Top 10 Best Train Journeys in the World

By on April 23, 2013

Few things are as wonderfully melodic as the gentle rhythm of wheels clacking hurriedly across a metal track. The gentle sway lulls you into an alternate reality as sweeping landscapes dance by your window. Train travel. There is nothing quite like it. Some of the most exquisite scenery in the world can be only be contemplated from the large viewing window of a train. There is something romantic, whimsical and delightfully antiquated about a train journey, a travel experience unlike any other. So if you've ever tossed around the idea of clickety-clacking your way across a foreign landscape, here are the top 10 Best Train Journeys in the World:

1)  The Chepe - Mexico

Mexico is far more than endless beaches, bottomless margaritas and mariachi bands, it is a nation bursting with history, wonderfully diverse geography, ancient indigenous people's and a cultural pride that is second to no other. Forget a week in Puerto Vallarta, book yourself a cabin aboard the Chepe, a train journey that begins in the mountains of Chihuahua and ends on the beautiful Sinaloa Coast. Traversing some 408 miles through the Sonoran-Sinaloan transition tropical forest, the Chepe climbs a towering 8,000 feet into the mystical Western Sierra Madre. Rimming around the vast Copper Canyon, guests chug along over some 37 bridges, through 86 tunnels and along the way, mingle with the local Indigenous people's the Tarahumara, world famous for their long distant runners!

2)  The Ghan - Australia

There are few methods of travel that will get you from Adelaide to Darwin in Australia. You can fly, you can brave the outback and attempt to drive, or you can hop aboard the Ghan and race through the heart of Australia's ‘Red Centre' and across the famed northern territory. Coined the "Ghan" after the Afghani traders who established regular trade routes back and forth across the desert, the journey itself lasts approximately 52 hours, much of which is traveled at night. But don't despair, there is plenty of daylight to view of endless plains, subtropical flora and unforgiving mountain ranges.

3)  Rovos Rail Experience - South Africa

Hailed as the most luxurious train in the world, the Rovos is as much about life onboard as it is about the staggering scenery that passes by your window. Travel back in time to Victorian Africa, and take in the opulence of wood paneled cabins, and ornate observation cabins complete with glamorous open air balconies. It's easy to forget what century you're traveling in. Formally dressed servers, world-class chefs and the finest sommeliers are at your beck and call, and with 7 exclusive itineraries on offer, the Rovos shows you an Africa like no other.

4)  The Rocky Mountaineer - Canada

Canada's beauty is unparalleled, especially out West and the Rocky Mountaineer has been dazzling passengers for over two decades. With its main route running from Vancouver to beautiful Jasper, Alberta. The train winds through the majestic Rocky Mountains, and shows Western Canada in all its glory. Pristine mirrored lakes, lush forests, cascading waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife meet you along your journey, and knowledgeable staff on board satiate curious nature enthusiasts. This is one of the picturesque journeys through some of the most untouched terrain in the world.

5) Royal Rajasthan on Wheels - India

India, a county full of contradictions, rich and complex cultures, and luxury. Naturally, with India's rich colonial history, luxurious train journey's were a normal part of life for the elite. The guest rooms aboard the Royal Rajasthan are delightfully garish and authentic. Sumptuous regional cuisine is on the menu, and the swanky bar and indulgent on-board spa make the Royal Rajasthan, as they say, ‘a palace on wheels'. The eight day journey takes guests on an historic wander through the jewels of Indian including Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra.

6)  The Royal Scotsman - Britain 

Fancy a meander through Scotland's towering highlands? The beautiful Royal Scotsman is hailed as one of the best small luxury trains in the world. With nine passenger cars and two dining cars, the Royal Scotsman plays host to a mere thirty-six guests. This intimate train experience takes passengers through the heart of Scotland, past pined hills and robust lochs, stopping along the way in charming medieval towns, teeming with friendly locals.

7)  The Trans-Siberian Express - Russia

Straddling six time zones, and following in the footsteps of great Russian Tsars, the Trans-Siberian Express is the world's longest uninterrupted train routes in the world. Several routes offer guests a multitude of choice, but the most popular is Moscow to Vladivostok. Passing through Yaroslavi, Exaterinburg in the Ural Mountains and near Lake Baikal, guests can continue on by ferry to Niigata Japan, or end their journey exploring the modernity of Vladivostok. Though the train does offer several classes of elegance, it is the scenery that makes this journey so unforgettable.

8)  The Bernina Express - Switzerland

Welcome to the top of the world. This narrow-gauged train boasts a seven-percent incline, and 360 degree spiral, and for some, induces vertigo! With a 7,391 feet at the apex and an impressive 5,905 foot descent, you may feel like you're on an amusement ride rather than a picturesque train  journey through the Alps.

9)  Eastern and Oriental Express - Singapore

There are luxury trains, and then there are luxury trains! Take an unforgettable journey through ancient Khumer temples, Thai vineyards, lush Malaysian tea plantations and more. Opulent cabins, impeccable service and highly knowledgable staff will accompany on your adventure through the jewels of Asia.

10) The Hiram Bingham - Peru

If you're going to travel from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, you may as well do it in style. Traveling to Peru to hike the ancient mountain city is a once in a lifetime experience, and the journey there is almost as breathtaking as the hike up to the city. Aboard the train, the decor provides a simple yet elegant circa 1920's feel. Gleaming crystal and silver service mark the occasion and polished wood and brass cabins provide the ultimate luxury train experience. Sweeping views of the Peruvian landscape pass by and guests can enjoy live music as they make their way to one of the world's most treasured wonders.

Jordana Manchester
Jordana Manchester
Contributing Writer at
Jordana is an award nominated freelance travel and fashion writer, a former model, an anthropology student and photographer. After spending a year abroad working with lions in Zambia, trekking through the jungles of Sumatra and wandering medieval castles in Portugal, she settled down in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She makes use of her eclectic background by incorporating her infatuation with fashion and style, her obsession with xenophilia, and her obvious love of wayfaring, into every piece she writes.

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