If ‘happiness is a journey and not a destination’, then travelling by train is the ideal way to explore. Discover scenic vistas and rugged terrain of a new country or reacquaint yourself with an old love, as the train slowly wends its way across the countryside. While travelling by train may not be as convenient as hopping on an airplane, it brings with it the romance of the past and of a bygone time. What riding the rail lacks in speed, it makes up for in the overall experience, from dining in a luxuriously appointed car to watching the landscape pass by outside.
Indeed, long-haul train travel has made a comeback in recent years and we bring you the best from the many contenders promising to pamper you through landscapes, remote and exotic.
Photo credits: Bernina Express
Bernina Express - Central Europe
If you’re unable to book a seat by the window give this one a miss until next time, for a window seat is a must. Travelling from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy, it’s all about taking in the Alpine landscape over four and a half hours through 55 tunnels and a whopping 196 bridges! This journey over viaducts and bridges takes you on an exhilarating ride across the Alps with breathtaking views, from the comfort of your beautifully designed carriage.
Photo credits: Blue Train
Blue Train - Pretoria to South Africa
With full-size baths in the luxury double suites and 24/7 butler service, the Blue Train's 27-hour journey is an ultra-luxurious journey bar none. Let your stress melt away in a sea of bubbles, with champagne glass in hand, as the Savannah rolls past. Join the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mia Farrow in this elite club and enjoy the mesmerising views of Kruger National Park.
Photo credits: Venice Simplon Orient Express
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express - London to Venice
No fan of Agatha Christie should miss this route, the setting for one of her most famous novels - ‘Murder on the Orient Express’! Passing through London, Paris, Innsbruck, Verona and Venice, take in the legendary cities from your vantage point in the Art Deco suites that recall an older, more stylish age.
Photo credits: The Ghan
The Ghan - Adelaide to Darwin
Soak in the red-earth antipodean bush while you enjoy chauffeured transfers, ample space, access to an exclusive dining carriage, breakfast in bed and five-course meals from the world’s best chefs. The menu highlights the continent’s local fare, like barramundi fish and grilled kangaroo fillet, with scheduled excursions offered to attractions like the Katherine and Alice Springs.
Photo credits: The Canadian
The Canadian - Toronto to Vancouver
The new Prestige class aboard, the train offers 13 swanky bedrooms with its own shower, a washroom and minibar - can’t think of anything more that would make this journey better. Take in the awe-inspiring Canadian terrain, and when night falls making wilderness invisible, in-carriage flat-screens will keep you entertained until it is time to sink into your double bed!
Photo credits: Maharajas' Express
Maharajas' Express - Delhi to Mumbai
With decor that emulates the golden days, when Maharajas travelled in opulent carriages and the indulgence of gin and tonic sundowners, live like a queen on this route. An enjoyable three-day journey made all the more memorable with elephant rides and a chance to chat with erstwhile royal families, this one is not to be missed!