Train Journeys
Beautiful journeys by rail for the nostalgic traveller

From Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express to Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, train travel offers a source of inspiration for creatives everywhere. In a world chasing efficiency and speed, trains offer a moment of meditative quiet and a sense of nostalgia for less tech-savvy times. A comfortable seat and your New York Times bestseller are an added bonus. However, you may not be doing much reading on these journeys — the scenery is too spectacular.

Photo: Max Galli, courtesy of Rhaetische Bahn/swiss-image.ch
Photo: Max Galli, courtesy of Rhaetische Bahn/swiss-image.ch
01. Bernina Express – Switzerland to Italy

Switzerland is famed for its snowy mountains, lush forests and transparent lakes. The Bernina Express goes through some of the most beautiful places in the country. It starts in Chur, goes all the way up to the glaciers and finally descends to sunny Tirano in northern Italy. During the journey, travellers will go through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges, as well as cross a UNESCO World Heritage route.

Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer
Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer
02. Rocky Mountaineer – Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer travels from Banff to Vancouver through the ruggedly beautiful Rocky Mountain range, along cliffs, through green river valleys and past stunning turquoise lakes. Onboard, chefs serve up gourmet meals made with locally sourced ingredients. If sights of bears and eagles are not enough, extra options such as an Alaska cruise can be tacked on.

Photo: Courtesy of Rovos Rail
Photo: Courtesy of Rovos Rail
03. Rovos Rail – South Africa

Nicknamed the “Pride of Africa”, Rovos Rail runs from Cape Town all the way to Tanzania. This train-hotel is considered by many to be one of the most luxurious train rides in the world. Opulent vintage aesthetics and impeccable service take travellers back in time. Dry deserts, exotic wildlife, a preserved Victorian village, gold mines and vineyards are some of the places to see and activities to enjoy.

Photo: Gavin White
Photo: Gavin White
04. Reunification Express – Vietnam

The Reunification Express runs through the entire country of Vietnam, linking the business center Ho Chi Minh City to the capital, Hanoi. Completed in 1936 by the French, the journey lasts 36 hours without interruptions. Or, it can be spread over a week or more to enjoy short stops in places like Hue and Ha Long Bay. Best suited for backpackers, the line offers respectable comfort. The most interesting views are near Da Nang and Hue, and along the Hai Van pass in the mountains.

Photo: Stephen Wilde
Discover the Novel duffle
Photo: Stephen Wilde Discover the Novel duffle

As literature and cinema attest, trains can be romantic, nostalgic or mysterious. Places of transition and reflection, they offer an experience no other transport will ever match.

Written by Kamila Beyssembaeva

Headline image courtesy of Rovos Rail

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