The Most Scenic Rail Trips in the World

Posted by TripMapper | 5th December 2022

Combining the joys of slow travel with breathtaking scenery makes train travel undeniably romantic. Passing through vast deserts, snaking through stunning mountain vistas and traveling alongside rushing rivers - travelling by train is not just a way to get from point A to point B! If you're looking to add a little adventure when travelling, consider taking one of these beautiful rail routes where there is pleasure in the journey not just the destination!

Bergensbanen (Bergen Line), Norway

Experience a winter train adventure through Southern Norway on Europe's highest mainline railway, the Bergensbanen. Begin in the charming city of Bergen and travel east to Norway's capital, Oslo, a journey of 308 miles, where dramatic mountainous wilderness, stunning alpine valleys and fjords await. It is also possible to start from Oslo and finish in Bergen, or as a round trip, if that works better for your travel itinerary.

This coast to coast trip across Norway departs from Bergen's Grand Station before heading inland to the small town of Dale and on to Voss for a spot of skiing. Later you'll stop at secluded Myrdal station where you can choose to take the astonishing Flåmsbanen (Flåm Railway), one of the steepest railway lines in the world, directly to the fjord region of Flåm. It offers a panoramic view of some of the wildest and most spectacular scenery in Norway.

The line then crosses artic wilderness Finse, described as a miniature Antarctica, before heading south through the forests to reach the picturesque village of Flå. After approximately 7 hours you arrive at the vibrant city of Oslo where you can stroll the lively neighbourhoods and explore world-class museums and innovative architecture and make the most of the delicious Norwegian gastronomy.

When planning your Bergen or Oslo itinerary be sure to include the Bergen and Flåm Railway routes, where you can easily travel through Norway's magnificent landscape in a sustainable way.

Chu Kuang Express, High Speed Rail & Alishan Forest Railways Taiwan

Escape on a journey around one of the world's most beautiful islands, Taiwan, where you will see a beguiling blend of the old and the new.

The journey begins at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, at the port city of Hualien which lies in the shadow of the mountains swathed in tropical forests. The first leg of the journey is aboard The Chu Kuang Express where you'll take in the epic landscapes of the the Taroko National Park and stunning Yilan coast. The lofty mountain peaks, waterfalls and sheer gorges in Taroko National Park will take your breath away. Viewed from ground level the Taroko Gorge is a remarkable sight, but for an even better perspective you must traverse the park's suspension bridge, 152 metres above the river below.

Back on the train, you'll head north along the Yilan coast before heading inland towards Taiwan's ultra-modern and alluring capital, Taipei.

After exploring Taipei, the pace will quicken as you'll take the High Speed Rail south down the west side of the island to Chiayi city, the gateway to the historic Alishan Forest Railway. From Chiayi, this beautiful route climbs into the Alishan Mountains. The railway was constructed by the Japanese in the early 1900s to transport logs down the mountain, a challenging and remarkable piece of engineering.

If you want more of an active adventure there is always the option of swapping the carriage for the saddle and cycling Taiwan's incredible Cycle Route No.1, a 602 mile bicycle route around the island!

The Glacier Express, Switzerland

The Glacier Express takes passengers on a journey through some of Switzerland's most stunning alpine scenery. With its windows extending into the roof line, the Glacier Express allows for astonishing views of summits, deep gorges, snow-capped peaks and pristine valleys.

The train snakes through 291 bridges and 91 tunnels between two beautiful Swiss villages, Zermatt and St. Moritz, with plenty of opportunities to take in the awe-inspiring backdrop whilst sipping a glass of champagne or two.

The magical journey is full of scenic wonders from the impressive Matterhorn and the Landwasser viaduct, where a single track perches on six arches, to the 2033 metre high Oberalp Pass and the 400 metre deep Rhine Gorge, known as Switzerland’s Grand Canyon.

The scenic splendours of the Glacier Express are a feast for the senses, a perfect day to include in your Switzerland travel itinerary. Use TripMapper, the best travel planning app, to plan your trip.

Colombo to Kandy, Sri Lanka

This journey begins at Fort Railway Station in Sri Lanka's bustling capital city, Colombo. The famous Main Line takes passengers to the incredible mountainous heart of Sri Lanka.

The first leg is the 75 mile stretch to Kandy. Once on the move lush tropical trees and paddy fields line the track before the train climbs up the Alagalla mountains. At the top of the climb lies Sri Lanka's second city, Kandy, home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After discovering charming Kandy, you'll be on the move once again climbing into the tropical heart of Sri Lanka, a region famous for tea production. Sri Lanka is the world's fourth biggest tea producer, so it will come as no surprise that more than 700 square miles of Sri Lanka is dedicated to the cultivation of tea. From there the train will pass Nuwara Eliya where you will discover the elegance and old school charm of Sri Lanka’s Little England.

It is a gradual descent to picturesque Ella, the final destination of the journey. Here travellers trek through mountainous terrain, take cooking classes, swim under waterfalls and get a photograph of a train travelling across the Nine Arch Bridge!

For travellers in a rush the Main Line may not be for you - be prepared for a very slow journey and plenty of stops! For those with time on their side and a tight travel budget (rail travel in Sri Lanka is a bargain!), sit back, relax and enjoy!

The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

For breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, look no further than the Rocky Mountaineer. This luxury train operates a number of different rail routes and packages between Vancouver and Calgary (with stops in Banff and Jasper), offering passengers breathtaking landscapes, world-class hospitality and gourmet food. You will certainly fall in love with rail travel with the Rocky Mountaineer!

The glass domed coaches means that a Rocky Mountaineer journey leaves no sight unseen as you traverse the dramatic scenery with panoramic views. For those wishing to breathe in the fresh mountain air, grab your coat and step into the outdoor viewing area. You'll have a 'pinch me' moment!

The Ghan, Australia

Want to experience the vastness and diversity of Australia? Then jump aboard the legendary Ghan! This train travels 2,979 miles from Darwin in the country's north all the way down to Adelaide in the south. Along the way, you'll travel through extraordinary landscapes of desert plains, weathered mountain ranges, rocky gorges and lush, green rainforest.

You can also choose to disembark at one of several stops along the route to explore iconic Australian landmarks like Uluru and Kings Canyon and the famous outback towns of Alice Springs and Katherine.

Whether you're crossing snowy mountains, red deserts or dense forest, these unique trips offer a front row seat to some of nature's most incredible wonders. So when planning for your next trip, consider swapping a cabin for a carriage. Enjoy the luxury of time and embrace the journey!

Getting excited about travel?

Sign up for the best travel planning & budgeting app, available on web and mobile.

Get started for free