What if I told you the journey to your destination could be just as enjoyable as the actual destination? It doesn't have to be a miserable process to just 'get through' to have fun. Getting from one destination to another can be fun and relaxing…if you travel by train.
Trains have been prevalent forms of public transportation in Europe and Asia for centuries and have been growing in popularity throughout the Americas over the last few decades. Train travel comes in many forms, from the underground systems in urban cities like New York and London to speeding bullet trains in Japan.
The most incredible way to travel, however, is on a scenic train ride. Scenic train rides take you through mountain tops and along the oceanside. They allow you to see some of the most beautiful landscapes from the comfort of your lounge chair.
Why should you take a scenic train ride?
No lengthy check-in process, and you don't need to worry about the size of your shampoo bottle.
Temperature-controlled cabins with decent space for luggage
Plenty of things to do. Read a book, nap, socialize, and even enjoy an authentic meal.
They are eco-friendly
There are countless incredibly scenic train routes around the world, but these are 5 of the most iconic. You need to check them out!
5 of the Most Iconic Scenic Train Routes Around the World
Imagine weaving your way sky-high through a winter wonderland made up of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and canyons. The Glacier Express is an eight hour ride through Switzerland. You'll glide through charming towns and breeze over 91 tunnels and 291 bridges, offering stunning views from all angles. The panoramic windows provide an up-close and personal experience unlike any other!
The Glacier Express offers power sockets in each seat, free wi-fi to every passenger, and access to a built-in infotainment system on your smartphone or tablet. Travelers can enjoy table service whether they are traveling 1st class or 2nd. You can choose from a variety of freshly prepared food and regional wines.
Noteworthy sights: The towns of Valais, Uri, and Graubunden. Natural wonders include Rhone Glacier, the Oberalp pass, the Landwasser Viaduct, and the Rhine Gorge (the Swiss Grand Canyon).
Affordability level: $$
2nd class starts at around $160.
Step back in time and experience luxury on the Venice Simplon, Orient - Express. It doesn't matter which route you choose; you are in for the experience of a lifetime. These trains were built in the 1920s and retained their luxurious art-deco design. Complete with fine fabrics, intricate details, glossy wood paneling, plush seating, and antique fixtures.
It is an all-inclusive journey with a four-course dinner, continental breakfast, a three-course brunch/lunch, steward service, complimentary connection (if necessary), and a suite for the night. Visit the dining cars to enjoy the seasonal menu designed by a first-class chef. Or head to one of the Parisian Champaign cars to enjoy a nightcap before retreating to your suite.
You'll journey from one iconic European city to another, and, along the way, catch glimpses of historical and legendary landmarks. Whether it's Paris to Verona or Venice to Paris via Amsterdam, you could see everything from charming canals in Venice and Amsterdam to the French Alps or Romeo and Juliet's Verona, Italy.
Affordability level: $$$
Prices start at $3500 -5000
Now we will move our way to one of North America's most beautiful train routes. This 51-hour train ride takes you through a large portion of the US. It moves through California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah, with stops allowing you to hop on or off at any point of the journey.
It's a long ride, but you will be traveling in comfort. From wide, reclining seats with ample legroom in coach to private rooms that span the car's width with space for 4 in the family room. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with various dining options when hungry.
Noteworthy sights: You'll see the flats of Nebraska, canyons in Colorado, and deserts in Utah. Enjoy panoramic views of the Rockies and Sierras.
Affordability level: $$
If you are going to travel the entire trip (Chicago, IL - San Francisco, CA), coach seats start around $150-300
We are calling all Harry Potter fans! The real-life Hogwarts Express is in-service! You heard me right. The infamous steam train that transports wizards is real, and you can ride it. For over 100 years, the Jacobite Steam train has been transporting people through the wild and diverse scenery on the British Isles.
On this 5-hour ride, you can enjoy comfortable seating around shared tables while you drink tea or coffee. OR, you can opt for a vintage private compartment carriage. They seat up to 6 and will make you feel like you are in the movies!
Noteworthy sights: Gorgeous views of the Scottish Highlands, including Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis, Fort William, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (from the famous steam-train scene in the Harry Potter franchise).
Prices start around $25
Sri Lanka Railways offers some of the most photographed train routes in the world. The Kady to Ella route will take you through rainforests and palm jungles. After 10 hours, you will arrive in a backpackers' paradise.
Sri Lanka Railways doesn't offer the most luxurious accommodation, but you can still have a good time. Along the ride, you'll get an authentic cultural experience with rustic cabins selling fresh fruit and snacks. We recommend booking at least a 2nd class ticket to enjoy the views properly.
Affordability level: $
Coach seats for the entire route start around $150-300. For a roomette with meals, water, and coffee
Coast Starlight, Los Angeles to Seattle
Hisatsu Line, Japan
Rocky Mountaineer in the American Southwest
Rocky Mountaineer in Canada
So, next time you go on vacation,
remember that the journey can be just as incredible as the destination. Travel in luxury on the Venice Simplon Orient - Express, see countless beautiful sights on the California Zephyr or step into another world on the Jacobite Steam Train. Whichever route you choose, you will have ample time to exchange your cultural heritage with others from around the world! You can learn words of a different language; learn about others' foods, customs, laws, and the way of life in their society. You'll find yourself transported on any of these train routes in more ways than one.
Which one are you inspired to ride? Let us know in the comments!