Ah, the train. It has long since had its heyday but when it comes to travel it still holds an air of romance that plane or coach travel simply cannot match and when it is good, it is far superior to almost any other competitor. Sure, other options may take you a fraction of the time to get to your destination, but when you can afford to be leisurely, seeing the rolling scenery pass you by can be truly amazing and here we look 11 of the most astonishing train journeys you can take.
1. Canada – Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage To The West
A gloriously scenic journey through Canada’s Britsh Columbia region, this journey takes you between Vancouver and Banff meaning that passengers get stunning views of natural wonders such as Fraser Canyon’s Hell’s Gate and steep tracks running alongside the Thompson River all without the hassle of hiking or the discomfort of being outdoors. Pass through the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky mountains before arriving in Banff and you;ll never be satisfied by another train ride again.
2. Switzerland – Glacier Express
The beautiful mountain resorts of Zermatt and St Moritz are connected via this train line that includes 291 bridges and 91 tunnels through the jaw-dropping alpine countryside as you slip through rural pastures and climb the breathtaking Swiss Alps. The Oberlap pass is the highest point of the journey at 6706 feet up and the sights you will see along the way include the famous Landwasser viaduct, which is 200 feet tall structure that drops from its impressive six arches into a tunnel cut straight into the mountainside.
3. New Zealand -TranzAlpine
New Zealand is a country renowned for its rich and diverse scenery that encompasses some of the greatest sights the world has to offer. The TranzAlpine rail route goes through the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island and covers a vast array of glorious moments including leaving from Christchurch and passing through the Canterbury Plains alongside the Waimakariri River as it rolls through snow-capped mountains of Arthur’s Pass National Park towards Greymouth, taking in sub-tropical rainforests along the way.
4. Scotland – West Highland Line
Scotland’s rugged Western coast offers an experience of the wilderness whilst chugging on by via train if you take the West Highland Line out from Glasgow. Starting off in the urban landscape of the country’s largest city it soon disperses into lush glens and out onto the Rannoch Moor all the while passing by placid lochs that Scotland is so famed for. What is perhaps most impressive is that the journey sees you flit past the towering Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, before arriving in Fort William. From here, you can then take the line Westward over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter films.
5. Australia – The Ghan
Cutting right through the center of Australia’s legendary and mysterious outback, the Ghan travels from Darwin to Adelaide and stops off in the desert town of Alice Springs and a boat tour of the Nitimiluk Gorge. A great way to see a rugged and perilous part of the world without having to endure any ruggedness or peril. The inimitable red rocks and stunningly endlessness of the red sands make for quite a sight to behold.
6. Russia – Trans-Siberian Railway
One of the world’s longest and best-known rail routes, traverses the entire width of Russian from its capital of Moscow in the West to Vladivostok in the East. At 5772 miles long, it is an eight-day journey that takes in the Ural mountains, the impressive 3227-foot-long bridge over the river Ob and Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
7. Norway – The Flåm Railway
The shortest of the journeys on this list, this line is the mere commuters distance of just an hour long but it is also hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful. Oe of the steepest train journeys in Europe, it rises 2831 feet from its starting point in the tiny village of Flåm into the mountaintop station of Myrdal passing through plummeting ravines filled with waterfalls and blankets of snow covering the hillsides.
8. South Africa – Rovos Rail’s Namibia Safari
Passing from South Africa to Namibia, this journey starts out in Pretoria before embarking on its 2000 mile journey into old mining towns and the stunning Northern Cape and the aptly named Fish River Canyon. Passing into Nambia it takes in the awe-inspiring Kalahari Desert, the namibian capital of Windhoek and then ends at the German Hansa town of Swakopmund which is on the gorgeous coastline of the country.
9. Peru – Belmond Hiram Bigham
Starting out from the ancient mountaintop capital of Cusco, this journey runs parallel to the winding Urubamba river through the sacred Valley of the Incas. Jungle scenery gives way to mountainsides full of rice and picturesque rural vistas before ending in the town of Aguas Caliente that sits in the shadow of the mountain fortress of Macchu Picchu, a UNESCO world heritage site.
10. Central Europe and Transylvania – Golden Eagle Danube Express
14 days is how long it takes this train to plow its way across Europe starting in the ancient capital of Turkey, Istanbul and ending in the auspicious and historic Czech capital of Prague. The eclectic and stunning cultures of the eight countries it passes through can all be seen in style as it whizzes from turkey into the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania,Romania, where the famed Bran castle of the Dracula myth is, before heading through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Poland on its way to the final stop in the Czech Republic.
11. Colorado, USA – Durango and Silvertown Narrow Gauge Railroad
For those looking for a taste of the wild West, this is the journey for you. A gorgeous steam locomotive will take you along the old gold and silver mining route that has been in continuous use since its completion in 1882. Passing through the mountain’s of Colorado and alongside the Animas river, glimpses of wildlife are not uncommon with black bears, deer and mountain lions often being sighted from the comfort of the carriages.