These aren’t your ordinary rail rides – the routes weave through otherwise inaccessible terrain, revealing spellbinding scenery and ancient wonders. It doesn’t hurt that some epic eats and treats are served along the way. Add these four epic train rides to your travel bucket list and climb aboard for an unforgettable adventure.
The Rocky Mountaineer – Canada
There’s no better way to experience Western Canada than by riding the Rocky Mountaineer. This luxury train ride runs along the historic Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways – two routes celebrated for connecting Canada’s East and West in the 1880s and early 1900s. Cutting through the Canadian Rockies, the journey weaves across majestic and otherwise inaccessible terrains that are best appreciated from the train’s glass-domed coaches, leading National Geographic to declare it one of the “World’s Greatest Trips.” For several days, the rail cars glide by glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, and turquoise waters, as well as rare wildlife like grizzlies, bighorn sheep, eagles, and (according to some passengers) Sasquatch (!).
Absorbing the wondrous natural sights on the Rocky Mountaineer isn’t the only highlight of this rail trip: there’s also the view of haute cuisine served on your plate. Prepared by Executive Chef Jean Pierre Guerin, each day brings two gourmet meals – along with wine, cheese, and tasty snacks in between – all made with fresh, local ingredients sourced from British Columbia and Alberta.
The Glacier Express – Switzerland
Dubbed the world’s “slowest express train,” the Glacier Express showcases some of the most spectacular scenery in Switzerland’s Alps. Spanning from St. Moritz to Zermatt, the route crosses 91 tunnels and 291 bridges in eight hours, unveiling quaint alpine hamlets, deep ravines and rugged rock faces, flowering meadows, and snowy glaciers from the panoramic glass windows. But the highlight of the trip for many passengers? Gazing at the mighty Matterhorn in Zermatt – its 4,478 meter pyramidal peak twisting upwards like a church steeple. You can be guaranteed that no filter will be required for your Instagram shots.
You can do the whole journey in one she-bang, or break up the journey with stopovers. Best of all, Eurail Passes that include Switzerland are valid on the entire route, but book a seat reservation to avoid disappointment.
The Ghan – Australia
Early European settlers trekked on foot across Australia’s harsh outback – but that doesn’t mean you have to follow in their footsteps. Instead, luxuriate on The Ghan, a lavish train ride that spans four days and 1851 miles from Adelaide to Darwin. Once aboard, guests stay in spacious private cabins with ensuite bathrooms, or for a more affordable option, reserve a reclining seat in a communal lounge. Along the way, the kitchen unleashes a parade of mouth-watering Aussie delicacies, like saltwater barramundi and grilled kangaroo fillet, as well as a fine selection of Australian beers and wines.
Of course, there’s no need to stay seated during the entire ride. A slew of off-train excursions are offered throughout the journey: everything from helicopter flights over the desert to viewing ancient Indigenous rock art to a leisurely cruise to Nitmiluk Gorge, one of Australia’s most epic natural wonders. Back on board, kick back and relax, as the rugged countryside glides by your window, but always keep your camera handy. Afterall, you never know when wild camels and kangaroos may make a cameo appearance. It’s an incredible way to experience Oz’s “red center” without getting any blisters on your feet!
Belmond Andean Explorer (Peru)
What better way to traverse the Peruvian Andes than by riding the rails in style? Carrying up to 48 passengers, the Belmond Andean Explorer is South America’s first luxury sleeper train, running along one of the highest train routes in the world. The trip is utterly exhilarating: the elegant cars offer vast, uninterrupted views of snow-capped mountains, majestic lakes, and herds of grazing llamas. During stopovers, guests embark on private tours of Peru’s natural wonders, such as exploring the floating islands on Lake Titicaca or lounging on a private beach with glacial views of La Paz, Bolivia.
At twilight, retreat to the outdoor terrace for a pisco sour and live Latin music, while the train’s Executive Chef prepares a gourmet meal full of ingredients sourced from the Peruvian Andes. It may be a hotel on wheels, but there’s certainly no scrimping on comfort: each sleeper is accented with opulence (including a real bed) and rumor has that there’s even a spa car (!) on board.
Are you ready for one of these epic train rides around the World? Use our search engine below now to find flights to the start of each destination.