Discover Five Of The World’s Best Luxury Train Rides

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada luxury train

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

If you’re one to relish the journey as much as the destination, train travel is the answer. Add a big dollop of indulgence along the way, and you’re pretty much set to enjoy what has to be one of the best forms of travel any globetrotter can take. There’s something so sublime about sitting in a comfy, window-side seat with a glass of wine in hand to toast the scenery that slowly unfolds before you. Here are some of the world’s most luxurious train rides.

Rovos Rail, South Africa

While South Africa’s got a handful of luxury rail lines that get some well-deserved attention, for train aficionados in the know, Rovos Rail is the one to take for the most lavish way to experience the country’s jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife. In an effort to “recapture the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era of travel,” the company’s train cars feature sophisticated, authentically refurbished antique carriages and five-star meals (jacket and tie required!) paired with South Africa’s finest wines.

The sleeper cars are incredibly comfortable with wall-to-wall wood paneling and private bathrooms and showers (some even have bathtubs!). There is no TV or Wi-Fi available on Rovos. But, trust me, you won’t mind and will find yourself appreciating all the time you have to absorb the views. With its Edwardian design, superlative service and steam-powered engine, a ride aboard Rovos is a chance to embrace a historic form of travel as much as it is about enjoying South Africa’s perfect panoramas.

Tip: Though the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town is the most popular, the one offering the best scenery and fascinating excursions is the Durban Route (which includes a Big Five safari excursion).

Venice Simplon Orient-Express, Europe

Undoubtedly the grand dame of refined rail travel, the acclaimed Venice Simplon Orient-Express was once described by Vanity Fair as “the train against which all other luxury trains are measured.” With routes across Europe that include the continent’s most captivating cities—like London, Venice and Paris—it’s no wonder that this rail line ranks at the top of most traveler’s must-do list. A ride aboard is no less than a step back in time to the golden age of train travel.

The overnight journey from London to Venice in refurbished, stylized art deco carriages encapsulates old-world elegance and glamour. The bespoke bar car is the heart of the train and comes complete with baby grand and pianist.

Tip: You can never be too overdressed for the Venice Simplon Orient-Express so pack something special (some gentlemen have even been known to show up for dinner in a tuxedo).

The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Explore Canada’s iconic Rocky Mountain landscape on a one-of-a-kind voyage aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. No other trip captures Canada’s vastness and rugged beauty as does the Rocky Mountaineer’s “First Passage to the West” route, which hits all of Western Canada’s highpoints. Passengers see singularly stunning terrain of mountains, rivers and forests that are only accessible by train.

There are no sleeper cars on this train—after all who would want to sleep through such wonderful views? Instead, guests are dropped off each night at a lovely local hotel. Unique glass-domed coaches with full length windows also ensure passengers don’t miss a second of the captivating countryside.

Tip: Pay close attention when going through the regions around Banff—sightings of elk and eagles are not uncommon but sharp-eyed passengers might even spot a bear of two.

The Royal Scotsman, Scotland

There’s no better way to experience the magic and mystery of the legendary Scottish Highlands than aboard the Royal Scotsman, the UK’s only luxury sleeper train. No more than 36 passengers at a time call the mahogany-lined, Edwardian-style carriages home in an unforgettable voyage through some of Scotland’s most amazing landscapes.

There are a variety of trips available but all are designed to bring Scottish history and culture to life with stops at castles, distilleries and monuments. The train features luxe sleeper cars, a spa and an observation car with an open-air veranda, where you can share your tales of adventure with guests over a wee dram of whisky and a night sky bursting with stars.

Tip: Be sure to book a treatment in the spa car, where the gentle rocking of the train and the soothing ministrations of a trained therapist combine for a truly unique wellness experience.

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Russia

Few voyages evoke images of adventure, exotic locales and opulence as the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. The unimaginable vastness of Russia unfurls before passengers on a 15-day journey that showcases all of the country’s signature settings. The once-in-a-lifetime trip comes complete with spectacular scenery and gourmet meals.

The voyage also features exceptional excursions like a tour of Mongolia’s capital and a dip (for the daring) in the freezing waters of Lake Baikal.  

TIP: Worried that you didn’t get enough time to practice your Russian before you arrived? No fear, lessons are offered on board.

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If you’re one to relish the journey as much as the destination, train travel is the answer. Add a big dollop of indulgence along the way, and you’re pretty much set to enjoy what has to be one of the best forms of travel any globetrotter can take. There’s something so sublime about sitting in a comfy, window-side seat with a glass of wine in hand to toast the scenery that slowly unfolds before you. Here are some of the world’s most luxurious train rides.

Rovos Rail, South Africa

While South Africa’s got a handful of luxury rail lines that get some well-deserved attention, for train aficionados in the know, Rovos Rail is the one to take for the most lavish way to experience the country’s jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife. In an effort to “recapture the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era of travel,” the company’s train cars feature sophisticated, authentically refurbished antique carriages and five-star meals (jacket and tie required!) paired with South Africa’s finest wines.

The sleeper cars are incredibly comfortable with wall-to-wall wood paneling and private bathrooms and showers (some even have bathtubs!). There is no TV or Wi-Fi available on Rovos. But, trust me, you won’t mind and will find yourself appreciating all the time you have to absorb the views. With its Edwardian design, superlative service and steam-powered engine, a ride aboard Rovos is a chance to embrace a historic form of travel as much as it is about enjoying South Africa’s perfect panoramas.

Tip: Though the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town is the most popular, the one offering the best scenery and fascinating excursions is the Durban Route (which includes a Big Five safari excursion).

Venice Simplon Orient-Express, Europe

Undoubtedly the grand dame of refined rail travel, the acclaimed Venice Simplon Orient-Express was once described by Vanity Fair as “the train against which all other luxury trains are measured.” With routes across Europe that include the continent’s most captivating cities—like London, Venice and Paris—it’s no wonder that this rail line ranks at the top of most traveler’s must-do list. A ride aboard is no less than a step back in time to the golden age of train travel.

The overnight journey from London to Venice in refurbished, stylized art deco carriages encapsulates old-world elegance and glamour. The bespoke bar car is the heart of the train and comes complete with baby grand and pianist.

Tip: You can never be too overdressed for the Venice Simplon Orient-Express so pack something special (some gentlemen have even been known to show up for dinner in a tuxedo).

The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Explore Canada’s iconic Rocky Mountain landscape on a one-of-a-kind voyage aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. No other trip captures Canada’s vastness and rugged beauty as does the Rocky Mountaineer’s “First Passage to the West” route, which hits all of Western Canada’s highpoints. Passengers see singularly stunning terrain of mountains, rivers and forests that are only accessible by train.

There are no sleeper cars on this train—after all who would want to sleep through such wonderful views? Instead, guests are dropped off each night at a lovely local hotel. Unique glass-domed coaches with full length windows also ensure passengers don’t miss a second of the captivating countryside.

Tip: Pay close attention when going through the regions around Banff—sightings of elk and eagles are not uncommon but sharp-eyed passengers might even spot a bear of two.

The Royal Scotsman, Scotland

There’s no better way to experience the magic and mystery of the legendary Scottish Highlands than aboard the Royal Scotsman, the UK’s only luxury sleeper train. No more than 36 passengers at a time call the mahogany-lined, Edwardian-style carriages home in an unforgettable voyage through some of Scotland’s most amazing landscapes.

There are a variety of trips available but all are designed to bring Scottish history and culture to life with stops at castles, distilleries and monuments. The train features luxe sleeper cars, a spa and an observation car with an open-air veranda, where you can share your tales of adventure with guests over a wee dram of whisky and a night sky bursting with stars.

Tip: Be sure to book a treatment in the spa car, where the gentle rocking of the train and the soothing ministrations of a trained therapist combine for a truly unique wellness experience.

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Russia

Few voyages evoke images of adventure, exotic locales and opulence as the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. The unimaginable vastness of Russia unfurls before passengers on a 15-day journey that showcases all of the country’s signature settings. The once-in-a-lifetime trip comes complete with spectacular scenery and gourmet meals.

The voyage also features exceptional excursions like a tour of Mongolia’s capital and a dip (for the daring) in the freezing waters of Lake Baikal.  

TIP: Worried that you didn’t get enough time to practice your Russian before you arrived? No fear, lessons are offered on board.

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I’m a Canadian writer and editor who specializes in travel, food and wine. My father was in the Canadian Air Force so my family was constantly moving from base to base,

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