Taking the train means enjoying the ride without the stress of sitting behind the wheel. And as airfares continue to rise and air service is cut back, in some cases the train presents a more reasonable option. But taking the train is not just about getting from point A to point B, it’s also the experience and the scenery.
Amtrak offers up some of the best views of fall foliage. Switzerland’s Glacier Express lets you experience the beauty of the Alps. Canada has VIA Rail that takes you deep into the Atlantic seaboard, as well as the private Rocky Mountaineer which has a luxury journey through the West with a hop-on, hop-off hotel stay. And for a real splurge in South Africa, you can safari by train when you take Rovos Rail through Victoria Falls.
Watch as Peter shares some of the world’s most iconic train rides that just might fit in your travel budget.
Amtrak’s Adirondack line is one of the most undersung in terms of scenery, and it’s the best way to get from New York to Albany. Keep going, and it extends a full 381 miles into Montreal. Just outside the city, the train will take you into the gorgeous Hudson Valley, and remember we’re coming up on fall foliage season! ($72)
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs 45.4 miles between Durango and Silverton from May through October, and 26 miles between November and May (ending at Cascade Station). It climbs to more than 9,000 feet, criss-crossing the Animas River, passes farmland, old mines and stagecoach roads, and offers the most stunning views of 14,000 foot snow-capped peaks. ($85)
Glacier Express is the iconic Swiss Alps journey, traveling from Zermatt to Davos or St. Moritz. You will spend an incredible 7.5 hours traversing deep gorges, mountain passes, rush through 91 tunnels, across 291 bridges, and traveling through many spirals. The altitude tops out more than 6,600 feet. It may be called an “express” train, but that just means you travel for several hours without switching trains—it’s actually one of the slowest express trains out there. But it’s all about the views and it’s really one of the most memorable ways to see, experience and truly travel within the Swiss Alps. ($160-281)
VIA Rail’s Ocean is especially a great way for families to travel because it’s low stress, and not terribly long. You set out at sunset from busy, cosmopolitan Montreal, follow along the St. Lawrence River and travel through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, arriving Halifax the following evening. Halifax a charming maritime city known for whale watching, kayaking, nature hiking, and fishing. ($132-586)
Not one for a cruise vacation? Check out the Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West. What sets this experience apart is that you don’t actually sleep on the train—the price of a ticket from Vancouver to Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary includes hotel stay in Kamloops. It’s an all-luxury experience, with an acclaimed chef serving gourmet meals, huge picture windows to view the scenery, and comfortable seating where passengers tend to meet and mingle during the journey. The journey is nothing short of spectacular, and it’s the best way to see the Canadian west. ($1,257-$2,235)
Rovos Rail travels from Cape Town to Pretoria to Victoria Fall. It’s one of the most amazing and colorful train trips in the world. The onboard experience is all about luxury: wood-paneled coaches and gourmet food, and the most gorgeous access to the spectacular South African landscape as you traverse the wilds viewing wildlife and the world wonder of Victoria Falls. ($1,362-$1,562)
For more train travel, check out
- The Best Train Trips in North America
- 10 Reasons to Travel by Train Right Now
- One of the World’s Greatest Train Rides
- The Most Scenic Train Rides
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com