Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back in luxury, relax and enjoy the ever changing scenery and wildlife (instead of watching the road).
10 epic train adventures to inspire you:
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER - Banff to Vancouver
The Rocky Mountaineer, a 2 day, 3 night trip takes you through the beautiful Canadian Rockies, up over the Continental Divide and mountain passes, into gorgeous canyons and along the rushing rivers. The train travels between Vancouver and the wonderful resort town of Banff, with an overnight stay in Kamloops. I highly recommend adding a few days in Banff and/or Lake Louise to explore the stunning parks and surrounding area. If you are going on an Alaskan cruise, check departure dates - you can easily add this journey pre/post your cruise (assuming the dates line up).
GLACIER EXPRESS - Zermatt to St. Moritz
I have never heard a complaint about the scenery in Switzerland, and the Glacier Express offers plenty of it. The train runs from Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn, to the alpine town of St. Moritz, through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. The highest point of the journey at just over 6500 feet is on the section that includes the Oberalp Pass. The entire trip takes 8 hours, however you can choose to take only certain sections or combine sections with Gotthard Panoramic Express which is accessible from Zurich/Lucerne.
Rhine River cruises start/end in Basel, approximately 4 hours from Zermatt or St. Moritz, and an hour from Zurich. Both Zermatt and St. Moritz are accessible by train from Zurich where most people start or end their trip, making the Glacier Express an easy add on to a cruise itinerary.
THE ANDEAN EXPLORER - Cusco to Puno
Cusco is most famous as the starting point toa visit to Macchu Piccu, but it also offers another once in a lifetime adventure, the Andean Explorer, a luxury train ride between Cusco and Puno, which sits right on South America's largest lake, Lake Titicaca. The 10.5 hour journey takes you past beautiful scenery and quaint villages while enjoying live music on board by local performers. Consider adding a few days to your Machu Piccu itinerary.
TRANZALPINE - Christchurch to Greymouth
The Tranzalpine train adventure runs between Christchurch and Greymouth, on the south island of New Zealand. The trip offers amazing scenery, including the Canterbury Plains, snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, stunning views of the Waimakiriri River gorge and old mining towns before reaching Greymouth.
The route takes 4.5 hours each way, with a short stop at Arthur's Pass and an hour in Greymouth before it heads back to Christchurch. The train runs every day except Christmas.
The Tranzalpine is perfect for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the Southern Alps and are on a limited time schedule or for those who simply don't want to drive. Travelers can extend their stay with an overnight in Greymouth to experience the glaciers, wild rivers and Punakaiki pancake rocks on New Zealand's west coast. For those who want some activity they can get off at Arthur's Pass, get in a few hours of hiking and catch the train as it returns back to Christchurch.
This trip can be added as an easy day trip on itineraries that include a stay in Christchurch.
THE GHAN EXPEDITION - Adelaide to Darwin
The Ghan rail journey travels between Darwin in Australia's Northern Territories to Adelaide in South Australia. This is truly a unique, one of a kind experience that takes you to Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territories, Alice Spring in Australia's Outback and Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world in South Australia. What makes this train trip exceptional are the included excursions (i.e. a gourmet lunch in the caves of Coober Pedy) and optional upgrades (i.e. an intimate fixed wing flight over Uluru). As the Ghan Expedition advertises, it promises to be an adventure of a lifetime. This 4 day, 3 night trip is a wonderful add on to an itinerary that includes Adelaide and Darwin. If time allows, instead of flying, experience Australia's interior with a relaxing yet action packed train trip. This journey is a perfect addition to a cruise.
Fun fact: The Ghan is a shortened name of the original name, "The Afghan Express", which honors the Afghan cameleers who came to Australia in the late 1800's to help find a way to explore Australia's interior. There are some other stories on the name's origin, but this seems to be the prevailing one.
THE ROYAL SCOTSMAN - Edinburgh Waverley roundtrip
One of the world's most luxurious trains, 10 intricately designed, mahogany clad carriages have you traveling in elegance, and as stated on their website, this journey is an awe-inspiring way to delve into the soul of the Scottish Highlands.
Depending on the journey you choose, you have a choice of amazing excursions, exploring castles, gardens and private estates, guided walks, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, spotting wildlife and more.
Photo credit: Belmond
SIMPLON ORIENT EXPRESS - Venice to London or Paris
This overnight train route has you rekindling the romance of the rails and escaping into a world of glamour, taking you across Europe in some of the most storied carriages in the world. Travel between Venice/Verona and London or Venice/Verona and Paris, enjoying a sumptuous dinner, a delightful breakfast and lunch as you soak in the incredible Italian mountain scenes and countryside. Before retiring in the evening to your private cabin, enjoy time with fellow passengers while listening to the resident pianist. Truly a grand voyage of a lifetime.
THE BALKAN EXPLORER - Venice to Istanbul
This private train experience has you visiting alpine lake towns, historic and iconic Eastern Europe cities including Ljubljana, Dubrovnik and Belgrade, ending in the fabled city of Istanbul. An ultimate European rail experience, travel in luxury while enjoying included guided tours, 5 star accommodations and excellent dining.
TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS - Moscow to Vladivostok
The Trans Siberian Express is truly another one of the world's greatest rail journeys and the longest single train itinerary, crossing a quarter of the earth in one trip. Enjoy this luxury private train across Russia, going through the Ural Mountains and alongside the world's largest fresh water lake, Lake Baikal.
Photo credit: AmaWaterways
ROVOS RAIL - Africa
Considered one of the or the most luxurious trains in the world, bespoke journeys on Rovos have you exploring Africa between 2 and 15 days in vintage wood paneled coaches. Itineraries include Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria in South Africa, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania as well as options in Angola and Namibia. A perfect combination with a classic safari or Chobe River cruise.
To learn more about trip options,
call 602.540.7338 or email email@example.com.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder