23 August 2012 by Alex Stewart
Whether it’s the old world charm, the luxurious surroundings and service, or the incredible sense of place, rail travel remains one of the most sophisticated and sought after modes of transport around.
We’ve scoured every continent to come up with our pick of the world’s best rail holidays. Each is a masterclass in luxury and pampering, with varied itineraries and individual attention meaning the options for enjoyment are endless.
Cross the plains of Africa in style, discover the rich history and indulgence of the Maharajas in Rajasthan, the beauty of the Rockies in Canada, the deserts of Australia, and much more. Below are some examples of holidays the incorporate these train journeys.
Sleek, elegant and ultra-comfortable, the Blue Train cossets passengers in all the luxury and service of a 5-star hotel. Operating regular services between Pretoria and Cape Town, its southbound route stops at the historic town of Kimberley, famous for its massive diamond mine, the Big Hole, and its siege in the Second Boer War, while its northbound route visits the old colonial town of Matjiesfontein.
Rajasthan’s Palace on Wheels luxury train is India’s answer to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: modelled on the luxurious railway cars of old with richly decorated interiors and service-proud staff.
Travelling through the desert-edges of the former royal state of Rajasthan, usually at night to allow full days of sightseeing in magical cities such as Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, the journey is a lavish experience with luncheons arranged in former maharajas palaces and richly decorated elephants and entertainers regularly greeting the train’s arrival.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express conjures up images of 19th century splendour, of silent film stars and Agatha Christie. Much of the glamour and mystique still lingers, the white-gloved services as faultless as one could hope for from the world’s most famous train ride.
The train offers a network of routes across the continent but the 32-hour journey between London - Venice (and visa versa) remains the same.
Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, highlights of any visit to Peru, are linked by rail via Cusco along some of the world’s highest and most scenic tracks. Enjoy three days exploring fortresses, markets and valleys before riding the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu.Then take the Andean Explorer to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, a stunning 10-hour journey past grazing llamas and high Andean villages. It's an unforgettable part of any holiday toP
Enjoy the diverse beauty of Canada’s west aboard the famous Rocky Mountaineer. Consistently voted the ‘World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train’ and listed in the BBC’s ’50 things to do before you die’, a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer will uncover the stunning landscapes of Alberta, British Columbia and the majestic Canadian Rockies.
For more than a century, travellers have taken Trans-Siberian trains across the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, yet never in such luxury as they can aboard the Golden Eagle. The route itself is one of the world’s greatest, travelling 6,000 miles (one third of the way around the world) from Moscow, over the Urals, across the Russian steppes, along the shore of the world’s deepest lake, down into Mongolia and then east to Vladivostok.
Experience the uniqueness of South East Asia in the utmost comfort and luxury, on board the elegant and timeless Eastern & Oriental Express. Departing from Bangkok you will pass the famous River Kwai before heading into Malaysia, past colonial Georgetown and Fort Cornwallis, over the Straits of Johor before arriving into the vibrant heart of Singapore.
The Indian Pacific is named after the two oceans it connects on its cross-country journey between Perth and Sydney. Covering 4,352km, it is one of the world’s longest and most memorable train journeys.
Travelling East from Perth, the full journey takes four days and passes through Kalgoorlie on its crossing across the mighty Nullabor desert before arriving in Adelaide, ahead of a journey through some of Australia’s most productive farmlands and arrival in Sydney via the spectacular Blue Mountains.