The Devil's Nose, Alausi to Sibambe, Ecuador
Tren Ecuador

40 Spectacular Train Trips Across America and Beyond

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The Devil's Nose, Alausi to Sibambe, Ecuador
Tren Ecuador

Bucket List Locomotives

There's something romantic about a long train ride that you just can't get from a road trip — often, it's the leisure of being able to watch the countryside roll past without having to steer yourself around other motorists. But every voyage is a unique experience in not only the sights and sounds it encounters, but also the amenities it offers. We've tracked down some of the world's best locomotive travel experiences with details on why they stand out and how you can embark on such a journey yourself. If ocean breezes are more your style, check out 20 Bucket-List Cruises Worth Saving For.

Amtrak's Great American Majestic Landscapes, New York City to San Francisco
Amtrak

Amtrak's Great American Majestic Landscapes

New York City to San Francisco
The U.S. is a vast nation, and visitors or residents can really appreciate its scope with a train trip across its expanse. En route between the Empire City and northern California wine country, you'll see plains, mountains, wildlife, and other major urban areas. Amtrak Vacations' 12-day "Great American Majestic Landscapes" trip starts at $2,400 for travel, accommodation, and tours. Otherwise, multi-day routes from New York City to the Bay area via Chicago start at under $500. A shorter itinerary would involve taking the California Zephyr between Chicago and the Bay Area. Once you arrive on the West Coast, be sure to check out 20 Free and Cheap Things to Do in San Francisco.

Cape Cod Central Railroad, Departs Hyannis, Buzzards Bay, or Falmouth, Massachusetts
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Cape Cod Central Railroad

Departs Hyannis, Buzzards Bay, or Falmouth, Massachusetts
This train runs narrated two- and three-hour services giving visitors a scenic and educational overview of the Cape Cod peninsula, encompassing both its man-made villages and natural ecology of salt marshes, sand dunes, and woodlands. The most popular — and expensive, at $90 per person — service is the five-course dinner train, with menus of local seafood, meat, and veggies changing seasonally while it runs from spring through fall. Looking for more seafood options in Massachusetts and beyond? Don't miss 20 Amazing Seafood Shacks Across America.

Amtrak's The Empire Builder, Chicago to Seattle or Chicago to Portland
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Amtrak's The Empire Builder

Chicago to Seattle or Chicago to Portland
Another way to traverse the American West by rail, this northern route offers even better chances for spotting wildlife like antelope, buffalo, and pheasants, not to mention exploring historic train stations. Travel blogger Lisa Marquardt of HotFlashPacker.com, who took the trip, says that the community, lack of phone service, and stopping near Glacier National Park were highlights of her journey. "I take the chance to stay disconnected," she says. And, while "the food in the dining car is a little bit pricey, but make sure you eat at least one of your meals there," Marquardt adds. "They will pair you with other diners, and there is usually great conversation to be had." One-way Amtrak tickets start at between $200-$300.

Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

The Sunset Limited, New Orleans to Los Angeles
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The Sunset Limited

New Orleans to Los Angeles
Amtrak's southernmost route across the West goes from Mississippi River bayous to southwestern canyons and the Sierra Nevadas in a 48-hour trip that departs thrice weekly in each direction. With numerous stops and connections to other rail lines, passengers can take their time along the way exploring Big Bend or Saguaro national parks. National park guides ride onboard educating passengers about the areas' natural history and cultural heritage during peak seasons. To discover more of what the parks have to offer, check out 31 Bucket-List Experiences in America's National Parks.

Alaska Coastal Classic, Anchorage to Seward
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Alaska Coastal Classic

Anchorage to Seward
From mid-May to mid-September, this route chugs and tunnels through the glaciated Chugach Mountains from Alaska's largest city to some of the nation's most remote backcountry, where recreational opportunities abound between Exit Glacier and Kenai Fjords National Park. Adult value-season fares for the full, 4.5-hour one-way trip start at $99 for Adventure Class or $198 for GoldStar service, which blogger Dan Bagby of Honeymoon Always attests is well worth it. "With a GoldStar ticket you sit in a glass-domed car," he says, adding that the experience offers "amazing views the entire trip and an outdoor viewing area perfect for taking photos while sipping on hot chocolate."

Conway Scenic Railroad, Notch Train, North Conway, New Hampshire
Conway Scenic Railroad

Conway Scenic Railroad, Notch Train

North Conway, New Hampshire
In around five hours, this round-trip tourist train through New Hampshire's White Mountains takes in some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the Appalachians on tracks dating back to the 1870s. Starting at $60 per adult, it also harkens back to the area's resort days with upscale dining and drink options like hot toddies and mulled rum apple cider, and announcer commentary about the area's history and folklore. The railroad operates from June through November, late enough to take in New England's renowned autumn colors.

Cass Scenic Railroad, Cass, West Virginia
Cass Scenic Railroad

Cass Scenic Railroad

Cass, West Virginia
This railroad was built in 1901 to haul lumber, but today the steam locomotives pull tourist passengers instead, many in refurbished logging cars. The 22-mile, 4.5-hour round trip experience reaches its zenith at Bald Knob overlook, the third-highest point in West Virginia, with panoramic views into two states and a forested valley home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. A standard $63 adult ticket ($68 on autumn weekends) also includes a "King of the Road" hobo lunch.

Related: Awesome Views in All 50 States

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Antonito, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico
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Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Antonito, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico
In just 64 miles, this steam-powered route through the San Juan Mountains pretty much has all you want from the West, from ghost towns and wood-beam river crossings to aspen forests and alpine meadows — hence why it's a fixture of Hollywood films like "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid." After climbing to around 10,000 feet in elevation over Cumbres Pass, it descends to Toltec Gorge, where it plunges another 800 feet down along a narrow ledge, an adventure you'll truly appreciate in the open-air gondola car, available to all passengers as well as knowledgeable docents. Fares start at $100 per adult.

Related: 18 Towns Where You Can Still Experience the Wild West

Amtrak's Yellowstone in the Winter, Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park
Amtrak

Amtrak's Yellowstone in the Winter

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park
From November to March, this Amtrak vacation will let you see America's first national park without the typical summer crowds on one of the most scenic winter train trips imaginable. The geysers and geological features are even more vibrant while surrounded by snowy mountain vistas, and wildlife such as wolves are easier to spot. The five-day travel and accommodation packages start from $569.

Grand Canyon Railway, Williams to South Rim, Arizona
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Grand Canyon Railway

Williams to South Rim, Arizona
Another journey to one of America's iconic national parks, this 65-mile rail trip through north-central Arizona's desert prairies, Ponderosa pine forests, and Rocky Mountain peaks to one of the continent's most expansive and famous viewpoints is a shorter option for those who don't have as much time. For round-trip rates ranging from $70 to $230 for the 6-hour trip, passengers can watch for wildlife through the Pullman car windows or enjoy the two-floor Luxury Dome with private bar. For old-school rail fans, try riding on the one Saturday a month they use steam engines, fueled by recycled French fry oil.

Amtrak Adirondacks, New York City to Montreal
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Amtrak's Adirondacks

New York City to Montreal
This international trip will take you from New York-style bagels to Montreal-style bagels in 10 hours, with the Hudson Valley scenery of rolling pastures and forested mountains in between. "We spent our relaxing train ride happily working, snacking, stretching, and gazing idly outside," says Lia Garcia, a full-time travel blogger with her husband at Practical Wanderlust. "We highly recommend a trip on the Adirondack train, particularly during the fall when everything is bursting with fall foliage and colors!"

Rocky Mountaineer's First Passage to the West, Vancouver, British Columbia, to Banff, Alberta
Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer's First Passage to the West

Vancouver, British Columbia, to Banff, Alberta
Turquoise glacial lakes and evergreen mountains abound on this railway linking the metropolis of western Canada to its first national park, navigating steep grades and rushing rapids along the way. "A trip on Rocky Mountaineer provides breathtaking views along with incredible food and drink during the day, and your choice of upscale hotels overnight," says Kelly Stilwell of Food, Fun & Faraway Places. The above route is just one of many options for duration and destination; packages start at four days and approximately $1,570 USD, with higher rates for GoldLeaf service or a more leisurely pace.

Copper Canyon Railroad, Los Mochis to Chihuahua, Mexico
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Copper Canyon Railroad

Los Mochis to Chihuahua, Mexico
Though rail services are few and far between these days in Mexico, this line still runs two services — the Chepe Express and the Chepe Regional — through some of the nation's most rugged and varied terrain, from mountainsides to bridged ravines. It's recommended to book ahead of time via email or over the phone for summer and other holiday trips, and to explore longer for free at scenic stops like Creel and Bahuichivo along the way. There are also multi-day tours available through the Copper Canyon website.

West Highland Line, Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland
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West Highland Line

Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland
The real-life stand-in for the "Harry Potter" film series' Hogwarts Express, this railway goes from one of Scotland's major cities through its remote west coast highlands. This includes a journey through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to Mallaig and Fort William, both historic villages that serve as gateways to the region's outdoor recreational opportunities of hill climbing and fishing. The full route takes 5.5 hours and stops by some of the most remote station outposts in the UK.

TGV to the South of France, Paris to Nice, France
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TGV to the South of France

Paris to Nice, France
En route between France's worldly metropolis and its resort-friendly Mediterranean beaches, this high-speed voyage gives passengers a glimpse into the nation's storied countryside as well, zooming up to 200 mph past medieval villages and farm cottages. "The foliage in the fall when I was there made the scenery even more captivating," attests travel blogger Candice Bryan at Can with a Plan, and she offers another tip. "If you're visiting multiple cities within a short period of time, you can save money and have more flexibility by purchasing a Eurail Pass."

The Ghan, Adelaide to Darwin, Australia
Journey Beyond Rail

The Ghan

Adelaide to Darwin, Australia
This luxury train is almost certainly the most comfortable way to experience some of Australia's inhospitable desert outback, running 1,851 miles north to south through the continent's "Red Centre." In addition to spotting wildlife, cruising through gorges, exploring frontier towns, and visiting indigenous sites, passengers are treated to private cabins, local wines, and seven regionally inspired meal services on a three-day trip starting at around $1,300 USD.

Goa Express, Goa to Karnataka, India
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Goa Express

Goa to Karnataka, India
The Indian railway system is more extensive and diverse — not to mention dirt cheap, by Western standards — than nearly any other nation. Covering one tiny fraction of the populous and culturally diverse nation, this 3.5-hour journey winds from the coastal city of Vasco da Gama through Goan villages, dense jungle waterfalls, and steep mountainsides, and on to the town of Londa in the state of Karnataka. Be sure to familiarize yourself with India's unspoken rules of the rails before going, or consider booking through one of the high-end tourist-facing services like The Golden Chariot or the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels.

Derry to Coleraine, Londonderry to Coleraine, Northern Ireland
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Derry to Coleraine

Londonderry to Coleraine, Northern Ireland
For just 10 pounds you can hop this train ride lasting around just 45 minutes, but nonetheless considered one of the most scenic in the UK, if not the world. Between these historic cities lie sandy beaches, cliffside temples, seaside villages, and much more. Train passes through Translink can also be used for local bus routes to travel to other major attractions like the Old Bushmills Distillery and Giant's Causeway.

Orient Express, London to Venice, Italy
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Orient Express

London to Venice, Italy
Perhaps the most romantic way to travel through Western Europe, Belmond's storied Venice Simplon-Orient-Express aims to transport passengers back in time as well as across historic landscapes. Running about once a week between March and November and costing around $3,000, the pricey 5-star experience lasts only 24 hours but encompasses two separate trains, three dining cars, a champagne bar, several meals of local delicacies along the way, and an excess of sumptuous Old World décor.

Related: 20 Retro Luxury Travel Experiences

Eastern and Oriental Express, Singapore to Bangkok
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Eastern and Oriental Express

Singapore to Bangkok
Also operated by Belmond to similar upscale standards, this rail journey boasts views of some of Southeast Asia's most stunning landscapes and access to its world-famous culinary delicacies. Stopping in Kuala Lumpur and other, smaller outposts, the train covers more than 1,200 miles in worldly style with only 60 passengers and onboard amenities like aperitifs and four-course meals. The one-way journey lasts two days and starts at around $3,000 per passenger.

The Devil's Nose, Alausi to Sibambe, Ecuador
Tren Ecuador

The Devil's Nose

Alausi to Sibambe, Ecuador
Though not all of it is still in operation, the entire Trans-Andean railroad from Quito to Guayaquil was a miracle of human engineering, especially considering its construction began in 1872. This 2.5-hour segment gives passengers a good idea of why as they skirt through clouds, ravines, the Avenue of the Volcanoes, and, of course, the Devil's Nose, a steep rock wall at a 45-degree incline. Round trip fares start at only $33 but should be booked in advance, as this is one of Ecuador's most popular attractions.

Glacier Express, St. Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland
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Glacier Express

St. Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland
This stunning train ride takes an eight-hour route through the Alps' world-famous scenery of snowy Matterhorn peaks, rolling meadows, and quaint villages, navigating 91 tunnels and 291 bridges on its way. Connecting two major resorts in the central mountain range, it's known as the slowest express train ride in the world, since it omits local stops. A second-class one-way ticket costs the equivalent of around $150 USD.

Kuranda Scenic Railway Tour, Cairns to Kuranda, Australia
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Kuranda Scenic Railway Tour

Cairns to Kuranda, Australia
Originally built for commuters, today the Cairns-to-Kuranda railway line caters mainly to tourists, who come for the views over the Great Dividing Range between the coast and tablelands. "It ascends into the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area through rainforest and past Barron Gorge, and includes a number of tunnels and waterfalls," explains Anthony Bianco, an area native and travel blogger at The Travel Tart. The route takes only 1.5-hours including a stop at Barron Falls, with optional connections to a Skyrail gondola.

The Blue Train, Cape Town to Pretoria, South Africa
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The Blue Train

Cape Town to Pretoria, South Africa
Starting at around $1,200 USD for shared occupancy one way, this luxury train from near the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa's administrative capital is a major experience worth the major expense. While traversing grasslands, forests, and fertile valleys, passengers can enjoy their fill of hotel-quality lodging, imported cigars, local wines, and gourmet meals. Depending on which direction you're taking, there are also included stops at either the 19th-century health resort Matjiesfontein or the Kimberley "big hole" mining museum.

Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

Trans-Siberian Railway

Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia
Undoubtedly one of the most epic rail journeys on Earth, the Trans-Siberian Railway crosses the world's largest nation, from its most populated metropolis to its most isolated steppes and tundra. In a matter of seven days — or more with stops — you'll cross nearly 6,000 miles and eight time zones between two continents. Basic fares start at $158 or less for third-class and $600 or more for first (some info on what that means), while tour operators like Intrepid Travel and Golden Eagle offer more involved itineraries with natural and historic stopovers.

The Golden Ring, Moscow, Russia
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The Golden Ring

Moscow, Russia
This is a shorter route, popular with Russians and international visitors alike, encompassing a "ring" of historic towns to the northeast of Moscow, including Yaroslavl, Vladimir, and Suzdal. The three- to four-hour travel times make most rides accessible via day trip, but tourist experiences typically last at least three days to a week, taking in more of the medieval architecture, Orthodox cathedrals, traditional foods, museums, and north country lakes.

TranzAlpine, Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand
TranzAlpine

TranzAlpine

Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand
"The TranzAlpine across the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand must surely rank as one of the great train journeys of the world," says John Lightwood, a New Zealand travel expert and founder of Silver Fern Holidays. This temperature-controlled coast-to-coast journey sees the climate transform from plains to native beech forests as it climbs to Arthur's Pass National Park. "Here, travelers can [take] short walks in the park before re-boarding and continuing the journey through the Otira Gorge and lush alpine rainforests."

Sacred Valley/Andean Explorer, Urubamba to Machu Picchu, Peru
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Sacred Valley/Andean Explorer

Urubamba to Machu Picchu, Peru
The preserved Incan city of Machu Picchu is a bucket-list pilgrimage for most adventure travelers, and Peru Rail offers multiple ways to get there in around three hours, so you can appreciate the elevation gain and Andean landscapes from the comfort of the bar and observation car. "Riding across the mountains of Peru and seeing all the gorgeous vegetation, the small villages, and, on some occasions, hikers along the Inca Trail, is something I will never forget," says travel and food writer Jessica van Dop DeJesus of The Dining Traveler, who recommends booking in advance due to the route's popularity.

China's Geological Museum Route, Chengdu to Kunming, China
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China's Geological Museum Route

Chengdu to Kunming, China
Though you'd hardly know it from the high-speed, six-hour passage, this railway line was considered by the United Nations as one of the three hallmarks of humanity's conquest of nature during the 20th century, alongside the moon landing and Sputnik satellite launch. With second-class tickets starting at $72, it passes through 56 different geographic regions, encompassing plains, mountains, rivers, gorges, and tunnels, offering access to natural and cultural experiences, from observing giant pandas to wandering ancient temples.

Silk Road Journey, Xi'an to Urumqi, China
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Silk Road Journey

Xi'an to Urumqi, China
Tracing a portion of the ancient trade route from Europe to East Asia, this rail journey spans northwestern China's great open spaces for as long as 30 hours, for prices as low as $120. From Xi'an, the first of China's ancient capitals, it passes the Yellow River, Jiayuguan Fortress, Gobi Desert, and delicious culinary destinations before reaching Urumqi, western China's largest city and hub for the currently embattled Uyghur Muslim minority.

Jiayang Steam Train, Shixi to Huangcunjing, China
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Jiayang Steam Train

Shixi to Huangcunjing, China
There's an old-fashioned romance to steam-powered locomotives that contemporary high-speed services just can't replicate, which is why some are still preserved and cherished by rail fans in both the East and West. One of the most popular is located a three-hours' drive from the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, with a couple services carrying locals, and many more serving selfie-snapping tourists while passing rice terraces, bamboo groves, and other glimpses into Chinese rural life. Elisse Clark, a rail travel blogger, recommends booking in advance through services such as Absolute Panda Tours and China DIY Travel.

Tren a las Nubes, Salta, Argentina
Tren a las Nubes

Tren a las Nubes

Salta, Argentina
Translating as "train to the clouds," this route was constructed by British Railways in the 1920s for nitrate mining, but now operates as a tourist service, ascending to the high Andes near the Chilean border and back in a single day – around 15 hours, to be precise. Though you'll have trouble catching your breath as it reaches around 14,000 feet above sea level, the numerous stops along the way are still worth exploring for locally made artisan goods and regional cuisine.

Flåm Line, Myrdal to Flåm, Norway
Flåm

Flåm Line

Myrdal to Flåm, Norway
A 12-mile offshoot of the more practical (though nonetheless beautiful) Bergen Line from Oslo, the Flam Line ascends between mountains through glacially carved fjords, scenery so popular it ranks as the nation's third most-visited tourist attraction. Including a photo stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall, this engineering marvel took 20 years and 18 handmade tunnels to complete. Don't miss out on a fjord cruise from Flåm to complement the journey by rail.

The Blue Train, Colombo to Jaffna, Sri Lanka
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The Blue Train

Colombo to Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Taking in Indian Ocean vistas and rainforest vegetation, Sri Lanka's train system, known as the "Blue Train," is one of the world's most scenic and evocatively quaint, with old carriages, worn interiors, and open-air windows and doors. Visitors can book online in advance through Seat 61, but it's often easiest to book one or two days ahead of time while you're actually there. Emma Sothern, a travel writer at Lady Alopecia, recommends going off the beaten railway by taking the new, indirect, but more local-friendly route to Jaffna in the north. "You'll have the distinct feeling of moving through uncharted territory," she describes in an email. "This train ride provides the same epic views but with a distinctly more local flavor. And speaking of flavors … Jaffna cuisine is renowned for being the best in Sri Lanka — look out for dolphin kottu when you're there (don't worry, no dolphins are involved)." Alexandra Feig, an expat travel blogger at A Maiden Voyager, also recommends that travelers not "miss out on the spectacular view of the jungle between Ella and Kandy, where you'll find the famous Nine Arch Bridge," adding: "You might just get an Insta-worthy shot leaning out of the train door with the famous blue carriages drifting behind."

Myanmar, Yangon to Lashio, Myanmar
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Myanmar

Yangon to Lashio, Myanmar
Sothern also recommends a train voyage through one of southeast Asia's most off-the-beaten-path nations — in this case going from Yangon in the south to the northern city of Lashio, a Chinese-influenced hilltop town at the end of the line. The trip requires a transfer at Mandalay Central Station. Not only is it cheaper and less cramped than the country's bus lines, but open-minded tourists can get their fill of local hospitality along the way too: "I was kept well-fed and -watered," Sothern recounts. "Families gave me presents of fruit, sticky rice, and quail eggs. I could get hot tea, sweetened with condensed milk, passed through a window and served in a plastic baggie with a straw. And don't even get me started on the scenery! Hanging out the windows to gape at the Gokteik viaduct is an experience I'll never quite forget."

Kurobe Gorge Railway, Between Unazuki and Keyakidaira Stations, Japan
Kurobe Gorge Railway

Kurobe Gorge Railway

Between Unazuki and Keyakidaira Stations, Japan
Japan has no shortage of magnificent countryside train journeys. This short sightseeing train stands out for its photogenic vistas of the mountains, valleys, and ravines of the nation's nearly uninhabited northern Alps, as well as its abundance of man-made bridges and tunnels. Open from April through November, it's most popular during autumn when the slopes and countryside blush red and orange. The 12.5-mile journey takes about 80 minutes and costs around $18 one way.

Trans-Harz Railway, Wernigerode to Nordhausen Nord, Germany
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Trans-Harz Railway

Wernigerode to Nordhausen Nord, Germany
Classified as historical monuments since 1972, the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways are home to a fleet of 25 steam trains dating from the late 19th century, which traverse 140 kilometers of track through central Germany's wooded Harz National Park. This route, taken round-trip, costs around $42. Branching off the main route is the Brocken Railway, which chugs up to one of the nation's highest stations at the summit of the Brocken mountain. A round-trip fare for this route is around $50.

Vietnam Reunification Express, Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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Vietnam Reunification Express

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
This 32-hour, two-night train journey takes passengers north to south from one end of Vietnam to the other, encompassing distinct natural scenery and cultural experiences along the way. "You not only get to see the magnificent countryside of Vietnam, you get to meet Vietnamese people and enjoy slurping pho and drinking beer!" says travel blogger Elisse Clark, who's made the trip with her husband twice. A seat in one of the air-conditioned cars for the 1,072-mile trip starts at around $40, but for around $70 you can book a larger four-berth cabin for privacy.

Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn to Nant Gwernol, Wales
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Talyllyn Railway

Tywyn to Nant Gwernol, Wales
Built in 1865, this steam-powered line through the Welsh countryside and Snowdonia National Park became the world's first historically preserved railway in 1951, and it's easy to see why. Though not as dramatic or lengthy — at only 7.25 miles — as some others on this list, it traverses rocky crags and deep forests in between historic Celtic villages and inns that visitors will just want to get lost in. Round-trip adult fares start at about $22, or you can add on a tea service on select days for an additional charge.

The Balkan Express, Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro
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The Balkan Express

Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro
It took 254 tunnels, 435 bridges, and more than two decades to complete this railway from Serbia's capital to the glittering Adriatic seashores, but today it only costs passengers around $20-$30 and 10-11 hours of their time. If you do have the chance to reserve seats for this, one of Europe's most scenic and well-priced train trips, aim to sit on the right-hand side going south or the left-hand side headed north for the best views.

Related: 22 Tips for Traveling Abroad on a Budget