Discover Luxury Rail Journeys Around The World

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Blue upholstered furnishings on the bar car of the Orient Express.

Few things suggest the golden age of travel the way a luxury rail journey does. The glamor and romance of taking a capsule of western luxury in some of the world’s most rugged, exotic locales harken back to a time when travel was generally limited to people of extraordinary fortune, who could demand the comforts of a modern Western lifestyle regardless of which land they set foot upon.

That romance hasn’t been lost on the modern generation. From the Alps to the Andes, a contemporary generation of luxury rail journeys beckons to travelers eager to recapture the glamor of an age now firmly past. Here are several luxury rail journeys where travelers can sate their desires for a glimpse of that era.

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Belmond Venice-Simplon Orient Express

The VSOE is the most storied luxury train service in the world. Originally operating between Paris and Istanbul (“The Orient” is an archaic term for Asia—Istanbul sits where the European continent meets Asia), the schedule is now primarily overnight journeys between Paris and Venice with cross-channel connections to London. The full three-night Paris-Istanbul run still operates once yearly for travelers wishing for the full experience.

Jazz Age opulence is the order onboard, with plush compartments and suites, lavish meals prepared onboard with local ingredients provisioned at stops along the route and liveried stewards to attend to every request.

Golden Eagle

Travelers wanting to experience the Trans-Siberian Railway, which traverses nearly 6,000 miles of mostly wilderness from Moscow to Vladivostok, can make the journey in about a week on the modern trainsets plying the route daily. But those seeking the full experience with sightseeing and luxury befitting a Czarist entourage can book the Golden Eagle, which makes the journey in a leisurely 14 days, allowing for stopovers and touring across Russia.

VIA Rail

Canada’s VIA Rail offers a variety of travel classes, depending on the length of the train journey and destination. The Canadian, which operates from Toronto to Vancouver, offers Prestige Class, a luxury sleeper experience.

Cabins have modular leather sofas that convert to beds and come equipped with televisions with a selection of movies, along with a private washroom with shower, linens and toiletries. Prestige Class guests virtually have the run of the train, with reserved seating in the Panorama Car and Dining Car, where three-course meals including beer and wine are included in the fare.

The Ghan

Since 1929, The Ghan has been running through the heart of Australia on its journey from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. Today, the train takes a leisurely pace to allow visitors off-train experiences in Alice Springs and other stops along the route.

Platinum Service guests will find plush double cabins with modular furnishings that convert to comfy beds during the day, an exclusive Platinum Club Car for socializing with other Platinum Class guests, Bollinger Champagne, evening nightcaps, fine dining in the onboard restaurant and fresh continental breakfasts served to cabins upon request.

Blue Train

Travelers wanting to travel on the weekly rail departure from Pretoria to Capetown, South Africa, or explore Kruger National Park can do so in luxury onboard the all-suite Blue Train, which features massively sized deluxe and luxury suites, all of which have a virtually unheard of luxury for rail travelers: bathtubs.

There are also smoking and non-smoking public cars, a dining car that serves up the bounty of the region, and relaxing lounges at arrival and departure stations.