15 of the Most Luxurious Train Rides Around the World
Take a step back in time and enjoy train travel the way it was meant to be on these once-in-a-lifetime journeys.
The Rocky Mountaineer
The Gold Leaf Service on this Canadian excursion has earned a lot of bragging right in the luxury train travel world. Most notably are the breathtaking panoramic views from your seat thanks to a glass-dome bi-level coach that brings the outside in along with gourmet meals. There are four routes to take: A favorite is the Coastal Package, which provides unparalleled Pacific Ocean views from Seattle to Vancouver before traveling through the Canadian Rockies. One to 14-night packages are available. Before you go, find out the secrets your train conductor won’t tell you.
The Belmond Andean Explorer
Billed as South America’s first luxury sleeper train, but also one of the most adventurous following the highest rail lines in the world, Peru’s Belmond Andean Explorer deserves a spot on your bucket list. You can take a one- or two-night journey to experience the region’s highlights from Cusco to Arequipa, with phenomenal views of Inca ruins. Each of the 24 cabins is decorated with handwoven fabrics and alpaca-style textures. Also, on a practical note, each cabin has its own bathroom, shower, and built-in oxygen tanks and masks should the altitude start to get to you. There’s even an onboard spa! If this sounds a bit too expensive for your budget, these 11 bucket-list destinations won’t break the bank.
Seven Stars in Kyushu
Considered one of Japan’s most luxurious trains, this boutique-like service features a mere seven carriages and 14 suites that can accommodate 14 guests at the most. The significance of the train name, Seven Stars, is a representation of the seven most important aspects of a visit to Kyushu: hot springs, nature, power spots, history and culture, food, the friendliness of its people, and its train system. Choose from a one-night jaunt or a four-day journey that does a loop of the island in southern Japan. Expect elegant interiors with shoji paper screens, walnut floors, and sliding glass doors etched with flowers and birds—really putting the luxury in luxury train travel.
The Maharajas’ Express
There’s not a more luxurious way to take in the Taj Mahal than on Maharajas’ Express. Each of the 14 guest carriages, which can accommodate up to 88 guests, are named after the legendary jewels of the various Maharajas, with options including the Presidential Suite, Suite, Junior Suite, and Deluxe Cabin. The Presidential Suite spans an entire carriage, while all cabins and suites feature large panoramic windows. There are seven journeys throughout India to choose from, including one of their newest, The Southern Jewels, which takes you through Trivandrum, Chettinad, Thanjavur, Mahabalipuram, Mysore, Hampi, Goa, Ratnagiri, and Mumbai. The four- or the eight-night journey will feel like a dream in the cabins thoughtfully designed in classic Indian style. Want to stay stateside? These are the best train rides to take across America.
This safari train serves destinations across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Tanzania. The most popular route is the two-night trip between Cape Town and Pretoria. Expect sensational scenery—the train never goes more than 37 mph, so passengers can take clear photos of the landscape and wildlife, even using the provided goggles to avoid dust.
Luxury train rides and the Orient Express are virtually synonymous. Meant to take you back to the Golden Age of travel, the interior of the cars is meticulously designed with antique fixtures, polished wood, and plush upholstery to ooze glamour and elegance in 1920s-style Art Deco. The luxury carriages run from London to Paris, Venice, and Istanbul, with luxuries including a resident pianist, and a bar car where the champagne always flows. Meanwhile, the three new Grand Suites take opulence to a whole new level and so does these extravagant hotel amenities from around the world.
If spanning eight time zones on a train is what it takes to fulfill your wanderlust, hop aboard the Golden Eagle. This luxury version of the Trans-Siberian has everything you need to make it from Moscow to Vladivostok, including en-suite cabins, fine dining, a personal cabin attendant, a resident pianist, and state-of-the-art amenities.
In operation since 1929, The Ghan continues to serve as one of the most sought-after luxury train travel expeditions in the world. The four-day, three-night journey traverses Australia from north to south, beginning in Darwin and ending in Adelaide. The trip has a comprehensive itinerary, from experiencing the real Australian Outback and the inner workings of life on a cattle station, to venturing into the tunnels and caves of the underground town of Manguri.
The Canadian takes you on a three-day, four-night escape from the city life in Toronto through prairie fields, rugged lake country and quaint towns, then the snowy peaks of the Rockies, all before pulling to a stop in Vancouver. Choose the Panorama Car, for seating with panoramic dome windows and breathtaking views, or if you want the roomiest of rooms, rest your head in Prestige, the train’s first-class option. And if a four-night trip isn’t enough to tickle your train fancy, you could also buy a ticket for the longest train ride in the world.
El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo
The five-star hotel on rails celebrates the best of Spanish culture, gastronomy, and landscape on eight-day excursions from Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastián. Enjoy onboard music and live performances, parties in the pub car, cooking demonstrations, dancing, and more. There are also plenty of off-board excursions including the Lakes and Sanctuary of Covadonga. As for service, well, the crew will gladly unpack and repack your suitcase for you, which says it all.
Belmond Grand Hibernian
Ireland is beaming with fairy tale lands, and a trip on the Belmond Grand Hibernian will make them seem even more fantastical. The luxury train travel service is an Irish dream all on its own, featuring Georgian architecture in its sleeper carriages and a classic saloon with live musicians and animated storytelling in the Observation Car. Trips range from two to six days and explore the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with stops at Jameson’s whiskey distillery and Belfast’s Titanic museum. If this train ride sounds luxurious, don’t miss the most extravagant Airbnb listing in your very own state.
Eastern & Oriental Express
You can choose from 19 journeys on the Eastern & Oriental Express, all of which whisk you off your feet and take you on an enchanting trip between Singapore and Bangkok. The two-night and three-night itineraries include a cruise on the River Kwai, while the six-day Fables of the Peninsula trip explores Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Three-course lunches, four-course dinners, afternoon tea, and glamour galore make the train a showstopper. Looking for a budget train ride that’s just as stunning? This breathtaking cross-country train ride is just $213.
This luxurious adventure on the Blue Train is a 27-hour journey that crosses South Africa diagonally, taking you from Pretoria to Cape Town. Take in the ever-changing vistas of the countryside as you relish in your De Luxe Suite, that shifts from a swanky lounge in the day to a cozy bedroom at night. Your own AC system, goose-down bedding, under-floor heating, and a marble and gold-fitted bathroom make for the most opulent of digs during luxury train travel. With past passengers including Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Mia Farrow, Margaret Thatcher, and Kylie Minogue, you know it’s worth every penny.
The Presidential Train
Portugal’s Presidential Train dates back to 1890, when it operated as the Royal Train for King Dom Luis I. Now, it serves as his love letter to Portugal, with full-day journeys through the Douro Valley. The excursion is a gastronomical event for enthusiasts of luxury train travel, with Portuguese food indulgences to the brim, and the wine constantly flowing. Each weekend, a different Michelin-caliber chef is brought on to please your palate, while a stop at a winery ensures there’s plenty of vino to wash it all down.
Belmond British Pullman
Glamour takes on a new meaning on the Belmond British Pullman, which has been delightfully restored to mimic the golden age of train travel in the 1920s. Starting from and returning to London, the various journeys take you to some of the best of Great Britain, while you enjoy a classic afternoon tea or a relaxing glass of bubbly. Try the Golden Age of Travel itinerary, which includes a fine dining experience in beautiful vintage carriages. But the luxury doesn’t need to end there, you could also check into one of these luxurious hotels and resorts.