10 lesser-known train trips

The journey matters as much as the destination on these rail adventures our readers recommend.

By Kelly Barrett
Published 18 Mar 2019, 10:04 GMT
A train near Ella, Sri Lanka, cuts through the highlands and crosses the Nine Arches Bridge.

A train near Ella, Sri Lanka, cuts through the highlands and crosses the Nine Arches Bridge.

Photograph by Stefan Huwiler, Alamy Stock Photo

As travellers, we know there are a lot of ways to get from point A to point B. But if you’re looking for a journey that’s more than just the destination, travel by train is just the ticket. There’s something romantic about a trip by rail. It allows us to imagine a bygone era when transportation—and perhaps the feeling of time itself—moved a little more slowly. Plus, nothing beats the views out the window through a countryside that you might otherwise miss if you’d chosen to fly. Some of the world’s most classic train rides inspire exactly this type of experience. 

But where might we have missed on this vast, beautiful planet? Surely, there are always more places to explore by rail. So we posed the question to our social community, and thousands of stories poured in from readers that have us planning our next big train adventure. All aboard!

Oslo to Bergen, Norway

“Over the Scandinavian mountains down to the sea side city surrounded by [the] fjords of Bergen.”—Carlos R. Castillo (Check out stunning photos of Scandinavia.)

Alausí to Silambe, Ecuador

“The Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train ride is one of the most difficult railroads in the world, having to climb over one thousand vertical meters—engineers do a zigzag climb.”Nicole Villacís

Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

“[Over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.] Not only spectacular but as a Harry Potter fan very cool!”—Tamara Bryant 

Train travellers cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland.

Photograph by Peter Hirth, Laif, Redux

Ella to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

"Through the tea fields in the mountains."—Fabiola Leyton

Lisbon Tramway, Portugal

“The Lisbon tramway (not quite a train) is fascinating and very scenic.”—Mike Keretschko 

Sacred Valley, Peru

Machu Picchu to Cusco! Glass ceilings in train cars to get the full majesty of the Sacred Valley.”—Kt Krause (Discover 10 secrets about Machu Picchu.)

Budapest, Hungary, to Vienna, Austria

“The poppies were in bloom and lined the train tracks. It was a sea of vibrant color. Magical; unforgettable.”—Allison Harris Bannister

Sanford, Florida, to Lawton, Virginia, United States

“We put our motorcycle on the auto train in Sanford near Orlando, Florida, disembarked in Lawton, Virginia and rode our motorcycle through the Shenandoah Valley. Beautiful country, great train ride—and the only one of its kind in the U.S.”—Carmen Tallon Monroy

Anchorage to Seward, Alaska, United States

“Caught the Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic out of Anchorage headed to Seward. Such a beautiful route including a mama bear and two cubs running along the countryside. [We ate] reindeer sausage in the dining car.”—Trish Haigood

Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya

Nairobi to Mombasa on a vintage train for a 13-hour journey, complemented with full moon that lit the African savanna. We saw some giraffes and rhinos and got called with a rustic handbell to the dinner cart and had our meals served on original chipped china and silverware probably as old as the train.”—Yazan Assaf


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