Anyone who’s ever experienced the joys of an early morning commuter train, or a football special full of disconsolate supporters crying into their beer, could easily be forgiven for assuming that a rail holiday is only for the most miserable of masochists.
Choose the right trip and rail travel offers a relaxing alternative to flying, with the advantage of a slower pace, more legroom and the chance to take in the landscape as you cover the miles. Here’s our pick of the most luxurious train journeys…
With the right person, anywhere can be romantic.
That said, a Venetian palazzo has the edge over a Blackpool B&B when it comes to stimulating your affections. Pull out all the stops aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express!
Join the iconic train in Paris, then experience fine dining, 1920s style carriages and luxurious but compact sleeping quarters as you travel to Venice. Spend two days exploring the canals and getting lost in the back streets of this most romantic of cities before travelling first class to Rome for a couple of days. Head south towards Naples and to the Amalfi coast, spending four days perhaps visiting Capri or Pompeii before flying home. It’s a trip that’s ideal for special anniversaries, costing from £3949 per person.
For scenic splendour
Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer takes you through some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on the planet, as you travel across this vast landscape. It’s a three day journey where you stay in hotels, as the Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t have sleeping berths aboard.
Explore Vancouver before boarding the train. Head
east past the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate and the glacial Thompson River to Kamloops. After an overnight stop, the train continues on to Banff, to spectacular views of mountains, lakes and maybe the odd moose or bear. Expect to pay around £1200 for the trip, not including flights or extending your stay
in Vancouver or Banff.
Interrailing has changed for the better since it was all backpacking students carrying three months’ worth of dirty laundry.
With kids and teenagers, plan a route that involves plenty of day tours and diversions, travelling mainly at night in sleeper berths. Fly to Paris, before heading to EuroDisney for a day or two, before exploring medieval towns in the Loire or the culinary delights of the south of France. Side trips to Germany, Belgium or through the Pyrenees into Spain have their appeal.
You can buy Interrail passes for 28 countries, stretching from Finland to Turkey, or a global pass covering all 28, but not the UK. Global passes start at £149, with country passes ranging from £32 to £120 depending on duration. A first class global pass for two adults and up to four children allowing 15 days travelling in a 22 day period costs £916. Children over 11 need a Youth Pass. Getting the whole family involved in planning your trip makes it more fun. Once you’ve pored over the timetables, using a specialist like www.railbookers.com can simplify the process.
For adventure in style
The Trans-Siberian Express used to be about hard seats and hard to digest Soviet style snacks, but now there’s a luxurious way to tackle this most iconic of train journeys. For luxury even an oligarch would envy, a mere £21,195 per person buys a fifteen day trip from Moscow to Vladivostok in the train’s Imperial Suite. The voyage allows plenty of time to explore the 10,000 kilometre route. Start with a tour of Moscow, before heading east through historic Kazan, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, and Ulan Bator.