The Lists

7 Most Glamorous and Immersive Luxury Train Journeys

the best luxury trains in the world including travel itineraries in Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

The experts predict that the golden age of train travel is returning this year. The romance of it, the slower pace, the potential for meeting new people – and in some cases, the lower carbon footprint – are all making trains a highly attractive way to travel on a luxury vacation. Of course, the current chaos at airports in this post-pandemic era is another compelling reason to ride the rails. Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has curated a list of 7 of the best, most glamorous luxury train journeys in the world, including travel itineraries in Europe, Asia, Canada and more.

what are the best luxury train journeys in the world?

Just when we thought all of our travel dreams would come true this summer, headline after headline from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and others have described flying as “messy”, “chaotic”, “unpredictable”, and “hell.”

The demand is high with crowds returning to pre-pandemic levels but staff shortages from pilots to air traffic controllers are grounding flights, leaving travelers stranded at the last minute. Over in Europe, Ryan Air and British Airways staff are beginning strikes over pay concerns. And, as anyone who has searched for flights this summer can attest, be prepared for sticker shock.

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Despite the ominous warnings, we really don’t want to revert back to the road trips and staycations from the height of the pandemic. Is there another option? Dear reader, yes there is. The stylish interiors and glamorous train adventures that have been immortalized in Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited” and of course, “Murder on the Orient Express” might seem like they’re from a bygone era. But, in fact, luxury train journeys still exist.

the best luxury train journeys in the world

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

Slow travel is indulgent and romantic and the perfect antidote for those missing the high quality amenities and service that used to be part of air travel. Think private accommodations with sumptuous linens, real flatware, and gourmet meals while the scenery unfolds before you. If you’re seeking a more dignified way to travel this summer and beyond, here are the 7 of the most luxurious train journeys to experience.

7 best luxury train journeys in Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S. right now

1. Venice Simplon Orient Express

Yes, this is THE iconic Orient Express, immortalized in Agatha Christie’s famous novel. The most classic route takes passengers from Paris to Venice with continuation to Istanbul and it remains the grand dame of elegance and white-glove service. The vintage steam train is outfitted with restored art-deco cars — some with marbled en suite bathrooms!

best luxury train journeys in the world

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe: the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

The cuisine is fresh and exquisite, reflecting ingredients that are sourced locally along the way. You could turn down for the night in your cabin watching the world go by or join other travelers at the bar, conversing over Negronis and martinis while the resident pianist plays requests on the baby grand.

2. Rocky Mountaineer

If you’re not the hiking type, but still want to take in the majesty of the Rockies, consider boarding this upscale rail to view the incredible scenery and wildlife. Choose from four different routes in America and Canada. The coaches have been custom-designed to provide panoramic views while you meander alongside rushing rivers and lofty mountain peaks.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S. The Rocky Mountaineer.

 

The trip is further enhanced by a host who highlights regional history and provides information about the flora and fauna. Guests also enjoy dine on delicious, regionally-inspired cuisine and enjoy unlimited complimentary drinks and gourmet snacks.

3. Seven Stars in Kyushu

Easily one of the most gorgeous trains on our list, Japan’s Seven Stars in Kyushu gets its name from the seven prefectures on the island of Kyushu. Choose from a two or four day journey in one of the 14 elegant en-suite cabins that reflect Japanese artistry and design.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

The dining car serves world-class Japanese cuisine made from seasonal ingredients which can be enjoyed before the evening’s live musical performances in the lounge cars.

4. Royal Scotsman

The romance of travel is alive and well in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Mahogany-clad cars marry Edwardian elegance with the comforts of a country house on their classic five-day 720-mile trip. During the day, there are opportunities to try morning clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing, or visit a whisky distillery.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S. The Royal Scotsman.

The heart of the train is the Observation Car, a plush lounge where travelers mingle and enjoy complimentary drinks and. head to the open deck to enjoy panoramic views and fresh Highland air. When you need to relax, retreat to the airy, wood-clad Bamford Haybarn Spa car for botanically inspired holistic treatments.

5. Maharajas’ Express

Consistently ranked among the most luxurious railway journeys, the Maharajas’ Express offers guests the opportunity to explore the rich cultural sites of India. The most popular tour is an eight-day journey which includes stops in Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi. One stand out feature is that each immaculate cabin has access to their very own private butler throughout the trip.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

There are two restaurants aboard the train offering multi-course menus with Indian or continental cuisine — on gold-trimmed plates and utensils. Off-train excursions enhance the royal treatment where you are greeted with local dancers, musicians, or animals at each stop.

6. Eastern & Oriental Express

Inspired by the 1932 Marlene Dietrich film, “Shanghai Express,” the E&O is elegantly designed with high-end details like cherrywood paneling, Thai silk and Malaysian embroidery. The train runs 1,262 miles between Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand passing through lush jungles and and ancient temples.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

All the while, dress up for restaurant-worthy dinners inspired by Asian flavors and prepared by internationally renowned chefs. Enjoy the convivial company of your fellow passengers over signature cocktails and off-train excursions like cycling through rice paddies or cooking class on a raft cruise.

7. The Rovos Rail

If you’re dreaming of covering some of Africa’s greatest destinations including Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Namibia and Dar es Salaam, The Rovos Rail will take you there in luxury and old-world elegance. There are two restored classic trains each with 20 original coaches remodeled and refurbished to pristine condition.

The best luxury train journeys in the world, including Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.

The company has thought of everything to keep you in comfort including laundry service, hair salon, drinks 24 hours a day (alcoholic and otherwise), ample breakfasts, afternoon teas with sandwiches and cakes, and extraordinary four-course lunches and dinners with great South African wines.

best luxury train journeys in the world

If you’re choosing between trains, planes and automobiles this summer, we think an old fashioned railroad journey is looking like the most luxurious option of all. We recommend the Society of International Railway Travelers, the leading travel agency specializing in luxury trains, if you need help booking your journey. Bon Voyage!

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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