In today’s world, taking a train is often seen as a quaint vestige of a more elegant, bygone era, but more people are discovering rail journeys as a trip in themselves.
Some rail journeys are luxurious and comfortable. Others offer incredible views of some breathtaking parts of the planet but may not be for everyone. Some are definitely for the brave, the strong, or the young. No matter what type of epic rail journey you decide to take, it’s really all about the journey much more than the destination. Here are five of the best.
Venice Simplon-Orient Express
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the world’s most famous luxury railway, and its Art Deco elegance is indeed a step into a more genteel world. The train’s gorgeous interiors, as well as the shining silverware and crystal and polished woodwork, all remind us that the trip is just as important as where we’re going. Classic trips are the one night London-Paris-Venice (and its reverse) and from Paris-Istanbul, a five night journey. There are also a variety of day trips available. Be prepared to dress for dinner at least semi-formally, and expect to experience world-class cuisine.
Rovos Rail of South Africa is billed as the Pride of Africa. Rovos offers a variety of trips, including Capetown, Victoria Falls, Durban Safari, Namibia Safari, and Dar Es Salam, a truly epic 15-day journey through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. No matter what trip you take, you’ll appreciate Rovos’ gorgeous train cars dating back to the 1960s and the Victorian surroundings of the two 42-seat dining cars. There are many trips available so check the website for excursion dates, available cabins and costs.
Seven Stars of Kyushu, Japan is another of the world’s most opulent rail travel experiences. Each of the 14 suite rooms is designed for one couple, and the entire train is designed to be a fusion of Japanese and Western design, combining old and new. The attention to detail is part of this train’s charm, as is its domain: Kyushu, the Japanese island nearest to the continental mainland. The island boasts Japan’s greatest number of authentic hot springs, so be sure to pack a swimsuit. Seven Stars is a ‘Cruise Train’, which means that it stops at various points to allow passengers to get out and explore local areas, a newer concept in rail travel.
Glacier Express, Switzerland is for those who want to see the vast panorama of the Alpine Mountains, including its sweeping rivers, snowy mountains, and ancient castles. In your 7.5 hour journey from St. Moritz, Chur, or Davos (in summer only) to Zermatt you’ll cross 291 bridges and go through 91 tunnels, and you’ll do it in style. The train has panoramic side windows and skylights and there’s a food service car, although staff does come down the aisle taking orders for drinks, snacks and lunch. You can also pre-order a full meal. As the Glacier Express is a real, scheduled Swiss train (even if many passengers are tourists), it runs frequently and is less expensive than some luxury rail journeys, but the scenery you’ll see is something you’ll never forget.
Tsars Gold Private Train, Trans-Siberian Express
Tsars Gold Private Train, Trans-Siberian Express, Moscow to Beijing. There are only a few travel dates yearly that take the full Moscow/Beijing (and reverse) trip. It’s a 15 night journey that spans Russia and Mongolia, and enters China, and can be taken in May, June, July, August, and September 2017, with one journey in each of those months. The exclusive Tsars Gold Private train is likely the most comfortable way to travel the Trans-Siberian route, but per the website, “it should not be considered as a luxury trip.” There is air conditioning, dress code is casual throughout the trip. There is a dining car and drinks are also sold by conductors in your carriage.
These are our Top 5 Rail Journeys currently on offer but the choices are really quite endless and there is a rail journey to suit almost everyone. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1800 819 888 to discuss your requirements.
Categories: Travel Advice