Perhaps it’s because boarding a train is always the most cinematic part of a movie, or because it conjures up thoughts of slowly meandering through the countryside on an escape from the city, any way you daydream about it makes trains simply the best way to travel. And fortunately for adventurers, there are some seriously awe-inspiring train routes to explore all over the globe. Here are nine dazzling train routes to seek out on your next vacation.
Belmond Hiram Bingham: Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru
Boarding the bright yellow Pullman train that is the Belmond Hiram Bingham is like taking a jaunt back in time, and that’s quite literally what travelers onboard are doing as they go from the city of Cusco in Peru, to the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu. Plus, being onboard this train comes with every modern amenity an explorer could ask for, including plush seating, and optional fine dining experiences for those willing to upgrade. One-way tickets start at $475.
Rocky Mountaineer: Vancouver to Banff, Canada
Taking a trek on the Rocky Mountaineer means getting to spend 48 glorious hours onboard one of the most beautiful train tracks on earth. Once inside, guests will get to sit back, relax, and stare out the window as they pass through the Canadian Rockies. On the train, travelers can also indulge in some seriously tasty cuisine since two breakfasts, and two lunches, come included with the ticket price. As for the overnight, guests onboard will stay at a hotel along the shores of Kamloops Lake. The next day, they will finish their pilgrimage to Banff, cruising through the province of Alberta, and a catch a glimpse of a few more snow-capped peaks before ending their exploration. Roundtrip tickets begin at $1,141.
The Grand Canyon Railway: Arizona to Grand Canyon Village, USA
First opening its railway doors in 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway has long been a favorite among travelers. Starting in Williams, Arizona and ending in Grand Canyon Village, passengers can choose from a variety of packages from a two-night trip that comes with a South Rim tour, to a three-night route that includes an overnight stay at Maswik Lodge inside the national park. Tickets for the train start at just $16 each way, but this journey is even more magical when upgraded to “dome class.” There, guests can take in all the sights from the train’s all-glass observation dome. Multi-day packages begin at $444 per person.
Maharajas’ Express, Dehli to Mumbai, India
Maharajas’ Express looks like it jumped right off of a vintage movie screen and into real life. Its opulent decor is unmatched, even in the luxury train world. With the train, guests can choose from a variety of trips, though none as famous as its Dehli to Mumbai route. The tour lasts for eight wonderful days as the train winds its way through the Indian countryside, stopping at different vista points, monuments, and lush green spaces along the way. The trip starts at $5,980 per person but includes butler services, tours, entrance fees and ground transportation.
Denali Star: Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska
The Denali Star is the Alaska Railroad’s flagship train for good reason. The path, which takes visitors from Anchorage to Fairbanks, winds guests through some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. The 12-hour trip makes stops in Wasilla, Talkeetna and Denali National Park, though really, why would anyone ever want to get off? Onboard, guests can upgrade to GoldStar Service and sit in an all-glass train car to take in every minute this adventure has to offer. Tickets start at $244 per person.
Danube Express: Budapest to Venice
If drama is what you’re after, look no further than the Danube Express’ 11-day trip from Budapest to Venice. While onboard, guests will get to gaze upon some truly stunning scenery as the train chugs by places like Vienna, Zurich, Lake Como, and Verona before coming to a close in Venice, Italy. Along the way, they will also be able to disembark from the train and go on one-of-a-kind excursions tailor-made for the train ride. Pricing for the trip’s 2019 dates, from May 8-18, starts at $9,195.
Glacier Express: Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland
Warning: This journey isn’t for the faint of heart. The Glacier Express takes guests on a day-long excursion from St. Moritz, through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges to its final destination of Zermot. But, along the way, guests can also take in the sights of the Swiss Alps, which make the heart-pounding moments as you hover over bridges and drive through dark tunnels all the more worth it. Tickets for the eight-hour ride start at $153.
Rovos Rail: Pretoria to Walvis Bay Safari
A Jeep safari is cool, but you know what’s even cooler? A Train safari. And that’s exactly what Rovos Rail offers on its nine-day trip from Pretoria to Walvis Bay.
On the route, travelers will head to Kimberly, where they will get to experience the Big Hole, one of the largest hand-dug diamond minds in the world. From there, they will continue their travels through the southern region of Africa, passing the Kalahari Desert, visiting Namibia’s capital of Windhoek, and escaping to Etosha National Park to check out some of the area’s big game. Finally, the trip comes to an end at Walvis Bay, Namibia, but the memories (and the photos) can last forever. Tickets on this safari start at $904 per person.
Great Southern Rail: Darwin to Adelaide, Australia
When most people think of visiting Australia, they think of the Great Barrier Reef, but they are doing themselves a grave disservice by ignoring the rest of this beautiful continent. And the best way to see large swaths of it is by hopping aboard the Great Southern Rail.
Though the railway has plenty of itineraries to choose from, none quite match the magic of the Darwin to Adelaide route, known as The Ghan Expedition. The four-day, three-night tour takes travelers through some of the most pristine and remote areas the country has to offer. On the way, guests will dine on local cuisine, hop off the train for day-long excursions, and sleep in total comfort with a nightly turndown service. Tickets for this trip start at $1,425.