The Golden Age of luxury train travel evokes old-world images of opulent carriages, mahogany-lined cars, and slow-moving scenery at your fingertips. But this is no bygone era. Train travel is celebrating a revival with record numbers of people embracing luxury train rides. The world’s 5-star train journeys are elevating the experience, with everything from personal butlers and Michelin-star fine dining to luxury suites with bathtubs and marble floors. If you love the journey as much as the destination, here are 10 of the world’s most famous luxury train rides to inspire your next adventure.

1. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe

Mahogany furniture and fittings and plush textiles in neutral shades adorn this vintage train carriage with a double bed, couch, chairs and table.

Photo credit: @vsoetrain on Instagram

As the grand dame of the world’s most luxurious train journeys, Belmond’s Venice Simplon Orient-Express will transport you back in time to the Golden Age of luxury train travel.

Inspired by the famous Agatha Christie novel, Belmond’s founder James B. Sherwood bought original British Pullman train carriages from the twenties and thirties and meticulously restored them to their former glory. Today, this 17-carriage luxury sleeper train rolls through some of Europe’s most captivating destinations from London and Paris, to Venice and Verona, to Budapest, Prague and Istanbul – and it’s still the height of glamorous train travel.

As far as luxury train rides go, it doesn’t get more opulent than this. Ride aboard will have you welcomed by white-gloved stewards and glasses of champagne. Relax in your stylised art deco cabin, dripping in plush furnishings, gleaming polished wood, and old-world elegance. And when you’re ready to venture out, be sure to dress to the nines (there’s a dress code). You’ll sit down to dinner prepared by world-renowned chefs and indulge in seasonal ingredients sourced along the route, like truffles from Italy or lobster from France. 

Then head to the bar car where the barmen shake up all manner of spritzes, sours, martinis and wines, all while the resident pianist plays the baby grand. After a night of revelry, a beautiful breakfast is delivered to your private cabin, so you can wake up and watch Europe passing your window.

If you love Italian glamor, take a look at: Ultimate Italy

You may also enjoy reading: Meet the Michelin star chef putting his stamp on the Orient-Express menu

2. The Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service, Canada

Mountains, trees and a river gleam through the huge windows of this luxury train carriage, shown with plush seats.

Photo credit: @rockymountaineer on Instagram

There are few other journeys as breathtaking as a train trip through West Canada – and the Rocky Mountaineer takes it to another level with their five-star Gold Leaf Service experience. 

This luxurious train carves a path through the snowy peaks, dazzling lakes, dreamy meadows, and lush forests… And it ensures you don’t miss any of the extraordinary views with bi-level glass-domed cabins, full-length panoramic windows, and even an exclusive outdoor viewing platform where you can inch even further into nature. 

You won’t want to blink as you meander through the Rockies, following the banks of the North Thomspon River and passing the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies and the Continental Divide. Those paying close attention will likely be rewarded with sightings of elk, eagles, and even a bear. Back inside, you can recline in plush seats with a glass of wine, or head to the restaurant for gourmet meals of fresh, seasonal ingredients. 

Each night, the train eases to a halt and you’ll spend the night in a luxurious hotel before returning to the train after breakfast the next morning to continue your spectacular adventure.

You can the Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service from Jasper to Vancouver, with a night in Kamloops, on our Majesty of the Rockies luxury guided tour.

You may also be interested to read: The Story of The Rocky Mountaineer, North America’s most luxurious train journey

3. The Royal Scotsman, UK

A comfortable sleeper carriage with wooden furnishings and a huge windows is show on this luxury train ride

IG: @belmondroyalscotsman

If you are asking what is the most luxurious train ride in the UK?,  look no further. As the only luxury sleeper train in the UK, Belmond’s Royal Scotsman train offers a truly special experience.  Here you’ll travel with no more than 36 passengers at a time as you roll through the magnificent mountains, lochs, castles and countryside of the Scottish Highlands. 

Bundle up in a tartan wool blanket in your Edwardian-style suite as you voyage through the dramatic landscapes. Or sip a wee dram of Scotch whisky in the mahogany-lined dining car – the bar is stocked with more than 50 kinds of the world’s best whisky. You can even indulge in a massage, facial or manicure in the unique spa car for the most scenic spa experience in the UK.

The open-air veranda in the observation car will take you closer to nature and it’s a great spot to visit at night when the sky is lit up with stars and guests gather to share tales of their adventures. 

If you love Scotland, you can enjoy the country’s highlights on: British Royale

Bookmark for later: Meet Andy Coulter, the Highland Piper with royal connections

4. The Blue Train, South Africa

A woman relaxes in a deep bubble bath sipping a glass of champagne in her luxury train carriage

Photo credit: @thebluetrainsa on Instagram

Take an epic 27-hour, 1,600-kilometre journey across South Africa on the Blue Train, the country’s oldest luxury rail journey. Operating since the 1920s, the Blue Train is famed as the “window to the soul of South Africa” and that’s exactly what you’ll get – a window into the dynamic countryside stretching from the coasts of Cape of Town to the mountains of Pretoria. 

The stunning passing scenery is rivalled only by the five-star elegance of the Blue Train. The suites on this luxury train ride have full-sized bathtubs, and there’s nothing quite like sinking into warm bubbles, champagne in hand, savannah rolling by outside your window. The bathrooms are topped off with marble floors and gold finishings, and the suites also have sumptuous bed linens, writing desks, and a personal butler who is on call 24/7.

Tear yourself away from your suite and discover the wood-panelled Club Car with cocktails and complimentary cigars. For dinner, indulge in fine dining prepared by top chefs, while string quartets play jazz and classical music in the background. 

It’s hard not to feel like royalty here and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of past guests like Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones, Mia Farrow, Paul Simon, Margaret Thatcher, and Kylie Minogue.

You may also enjoy reading: 5 Celebrities Who Have Experienced the Timeless Luxury of Train Travel

5. Grand Canyon Railway, USA

A train snakes down a mountain track with dense forest either side

Photo credit: @grandcanyonrail on Instagram

Departing from Arizona Mountain, this luxury train ride travels along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the historic village, the heart of human history in the canyon. Choose to travel Luxury Parlor Class and you’re in for a treat.

Relax in the comfort of padded high-back chairs while enjoying breathtaking panoramic views from an exclusive upper-level glass enclosed dome. Savor kaleidoscopic vistas of the San Francisco Peaks and sip exclusive cocktails from the private bar as you roll through valleys, dense pine forest, high desert plains and small canyons.

6. The Ghan, Australia

A waitress serves breakfast in bed in a luxury train cabin, as the Australian outback is seen from the large window.

Photo credit: @journeybeyondrail on Instagram

If you’ve ever dreamed of traversing the indomitable Australian Outback, this is the way to do it. The Ghan Expedition is the renowned three-night, four-day, 2,979-kilometer journey between Adelaide and Darwin, crossing the endless, scorched red earth of the desert. The Ghan is a contrasting oasis to the dusty Red Centre, with pristine cabins with ensuites, exclusive dining carriages, and breakfast served in bed. The mouthwatering five-course meals serve up local, gourmet ingredients like grilled kangaroo fillet and barramundi fish, and you’ll enjoy freshly-shaken cocktails under the awe-inspiring Milky Way. 

The Ghan made its maiden voyage in 1929 on a rail line that took 50 years to build. The train was named after the Aghan came drivers who helped build the railway lines and transported goods to remote towns across the unyielding Red Centre. By 2004, Darwin was connected to the network, the line was upgraded, and the extraordinary Ghan adventure we know today was born. With stops in Coober Pedy, Katherine and Alice Springs, and thrilling excursions to Uluru and a working cattle station, this is the kind of journey you’ll never forget.

Take a luxurious tour down under: Inspiring Australia

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7. The Presidential Train, Portugal

White lined tables are shown in a restaurant car on this most luxurious train ride.

Photo credit: @thepresidential on Instagram

The name says it all on this luxury train ride. This regal train once transported kings, queens and presidents in the 20th century, but after almost one hundred years of service, it retired in 1970. Forty years later, a businessman rescued the Presidential Train from a railway museum and restored it to its former royal glamour and glory. Today, you can board the Presidential Train and let it whisk you away on a Michelin-star gastronomical journey through the stunning wine and culinary regions of Portugal. 

As the train pulls out of the century-old São Bento station in Porto and begins its journey to Quinta do Vesuvio, you’ll roll by the beautiful vineyards along the Douro River and Valley. Recline into sumptuous, velvet seats and sip wines from the very same region you’re passing by, then sink your teeth into the magnificent, multi-course menu, carefully designed by Michelin-star chefs. The gourmet dishes are made with the freshest ingredients and are perfectly paired with the region’s top wines. Every day on board this train is a culinary wonderland and once you’re satiated, you can retire to your private cabins and watch the lush Douro Valley through your windows. 

For the ultimate tour of Iberia take a look at Spain & Portugal in Style

Bookmark for later: Sunshine on a plate: Travel Concierge Dom on his love of Iberia

8. Rovos Rail, South Africa

Train carriages glinting int he sun snake through the African landscape

Photo credit: @rovosrail on Instagram

Established in 1989, Rovos Rail takes you on an unforgettable journey through the breathtaking landscapes of South Africa. Taking in iconic destinations such as Cape Town, Pretoria and Victoria Falls, step aboard meticulously restored vintage carriages and set off on a voyage of discovery across the diverse terrain of the African continent. Along with luxurious accommodations, there’s nothing like the experience of whisking through a national park, glimpsing some of Africa’s most stunning wildlife by train.

The Rovos Rail journey traces its roots back to the golden age of rail travel. Each train carries a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites and are also available for charter. Travelers are treated to spacious suites, each with its own ensuite bathroom, ensuring comfort and privacy throughout the voyage. Indulge in exquisite cuisine prepared by talented onboard chefs, showcasing the finest local ingredients and flavors.

In a series of journeys lasting from 48 hours to 15 nights, Rovos Rail links some of the continent’s greatest destinations with a variety of off-train excursions. Whether savoring a gourmet meal in the elegant dining car or relaxing in the observation car with a glass of fine wine, every moment aboard oozes with romance and grandeur.

Journey through South Africa including a journey on Rovos Rail on: Spectacular South Africa with Rovos Rail

You may also enjoy reading: This is what it’s actually like to travel on South Africa’s Rovos Rail

9. Golden Eagle Danube Express, Europe

A train attendant plumps up ornate pillows on a bed in a luxury train carriage

Photo credit: @goldeneagleluxurytrains on Instagram

Golden Eagle Danube Express traverses some of the continent’s most iconic routes, with stops in historic cities like Budapest, Vienna, Zurich and Prague.  As the train winds its way through stunning landscapes, every luxurious and nostalalgic moment aboard is tailored for your enjoyment and every stop offers a unique opportunity to explore Europe’s rich cultural heritage.

South-after routes include the Grand Alpine Express, which traverse tunnels, crosses viaducts and navigates mountain passes on ascenic journey from Budapest to Vienna, via Lake Achen, Lake Como and Lublijana. Or you may be tempted to travel from Paris to Istanbul, via Austria and Serbia.

Described as a ’luxury hotel on wheels’, the social heart of every Golden Eagle Danube Express the Bar Lounge Car. Here you can enjoy an entertaining and enlightening range of activities such language lessons and talks by expert lecturers on local history and culture. In the evening enjoy the sounds of the resident pianist playing in the Bar Lounge Car – every night the bar stays open until the last person leaves.

If you like the finer things in life you may like to read: 11 of the Best Sustainable Fine-Dining Restaurants in the World

10. Eastern & Oriental Express, Asia

Blue velvet chairs, wooden panelling, and flowers in vases adorn this elegant luxury train carriage

Photo credit: @easternoriental on Instagram

Journey through Southeast Asia in the unmistakable signature luxury of Belmond trains. Described as a ‘pioneering new chapter of Asia in motion,’ ever since its inaugural journey from Bangkok to Singapore 30 years ago, the Eastern & Oriental Express has been capturing the hearts of explorers.

With all the expected amenities of an exceptional luxury train, exquisite cabins are nestled in the glossy green and cream carriages. Intricate marquetry, delicate fabrics and vintage touches adorn your cozy quarters, and your private lounge offers a front-row seat from which to watch the astonishing landscapes of Malaysia shift and change.

A journey on the Eastern & Oriental Express is also an enticing culinary journey through the diverse flavors of the region. Capturing the best of Asian flavours with a modern take on Southeast Asian cuisine, Chef André Chiang leads the proceedings in the train’s two fine dining restaurant carriages, Malaya and Adisorn.

Guests are treated to sensational dishes including Laksa Bouillabaisse, inspired by the traditional aromatic noodle soup of the Peranakan cuisine, flavoursome “nine peppers jus” a sixteen-hour-braised beef cheek, and Jungle Spices Cacao Ganache, a journey through the region’s local spices.

If you love travelling by train, take a look at how you can enjoy some exceptional luxury train rides along with your Luxury Gold small-group journey.

What is the most luxurious train in the UK?

The UK has an ample choice of luxury train rides, including some of the most famous in the world. Three of the best are British Pullman, the Northern Belle and the Royal Scotsman.

What is the most luxurious train ride in the US?

Widely considered the most luxurious train in the US is the Rocky Mountaineer with its Rockies to the Red Rock route that runs between Denver and Moab. Another notable luxury journey is the Grand Canyon Railway.