There’s not much I like better than getting on a train to a prime destination, even better if there are some amazing stops along the way and a lot of pampering on board. With train travel, it’s both the journey and the destination that matters. In the routes listed below, travel takes precedence over destination, as travel on a luxury train is like traveling first class, only a few days in a row, in addition to moving around and going out for day trips.
A few years ago I had the chance to travel on the Palace on Wheels (pictured) across North India with my husband and daughter. We had a great cabin with an en-suite bathroom and a butler dedicated to looking after the three suites in our carriage and who took the opportunity to spoil my rotten daughter. And on the day trips, we received preferential treatment everywhere, including being allowed to enter the grounds of the Taj Mahal before it opened to the public in the morning.
It was a wonderful weeklong trip, and I remember a German couple who lived in Mexico and took luxury train rides around the world. They got on our train after crossing Thailand in Singapore and showed us the most beautiful pictures.
It still remains a dream to me, most likely a dream that will not come true because, as wonderful as these trips are, they also cost a lot more than a normal person’s travel budget will allow, unless it is not an occasional special treat.
But that’s what these luxury train trips are meant to be: something to dream about, aim for, and plan for for that special gift ahead. So read on and see which train you’ll hop aboard someday.
1. Palace on Wheels, Rajasthan, India
Although there are now a few other luxury train trips across India, crossing different parts of the vast country, this was the first and still is the best known. the Palace on Wheels departs from Delhi and stops in the Rajasthani towns of Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Agra and more, even with an early morning tiger safari en route.
You’ll see historic sites such as the Compass Rose Palace and stop for lunch at former palaces of Maharajas, such as the incredible Lake Palace in Udaipur, which many will know from James Bond. Octopus. You’ll also visit towering forts such as the imposing Amber Fort before visiting the Taj Mahal at the highlight of the trip.
Each day brings a different breathtaking destination, and the only negative point for me was that while you have time on the train for meals or drinks at the bar, I wish there was a bit more time to enjoy the luxury of the train itself.
Pro tip: Spend a few days in Delhi before getting on the train to overcome the jet lag and adjust to India. India is an assault on all senses: the crowds, the smells, the landscapes, the amazing history take some getting used to. So book a nice hotel and a few excursions in and around Delhi first to get you in the mood.
2. Venice Simplon Orient Express, Paris to Istanbul
The Orient Express is synonymous with luxury train travel and taking the old route, which connected Western Europe to the Gateway to the Orient in style, is still a trip of a lifetime. the Belmond Venice Simplon Orient Express brings back the glamor of the Golden Days of Travel, the style of which is often sorely lacking on many modern trips, no matter how expensive. On this trip, you will depart from Gare de l’Est in Paris and, during a 10-day trip, enjoy stops in Budapest, Sinaia, Bucharest, Romania and Bulgaria before reaching Istanbul. On this trip, the train is the main feature, as you will spend days pampering yourself with top quality food, lots of champagne, and views from the windows as you cross the Alps, follow the Danube and experience the constantly evolving campaign. has to offer.
Pro tip: You can also experience the luxury of the Orient Express on shorter journeys, like this one from London to Venice, allowing you to enjoy the French countryside, crossing the Alps and northern Italy, while enjoying the riches of the trip.
3. Seven stars, Kyushu, Japan
The southwestern island of Kyushu is known for its beautiful volcanic landscape dotted with national parks and hot springs. The Seven Stars Train travels the landscape with carefully planned stops that include a traditional pottery experience and a beautiful lakeside, and an overnight stay in a Ryokan (Japanese hostel), depending on whether you choose a 2-day, 1-night or 4-day, 3-night package route.
But it is the train that is the most important player in this journey: custom-built as the most luxurious sleeper train in the world, the seven coaches shine with wooden floors, paneling interspersed with intricate handcrafted fretwork, all studded with the company’s shiny brass logo and, yes, the en-suite bathrooms not only have handcrafted porcelain sinks and separate showers, but also so-called singing and dancing Japanese toilets.
In the dining car, all the plates or bento boxes of food are every time like a work of art and offer the best of Japanese cuisine.
Pro tip: The trip starts in Fukuoka, the capital of the island, which you will arrive via Tokyo, so allow some extra time for a stopover.
4. El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo, Spain
This luxury train trip gives you the chance to tick off two great trips in one: Walk the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, a challenging trek that allows you to reflect and get back to basics, then, as a reward, take a luxury train to come back in the same direction, take your time, sit down and enjoy the scenery, without any difficulty. The trip is an 8-day, 7-night extravaganza connecting the gastronomic city of San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela, allowing you to make many stops, including Bilbao, along the way.
Pro tip: To make sure you have nice, wrinkle-free clothes for the train and not have to worry about carrying your suitcase on a hike along the Camino, send luggage in advance.
5. Blue train and Rovos Rail, South Africa
In South Africa, along the route between Pretoria and Cape Town, you are torn between two luxury trains taking the exact same route: the Blue train and Rovos Rail. Both boast of being the most luxurious in the world – and both are truly opulent, offering the same stops along the way, like in Kimberley for the Mining Museum. Both trains feature rich paneled decor, butler service, fine cuisine and luxurious cabins. The main difference seems to be that Rovos Rail takes an extra day to reach Cape Town which makes it a bit more expensive. So which one you choose really depends on whether you want to spend more time on a lavish train, watching the stunning African landscapes unfold in front of you, or whether two nights on a train is enough.
Pro tip: Rovos Rail offers other routes than the above, including one to Victoria Falls and a spectacular 9 day safari. You have options – if your budget or the occasion allows.
6. Le Ghan, Australia
Traveling through Australia is an interesting endeavor, but very difficult and at times a little tedious. Unless you jump on a train, of course. The Ghan The train takes you from Adelaide in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory, perfectly cutting Australia in half. A 3 day, 2 night trip through the Outback and the Red Center, with stops in Marla, Alice Springs and Katherine. While not as luxurious as some of the trains mentioned here, it makes up for it with the scenery and the fact that you are crossing an entire country and continent. Having said that, the Platinum service pampers you quite well throughout the trip.
Pro tip: You can also opt for the Ghan’s Expedition, taking an extra day and night, with more excursions.
7. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
It is one of the tallest train rides in the world and one of the most elegant. With only 48 passengers maximum on board the Andean explorer, and two dining cars and two bar cars that take care of them, it features an interior of understated sophistication and colorful hand-woven cushions dotted around. There are four different routes to choose from, all lasting one or two nights, making it always a treat, but a more manageable treat. On board, you’ll dine in style, drink champagne in the piano bar car, and even have access to a spa car while enjoying magnificent views of Peru and the Peruvian Andes. From Cusco to Lake Titicaca, you will see Peru at its best.
Pro tip: If, like my husband, you are prone to altitude sickness, a slow train journey is a good way to adjust to the altitude of some 14,000 feet. Plus, each cabin is equipped with supplemental oxygen, should you need a boost. And then, upon arrival, you’re ready to explore Peru in more detail.