We love transport here at Jayride.com, and while we tend to focus on airport transfers, we’ve decided to indulge in a bit of railway wanderlust. Here are our favourite epic railway journeys around the world that are a one-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Ghan, Australia
Considered one of the greatest train journeys in the world, The Ghan traverses through the magnificent Australian Outback, from Darwin to Adelaide. Three days and four nights will see you cross almost 3,000 kilometres through the spectacular red desert of Alice Springs, the sandstone cliffs of Katherine Gorge, and the changing dramatic landscape of central Australia, while enjoying all-inclusive catering. And don’t think you’ll be cooped up inside for the whole duration of your trip (although with a luxurious private cabin, you might want to be!) – there are day excursions to explore the quirky and interesting towns along the way, including the entertaining Katherine Outback Experience, a live music and cattle demonstration, which offers an insight into life on an Australian cattle station.
Highlights: Exploring the strange, bunker-esque town of Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world, where almost half the population live underground.
Closest airports: Fly to Darwin Airport and take an airport transfer to Darwin Railway Station to start your journey. Adelaide Airport and Alice Springs Airport are also options if you choose a different route on The Ghan.
You might also like: 8 Things To Know Before Travelling To Australia
The Ghan is an epic Australian journey from Darwin to Adelaide
The Orient Express, Europe
An icon of art deco design, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express transports travellers not just between Europe’s most beautiful cities, but back in time to the Golden Age of train travel. Think plush upholstered seats, impeccably dressed attendants, fine dining and luxurious décor; you’ll step out of your world into a completely new one filled with romance and grandeur when you hop aboard the Orient Express.
Launched in 1833 as a long distance passenger train designed to connect London with then Constantinople (now Istanbul) through Paris, nowadays passengers are treated to a truly opulent and elegant railway experience, where the train itself is just as impressive as the gorgeous European cities it travels through.
Highlights: Follow in the footsteps of Poirot, James Bond or Michael Palin; the romance and opulence of the Orient Express has inspired many, and the glamourous train features in numerous books, films and television shows.
Closest airports: Fly to London Heathrow or London Gatwick and take an airport transfer to London’s Victoria Station to start your journey from the UK. Other options include Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport and Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
You might also like: 7 Tips For Travelling To The United Kingdom
A trip on the Orient Express is one back in time to the Golden Age of travel
California Zephyr, USA
Winding through the magnificent Rockies, admiring the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada and enjoying views of the raging Colorado River; the California Zephyr is one of the most beautiful train trips in North America. Running daily between Chicago and San Francisco, the California Zephyr takes you through tunnels, deserts, mountains and canyons, traversing through Nebraska, Denver, Salt Lake City, to Sacramento and finally San Francisco. The full journey takes almost 52 hours and treats you to some of the best scenery in all of North America. Complete the entire journey or enjoy smaller sections; it will all be breathtaking.
Highlights: Add a touch of luxury by booking a bedroom, rather than a roomette, in one of the sleeping cars for the duration of your trip.
Closest airports: Fly to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, then take an airport shuttle to Chicago Union Station to begin the trip. If you do the whole journey, fly home from San Francisco International Airport.
You might also like: 8 Things To Know Before Travelling To The USA
TranzAlpine, New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is known for its striking natural beauty, and what better way to experience this landscape than by travelling through it on one of the world’s great train journeys. The TranzAlpine takes you from the east coast to the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, between Christchurch and Greymouth, through treacherous Arthur’s Pass, winding through the majestic Southern Alps and edging along the Waimakariri River, which is fed from glacier ice. The 223 kilometre journey takes five hours, and on the way you’ll pass through gorges, tunnels and river valleys, stop at alpine villages and watch miles and miles of beech forest pass you by.
Highlights: Everything! New Zealand possesses some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the world, and the TranzAlpine is a real bucket-list-worthy way to experience the sheer beauty of NZ’s South Island.
Closest Airport: Fly to Christchurch Airport and hop in an airport transfer to Christchurch Railway Station to start your trip.
Experience the sheer beauty of New Zealand’s South Island from the carriages of the TranzAlpine
Welsh Highland Railway, Wales
Where do we start? Gorgeous coastlines, oak woodlands, grandiose castles, cascading rivers, stunning national park and lush countryside are the views you’ll be treated to when you hop aboard the UK’s longest heritage railway, the Welsh Highland Railway, also known as Rheilffordd Eryri. Did we mention that it’s a steam train, too? Sit back in the comfortable, first-class carriages as freshly cooked meals are delivered to you, and let the Welsh countryside pass you by as the train huffs and puffs along the 40 kilometre railway line.
Travelling through the heart of Snowdonia, your journey takes you from Caernarfon, through Snowdon, into the pretty village of Beddgelert, through the Aberglaslyn Pass and into Porthmadog. One thing’s for sure – this is a Welsh experience like no other!
Highlights: Enjoy a locally brewed, award-winning beer on board from the fully licensed bar.
Closest airport: Fly into Liverpool John Lennon Airport or Manchester Airport and take an airport transfer to Porthmadog, home of the Welsh Highland Railway. It’s roughly a two-hour drive from both airports, so a pre-booked airport transfer is the easiest option.
The Flying Scotsman, UK
Arguably one of the world’s best-known locomotives, The Flying Scotsman is the last of its kind. Why is it so famous? Well, it’s broken numerous records, including reaching top speeds of 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres) and now, after a £4.2 million refurbishment, it’s back on the UK’s main line. Originally running an express service between London and Edinburgh, the Flying Scotsman is now available for special tours on various railway lines in the UK.
In the 1920s, the Flying Scotsman was the height of luxury travel; first-class dining, cocktail bars and even an onboard hair salon, where men could opt to have a shave in the specially positioned ‘no-jolting’ chair. These days, it’s still a treasure to hop on board Britain’s favourite steam train for a truly memorable train ride. To see when the Flying Scotsman is running and to purchase tickets, visit the Flying Scotsman website.
Highlights: The thrill of travelling on such a grand British icon, so revered by the nation that it’s now a National Treasure.
Closest airports: For London trips, fly into either London Heathrow or London Gatwick, and then catch an airport transfer to London’s King’s Cross Station. A number of railway operators will run various tours with the Flying Scotsman, so check the website for tour dates and destinations.
The Hogwarts Express
Okay, so maybe it’s just Harry Potter who gets go to Hogwarts, but there are a few ways us Muggles can experience the magical train journey too. Pose for a photo at Platform 9 and ¾ at London’s King’s Cross Station – look out for the luggage trolley embedded into the station wall and you’ll know magic is just on the other side.
For a truly magical train trip though, you need to hop aboard the Jacobite; the train used for the filming of the Harry Potter franchise. Running along the West Highland Railway in Scotland, this train journey not only has some magical views of the Scottish countryside, but you’ll cross the Glenfinnan viaduct; you’ll recognise it as the famous bridge that Harry and his friends cross over on their way to Hogwarts.
For a magical experience, take a ride on the real-life Hogwarts Express, the Jacobite train
Highlights: Pretending to be a witch or wizard as you live out all of your Harry Potter fantasies. Wingardium Leviosa!
Closest airports: Fly into London Heathrow or London Gatwick and book an airport transfer to King’s Cross Station to see Platform 9 and ¾ for yourself. Head to Glasgow Airport (on a plane, not a flying car!) and then onwards to Fort William to experience the Jacobite.
Ready to hop aboard one of these incredible train journeys? Don’t forget to book your airport transfer to and from the airport when organising your trip. Get peace of mind by pre-booking your airport transfer on Jayride.com.