here

Here’s the map of Trans-Siberian Railways and its connecting network spread across Europe and Asia:

The route of Trans-Siberian Railways

2. Konkan Railway, India

An Indian Railway train crossing the Dudhsagar Falls near Goa

Blessings from nature come in different forms and here at the Goa-Karnataka border , it’s in the form of Dudhsagar Falls. The 600 m waterfall, cascades down the hills creating the picture of milk flowing in a stream. As a train, mostly the one from Southern Railway going towards Goa, crosses the bridge built on the Dudhsagar Waterfalls it leaves everyone onboard enthralled with majestic views around. The cool breeze ladened with water droplets creates a mystic aura and nature flourishes looks its best here. It’s a train ride that you can’t afford to miss.

3. Southern Railway, India

An Indian Railway train crossing the Sea Bridge near Rameshwaram

Span: Rameswaram, Pamban Island to mainland India

An incredible train ride which is one of its kind, the Sea Bridge, also known as The Pamban Bridge, is India’s one of the five sea bridges. The ride acts as India’s sole connectivity along with a parallel running road bridge over the Palk Strait . The 2.3 km bridge remained India’s longest bridge until the Bandra-Worli Sealink (5.6 km) came into operation in 2010. Indian Railway has a train running from Mandapam to Pamban every day. Tickets can be booked through the official IRCTC official website .

Must Read: 18 Beautiful Train Journeys In India In 2022 That Will Compel You For A Ride!

4. Expo Rail, Sri Lanka

A train from Expo Rail running from Kandy to Ella

Span: Kandy to Ella

Believed to be one of the most scenic rides in the South Asia, the Kandy-Ella train journey is a kaleidoscope of the best of the island nation. Believed to be one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka, this train ride takes you through the rolling grasslands, vast tea plantations, and stunning waterfalls. The 6-hour journey is as fascinating as its pictures suggest. You can also take a halt at Nuwara Eliya and see what the beautiful sojourn has to offer you.

Suggested Read: See The Best Of Sri Lanka: Ramayana Tour & Beyond

5. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

A Rocky Mountaineer by the mountain in Canada

After scaling some of the most jaw-dropping heights and difficult terrains across Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer covers the best of Western Canada. Seattle, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, and Calgary are the prominent destinations falling in the route of the Rocky Mountaineer. Lofty mountains and rocky surroundings make the surroundings even more appealing as you plan to take this exciting journey. Canada is a nature lover’s fancy and this train journey explains why it is called so!

Find more details about the train  here

6. Grand Canyon Railway, USA

Grand Canyon Railway running in the Grand Canyons in the USA

Span: Williams, Arizona to Grand Canyon

The 2.5-hour breathtaking ride starting from Williams runs along the Southern stretch of Grand Canyon National Park. The 105 km train ride is dreamy and full of views. Step on the breathtaking ride that takes you through to the best of Grand Canyon National Park. Now that’s some awesomeness-on-wheels awaiting you.

7. El Chepe, Mexico

An El Chepe train cutting through the canyon in Mexico

Span: Chihuahua to Los Mochis

Venturing into the gorgeous landscapes of Sierra Tarahumara, El Chepe is one of the most beautiful rides in the world. The 15-hour train journey is well adorned with plenty of nature’s awesomeness. El Fuerte and Divisadero stations make the best stretch of the ride where you can stop by and cherish the nature more; up, close, and personal!

An El Chepe train crossing a bridge in Mexico

8. The Ghan, Australia

The Ghan in South Australia crossing desert mountains

Span: Darwin to Adelaide

Taking you through the best of South Australia is The Ghan – the passenger train service from Adelaide to Darwin. It also happens to be the Australia’s longest passenger train covering a total distance of 2,979 km in almost 4 days. There are a few off train excursions to make your journey more engrossing, which includes a tour of Katherine, Alice Springs, and Coober Pedy. It’s a train journey that will move you beyond your imagination.

9. TranzAlpine, New Zealand

A train of TranzAlpine crossing over a bridge in South Island

Span: East Coast to West Coast, South Island

Operating between Christchurch, Arthurs Pass and Greymouth on the Southern Island, the TranzAlpine is one of the most promising train rides ever. Right from the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps, the river valleys of Waimakariri River to Arthurs Pass and lastly to the iconic Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, this ride covers the best of South Island. The train journey would transport you into a world of exceptional views that has alpine villages, rain forests, gorges, and tunnels. What more could a nomad possibly ask for?

10. Blue Train, South Africa

An Aerial view of The Blue Train in South Africa

Span: Pretoria to Cape Town

Running through the vast spread mountains that dot the South African region, the Blue Train makes the soul of South African railways. The momentous 27-hour train journey covering 1600 km passes across sweeping landscapes and is indeed a feast for the eyes. To give your stay a touch of the colonial times, the northbound journey from Cape Town to Pretoria arranges a halt at Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein. The 19th-century buildings and lampposts around it are worth a notice!

11. Rovos Rail, South Africa

Aerial view of a Rovos Rail running past Victoria Falls in South Africa

Span: Cape Town to Pretoria

Luxe and chic are the interiors while exteriors boast of views that you could have only dreamt of! A ride on Rovos Rail unveils the best of South Africa and is indeed a journey that comprises of vistas to keep you on your toes. Victoria Falls is a noticeable attraction that comes its way while other giant valleys, narrow alleys, and dense forests in the vicinity of the journey makes sure that you are having a good ride. The Rovos Rail treat you with a 5-star stay on board and rightly call themselves the best train ride in the world.

Suggested Read: 20 Reasons Every Couple Should Experience A Blissful Cape Town Honeymoon Now!

12. West Highland Line, Scotland

The West Highland Line crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland

Span: Fort William to Mallaig (Scottish Highlands to Glasgow)

Fondly remembered as the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter movie, this train ride runs across the highlands of the Scotland to Central Scotland. The thick puff of smoke rising from the steam engine, as it crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct, creates a picture postcard setting. A ride across the wild west coast in the United Kingdom is the one that you would certainly love to embark someday!

13. The Bergen Railway, Norway

A train of Bergen Railway running across the mountains in Norway

Span: Bergen and Hønefoss

The 371 km line is rightly named as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. It’s a 7-hour ride that takes you through the most beautiful plateaus and unspoiled nature in the serenity of Norway.

Suggested Read: 15 Free Things To Do In Europe For Backpackers And Budget Travelers

14. The Glacier Express, Switzerland

The Glacier Express crossing a bridge in the Swiss Alps

Span: St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps to Zermatt

Taking you across the lofty alpine in Swiss Alps, the Glacier Express is rightly the rider of the glaciers. Touted as the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express is an 8-hour ride and has a world of surprises en route for you. Bottle-necked valleys, tight curves, 91 tunnels, and 291 bridges sound fascinating to me! How about you?

The Glacier Express coming out of a tunnel in the Swiss Alps in Switzerland

Suggested Read: Top 20 Things To Do In Switzerland On Your Europe Holiday In 2022

15. Trans-Harz Railway, Germany

Snow covered surroundings in the route of Trans-Harz Railway in Germany

Span: Wernigerode – Nordhausen Nord

The 60 km track of Trans-Harz Railway runs from North to South of Germany. The picture-perfect scenery of the Harz all covered in dreamy white is the real love for the wanderlusts as the narrow gauge ride runs past the sweeping landscapes. The best thing about traveling in a steam engine is that it resembles the dreamy setup created by our fantasies. Take the 132 km ride and you will thank your stars for being on a spectacular train ride as this.

If it has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, how I wish it to be a train! Aren’t you already daydreaming about these rides! Book an international tour package and start living your dream right-away.

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The 10 most beautiful train journeys in the world

  • The 10 most beautiful train journeys in the world
  • < Travel inspiration

Travel inspiration

By David Szmidt April 5, 2023

By David Szmidt | April 5, 2023

Last update: May 19, 2023

What is the most scenic train journey in the world? We’ve chosen some of the most amazing routes in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia for an epic adventure by train

From one-day sightseeing trips to spectacular, week-long rides that cross entire continents, we’ve found ten train journeys that are crying out for a window seat. Castles, mountains, rivers, plains, and even rainforests can be seen on your way as you ride the rails on these ten beautiful routes.

North America

Rocky mountaineer’s first passage to the west, canada.

Set out on a journey through the mountain passes and vast canyons of Canada — Shutterstock

The Rocky Mountaineer company provides a number of trips and holidays by train, and the First Passage to the West is the most well-known. From Vancouver , the routes take you high into the Canadian Rockies, through mountain passes and vast canyons, and across the wilds of British Columbia. Into Alberta and onto Banff, you’ll see some of the most jaw-dropping scenery anywhere in the Americas.

There are curated packages depending on what you’re looking for. From the basic two-day trip from Vancouver to Banff, you can also opt for extra sightseeing tours, or to do a four to five-day round trip. Their Rainforest to Gold Rush route is even longer, again starting in Vancouver, but winding its way north and east for three days, traveling via Whistler and ending in the town of Jasper, surrounded by snow-capped alpine peaks.

Pacific Surfliner, US

Rail tracks over bridge by Gaviota Beach in California — Getty Images

A US road trip without having to do any driving? Sounds good, right? Well, that’s pretty much what’s going on here: 560 kilometers of Southern California coast between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, with Los Angeles being the rough halfway point.

It follows the coast almost continuously, the line being mere feet from the ocean at points. The inland sections cross farmland and wide open spaces, as well as wild contrasts such as industrial areas on the outskirts of the cities. It’s not the longest journey on this list — end-to-end is around eight and a half hours — but it’s a great way of traveling from place to place over a longer time at a scenic, relaxed pace.

Linha do Douro, Portugal

The Linha do Douro route takes its name from the Douro River — Shutterstock

The Linha do Douro takes its name from the Douro River which, for much of this route’s 160-kilometer length, runs alongside. The Douro Valley is one of Europe’s most well-known regions of vineyards , with thousands of acres covering the landscape all around.

The route connects two very different places: the village of Pocinho, high up in the Alto Douro, and the city of Porto on the Atlantic coast. The whole journey takes around three and a half hours, but the trains are nicely regular, so there are plenty of chances to hop off and explore some of the towns en route, or even do a part of the route by boat.

Flåmsbana, Norway

The higher the train climbs, the more spectacular the scenery of Norway becomes — Shutterstock

This isn’t much of an adventure, but it certainly is a pretty route. In 20 kilometers and about an hour, the train takes you from sea level at the Aurlandsfjord in Flåm to Myrdal mountain station. The Flåm Valley is home to beautiful villages, meadows and flowers; the higher the train climbs, the more spectacular the scenery becomes.

Following a sparkling blue river that crashes and flows down the valley, the line teeters on the edge of seemingly impassable cliffs, heading through 20 tunnels cut into the rock, and emerging at the Kjosfossen waterfall where the train stops for passengers to take photos.

Glacier Express, Switzerland

Interior of Glacier Express with view of hills in Switzerland — Getty Images

One of the most beautiful countries in Europe in terms of scenery, Switzerland is also famous for its railways, which are clean, punctual, and — through sheer luck of being in such a mountainous country — spectacular. Wandering for eight hours across the south of the country between St. Moritz and Zermatt, the line winds its way through dazzling Alpine scenery, across narrow bridges crossing heart-stopping ravines, through tunnels, and alongside burbling rivers.

It’s a thoroughly modern service, with excellent food available on board, and views enhanced by the fact that the carriages have huge windows and glass ceilings, meaning an even more panoramic experience. You’ll rarely have rolled into any destination more stylishly.

Trans-Siberian Railway

The grandfather of them all — almost 10,000 kilometers of railway stretching between Moscow and Vladivostok. Commissioned on the whim of Emperor Alexander III, it was already being written about in awed terms before it was even completed, as adventurers and railway enthusiasts rode sections of the journey in anticipation.

Time hasn’t dulled its appeal, although the current political situation has made things more difficult. What hasn’t changed is the sheer scale of it. The journey takes eight days and spans eight time zones , navigating mountain passes, crossing steppe, and skirting rivers and lakes. The ever-changing landscape is a different planet depending on the season as well, so a glorious, colorful summer journey is a completely different experience from a winter trip across ice fields and past frozen bodies of water. If you choose to do it, it remains one of the world’s great adventures.

Kandy — Ella, Sri Lanka

Girl leaning out of train window in Sri Lanka to take a photo of scenery on her phone — Shutterstock

Taking anywhere from eight and a half to 10 hours, Kandy to Ella is in fact just one section of a longer line that runs from Colombo to Badulla. Initially built by the colonial British to transport goods such as tea, the line is now a vital transport link for locals.

It’s dusty, it’s hot, it’s exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating as carriages fill with people singing songs, selling delicious homemade food and drinks, laughing and smiling. The train heads through the hills, and through the open windows, you can see dots of people in brightly-colored saris working on the tea farms. You can, if you want, ride this route in a first-class carriage, but why would you do that? This is one route where the stiff, stuffy world of first class goes against the whole point of the journey.

Australasia

Kuranda scenic railway, australia.

Kuranda railway station sign against rainforest backdrop — Getty Images

Similar to the Flåmsbana above, this is a short pleasure trip more than a grand adventure, with a one-way trip taking just under two hours. It’s absolutely worth it, though, as the train winds its way from the city of Cairns on the coast up and across the Great Dividing Range to the rural town of Kuranda, situated deep in the Wet Tropics rainforest.

The sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest pour in through the train windows into the period carriages as you snake your way through lush forests, across precipitous bridges and past crashing waterfalls. There’s a commentary as the journey continues, letting you know what you’re seeing, and teaching you about the history of the rainforest and the railway.

TranzAlpine, New Zealand

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Great Journeys New Zealand (@greatjourneysnz)

Not only an example of New Zealand ’s love of a deliberately misplaced letter Z (see also: Split Enz ), the TranzAlpine is also one of the southern hemisphere’s most scenic train journeys. The route crosses the country’s South Island, between Christchurch and Greymouth, and takes around five hours to complete its 223 kilometers.

Beginning by crossing the patchwork fields of Canterbury Plains, the train rumbles towards Springfield, the gateway to the Southern Alps. Previously, the line had ended here, before planning, engineering and bravery constructed a track through the mighty mountains. Via the township of Arthur’s Pass, the train climbs along the cliffs of the Waimakariri River, through 15 tunnels and over four dizzying viaducts. Once over the mountains, the landscape turns lush and green as you pass rivers, lakes and forests before finally arriving at Greymouth.

South America

Serra verde express, brazil.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Serra Verde Express (@serraverde_oficial)

Running from the city of Curitiba almost a kilometer above sea level, the Serra Verde is a route that began in the 19th century through the Belgian-French company Chemin de Fer Bresilien acquiring permission to build a railway to open up trade routes. It now exists as a train carrying tourists for three hours down to the town of Morretes.

It begins in the heavily-forested mountains and heads into the Pico do Marumbi State Park. A tropical wilderness of crashing waterfalls and cloud forests, make sure you get a seat by an open window to experience the full sensation of the breeze, the smells of vegetation and water, and the thrill of flying over viaducts with seemingly nothing beneath you. That, by the way, means getting a cheaper ticket — the only class that’s air-conditioned (and therefore has sealed windows) is the top Litorina de Luxo class, so get anything but that. What’s the point in being sealed in on a trip like this?!

Did you like this article? Find more on Kiwi.com Stories .

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top 10 beautiful train journeys

David Szmidt

David is a lead writer for Kiwi.com, as well as a football-watcher, music-listener and beer-appreciater. @UtterBlether

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14 Best Train Trips to Take Across America for Breathtaking Scenery

Vacation in a new way to see some beautiful sights.

preview for Ten Most Beautiful Train Routes To Take In The United States

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While traveling by train can certainly be a more inexpensive option for a family getaway when compared to air travel or a boat cruise, that doesn't mean you'll be cramped and crowded. Many of the trips we have listed include luxury sleeper trains, amazing dining and, of course, unbeatable views. There are routes like the Surfliner, which runs along the Pacific Ocean (and would be an unforgettable destination for spring break ), the Grand Canyon Railway, a two-hour ride of bliss and tons more that are sure to pique your interest.

Let the best train rides in America also inspire you to make locomotives your transportation of choice even when you head to international destinations (we recommend you hop aboard Norway’s famous Flåm Railway ).

Still need help deciding where to go and what to pack? Check out Good Housekeepin g 's 2023 Family Travel Awards for expert advice, top-tested gear and more.

Amtrak Auto Train

amtrak riders around the country

If you’re traveling to a destination that requires use of a vehicle, Amtrak’s Auto Train allows you to pack it with you! It transports your car (or other recreational vehicles) as well as you and your family on a route from Washington, DC to Sanford, Florida.

Good Housekeeping’s Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab executive director, Lexi Sachs boarded the train with her family for a trip to Orlando, which she described as “just as fun of an experience for my two kids” as their trip to Disney World.

Sachs also pointed out that the train trip featured a range of seating options, from coach to bedrooms with pull down beds, lovely views of the East Coast, delicious dinner and breakfast, and allowed her to feel like she wasn’t losing a day of vacation due to travel. Plus, Amtrak offers priority offloading, “which means your car comes off first,” Sachs said, adding that “It was definitely worth it in my opinion!”

America's National Parks with Rocky Mountaineer

durango and silverton narrow gauge railroad steam engine train ride, durango, colorado

See eight destinations over 11 days when you embark on this incredible journey through canyons and mountains. You’ll have the chance to explore Arches National Park with its many sandstone arches, Canyonlands National Park, which is full of rock columns and original Native American cave paintings and Yellowstone National Park, where you will see its majestic hot springs and geysers. Not only does this package include multiple sightseeing tours, but it also covers 10 nights of hotel stays and three meals.

Grand Rail Experience

a drone aerial view of a freight and passenger train going through a countryside on a late summer evening

Visit great American cities, including Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and New Orleans, on this 14-day cross-country journey. Included in the package is six nights of hotel accommodations, seven nights onboard one of Amtrak’s sleeper trains, sightseeing tours and priceless landscape views.

You also get to take your pick from attractions such as the Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), Woodland Park Zoo and Chihuly Garden and Glass for no additional cost.

Northern Rail Experience

amtraks california zephyr rolls along the rails during its daily 2,438 mile trip to emeryvillesan francisco from chicago

Get your fill of adventure when you embark on this nine-day train vacation with stops in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Muir Woods.

Amtrak offers an all-inclusive package with a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour, and breathtaking views of the great plains and the Pacific Coast. Plus you and your family will enjoy three nights of hotel accommodations and five nights on board Amtrak in private sleeping rooms. One meal is also included.

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic

best train rides

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic departs from Anchorage and winds along the Turnagain Arm before turning off into the backcountry wilderness and eventually ending in Seward.

Look for views of the steep Chugach Range mountains plummeting right into the ocean, and the stunning shores of Resurrection Bay; wildlife sightings along the way could include beluga whales, sheep, bear and moose. Daily service is available seasonally, from mid-May through mid-September. Take a variety of tours in Seward — like glacier treks or sled dog rides — before heading back to Anchorage.

best train trips amtrak pacific surfliner train with blue ocean and blue sky

Amtrak’s famous Surfliner route runs between San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego, with multiple daily departures.

The route runs along the Pacific Ocean — almost close enough to catch a wave — for gorgeous views throughout the journey. And yes, you can bring along your surfboard; special racks are designed to hold travelers’ outdoor gear.

Napa Valley Wine Train

the napa valley wine train a privately operated excursion train that runs between napa and st hele

If you love wine and vintage aesthetics, you absolutely must experience the Napa Valley Wine Train. Century-old railcars traverse a 150-year-old rail corridor on this 36-mile round-trip journey. The railroad once transported guests to a spa resort in Calistoga and now winds its way across the pastoral California landscape from Napa to St. Helena and back, stopping at the famed region’s wineries all along the route. Four on-board kitchens provide locally sourced, top-end cuisine for a full luxury dining experience.

Grand Canyon Railway

best train trips steam engine of the grand canyon railroad which runs from williams, a small town near flagstaff up

This trip re-creates the historic voyage to the Grand Canyon by rail, which opened to its very first passengers in 1901. Passengers aboard the Grand Canyon Railway depart from Williams Depot and make their way to the Grand Canyon Depot, which is the last operating log depot in the country. The depot is located right in the middle of the National Park’s historic district, near the storied El Tovar Hotel, and merely 200 yards from the edge of the canyon’s South Rim. In all, the trip covers 65 miles of scenic terrain, with unmatched views and photo opps.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

best train trips smoky mountain railroad locomotive

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad takes passengers on a scenic rail journey through this beautiful mountain range. Choose from two versions of the trip, named for standout attractions: the Nantahala Gorge Excursion (44 miles) or the Tuckasegee River Excursion (32 miles). Both offer a range of seating classes, including an open-air gondola and first-class dining car. Specialty versions of the trip include wine and dine, fall foliage spotting, and even a Peanuts-theme Easter ride.

Cass Scenic Railroad

best train trips coming round the bend

The steam-driven Cass Scenic Railroad takes passengers through the mountains of West Virginia on revamped flat cars that hauled lumber to the Cass mill more than a century ago. The 11-mile heritage railroad runs from May through October, offering a trip through both history and scenery. Ride to the overlook at Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia, for unforgettable views and picture-taking spots.

Cape Cod Central Railroad

best train trips cape cod central train

Cape Cod Central is a heritage railroad that operates on 27 miles of former New Haven Railroad tracks on Cape Cod. It takes passengers through marshes, cranberry bogs, dunes — places you can only access by rail. Come for a historic narrated daytime ride, Sunday brunch, sunset dinner, or a special festive holiday ride.

Sunset Limited

best train trips sunset limited

Travel between Louisiana and California on Sunset Limited, Amtrak’s Southernmost route. On the way from New Orleans through San Antonio, Tucson, Phoenix and Los Angeles, see diverse scenery including the bayou country, Southwestern deserts, and California mountains. Three trains depart weekly in each direction.

Coast Starlight

best train trips railroad central california coast

The Coast Starlight works its way along the west coast from Los Angeles to Seattle. On the route, pass Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland. Catch scenery from verdant valleys and forests to the snow-topped mountains of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta and the Pacific Ocean shoreline to boot. This striking route runs daily.

Empire Builder

best train trips view of willis tower from amtrak train entering chicago illinois

Amtrak’s famous Empire Builder route runs daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. It covers portions of the Lewis and Clark trail, following the route of the pioneers. Urban views include the twinkling skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul; natural landscapes include the North Dakota plains, Big Sky country in Montana and Glacier National Park. The route runs daily.

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8 great rail journeys to take across the USA

Jan 29, 2024 • 7 min read

top 10 beautiful train journeys

Considerably more relaxing than driving or flying, the best train rides in the US offer a leisurely sightseeing experience.© Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

There’s no getting around the sheer size and scale of the USA – it’s an absolute, supersized whopper – and the best way to see it all is via train.

The US has close to 3.8 million sq miles (10 million sq km) of sublime mountain ranges, parched desert, entire states engulfed in deep snow, you-gotta-go-see-it-to-believe-it cities, endless prairie land, six whole time zones and lakes so large you could lose whole countries down there. So while traveling around by plane might make sense from a convenience point of view – it’s not quite six hours to dart directly from New York to LA – there really is no better way to experience the sheer grandeur of the country than by taking one of these train vacations.

Considerably more relaxing than driving or flying, the best train rides in the US offer a leisurely, nostalgic sightseeing experience, often passing through pristine landscapes inaccessible by other means. The US is rich with amazing train journeys, but the routes listed below are the cream of the crop. From California to New England ,  here are eight epic US train trips our editors have selected, taken from Lonely Planet's  Amazing Train Journeys .

A white male passenger takes in the New Mexico desert landscape at sunset from the Amtrak train.

1. The Sunset Limited

Route: New Orleans – San Antonio – Tucson – Phoenix – Los Angeles Distance and duration: 1995 miles (3211 km); 2 days

Amtrak's Sunset Limited is the ultimate American railroad ride and one of its most famous train journeys: east to west, coast to coast, clean through from the bars of New Orleans to the breakers of the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve always dreamed of taking a journey across the USA, but don’t much relish the prospect of two weeks spent cooped up in an automobile, then a ride on the Sunset Limited is the answer.

Sit back and let America’s landscapes buzz by: from Louisiana ’s bayous, past the high-rises of Houston , across the deserts of Texas and Arizona , over the Californian hills all the way to LA’s golden beaches. Saddle up, pardner: it’s gonna be quite a ride.

The Amtrak Coast Starlight Train passes along a track through hilly terrain en route to Los Angeles

2. The Coast Starlight

Route: Seattle – Portland – Sacramento – Los Angeles Distance and duration: 1377 miles (2216 km); 35 hours

Trace America’s “left coast” in all its varied splendor. The 35-hour (OK, it’s Amtrak, so maybe more) trip between Seattle and Los Angeles curves alongside crashing Pacific waves, cuts through America’s lushest agricultural land and passes below snowcapped mountains and towering redwoods. Of all the Amtrak routes, the Coast Starlight offers the most scenic variety in the fewest hours.

It’s also the only Amtrak service with a dedicated parlor car, open only to passengers who book sleepers. The parlor conjures old-time rail romance, with wood paneling and soft lighting, plus a special menu and wine-and-cheese tastings. Highlights of this train ride include dramatic sunrise perspectives on 14,179ft (4322m)  Mt Shasta , and a gorgeous midday traverse of Oregon's Cascade Range.

A train coming into a station in an idyllic leafy setting

3. Metro-North Hudson Line

Route: New York City – Poughkeepsie Distance and duration: 69 miles (111 km); 1½ hours

Depart from New York City ’s iconic beaux arts Grand Central Terminal , stopping to admire the ornate astronomical ceiling painting in the vaulted main concourse and to slurp up oysters and a martini at the famous Oyster Bar.

Then roll through Manhattan and the Bronx and into the glorious green Hudson River Valley. Hugging the eastern banks of the river, New York’s Metro-North's Hudson line travels deep into American history. The names of the stops along the way speak to the area’s origins: Native American (Ossining, Poughkeepsie); Dutch (Spuyten Duyvil, Yonkers, Cortlandt, Peekskill); English (Hastings-on-Hudson, Scarborough). It’s a land so famously beautiful an entire art movement – the Hudson River School – was once dedicated to capturing its glory. For the cost of a burger and a beer, this view can be yours for almost two hours.

A train passing through a green landscape with blue skies

4. The California Zephyr

Route: Chicago – Omaha – Denver – Salt Lake City – San Francisco Distance and duration: 2438 miles (3924km), 51 hours 20 minutes

For soaking up the scenic grandeur of the North American continent, nothing compares with Amtrak’s California Zephyr train. This classic three-day journey travels nearly 2500 miles (4000km) across prairies, deserts, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada on its way from Chicago to San Francisco. The scenery is magnificent throughout – especially when seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lounge car – but if you can only do one section, opt for the riveting 185-mile (298km) stretch between Denver and Glenwood Springs, where the train travels through an often roadless wilderness of deep, narrow gorges near the Colorado River’s headwaters.

Near sunset, the train emerges into the majestic red rock desert of eastern Utah , then crosses overnight into the forbidding vastness of Nevada's sagebrush country, with salt flats and stark, arid mountains as far as the eye can see. Sunrise on day three reveals an entirely different desert: the blinding-white alkali flats and ghostly grey mountains near Winnemucca, Nevada. Just beyond the gambling-happy little city of Reno, the Zephyr climbs into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, then enters California’s imposing granite high country beyond the photogenic frontier town of Truckee.

The northbound Amtrak Downeaster at the train station in Brunswick as seen from the front

5. Amtrak Downeaster

Route: Boston – Portland – Brunswick Distance and duration: 145 miles (233 km); 3 hours 25 minutes

As car-free city breaks go, this train escape is hard to beat, chugging from the downtown main streets of urban Boston to Maine ’s rural greens in under four hours. That’s from the seventh most densely populated city in the US to the state with the highest percentage of forest coverage, all in less time than it takes to cook an old-style Yankee plum pudding.

Even better, every stop on the Amtrak Downeaster features historic New England cities and towns, parks and seascapes, cottage arts and crafts, world-class shopping and stellar foods fashioned from farm-and-sea-fresh ingredients.

A locomotive decorated with the image of the road runner

6. The New Mexico Rail Runner

Route: Albuquerque – Santa Fe Distance and duration: 97 miles (156 km); 90 minutes

One of America’s great unsung commuter railways, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a regional train that runs down the Rio Grande Valley , connecting the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, with its cultural and political capital, Santa Fe.

On the way it crosses the wide, high desert, giving views of arid mountains in all directions, and even passes through several of the state’s Native American tribal lands. A no-nonsense, clean and quick journey, its highlights are the sweeping views from the upper seats of the double-decker carriages. Taken as a day trip or a scenic but practical form of intra-state transport, the Rail Runner is a wonderful introduction to New Mexico ’s epic landscapes.

Empire Builder AMTRAK passenger train rolls into Whitefish, Montana, USA

7. The Empire Builder

Route: Chicago – St Paul or Minneapolis – Spokane – Portland or Seattle Distance and duration: 2764 miles (4448 km); 46 hours

The Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle glides through Wisconsin 's woodlands, Minnesota's lake country and the North Dakota prairies en route to a western horizon swarming with snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks.

From Browning , Montana, an unforgettable 60-mile run along the southern edge of Glacier National Park leads to the park entrance at West Glacier, where nature lovers will want to break their journey before continuing to Seattle.

The Jefferson Memorial at sunset seen through some trees during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

8. The Vermonter

Route: Washington, DC – New York City– Springfield – Essex Junction ( Burlington ) – St Albans Distance and duration: 611 miles (983 km); 13 hours 45 minutes

The Amtrak Vermonter runs once daily from Washington, DC to St Albans, VT. This is the most scenic route east of the Mississippi, especially in its northern reaches, where it snakes for four hours through the bucolic green hills and photogenic villages of rural Vermont.

Starting from the nation's capital, Washington, DC, the train runs north through one of the USA's greatest metropolises, New York City, before bowling out through Connecticut , Massachusetts and New Hampshire en route to the bucolic Vermont countryside and St Albans.

This article was first published December 2020 and updated January 2024

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All aboard for the 10 best scenic train rides in the country

Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Such is the case for passengers who step aboard these trains – hand-picked by a panel of travel experts, and then voted by our readers as the best scenic train rides in the United States.

The best train trips in the world: 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards

By Todd Plummer

The best train trips in the world 2023 Readers Choice Awards

Ah, the allure of train trips . Adventurers and the eco-conscious are drawn to this glamorous, old-world mode of exploration for the impeccable slow-travel vibes, but there’s also something to be said about the perspective found onboard a train; you’re experiencing the landscape and scenery in a way that you can’t experience in any other mode of travel. A train trip often brings you where everyday roads cannot, whether it’s through untouched Malaysian jungles on the revamped Belmond Eastern and Oriental itineraries relaunching in 2024, or high into the Canadian Rockies with Rocky Mountaineer. For our annual Readers’ Choice Awards – which capture the travel experiences our readers love best, from hotels and airlines to cruises , islands , and luggage – we called on all of you to rank the best of the best rail journeys out there. Here, dear readers, is how the dice fell.

train on tracks. Aguas Calientes Railway by the Urubamba River Machu Picchu Peru South America

20. Inca Rail, South America

If you’re interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu (and unless you’re a mountain goat, we suggest you do), Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to match – and it’s also worth mentioning that the first class service is priced more accessibly than other luxury operators servicing the same route. While on board, you can expect a tasty menu prepared with organic ingredients grown right in the Sacred Valley, live Peruvian music, ample windows through which you can admire the staggering Andean scenery, and a spacious Observatory Lounge complete with an open-air balcony. For fresh and frothy Pisco sours this good, this is one train that’s well worth the price of admission.

Take in all the sights and flavours of Spains iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train which over the...

19. Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, Spain

Take in all the sights and flavours of Spain ’s iconic northern coastline on this luxurious sleeper train which, over the course of a week, makes its way between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela. You’ll enjoy onboard cuisine that celebrates each of the distinct regions through which this train passes, from Galicia to Basque Country. A unique aspect of this train is that it remains stationary overnight, allowing for late-night excursions and explorations that are uncommon on other sleeper train experiences.

Its been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the world  it takes eight hours to traverse the 180mile...

18. Glacier Express, Switzerland

It’s been said that the Glacier Express is the slowest express in the world – it takes eight hours to traverse the 180-mile journey – but boy, do the views here invite a slow journey. Connecting the resort towns of Zermatt and Saint Moritz, the train provides an up-close perspective of some of this mountainous country’s most iconic natural features, including the Matterhorn, Piz Bernina, and the Rhine Gorge (dubbed Switzerland ’s Grand Canyon). Book into Excellence Class, and you’ll be served Champagne at your seat, followed by a six-course meal complete with wine pairings.

Image may contain Vehicle Transportation Train Locomotive Train Track Railway and Rail

17. The Canadian, Canada

Take in every mile of the vast Canadian landscape from The Canadian , a special sleeper service offered by VIA Rail, the country’s national rail carrier. Keep in mind that this train is more about sightseeing from the cars than actually getting off and doing anything. But if you’re travelling in the comfort of Prestige Class –with your own private cabin, private washroom and built-in TV screen monitor with video selection – you’ll be perfectly content to take in the journey from the privacy of your very own picture window.

The Ghan Train Australia

16. The Ghan, Australia

Completed in 1929, The Ghan runs through the heart of the Australian continent, from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. It may have only started running its current route in 2004, but its history dates to the 19th century, its name harkening to the Afghan camel trainers and riders who first helped chart a course through the country’s interior. The three-day all-inclusive journey sees the train lilting its way through Australia’s Red Centre with diverse landscapes passing by. Travel through the expansive ridges of the MacDonnell Ranges, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Simpsons Gap, and visit the opal town of Coober Pedy.

JR Kyushu 363

15. JR Kyushu 36+3, Japan

This train’s unusual name derives from Kyushu being the 36th-largest island in the world, and there being three key stakeholders on this journey: the passengers, the local community, and the rail company, JR Kyushu. It isn’t a sleeper train, instead offering a series of weeklong roster of one-day itineraries around the perimeter of Kyushu – a do one, do them all, or do as many as you like situation – but the journey is no less enriching for it. The inside feels like a ryokan, featuring immaculate woodwork made from local techniques, comfortable furniture, and a mix of private and communal spaces. It’s a gorgeous way to get off the beaten track on this gorgeous Japanese island, packing in a number of stops and towns into a single day of productive – yet comfortable – sightseeing.

train interior. Belmond Eastern  Oriental Express

14. Eastern & Oriental Express, A Belmond Train, Southeast Asia

Snaking its way between Singapore and Bangkok , the “ E&O ” is the stuff of train enthusiasts’ legends. Classical design lovers will love the polished wood-panelled corridors trimmed with silk, the old-world dining room replete with polished silver and white-linen covered tables, and the Bar Car, reminiscent of 1920s jazz clubs. Indeed, a ride on the E&O is something out of a bygone era of glamorous travel. Order a Singapore Sling at the bar, take it to the outdoor viewing platform as the Malaysian jungle rolls on by, and you just might forget what year we’re living in. (The E&O is still on a pandemic-era pause, unfortunately, but it is expected to be returning to service in 2024.)

Image may contain Building Architecture Arched Arch Bridge Bridge Arch Vehicle Transportation and Train

13. Northern Belle, Europe

It’s all about the food – and the scenery, too, but mostly about the food – onboard this lovingly restored 1930s train , which zig-zags its way across the English, Scottish and Welsh countryside. Each of the journeys on offer are day trips, so they require less of a time (and money) commitment than other luxury trains. But what the Northern Belle lacks in length, she more than makes up for in quality: The meal services are exquisite, offering fine dining crafted mostly from UK suppliers, so you can enjoy classic British fare as the heaths, meadows, and dales roll on by.

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12. The Maharajas' Express, India

There are luxury sleeper trains, and then there are luxury sleeper trains like the Maharaja’s Express , where a greeting of marigold garlands and rose petals showered at your feet kicks off the journey before your personal butler escorts you to your room. The Junior Suite rooms are surprisingly spacious, especially by train travel standards, and come with full-sized closets, comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and satellite TVs. Both of the onboard watering holes – the Safari Bar and the Raja Club – have plenty of chairs, comfy sofas, books and board games. Each day of the itinerary includes special opportunities to experience India through the train’s luxurious and singular perspective: like an early-morning champagne breakfast on a private hillside overlooking the Taj Mahal.

Belmond Royal Scotsman. train interior

11. Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland

It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? Nowhere is train travel more indulgent – or convenient! – than on Belmond’s Royal Scotsman , which departs from and arrives at Edinburgh ’s Waverley Station. With only 40 guests onboard, the train circumnavigates the heart of the Scottish Highlands , passing such landmarks as the Kyle of Lochalsh and Cairngorms National Park. There’s even a dedicated spa carriage, where the specialists are trained to synchronise their motions with the natural lilts and tilts of the train. If that’s not luxury, we’re not sure what is.

Belmond Hiram Bingham

10. Belmond Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train, South America

Named after the US explorer who supposedly “discovered” Machu Picchu in 1911, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train line is as grand as the man’s claims. The round-trip journey connects the city of Poroy (just west of Cusco) to the Lost City and Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. The Belmond Hiram Bingham turns on the turn-of-the-20th-century charm, from gleaming polished wood and brass surfaces to lavish meals and accommodations, which offer plenty of space to stretch out: the perfect setting for viewing the mountains and rivers zooming past the window.

Image may contain Transportation Vehicle Terminal Train Train Station and Subway

9. Golden Chariot, India

Experience a mix of Southern India’s greatest hits and lesser-explored destinations on board the iconic purple and gold Golden Chariot , which connects the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. All itineraries depart from Bengaluru, with options for both three-night and six-night journeys. This train’s strength is its access to off-beat attractions than what you’ll find on the well-worn Golden Triangle, such as the ruins of Hampi. With sparse crowds and a comfortable train to retreat to at the end of each day, it’s an approach to India that captures all the magic this country has to offer.

Image may contain Transportation Train Track Railway Rail Vehicle Train and Locomotive

8. Golden Eagle Danube Express, Europe

A pioneer in luxury trains for three decades, Golden Eagle is perhaps best known for its Silk Road and Trans-Siberian routes, but the Danube Express unlocks an approach to Southern and Eastern Europe which is no less breathtaking and engaging. The “Castles of Transylvania” route from Istanbul to Budapest is particularly unique – spend all day learning about Vlad the Impaler’s history through guided tours, then spend all night luxuriating in the comfort of the bar car or in the privacy of your room. It’s a combination of Europe’s best cities and most dramatic natural landscapes that are hard to experience in one go any other way.

Rocky Mountaineer

7. Rocky Mountaineer, North America

Travelling in a coach outfitted with picture windows and glass-dome ceilings means that a Rocky Mountaineer journey leaves no sight unseen as you traverse the dramatic scenery between Vancouver , British Columbia and Banff or Jasper, Alberta. Sample local Canadian beer, wine and snacks as you kick back and enjoy the ride. The staff’s friendly service and animated storytelling help bring the landscape to life. It’s personal touches like those which keep travellers coming away from this trip amply satisfied time and time again. Since it was founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has transported more than two million guests, making it the largest privately-owned premium tourist train in the world.

Image may contain Vehicle Transportation Train and Locomotive

6. Rovos Rail, Africa

This extravagant railway has been travelling throughout Africa for over thirty years. The experiences start before you even board – when departing from Pretoria, Rovos Rail travellers are granted exclusive access to a private lounge, where Champagne and canapés greet them – and a strict “no cellphone” rule is maintained for your own good. Enjoy the moment(s) provided by this line, which range from cosy digs to formal-attired evenings, as well as full-sized, freestanding clawfoot tubs in the grandest compartments. All Rovos Rail journeys include off-train cultural, historical and safari excursions so guests can experience all the wonders that Southern Africa has to offer. The three-night Cape Town journey is a classic, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous and have a few more nights to spare, opt for the newer fifteen-day “Trail of Two Oceans” itinerary, originating in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, crossing Zambia, traversing a sliver of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and concluding in Lobito, Angola.

Belmond Andean Explorer

5. Belmond Andean Explorer, A Belmond Train, South America

Weaving through the Peruvian Andes at 14,000 feet, the Belmond Andean Explorer transports passengers between Arequipa and Cusco on one- and two-night journeys. There are just thirty-five cabins on board, each outfitted with alpaca wool blankets and handwoven fabrics for an authentic yet luxe feel. Two dining cars and two bar cars serve the whims of every guest with bites like alpaca tortellini and (of course) Champagne. The train also makes excursions to Lake Titicaca, where guests can learn about local customs, visit Incan ruins, and take in breathtaking views.

Belmond British Pullman

4. British Pullman, A Belmond Train, England

The British Pullman ’s experience is magical no matter where you’re seated. Once you depart London , you’ll embark on a journey through the bucolic British countryside, touring cities and towns like Cambridge, York, and Canterbury along the way. The restored carriages date back to the 1920s and 1930s, so expect Art Deco touches, polished interiors, and classically prepared multi-course meals – this is the same train line that has served British royalty and government officials for years, after all.

train interior

3. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe

Year after year, the world’s most iconic locomotive continues to be a standard-setter in luxury. Of course, the decadent interiors are a fantasy of 1920s Art Deco design, but it’s the impeccable service that keeps this train firmly ensconced in a class of its own. Bags are whisked off from the platform and magically reappear in your cabin, no glass ever runs empty, and the beds seem to make themselves anytime you step outside of your cabin. By day you can revel in the scenery of the French countryside and Swiss mountain scenes, and by night, the formal dress code feels anything but stuffy – in fact, playing dress up and making your way to the Champagne bar is, we think, one of the coolest experiences anyone could have on a train. For 2023, this over-the-top train is getting even more luxe updates, including eight new suites, two of which are original 1920s and 30s carriages carefully restored by expert French craftsmen and designers – so there’s no time like the present to book that bucket-list trip.

Palace on Wheels Train

2. Palace on Wheels, India

India’s best-known train, the Palace on Wheels , offers a number of trips that range from a couple of days to week-long excursions. Embarking from New Delhi through the Land of Kings, trips take you through the famed Pink City of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, where guests are greeted by majestic UNESCO sites like the Amer Fort as well as 16th-century palaces. You can also visit Agra, home to the Taj Mahal and the perfect stop for a tour of some of the country's most iconic sites. Along the way, enjoy regional cuisine in well-appointed, colourful carriages decked out in Indian textiles.

Seven Stars Kyushu

1. Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan

Train lovers consider this opulent Japanese locomotive among the most spacious and comfortable of them all. Every inch of Seven Stars' Kyushu train – from the beds to the bathroom sinks, to the woodwork, to the porcelain dinner plates – is handmade by Japanese artisans, and the service is simply exquisite, with each journey limited to a positively intimate twenty passengers; but it’s not just about the onboard experience with Seven Stars. These four-day, three-night trips travel a circuit around the island of Kyushu, making stops at the region’s best shrines, onsens, porcelain studios, and more, so you truly feel like you’re exploring an authentic side of Japan , far away from the more obvious tourist tracks.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler .

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The coast-hugging Cinque Terre Express.

10 of the best railway journeys in Italy

On train rides from Venice to Sicily, best book a window seat on these spectacular Italian trips

The Cinque Terre Express

One of Italy’s loveliest rail routes is the coast-hugging track along the Cinque Terre in Liguria. Called an express, it’s more of a gentle pootle above all five of the Unesco-listed seaside villages in this celebrated national park. Setting off from La Spezia, the route ends in Levanto. You can hop on and off for strolls along the labyrinthine lanes of colourful villages, such as Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola – or stay put and drink in the sight of tiny village-crested bays and inlets, fronted by pristine thumbnail beaches. The Cinque Terre Train Card allows access to all hiking routes and unlimited train travel between the villages. One- to three-day options from €18.20 at cinqueterre.eu.com

The Circumetnea, Sicily

The Circumetnea railway links the Sicilean cities of Catania and Giarre/and goes around Mount Etna.

If you don’t fancy hiking Sicily’s most famous volcano, a thrilling alternative is the Ferrovia Circumetnea from Catania that encircles Etna’s base, ending its journey in Riposto. This dramatic journey sees you rattling across lava beds, past fields of prickly pears and little hamlets, then soaking up across Etna’s foothills views of its snow-capped, smoking peak. Constructed in 1898, it’s 110-km long and the whole route takes around three-and-a-half hours. Try to board one of the green or red vintage rolling stock that look like dinky vintage school buses – they were made by Fiat in the 1950s. Tickets cost €7.25 from circumetnea.it

The Bernina Express

The Bernina Express

Train buffs consider the legendary Unesco-listed Bernina Express route from Italian Tirano to St Moritz to be one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. The highest railway in Europe, it has spiral viaducts to get up the mountains. At times, the train clings to the mountainside thousands of feet up – and you’re rewarded head-swivelling with views across the Brusio viaduct, then there are waterfalls and glaciers, and up to the ear-popping peaks of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Autumn is pretty when the leaves change colour and begin to fall and winter, when the mountains are snow-draped. The Italian section of the Bernina Express starts from Tirano, which has links with trains from Milan. The four-hour train journey costs from £49. Panoramic carriage seats need to be booked in advance at rhb.ch

Reggio Calabria to Scilla

Reggio Calabria to Scilla it

It only takes 20 minutes, but if you have time to kill before catching the ferry to Sicily, the train ride from Reggio Calabria’s promenade-set Stazione Lido to the seaside town of Scilla is a delight. Leaving the rather ugly port area, you can expect glimpses of neat coves and sandy beaches, then little islets and fishing boats, and, on the approach towards the Strait of Messina, Mount Etna itself. Arriving at Scilla, spend time exploring this charming fishing village set on ochre-green cliffs. Highlights include its sprawling clifftop castle, broad sandy beach and excellent seafood restaurants. Tickets one way from £2.10 through Rail Europe

Trenino Verde, Sardinia

Trenino Verde, Sardinia

Sardinia’s dinky Trenino Verde (little green trains) trundle along narrow-gauge tracks across some of the island’s most stunning regions – all the way from the coast to the mountains. Don’t expect speed: tThese dedicated routes are famously slow as recounted by DH Lawrence in The Sea and Sardinia . But who needs to be in a rush when you have the chance to discover the wild heart of this extraordinary island? Pulled by a 1956 diesel locomotive, one of the most dazzling routes travels from Arbatax to Villagrande. Across the flats of Tortoli, you climb to mountainous Gennargentu national park. Daylong guided Trenino Verde train journeys including multiple stop-offs at points of interest and delicious food tastings cost from €55pp, sardegnatreninoverde.com

Little Trains of the Dolomites

Little Trains of the Dolomites it

The elegant vintage Renon narrow-gauge mountain railway is one of the oldest and steepest funicular railways in Europe. It chugs all the way to Collalbo, past undulating meadows and towering jagged mountain ranges. Join an escorted rail holiday and you get expert guidance around the mountainous rail routes. The trip includes a ride on line 700 between Mezzolombardo and Caldes, with spectacular views over Dolomiti castles and a dramatic ascent up one of Europe’s steepest tracks, the Mendola funicular railway. The nine-day Little Trains of the Dolomites tour runs in September and May from £1,499pp, including B&B accommodation and excursions, arenatravel.com

Rome to Siracuse

Noto, the capital of baroque stylethe street leading down at the famous town of Sicily – Noto, the capital of baroque style

Travel to Sicily by rail doesn’t sound easy and yet it’s one of the best direct long-haul Italian journeys around. Your train is shunted across the Strait of Messina via ferry while you can go up on deck for a breath of sea air. Kick off from Rome in your air-conditioned carriage for the 11-hour scenic ride to Naples and Salerno, then on to Taormina, Catania and Syracuse. Once in Sicily, coastal and mountain views turn to seascapes as well as glimpses of snow-dusted Mount Etna. Book in advance for super-economy tickets from £66.70 one way, second class at Rail Europe , links with Trenitalia

Venice to Florence

Venice to Florence

Ditch the car and link two of Italy’s top must-see cities by rail. It takes just over two hours to swap the canals of Venice for Florence’s meandering Arno. Travelling by train ensures a stress-free ride and some of the most gorgeous snapshots of the country along the way. En route you pass the exquisite Renaissance towns of Bologna, Prato and Ravenna, then through the mountains of Emilia-Romagna and alongside the vine-terraced hills of Tuscany. If you’re after a direct route, catch the high-speed Frecciarossa – but a more leisurely journey, admittedly with changes, ensures time to absorb those dreamy panoramas. Tickets from £26.50 one way, booked in advance from Rail Europe

Venice to Rome rail holiday

Venice to Rome rail holiday

A small-group rail holiday is a great way to take in Venice, Florence and Rome, staying in hotels along the way and experiencing local culture. Highlights include leisurely walks, museum visits and sipping an Aperol spritz in the quieter canal-side cafés of Venice; then a detour rail trip to Pisa. In Bologna, the focus is on food, with a tasting session of DOP meats, cheeses, wines and tortellini-making in the food markets of the Quadrilatero quarter, and in Florence and Rome, there’s plenty of time to explore the highlights of both these cities. A seven-day Venice to Rome by Railway tour costs from £1,498pp, including return flights, with responsibletravel.com

Rimini to Lecce

Follow Italy’s sparkling Adriatic by regional rail and you’ll be rewarded with dreamy sea views and glimpses of historic towns and small fishing villages. The line from Rimini down to Lecce is an absolute treat – and though it takes about six hours, you’ll shore up some unforgettable images. Swapping Rimini’s glitzy beach clubs for workaday Pesaro, the Frecciabianca stops at Ancona, Pescara and Foggia in Puglia. Occasionally, the track heads inland beneath the hills of Umbria and Tuscany, finally reaching dazzling baroque Lecce. Celebrate with a local pasticciotto and a spritz – almost as delightful as the journey itself. Tickets one way from £55.70, through Rail Europe or Trenitali

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 Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Scenic Train, located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a freight and heritage railroad

The best train rides in the USA for seriously gorgeous views

It’s all about the journey on the best train rides in the USA, featuring mind-blowingly scenic routes

Scott Snowden

Of course, a road trip through America is one of the best ways to see the magnificent views on offer across the country, but from time to time it's just nice to take a break from being behind the wheel. Instead, how about taking one of the best train rides in the USA? Gently saunter across the country, leaving you free to contemplate life, ponder the meaning of existence or just spend a few hours thinking about nothing and staring out of the window.

Riding on a train can be a romantic, nostalgic, and best of all leisurely way to see the country. Even a commuter train between major cities can be a step up from a drive, but these scenic train rides are more than that. Geared towards long-haul trips from coast to coast, or specifically designed for enjoying the scenery, these train routes will let you take in all the glorious views.

Looking for a west coast adventure? Take the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle . Heading to Alaska ? Catch all the highlights on the Denali Star’s 350-mile trek from Fairbanks to Anchorage. The Grand Canyon Railway and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will take you from quaint towns to national parks . There are even some shorter jaunts, like the Mt. Washington Cog Railway or the Hawaiian Railway that will give you a small taste of scenic train travel.

So hop aboard, enjoy the views, and take as many pics as you want without having to keep your hands on the wheel.

RECOMMENDED: The best camping in the USA

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Best train rides in the USA

Rockies to the Red Rocks

1.  Rockies to the Red Rocks

Denver, co to moab, ut.

The first US offering from luxury Canadian company Rocky Mountaineer, the new 'Rockies to the Red Rocks' trip takes passengers on a two-day ride from Denver to Moab—passing through stunning Rocky Mountains and southwest scenery along the way. Best of all? Passengers will witness all that gorgeous nature from the train's glass-dome top! That's right, we're talking about unobstructed views of some of the most gorgeous scenery in the USA. The 2023 season will kick off in August and will run through October.

Discover the  best things to do in Denver

Coast Starlight

2.  Coast Starlight

Los angeles, ca to seattle, wa.

Put a spin on the classic left-coast road trip by traveling by train instead. The advantages? Zero wrong-turn fights and way more photo-ops. The 1,377-mile Coast Starlight route hits the best of the West: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and more. On the 36-hour trip, bounce from your seat to the dining car and the 'sightseer lounge car' where all the seats face the panoramic, floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Discover the best things to do in Seattle  

The Grand Canyon Railway

3.  The Grand Canyon Railway

Williams, az to the grand canyon, az.

Sure you may have been to the Grand Canyon already, but have you ever admired Grand Canyon country by train? On The Grand Canyon Railway, you’ll depart from Williams, Arizona, and roll through pine forests and prairies, spotting pronghorn and bald eagles, before arriving two hours and 15 minutes later at the epic South Rim. All of the historic cars of the Grand Canyon Railway have fascinating former lives, and some have glass-dome ceilings for unstoppable panoramas. 

Discover the best things to do in Arizona

The Empire Builder

4.  The Empire Builder

Chicago, il to portland, or.

There is only one word to describe this journey: epic. The Empire Builder runs daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, mirroring much of Lewis and Clark’s original expedition. It passes through a greatest-hits list of must-see sites, from the urban (St. Cloud and Minneapolis) to the great outdoors (big-sky country and Glacier National Park ). The trip totals 46 hours, which warrants booking at least a roomette with seats that convert to beds, so you can fully stretch out once you’ve gotten your fill of landscapes under the moonlight. 

Discover the best things to do in Portland 

The Alaska Denali Star

5.  The Alaska Denali Star

Anchorage, ak to fairbanks, ak.

This 350-mile stretch through the heart of Alaska highlights the state's beautiful, rugged wilderness. Between the birch forests, rushing rivers, caribou- and bear-spotting, views of Mt. McKinley and a stint through Denali National Park, there’s a reason this is the Alaska Railroad’s flagship sojourn. If you can swing it, splurge on a GoldStar upgrade and take in the spectacular scenery from an open-air viewing car, with absolutely nothing between you and the wild. 

Discover the best things to do in Alaska 

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

6.  The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Bryson city, nc.

It may be pint-size, but Bryson City, the departure point for this rail-riding adventure, is rich with local gems like barbecue joints, a soda fountain and a brewery. Various routes originate here, but the four-and-a-half-hour Nantahala Gorge excursion is a scenery-serving star, snaking along the forested Nantahala River and crossing the Fontana Lake by bridge. Foliage lovers take note: The leaves here are breathtaking during the fall.

Discover the best things to do in North Carolina 

The Mount Washington Cog Railway

7.  The Mount Washington Cog Railway

Bretton woods, nh.

Like the Little Engine That Could, this antique train chugs daily up Mount Washington , depositing its passengers at the 6,288ft peak, the highest in the Northeast. A working museum of sorts (the track dates to 1852), the Cog has the elevated feel of a gondola, only you’re in a sturdy little train. At the top, take in the sweeping views—of Canada and the Atlantic on a clear day. 

Discover the best thing to do in New Hampshire

The Napa Valley Wine Train

8.  The Napa Valley Wine Train

Napa valley, ca.

On this California Wine Country track, you can get intoxicated by the scenery alone: picture-perfect wineries and hills carpeted in lush rows of vines. But you’ll have a little help, what with all the vino you’ll be sipping alongside your onboard multicourse meal—both lunch and dinner are options. The roving restaurant is made up of a collection of vintage Pullman railcars complete with mahogany panels and brass hardware. So go ahead and soak it all up—you’re not behind the wheel, after all.

Discover the best  things to do in Napa

The Hawaiian Railway Society

9.  The Hawaiian Railway Society

Train travel takes a turn for the tropical on this 90-minute jaunt across Oahu in an old sugar-cane hauler traveling at the lickety-split speed of 15 miles an hour. The ride shows you a rarely-seen version of Hawaii, filled with old sisal plantations and ghost towns. Time your trip for the second Sunday of the month and you can book a seat in the elegant 1900 parlor car that was the personal ride of Oahu Railway & Land Co. founder Mr. Dillingham. It's worth noting, however, that reservations are now required to ride the train. 

Discover the best things to do in Oahu

Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad

10.  Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango, co to silverton, co.

One of the most scenic ways to experience one of the most scenic states; a ride on the Narrow Gauge Railroad isn’t merely photo fodder, but a full immersion into the wild, wild west. The train has been rolling between Durango and Silverton since 1882, when it was tasked with transporting silver and gold out of the San Juan Mountains. The 45.4-mile route runs in both directions along the Animas River, crisscrossing it five times, and passing by old stagecoach trails and long-deserted mining camps as it winds between 14,000ft high peaks.

Discover the best things to do in Colorado

The Ethan Allen Express

11.  The Ethan Allen Express

New york city, ny to burlington, vt.

While the destination is a major draw, getting there is half the fun on this five-and-a-half-hour journey from New York City to Vermont. You’ll cruise through the postcard-perfect towns of New York’s Hudson Valley; hit Saratoga Springs, as famous for its horse races as its hot springs and snake around Vermont’s fittingly named Green Mountains before landing in charming little-big city Rutland, with its historic downtown and one helluva farmers' market.

Discover the best things to do in Vermont

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Vote for East Broad Top Railroad

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Best Scenic Train Ride

East Broad Top Railroad traces its roots back to 1872, and it's the only three-foot gauge common carrier railroad still left east of the Rocky Mountains. Excursions carry passengers on a 9-mile round trip ride through undulating hills, pastoral scenery, and forests. Guided tours and special events, like Christmas in Coal Country and PEANUTS The Great Pumpkin Patch Express, offer a different train ride experience.

East Broad Top Railroad

Photo courtesy of Matthew Malkiewicz

see all nominees | rules

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Chez chesak.

Chez Chesak

‘Chez’ Chesak is Executive Director of the Outdoor...   Read More

‘Chez’ Chesak is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, an adventure travel writer, board member of the Society of American Travel Writers and 22-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. While he’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to more than 30 countries, he has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife Sally and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. Learn more about him and his work at www.chezconnects.com .  

Chez Chesak

Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie is a travel writer who has visited over 50...   Read More

Jamie is a travel writer who has visited over 50 countries, many of them with her children in tow. She loves visiting everything from theme parks to ancient ruins and packs strictly carry-on-only. Jamie can be reached at [email protected].

Jamie Davis Smith

Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los...   Read More

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good things in life. She is a founding/voting member of the Critics Choice Association, who present the Critics’ Choice Awards every January. Her favorite places to be are on the beach in Southern California playing volleyball, scuba diving with the sharks in warm tropical waters or strolling the streets and soaking in the atmosphere of one of the world's great cities (New Orleans and Florence are her favorites).

Jenny Peters

Kristen Lummis

Kristen Lummis

Kristen Lummis is a freelance writer based in...   Read More

Kristen Lummis is a freelance writer based in Western Colorado. The mom of two now-adult sons, Lummis broke into her writing career through snowsports, founding the website  braveskimom.com  in 2010 to provide family-friendly tips across a full range of winter topics. And while skiing is Lummis’ first true outdoor love, she grew up camping, hiking, biking, kayaking and traveling extensively with her family — pursuits that she continues today. She prides herself on unbiased opinions, based on activities and destinations she’s visited and experienced. Lummis is honored to be considered an “expert” for 10Best. Follow her @braveskimom on Instagram and Facebook. 

Kristen Lummis

Meg St-Esprit

Meg St-Esprit

Meg St-Esprit is a journalist based in Pittsburgh...   Read More

Meg St-Esprit is a journalist based in Pittsburgh who covers family travel, lifestyle, education, and parenting. With their four kids in tow, she and her husband love to travel anywhere and everywhere — but have a soft spot for camping and outdoor adventures. In fact, her kids are well on their way to achieving their goal of visiting all 124 state parks in Pennsylvania. Meg believes travel doesn’t need to be luxurious or costly to be valuable, and aims to share that with her audience. Meg’s work has appeared in publications such as  The New York Times, Thrillist, The Washington Post, Fodor’s, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, Romper , and more. Follow Meg on Instagram and Twitter at @megstesprit or check out her work on  https://megstesprit.com/

Meg St-Esprit

Melanie Reffes

Melanie Reffes

Melanie is an island girl at heart . Born in...   Read More

Melanie is an island girl at heart . Born in Manhattan, she now lives on the sunny island of Montreal and covers  the Caribbean for a variety of publications  including  USA TODAY 10Best, CaribbeanTravel.com and MarryCaribbean.com.  A journalist with a boatload of writer awards under her belt, Melanie's affection for the Caribbean started  young when her family vacationed in Puerto Rico.   An avid fan of spicy food,   Melanie enjoys the diversity of Montreal - especially during the warmer months -when she's not en route to the Caribbean. She  holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto. 

Melanie Reffes

Molly O'Brien

Molly O'Brien

Molly O'Brien is a Los Angeles-based freelance...   Read More

Molly O'Brien is a Los Angeles-based freelance travel journalist, who writes and edits for a variety of international travel and lifestyle outlets including Fodor’s Travel, Travel + Leisure, and Business Insider among others. She's lived on both coasts from Massachusetts to California and has so far made Greater Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Luis Obispo, Barcelona, and Los Angeles her home.  Molly earned her journalism degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California and since then has worked professionally in the fields of hospitality and travel PR and most recently, as a freelance travel writer and editor. Molly especially enjoys covering feature profiles about interesting people doing interesting things such as chocolate making, beekeeping, wing-walking, and interesting destinations like under-the-radar wine spots, the best brewery towns, and lesser-known ski destinations.  She also loves to write about a boutique hotel with a good story. When she's not writing, Molly enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring new coffee shops and breweries, and of course, traveling.  Her favorite city in the world (so far) is Barcelona, Spain, but she loves traveling anywhere that offers sunny weather and ample hiking opportunities. She loves spending time in the mountains, enjoys connecting with nature through camping and glamping adventures, and is always up for learning about the world through fun, immersive experiences (and then sharing those stories!).  You can connect with Molly here:  Instagram: @metropolitanmolly Twitter: @Molly_A_OBrien Facebook: @MetropolitanMolly LinkedIn: @mollyannobrien www.metropolitanmolly.com

Molly O'Brien

Tamara Gane

Tamara Gane

Tamara Gane is an expert panel member for 10Best...   Read More

Tamara Gane is an expert panel member for 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. She's based in Reno/Lake Tahoe and in addition to USA Today 10Best, her work has been published in Travel & Leisure, Fodor's Travel, The Washington Post, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle, Lonely Planet, and more.

Tamara Gane

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...   Read More

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

Leaderboard

  • 1. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - Durango, Colorado
  • 2. East Broad Top Railroad - Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania
  • 3. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad - Bryson City, North Carolina
  • 4. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad - Chama, New Mexico
  • 5. Skunk Train - Fort Bragg, California
  • 6. Western Maryland Scenic Railroad - Cumberland, Maryland
  • 7. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway - Blue Ridge, Georgia
  • 8. Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad - Fish Camp, California
  • 9. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway - Manitou Springs, Colorado
  • 10. Georgetown Loop Railroad - Georgetown, Colorado
  • -- Check the Full Leaderboard --

top 10 beautiful train journeys

10 Scenic Train Trips Across Canada

  • Train trips have become popular among travelers in Canada as a more sustainable and enjoyable way to explore the country's natural wonders.
  • From coast to coast, Canada offers scenic train journeys that allow passengers to experience breathtaking landscapes, French culture, and stunning architecture.
  • Whether it's admiring polar bears in Churchill, witnessing fall foliage in Nova Scotia, or cycling through the Niagara region, there are many unique train trips in Canada for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

The world is slowly adopting the green economy as a way of saving the planet from destruction. Even travelers haven’t been left behind. Most of them have recognized that airplanes and vehicles are not sustainable ways of traveling and are exploring other options. For this reason, train trips have become more common and appealing.

Canada is a large country with many beautiful natural wonders and top destinations to visit . And seeing them through a window is the best way to experience the country. Besides phenomenal views, train passengers enjoy comfortable, stress-free, and relaxing trips. They only need to occupy their seat and enjoy the ride. Here are 10 scenic train trips across Canada.

16 Thrilling Sleeper Train Journeys In Europe To Add To Your Bucket List

Canada coast to coast by train, see niagara falls, lake louise, and peggy's cove.

Coast-to-coast by train is one of the best train trips in Canada. It is a chance to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, including Niagara Falls, Lake Louise, and Peggy’s Cove. Travelers are offered time on VIA Rail and travel in a sleeper company. The journey starts in Halifax and ends in Vancouver. Taking this ride lets one enjoy the French culture in Canada, stunning architecture, and scenic landscapes.

  • Trip distance from Halifax to Vancouver: 4,466 kilometers
  • Trip length: 4 days and 4 nights
  • Cost : Around $11,380

Vancouver To Toronto On The Canadian

Traveling through forests, mountain peaks, and waterfalls.

The Canadian is a flagship train that offers three classes: economy, sleeper plus, and prestige. Unlike planes, it has large reclining seats with plenty of legroom. The trip includes presenters, musicians, and wine-tasting sessions. The train leaves Vancouver for Toronto, and visitors can see forests, mountain peaks, waterfalls, valleys, and wildlife along the way. It passes through Jasper National Park, stops for some time, and continues to Toronto.

  • Trip distance from Vancouver to Toronto: 4,466 kilometers
  • Trip length: Almost 4 days
  • Cost: Varies between routes and towns, but around CAD 2,500 per person during winter (Approximately $1,850 USD)

Lord Of The Wilderness Bear Viewing In The Canadian

See grizzlies in a wilderness lodge and polar bears up north.

Here is something for wildlife lovers. The train drives passengers across Canada, from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The adventure begins on the West Coast, where passengers go to a wilderness lodge to see grizzly bears. Then, they board The Canadian train in Vancouver, which takes them across the Canadian Rockies before arriving in Winnipeg. After the journey ends, passengers are recommended to fly to Northern Manitoba, the Polar Bear Capital of the world, to explore the arctic tundra and look for polar bears before returning to Winnipeg.

  • Trip distance from Vancouver to Winnipeg: Approximately 1,866 kilometers
  • Trip length: 3 days and 2 nights
  • Cost: $13,430

Winnipeg To Churchill VIA Rail

Admire lush prairie land, huge boreal forests, & hudson bay's polar bears.

Regardless of the time of the year someone is traveling, they are guaranteed things to wow about every step of this trip. From Winnipeg, passengers can admire the lush land at Rivière Rouge and Rivière Assiniboine confluence. As they travel, they can see the waters of Lake near The Pas, the huge boreal forest encompassing the Thompson, and finally, the rocky shores of Hudson Bay in Churchill, where they can see polar bears and belugas in their habitat. For those who’ve never seen the Prairies, this VIA Rail trip will bring them up close.

  • Trip distance from Winnipeg to Churchill: 1,710 kilometers
  • Trip length : 44 hours 55 minutes
  • Cost: From $199

Montreal To Halifax On The Ocean

See whales in the gulf, clear miramichi river, and sugarloaf mountain.

The Ocean journey runs on the Gulf of St Lawrence and passes through New Brunswick before the train heads to Nova Scotia. This is the oldest route in North America and has been operating since 1904. Passengers are rewarded with phenomenal views of the Gulf of Lawrence, where they can spot whales. From there, they can see clear waters as the train crosses the Miramichi River, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Acadian communities. Fall is the perfect time for this trip as travelers see the leaves turn into shades of yellow, red, and gold.

  • Trip distance from Montreal to Halifax: 1,346 kilometers
  • Trip length: 21+ hours
  • Cost: $210 on Economy

Jasper To Prince George On The Rupert Rocket

Tour glassy lakes and charming agricultural towns in central british columbia.

This trip across central British Columbia isn’t popular, especially among the international community. But, it is a very scenic journey to consider. The Rupert Rocket goes over several days to allow travelers to check out daylight vistas. But, passengers organize their accommodation. Along the way, they see glassy lakes and charming and historic towns filled with agricultural produce and wildlife. Some drives include meals and drinks. Others don’t. But regardless of the ride, guests are assured of phenomenal views.

  • Trip distance from Jasper to Prince: 1,160 kilometers
  • Trip length : 2 days
  • Cost: Around $260

Getting From New York City To Niagara Falls: 16 Things To Know

White pass & yukon route railway, see trestles, gorges, and glaciers on a historic railway climbing 3,000 feet with views of skagway harbor.

The White Pass and Yukon Route is a great ride for those who want to learn about the history of Alaska. It leaves Skagway and offers scenic views while allowing ample time to enjoy the area’s other charms. The train goes through Shyster and climbs almost 3,000 feet above sea level. Passengers pass through an inspiration point that looks down on the Skagway Harbor. Dead Horse Gulch with bleached bones of perished animals can be seen. Before reaching the White Pass Summit, travelers have a chance to see the headwaters of the Yukon River.

  • Trip distance from Skagway to Whitehorse is: 172 kilometers
  • Trip length: 2-2.75 hours
  • Cost: $140 for adults, $70 for children

Banff To Calgary On Royal Canadian Experience

Fine dining and canadian rockies views through the alberta prairies.

Fine dining and luxurious accommodations are why people book this trip. On top of that, passengers are rewarded with exceptional views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Royal Canadian Experience is a charming and delightful trip, starting in Calgary and traversing through the Alberta Prairies. There is an off-train experience that allows travelers to visit historical attractions such as Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. They can also see Banff and Lake Louise’s cinematic views along the way.

  • Trip distance from Banff to Calgary : Around 127 kilometers
  • Trip length : 4 nights, 5 days
  • Cost: From $14,000 CAD per person ( Approximately $10,360 USD)

16 Beautiful Towns In Alberta That Give Banff A Run For Its Money

Quebec city to la malbaie on the train de charlevoix, stop at beaches, cliffs, and charming villages.

The Train de Charlevoix travels from the old Quebec City to La Malbaie while making several stops. It is a fun journey with opportunities to hike, cycle, and admire picturesque villages. Passengers can enjoy the beach at Saint-Irenee and later get history lessons at Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, or soak up the beauty of the charming towns and cliffs from the comfort of the train. There are different packages, allowing travelers to choose one they like.

  • Trip distance from Quebec City to La Malbaie: 125 kilometers
  • Trip length: Under 4 miles
  • Cost: From $248

Toronto To Niagara Falls On The Greenbelt Express

Perfect for cyclists to stop at waterfalls and wineries.

Nature lovers and cyclists should take this trip on the Greenbelt Express . It is a seasonal train operating around the Niagara region, designed for those who want to experience nature on a two-wheeler. The train is designed with special bike cars that come with in-built racks. From waterfalls to wineries, there are many sights to visit, and the good thing is that the train makes several stops throughout the entire route, allowing passengers to enjoy many cycling trails.

  • Trip distance from Toronto to Niagara Falls: 50 kilometers
  • Cost: Around $399 for two cyclists

10 Scenic Train Trips Across Canada

Travel Daily

All Aboard! Data reveals Japan’s best scenic train journeys

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Travelling by rail is often ideal for offering up some excellent scenery and photo opportunities due to a combination of inter-connectivity to local cities, and proximity to cultural landmarks.

Earlier this year, a photo of a Japanese couple travelling by train even went viral, as the couple kindly ducked out of the way to allow another passenger to take a picture of the iconic Mt Fuji.

To discover some of the top scenic train journeys across Japan, the experts at JR Pass analysed a selection of the country’s most popular scenic train routes, comparing factors such as ticket price, popularity, traveller reviews, and journey time in order to form their rankings.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

  • Sagano Romantic Train, Kinki, Japan

Earning the coveted title of Japan’s best scenic train journey,  is the  Sagano Romantic Train in Kinki, Japan,  with a total score of  8 out of ten. 

The Sagano Romantic Train meanders through the scenic beauty of the Sagano Arashiyama region, renowned for its lush bamboo groves and traditional Japanese landscapes. The train passes through the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a natural wonder that captivates passengers with its towering bamboo stalks.

Extremely reasonable ticket prices of around  ¥898 , combined with a shorter journey time of just  25 minutes  make the Sagano Romantic Train an ideal choice for day trips or half-day excursions. Travelers who are exploring other attractions in Kyoto and the surrounding areas can easily incorporate this scenic train ride into their itinerary without dedicating an entire day to the experience.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

  • Botchan Train, Shikoku, Japan

In second place  with an overall score of  7.9 out of ten  is the  Botchan Train in Shikoku . The train is named after Natsume Soseki’s famous novel “Botchan,” which is set in Matsuyama, the capital city of Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku.

The Botchan Train takes a scenic route through the picturesque landscapes of Shikoku, providing passengers with awe-inspiring views of the countryside and coast. The train’s interior and exterior are decorated to reflect the cultural and historical aspects of the region.

A  high traveller review rating of 8.9 out of ten  and a short journey time of  20 minutes  earn the Botchan train a well-deserved spot in the top five.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

  • Limited Express Yufuin no Mori, Fukuoka, Japan. 

Chugging its way into  third place  is the  Limited Express Yufuin no Mori in Fukuoka , earning a total score of  7.8 out of ten .

The Yufuin no Mori travels through picturesque landscapes, offering passengers stunning views of rural scenery, mountains, and even glimpses of hot springs. The route is particularly scenic during cherry blossom season and autumn when the landscapes are adorned with vibrant colors.

The Limited Express nature of the train means that it makes fewer stops than regular trains, resulting in a faster and more direct journey between Fukuoka and Yufuin/Beppu.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

  • Shonan Monorail, Kanto, Japan. 

In fourth place  is the  Shonan Monorail in Kanto  with an overall score of  7.7 out of ten.   Specifically serving the Kanagawa Prefecture, the Shonan Monorail features a sleek and modern design, providing passengers with a futuristic experience.

The monorail offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as it glides above the ground. Passengers can enjoy scenic views of the city, bay, and possibly even Mount Fuji on clear days.

The monorail boasts the  second highest traveler rating (8.8 out of ten)  and  lowest price (318 Yen) out of the top five , making it an ideal choice for tourists looking to get the most out of their money.

  • Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go, Hokkiado, Japan. 

Rounding out the top five  is the  Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go in Hokkaido.  The train travels through the beautiful and expansive Kushiro Shitsugen (Kushiro Marsh), which is Japan’s largest wetland and an important nature reserve. Passengers can enjoy panoramic views of the marshland, lakes, and diverse wildlife.

The Kushiro Marsh is home to a variety of wildlife, including Japanese cranes, deer, and various bird species. The open-air design of the Norokko-go provides an excellent opportunity for passengers to spot and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the region.

top 10 beautiful train journeys

A  journey time of just under an hour , combined with an  overall score of 7.6 out of ten  make the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go an ideal journey for those seeking a peaceful and immersive experience.

Haroun Khan at JR Pass comments: “We may be biased, but we wholeheartedly believe that Japan has some of the most beautiful, relaxing, and breathtaking train journeys in the world.”

“No matter the destination, travelling by rail is one of the most efficient, cost-effective and rewarding ways to immerse yourself in a country’s rich cultural heritage and take home memories that will last a lifetime.”

19.8 million people visited Japan between January and October of 2023

Majority of travellers unwilling to pay more for on-ground transport in Japan, but…

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  1. 10 of the Most Scenic Train Journeys in the World

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COMMENTS

  1. 24 of the world's most incredible train journeys

    1. The Reunification Express, Vietnam. Start: Ho Chi Minh City. End: Hanoi. Departs: Daily. Distance: 1072 miles (1726km) Duration: Two days. This is one of Southeast Asia 's best-loved railways - and one of the most epic overnight train journeys in the world .

  2. 10 of the best train journeys in Europe, chosen by Lonely Planet

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    Germany's Rhine Valley Rail: A Scenic Train Travel Gem. It may only be a 55-minute sortie between Koblenz and Mainz, but it delivers no end on spectacular scenery and easily makes the top ten most scenic railway journeys in the world. It qualifies among the most beautiful train journeys in the world because it cuts through some of the most ...

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  5. The best train rides in Europe: 10 amazing journeys for 2024

    The best European train trips include the fabulous Bernina Express, the most enchanting Swiss Alpine ride of all, and the spectacular railway from Belgrade to Bar through the mountains of Montenegro. The latter is one of the most scenic train rides you've probably never heard of, with a bargain fare of just €21.

  6. The Best Train Trips in the World: 2023 Readers' Choice Awards

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    Talyllyn Railway, Wales. WHERE: Wales. If the name, Great Little Trains of Wales, doesn't charm you all on its own, then a 9 mph, 14.5-mile round-trip ride on the adorable narrow gauge, coal-fired ...

  8. 13 Most Scenic Train Rides in the World

    Here are 13 of the most scenic train journeys around the world, from Japan to the United Kingdom. The Most Beautiful Winter Train Routes in North America. 01 of 13. Pacific Surfliner, United States .

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    13. Málaga to El Chorro, Spain. While you can't get a train across the thrilling and terrifying Caminito del Rey walkway, you can still experience a great journey on the way. The train from ...

  10. 15 Most Beautiful Train Journeys In The World

    1. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia. Image Source. Span: Moscow to Vladivostok. Covering 9300 km, and making 120 stops across Russia, the Trans-Siberian railway is the longest and the greatest train journey of all time. The 6-day 5-hour incredible ride crosses the record 8 time zones and several awe-inspiring spots across Russia.

  11. 18 of the world's best rail journeys

    Photograph: Alamy. Duration: 453 miles/10hr. Price: From £18. The Nordlandsbanen Railway is the longest in Norway, and the only one in the country to cross the Arctic Circle. From Trondheim, it ...

  12. 10 of the best scenic rail journeys in Europe

    Length 20km. Adult fare £44-54 return. For its wild Scandinavian beauty the journey from Oslo to Bergen is a classic, but for even better scenery get off at Myrdal and take the branch line to ...

  13. Some of the world's most beautiful train journeys

    4. The Rauma Line. Østlund has called The Rauma Line one of Norway's "most beautiful and wildest railway lines." The 114-kilometre stretch will always have a special place in his heart. "From Bjorli and down to Åndalsnes you will experience some of the most jaw-dropping scenery this side of Switzerland.

  14. The 10 most beautiful train journeys in the world

    Kandy — Ella, Sri Lanka. Taking the train from Kandy to Ella is a whole lot more than just a scenic experience — Shutterstock. Taking anywhere from eight and a half to 10 hours, Kandy to Ella is in fact just one section of a longer line that runs from Colombo to Badulla. Initially built by the colonial British to transport goods such as tea ...

  15. 9 Best Train Journeys In The World For Unique Travel Adventures

    Advertising. Photograph: Shutterstock. 3. Sagano Scenic railway in Kyoto, Japan. The antithesis of Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains, this nineteenth-century narrow-gauge railway chugs along at ...

  16. 14 Best Train Trips in the United States for Beautiful Scenary

    Sunset Limited. Travel between Louisiana and California on Sunset Limited, Amtrak's Southernmost route. On the way from New Orleans through San Antonio, Tucson, Phoenix and Los Angeles, see ...

  17. Our 10 Best Scenic Train Journeys

    Looking for scenic train rides? Check our top 10 train journeys for the UK and abroad, including some of Europe's most iconic views. Basket Basket. Close. ... Known as one of the most beautiful train journeys in North America, the Californian Zephyr climbs through the heart of the Rockies and past the snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada.

  18. 10 Sleeper Train Journeys Around The World That Are Equally Scenic

    This epic train journey travels through Europe's highest railway line! The Bergen Railway in Norway is perhaps the best way to experience Norway's vast landscapes, snowy mountains, and magical fjords.

  19. The 8 best rail journeys in the USA

    1. The Sunset Limited. Route: New Orleans - San Antonio - Tucson - Phoenix - Los Angeles. Distance and duration: 1995 miles (3211 km); 2 days. Amtrak's Sunset Limited is the ultimate American railroad ride and one of its most famous train journeys: east to west, coast to coast, clean through from the bars of New Orleans to the breakers ...

  20. 10 best scenic train rides in the U.S., according to our readers

    Readers voted, and the results are in for the 10 best scenic train rides in the United States. ... This 9-mile journey takes passengers to the top of Pikes Peak, traveling along Ruxton Creek, past ...

  21. The best train trips in the world: 2023 Readers' Choice Awards

    Belmond. 3. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe. Year after year, the world's most iconic locomotive continues to be a standard-setter in luxury. Of course, the decadent interiors are a fantasy of 1920s Art Deco design, but it's the impeccable service that keeps this train firmly ensconced in a class of its own.

  22. 10 of the best railway journeys in Italy

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    Bretton Woods, NH. Like the Little Engine That Could, this antique train chugs daily up Mount Washington, depositing its passengers at the 6,288ft peak, the highest in the Northeast. A working ...

  24. The Most Beautiful (and Budget) Train Journeys Around the World

    The scenic route takes in sights like Oberalp Pass, the highest point of the journey, and the Landwasser Viaduct (pictured) - a six-arch bridge that stands at 213 feet and plunges straight into ...

  25. 10 MOST SCENIC and beautiful train journeys in Ireland

    Ireland Before You Die's top tips for making the most of the scenic and beautiful train journeys in Ireland. 10. Downpatrick to Inch Abbey - full steam ahead. 9. Dublin to Galway - from east to west. 8. The West Clare Railway - a family day out. 7. Waterford & Suir Valley Railway - a taste of Irish heritage.

  26. Vote for East Broad Top Railroad as 2024's Best Scenic Train Ride

    Best Scenic Train Ride. East Broad Top Railroad traces its roots back to 1872, and it's the only three-foot gauge common carrier railroad still left east of the Rocky Mountains. Excursions carry passengers on a 9-mile round trip ride through undulating hills, pastoral scenery, and forests. Guided tours and special events, like Christmas in Coal ...

  27. 10 Scenic Train Trips Across Canada

    The Ocean journey runs on the Gulf of St Lawrence and passes through New Brunswick before the train heads to Nova Scotia. This is the oldest route in North America and has been operating since 1904.

  28. All Aboard! Data reveals Japan's best scenic train journeys

    Earning the coveted title of Japan's best scenic train journey, ... rating of 8.9 out of ten and a short journey time of 20 minutes earn the Botchan train a well-deserved spot in the top five.