Many people like to take the train to get to their holiday destination and this is a relaxing and convenient way to travel. However, what if the train journey was the holiday? Sounds appealing right?
There are many rail experiences around the world that can offer everything you need from a trip abroad. You have the chance to sit back and relax whilst the fantastic scenery glides right past your window, and you get to see and do things that wouldn’t be possible on a normal trip. There’s no reason you have to be confined to the train either. Whilst the journey is definitely a highlight, there are still plenty of opportunities to get off and explore.
Here are some of the world’s best rail holidays.
Rovos Rail – South Africa
Rovos Rail has a range of different journeys that will take you closer to African wildlife and enable you to see many different highlights in one trip. The itineraries are mainly in South Africa but also venture into Namibia and Kenya. The trains themselves are a mixture of classic steam engines that have been lovingly restored by the Vos family and modern diesel and electric locomotives. The carriages are decorated in colonial style, with plush wooden panelling and suites that even have enough room for a bath.
There are open-air observation sections, as well as comfortable lounges where you can relax away from your cabin. Along the way, you will travel across vast deserts, through lush national parks that are home to exotic animals, and to breathtaking natural landmarks such as Kimberly’s Hole and Fish River Canyon.
The Rocky Mountaineer – Canada
The west coast of Canada is well-known as a popular adventure destination, but the best way to experience so much of it at once is on board the Rocky Mountaineer. As the name suggests, this luxurious train travels through the Rocky Mountains, taking guests between the beautiful city of Vancouver and the charming towns of Banff and Jasper.
Needless to say, the scenery here is stunning, as you forge a route that no car could follow. The train travels at 30 mph, allowing you to soak up your surroundings through the panoramic windows and glass, domed roof. Gourmet snacks, drinks, breakfast and lunch are all included and you can choose from either Silver, Gold or Gold Deluxe service. Nights are spent in hotels, not on the train, and all the accommodation is located just minutes from each station. Your luggage travels separately and is seamlessly delivered to your hotel door so you don’t need to worry about lugging it around with you. Highlights include the spectacular Lake Louise and hiking on the Athabasca Glacier.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – London to Venice
Operated by Belmond, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offer journeys all over Europe, but the itinerary from London to Venice is the most popular and convenient for UK travellers. This renowned train will send you back to a time when this was considered the pinnacle of travel. Comfortable cabins transform from banquet seating to beds in the evening, there’s a Champagne car in which you can toast your holiday, and local ingredients picked up during the stops are used to create mouth-watering dishes served with white-gloved aplomb.
Your trip actually starts on another train, the equally alluring British Pullman. Climb aboard at St. Pancras and you’ll be whisked underneath the channel to join the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in France. The next day, a gourmet lunch is served before you have the chance to relax and enjoy the views of Italy’s mountain scenery. Later, afternoon tea is served in your cabin, before you are greeted by the beautiful sight of the Venetian Lagoon.
Bernina Express – Switzerland
Named after the Bernina Alps, which the train travels through, the Bernina Express is possibly the most scenic rail holiday in the world. Alpine surroundings pass by the giant, panoramic windows, as you slide past mountains, over viaducts and through lush vineyards.
The line stretches from Chur, in Switzerland, to Tirano, in Italy, but you can choose to do smaller sections if you wish. The entire route takes around four hours but can be extended by taking the Bernina Bus from Tirano to Lugano. Along the way, you’ll whistle through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges, all the while enjoying the epic views that typify this part of the world.
Trans-Siberian Railway – Russia
Perhaps the most famous rail route on this list, the Trans-Siberian Railway travels along the fabled course from Moscow to Vladivostok. It’s important to remember that the name refers to the route and so, if you are planning to stop along the way, you will use a variety of different trains to make your way across the largest country in the world.
Although not as luxurious as other journeys on this list, this classic rail passage offers a chance to see a side of Russian life that you won’t experience in the major cities. Cabins are comfortable, though, especially if you splash out on a 1st class Spalny Vagon. Travelling the entire route in one go will take seven days, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore towns and cities along the way. One of the most popular stops is the city of Irkutsk, where you can travel to the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal. Plus, with extensions to Beijing, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and even Singapore via other rail links or ferries, there’s no reason why your trip has to end in Vladivostok.
The simplicity and nostalgia of a rail holiday make it such a relaxing option and is the perfect choice for a stress-free trip. If you want to discover any of these routes, or others, give our team a call on 0800 021 3237.