The Quick Report

The Most Scenic Train Rides in the World 

Prepare to embark on 10 epic train adventures. You’ll want a window seat on these amazing routes through the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. These are the world’s 10 most scenic train rides.

10. Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West, Canada


The Rocky Mountaineer Company offers some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the Americas on the Rainforest to Gold Rush route. The journey begins in Vancouver and winds north and east for three days. You’ll travel high into the Canadian Rockies, through mountain passes, and vast canyons. The trip ends in the snow-capped alpine peaks of the town of Jasper.

9. Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

blue train surrounded by trees
Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen

This trip from Kandy to Ella runs from eight and a half to 10 hours. It’s only a section of a longer line running from Colombo to Badulla. Even though it’s a dusty, hot, and exhausting trip, it’s an exhilarating experience that’s beyond compare. Carriages fill up with people singing, laughing, smiling, and selling delicious homemade food and drinks.

8. Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia


The train embarks from the city of Cairns on the coast for a one-way trip running under two hours. It snakes across the Great Dividing Range to the rural town of Kuranda. You’ll wind through lush forests, past waterfalls, and over precarious bridges. The trip is memorable for the sights, smells, and sounds of the rainforest that penetrate the cabin.

7. Linha do Douro, Portugal


This 160-kilometer journey runs alongside the Douro River for much of the route. The Douro Valley is one of the most well-known vineyard regions in Europe. The route connects the village of Pocinho, high up in the Alto Douro, and the city of Porto on the Atlantic coast. The trip runs about 3 1/2 hours.

6. Flåmsbana, Norway


This hour-long trip gets more spectacular the higher the train climbs. The ride goes from sea level at the Aurlandsfjord in Flåm to Myrdal mountain station. There are beautiful meadows and villages to behold. A sparkling blue River flows through the valley. At points, the line passes through some 20 tunnels and teeters on the edge of seemingly impassable cliffs.

5. TranzAlpine, New Zealand


Considered one of the southern hemisphere’s most scenic train journeys, it crosses New Zealand’s South Island, between Christchurch and Greymouth. The 223-kilometer, five-hour trip crosses Canterbury Plains, moving to the gateway to the Southern Alps. The train climbs the cliffs of the Waimakariri River, through 15 tunnels and over four dizzying viaducts. You’ll pass rivers, lakes, and forests.

4. Glacier Express, Switzerland


This ride wanders for eight hours across the south of Switzerland between St. Moritz and Zermatt. Along the way, you’ll traverse heart-stopping ravines, through tunnels, and along sparkling rivers. View the full panorama of dazzling Alpine scenery, easily seen through huge windows and glass ceilings. There’s also excellent food available on board.

3. Serra Verde Express, Brazil


Starting almost a kilometer above sea level in the city of Curitiba, you’ll cross heavily forested mountains into the Pico do Marumbi State Park. You’ll discover a wilderness of cloud forests and crashing waterfalls. You’ll traverse viaducts with seemingly nothing beneath you. Sit by an open window for the full experience of the breeze, aromas, water, and vegetation.

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2. Pacific Surfliner, USA


Perfect for ocean lovers, you’ll travel between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, with Los Angeles as a halfway point. The trip follows the California coastline almost continually and at points is mere feet away from the ocean. The inland sections feature wide open spaces and farmland. It’s a scenic, relaxed journey running around eight and a half hours.

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1. Trans-Siberian Railway


Remaining one of the world’s great adventures, the Trans-Siberian Railway stretches nearly 10,000 kilometers between Moscow and Vladivostok. This eight-day journey traverses eight time zones. The ever-changing landscape can feel like a different planet at times as you navigate mountain passes, and skirt lakes and rivers. Taking the trip in winter or summer will deliver a completely different experience.

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