Eight of the Most Beautiful Train Rides in the World


For your next holiday why not ditch the plane for a train journey through some of the most picturesque places in the world. We’ve chosen eight of the most beautiful train rides you can find, whether you’re travelling on a budget or splashing out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

Trains aren’t just for transportation and here are eight reasons why:

Glacier Express – Switzerland

  • The track opened in 1930
  • There are 12 stops and stations through this 291km route
  • There are 91 tunnels and 291 bridges throughout the journey
  • From £120 one-way
  • Cruising through the majestic Swiss Alps against the clear blue sky, you also get to see green valley full of cows making the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz a visual feast.

The Flåm Railway – Norway

  • The track opened in 1941
  • There are 11 stops through this 20.2km route
  • The highest point is 866m high
  • From just £36 one-way
  • The route starts at the small mountain station of Myrdal and winds its way down through the mountains to its terminus in the village of Flåm in the
    fjords – passing snow-covered mountains, spectacular waterfalls, steep valleys and fjord landscapes on the way.

Cinque Terre Railway – Italy

  • The track opened in 1874
  • Using local trains, travel from La Spezia to Genoa
  • There are five stations that make up this 20km Cinque Terre route
  • From just £6.60 using a one-day travel card
  • It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site compromising Italy’s smallest national park and the panoramic train hops between the five small towns and allows you to jump on and off and walk around and explore or hike to the next town before getting back on a train.

Hiram Bingham Orient Express – Peru

  • The track opened in 1999 an Hiram Bingham started operating in 2003
  • Travel via Peru Rail or Belmond Hiram Bingham on a scenic route from Cusco to Machu Pichu
  • The name, Hiram Bingham, is derived from the American explorer who discovered Machu Pichu in 1911
  • If you’re travelling on a budget opt for the £66 one-way ticket with Peru Rail, prices start from £396 for the Hiram Bingham Orient Express experience
  • Both the Hirham Bingham and Peru Rail trains links two of the top destinations in Peru—the colonial city of Cusco and the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu—via a winding, scenic journey through the Urubamba River Valley.

The Snowdonia Railway – Wales

  • The track opened in 1896
  • The length of the track is 7.5km, while the highest point is 1,065m high
  • See the snowcapped mountains from just £37 with the Heritage Steam Experience
  • Offering both a heritage steam service and traditional diesel locomotives, visitors can experience and enjoy the spectacular Welsh mountain scenery just as the Victorians would have done back in 1896.

The TranzAlpine Railway – New Zealand

  • The track opened in 1987
  • Running from Christchurch to Greymouth, the route runs for 223km
  • There are nine stops along the journey
  • Christchurch to Greymouth starts from just £62
  • The TranzAlpine crosses the South Island of New Zealand in 4.5 hours, offering up vistas of Canterbury plains farmland and the Waimakiriri River, followed by dramatic alpine viaducts leading to Arthur’s Pass.

West Highland Railway – Scotland

  • Opened in 1880
  • The journey through Scotland from Glasgow to Mallaig is 331.1km
  • There are 33 stops along the way for you to explore, if you choose to go from Glasgow to Mallaig is from £26.60
  • Trains run north to Fort William, where the West Highland Line officially ends, and continue northwest on the beautiful Mallaig branch line, which crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, where Harry Potter was filmed. Through the journey there are several scenic views, including a great view of Loch Lomond.

Blue Coast Train – France

  • The track opened in 1848
  • Travel from Miramas to Marseille along the coast of France on a 70km track
  • The train goes through 23 tunnels and over 18 viaducts
  • This journey starts from just £13.30 for an all-day travelcard
  • Sit on the left – if you are boarding the train in Marseille – for the gorgeous sea views. But look across to the right now and again for some equally lovely glimpses of the rocky hinterland. The most picturesque part of the route follows, with views into tiny coves and the Blue Coast calanques between Niolon, Ensuès la Redonne and Carry le Rouet.

Discover more about the Flåm Railway here: https://www.expedia. no/vc/c/virtuelle-flam/en

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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