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October 03, 2012

World's Top Train Trips

Courtesy of Orient Express/ Hiram Bingham

The true luxury of these world-class trains lies in enjoying the ride at a leisurely pace.

In 1829, Englishman George Stephenson brought to life the first steam-powered locomotive—named Rocket—and marked the birth of train travel. Fast-forward 183 years, and today’s jet-setting lives are lived at breakneck speed. One can climb aboard a Gulfstream G550 jet in Miami, Florida, and make it to Seoul, South Korea, in a bit less than 15 hours for an impromptu business meeting.

But when it comes to luxury train travel, finding the fastest route between two points is not the goal. It is more about settling back in one’s seat and savoring the experience, one station at a time. The train trips on this list are diverse, encompassing varied cultures within epic journeys, like a four-week excursion through Africa with views of the pyramids and Victoria Falls, or a two-week Trans-Siberian sojourn through Russia that crosses eight time zones and travels a quarter of the way around the world.

Not all cover thousands of miles. Microjourneys can be just as eye-opening, such as a two-hour jaunt through Norwegian landscape on the Flåm Railway to see the world’s deepest fjord, or a day trip through the thick, green vegetation of Peru to climb the steps of Machu Picchu. And some trips are about a sense of place, offering a comfortable feeling that you may slip into when, say, sipping whisky aboard a train rolling through the Scottish Highlands. Or tasting teas and strawberries grown in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia.

T. S. Eliot once said, “The journey not the arrival matters.” After embarking on these train adventures, we think you’ll agree completely.