11 Most Scenic Railway Journeys in the World
Train travel has always been an exciting and captivating way to explore new places, especially when it comes to scenic railway journeys. There’s something magical about sitting back and watching the world go by, taking in breathtaking landscapes and stunning vistas. We’ve compiled a list of the 11 most scenic railway journeys in the world, showcasing some of the most spectacular routes across the globe.
Whether you’re looking to traverse snow-capped mountains, ride along dramatic coastlines, or immerse yourself in vibrant cultures and histories, these journeys offer it all. From the rugged terrain of Canada’s Rocky Mountains to the lush landscapes of Peru’s Sacred Valley, each route has its own unique charm and attractions. So, hop on board and get ready for an unforgettable journey through some of the world’s most beautiful destinations by rail.
World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys
1 The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the most famous and breathtaking train journeys in the world. This two-day journey takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, passing through spectacular scenery and wildlife along the way. Highlights of the journey include the Kicking Horse Pass, Spiral Tunnels and the Coast Mountains. The route also includes stops in charming towns such as Banff and Jasper, giving you the opportunity to explore the local culture and attractions.
2 Crossing the Nine Arches Bridge on the Sri Lanka Main Line
Riding by train from Kandy to to Ella is like travelling back in time. Linking Colombo to Badulla, Sri Lanka’s Main Line was opened in 1864, to connect the capital with the tea estates. At its highest point it reaches 1,898 m above sea level, winding through tea estates, mist-covered valleys and colourful villages. Stand up and take in the great views, or eat some samosas or pakora from pedlars as they drift through the carriages. Make sure you stay on the train to Demodara to catch the magnificent Nine Arches Bridge (see main photo), one of the most spectacular sights in Sri Lanka. Train buffs note the line still operates on a lock-and-block signaling system.
3 The Glacier Express, Switzerland
The Glacier Express is one of Switzerland’s most popular scenic railway journeys, and for good reason. The journey takes you through the stunning Swiss Alps, passing through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges. Highlights of the journey include the Oberalp Pass, the Rhine Gorge and the Matterhorn. The journey also includes stops in charming towns such as Zermatt and St. Moritz, giving you the opportunity to explore the local culture and attractions. When in Switzerland you could also go for a ride on the Mount Rigi train.
4 The Ghan, Australia
The Ghan is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys, crossing the vast and rugged Australian Outback. The route takes you from Adelaide to Darwin, passing through spectacular scenery such as the Flinders Ranges and Katherine Gorge. The journey also includes stops in historic towns such as Alice Springs, giving you the opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Australia’s indigenous people.
5 The Blue Train, South Africa
The Blue Train is a luxurious and unforgettable journey through the heart of South Africa. The route takes you from Cape Town to Pretoria, passing through stunning landscapes such as the Winelands and the Karoo. The journey includes stops in historic towns such as Kimberley, allowing you to experience the rich cultural heritage of South Africa.
6 The West Highland Line, Scotland
The West Highland Line is one of Scotland’s most scenic railway journeys, taking you through the stunning landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. The route includes highlights such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Lomond, and the Ben Nevis range. The journey also includes stops in charming towns such as Fort William and Mallaig, giving you the opportunity to explore the local culture and attractions.
7 The Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
The Belmond Andean Explorer is one of the most luxurious and scenic railway journeys in the world. The route takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian Andes, passing through remote villages and ancient Incan sites such as Machu Picchu. Highlights of the journey include the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and Cusco.
8 The Flam Railway, Norway
The Flåm Railway is one of Norway’s most popular and scenic railway journeys, taking you through stunning fjords and mountains. The route includes highlights such as the Kjosfossen waterfall, the Aurlandsfjord and the Flamsbana Railway Museum. You can extend your rail journey to either Bergen or Oslo, allowing you to experience the rich cultural heritage of Norway.
9 The Coastal Pacific, New Zealand
The Coastal Pacific is one of New Zealand’s most scenic railway journeys, taking you along the picturesque coastline of the South Island. The route includes highlights such as the Kaikoura Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the historic town of Picton. The journey stops in Christchurch the largest city on the country’s south island. You can also go whale watching in Kaikoura.
10 The Palace on Wheels, India
The Palace on Wheels is a luxurious and romantic train journey through the vibrant and colourful state of Rajasthan in India. The route takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Thar Desert, passing through historic cities such as Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. The journey also includes visits to iconic attractions such as the Taj Mahal and the Amber Fort.
11 The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, China
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, a remarkable engineering marvel, is a popular way to experience Tibet travel adventures. Stretching across approximately 1,956 miles, it’s the highest and longest plateau railway globally. As you embark on your Tibet tour, this railway offers a breathtaking ride, connecting you to the mystical heart of Tibet. With panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, vast plains, and serene lakes, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway becomes an integral part of your Tibet tour, providing an unforgettable experience and a deeper connection to the unique culture and natural wonders of the region.
Each of these ten scenic railway journeys offers a unique and unforgettable experience, taking you through some of the world’s most stunning landscapes and cultural destinations. Whether you’re a train enthusiast or simply seeking a new way to explore the world, these rail journeys are sure to inspire and awe. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and hop on board for the adventure of a lifetime along the world’s most scenic railway journeys.