The scenic beauty en route has made many people choose trains over flights. You can see the best of the countryside in all its glory without stepping out. There are, of course, many fabulous places to visit along the route as well. The train will stop at these places so you can visit these places and see the attractions. And as you travel, you will see many mountains, streams, glaciers, stunning small towns, villages, and beauties of nature from your seat. You will have time at hand to relax and unwind. There is something magical about traveling on a train. Here are the top 10 railway journeys from around the world.
Many of these trains are dressed up to offer opulent luxuries. The service is amazing. These are sleeper cars where the comfort can be compared with star-category hotels. They come with restaurants in these railway journeys that employ some of the best chefs. The food and the ambiance can be compared with the Michelin-category eateries.
The Reunification Express
From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, Vietnam
Duration – 2 days
Distance – 1,726 km
This is one of the best train journeys from the south to the north or back. The journey passes through historical cities and a beautiful coastline. Travel through fishing villages, dense forests, busy neighborhoods, and other landscapes. It certainly ranks as one of the most-loved train journeys of Southeast Asia. Interestingly, there is no single train called The Reunification Express. Any train that runs on the North-South line in Vietnam is called by this name.
The California Zephyr, USA
From Chicago to San Francisco, USA
Duration – 51 hours 20 minutes
Distance – 3,924 km
One of the most beautiful train journeys in North America. In 51 hours, you will pass through the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s Gore, Sierra Nevadas, Moffat Tunnel, Byers and Glenwood Canyons, Donner Lake, San Pablo Bay, Winter Park, Truckee River, and the Carquinez Strait. Experience a journey through varied landscapes like the hills and mountains, the Colorado River, canyons, and tunnels, as well as the Utah Desert.
Baikal-Amur Mainline, Russia
From Tayshet to Sovetskaya Gavan, US
Duration – 4 days, approx.
Distance – 4,324 km
The line runs parallel to the Trans-Siberian, through the Siberian wilderness, and connects many remote settlements, at minus 60-degree Celsius temperatures. It is also popular as BAM. Expect to encounter some of the most magnificent landscapes, high bridges, as well as tunnels. Most travelers embark on their journey from Irkutsk and disembark at Komsomolsk. Experience the best from Russia’s Far East. See the spectacular landscapes north of Lake Baikal, including the rock formations at Stolby National Park, and also visit the Nanai and Evenki people and learn about their traditions. This trip is an expedition.
Perurail’s Lake Titicaca Railway, Peru
From Puno to Cusco
Duration – 10 hours 30 minutes
Distance – 388 km
Experience the unforgettable journey crossing the Peruvian Andes, in between. Visit Lake Titicaca. Buy the ticket to the luxuries of life, onboard Perurail’s Lake Titicaca Railways. You will be traveling on the 1920’s Pullman-style carriages. Pass through Juliaca, La Raya, Urcos to reach your final destination. Spot the beautiful white peaks, and valleys of the Andes, with the carriages rumbling through the Peruvian plains. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Llama owners rearing their cattle.
The Beijing to Lhasa Express, China
From Beijing to Lhasa
Duration – 40 hours
Distance – 3,750 km
Pass by dreamy monasteries and the architectural wonders, en route this train journey from Beijing to Lhasa. The Z21 transfers its passengers from the urban centers of China to the remotest parts of the land. On its westward end, it will take you atop the Tibetan plateau. Glide past grazing yaks, and snow-capped mountains in all their entirety. Talk to fellow passengers while slurping on some hot Chinese noodles.
Learn more about the Beijing-Lhasa train route here.
Tazara Railway, Tanzania and Zambia
From Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi
Duration – 46 hours
Distance – 1,860 km
Travel from Tanzania’s port city to Zambia. Now, this is your big chance to spot the predators of Tanzania. It’s the ultimate in the scenery and a very fine wilderness experience. Spend two days, catching the sights and sounds. The Tazara station is reminiscent of modernist architecture. The journey is pretty slow and a bit bumpy. Pass by the villages and gorge on bananas, avocados, and other fruits. The slow speed gives time to introspect. You will find something new at every turn.
Oslo-Bergen Railway, Norway
From Oslo to Bergen
Duration – 6.5 hours
Distance – 496 km
The journey between the capital city and the second biggest, on the west transcends through the remotest and cold Hardangervidda. The rocks which intersperse the region are difficult to build on. So, it is man’s genius that has made this feat possible. Start from a cosmopolitan city to the mountainous Bergen, while passing through stunning fjords and mountains. Finse is the highest station on the route at 1,222 m.
Northern Explorer, New Zealand
From Wellington to Auckland
Duration – 11 hours
Distance – 681 km
Take this impressive ride from one tip of New Zealand to the other. Start from the capital, filled with drama and some of the best cosmopolitan features that include bars, clubs, and cafes. Pass through the ski season town of Ohakune, on the way. Explore the azure lakes of the National park en-route. Step off the train at Otorohanga, to explore the Waitomo caves. Choose to disembark at Hamilton, to enjoy hot air ballooning. The stop at Auckland is a stunning coastline with the iconic Sky Tower. Swamps, deserts, ravines, and volcanoes are a part of this astounding trip.
You can also read our New Zealand travel guide here.
Copper Canyon Railway, Mexico
From Chihuahua to Las Mochis
Duration – 15 hours
Distance – 655 km
Take the famous train ride on Mexico’s west coast that cuts through arid deserts. The train ‘El Chepe’ negotiates as many as 87 tunnels, 36 bridges and U-bends as it climbs from sea level to the top at 2,400 meters. Cross through the gorgeous gorge on Arizona’s Verde Canyon Railroad. Most travelers prefer to board the train at Las Mochis, and sit on the right for the best views. Visit the archaeological ruins at El Fuerte on the banks of the Rio Grande, before moving on to Bahuichivo, Batopilas, Divisadero, and Creel. Disembark at Basaseachi National Park or the Copper Canyon Adventure park with a guide in tow.
Here is our detailed travel guide for Mexico.
The Palace On Wheels, India
From Delhi to Rajasthan and back to Delhi
Duration – One week
Distance – 2,411 km
It is the first and only luxury railway journey in India. The Palace on Wheels starts from Delhi, covers Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Agra, and culminates back in Delhi. There are plenty of other smaller stations offering nature’s bounty in between. See the Taj Mahal, many forts along the way, the Hawa Mahal of Jaipur, the lake palace of Udaipur, the Thar desert of Jaisalmer, and visit many exotic markets to buy memorabilia. Bharatpur has India’s biggest bird sanctuary.
With such breathtaking railway journeys, you certainly have to board a train for your next trip when you are seeking vacation ideas. It can be a lifetime experience. Of course, there are many other stunning railway journeys as well that you may consider.