Traveling is often done by plane or by car, but let's not forget about trains! Taking a trip by railway is a great way to get an intimate view of a place—particularly when there are no surrounding roads for vehicular traffic. And because their pathways often predate the use of automobiles, trains take you over historic bridges, along the base of mountains, and next to the ocean without a car in sight.
Wondering what the best train rides are in the world? Depending on your desired locale, you’re sure to find a trip that will provide you with breathtaking displays, from nature's beauty to cultural landmarks. Some of these excursions are long; the Trans-Siberian Railway, for instance, takes eight days to traverse. But if you’re looking for less commitment, there are plenty of train rides that will only take a day and will transport you through rainforests or to the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Scroll down to check out some of the most scenic train rides in the world.
Enjoy the view when you travel on some of the best train rides in the world.
Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West, Canada
Considered to be one Canada’s most scenic train rides, the Rocky Mountaineer ushers you from the bustling Vancouver metropolis to the resort town of Banff, which is home to Banff National Park. The train runs alongside the Thompson River and also highlights the Canadian Rockies.
Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
The luxurious Belmond Hiram Bingham offers an alternative way to experience Peru’s Machu Picchu. This trip begins at the ancient capital city of Cusco, goes through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and ends at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Andes Mountains.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier Express connects two breathtaking mountain resorts: Zermatt and St. Moritz. Along the way, you’ll enjoy the stunning beauty of the Swiss Alps and ride past meadows, mountain lakes, and across the Oberalp Pass at 6,706 feet high. This day-long journey also features 91 tunnels and 291 bridges.
Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
Settle in for this trip. The Trans-Siberian Railway is 5,772 miles long, making it one of the world’s longest train routes—it spans the width of Russia! You start in Moscow, cross the Ural Mountains and then the Siberian forest. Over the course of eight days, you’ll witness Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume.
Pacific Surfliner, California, USAWant to see California? Amtrak’s Pacific Sunliner will take you through some of the state’s gorgeous sites. It starts in San Luis Obispo, home to a college as well as nearby wineries. Throughout the 350-mile journey, you’ll take in the rocky coastline with ocean views while being able to make stops in major cities like Santa Barbara and Los Angeles before reaching your final destination of San Diego.
Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland
Despite its relatively short 84-mile round trip, you’ll see a lot on the Jacobite Steam Train. Your journey begins in the Scottish Highlands near Great Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. While in transit, you’ll see rolling green hills, small towns, and cross over the famous 21-span Glenfinnan Viaduct.