Top 10 most beautiful train routes in the world
Top 10 most beautiful train routes in the world
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Taking a train through an unfamiliar country is one of the most romantic things you can do. Enjoy fine dining and a comfortable night's sleep in a four-poster bed as you pass through a variety of breathtaking landscapes without having to worry about traffic, packing your tent into a small car, or finding a discreet place in the woods to use your glamorous roll of toilet paper.

While not every train ride is as breathtaking as these, they are sure to impress. Here are the top 10 most scenic train rides in the world.

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What are the most beautiful train routes in the world?

10. Kuranda Scenic Railway

Photo: 123RF
Photo: 123RF

The Wet Tropics in far north Queensland are home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna and are among the oldest rainforests on Earth, making them a World Heritage Site. There are over 12,000 species of flowering plants and 800 species of rainforest trees in this lush green world, not to mention spectacular orchids, strangler figs, exotic palms, and hundreds of other unique creatures.

Now imagine all that natural wonder so close that you can almost touch it, your senses alive with the heady organic fragrance and untamed sounds of the dense rainforest. That's what it's like aboard Kuranda Scenic Railway, as you unwind your way through a tropical paradise framed by rugged mountains with waterfalls tumbling forever into deep ravines.

Kuranda Scenic Railway is a must-do if you want to feel at one with the rainforest while taking a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

The road to Kuranda climbs from sea level to 328 meters, taking travelers past breathtaking waterfalls and into the breathtaking Barron Gorge. Winding through beautiful landscapes, you'll pass through 15 hand-built tunnels and over 37 soaring bridges that serve as a memorial to the northern settlers who built them.

Kuranda Scenic Railway is a must-do because it allows visitors to feel at one with the rainforest while taking them on a journey they will never forget.

9. The Flåm Line

Photo: Fjord Norway
Photo: Fjord Norway

The Flm Railway is widely considered to be one of the most scenic train rides in the world and a top attraction for visitors to Norway. The train runs from the end of Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, up to the high mountains at Myrdal station.

The train runs from the end of Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, up to the high mountains at Myrdal station. The trip showcases the best of Western Norway's breathtaking scenery.

The journey from the Sognefjord in Flm, at sea level, to the Myrdal mountain station, 867 meters above sea level, takes about an hour on the train. In addition to being a stop on the Flm Railway, Myrdal is also on the Bergen Line, allowing passengers to transfer to trains traveling between Bergen and Oslo.

The Flåm Railway is one of the steepest standard gauge railway lines in the world, with 80% of the journey running on a gradient of 5.5%. A single trip up and down is not enough for many people because the train passes through such breathtaking scenery, including the Rallar Road, sheer mountain sides, foaming waterfalls, and 20 tunnels.

8. Grand Canyon National Railway

Photo: Grand Canyon Destinations
Photo: Grand Canyon Destinations

Between Williams, Arizona and Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim, there is a heritage railroad known as the Grand Canyon Railway (reporting mark GCRX).

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway finished construction on their 64-mile (103-kilometer) line on September 17, 1901. Grand Canyon Village was established to accommodate the influx of tourists brought about by the railroad's arrival. Because of falling demand from car travel, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway ended Grand Canyon Railway passenger service in July 1968 and freight service in 1974.

The line was purchased by private investors in 1988, and on September 17, 1989, passenger service was resumed. The railroad now operates year-round, transporting hundreds of people to and from the canyon every day.

Because of the significant impact the Grand Canyon Railway had on American history, the entire route was included in the National Register of Historic Places.

7. Napa Valley Wine Train

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

An elegant throwback in time. Elegant railcars that are 100 years old. A historic 150-year-old rail corridor. The Wine Train proudly upholds the dying railroading traditions of the United States while preserving a piece of Napa Valley's past. The train that used to take people to a Calistoga spa resort now takes tourists on a 36-mile round-trip discovery to St. Helena and back, with stops at famous Napa Valley wineries.

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6. Hiram Bingham Orient Express

Photo: Belmond
Photo: Belmond

The Belmond Hiram Bingham is a luxury train that travels to and from Machu Picchu's train station of Aguas Calientes in Peru every day.

The train, whose name honors the man who unearthed the long-lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, makes its way from the Andes down through the Sacred Valley, following the Urubamba River for much of the way.

The train has a couple of lounge cars, a bar car, and an open-air observation car. Travelers enjoy brunch before departure and dinner after arrival. In the bar car, travelers can sip pisco, a traditional drink from Peru, while listening to a live performance by a regional band.

In 1999, Belmond Hiram Bingham was founded by Peru Rail SA President and Owner Lorenzo Sousa and Orient-Express Hotels to manage three hotels in Peru as part of a 50/50 joint venture with Peruvian Trains and Railways; the number of hotels has since increased to six.

5. The Maharajas’ Express

Photo: Luxe Digital
Photo: Luxe Digital

India's beautiful landscapes, breathtakingly romantic architecture, and culturally diverse array of sights and sounds need no introduction. A journey on the Maharajas' Express, however, through such picturesque landscapes, brings about a plethora of emotions and pleasures.

The Maharajas Express has all the conveniences necessary to accommodate 88 passengers in style, transporting them back to a bygone era. The train's ride will be more comfortable thanks to pneumatic and hydraulic suspension systems.

The Maharajas Express features not only opulent dining and lounge cars, but also Deluxe, Junior Suite, Suite, and Presidential Suite cabin options. Every one of them features expansive glass windows. The valet service is available around the clock to make sure that all passengers are taken care of, from bringing them drinks to making sure their rooms are ready for bed.

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4. The Rocky Mountaineer

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Three distinct rail routes across Canada are part of the vacation packages offered by Rocky Mountaineer. The best way to see the majestic Canadian Rockies is from the comfort of this world-famous luxury train as it glides through the daytime through the wild beauty of Canada's West. Travel to Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, and Calgary in Alberta and British Columbia and experience some of the best in travel. During the trip, guests ride in a dome car, are served gourmet hot meals and non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, and listen to the entertaining stories of the hosts.

3. The Orient Express

Photo: Time Out
Photo: Time Out

The world's most luxurious train, the "Le Grand Train," departed from Gare de l'Est on October 4, 1883. An incredible technological feat was accomplished: communication between Paris and Constantinople was established in less than 76 hours. Visitors were treated to a glimpse of the luxurious interior of the Orient-Express, a veritable "rolling palace" outfitted with exquisite touches such as precious wood marquetry, glass panels, fabrics, refined leather, and pillows and bedding that ensured a restful night's sleep. Not to mention the incredible dining experience you'll have at the restaurant.

Seven vintage railcars have been painstakingly restored to bring the Orient Express back to life. Everything aboard, from afternoon tea in the lounge car to dinner in the elegant dining car and drinks at the cocktail piano in the bar car, brings back memories of the past's magic. There has been no progress.

2. Pacific Surfliner

Photo: Pacific Surfiner
Photo: Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner Amtrak trains run between Los Angeles and San Diego along the coast of Southern California. There are many beach and wine communities along the route, and passengers are welcome to bring their own surfboards and bicycles so they can make the most of the outdoors once they reach their destination.

1. Nevada Northern Railway

Photo: Los Angeles Times
Photo: Los Angeles Times

The main purpose of the Nevada Northern Railway (reporting mark NN) was to connect White Pine County, Nevada, a significant copper-producing region, to the outside world. Built between 1805 and 1906, the railway ran roughly 140 miles (230 km) northward from Ely to connections with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Cobre and the Western Pacific Railroad at Shafter. On 162 miles (261 km) of line, NN reported 40 million net ton-miles of revenue freight in 1967.

Since 1983, the remaining portion of the Nevada Northern has essentially been abandoned. The Cobre-East Ely line was acquired by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in 1987 with the intention of building a coal-fired generating plant along the route; however, this project was never built. Meanwhile, Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) briefly resumed copper mining near Ruth in the 1990s. As part of this project, the BHP Nevada Railroad built extra trackage close to Ruth and resumed service from there all the way to Shafter in 1996. Concentrates were transported by truck rather than rail when mining recommenced in 2004 after the mine and railroad closed down once more in 1999.

The city of Ely purchased the abandoned line between Ely and Cobre in 2006. Plans to build the Ely Energy Center, a 2,500 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the Ely area, near 2008 by Sierra Pacific Resources raised the possibility that the railroad might have experienced a second rebirth, transporting incoming coal loads to White Pine County. Though those plans have since been shelved, Ely and the Nevada Northern Railway Museum have explored other avenues to potentially restore the mainline route in its entirety for heritage purposes.

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