Spanning continents and weaving through diverse landscapes, Scenic Train Journeys offer travelers a unique window into the soul of a region. From the vast expanses of Siberia to the Alpine beauty of Switzerland, each journey promises more than just a destination; it gifts passengers moments of reflection, awe, and deep connection. As the wheels rhythmically clatter on the tracks and vistas unfold, we’re invited to savor a mode of travel that marries luxury, history, and the raw beauty of nature. Dive with us into the top 10 Scenic Train Journeys that not only redefine travel but also reignite our passion for exploration and discovery.
10- El Chepe, Mexico
Photo Credit: Luxury Trains
The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway, popularly known as El Chepe, is an engineering marvel. This journey is among the most scenic train journeys worldwide. It bridges the gap between Chihuahua City and Los Mochis, taking travelers through Mexico’s stunning Copper Canyon. The train snakes its way around sharp curves and through numerous tunnels. The topography varies dramatically along the route. Lush green fields give way to deep canyons and vast deserts. These contrasts provide travelers with a unique experience. Every stop along the journey presents an opportunity for exploration. Local markets, indigenous communities, and unique geological formations await. The train’s observation deck is a favorite spot for many. From here, the panoramic views of the canyon are unmatched. For those looking to immerse themselves in a mix of culture, history, and natural beauty, El Chepe stands out. Truly, it’s one of the premier Scenic Train Journeys that shouldn’t be missed.
9- TranzAlpine, New Zealand
Photo Credit: Loco Journeys
Journeying through New Zealand’s South Island, the TranzAlpine offers breathtaking views. This scenic train journey commences in the city of Christchurch, traveling across vast plains. The Canterbury Plains, with their patchwork fields, are a visual treat. As the train advances, the landscapes transform. Majestic mountains and deep gorges start to dominate the scenery. The train also passes through the Southern Alps, presenting passengers with awe-inspiring vistas. The Otira Tunnel, one of the longest in the country, is another highlight. On reaching the other side, dense rainforests make their appearance. The journey culminates in the town of Greymouth, known for its rich mining history. Along the way, passengers get glimpses of serene lakes, rushing rivers, and quaint villages. Every turn and twist offers a new, captivating view. For travelers seeking unparalleled Scenic Train Journeys, the TranzAlpine is a must-experience. Its blend of natural splendor and engineering prowess is truly exceptional.
8- Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer
Navigating through Canada’s stunning Rocky Mountains, the Rocky Mountaineer promises a visual feast. One of the world’s foremost Scenic Train Journeys, it connects Vancouver to Banff or Jasper. As passengers recline in their seats, expansive glass windows showcase panoramic views. Cascading waterfalls, deep canyons, and pristine turquoise lakes captivate the eyes. As the train meanders through mountain tunnels and over historic bridges, the views are uninterrupted. Wildlife enthusiasts often spot bears, elk, and eagles. The onboard service complements the external beauty. From gourmet meals inspired by Canadian cuisine to the tales shared by the crew, everything is meticulously planned. The two-day journey includes an overnight stop, ensuring travelers don’t miss any scenery. The combination of luxury, comfort, and the raw beauty of the Canadian Rockies makes the Rocky Mountaineer an unforgettable experience for those chasing the ultimate Scenic Train Journeys.
7- Glacier Express, Switzerland
Photo Credit: Swiss Activities
Switzerland, known for its picturesque landscapes, is home to the Glacier Express. Linking the two mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz, it’s often dubbed the “world’s slowest express train.” This slow pace is intentional, allowing passengers to savor every moment. The eight-hour journey encompasses lush meadows, deep gorges, and nearly 300 bridges. One of the most awe-inspiring sections is the Oberalp Pass. At its peak, it’s the highest point on the route, offering stunning Alpine views. The Landwasser Viaduct, an engineering masterpiece, is another highlight. As the train trundles across this curved, six-arched bridge, it seems to vanish into a mountain. Each carriage, fitted with panoramic windows, ensures travelers don’t miss a single sight. Throughout the journey, the Swiss Alps remain a constant, majestic backdrop. For a harmonious blend of luxury, engineering, and nature, the Glacier Express stands out, making it one of the top Scenic Train Journeys.
6- The Blue Train, South Africa
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
Africa’s allure is encapsulated beautifully by The Blue Train. Spanning Pretoria and Cape Town, this journey showcases South Africa’s diverse landscapes. Over the course of 31 hours, passengers witness a variety of terrains. From the arid Great Karoo to the lush vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the train traverses it all. The luxurious interiors match the external splendor. Each suite is meticulously designed, combining vintage charm with modern amenities. But what truly sets it apart is the onboard experience. Gourmet meals, personalized butler service, and handpicked South African wines elevate the journey. Large windows ensure the African scenery remains the focal point. From golden savannahs to towering mountain ranges, there’s no dearth of visual treats. As one of Africa’s most luxurious Scenic Train Journeys, The Blue Train offers an unmatched blend of opulence and natural beauty.
5- The Jacobite, Scotland
Photo Credit: Sccotish Tours
The Jacobite, often referred to as the “Harry Potter train,” takes passengers on a magical journey through the Scottish Highlands. Starting in Fort William, the train winds its way to the coastal town of Mallaig. The route is peppered with stunning landscapes. Majestic mountains, serene lochs, and rugged coastlines dominate the scenery. One of its most iconic sections is the crossing of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This 21-arched bridge, with its sweeping curves, has become synonymous with the wizarding world. But beyond its cinematic fame, The Jacobite offers a genuine Scottish experience. The rich history of the Highlands, combined with tales of clans and battles, is palpable throughout the journey. Steam rising from the locomotive, the rhythmic chug of the wheels, and the panoramic Highland views come together seamlessly. For those yearning for nostalgia and scenic beauty, The Jacobite is one of the top Scenic Train Journeys.
4- The Ghan, Australia
Photo Credit: Tell me Where 2 Go
Crossing the heart of Australia, The Ghan offers a journey like no other. Linking Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north, it covers nearly 3,000 kilometers. The landscapes it traverses are vast and varied. Arid deserts, tropical rainforests, and ancient rock formations punctuate the route. Named after Afghan camel drivers, the train embodies the spirit of exploration. The journey offers deep insights into Australia’s indigenous cultures. Stops at places like Alice Springs and Katherine provide opportunities for unique excursions. From exploring ancient rock art to cruising gorges, there’s a myriad of experiences. The interiors of the train exude luxury. Spacious cabins, gourmet meals, and attentive service ensure comfort throughout. As the train cuts through the Red Centre, passengers are treated to some of the most unique landscapes on Earth. For a truly Australian Scenic Train Journey, The Ghan is unparalleled.
3- Orient Express, Europe
Photo Credit: Escape
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, often simply referred to as the Orient Express, is a journey steeped in history and luxury. Connecting London to Venice, this iconic train offers a trip back in time. Vintage carriages, restored to their former glory, transport passengers to the golden age of travel. The route covers several European countries, offering a tapestry of landscapes. Snow-capped Alps, dense forests, and rolling vineyards are just a few highlights. But beyond the scenery, it’s the onboard experience that truly stands out. Plush interiors, fine dining, and impeccable service are hallmarks of the journey. Each meal, crafted by skilled chefs, celebrates European gastronomy. The bar carriage, with its live pianist, sets the mood for evening relaxation. For those seeking romance, nostalgia, and scenic beauty, the Orient Express is one of the ultimate Scenic Train Journeys.
2- Bernina Express, Switzerland and Italy
Photo Credit: Vogue
The Bernina Express is a testament to Swiss engineering and nature’s splendor. Linking Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, this route is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As one of the steepest rail journeys globally, it presents numerous engineering marvels. Spiraling tunnels, lofty viaducts, and sharp switchbacks are interspersed throughout. The landscapes, however, steal the show. Glacial lakes, dense forests, and Alpine meadows paint a picture of pristine beauty. The journey also offers a unique cultural experience, transitioning from the German-speaking part of Switzerland to Italy’s Italian-speaking region. The contrast in architecture, language, and cuisine is evident. Large windows in the train’s carriages ensure unobstructed views. The culmination at the Bernina Range, with its snow-covered peaks, is truly breathtaking. For those seeking a combination of engineering prowess and natural beauty, the Bernina Express is among the top Scenic Train Journeys.
1- Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
Photo Credit: ESPN
Topping the list is the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. Spanning a staggering 9,289 kilometers, it’s the longest railway journey in the world. Linking Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east, it offers a deep dive into Russia’s soul. Over seven days, passengers witness a vast array of landscapes. Dense birch forests, the vastness of Siberia, and the shores of Lake Baikal mesmerize travelers. The journey is not just about scenery; it’s a cultural odyssey. The train passes through 87 cities, offering glimpses into the life, history, and traditions of Russia. Onboard, the experience is immersive. Sharing stories with locals, enjoying traditional Russian meals, and watching the landscapes shift are part of the allure. The rhythmic sound of the tracks, combined with the ever-changing vistas, creates a meditative experience. For its sheer scale, diversity, and depth, the Trans-Siberian stands unparalleled, making it the pinnacle of Scenic Train Journeys.