Bucket List Worthy
When we travel in the 21st century, we’re usually so eager to get to our destination, we often forget about the journey. But it hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when travel was all about the journey. Travelers spent days getting to the place they wanted to visit, often using trains to criss-cross continents in the process. But train travel hasn’t completed disappeared, and there are still some fantastic trips that can be made by rail. Here are 5 classic journeys by train that are still operating today.
The Ghan (Australia)
Australia’s classic long-distance train journey still runs between Adelaide and Darwin, via Alice Springs, covering some 2979 km (1851 miles) along the way. The train, which first went into operation back in 1929, passes through Oz’s “Red Centre,” providing stunning views along the way. If passengers ride straight through, it takes roughly 52 hours to complete the journey, but several stops and disembarkation points, allow intrepid travelers to soak up the culture of the Australian Outback, a place that remains as rugged, and beautiful, as ever.
The Blue Train (South Africa)
Without a doubt, the most famous long-distance route in South Africa is the Blue Train. It runs from Cape Town to Johannesburg, covering approximately 1600 km (994 miles) in just 27 hours. Rolling along at speeds that rarely top 110 km/hr (68 mph), the Blue Train offers a smooth, leisurely ride, allowing its passengers to truly enjoy the South African countryside. It passes through wine country as well, making several stops along the way, giving travelers a chance to stretch their legs, while breathing the fresh country air. It’s two lounge cars, plush carriages, and obersvation car ensure comfort and luxury for the entire trip.
The Orient Express (Europe)
Few railways evoke the romance of train travel better than the Orient Express. This classic line runs from Paris to Istanbul, using cars from the 1920’s and 30’s that have been completely restored to their previous glory, with modern amenities added for good measure. Passengers enjoy fine dining while en route, including a five-course, black tie dinner, complete with wine and champaign. Stepping aboard this train today is akin to stepping back into a bygone era, when train travel was the ultimate in luxury. On a continent where train travel is still very popular, the Orient Express continues to stand out as unique way to explore the landscape.
The Royal Scot (United Kingdom)
The Royal Scot is a train in service between London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. Travelers can elect to take the journey in as short as two days, or spend a week exploring all of Great Britain. The train affords plentiful views of the Scottish Highlands, while spoiling its passengers with all kinds of luxuries, including four-star meals made from fresh ingredients obtained while en route. Other amenities include fine wines, live classical music performances, and cabins fit for the Queen. Be warned though, this is quite possibly the most expensive train ride in the world, with two-day trips costing as much as $3600 U.S.
The Trans-Siberian Express (Russia)
Stretching from Moscow to the eastern seaport of Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Express is the epic train journey to end all train journeys. Passengers riding the entire route will cover an awe-inspiring 9289 km (5770 miles), passing through dozens of towns and cities along the way. It takes more than six days to cover the entire distance, with landscapes outside the window shifting from the snowcapped Ural Mountains, to the wide open Russian steppe. The train even passes by beautiful Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world. Travelers can break up their journey by visiting rural villages along the route, giving them a chance to soak up Russian hospitality, history and culture.
Each of these trains provides a unique travel experience unlike any other. They offer luxury and comfort that is seldom seen in travel these days, while still providing passengers with the chance to indulge in local culture. For many, train travel remains the ultimate way to explore a destination.