The World's Most Romantic & Beautiful Train Trips

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


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

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 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. 

Related: Unforgettable Trips for People Over 50

Napa Valley landscape in spring

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 $2,399 for travel, accommodation, and tours. Otherwise, multiday routes from New York City to the Bay area via Chicago start at around $400 for coach seating. 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 Free and Cheap Things to Do in San Francisco.   

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logan pass trail in Glacier national park on sunny day,Montana,usa.

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 such as antelope, buffalo, and pheasants, not to mention exploring historic train stations. Travel blogger Lisa Marquardt of, 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. "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 tickets start under $200, and travelers over 65 are eligible for a discount on most routes.

Related: Age Pays: 100+ Senior Discounts (Some Starting at Age 50!)

Aerial of Cape Cod Lake

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 its human-made villages and natural ecology of salt marshes, sand dunes, and woodlands. The most popular — and expensive, starting 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 Amazing Seafood Shacks Across America  

Related: Things You Never Knew About New England

The Sunset Limited, New Orleans to Los Angeles

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.  

Railroad track with lake and mountain range
A&J Fotos/istockphoto

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 $119 for Adventure Class or $243 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." 

White Mountains in New Hampshire

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 $76 per adult, it also harks back to the area's resort days with upscale dining and drink options such as 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.

Mountain Scenery in West Virginia

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 $79 adult ticket ($89 on autumn weekends) includes a "King of the Road" hobo lunch.

Cumbres and Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad

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 — making it a fixture of Hollywood films such as "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 $135 per adult.

Lower Geyser Basin views from Yellowstone National Park in the winter with snow.
Gerald Corsi /istockphoto

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 at $1,149.

Grand canyon railway train.
Ingus Kruklitis/istockphoto

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. 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 steam engine that is fueled by recycled French fry oil

Aerial view of Mountain Forests with Brilliant Fall Colors in Autumn at Sunrise, New England

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!"

Bow River, Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Canada, wildflowers, copyspace

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;  with higher rates for GoldLeaf service or a more leisurely pace.

Puente Alta
Puente Alta by Malcolm K. (None)

Copper Canyon Railroad

Los Mochis to Chihuahua, Mexico

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

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct by Simone A. Bertinotti (None)

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, 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 U.K.

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

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," says travel blogger Candice Bryan at Can with a Plan. "If you're visiting multiple cities within a short period,” she suggests saving money and adding flexibility by buying a Eurail Pass."

The First Ghan train to Darwin departs Alice Springs

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. 

Related: Stunning Landscapes That Make Earth Look Like Another Planet

Waterfall Dudh Sagar and passing by the bridge train. India
Pavel Sipachev/istockphoto

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 such as The Golden Chariot or the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels.

Derry to Coleraine, Londonderry to Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Derry to Coleraine

Londonderry to Coleraine, Northern Ireland

For just over 10 pounds you can hop this train ride lasting around just 40 minutes but considered one of the most scenic in the U.K., 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 major attractions such as the Old Bushmills Distillery and Giant's Causeway.

Orient Express, London to Venice, Italy

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 $3,353, the pricey 5-star experience lasts only 24 hours but encompasses two trains, three dining cars, a champagne bar, several meals of local delicacies along the way, and an excess of sumptuous Old World décor.

Related: Retro Luxury Travel Experiences

Eastern and Oriental Express

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 onboard amenities such as aperitifs and four-course meals. The one-way journey lasts two days.

Landwasser Viaduct, Davos, Switzerland

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 $152 USD.

Stoney creek at Kuranda Scenic Railway , Cairns, Australia

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.

Hout bay beach and Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

The Blue Train

Cape Town to Pretoria, South Africa

This luxury train from near the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa's administrative capital has been an experience worth its minimum $1,200 for shared occupancy one way — but service was suspended in February after arsons and derailments. When service resumes 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 stops at either the 19th-century health resort Matjiesfontein or the Kimberley "big hole" mining museum

Scenery along the train journey from Arequipa to Cusco. Peru.

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

China's Geological Museum Route

Chengdu to Kunming, China

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. Second-class tickets start at $72 for a high-speed, six-hour passage through 56 geographic regions encompassing plains, mountains, rivers, gorges, and tunnels, offering access to natural and cultural experiences from observing giant pandas to wandering ancient temples.

Train bridge over a road between the mountains in Salta, Argentina. Tren de las nubes (Cloud´s Train)
Sebastian Jakimczuk /istockphoto

Tren a las Nubes

Salta, Argentina

Translating as "train to the clouds," this route was built 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. 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

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

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)."   

Myanmar, Yangon to Lashio, 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."

Autumn landscape in Kurobe gorge

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 human-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 $5 one way.

Steam train on Talyllyn heritage railway, Wales, UK...

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. 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.  

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

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. 

Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn to Nant Gwernol, Wales
Talyllyn Railway

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 $32.

The Balkan Express, Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro

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 $26 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.