See the world on one of these amazing train routes

One of the best ways to travel when exploring the world is via rail. It can be cheaper than flights, and even though trains may take a little longer, there are some incredible views that can be seen along the way.

Every country has its own unique beauty and the best way to see this is through rail. You can take in stunning mountain landscapes, dusty deserts or sparkling views of the ocean, all from the comfort of your train window seat. So, instead of booking that next flight, why not have a look at getting from A to B by rail instead.

Glacier Express, Switzerland

Train in Filisur, Switzerland
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Guitar photographer

The Glacier Express is one of the most famous scenic train routes in the world. The route takes eight hours and travels through Switzerland, giving you breathtaking views of the Alps. Highlights of the route include traveling through St Moriz, the most elegant resort in Switzerland, views of the Matterhorn, and passing through the Rhine Gorge. The train even has glass ceilings, so you have a 360 view of Switzerland.

It’s important to keep in mind that you must reserve a seat and that you can’t bring dogs on board with you.

Rocky Mountaineer (Rockies to the Red Rocks), US

Railroad tracks in Moab.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Michael A. Damanski

This train route lasts six days, so you can make a full vacation out of it. The route starts off in Moab, then heads to Glenwood Springs and then to Denver. Don’t be put off by thinking you’ll be stuck on a train for six days, it will stop off in all three destinations, giving you the chance to explore.

Breathtaking views you’ll be able to see along the way include the Ruby Canyon, Garfield, and the continental divide. Rocky Mountaineer also has created special package deals that include your meals, accommodation and any optional add-ons that you may want to include.

The VIA Rail Canadian train, Canada

Train in Canada.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / grizzles

You can travel from the Rockies to the west coast on this train and see some incredible views along the way. There will be plenty for you to keep an eye out for on this trip, whether that’s wildlife in its natural habitat or glacier lakes.

You can choose how long you would like to travel for, whether its six or eight days and you’ll be able to visit some beautiful Canadian destinations on your journey. Popular stop offs include Vancouver, Jasper and Banff. The trains run from April to October, so you won’t have to endure the harsh temperatures of the Canadian winter.

The Ghan, Australia

Train tracks in Australia
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Chris McDougall

Travel from the top of Australia all the way down to the bottom with the Ghan train. You’ll start in Darwin and over four nights, travel down to Adelaide. It’s a unique journey that allows you to explore the Australian outback and all from the comfort of a train carriage.

Stops include Katherine, Alice Springs, Manguri, and Adelaide. You’ll be able to experience eating under the stars at the Telegraph station and explore the natural wonders of Nitmiluk Gorge. The train journey is all inclusive, so all your meals are paid for and there’s even the option to upgrade so that you have your own cabin.

Pacific Surfliner, California, US

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / JWCohen

Explore 350 miles of SoCal on the Pacific Surfliner. The train will pick you up in San Luis Obispo and take you all the way down to San Diego. There are 13 daily trips between San Diego and Los Angeles and five between Santa Barbara and San Diego, making it easy to fit into the schedule of your Californian traveling.

As the journey is only 5 hours and 45 minutes, you won’t have to worry about sleeping overnight and can even use the train to connect you to other destinations in California. There’s a cafe on board to ensure you don’t go hungry, so you can just sit back and enjoy the scenic views of the Pacific Ocean.

TranzAlpine Train, New Zealand

KiwiRail TranzAlpine train.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Piu_Piu

The TranzAlpine train will take you from Christchurch to Greymouth in just a day. It’ll cover 223km of New Zealand in just five hours. You’ll be able to experience first-hand views of the Southern Alps as the train ascends into the mountains. Along with this, you’ll also travel through the Canterbury plains and the valleys of Otira and Jackson.

Onboard experiences include the Scenic Cafe to keep your stomachs full with locally sourced foods and an open air carriage, so you can experience the beautiful scenes of New Zealand in full.

California Zephyr, US

Scene from the Amtrak California Zephyr train.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / TJ Brown

The California Zephyr travels all the way from San Fransico to Chicago. It lasts 51 hours and takes you across the country, through seven states. You’ll climb the Rocky Mountains, head through Nebraska’s plains, and then chug through Byers and Glenwood Canyons, ending your journey in Illinois.

There’s also plenty of dining options, whether you fancy a three course meal or an informal cafe service, the California Zephyr will have everything you need to enjoy a comfortable service. If you want to upgrade, then there’s also the option for a private room.

The Costal Classic, Alaska Railroad, US

GoldStar Dome on Alaska Railroad
Image Credit: Shutterstock / EWY Media

The Coastal Classic takes you through the beautiful coastline of Alaska and all the way up to Fairbanks. Scenes along the way include stunning glaciers and waterfalls. The Coatal Classic is considered to be in the top ten train journeys of North America thanks to its breathtaking views of Alaska. The train will wind through the Turnagain Arm and then take you through to the backcountry.

You can opt for a round trip ticket, so you don’t have to worry about how to get back to Anchorage. There are also dining options onboard and the chance for you to upgrade to Gold Star, where you’ll have 360-degree view thanks to the glass ceiling.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia

Kuranda Scenic Railway in Australia.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / FiledIMAGE

The Kuranda railway starts in Kuranda, then stops at the Freshwater railways station and ends in Cairns. You’ll be able to experience views of the Baron Falls, the Stoney Creek Falls and Australia’s famous jungle. Kuranda is even known as the “village in the rainforest” and has many attractions such as the Koala Gardens and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.

The train has three classes for you to choose from which are the heritage class, the gold class and the royal class, so whatever your budget, you’ll be able to experience the incredible views of the Australian jungle.

Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

Train on Nine arch bridge in Sri Lanka
Image Credit: Shutterstock / SurangaLK

Traveling from Kandy to Ella will give you some beautiful views of the Sri Lankan landscapes. After being on the journey for just an hour you’ll come across the tea country, as Sri Lanka changes from jungle to plains.

You can start the journey off in Colombo, but the views won’t start until you leave Kandy. The train journey takes around seven hours, give or take, so you can make a day of it. There are three trains a day for you to choose from, however you should expect it to busy, so try and reserve a seat.


Red train in Switzerland
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Maria_Usp

If you want to experience a new way of traveling or taking a vacation, then a train journey is certainly one to give a go. You can view so many landmarks in as little as a few hours, creating a whole new experience. Scenic train journeys give you a sense of adventure that you may not get with flying, and they don’t mean that you can’t travel in luxury. With many offering upgrades and all-inclusive meals, it’s easy to see why they’ve become so popular.

Tara Rance

Author: Tara Rance


Tara Rance is a freelance writer from the UK. She graduated university after studying media and journalism, and is an avid traveller with the ambition to visit as many countries as possible.

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