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Thursday, May 23, 2024

5 Incredible Train Journeys to Enjoy Slow Travel

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Five-hour security lines, what seem like weekly plane accidents, unbearable delays in the tarmac, ever shrinking seats and leg room, these are all very common headlines in the news recently. However, even with all the discomfort, planes and airports continue to be full because most of us want to get to our destinations as fast as possible, sometimes this is unavoidable if you are traveling for work or if you are crossing oceans on your trips. But for those times when slowing down is an option and you can make the journey part of the adventure, think about taking the train. I’m not talking about the commuter trains but about those rare survivors of a different time, when the train tracks were the connections between different worlds, when the engines and cars were not only utilitarian but beautiful, when the sound of a train whistling arriving at the station will make people stop and admire the imposing machines.


Image Source: Pixabay

Train travel makes you slow down and look out the window, occasionally peek into the lives of regular people living close to the tracks. On long train rides, you may also make new friends through the shared joy of enjoying the journey. The following five train journeys have some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, some are a few hours, some can take a couple of weeks, but all of them are unforgettable experiences.


Train to Machu Picchu, A wonder of the world


Image source: Pixabay

From the colonial city of Cusco, all trains lead to Machu Picchu, one of the most inspiring ruins in the world. There are several options to reach the base of the ruins by train, including regular trains connecting via Ollantaytambo, these trains are usually on time and efficient. You can also take one of the tourist-oriented options including the luxurious Hiram Bingham, with its plush upholstery and fine dining, to the less expensive Inca Rail or Peru Rail options. Any of these trains wind through the valley offering fantastic views of the mountains through their panoramic windows and will allow you to get there and back on a day trip.

Take a Detour:

Although the train ride is amazing, reaching Machu Picchu by foot is an unforgettable experience. Extend your trip by, literally, jumping out of the train in the middle of the forest, and hiking the 9 miles (15 km) to the Sun Gate above the ruins. A good fitness level is required as there are a lot of stairs and the altitude will leave you as out of breath as your first glimpse of the Inca fortress.


Oslo to Bergen, Norwegian Beauty


Image Source: Pixabay

The train ride from Oslo to Bergen is the most spectacular ride in Northern Europe, passing through increasingly amazing scenery as you climb the mountain ridges that form Norway’s spine, far above the tree line. This train ride snakes through forests, valleys, and glaciers framed in amazing mountains and deliver you to the entrance of the natural wonders that are a synonym of Norway: The Fjords. As if all the natural beauty were not enough, the highly complex 300-mile journey takes you through an amazing 200 tunnels, 300 bridges and 18 miles of snow sheds.

Take a Detour:

Once you get to Bergen, spend a couple of days and take the boats to tour one of the most scenic Fjords in the area, Sognefjord.



Maharajas Express, Through the heart of India


Source: indialuxurytrains4u

maharaja-express-bedroom-cabins maharaja-express-lounge maharaja-express-dining-car

Maharajas Train, source maharaja-express-india.com

Trains are widely used in India, so any regular line will be extremely crowded and it can be complex to stitch a convenient route covering some of the amazing sites you would want to see on your own. But don’t fear, a few new options are available focused on the traveler that provide a throw-back experience to centuries’ old style. One of these recreations, the Maharajas Express, goes from Delhi to Mumbai passing through beautiful Rajasthan and stopping at some of the most photogenic locations in India: Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and the Ranthambore National Park where the wild Bengal tigers live.

Take a Detour:

While in Rajasthan, take a side trip to the Shekhawati region and explore the fantastic Havelis (abandoned but amazingly decorated houses) of the old traders in the region.


The Ghan, Crossing the Australian continent


Image Source: australia.com

Australia is big and nothing gives you a better sense of its vastness than taking the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin for a whopping 1,845 miles, the journey can be completed in 3 days and 2 nights. Traversing the Australian outback and following the route traced by Afghani cameleers almost two centuries ago, it gives an incredible insight to the Red Center and the unforgiving territory that dominates the continent.

Take a Detour:

At the stop in Alice Springs, do a side trip to see Uluru, one of the most mystical places in the whole world.


Trans-Siberian Railway, The longest journey


Image source: prontotour.com

Travel like the Tsars did, visiting their vast empire in the Tsar’s Gold Train, part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, covering the 5,600 miles from Beijing to Moscow, getting in, and more importantly, out of Siberia, through Mongolia’s steppes with their nomadic settlements and traversing the little visited Gobi Desert. The Trans-Siberian train journey is the longest railway line in the world, covering a third of the globe, taking you through seven time zones and areas of the world most people don’t visit. It is the ultimate train journey.

Take a Detour:

Get out of the train and take a trip to Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal and do some diving in this famous lake.


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