If you have trains on the brain, you’re not alone. This year is predicted to be big for rail travel. Once seen as a dated form of transportation by many travelers, train journeys have never been more appealing as people are eager to slow down, reduce their carbon footprint, and enjoy the scenery, whether from a first-class cabin or a coach car.
According to Pinterest Predicts, a future-trends report from the online platform, searches for train-related content surged from 2020 to 2022. Pins for “train travel aesthetic,” for instance, increased by 40 percent alone.
While air travel remains faster and more efficient, train travel can be glamorous, nostalgic, and sustainable. If you’re plotting a trip for the year ahead, consider these international and domestic trips for an intentional escape. Remember: You’re the conductor of your life. Chart an adventurous ride you won’t soon forget.
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There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh mountain air or the sight of snow while you sit comfortably in a train car. Launched in December 2022, GoldenPass Express is a new panoramic train trip connecting three tourist hotspots in Switzerland: Montreux, Interlaken, and Gstaad. The trip features stunning sights like Swiss lakes, mountain passes, villages, and vineyards. For the ultimate experience, splurge on reclining leather seats and caviar service in Prestige class.
Orient Express La Dolce Vita
A chic new Orient Express train called La Dolce Vita is launching in 2023 with two-day itineraries trekking through Italy from Rome and onward to Venice, Siena, Matera, and Palermo. The train’s design is inspired by the 1960s and ’70s, and the 11 cars offer passengers deluxe cabins with private bathrooms. A stay aboard the posh Accor train starts at around $2,000 per night.
Rovos Rail’s Copper Trail is an epic 14-night train journey launched last summer. The jaw-dropping experience transports travelers through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A visit to an elephant sanctuary is included in the journey, along with a three-night Zambian safari. History buffs, take note: The train has an onboard historian.
Combining local with luxe, the Rocky Mountaineer features dome-window coach cars with magnificent views of mountains and deserts. The train’s newest route, Rockies to the Red Rocks, carries travelers between Denver and Moab, Utah, with a sleepover stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. All meals onboard are inspired by the region, and riders can spot wildlife like eagles, deer, sheep, and mountain lions along the way.
A new line of Amtrak Acela trains is expected to launch in fall 2023 and serve the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. The route isn’t new, but the fresh trains boast winged headrests, increased legroom, more comfortable seats, and faster Wi-Fi. And it’s not just the internet that’s speedy. Acela trains go up to 10 miles per hour faster than most other Amtrak trains in service.
Train Suite Shiki-shima
Luxury train travel through Japan has never looked sleeker. Train Suite Shiki-shima’s two new journeys starting in spring 2023 will take travelers on two-day trips from Tokyo to Nagano or Yamanashi. The luxe journeys from JR East offer a unique way to experience Japan’s stunning natural beauty, mountain villages, and culture. The train moves at a slower pace than those speedy bullet trains, allowing for prime sightseeing opportunities.
On this ride, it’s all about the journey. Sky Railway’s Adventure Train travels 18 miles between Santa Fe and historic Lamy, New Mexico. Sky Railway’s themed trips include sunset sojourns, jazz-centric journeys, and stargazing excursions. Looking for your own Knives Out experience? Book the “Murder on the Lamy Line” murder-mystery trip for a train ride with a whodunit twist.
Scheduled to launch in December 2023, the Mayan Train (“Tren Maya”) will connect tourist hotspots like Cancún with Mexican cultural heritage sites and less-traveled inland destinations. This 948-mile route has been in the works since 2020 when construction began near the ruins of Chichén Itzá. The Mayan Train will have 42 train cars in three different styles, boasting panoramic windows, restaurant cars with Mexican cuisine, and comfortable cars for long-haul journeys.
As interest in train travel surges, so does a desire for sleeper service. In May 2023, European Sleeper is launching a Brussels-to-Berlin route aboard The Good Night Train with sleeper cars available at various price points. The trains feature onboard Wi-Fi and charging stations. Both pets and bicycles are welcome on the train too.
Walt Disney World Railroad
The most magical place on Earth made train lovers happy when the Walt Disney World Railroad, which had been closed and undergoing maintenance since the pandemic, returned in December 2022. Celebrating classic Americana, the narrow-gauge steam train, which loops the Magic Kingdom theme park, features a friendly conductor who points out notable sights along the way. The train now travels through a newly erected tunnel in Tomorrowland adjacent to the forthcoming Tron Lightcycle Run roller coaster.
Anne McCarthy is a freelance writer who splits her time between the U.S. and Europe. She has contributed to The Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian, Wired, and Business Insider.
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