Re-live the golden age of travel on these rail journeys

Enjoy stunning vistas when you see Canada by rail
Enjoy stunning vistas when you see Canada by rail

Famous travel writer Paul Theroux once said that anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night’s sleep, and strangers’ monologues framed like Russian short stories.

Hopping on a train and watching the world go by is a wonderful way to explore a new country, and it gives travellers a journey rather than a mere mode of transport. A train journey is also a romantic experience – there’s something wonderfully charming and utterly nostalgic about boarding a train cart and heading far away on an adventure.

Meander through mountains, alongside rivers and atop cliffs with these rail journeys that will take you back to the golden age of travel.

1. Europe via the Majestic Imperator

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The grandeur of the Majestic Imperator train will transport you back in time to the early 1900s from the moment you step off the red carpet at the train station and receive your complimentary glass of wine on board. White linen table cloths, antique furniture, red drapes and gold accents are waiting to greet you, all complemented by the silver service of white-gloved cart attendants in dapper uniforms.

One of the journeys of the Majestic Imperator is through Austria and Germany, with highlights including the cities of Linz, Salzburg and Passau. Beautiful mountains and stunning European architecture grace the windows as you travel and, to add to the charm, there’s often violin performances on board and delicate treats to snack on.

The only problem is the trip comes to an end, but to keep your adventure going, consider combining a trip on the Majestic Impersonator with a European River cruise. 

2. New Zealand via the TranzAlpine Train


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Pictures don’t prepare visitors for the beauty of New Zealand’s landscape, and the best way to see it all is by rail. The TranzAlpine train takes you past rocky riverbeds, beside snow-capped mountains, through the vast, open countryside and over high-up bridges with rivers streaming below. It’s so wild and vast that you’ll think you’re the only people on Earth.

The TranzAlpine train journey starts with a whistle blow in Christchurch, crossing the lush farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and alongside the Waimakariri River, where you’ll enjoy vistas over deep gorges. You’ll then head to the Southern Alps that you’ve seen in the tour brochures, which, in person, are nothing short of wondrous. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air at the final stop in Greymouth, home to mighty glaciers, wild rivers and native beech forests waiting to be explored.

To see more of New Zealand with ease, an 18-day Best of New Zealand guided holiday will certainly do the trick. 

3. Canada via the Rocky Mountaineer

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Perhaps the most highly regarded train trip in the world is the Rocky Mountaineer. There are several routes for travellers to choose from, and all of them showcase the unique sights of the Canadian wilderness.

Sit back in your plush seat and watch the landscapes go by, all while your smartly-dressed hosts offer you tidbits of historical information.

The train itself has glass panels on the roof, providing unparalleled views of the surrounds. The kitchen on board offers fine dining experiences, with chefs taking cues from Western Canada’s diverse culinary landscape – and, yes, that does mean fresh salmon.

If you want to take in the sweet mountain air, head out to the open-air vestibule where you can chat with fellow travellers and share photography tips while you photograph the unobscured views.

Make the most of a holiday in Canada with a trip that encompasses seeing Alaska and Canada by land, sea and rail. 

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4. Australia via The Indian Pacific

Cutting right across the breadth of Australia, the Indian Pacific takes travellers on the trip of a lifetime from Sydney all the way west to Perth, popping in to Adelaide on the way.

The oldest mode of transport in Australia, a rail journey is the perfect way to see wild Australia the way the people of old would have, with much of the landscape unchanged.

Fresh, local fare is on the menu aboard the Indian Pacific, including saltwater barramundi, grilled kangaroo fillet and, of course, a selection of wines to go with it.

Combine a trip on The Indian Pacific with travelling through Australia’s wonderful south west.

Which rail journey would you like to take? Let us know in the comments below. 

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