Sure, Agatha Christie’s tale set aboard the legendary Orient Express gets a bit more murdery than the average person might like. But it’s hard to argue with the glamour and luxury those Pullman cars embodied.
Teak paneling, white linen tablecloths, crystal wine glasses, and 5-star service made the Orient Express the poshest way to travel between London and Istanbul — a dream-like way to travel from the familiar West to the exotic East and back again.
Today, you can still make that 10-night journey across Europe aboard the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express], and there are equally posh options in North and South America, UK, Africa, India, Russia, and Asia.
We invite you to take a virtual holiday on some of the most opulent trains in the world with these videos. All aboard!
Travel from Toronto to Vancouver aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. You’ll travel through the majestic Rocky Mountains, passing dramatic waterfalls, charming small towns, and vast expanses of forest along the way.
This train journey begins in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, then crosses the Andean Plains to arrive at the highest lake in the world: the breathtaking Lake Titicaca. Inside, the cars are decorated with tapestries made from alpaca wool, and pisco sours are served all day in the rear observation car.
It’s the grand dame of luxury train travel with art deco decor, nonstop champagne, and a route that passes through some of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world — London, Paris, Innsbruck, Venice. You can board the train for a one-night journey from London to Venice or revel in the amenities of the annual excursion all the way to Istanbul.
Take a leisurely ride aboard the UK’s only luxury sleeper train to explore Scotland’s countryside, lochs, castles, and distilleries — perhaps while snuggled under a tartan wool blanket in your private cabin or sipping a lovely dram of scotch in the mahogany-lined dining car. Mingle with other travelers in the observation car or take deep breathes on the open-air veranda.
Travel along Spain’s Atlantic coast on a 7-day journey — from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela — that combines luxury and history in original 1923 Pullman cars. The onboard experience is highlighted with excursions off the train, including stops at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the prehistoric cave of Altamira, the Picos de Europa National Park, and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Take a 3-day train safari from the grasslands of Highveld to the desert of Great Karoo. Relax in posh Edwardian furnishings (and enjoy the thoroughly modern air conditioning) as you take in the wildlife and scenery of South Africa. Goggles are provided for passengers who can’t resist sticking their heads out the window; you can also take in the view from the open-air balconies on the observation car.
This train is consistently named one of the most luxurious trips on the rails for good reason: At each stop, passengers are greeted with fresh flower garlands, and every car is served by a private butler. The 8-day’ Heritage of India’ tour includes stops in Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi. Step back in time to the golden era of travel whilst you sip cool gin-and-tonics and relax in opulent comfort.
Make your way along the east coast of Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok on this revered 100-year-old rail line. Along the way, you can dance to live piano music, learn Russian in the bar car, and watch the dramatic scenery pass by the windows. Curious travelers can plan a side trip to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, and the daring can plan a dip in the chilly waters of Lake Baikal.
Since 1993, this elegantly-decorated train has been making stops in three of Asia’s most glittering cities: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Singapore. The cars’ interiors were inspired by the 1932 Marlene Dietrich film Shanghai Express and feature Jim Thompson Thai silk, Malaysian embroidery, and cherrywood paneling. The rich decorations are only enhanced when the train passes through lush rainforests or ancient temples. Be sure to pack apparel worthy of the scene. Evening wear is required for dinner.
Vying for the title of world’s most luxurious train, the 2- and 4-day trips on the Seven Stars whisk passengers around the island of Kyushu for up-close views of both the seaside and the mountains. Carrying only 28 passengers at a time, it’s an exclusive experience in opulent surroundings: rosewood and maple walls, walnut floors, sliding glass doors etched with flowers and birds, and shoji paper screens on the windows.
Top image courtesy of Irene Miller/Shutterstock.
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