Peloponnese, Greece by Chrissy from Travel Passionate
At the north of Peloponnese lays the seaside town of Diakopto. From there starts one of the most scenic train routes in Greece and the whole Balkans, the cog railway (Odontotos). It connects the village of Diakopto with Kalavrita that stands at 750 m above sea level. Kalavrita is a very popular destination for visitors. Some of the places of interest include the Cave of Lakes, a ski resort and many historical monasteries. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and the train goes through Vouraikos Gorge. It follows the stream of Vouraikos River and along the way passes through waterfalls, a pine forest, cliffs and tunnels. When the incline gets really steep the train switches from the regular tracks to the cog system. Before the train reaches Kalavrita it makes a stop to Zachlourou, a small traditional village built in the lush vegetation of the Vouraikos gorge.
Cape Town to Johannesburg, South Africa by Shara from SKJ Travel
Taking the train between Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, is a great way to see the interior of this large and diverse country in a 26-hour journey. It’s best to travel east, starting in Cape Town, to maximize daylight viewing time of the beautiful western cape. Beginning in Cape Town, the train winds through lush green fields and countless rows of vineyard trellises, all stretched beneath blue hills rising straight up from the plains. It makes you thirst for a glass of wine, and you can treat yourself appropriately in the bar car. You might meet some very interesting people there. Slowly the terrain changes to a more rocky landscape of red and yellow. After 12 minutes of pitch-black darkness tunneling beneath the mountains, you emerge into a different world – a vast arid plain with sparse vegetation and the starkness of an infinite horizon, and when night falls, you find yourself covered by a dome of stars. It’s quite inexpensive to travel in the premier class and have a private coach, where you’re pampered with fluffy robes and turn-down service on your bed.
Java, Indonesia by Emi from Emi w drodze
From all of the 17.000 Indonesian islands only Java has its own well-developed railway system. In bahasa Indonesia they call it “Kereta Api” and it was built by the Dutch during their rule over the country. Trains in Indonesia surprised me in a very positive way – unlike in another SE Asian countries, even the cheapest class is clean, comfortable, much faster than the buses and usually arrive on time.
Once you get out of the big cities (and all of the cities here are huge!), actually everywhere you go, you can see rice fields, banana and palm trees and volcanos. I chose the route Banyuwangi – Yogyakarta, because it’s not only beautiful, but it also links three favourite tourist destinations in Java – Ijen crater, Bromo volcano and Yogyakarta, the cultural capital of Indonesia.
The picture was taken on the rainy, windy day – rice fields are more beautiful when it rains a lot, as then they’re getting insanely green! From the train window I could see few volcanos at once!
Vietnam by Jo and Olo from 4evermoments
If you are looking for a spectacular train journey in Vietnam, you should consider a short ride on the Reunification Express, between Hue and Da Nang. Being just a little over 100km long, it makes a great one day trip and takes you through one of the most magical places in central Vietnam. During the ride you get to enjoy amazing views over the coast of South China Sea, it’s beautiful beaches and islands, rural areas and villages, and some magnificent mountain scenerey when the train makes its way through the famous Hai Van Pass. In Vietnamese it’s called Đèo Hải Vân which means ‘Ocean Cloud Pass’ and you will understand why once you get there. The journey takes about 2.5h one way, so make sure you have your camera fully charged. There are several trains a day, so no advance booking is necessary, except public holidays.
Mallorca by Ewa from Daleko Niedaleko
Some people call this train The Red Lightning, but it is like guinea pig – it is neither red nor fast. The old train connecting the capital city of Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca, with a picturesque town on the west coast, Sóller, is brown and very slow. But the latter is an advantage – everyone on board can enjoy the stunning views along the railway during the one-hour trip.
The over one hundred-year-old train leaves Palma and carries on along a plain full of almond and olive trees until it reaches the Tramuntana mountain range. Then it continues through the mountains, sometimes on the slopes, and sometimes passing the rocks through dark tunnels. This is where the joy of traveling begins – when you reach the stunning valley, where Sóller is hidden. Full of orange trees, it offers not only delightful visual sensations but also smells wonderfully when the trees are in bloom!
The railway was build not for tourists, but for the inhabitants of Sóller to communicate the town with the capital city of the island. Due to its location it was never easily accessible, the journey took many hours for the farmers who wanted to sell their oranges at the market. The train facilitated it a lot. Nowadays there are road tunnels so the train serves mainly tourists and is an amazing attraction!
Myanmar by Erin from Traveling Thru History
Recently we were able to spend a few days in Myanmar and decided to spent a morning riding their Circle Train. This train does a 3-hour circuit around Yangon and visits many outlying villages. One of the things I really liked about this train ride was that it wasn’t a tourist attraction. The Circle Train is what the locals use to get from their villages to the capitol and back. We were amazed by the things we saw. Normally locals are trying to get us to buy things from them or give ‘gifts’ to them, but these people would smile at us and then ignore us. They went about their lives as if we weren’t even there and we got to see how life is for the common person in Myanmar. And we got to see so much of the beautiful countryside. Most of the landscape outside the capitol is farmland, which gave us plenty of rice fields and crops to see as well as people working in them. It was neat seeing what life is like for most people in Myanmar. It made me feel a better connection with their culture and helped me be more appreciative for what I have.
Mexico by Alejandro from Mi Viaje por el Mundo
One of the best hidden secrets of Mexico is his train ride in the north of the country known as El Chepe, because it goes from Chihuahua to the Pacific Ocean. Mexico, unlike other countries, has an underdeveloped railroad infrastructure and this is the only route that is used for transporting regular passengers and tourists alike. During the trip you will see a radically change in the landscape, you’ll go from mountain to desert or vice versa depending on where you start your trip and according to the season, you will see the snowy mountains or pass under waterfalls during the rainy season. One of the most important attractions is its stop at the Copper Canyon, which is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Having traveled by train in many countries this journey is among the best I’ve seen, you will not want to get away from the window any moment.
Rocky Mountaineer train, Canada by Jai from Savoir There
The Rocky Mountaineer takes you on an epic rail journey of a lifetime through the Canadian stretch of the Rocky Mountains via snow-capped peaks, passes and parkland, past lakes and canyons, rivers and gorges, and over bridges and through atmospheric tunnels, as jaw dropping views of British Columbia and Alberta rhythmically float past your carriage window. The train is Canada’s answer to the Orient Express, it offers three levels of service but the real treat is luxurious glass-domed Gold Leaf, which comes with a dedicated team of chefs serving up fine meals in dining-car carriages on white-linen tablecloths accompanied by the immense skies and vastness of the wilderness outside. Many guests spend their time on the open-air vestibule at the rear of the train enjoying the fresh pine-scented mountain air and capturing the views for posterity or trying to spot native wildlife from bald eagles to brown bears. The Rocky Mountaineer’s key routes, Journey Through The Clouds and First Passage To The West run between Vancouver through to Jasper and Banff respectively and can be taken in either direction – each take two full days, overnighting at a hotel in Kamloops.
Kuranda Scenic Railway, Australia by Julia from Where is Juli + Sam
There are very few famous railways in Australia. This one is not on that list. Kuranda Scenic Railway is a short but spectacular line in Tropical North Queensland. It winds its way on a journey of approximately 2hrs from Cairns to Kuranda, a small village in the World Heritage Listed rainforest. The train runs between the trees, over cliffs, across 37 bridges and through 15 tunnels. It passes a few waterfalls and stops for a while next to the awesome Barron Gorge.
And what are the best railway journeys in the world for you?
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