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In these days of immediacy, where jet travel is king and the car our own private cocoon, rail travel is often overlooked or seen as the domain of the commuter.

In certain parts of the world, however, taking the train enables you to experience a country from a whole new angle.

Whether it’s marvelling at the unrivalled efficiency of Japan’s bullet train network, indulging in the opulence of a journey on Rajasthan’s Palace on Wheels, or sharing a white-knuckle ride with some Ecuadorians around the switchback hairpins of the Devil’s Nose, travelling by train will certainly enhance your appreciation of the indigenous culture.

Our favourite train journeys

Club lounge, Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail — South Africa

The beautifully restored carriages of Rovos Rail combine luxury travel with the chance to experience living history.

The Blue Train with Table Mountain in the distance

The Blue Train — South Africa

Following a historic route between Pretoria and Cape Town, The Blue Train is one of South Africa’s finest rail journeys. On board, you can experience fine dining, relax in your own private suite and take in mountain views from the Observation Car.

The Indian Pacific, Adelaide

The Indian Pacific — Australia

As the name implies, The Indian Pacific links two oceans in one of the world’s longest and greatest train journeys. Travelling from Sydney to Perth, or vice versa, it covers a distance of 2,720 miles over three nights.

The TranzAlpine Train, New Zealand

TranzAlpine Railway — New Zealand

Making the great traverse of the Southern Alps, the TranzAlpine train links Christchurch on the Pacific with Greymouth on the Tasman Sea, in a spectacular journey lasting four and a half hours.

The Skeena

Skeena Train — Canada

Plunging deep into the wilds of British Columbia, the Skeena takes you on a 1,160 kilometre journey past the highest peaks of the Rockies, countless lakes, waterfalls, frontier settlements and forested mountain slopes.

Belmond Andean Explorer Sleeper Train - Dining Cart

Andean Explorer — Peru

Puno is the place to board the Andean Explorer train to Cuzco. This spectacular rail journey, on a comfortable train with restaurant, bar and viewing carriage, takes about 10 hours.


Japan’s bullet trains: an all-you-need-to-know guide

Japan has long been celebrated for its high-speed train innovations. Japan specialist Phil explains why, for him, Japan’s bullet trains are an ideal way to see the country. He shares his experiences riding the trains through Japan and how to incorporate them into your trip.