Full steam ahead for our pick of the world’s greatest railway journeys
Travelling can be a race against time, and can sometimes be rough around the edges. Quite the reverse, there are pocketed sets of travelers who observe travelling in the most romantic way possible – via luxurious and lengthy train rides. Train journeys offer respite to worn out travelers, and allow one to sit back and take in the landscape. Pit stops along the way mean you can efficiently cover attractions, too, but the charm of railway journeys is that each sight is fleeting, so you’ll spend your hours transfixed to the window. These greatest train rides will change your perspective of scenic travel and of course, living in the moment forever.
Rhine Valley Line, Germany
The postcard-perfect rail line from Mainz to Koblenz winds its way alongside Germany’s Rhine River. It is just 62 miles long, but what it lacks in distance, it makes up for in castles, vineyards and enchanting riverside villages. The route takes in the medieval hilltop castles of Marksburg (guided tours available), Stahleck (now a hostel), and Katz and Maus (open to visitors). The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein in Koblenz is a must for panoramic valley views, and you can’t miss the quirky Pfalz Castle, perched on an island in the middle of the river. Take the ICE or EuroCity trains for their large viewing windows or opt for the slower local trains if you want to stop off at cities like Bacharach (head to historic restaurant Alte Haus for their incredible apple strudel), pretty St. Goar or the winemaking town of Rüdesheim. Travellers with a Eurail Pass can turn their journey into a cruise by switching on and off from the train to riverboats operated by the highly-rated KD Rhine Line.
Maharaja’s Express, India
Make like an Indian Maharaja or Princess and walk the red carpet onto a majestic, nostalgic trip aboard the Maharaja’s Express. Five itineraries take in India’s most vibrant attractions, including the Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, Khajuraho temples, Ranthambore National Park, and the River Ganges. And while each journey provides fascinating guided tours and cultural immersion, life on board is all about recreating the pageantry and opulence of a bygone era with its wood-carved furniture, decorative lighting and sumptuous soft furnishings. All that, plus state of the art amenities, spacious cabins, fine dining and butler service is yours to delight in. Journeys range from three to seven nights, departing from Mumbai or Delhi.
Denali Star, Alaska
The incredible landscapes and abundant wildlife of Alaska are showcased on this journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks, taking in sparkling salmon streams, heavy birch forests, the vertigo-inducing Hurricane Gulch arch bridge, and North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley. Take the GoldStar service for panoramic views through double-decker dome cars and an outdoor viewing deck, then keep your eyes peeled for black and brown bears, beavers, caribou and even wolves. The Denali Star runs from May to September but if you’re travelling in December, the Aurora Winter Train takes over, with a reduced service that depends on the weather and the number of (intrepid) passengers.