We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Well, these trains are living proof.
In the face of skyrocketing flight prices and reliably chaotic airports, more travelers are turning to trains than ever before. Plenty of trains are scenic, trendy, and comfortable – but some trains are more than just a way to get from A to B. They’re an experience.
Nearly 200,000 travelers surveyed by Travel and Leisure voted for their favorite train journeys this year. They rated factors like destinations, value, itineraries, food, and service to determine the best journeys from all over the globe.
Here are the three best train journeys in the world:
The Rocky Mountaineer – U.S. and Canada
Whether for two days or two weeks, a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer snaking through its namesake mountains is bound to delight. Every day is full of scenic views of imposing mountains, picturesque streams, and rocky gorges from the glass-domed cars.
But what really sets the Rocky Mountaineer apart is its top-notch service. One traveler said of his recent experience, “The commentary provided by the staff that attended our car is what made the trip a 5-star experience we won’t soon forget… they told you everything about what was going by the window. It made the trip.”
When the train comes to a stop for the night, passengers enjoy a comfortable hotel stay. Don’t worry about schlepping your luggage around or navigating to the hotel, though – the train staff takes care of this smooth transition with impressive organization.
You don’t usually think about a train as a place for fine dining, but the Mountaineer defies expectations. Travelers raved about high-quality food that showcased local ingredients and was served around the clock with fantastic service.
There are three tiers of service – Silver Leaf, Silver Leaf Plus, and Gold Leaf – available at different price points for each route and package. Prices for popular short journeys start at $1,385 USD. If you’re feeling like splashing out, you can reserve one of the longer circle journeys with add-on excursions to Calgary, Salt Lake City, or Vegas for over $5,000.
Banff to Vancouver, or “Passage to the West,” is one of the most popular routes. Other options include, roundtrip:
- Vancouver – Kamloops – Jasper (Journey Through The Clouds)
- North Vancouver – Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper (Rainforest To Gold Rush)
- Moab – Glenwood Springs – Denver (Rockies To The Red Rocks)
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The British Pullman, A Belmond Train – England
The British Pullman promises “timeless travel across Great Britain” at the intersection between luxury and history.
Whether on a day trip across the English countryside or connecting to the Venice Simplon Orient Express, travelers can take a step back to the glitz and glamor of the 1920s. Romantic wooden paneling and vintage curtains evoke a return to a more elegant era when traveling in style was simply the only way.
Some journeys call for afternoon tea, while others necessitate midday champagne. Whatever your beverage of choice, expect elaborate dining experiences of 3-5 world-class courses (sometimes featuring celebrity chefs) at meticulously decorated tables.
Belmond’s iconic train offers day trips to popular destinations like Bath, Cambridge, and Oxford, as well as a wide variety of uber-popular routes to countryside castles and wineries all over England.
Murder Mystery experiences and Golden Age journeys opt for intricate experiences aboard the train itself over superfluous stops. (Let’s be honest – we’re riding this train for the journey, not the destination, anyway.)
Tickets start at about $600 but can exceed $3,000 for special events with guided tours.
Inca Rail – Peru
Do you prefer a luxury carriage with live music and a private balcony, or a simple window seat? Good news – The Inca Rail accommodates travelers of all budgets and preferences, with five tiers of train experiences from the Voyager to the Private.
This rail route takes travelers from Ollantaytambo, just 45 miles outside of Cusco, to Machu Picchu. Prices start around $120, while the most expensive tickets carry a $500 price tag.
The hour-and-a-half travel time is much shorter than the others on this star-studded list. But, short doesn’t mean basic. Visitors called the Inca Rail journey a “magical experience” with “breathtaking scenery.” Travelers loved the panoramic views through dazzling Peruvian valleys and live performances acting out the romance between Princess Cusi Coyllur and Inca warrior Ollanta on board.
Take a scenic journey through the Rockies, channel your inner royal on a luxury day trip through the English countryside, or let the sacred valleys of Machu Picchu take your breath away. Whatever your travel style, there’s an award-winning train trip out there for you.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com