Great railway journeys of the world (according to travel bloggers)

Last Updated on 05/02/2023 by kami

As you might know trains are my favourite ways to travel around. If I have to choose how to get from one place to another I will always go by train. Not only it’s comfortable but it can give you the chance to relax while admiring some of the most spectacular views you can think of. I was lucky to cross Europe by train few times and it was always a pure pleasure, for most of the time I was just speechlessly looking outside of the window. As I recently came back from yet another trip like this (to Romania and Bulgaria) I asked fellow travel bloggers what are the great railway journeys of the world they would recommend. And here is part 1 of their answers:

A Cogwheel Train from Grindelwald to Wengen, Switzerland by Paula of Contented Traveller

Wengen is part of the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. The other villages that make up this region are Grindelwald, Murren and Lauterbrunnen. These are some of the prettiest villages surrounded by the Eiger, Mont, and Jungfrau mountains.We were staying in Grindlewald and decided to take what was one of the most spectacular train trips in the huge mountains. It was in a cogwheel train, which was very interesting being winched up the hills and to the archetypal Swiss village of Wengen.We got an early start and arrived at the train station, which was bustling with skiers, walkers and people about to go to Jungfraujoch.The cogwheel train climbed to Kleine Scheidegg. From here, where for some reason teepee’s are set up, a lot of skiers and walkers disembarked for the wide and varied slopes. Many also left to catch another train, the famous Jungfraujoch, which would take them to the Top Of Europe. We changed to another cog train having it virtually to ourselves for the trip though the mountains to Wengen. We hung out the windows listening to the train chug along and watched as it negotiated some narrow passages. A Cogwheel Train from Grindelwald to Wengen, Switzerland was easily the most stunning train trip ever.

train travels in Switzerland

Galician Railway Tarnów – Muszyna by Sądecki Włóczykij

Galician Railway Tarnów – Muszyna is the most exciting railway line in Poland. It is hard to find more extraordinary line than this one. Built over 130 years ago leads from Tarnów to Muszyna and then to Krynica or Slovakia and other southern countries. This railway is over 150 km long and goes across main range of Carpathian mountains. You can watch out the window everything what you imagine! Monumental mountains, huge forests, homely villages and towns. The last part of railway makes the biggest impression to everyone, because it leads parallel to cross-border Poprad river. On one side you are in Poland, but on the other you see beautiful Slovakia. Galician Railway Tarnów – Muszyna is the best option for one day trip to mountains, which for sure makes you a lot of fantastic memories. (Trip time from Tarnów to Krynica: 3,5h, Costs: about 20 PLN/5 EURO)

train travels in Poland

Thailand by Evi of Kto podróżuje ten żyje dwa razy

I was always traveling by buses or planes in Thailand, but when we decided to go to Ayutthaya I finally could use one of thai trains. At the train station we were informed that next (within 10 min) train costs 358THB (8,9EUR), which seemed to me a little bit too expensive, but if we are willing to wait 1h there will be next one for… 15THB which is like 0,3 EUR. We were expecting the worst for that price, but it turned out it is regular train, clean, with specific air-conditioning: no glass in windows and ceiling fans. Journey took about 1h20 min, almost each stop was a commercial break for the food sellers – we didn’t have to worry that we forgot to bring any snacks. Only difficulty was space for legs – train was adjusted for Thai people, they aren`t almost 6 feet like me. In the middle of our journey an old lady and her friend came to sit with us and check us out, try how heavy is my backpack standing next to me, to finally fall asleep blocking me completely in a small space.

train travels in Thailand

The train to Machu Picchu by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World

Aguas Calientes is the last village before reaching Machu Picchu, and can only be reached by train from either Ollantaytambo or Cusco. That train ride is a memorable experience. The train moves slowly and sweetly across the Sacred Valley of the Incas, offering the chance to take in some of the most scenic views one can imagine: mountains all around, some lovely villages, the Rio Urubamba on one side, galleries and the railways even follows the path of the Inca Trail for some parts (I remember seeing the train when I actually hiked the Inca Trail). I recommend doing the trip during the day, to enjoy the great views from the large panoramic windows. I opted for the most economic option and took a Peru Rail train, but those wanting to go for a real splurge can opt for the luxury Hiram Bingham one, and along with great views they will get a plush service which includes sitting room style seats, and depending on the time of departure either brunch, lunch or dinner.

train travels in Peru

Trans-Siberian Railway by Łukasz of My name is Ola blog.

It is not enough to call it just a train. It is an element of Russian culture, civilisation, that became an integral part of this country. Today when thinking about getting to Siberia or to the Pacific you would surely look around for a plane but we would like to advise taking this train trip which is a great value itself and is a key to getting to know Russia. It all starts at Moscow railway station getting on the train you are entering a melting pot which you will stay in until the very end of your journey.

You will be accompanied by the rhythmic clatter of wheels but life on the train doesn’t remind that at all. You will see everything from lowlands, through Ural mountains, to big Siberian rivers. Continously changing landscapes together with many stopovers will reguate the rhythm of the jurney until that last station. Internal procedures like closing the toilets before ech station, daily cleaning service, dinig car’s opening hours will become the routine of your day. You will look for those longer, taking few hours, stops, right after leaving the train you will be surrounded by local traders offering all you can only imagine: food, Chinese toys, huge fur hats and sheepskin coats. The further from Moscow the most interesting selection of food you can find. Popular pies start disapearing, instead more fish, berries and mushrooms come up. Traveling companons also change, you meet first Buryats and Mongols. But each journey comes to an end some time so beware and keep an eye on moscow time watch as all the times in Transsiberian railway refer to current Moscow time. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine when to get off, so make friends with your „provodnica”, she will make sure you get up on time. Be ready and packed and when you get off somewhere in the middle of the night dont’t be surprised by a clock showing some evening time.

train travel in Russia

Pikes Peak Train by Vicky of Buddy the Traveling Monkey

Just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado is the city of Manitou Springs. There you can find the train to Pikes Peak. This train is actually a cog train and is considered the world’s highest cog train, reaching 14,115 feet. The 3 hour ride is very scenic and you pass beautiful pine trees and rushing waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you can also see some animals like sheep and marmots. The best part of the ride, however, is the view you enjoy once you reach the top. On a clear day you can see all the way to Denver! Dress warmly though; the temperature difference from the bottom of the mountain to the top can be about 30 degrees!

train travel in the USA

Hill Country, Sri Lanka by Sharon of Where’s Sharon?

If you haven’t been to Sri Lanka, it might surprise you to learn that some of the interior of Sri Lanka is quite mountainous with cool temperatures. The best part is that there is an awesome train line which can take you through some of the most stunning scenery on this island nation in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. In addition to the hills and greenery, I loved viewing all the villages and tea plantations. We saw many people working in the fields and working by hand to cut the tea. Everywhere we looked there were stunning vistas. Being able to do this via local train just added to the experience.

Sri Lanka train travels

Montreux to Rochers De Naye, Switzerland by Margherita of The Crowded Planet

As a big train lover, I’ve been on quite a few scenic train journeys, but the prettiest ever has to be the Golden Pass rail line from Montreux to Rochers De Naye. Starting from Montreux, on the shore of Lake Geneva, the tiny train climbs right into the mountains, one spectacular switchback after another. The lake gets smaller and smaller and finally disappears from sight, while the high peaks of the Alps loom closer and closer, until finally you’re right at the top.
The end of the line, Rochers de Naye station, is also a ski resort with two slopes. You can take the skis on the train with you, then get off, put them on and go down the slopes! It’s great fun in winter, especially if you’re a ski lover, but I’m sure that the scenery is to die for in all seasons!

train travels in Switzerland

China by Łukasz of Kartka z Podróży

One hears from the speakers: “The next station is…” Does it really matter? It is not mine, I am not going anywhere from here but the train does. I am here for the sake of being here; traveling by train is a purpose of itself. There are only few countries in the world where one actually can travel day and night without any transfer. One of them is wide and long China.
Sometimes the only measure of changing location is that every half a day you can see slightly differently looking people approaching your compartment. Go ahead, there is place for everybody – I am saying with a big smile on my face simultaneously looking forward for new acquaintance opportunities.
You eat here with chopsticks – especially delicious Chinese instant noodles with a small spicy sausage. You sleep here and sometimes get a glass of hot water to make, of course, Chinese tea. Nothing is better than aromatic tea to get to know with new passengers, sometimes students, another time whole families or old people speaking language only known to few.
The prose of life in Chinese trains.

train travels in China

A Train Ride from Thazi to Inle Lake, Myanmar by Ivana of Nomad is Beautiful

To get out of the city of Yangon was a big relief. We didn’t really know what to expect from trains in Myanmar. Better for us. The washed-out colours. The super slow speed. The irritating sounds of engine. All together made us feel the train wasn’t maintained since it went for its first ride a few decades ago.
But, there was something that diverted our attention from sounds, dirt and heat. There was this dry yellow, orange and randomly green landscape, where the buffalos were roaming on the pastures alone, where dogs were running along the rails and sometimes were even faster than us. Rice fields mingled with dry forest. That’s Myanmar you see from a train.
To call the journey from a small town of Thazi to Inle Lake scenic would be exaggerating, but it was definitely different from all other train rides we’ve ever made. Intensive, challenging and memorable.

train travel in Myanmar

And what are the great railway journeys you’ve taken? Which one would you recommend?

love, kami 2

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  • Reply
    26/06/2015 at 20:28

    I took the train to Lhasa – highest railway in the world. That was both beautiful and just mentally exhausting. It was just so long and packed with people speaking a language I don’t understand, talking about me (you could tell because one would say something and then five would turn and look at me.) The train had squat toilets and lots of people missed. But it was something I had wanted to do for many years so now that I have, I never have to do it again.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:43

      It’s one of a lifetime experience and even if it sounds pretty terrible I bet now it doesn’t seem that bad and you’re actually glad you did it! Despite the whole discomfort I’m a little bit jealous you did it :)

  • Reply
    26/06/2015 at 22:28

    Hey where is the trip that you would most recommend? A few years ago I believe that I read on your blog about your train journey from Belgrade in Serbia to Bar in Montenegro. If I recall correctly you entered Montenegro at night so could not see the scenery but based on your blog a year or so later I caught the train from Bar to Kolasin. Even if it was not my favorite train trip I did really enjoy it and the train ride was because of your blog.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:45

      you’re right, I did that trip and wrote about it here :) some people say it’s the most beautiful train journey in Europe but I wouldn’t go that far. It was definitely beautiful but I think those in Switzerland are much better – they’re famous for a reason! Glad you took the train from Bar too!! :)

  • Reply
    28/06/2015 at 08:24

    I love travelling by trains – I would definitely add Japanese bullet trains to the list, they are simply amazing. The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of my biggest dreams! I am planning to take few overnight trains during my say in China, I hope to experience some of that “prose of life” :)

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:48

      I really enjoyed travelling by trains in China (except of one night hard-seat journey from Pingyao to Xian, that was terrible!), hopefully you will have a similar experience! I’m really hoping to do Tran-Siberian Railway next year!!

  • Reply
    Natasha Amar
    28/06/2015 at 08:32

    Rail journeys are my favorite way to see a country too! I’ve been on the one in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country and it’s a joy ride of sorts with spectacular scenery. I’d add the TranzAlpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth in New Zealand to this list because it’s definitely the most beautiful one I’ve been on.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:50

      I still have to do those two you’re telling about but I’ve just googled them and they look pretty amazing!!

  • Reply
    Natalie Deduck
    28/06/2015 at 08:37

    Great selection of rides and adventures Kami!
    So far I have travelled by train only Europe, a lot there actually.
    Just finished one month on the tracks and passed by two beautiful places: Swiss Alps and the Douro Valley in northern Portugal.


    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:52

      oh yes, Swiss Alps are the best to visit by train! I loved it there!! I was planning to do a Duoro Valley by train in March but didn’t have time after all… guess I need to go back to Portugal!

  • Reply
    Giulia Blocal
    28/06/2015 at 11:09

    Hi Kami, great post! I’ve never taken these train routes, but I am a big fan of travelling by trains too! I especially like the train route entering Slovenia from Italy and the Bansko-Septemvri in Bulgaria.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:56

      I took that one in Slovenia in 2002 but I still remember how pretty it was! in general Slovenia can offer some really lovely views from the train! I was in Bulgaria 2 months ago but didn’t know about this route, too bad, I’d definitely do it!

  • Reply
    Macrae & Carolann
    28/06/2015 at 13:24

    Amazing stories everyone!
    We took a train from Surat Thani, thailand to Butterworth Malaysia, like Evi said, there was Aircon and it was very nice, we didnt have the leg room problem though.
    Another great train ride everyone must go is around Taiwan! Especially the east coast! Its beautiful.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 19:58

      Thanks for recommending these! I haven’t done much of train travels in Asia so I wrote them down as I really hope to travel there soon! :)

  • Reply
    Dolnośląski Podróżnik
    28/06/2015 at 22:14

    Pierwsze podróże przypominają mi bardzo moje w błogich czasach studenckich :)
    Natomiast bardzo zaciekawiła mnie Szwajcaria. Niesamowite zdjęcie!

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:00

      Szwajcaria jest pełna tras widokowych, i co jedna to lepsza! tam całą drogę siedzi się przyklejonym do szyby :)

  • Reply
    28/06/2015 at 23:42

    Unfortunately I don’t travel by train much, but if I had to pick one I’d love to do that would be Claudia’s adventure in Machu Picchu. Wow and wow! I can just imagine the scenery.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:01

      It’s definitely on my bucket list too!

  • Reply
    29/06/2015 at 04:21

    What a great roundup of train rides! Having taken trains on two of those routes (Thailand and MachuPichu) I am also a love of trains. My kids I wont even tell you. They really love sleeper trains and will choose them over hotels any day!

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:02

      I can totally understand that! When I was a kid I just loved taking overnight trains! I still kind of do that :)

  • Reply
    Lindsay Nieminen
    29/06/2015 at 04:47

    i don’t have any great train trips yet! my boys thoroughly enjoyed the short ride from London to Paris. it wasn’t eerie at all being under the water like i thought it would be! I would love to go through the alps on a train

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:04

      I haven’t taken London-Paris route yet but I really would love to, just for the underwater experience :)

  • Reply
    Megan Claire
    29/06/2015 at 05:41

    What an amazing list of train journeys – train is also my favorite way to travel, especially throughout Europe because the scenery is so diverse and the travel is so convenient and comfy at the same time. My fav from this list would have to be Grindelwald to Wengen – you can’t beat views of the alps!

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:05

      I completely agree with you! There’s no better way to see Europe than from the trains’! I did pretty many scenic journeys in Switzerland but not that one! but since I’m planning to return there soon I’m hoping to include it in my itinerary then :)

  • Reply
    Duke Stewart
    29/06/2015 at 07:14

    Such a wonderful collection of train stories and what timing!

    I recently just took the train with my wife from our town in Korea along the south coast. It’s a themed train and has a Music Car, Tea Car, and has all sorts of colorful designs. It’s so cool on the inside but riding through some of Korea’s most scenic spots is also a huge treat. It was great to stare out at the patches of rice fields and green mountains along the way.

    I love train travel! So happy to have read this. Thanks for sharing, Kami!

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:07

      This journey in Korea sounds definitely like my kind of thing! Thank you for telling me about it Duke, I wrote it down and when I eventually make it to Korea I’m going to take that train for sure!!

  • Reply
    29/06/2015 at 19:16

    I cannot wait for the second part of the super-inspiring article :D

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:17

      soon! ;)

  • Reply
    Patrycja Borzęcka
    29/06/2015 at 23:17

    Lovely views and very good article! This is good idea to make it happen!

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:17

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    30/06/2015 at 13:04

    Trans Siberian train journey is on my wish list! Switzerland looks beautiful here. I didn’t love overland trains in China, they are crowded and noisy even at night but can get you across long distances cheaply. I generally love train travel and I’m very big on inspiring people to travel overland more so this is a great post. Thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:21

      I actually had pretty decent trips in China, all but one that was a disaster! I love travelling by train in Switzerland, the views are hard to beat! And Trans Siberian Railway is in my agenda for the next year, hopefully it will work out!

  • Reply
    Paula McInerney
    04/07/2015 at 00:15

    Thanks for featuring our fantastic cog wheel train trip from Grindelwald to Wengen, a trip we totally recommend. Loved reading the other great railway journeys, some of which we have done and others we will add to the list.

    • Reply
      28/07/2015 at 20:22

      Thank you for contributing Paula!!

  • Reply
    02/02/2016 at 14:54

    Some day I hope I will be able to spend time in this wonderful country, named Switzerland.

    • Reply
      02/02/2016 at 23:22

      Fingers crossed you will go there soon!

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