Even if you need a plane to head overseas, you can still travel by train once you get there. Here come three beautiful train journeys that promise a magnificent trip you’ll never forget.
Switzerland: Glacier Express
Board the Glacier Express for a relaxing and riveting ride through the scenic Swiss Alps. The route runs between the two popular mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz, with the train whisking you through 91 tunnels and across nearly 300 bridges.
You’ll enjoy awe-inspiring views of storybook hamlets, glistening mountain lakes, and pristine alpine meadows, along with a few particularly notable points along the journey. One is the Landwasser Viaduct, a famous, single-track, curved limestone railway viaduct outfitted with six majestic arches.
Swiss Alps Train Tips
- A springtime train ride provides riders with loads of mountain snow contrasted with the green valleys below.
- Before or after your journey, spend a night or two in the regions at the endpoints of the journey: St. Mortiz or Zermatt. You’ll be glad you did.
- The Glacier Express isn’t the only train that travels this gorgeous route. Other options include booking a ride on standard trains through the MySwissAlps website.
Russia: Trans-Siberian Railway
The sheer length of this journey alone makes it stand out, while the scenery you’ll glimpse along the way makes it one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The route starts at Moscow in the west, chugs 5,772 miles across the entire width of Russia, and ends in Vladivostok in the east.
The eight-day journey delights with astonishing sights. These include the Siberian forest, the Ural Mountains, and the landmark bridge that crosses the River Ob in Russia’s third-largest city of Novosibirsk.
Trans-Siberian Train Tips
- Buy tickets in person at the train stations rather than trying to purchase them in advance online.
- Eat affordably during the ride by bringing along your own groceries, keeping an eye out for vendors on train platforms at stops, and eating at Russian canteens you’ll find in cities along the way.
- Go with the flow. Keeping a flexible schedule gives you the freedom to spend a few days in cities that captivate you throughout the journey.
India: Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Known as the Darjeeling toy train, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway takes you through the Eastern Himalayas to the lush green hills of Darjeeling. The 50-mile route starts in the West Bengal state of New Jalpaiguri, then heads through Siliguri, Kurseong, and Ghoom on its way to Darjeeling.
Highlights of the ride include the mind-boggling loops and reverses along the route, as well as the train itself. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was completed in 1881 and features historic diesel and steam locomotives.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Tips
- Daily trips can take you the full 50 miles, or you can opt for a shorter ride that runs between Darjeeling and Ghoom. Another option is the Jungle Safari Holiday Trains, which run between Siliguri and Tindharia.
- Booking tickets online in advance is recommended, as rides fill up rapidly.
- Train trips are sometimes suspended due to rain during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Taking one of these beautiful train journeys gives you a whole new way to explore spectacular scenery and brand-new places. So renew your passport, get any required visas, and then get ready to enjoy the ride. Contact Swift with any questions – we’re always glad to help.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.