The 6 Best Luxury Train Rides in the World

Luxury cruises aren’t the only leisurely way to travel the globe. Climb aboard an opulent train, and be transported on an expertly curated tour or an exclusively bespoke journey created for your family, friends, or colleagues. On these luxury train rides, you can delight in the craftsmanship and opulent decor of both vintage and modern trains. Though it might be tempting to simply stay ensconced in the stylish rail cars, don’t miss the off-train excursions to celebrated wineries, royal residences, big-game reserves, and other exciting destinations along your route.

Then retreat to the spacious suites of your sleeper train or relax in the public cars that allow you to observe the spectacular scenery, lounge in a quiet corner, and dine on decadent cuisine prepared by acclaimed chefs. Here are the world’s six best luxury train rides rekindling the romance, adventure, and comfort of riding the rails.

The Best Luxury Train Rides Around the World

Napa Valley Wine Train

Partake of Northern California’s wine country from the plush velvet armchairs of one of the few active historic passenger trains in the United States. Spend a couple of hours savoring a multicourse gourmet dinner, or indulge in six hours roaming through the valley with stops for wine tasting. Elevate your views of the lush landscape with a Vista Dome journey, the wine train’s most luxurious experience in a two-story observation-style dining car. While children are always welcome, we recommend bringing your little ones on a holiday ride, complete with a warm cup of cocoa, a fresh-baked cookie, and a visit from Santa. And before you go check out the top five tips for a rail vacation in the U.S.


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British Pullman

Roll across the English countryside and back to a more elegant era on the restored 1920s carriages of Belmond’s British Pullman. Lose yourself in the antique marquetry, vintage lighting, heritage upholstery, and even steam travel on some journeys on the day train. Ride as the royals do (Cygnus carriage was often reserved for their use), and explore their country retreat at Sandringham, as well as other stately homes and ancient castles. Visit vibrant cities and towns like Bath, Canterbury, and Dover (look for the white cliffs!). Sip Champagne and afternoon tea, or enjoy lunch and a murder mystery. And to see more of Europe, hop on sister train Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in London for more luxe train rides to the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

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Seven Stars in Kyushu

Discover the history, traditions, and culture of the island of Kyushu on Japan’s first luxury sleeper train, launched in 2013. Apply for one of 20 spots on an intimate four-day, three-night cruise. Grab a drink and mingle with fellow passengers in the salon car. Luxuriate in your generously sized guest suite filled with abundant woods and fabrics fusing Japanese and Western styles. Pack your formal wear for dinner on board and comfortable clothes and shoes for detraining from time to time to connect with the locals in the isle’s seven prefectures. Immerse yourself in healing hot springs. Seek out invigorating “power spots” to refresh your body, mind, and soul.

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The Great Southern

Embark on a Journey Beyond rail expedition to the rugged coastline, unique outback, and intriguing capital cities of southeast Australia in summer (December through February in the Southern Hemisphere). On the three-day, two-night Adelaide to Brisbane route, take in Pomonal Estate with its award-winning wines, microbrews, and ciders before taking a helicopter tour of neighboring Grampians National Park. In the national capital of Canberra, dine in the Old Parliament House and learn more about its architecture and art. Or with an extra day and night on the reverse route, spot playful bottlenose dolphins as you cruise Nelson Bay on a 54-foot catamaran and get to know Melbourne, the Victoria State capital, with a 90-minute guided walking tour. Book the platinum level for first-class service and premium extras like a full-size en suite, expansive window views from both sides of the train, and exclusive use of the Platinum Club carriage.

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Rovos Rail

Go wild and venture into the heart of the South African bushveld with a two-night safari, departing from either Pretoria or Durban during the summer months. Participate in a game drive in Nambiti Private Game Reserve, the only one in the area to boast the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalo, and rhinoceroses). Admire art inspired by nature and Zulu folklore at the Ardmore Ceramics gallery. Glide through the breathtaking Valley of a Thousand Hills. Opt for a Royal Suite, which encompasses half a carriage, with its private lounge area and en suite Victorian bath. And peruse the other journeys Rovos Rail has to offer to find the one that piques your interest. If you can’t decide between them, then personalize your itinerary by combining short and long journeys.

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Andean Explorer

Meander through the Andes for a night or two on one of the world’s highest train routes, Belmond’s Andean Explorer. Notice the train’s contemporary aesthetic with light earthen tones pierced by vibrantly colored accents and textured leather and alpaca wool. Select from five journeys uncovering the spirit and hidden gems of Peru. Marvel at Islas Uros, a collection of man-made islands using buoyant reeds to stay afloat on the tranquil Lake Titicaca. On your way to Cuzco, stop by the La Raya market, a colorful stretch of stalls brimming with handicrafts. Pamper yourself for an hour or so in the spa car with treatments based on Andean rituals using botanical blends sourced from the surrounding landscape.

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