Traveling by train has its own charm. The train journeys are for traveling from one place to another but some of them give us a great experience. I like to take train trips for the experience even if there are other modes of transports. My best train journeys in India are the ones I took in mountain railways of India from Kalka to Shimla train and from Ooty to Mettupalayam in toy trains. Like me, most of the traveler at some point in time have taken their best train journeys in some part of the world or wish to take. There are many places to take best train trips in the world.
I have compiled a list of best train trips in the world with the help of travelers from across the globe.
Some of the best train journeys in the world
Nilgiri mountain railways from Ooty to Mettupalayam, India
Traveling by a toy train has its own charm. Nilgiri mountain railways have the steepest track in Asia with a gradient of 8.5%. Due to this “Abt” rack system is used in large part of the track and its speed varies between 15 to 40 Km per hour. Like other mountain railways of India, this also runs on a narrow-gauge track. The train on this track is running since 1899 and it’s one of the oldest routes in India.
This is one of the best train trips in India with a scenic train ride. The view changes every few minutes from lush green paddy fields to the dense forest, mountains, deep valleys, tea plantations and small villages along the track. There are several big and small tunnels on the way with some interesting bridges on deep valleys. The train takes several narrow turns and you can see the whole train while it’s on move. Nilgiri mountain railways are part of India’s UNESCO world heritage sites.
The trains still using old handmade coaches with beautiful wood carvings on its panels. These trains are small and there is a limited number of seats on each train. The train tickets can be booked on IRCTC’s website in advance. The train has an Ist class, where you get more space while in 2nd class you get lesser space. There is a general class also for which tickets are sold 1 hour before the departure of the train. It is better to book tickets in Ist class which is not expensive.
Traveling in the Nilgiri mountain railway is one of the must-have experience in India.
Erika van ‘t Veld from Erika’s Travelventures shares her experience of Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
In Switzerland, it’s not too hard to find a scenic train ride. Almost every time you get on a train between cities and towns there you’re bound to be impressed with the views!
The Interlaken area of Switzerland has especially beautiful scenery because it is home to big beautiful lakes, massive mountains, and famous mountain towns like Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. One majestic train ride here runs between Kleine Scheidegg and Lauterbrunnen.
Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass and railway station near Jungfraujoch mountain, ‘the roof of Europe’, and is also the start of the Eiger Trail, a UNESCO world heritage trail. For the adventurous (and those with some spare cash), it’s possible to take a train from Kleine Scheidegg to the top of Jungfrau mountain. This will set you back 152 Swiss francs or USD 153 for the round-trip during the peak summer season, but gets you to one of the highest points of Europe reachable by train!
The train ride between Kleine Scheidegg and Lauterbrunnen is worth experiencing as well however and costs 61 Swiss francs (USD 61.50) round-trip. This fabulous train ride has beautiful views of Jungfraujoch mountain. Below the blue mountain are vast green fields dotted with wooden cottages, herds of cows, and wildflowers. Closer to Lauterbrunnen, you’ll get views of the Lauterbrunnen valley, famous for its waterfalls and steep mountain cliffs. This is one train that you don’t want to miss getting a window seat for!
Tip: If you trek up to Kleine Scheidegg via the Eiger trail from Grindelwald, you only need to pay 30.80 Swiss Francs (USD 31) to take the train one-way from Kleine Scheidegg down to Lauterbrunnen.
Ellis from Backpack Adventures shares her experience of Belgrade to Bar train
The Belgrade to Bar train is often called the most beautiful train journey in Europe. That in itself is reason enough to take this train. However, this train is also interesting for historical reasons. The Belgrade to Bar railway connection was a project of Tito’s Yugoslavia.
The rail has seen many historical changes. Unfortunately not without harm. Nowadays it runs through three different countries. The Serbian part was bombed by NATO in 1999 and the small section in Bosnia was blown up in the civil war in 1992.
However, the damage has been repaired and the Belgrade to Bar train remains the cheapest way to travel between Serbia and Montenegro. It starts in Belgrade. The dynamic capital of Serbia is a great city to explore before you board the train.
Once on the train, you leave the city behind you and the scenery gets increasingly beautiful. First the green hills and rural landscapes in Serbia where the train rolls past small villages and orthodox monasteries. Then the high and impressive mountains of Montenegro.
Montenegro means black mountain and this is the most spectacular part of the train journey. It can take more than 11 hours, but with views like these, time flies by. Once you reach Bar you have crossed more than 400 bridges and 200 tunnels. It is a trip you will not easily forget.
Corina Preda from Another Milestone shares her experience of traveling in Steam train in Maramures, Romania
Maramures is a region in the North of Romania known for its unspoiled nature and well-kept traditions. One of the most interesting activities you can do here is a trip with an old steam train called in Romanian “Mocanita”. Mocanita was used for decades to transport wood from the mountains.
Today Mocanita departs from Viseu de sus at 9 a.m. and takes its passengers on a 6-hour ride on Vaserului valley. During summer it is a very popular attraction, so you must book the tickets in advance from their official website.
A trip with Mocanita is like a trip back in time. Once you sit on the narrow bench inside the train it is time to leave all your worries behind. The train will take in a fairy tale land with amazing views and no phone signal. After one hour you will have a short break and after another hour you will stop at the endpoint. There, you will have a 2-hour break.
You can explore the wild area, have lunch (a barbeque is organized there), dance on traditional music, visit a small museum built for those that stop here, in the middle of nowhere, or just lay on the grass and listen to the relaxing sounds of the river.
It is a great moment to load your batteries with energy from nature. The ride back to civilization takes around 2 hours and as you get closer to the train station in Viseu de sus you feel sorry your trip has ended. A ride with Mocanita is an unforgettable experience!
Penny Fernandes from Globe Trove shares her experience of Ella to Kandy train, Sri Lanka
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When people ask me about my experience using the train across the world, I find it hard to narrow it down to just one experience. When it comes to scenic train journeys I have to say that one of my favorite experiences was in Sri Lanka.
While there are several different train routes across the country, we chose to travel between Ella and Kandy by train. This decision was largely because the train journey between Ella and Nuwara Eliya is often labeled to be the most gorgeous journeys in the world. The big bonus was that it fit in with our itinerary.
Trains in Sri Lanka are notorious for being crowded. I can attest that the fact is true. Getting a seat is a task but depending on how far you are traveling it isn’t a necessity. The journey between Ella and Nuwara Eliya isn’t too long and most of the tourists prefer to stand at the doors or perch on their bags. So what’s so scenic about a train route? It passes through some gorgeous valleys and tea plantations. Plus unlike many trains in the west, you can hang out of one though I do not recommend it!
Another iconic part of traveling through Sri Lanka by train is the snacks sold by numerous vendors. From fruits to fried delicacies, you will eventually find yourself tempted by their aromas. I know that we sure did.
Naomi from Probe around the Globe shares her experience of Bernina Express, Switzerland
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The Bernina Express is the name for one of the most scenic train trips in the world, you’ll ever experience. The train runs through the Bernina mountain range, from Tirano in Italy to Chur in Switzerland. Regular stops or side-tracks on the route are St. Moritz and Davos Switzerland.
On the Bernina Express, you’ll pass 55 tunnels, cross 196 bridges and the route has inclines of up to 70% per mill. The highest point is at 2,253 meters (7.392 ft.) above sea level. The stretch from Thusis – Valposchiavo – Tirano is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wow, those are some impressive numbers and during the trip, you’ll glide from one surprise to the next. We traveled on the Bernina Express train, the bright red signature train with panoramic windows and commentary on-board. We passed the famous circular viaduct near Brusio where the train gains altitude. Train stopped at the glacier of Alp Grün and found ourselves at alpine lakes, high in the mountains. Picture perfect Landwasser Viaduct was an exhilarating moment as you ride the train high on the famous viaduct.
The Bernina Express was an absolute dream come true for anyone who likes to ride scenic trains. You’ll see the best that Switzerland has to offer and what train engineering can do. The Bernina Express does come with a hefty price tag, but the panoramic train carriages are worth it. If you’re on a budget, you can also take the local trains that follow the same route. Same scenery, just a different price tag.
Alison Fay from Alisonfay shares her experience of West Somerset Railway, England
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The West Somerset Railway is a heritage steam train railway, that goes through the beautiful Somerset countryside and coastal areas including Exmoor National Park. Riding on one of these trains through Exmoor national park offers you both the chance to experience a steam train and view 20 miles of the beautiful Somerset countryside from the comfort of the train carriage.
I highly recommend buying one of the rover tickets, for 1 or 2 days, so you can hop on and off the trains at different stops to visit the towns and villages. This then combines the heritage train experience with seeing quaint little English towns, and villages and some beautiful coastal areas.
Besides the regular steam trains, they also offer experiences such as dining on The Quantock Belle or taking the Dunster Express. If you’re wanting to experience what it was like to ride on a steam train, or experience nostalgia then The Quantock Belle is worth riding on. You’ll get to enjoy some wine and a meal, while you travel through the beautiful Quantock Hills, past Watchet, and along the coast Blue Anchor at Minehead.
This journey is suitable for those with limited time in the area, as it allows you to get a taster of the Somerset countryside, and visit the traditional English Coastal town of Minehead. If onboard dining doesn’t interest you, but you enjoy history then the Dunster Express allows you to visit the historic Dunster Castle, which was once a medieval fort but now maintained as a manor house by the National Trust.
Rachelle Gordon from Adventure is never faraway shares her experience of the Pacific Surfliner to San Diego
Adventure is never faraway’s Instagram
I thoroughly enjoyed taking the train while I was living in Europe. I loved how often the trains ran and how they seemed to just crisscross the entire continent, connecting everyone and every city. With my rail pass, I felt like the world was my oyster and just waiting for me to explore. So when I moved back to the United States, you can imagine how much of a shocker it was for me to realize how sparse the train system is.
If you’re ever visiting Southern California, Disneyland, or Los Angeles proper, consider taking the Pacific Surfliner for a day trip to San Diego. The Pacific Surfliner is operated by Amtrak, and tickets can be managed by the Amtrak app on your phone. I opted to purchase a Business Class ticket for a little more money, but for a noticeable amount of perks: spacious seating, fewer crowds, free snacks and drinks, complimentary newspaper, extra luggage space, and like the rest of the train, free Wi-Fi.
The Pacific Surfliner is a train route that runs from San Luis Obispo down to San Diego, hugging the coast almost the entire way. This train route is good for families, solo travelers, and locals alike. I hopped on the Pacific Surfliner in Los Angeles, heading down to visit my best friend for the day.
Nothing was better than sitting back in a comfortable seat next to the window, watching the dolphins leaping out of the ocean as they play with the local surfers, the golden sunset illuminating the train carriage. This unique vantage point of the coast is one that you can only get on the Pacific Surfliner or a surfboard!”
Natasha Lequepeys from And Then I Met Yoko shares her experience of The Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
And then I met Yoko’s Instagram
There are only a handful of luxury sleeper trains in the world and The Belmond Andean Explorer, in Peru, is one of them. This train connects Cusco, the city hub of Machu Picchu, with the Southern city of Arequipa. It also stops halfway through the journey at Lake Titicaca.
It’s possible to purchase tickets for the entire journey or if you’re tight on time and budget you can do half of the itinerary. Regardless of the route, there are interesting stops along the way at Inca ruins, markets, and scenic vistas.
The train itself is filled with all the amenities you’d expect in a hotel including a massage room and spa. The dining car, where you’ll enjoy fine-dining, is decorated with a modern Peruvian aesthetic. The rooms are spacious with big windows, for watching the landscapes pass by. Arguably the best spot on the entire train is the rear open-air deck. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the views, with the wind blowing in your hair. Plus, it’s connected to the bar where friendly bartenders will serve you all the Pisco sours your heart desires.
In terms of views, you’ll be spoiled throughout the entire ride. The landscapes are breathtaking and diverse. They include villages, mountains, and lush valleys.
Finally, the service is exactly what you’d expect from Belmond properties. The moment you check-in, you’re welcomed with warmth and kindness from the entire staff. They make sure to keep you informed so you won’t miss any of your meals or excursions.
I took this journey during my 2-week itinerary for Peru which includes this train ride and other beautiful cities.
Laura & Charlie from The Travelling Stomach share their experience of
Rovos Rail, South Africa
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When looking to traverse the breadth of the Southern Africa, what better way to do it than by boarding the luxurious Rovos Rail train and meandering from Pretoria down to Cape Town on one of their famous routes. Soak up the romance of the magnificent train, the delicious food, and impeccable service, as well as enjoying the various off-train excursions. Of course, admiring the stunning South African scenery you will see along the way.
Depending on your route, you’ll either board the luxurious Pride of Africa train at Cape Town, Durban or Rovos Rail’s private station in Pretoria. Upon arrival at the station, your seamless check-in process takes a matter of minutes as porters whisk your luggage away. After a glass of bubbles, you’ll be greeted by a member of the Vos family, founders of the company.
Rovos Rail routes vary from short 2 night trips to longer 15-day journeys spanning several African countries. Shorter routes include Cape Town to Pretoria, a Durban safari adventure including game drives within private reserves. The scenic journey up to Victoria Falls passing through the beautiful Hwange Park. On these journeys, guests sleep on board every night, with some of the daytime spent enjoying the views passing by. A few hours each day spent off the train exploring Southern Africa.
If you are a lover of any train journey, and especially if you’re a fan of luxury train travel, Rovos Rail has got to be on your bucket list to experience. As soon as you step aboard the Pride of Africa you will lose yourself in the whimsical world of yesteryear, indulging in the delicious food, sublime wines and impeccable service you will receive on board.
With various routes to enjoy guests come back to stay on Rovos time and time again, we can’t blame them, what better way is there to explore Africa than on Rovos Rail!?
Nancy Williams from Checking it off the list shares her experience of Coastal Classic on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward
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The Coastal Classic from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska is one of the most amazing experiences for anyone visiting Alaska. The trip will take you through forests of Turnagain Arm, glaciers and massive waterfalls of Kenai Peninsula with many opportunities for wildlife spotting before reaching Resurrection Bay in Seward. During my trip, we saw black bears, moose, Dall’s Sheep, and bald eagles!
During the trip, don’t stay in your seat. Walk between cars to check out the overhead dome view, feel the wind in your hair between cars and watch as the train enters one of the many tunnels along the route.
Adventure Class includes assigned seat with large windows, onboard dining and bar service available for purchase, and access to Vista Dome car. Additionally, Gold Star Service includes cars with glass dome ceilings, upper-level outdoor viewing platforms, inclusive dining, and two adult beverages.
Both Adventure Class and Gold Star have a narrated trip with slowdowns for wildlife or special viewing areas.
One-way pricing on the Adventure class during the summer is USD110 (adult) / USD55 (child), while Adventure Class is USD218 / USD128.
Like airlines, each person is allowed 2 pieces of luggage plus one carry-on.
After spending two weeks in Alaska glacier trekking, whale watching, bear watching, and more – riding the Coastal Classic was a favorite of all the activities during our visit.
One trip on the Coastal Classic and you’ll understand why National Geographic ranked it among their Top Ten Train Rides in North America!
While this is an exciting trip with lots to see, take time to soak in the views and the overall experience.
This is a small collection of best train journeys in the world. Please feel free to add more into this list.