18 of the world’s finest rail journeys | Travel


London to Fort William

Duration: 419 miles/13hr
Price (single): From £45
The Caledonian Sleeper, one among Britain’s final sleeper companies (the opposite is the Night Riviera to Penzance), is getting a £100m improve. The new trains will have double beds, en suites, Highland meals and Arran toiletries. They’ll run first on the Lowland route from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow in October, then be part of the Highland path to Fort William subsequent yr. The Highland service, known as the Deerstalker, is without doubt one of the finest prepare journeys in Britain. After Glasgow, it goes previous Loch Treig to the foot of Ben Nevis. From Fort William, the road continues to Mallaig, throughout the Glenfinnan viaduct – of Harry Potter fame – for ferries to Skye.


Bilbao to Ferrol, Spain

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 267 miles/12½hr
Price: From £52
The narrow-gauge Feve line alongside Spain’s north coast is used primarily by locals and is ideal sluggish travel. Spend per week or extra (a 30-day move is €88.90), hopping on and off at medieval cities, fishing villages and seashores. The route skirts the coast and twists inland by inexperienced valleys. Inntravel has a brand new one-week self-guided journey by prepare from Cudillero to Ribadesella (from £595,

Trondheim to Bodø, Norway

Train trip from Trondheim to Bodo, Norway, across the Arctic Circle.

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 453 miles/10hr
Price: From £18
The Nordlandsbanen Railway is the longest in Norway, and the one one within the nation to cross the Arctic Circle. From Trondheim, it passes farms, forests, mountains, rivers and fjords earlier than reaching Bodø, for ferries to the Lofoten islands. A monument within the Saltfjellet mountains marks the Arctic Circle. From right here, passengers can see the midnight solar in summer season and, with luck, the northern lights in winter – there’s a sleeper in addition to two daytime trains. There are almost 30 stations en route, and the road is included within the Norway Interrail move (from £155,

Naples to Palermo, Italy

Salerno, on the Naples-Palermo line.

Salerno, on the Naples-Palermo line. Photograph: Getty Images

Duration: 196 miles/9hr
Price: £11
There is not any have to fly to Sicily. There are direct rail companies from Milan (in a single day sleeper), Rome and Naples (day and night time), with the trains shunted on to a ferry at Villa san Giovanni in Calabria to cross the Messina Strait. These are a few of Europe’s few remaining passenger ferry trains. The Naples prepare skirts Vesuvius, then largely hugs the shoreline all the way in which to the toe of Italy. Pack a picnic, as there isn’t a catering on board. Once in Sicily, the prepare divides into two, one heading south previous Etna on the way in which to Catania and Siracusa, the opposite going west to Palermo, the capital.

Bastia to Ajaccio, Corsica

Corsica’s Pont du Vecchio, designed by Gustave Eiffel.

Corsica’s Pont du Vecchio, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Photograph: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Duration: 98 miles/3½ hours
Price: £19
Corsica has 144 miles of narrow-gauge observe, constructed by mountains over 22 years within the late 19th century. That enterprise, which took an unbelievable 22 years, has resulted in one among Europe’s most dramatic railways, with 32 tunnels and 52 bridges and viaducts, together with one, the Pont du Vecchio, designed by Gustav Eiffel. The most spectacular stretch is between Corte and Bocognano, following the Gravona valley by gorges and previous the spectacular 70-metre Bride’s Veil waterfall. Another line, from Ponte-Leccia to Calvi, hugs the north-west coast from L’Ile-Rousse. New flights began on three May from Stansted to Ajaccio, Bastia and Figura (from £98,

Mostar to Sarajevo, Bosnia

Countryside in Bosnia and Herzegovina as seen from the train running between Sarajevo and Mostar.

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 73 miles/2hr
Price: £5
Last summer season, after two years of rebuilding, the road between Mostar and Sarajevo reopened with air-conditioned trains. This is a superb prepare discount, with rugged surroundings, particularly alongside the Neretva river. While the highway sticks to the valley, the prepare climbs over the mountains, with viaducts, switchbacks and tunnels. From Sarajevo, there was a direct prepare to Zagreb, in Croatia. Negotiations between the 2 nations proceed – verify for updates.


Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa

Vineyards and mountains in the Hex valley.

Vineyards and mountains within the Hex valley. Photograph: Grobler du Preez/Getty Images

Duration: 951 miles/26hr
Price: £40 in a sleeper
The Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town is without doubt one of the world’s most luxurious, with costs to match: from £895pp. But there are two non-luxury options on the identical route, beginning in Johannesburg slightly than Pretoria. The Shosholoza Meyl prepare is the most affordable, however nonetheless has sleeping automobiles and a restaurant. The Premier Classe prepare (from £189) has non-public sleepers, all meals included and a lounge-bar automotive. Passengers see precisely the identical views of the Karoo desert, Hex river move, Cape wine area and Table Mountain, however at a fraction of the associated fee.

Addis Ababa to Djibouti City, East Africa

Man Conducting Cattle Along The Railway At Lake Basaka, Metehara, Ethiopia

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 452 miles/13hr
Price: From £26
For an actual journey, attempt the brand new line between Ethiopia and Djibouti, which opened final January with new trains and stations, changing previous tracks that shut in 2010. Trains name at Adama within the Rift Valley; cross the Awash river canyon over a 60-metre-high, 155-metre-long bridge; cease off at Ethiopia’s second metropolis, vibrant Dire Dawa; then end at coastal Djibouti City. Tickets have to be booked in individual on the station 24 hours upfront, and travellers ought to enable about 45 minutes for bag checks and immigration controls (you’ll be able to’t board the prepare with no Djibouti visa). Ethiopia is planning different cross-border traces, to Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan, by 2020.

Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam, Zambia/Tanzania

amily of elephant walking in selous game reserve in tanzania

Photograph: Getty Images

Duration: 1,156 miles/46hr
Price: From £17
The Tazara prepare is an effective way to go on safari on a tiny price range. The route goes although Selous game reserve, one of many largest within the world, for the prospect to identify elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions, giraffes, zebras and extra. That’s transport, two nights’ lodging and wildlife viewing for beneath £20! By comparability, the luxurious Rovos Rail tour follows the identical route from Dar es Salaam earlier than persevering with to Angola or Cape Town, from £9,000 for 15 days.


Los Mochis to Chihuahua, Mexico

the railway line (El Chepe) from Los Mochis to Chihuahua, the last passenger train in Mexico

Photograph: Franck Guiziou/Getty Images

Duration: 406 miles/16hr
Price: £53
If this route, with its 86 tunnels and 37 bridges, doesn’t provide you with a motive to look out the window we’re unsure what is going to. The prepare rides by the canyons of the Sierra Tarahumara because it runs from the coast to the town of Chihuahua. It’s the right route for a cross-country journey – passengers could make as much as three completely different in a single day stops at no further value.

Sudbury to White River, Canada

VIA Rail passenger train near Lake Superior

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 298 miles/9hr
Price: From £36
The epic, two-night Churchill to Winnipeg route – providing passengers the prospect to identify all the pieces from polar bears to the northern lights – is at the moment suspended after flooding broken observe and bridges. However, there are many different Canadian rail adventures, reminiscent of this journey, informally known as the Budd Car, that hyperlinks many distant settlements in northern Ontario which are solely accessible by rail. The wilderness route goes by wealthy forests and previous shimmering, crystal-clear rivers, all of which travellers can stare upon in consolation by the prepare’s massive home windows. The prepare runs 3 times per week, and is especially common in October for the autumn colors.

Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska

Bridge over Hurricane Gulch in central Alaska

Photograph: Micah Mabin/Getty Images

Duration: 356 miles/12hr
Price: From £137
The Denali Star is the Alaska Railroad’s flagship prepare, winding previous rivers, canyons and mountains; highlights embody the view from the Hurricane Gulch bridge (pictured), and, on a transparent day, the sight of Denali, North America’s highest mountain. The journey will be unfold over just a few days, with nights in Anchorage and the nationwide park (£600 for 5 nights). The trains runs each day from 16 May to 16 September, and on winter weekends and chosen weekdays.

Lima to Huancayo, Peru

The Ferrocaril Central Andino train crosses the Andes en route from Lima to Huancayo, Peru.

Photograph: Mark Tucan/Getty Images

Duration: 206 miles/12hr
Price: From £87
Most travellers to Peru will take the vacationer prepare from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It’s a enjoyable journey (albeit a busy one) however for a extra uncommon expertise, attempt the journey from Lima to Huancayo, the charming capital of the central highlands. The second-highest passenger railway journey within the world, it reaches a top of four,782 metres because it rolls by the Andes. Before planning a visit, nevertheless, word that the prepare solely runs a few times a month; verify the web site for timetables.

Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam, India

Nilgiri Mountain Railway, moving through a tea estate, Tamil Nadu

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 29 miles/5hr
Price: About 30p
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Udagamandalam (or Ooty) hill station is India’s solely rack and pinion railway, a part of the Unesco-listed Mountain Railways of India. Its blue-and-cream trains ply the steepest observe in Asia. The uphill leg takes about 5 hours, nevertheless it’s simply three-and-a-half again down. It runs previous ravines, tea plantations and forested hills; the prepare crosses 250 bridges and passes by 16 tunnels. This yr, steam trains have been reintroduced, although priced for vacationers (weekends to 24 June, from £eight.60). Book properly upfront.

Colombo to Jaffna, Sri Lanka

The Queen of Jaffna train arrives in Jaffna.

The Queen of Jaffna prepare arrives in Jaffna. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP

Duration: 190 miles/6¾hr
Price: About £three.50
For many years northern Sri Lanka was nearly minimize off by the civil struggle, and second metropolis Jaffna lost inhabitants and status. But the road from the capital reopened in 2013, and now foreigners and Sri Lankans alike are exploring the town and its fascinating Tamil tradition. Intercity trains are speculated to take lower than seven hours, although delays are frequent. Reservable first- and second-class tickets go on sale 30 days upfront, however there’s no on-line reserving: guests want to make use of an company reminiscent of Book properly upfront to snaffle a seat in an commentary automotive (chosen trains solely) with massive home windows for watching the surroundings change from lush to dry, dotted with bright-striped Hindu temples.

Xining to Lhasa, China/Tibet

Qinghai-Tibet RailwayBD2D33 Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Photograph: Alamy

Duration: 1,225 miles/21hr
Price: From £55
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the best within the world, climbing to a wide ranging 5,231 metres on the Tanggula Pass. There are direct long-distance trains to Lhasa from a number of main Chinese cities, together with Beijing and Shanghai, however it’s advisable to not go straight there however to spend a few days acclimatising to the altitude in Xining (2,300 metres) alongside the way in which. (The prepare carriages do have oxygen pumped into them, although, and further oxygen tubes for passengers.) Foreign nationals want a allow to enter Tibet – that is finest organized by an authorised travel company. The surroundings of the Tibetan plateau is breathtaking: arid steppe crisscrossed by frozen rivers, with a backdrop of snow-covered peaks. There are plans to increase the road to the subtropical city of Zhangmu on the Nepal border by 2020.

Poipet to Sisophon, Cambodia

Train line at Sisophon, Cambodia

Photograph: Tom Cockrem/Getty Images

Duration: 30 miles/1¼hr
Price: Free (to 31 July)
From 2009, there have been no passenger trains in Cambodia. Then, in 2016, the southern line from the capital, Phnom Penh, to Sihanoukville within the south reopened. Last month, a part of the northern line reopened, too, for the primary time in 45 years. So far, there’s only a brief part in operation, from Poipet, on the Thai border, to Sisophon, Cambodia’s fourth metropolis, however it is going to be prolonged south to common Battambang on the finish of the month, then on to Pursat and Phnom Penh (209 miles in complete). Best of all, travel on the road is totally free till the top of July. A brand new route can be being deliberate between Phnom Penh and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. When each traces are accomplished, it should open up prepare travel between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.


Belgrave to Gembrook, Victoria

Puffing Billy steam train crossing historic trestle bridge, Belgrave.

Photograph: Christopher Groenhout/Getty Images

Duration: 15 miles/2hr
Price: £28
Australia has mammoth prepare journeys, reminiscent of the two,698-mile Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth and the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. Puffing Billy will not be like these: the century-old steam prepare chugs by the Dandenong Ranges close to Melbourne. After the historic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge, it enters a ferny forest that’s home to echidnas and koalas. It is nice for households, and much more manageable than a cross-country epic.

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