Have you ever taken any impressive rail journeys around the world? It is possible to go on a train in almost every country in the world, if you want to, minus some island countries, Greenland and parts of the Middle East, of course (simply because there’s no rail infrastructure there). I always think traveling by railway is a romantic way to travel, especially overnight in the sleeper carriages, as the movement of a train can literally put me to sleep! Then, I'll wake up the next day transported to some new scenery. These rail journeys around the world are pretty famous and will hopefully inspire you to take advantage of this unique, yet old form of travel.
This has to be one of the most epic rail journeys around the world; the Trans-Siberian Railway or TSR Russian: Транссибирская магистраль, as it’s known by the locals, is a network of railways connecting Moscow with Vladivostock and the Sea of Japan since 1916. It is the longest railway line in the world (5,000 miles), with connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China and even North Korea! If I wanted to see more of the remote parts of the Asian continent and Russia, then this is how I would see them – the most popular trip on the TSR takes about 21 days, with various stops in Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, in between.
Another well-known rail journey, which departs from Zermatt and arrives in either Davos or St. Moritz, Switzerland, in just under seven hours. It is basically a one-day rail journey that takes you through some incredible glacial-mountain scenery in southern Switzerland; you’ll get to traverse some pretty deep, impressive gorges, tunnels and cross some 291 bridges, all while being wined and dined on-board.
This is South Africa’s train and it is blue, as its namesake suggests! It typecasts itself as a ‘window into the soul of South Africa.’ The journey is close to 1,000 miles long (27 hours), and you will pass through some of the country’s most picturesque countryside, as the train leaves the coastal ranges of Cape Town and heads inland to the capital, Pretoria. It is literally a luxurious five star hotel on wheels, as top chefs prepare your meals whilst you sojourn through some impressive landscapes.
If you haven’t been on the Eurostar, you probably know someone who has. It’s a great way to travel quickly to Paris, Lille or Brussels from London, whether you are a commuter or a tourist. It’s weird to think you’re traveling underneath the English Channel (Tunnel or ‘Chunnel,’ as it’s called), when you’re on this train, however the two hours literally fly by, as it is a high-speed train. Personally, I’d much rather travel this way than hassle with the ferries or flights.
This railway advertises itself as ‘the only way to experience the Canadian Rockies and Whistler,’ which is probably pretty true. There are four unique rail routes to choose from – British Columbia to Alberta and Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper and Calgary, and one train excursion from Vancouver to Whistler. Similar to the Glacier Express and The Blue Train, the Rocky Mountaineer is a luxurious railway with differing levels of service; their most exclusive providing dining cars and a glass-domed coach that will transport you right into the middle of the impressive Canadian Rocky scenery.
I’ve never been on a train in Australia, but I’d imagine that this would be a good one to go on – although not in the summer (winter for all you northern hemisphere folks)! This epic train ride takes you on a journey through 1,800 miles (two nights), of Australian Outback, from Adelaide to Darwin. It traverses deserts, vineyards, mountains, gorges and you’re bound to spot some grazing kangaroos somewhere along the trip! Just be warned, this train ride is not as luxurious as some listed here.
The section from Qinghai, China to Lhasa, Tibet is the world’s highest track to traverse (much of the track is laid over permafrost too). As the train climbs 5,000 meters high along the 2,700 miles (51 hours) of track, temperatures plummet, and all the water on-board has to be heated, to prevent it from freezing. The uniquely stunning views and dramatic scenery will come as you cross the Tangula Pass and the Tibetan Plateau. It is worth noting that you will need a visitor’s permit before disembarking at Lhasa, Tibet.
There you have it, seven distinct railway journeys around the world! If you choose to travel all of them, then you are definitely in for some epic adventures. What are some memory-evoking railway journeys you have been on, and which ones would you recommend?
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