Photo: Ric Jacyno/Shutterstock

7 Luxurious Train Trips That Beat Any First-Class Flight

Train Travel Luxe Travel
by Brittany Anderson Morgane Croissant Jun 13, 2022

Unless you pay an absolute fortune for one of the few airlines that provide private suites, traveling by air is miserable. Airlines have made it their mission to get you from point A to point B as cheaply as possible and your legs, back, and neck will bear the brunt of all their cost-saving tactics. But there is still one way to enjoy the utmost comfort while traveling: by taking luxury train rides. For the price of a first-class ticket (or for less, in many cases), you can experience some of the most amazing train journeys in the world with champagne in hand and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world outside of your window.

The Rocky Mountaineer between Vancouver and Banff

Rocky Mountaineer train traveling through the Rocky Mountains

Photo: Ric Jacyno/Shutterstock

The Rocky Mountaineer, a train operator famous for offering some of the most scenic train journeys in the world, has four routes for you to choose from, the most celebrated of which is the “First Passage to the West” taking you from Vancouver to Kamloops and then all the way to Banff. Instead of sleeping on the train, you’re transported to elegant hotels, dependent on your booking class — GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf. With its glass-dome coaches, The Rocky Mountaineer is designed to offer scenic views for all passengers — regardless of booking level.

Rocky Mountaineer cost

This two-day, one-night journey between Vancouver and Banff starts at $1,540 (2,049 CAD) per person for the SilverLeaf service and $2,565 (3,409 CAD) per person for the GoldLeaf service. The fare includes two days aboard The Rocky Mountaineer, two breakfasts, and two lunches on board, and one night in a hotel in Kamloops. Other packages are available for the journey between Vancouver and Banff. Early booking/last minute discounted fares are often available on The Rocky Mountaineer website.

If you want to spend less and cross the entire country of Canada, there’s a train for that: The Canadian. This train trips takes you from Toronto all the way to Vancouver, a journey of 2775 miles.

Andean Explorer from Cusco to Arequipa

The “Peruvian Highlands” journey aboard the Andean Explorer consists of crossing Peru from Cusco to Arequipa, stopping along the way in Puno. The trip lasts three days and two nights, with one night spent in a luxury hotel in Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca, and another on the train. There is one beautiful lounge car, two elegant dining cars, one observation car, and even a spa on board, making this train trip the luxury train ride of a lifetime.

Andean Explorer cost

There are three types of cabins available on board the Andean Explorer: Bunk Beds Cabins, Twin Beds Cabins, and Suite Cabins, all fitted with comfortable beds and en suite bathrooms. Prices start at $3,500 for one person in a Bunk Bed Cabin and reach $4,550 for one person for a Suite Cabin. You can book through the official PeruRail website where promotions are occasionally available.

Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Victoria Falls

Interior of one of the Rovos Rail train cars

Photo: Africanstar/Shutterstock

The Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Victoria Falls is a classic, vintage-style journey along 870 miles of rails. Starting in South Africa, you will travel across the Tropic of Capricorn and into Zimbabwe, where you will visit the impressive Victoria Falls. The train caters to no more than 72 passengers at a time in its wood-panelled cars, so you won’t be overcrowded. You’ll travel unhurriedly and be able to take in every minute of the three to four-night journey (depending on your preference).

Rovos Rail cost

There are three types of coaches available for booking on this journey: Pullman, Deluxe, and Royal. Rates start from $2,380 (R44300) per person for a Pullman coach and reach $4,655 (R86600) per person for a Royal coach. No matter what coach you opt for, you will enjoy a double bed or twin beds and an en suite with a shower, toilet, and sink. The fares include all meals and all beverages on board, and off-train excursions. For more information or to book a trip, visit the Rovos Rail website.

Maharajas’ Express from Mumbai to Delhi

The Maharajas’ Express is India’s most luxurious train, and has been designed to take tourists across the country in opulent style. Every carriage includes a butler to wait on guests, and the red carpet is rolled out at certain stations to welcome you back into the train. On its six-night, seven-day “Heritage of India journey”, you’ll have a chance to see sites such as the pink city of Jaipur, the Taj Mahal, and the colonial city of Jodhpur also known as the Blue City. The journey from Delhi to Mumbai, titled the Indian Splendor journey” is the same length and makes the same stops (Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipurn Ranthambore, and Agra).

Maharajas’ Express cost

There are four types of cabins on board the Maharajas’ Express from Mumbai to Delhi: Deluxe Cabins, Junior Suites, Suites, and Presidential Suites, all of which include double beds or twin beds with an en suite bathroom. The cost of this luxury train ride starts at $8,130 per person for a Deluxe Cabin and goes all the way to $24,890 per person for a Presidential Suite. Fares include all meals; soft beverages; house brands of Indian wines, beer and spirits; butler service; off-train excursions. For more information or to book a trip, visit the Maharajas’ Express website.

Royal Scotsman from Edinburgh to Edinburgh

With two, three, four, five, or seven-night journeys, there are multiple options available for travel on the Royal Scotsman. One of the most popular trips available is the “Taste of the Highlands” journey, a two-day luxury train ride from Edinburgh to Edinburgh, stopping at the picture-perfect village of the Boat of Garten, Cairngorms National Park, and Strathisla Distillery. The train stops at night, making sure you get a comfortable sleep, and the interior is decidedly vintage — all wood panels, rich textiles, and plush carpets.

Royal Scotsman

There are two sleeping accommodations available on the Royal Scotsman: Twin Cabins and Double Cabins, the only difference being that one features two fixed lower berth single beds and the other has a fixed double bed. Prices start at an eye-watering $5,675 (£4500) per person in a double-occupancy, two-person Twin Cabin, but the British company Railbookers is often able to get cheap fares for passengers, so it’s worth checking out if there are no special offers on the official site.

If you want to travel by train around Scotland but don’t have the funds for a trip on the Royal Scotsman, check out the Caledonian Sleeper, the sleeper train that runs between London and several cities in Scotland six nights per week.

The Ghan between Adelaide and Darwin

The Ghan train in Australia runs between Adelaide and Darwin


If you want to see the Australian outback but are a little hesitant about camping alongside Australia’s famous critters, you have the option to see it from the comfort of a luxurious railway carriage. The Ghan takes three days and two nights to cross Australia from south to north (or vice-versa), with stops in a couple of stations along the way for off-train excursions. The Ghan is a sleeper train and no matter what class of service you opt for (Platinum or Gold), you get your own cabin equipped with a comfortable bed.

The Ghan cost

The price of riding The Ghan between Adelaide and Darwin starts from $1,622.50 (2,480 AUD) per person in a a Gold Single cabin (includes a single bed, private sink, and access to a shared shower/toilet facilities located at the end of the carriage). The most expensive cabin on this journey is the fully-flexible Platinum service starting at $3,618 ($5,530 AUD) per person. (Platinum Service passengers have either a double bed or twin beds, as well as a full-size en suite in their cabin.) Gourmet meals, wines, beverages, and the off-train experiences are included in the cost of your ticket. For more information or to book a trip, visit the The Ghan website.

The Royal Express between Yokohama and Shimoda

While Japan is famous for its bullet train service, there are also many private companies offering train trips that are less about speed and more about elegant decor, delicious food, and beautiful scenery. The Royal Express is one of them. This stunning train travels between Yokohama and Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula, a popular destination for its hot springs. While the train journey is relatively short — around 87 miles in three hours — you’ll be pretty busy enjoying the fabulous cuisine on board, the live classical music performances, or just taking in the scenery and a view of the train driver doing his job from the observation car.

The Royal Express cost

A one-way, three-hour trip aboard The Royal Express costs $279 (¥39,000) per person. Tickets are only bookable through the official Japanese language website.

What is the most expensive train ride in the world?

The two most expensive train rides in the world are the Maharajas’ Express that runs throughout India, and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express that operates in Europe.

What is the most luxurious sleeper train in the world?

The most luxurious sleeper train in the world is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a vintage train that offers luxurious journeys throughout Europe and all the way to Istanbul, Turkey.

What is the most luxurious train ride in the US?

The most luxurious train ride in the US is the Rocky Mountaineer and its “Rockies to the red Rocks” journey that runs through the beautiful landscapes of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado.

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