In a world dominated by the hustle of air travel, train journeys are a testament to the magic of slow travel. With enchanting views, luxurious carriages, and rhythmic movements, there’s an undeniable romance and allure to traveling by rail. Boutique train journeys take this experience a step further, weaving landscapes, culture and history into one extraordinary journey that’s just as significant as the destination.
From the longer expeditions such as Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and South Africa’s Rovos Rail to the one-day journeys like Norway’s Flåm Railway and Peru’s Vistadome train to Machu Picchu, here are some of the most remarkable luxury boutique train journeys that take you to the heart of your destination.
Rocky Mountaineer with GoldLeaf Service, Canada
Take an unforgettable journey through the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer. With GoldLeaf Service, you’ll experience one of the most spectacular boutique train journeys in the world, as we roll from Jasper in Alberta to the city of Vancouver.
In GoldLeaf, you’ll kick back in plush, reclining seats in the bi-level glass-domed cabin with full-length panoramic windows, so you can see all the snowcapped mountains, dazzling blue lakes, deep green forests, dreamy meadows and wildlife in high-definition. You’ll also get access to an outdoor viewing platform, so you can get even more immersed in the stunning landscapes of western Canada. Keep your eyes peeled and you are likely to spot eagles, elk and even bears.
Meals are another highlight of the GoldLeaf Service, served in the dedicated dining room on the lower level of the bi-level coach. Crafted by talented chefs with locally sourced ingredients, you’ll indulge in the authentic flavors of the region. Enjoy a glass of wine, a freshly baked cookie, and other gourmet snacks, before disembarking each evening to spend your night in a luxurious hotel.
You can experience the Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service from Jasper to Vancouver, with a night in Kamloops, on our Majesty of the Rockies luxury tour.
Discover it on: Majesty of the Rockies with the Rocky Mountaineer
Rovos Rail, South Africa
Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa is the epitome of luxury train travel in South Africa, with lashings of old-world charm and an Agatha Christie-esque atmosphere. The journey starts with you settling into your private suite, dripping in vintage decor while equipped with modern comforts. The lavish suites are wood-paneled with thick carpet and everything from full-size beds and private bathrooms and amenity bags to air-conditioning and fluffy white gowns.
Life on board is like a step back in time, with no televisions or digital entertainment on board, yet plenty to see. There’s an observation car with an open-air balcony to soak up the South African landscapes and often an onboard historian. There are places to socialize with fellow guests including a lounge car, gift shop and dining car, all designed with timeless elegance.
The dining car will quickly become a firm favorite with breakfast, lunch, and a formal dinner every day. You’ll indulge in four-course meals crafted by skilled chefs and paired with the finest South African wines. The dress code is smart casual during the day and more formal in the evenings, adding to the allure of this vintage journey.
You can travel from Pretoria to the majestic Victoria Falls aboard the historic Rovos Rail on our Spectacular South Africa tour.
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Glacier Express Scenic Train, Switzerland
The Glacier Express may be the world’s slowest train, but that’s a bonus when you’re surrounded by the world’s most impressive landscapes. Chugging along at an average of 18mph, the Glacier Express takes around eight hours to travel from Saint Moritz to Zermatt. That means you get eight hours to soak up the remarkable views of the Swiss Alps. The journey is truly special, passing over 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and endless snowy peaks, emerald valleys, deep gorges, ancient castles and charming hamlets.
Mid-journey, the train snakes down the Rhine Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Switzerland. Keep your eyes peeled here for the breathtaking views of the UNESCO-listed Aletsch Glacier. As you arrive at the final destination, Zermatt, you’ll come face to face with the iconic Matterhorn.
You’ll see it all from your plush first-class seat. The glass-domed carriage has panoramic windows allowing you to feel close to the landscapes outside. You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch prepared onboard.
Travel through the heart of the Swiss Alps in luxurious first class on the Glacier Express Scenic Train with our Majestic Switzerland tour.
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Flåm Railway Scenic Train, Norway
Renowned as one of the most beautiful train journeys, the Flåm Railway offers a mesmerizing showcase of Norway’s ethereal beauty. Setting off from historic Bergen, it’s a feast for the eyes as you wind through majestic fjords and snowy mountains. You’ll marvel at the idyllic countryside with its fairytale waterfalls and charming red clapboard cottages. You’ll also come face to face with the Norwegian wilderness passing over the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, the highest in Europe.
As you ascend up the mountainside to Myrdal, you’ll see the awe-inspiring Aurlandsfjord and the Kjosfossen Waterfall. The journey ends in the gorgeous town of Geiranger, nestled among snow-capped peaks and the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord. This is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting train rides on earth.
Take a magnificent journey from Bergen to Geiranger aboard the Flåm Railway Scenic Train on our Timeless Scandinavia luxury tour.
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Vistadome Train to Machu Picchu, Peru
Climb aboard the Vistadome Train for a journey through Peru’s remarkable landscapes to the mysterious Machu Picchu. You’ll set off from the Sacred Valley, passing through the spectacular Urubamba Valley. It’s incredible to see the towering Andes, cascading rivers, and verdant forest whizzing by your window.
We’ll pause for lunch at Café Inkaterra, nestled between the train tracks and forest above the Vilcanota River. After lunch, we’ll set off on a guided walk through the cloud forest. You can also choose to visit a working tea plantation and learn the art of tea making or see the world’s largest private collection of Indigenous orchids.
Legs stretched, we’ll once again board the train, settling into the comfortable seats surrounded by panoramic glass windows. There’s also an outdoor observation carriage, so you can inch closer to the stunning landscapes. If the natural beauty isn’t enough, you’ll also be entertained by live traditional music on the train and enjoy meals inspired by the region’s rich culinary scene. The star of today is the final destination – the iconic Machu Picchu – but the journey here is sure to be as unforgettable as the Incan ruins themselves.
Get immersed in the culture and nature of Peru on the Vistadome Train with our South America luxury tours.
TranzAlpine Scenic Train, New Zealand
The TranzAlpine Scenic Train is one of New Zealand’s most dazzling boutique train journeys. You’ll traverse the breathtaking landscapes of the South Island, starting in Christchurch on the east coast. You’ll cross the island, arriving in the town of Greymouth, near Franz Josef on the west coast.
The 138-mile journey showcases some truly remarkable scenery from the pastoral farmlands of the Canterbury Plains to the soaring snowy peaks and crystal blue, ice-fed rivers of the Southern Alps and Arthur’s Pass.
One of the highlights is the Otira Tunnel, a feat of engineering burrowing into the heart of the mountain range. You’ll also watch the landscape transform into verdant rainforest before reaching the Tasman Sea. Best of all, you’ll see it all unfold in comfort, with panoramic windows, café, and open-air viewing decks.
Journey across the South Island aboard the TranzAlpine Scenic Train on our New Zealand luxury tours.
Jan Shatabdi Express Train, India
One of the best ways to explore Rajasthan and northern India is a journey on the Jan Shatabdi Express Train. We’ll board the train in the historic town of Bhraratpur, and set off into the heart of Rajasthan. You won’t want to blink as charming villages, lush plantations and countryside roll by.
You’ll enjoy comfortable seating and large glass windows to make the most of the beautiful views. In just a few hours you’ll arrive in Ranthambore, set on the edge of the world-renowned national park home to Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears and more.
A former royal retreat and hunting ground turned wildlife sanctuary, you’ll catch a glimpse of the incredible jungle as you roll into the train station. The views are an exciting preamble to your game drive through the park tomorrow.
Travel through the landscapes of Northern India on the Jan Shatabdi Express Train with our Essence of India luxury tour.
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Experience more of the world’s greatest luxury and boutique train journeys with our exclusive Golden Extensions.