5 Unexpected train travel countriesPublished 17/10/2023
5 Unexpected train travel countriesPublished 17/10/2023
When you think of train travel, you quickly think of countries like Japan, Switzerland and Germany, which are known for their efficient and extensive rail networks. But there are quite a few countries where you can take impressive train trips. They might not be the best countries for a full train travel trip, but these routes are worth taking a ride simply for the view. Here are some examples of unexpected countries with impressive train travel journeys.
Impressive train routes in Peru
Peru is not the first country that comes to mind for train travel, but it is home to some of the most famous and impressive train routes in the world. There are several options that take you through the mountain ranges or take you to the famous Inca site Machu Picchu. The trains vary from budget trains to very luxurious panorama trains with a train restaurant and on-board entertainment. I will highlight 2 of the Peruvian train travel journeys that are worth exploring.
The Titicaca Train is named after the famous Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake located in the Andes. This train journey takes you from Cusco to Puno, or vice versa, offering breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains and the surrounding high plateau. Here’s what you need to know about the Titicaca Train journey:
- Route and travel time: The Titicaca train follows a route of about 387 kilometres and the travel time is about 10 hours. During this journey, you will pass through vast valleys, mountainous terrain and picturesque villages.
- Departure point: The train journey starts in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire and a city full of architectural treasures. The final stop is Puno, a town on Lake Titicaca.
- Price: The cost of a one-way trip on the Titicaca train varies depending on the class and accommodation chosen. Prices are usually between $200 and $500 or more, depending on the season and availability.
- Availability: The Titicaca train runs all year round. However, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during high season.
- Comfort and amenities: The Titicaca train offers comfortable seats and the opportunity to enjoy local food on board. It is a day train, so there are no sleeping cabins on board.
Fellow traveller Emma took this impressive train trip and wrote an article about it. Find our more about this trip and whether or not it’s worth the journey.
The Hiram Bingham Train is named after the explorer who rediscovered Machu Picchu. This exclusive train journey takes you from Cusco to the majestic Machu Picchu while indulging you in elegance and refined service. Here’s what you need to know about the Hiram Bingham Train journey:
- Route and travel time: The Hiram Bingham train covers a route of about 110 kilometres, with a journey time of about 3.5 hours. This short but scenic journey takes you through the Urubamba Valley and ends at the iconic Machu Picchu.
- Departure point: The journey starts at Poloy station near Cusco. Cusco is the historical capital of the Inca Empire and a city full of charm and history. The final stop is Machu Picchu.
- Price: The Hiram Bingham train offers a luxurious experience, and prices reflect this. One-way costs usually range from around $400 to $700 or more per person, depending on the service selected and availability.
- Availability: The Hiram Bingham train runs year-round, but it is wise to book your tickets well in advance, especially during peak season.
- Comfort and amenities: The train offers an unmatched luxury experience, with elegant seats, gourmet meals, live music and an open observation car to enjoy the spectacular views.
Fellow traveller Jenny took this train trip and wrote a very detailed article that answers all your questions about this trip. Is it worth the high price?
North, East, South, West in Australia
Although Australia is best known for its vast deserts and coastlines, and although road trips are a popular way to cross the country, the country also offers interesting train travel options. The ‘Indian Pacific’ takes you from the east coast to the west coast as you travel through the country’s vast interior. ‘The Ghan’ takes you from Adelaide (south) to Darwin (north) and offers stunning views of the Outback.
Both journeys offer a relaxing and impressive way to cross this beautiful country. During the train journeys, you’ll see the landscape change and learn more about the country at once. You can find more information and book tickets here.
- Route and travel time: The “Indian Pacific” follows a route of a whopping 4,352 kilometres, from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast. Full travel time is about 65 hours and includes stops in some of Australia’s most iconic cities and areas, for which trips are organized. The “Indian Pacific” runs year-round. But it’s advisable to book really early. Many tickets are sold out a year in advance.
- Departure point: The train trip starts in Sydney or Perth with an option to board or disembark in Adelaide as well.
- Price: The cost of the “Indian Pacific” train trip varies depending on the class and accommodation you choose. There are several options available, ranging from economy to luxury. But quickly count on at least €3000 for a one-way trip.
- Comfort and amenities: The train offers comfortable seats, which fold up as beds at night, and sleeping cabins, as well as elegant dining and lounges. Travellers can enjoy the excellent service and restaurants on board.
- Route and travel time: “The Ghan” crosses the continent from north to south, from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. Full travel time varies, but usually takes about 54 hours for the entire route. The journey offers a unique opportunity to explore some of Australia’s most remote and beautiful areas. The train runs year-round, but early booking is recommended. Many tickets they sell a year in advance.
- Departure point: The trip starts in Darwin or Adelaide, with the option of a half-route to Alice Springs as well.
- Price: “The Ghan” train trip is slightly cheaper than the “Indian Pacific,” but still at least €2500 for a one-way ticket.
- Comfort and amenities: The train offers comfortable seats and cabins, as well as dining facilities and lounges. You can enjoy excellent on-board service as you experience the transition from the tropical northern region to the drier southern region of Australia.
Šargan eight, Serbia
In Serbia you’ll find a unique train travel experience called the “Šargan Eight,” an enchanting narrow-gauge train ride that takes you through the beautiful landscapes of western Serbia. Nice bonus about the train is that you have the option of renting the entire train! Here is some practical information about this scenic train ride:
- Route and travel time: The “Šargan Eight” follows a 15-kilometer route that begins in the town of Mokra Gora and ends in Šargan Vitasi. Travel time varies, but usually takes about 2 to 2.5 hours. During the journey you will pass through 22 tunnels, 5 viaducts and an altitude difference of about 300 meters.
- Starting point: The trip starts in Mokra Gora, a picturesque mountain village in Western Serbia.
- Price: The price for the “Šargan Eight” train ride is about €10. Going with a large group? Then you even have the option of renting the entire train for yourself for about €850.
- Availability: The “Šargan Eight” is seasonal and usually operates from May to October. During peak season it can be crowded, so it is wise to book your tickets in advance.
- Comfort and amenities: Although nostalgic, the train offers comfortable seating and great views of the Serbian countryside. There is also a train car with a restaurant where you can sample local food and drinks.
Traveller Hanit Gyani took this train, took this photo and said the following about the train ride, “A highlight of our trip to Serbia was the ride on the Šargan Eight train. The train winds its way through picturesque mountains on a narrow gauge line along steep cliffs, which were even more beautiful with the autumn colors all around.”
Iranian Northern Railway
Iran has an amazingly extensive railroad network in the north of the country. The Northern Iranian Railway is a captivating train journey that takes travellers through the enchanting landscapes and rich history of Northern Iran. This train journey offers an unforgettable glimpse into the diversity and splendor of Iran’s landscape and cultural heritage.
- Route and travel time: The Iranian Northern Railway is a train journey of about 600 kilometres, starting in the city of Qazvin and ending in Gorgan, near the Caspian Sea. Travel time varies, but is between 8 and 10 hours for a one-way trip. Along the way you will pass through vast valleys, mountainous terrain and picturesque villages; in the middle you will make a stop in Tehran. The train runs year-round.
- Departure point: The train journey begins in Qazvin, a historic city with a wealth of architectural treasures and cultural attractions. You can also choose to take the train trip one way from Tehran.
- Price: The cost of a ticket for the Iranian Northern Railway can vary, but is fairly inexpensive. Single tickets are around €25 and can be booked in person. But there are also many tour organizations that offer the trip, sometimes even as a free extra when booking a travel package.
- Comfort and amenities: The Iranian Northern Railway offers comfortable seats and there is a restaurant on board. With tours, you usually get all meals of the day included.
Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the most popular train tours in the world, offering travellers the chance to explore the impressive landscapes of Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Along the way, you’ll make stops at iconic places, such as Banff, Jasper and Whistler, where you can enjoy the natural beauty and activities this region has to offer. Here’s what you need to know about the Rocky Mountaineer train tour in Canada:
- Route and travel time: The Rocky Mountaineer offers several routes, including the “First Passage to the West,” “Rainforest to Gold Rush,” and “Journey through the Clouds.” Each route has its own distinctive landscapes and highlights. You can decide the length of your trip, which can then include other excursions. The shortest routes are 1 night, while the longest train journeys are for 10-12 nights.
- Departure points: The trip usually starts in cities such as Vancouver or Calgary, depending on the route chosen.
- Price: The Rocky Mountaineer is a luxury train journey, and prices reflect this. Costs vary depending on the route, the type of accommodation (from GoldLeaf Service to SilverLeaf Service), and the season in which you travel. Prices for 1 night are around $1,500 to $8,000 for a return trip of 13 nights.
- Availability: Rocky Mountaineer train rides are seasonal and usually operate from April to October.
- Comfort and amenities: The Rocky Mountaineer is known for its comfortable seats, panoramic dome windows and excellent on-board service. You will be spoiled with delicious meals, local cuisine and the opportunity to enjoy the views in style.