6 Scenic Train Rides Perfect For Traveling in Style
Nothing ruins the start of a vacation quite like airport hassles. The lengthy amount of time it takes to get through all the checkpoints means you have to set aside hours just to get to your gate. And you can forget about looking good. Anything nicer than a pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt is entirely too fussy when going through security. Plus, there’s always the risk something will get confiscated.
When it comes to food, things don’t get much better. A sad sack of peanuts or pretzels is meant to tide you over while you shell out entirely too much money for a glass of red wine that tastes more like grape juice that’s been sitting around too long. If you happen to be crossing an ocean, you’ll get more, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Get your vacation off to the right start by taking a less modern approach to travel. USA Today Travel said going by train is less expensive, more flexible, more comfortable, and more scenic than just about any other type of transportation. Many locomotives come complete with dining and bar cars, so you can sip a Manhattan while you take in the sights. As for clothes, dress in your finest duds, because you don’t have to worry about removing layers for a security pat-down. Traveling by train might just be the most stylish way to go. Opt for one of these six lines, and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
1. Rocky Mountaineer (Canada)
The best choice for this ride starts in the tiny resort town of Alberta, winds its way through the Canadian Rockies, and ends two days later in Vancouver. Views of stunning cliffs and towering trees make this route a favorite of Fodor’s. Packages come in two levels: SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf. Though the first is essentially the train equivalent of coach, your roomy seat and complimentary glass of beer or wine with your meal will make you feel like you’re living large. Or splurge on the GoldLeaf package to enjoy panoramic views in the cars featuring domed windows.
2. Glacier Express (Switzerland)
This alpine ride takes you from Zermatt to either Davos or St. Moritz in about seven hours. It’s like the most beautiful geography lesson you’ll ever have, offering views of mountains, rivers, lakes, and meadows. While you roll along, choose from a basic lunch, or go for the luxurious three-course menu for an impressive spread. Though this train is hardly as speedy as its name implies, Travel Channel said it’s actually a good thing in this case.
3. California Zephyr (Western U.S.)
When you’re in need of a long vacation, a train ride from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif. might be the most relaxing way to get to The Golden State. A trip through the longest tunnel in the U.S., beautiful canyons views, and informational talks from the California State Railroad Museum make this 2,438-mile stretch one of the best train rides in the entire country. Though booking a sleeper car is more expensive, it comes with perks like complimentary meals and fresh towels.
4. El ChePe (Mexico)
Instead of trying to figure out how to traverse Mexico using your sub-par Spanglish, take the Chihuahua-Pacifico train. It stops at nine major tourist attractions and covers the 405-mile route every day. Make sure you’re going with the first class option, because it features a dining car, cushy seats, security, and it’s the quickest. MEXonline.com revealed the second class train is significantly slower and not very well kept. They also suggested traveling west to east for better views of the canyons during daylight hours. All those cliffs combined with waterfalls and desert plains make this one gorgeous ride.
5. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad (North Carolina)
If your idea of a good time includes barbecue and booze, this gorgeous excursion through the western part of North Carolina is calling your name. You’ll travel through the tunnels of the Appalachia Mountains, covering 53 miles on this stunning ride. The open-air gondola option let’s you get some fresh air while you dig into a pulled-pork feast, but it’s the specialty rides that you really want to check out. Go for the Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience to get a taste of some southern spirits, or you can check out the posh wine experience.
6. Eastern & Oriental Express (Southeast Asia)
Forget backpacking through Southeast Asia, because travel by train is undoubtedly the most stylish way to go. Condé Nast Traveler said the phenomenal sights while aboard are enough to make this a great travel choice, but recommended taking advantage of the village visits. The luxury train cabins on the Eastern & Oriental Express are nicer than many hotels, so you’ll actually get a sound night’s sleep. Depending on your schedule and budget, you can ride for as few as two days or as many as six.