We’ve been travelling by train since the 1800s, and while air travel in the 20th Century became the more glamorous way to see the world, there is still something alluring about railway travel. Trains operate a seemingly mundane routine daily around the world, but if you’re looking for something special when it comes to this type of travel, there are plenty of famous railways to choose from.
Here, we list five must-board railway journeys from across the world, giving you more fuel for your wanderlust whether you’re a train enthusiast or a first-timer seeking that new experience.
Tren a las Nubes – Argentina
Beginning in Salta, Argentina, and ending towards the Chilean border within in the Andes, this train journey has been dubbed the ‘Train to the Clouds’ because of the elevation which it reaches during the wind towards La Polvorilla viaduct and the border.
Originally designed by Richard Maury, an American engineer, this stretch of railway attracts tourists from across the globe due to the 13,800ft climb it makes in seven hours. This is made more impressive due to the lack of rack and pinion actuator for the climb into higher altitudes.
Hakone Tozan Mountain Railway – Japan
Understandably, the bullet trains in Japan are the big draw when it comes to rail travel, but the Hakone Tozan Railway is an overlooked gem of a journey. Weaving through the lush green mountain, the journey comes in two parts with a lower and upper route from Odawara to Hakone and Hakone to Gōra.
Why travel by bus when you can slowly ascend through the picturesque scenery? Once you reach Hakone you can even unwind in luxury onsen baths, geothermally-heated up in the mountains or take a funicular and a cable car up to Lake Ashi.
Venice Simplon Orient-Express – Europe
If you’ve ever been inspired by the art deco design of the Orient Express – from the famed Agatha Christie novels to the movie adaptations – then there is no experience better than the Venice Simplon route from London to Venice.
Taking you back to a time when people relaxed in dining cars instead of staring at their phones, you can indulge in a three-course meal during your journey surrounded by exquisite decor. There is a brief pit stop in Paris before arriving at the Venice Santa Lucia station, just to add that extra special touch to the journey.
Glacier Express – Switzerland
If you’re looking for the classic, picturesque railway journey, the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz is hard to beat. Mountain lakes, tunnels and bridges abound on this journey, rolling through the rocky, tree-covered mountains since 1930.
The operation of the railway line has changed hands over the years and at one time was restricted to the summer trips owing to the difficulty in making the journey, but since the 1980s this route has been one of the most popular railway routes in the world. Keep an eye out for the Oberlap Pass and the Landwasser Viaduct as you carve your way through the Swiss mountains.
Blue Train – South Africa
Another route renowned for the style in which you travel, the Blue Train in South Africa does more than it advertises. Inside this blue locomotive are luxury lounges and fine dining experiences, or you can take in the views from your luxury suite, all the way from Pretoria to Cape Town.
The route itself offers a glimpse of the mainland before arriving down by the ocean; a journey that has come as part of a number of extensions to the original route over the decades.
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