When most people think of traveling, they think of getting on a plane and venturing off to far-away destinations. Air travel has indeed become one of the most common methods of travel due to its relatively low cost and travel time compared to other methods of transportation. After all, many of us have such limited time to travel—doesn’t it make sense, therefore, to use the fastest option possible to get from Point A to Point B?
However, that has an assumption behind it. Reaching from Point A to Point B through the quickest possible means and spending time at Point B is the goal. That is often the case, but not always. To use air travel as one’s sole form of travel is quite limiting.
Trains help you capture the heart and soul of a country or a region in a way air and car travel cannot.
This is an ode to train travel and describes experiences that can’t be replicated with any other mode of travel. Some of the best memories we have of travel involve a train trip. When traveling by train, the journey and the destination become one and the same.
Here are our best finds:
1. Rocky Mountaineer, Western Canada and United States
Destinations on the Rocky Mountaineer include Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper, and Calgary, Canada. While sitting in one of the custom-built, glass dome coaches, you can enjoy some fine local wines and refreshing breezes. Some of the breathtaking sites you can experience include the White Rock, Puget Sound, Black Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels, and Castle Mountain.
2. Belmond Royal Scotsman, Scotland
As the name suggests, a journey on this train is a regal experience! This tiny train can accommodate up to 40 passengers, allowing for an intimate getaway with unparalleled service. The observation car, which is filled with comfortable sofas and armchairs and has an open-air veranda, offers you views of mountains, castles, lochs, villages, and glens. The country-house style of the luxurious private cabins makes them feel like a home away from home.
3. Glacier Express, Switzerland
Nicknamed “the world’s slowest express train,” a journey on the Glacier Express takes up to 7 hours. Destinations on this route include Andermatt, Brig, Zermatt, Chur, and St. Moritz. Along the way, you travel through snow-capped gorges, lush valleys, 91 tunnels, and 291 bridges. You can enjoy picturesque views of the Alps and the country’s beautiful scenery through the train’s huge panoramic windows.
4. Maharajas’ Express, India
Deemed “The World’s Leading Luxury Train,” the Maharajas’ Express offers a majestic and extravagant journey through India. Destinations include Delhi, Bombay, Ajanta, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Banaras, Lucknow, Balasinor, and Osiyan. You can enjoy the cave paintings of Ajanta, visit the Taj Mahal, cruise the Ganges River, explore Ranthambore National Park, and take in the beauty of India’s many gems. All cabins have large windows, LCD TVs, WiFi, and full en-suite bathrooms. The Presidential Suite—the largest train suite in the world—comprises one car. In the dining cars, you can enjoy multi-course Indian or Continental meals.
5. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia, Mongolia, and China
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take the 13-day, 5772-mile train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Immerse yourself in nature in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, stand on the line where Europe and Asia meet just outside Yekaterinburg, visit the business center of Siberia in Novosbrick, experience the center of intellectual and social life in Irkutsk, and witness the meeting of East and West in Ulan-Ude. If you’re not afraid of cold water, you might take a dip in Lake Baikal. And of course, you can’t forget to visit Beijing and Moscow—two of the greatest world capitals. A journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway is an incredible opportunity to see three of the world’s largest countries in one sitting. The train itself offers the best of both the historical feel and modern conveniences.
6. Rovos Rail, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania
Highlights aboard the Rovos Rail include the historic village of Matjiesfontein, the diamond town of Kimberly, the safaris of Durban and Namibia, bush walks in Chisimba Falls, and the tunnels, switchbacks, and viaducts of the Great Rift Valley. You can also enjoy the luxury of Victoria Falls Hotel, play golf in many renowned venues throughout the region, and experience the region’s diverse wildlife. Savor the finest South African wines and gourmet meals in the Victorian atmosphere of the dining cars. To maintain the historical spirit, there are no TVs or radios on board and cell phones and laptops can only be used in the privacy of your suite.
7. Kyushu Seven Stars, Japan
The keen attention to detail, the punctuality, and the commitment to service aboard the Kyushu Seven Stars (or any Japanese train for that matter) are nearly unparalleled anywhere in the world. The Island of Kyushu is known as the gateway to Asia. Highlights on this journey include Sakurajima—one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, Hashima Island, Mt. Aso, and the Aoshima Shrine. You can buy beautiful porcelain and pottery Arita and bask in the hot springs of Oita. Features of the Seven Stars include intricate woodwork, live music, and a fusion of Japanese and Western elements.
8. TranzAlpine, New Zealand
Aboard the TranzAlpine, you can venture into the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Starting in Christchurch and ending in Greymouth, highlights on this journey include the Franz Josef Glacier, the Fox Glacier, the Canterbury Plains, Arthur’s Pass National Park, and the Waimakariri River. Aboard the train you can enjoy sumptuous views of the country’s beautiful and gorgeous scenery.
9. Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
Travel between Cusco and Machu Picchu aboard the Hiram Bingham, where you can sojourn through some of Peru’s most romantic scenery. The gleaming blue and gold cars provide authentic Peruvian brunches and dinners, dynamic Peruvian live music, lessons on how to make a Pisco Sour, and an observation deck from which you can enjoy colorful stalls, stone walkways, boutiques, and the Peruvian landscape.
10. Sunset Limited, United States
The Sunset Limited is a 48-hour journey between Los Angeles, California and New Orleans, Louisiana. The scenes from your favorite classic Western movies come to life aboard the Sunset Limited, where you’ll get to experience views of rugged deserts, California mountains, and the Mexican border. Along the way, you can visit Big Bend National Park in Alpine, Texas, Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona, or the spas and resorts of Scottsdale, Arizona. Between New Orleans and Houston, National Park Service guides from the Amistad National Recreation Area are onboard the train.
Have you done one of these or any other train journeys? Or is this something you want to try out? Whether you’re a seasoned, novice, or completely inexperienced train traveler, you’ll want learn more about it at Konversai—the world’s newest conversation platform that allows for one-on-one live video conversations between anyone anywhere about anything. Konversai’s mission is to democratize everyday knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and to make the world better—one person, one connection, and one conversation at a time. On Konversai’s platform, all of your experiences, no matter how grand or insignificant they might seem, have value and can impact the life of someone somewhere else in the world through the age-old means of a conversation. You even have the option of making money for sharing your knowledge and experiences about any topic you can think of—the only limit is your imagination.
Take the first step towards new discoveries, unchartered territories, and meaningful connections by joining Konversai!