Railriders: World’s Most Fascinating Railways
Get packed and ready for an unusual adventure. This time we're taking you on a journey along the train tracks.
Obviously, rail journeys are popular because of their price. But, that's not the only reason why adventurers around the world choose to travel this way.
There's something delightfully refreshing in an authentic, old-fashioned train ride. Think dining cars with lavish meals, as much legroom as your heart desires, and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the hassle-free ride.
Besides, the point of a train ride is not just rushing from point A to point B. It's the experience in between that matters. You will have an incredible opportunity to slowly soak up the beauty of the spectacular scenery no matter where you're headed.
Take a look at some of the coolest railways on the planet, and you just might get a serious shot of inspiration to have your next adventure on the rails.
The longest railway in the world will take you across seven time zones, all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok. So, sit back while some of the most mesmerizing and desolate Russian landscapes pass by outside.
The picturesque panoramas will send you back in time and get you lost in thought. Imagine staring through the window as the vastness of the Russian taigas interchanges with the grandiose historical buildings like the iconic Kremlin and the architectural wonders of cities Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk, among many others.
There will be days when you'll think you haven't moved from one place, with only bleak landscapes and a view that doesn't change.
And then, the temperature will drop to -30°C as you cross sleepy Siberia. Even though it's painful to breathe outside, you don't have to worry about a thing. Take advantage of the complimentary mittens, socks and fleece hats. Cosy up with a steaming cup of tea, and watch the stunning snowy wonderland from a safe distance.
Hiram Bingham Orient-Express, Peru
Over a million tourists visit Machu Picchu every year. What if you could be one of the few who gets to see it in a completely different way? You can ditch the backpack and your hiking shoes for now. Slowly approach the majestic Inca ruins while enjoying a delicious brunch and a glass of bubbly in one of the sophisticated dining carriages of the famous Hiram Bingham train.
Hiram Bingham is the embodiment of elegance and glamour, with the interior designed in the style of 1920 Pullman carriages. And, when you really want to take the beauty in, move to the exquisitely decorated observation car. Sit back in one of the comfy cushioned seats and enjoy the view.
Probably the best part of the journey (aside from seeing Machu Picchu) is that you can forget about stress and indulge yourself completely. Try an authentic Pisco Sour cocktail as you listen to the traditional Peruvian music played live by the board band. For the price of the ticket, you will get to enjoy superb food and drinks as you watch the stunning landscape unfold before your eyes.
The Ghan, Australia
The Ghan is known as the best way to cross Australia and we strongly recommend you check why. This railway will take you on an almost 3,000-kilometre journey from Adelaide to Darwin in three days and you will get to experience the spectacular diversity of Australia first-hand. Just imagine falling asleep in the desert and waking up surrounded by tropical gorges and waterfalls.
The Ghan may not be the most luxurious among the railways on our list, but it's one with the most fascinating vistas. However, if you choose the Gold or Platinum service, rest assured that you'll be spoiled during your stay on board. There's plenty of Australian specialties and the finest wines to go around.
Keep in mind that single cabins only have room for an overnight bag. We recommend bringing along a pack like The North Face Recon 32l Backpack that is compact and efficiently stores everything you might need during those three days.
Keep your camera close by to capture the ever-changing landscapes outside the window. Better yet, take advantage of the numerous off-train excursions including camel rides and helicopter flights.
Rhaetian Railway, Switzerland
Passing through 84 tunnels and crossing 383 bridges, this magnificent railway tames one of the tallest mountains in the world. The Bernina Express train makes sure your four-hour ride through the Alps is an experience you will never forget. But, the best part is that this is not a tourist train at all, so the authenticity is guaranteed.
It's hard to pick the highlight of this ride among the fairy-tale villages, mountain-perched castles and snowy landscapes. But if we had to, it would definitely be the Landwasser Viaduct. This breathtaking structure was built in 1901 as an answer to the Swiss mountainous terrain, almost impossible to cross. Back at the time, the viaduct was considered an amazing architectural feat, but we're pretty sure you'll be impressed even today.
In case you're wondering how it feels to slide along the iconic viaduct, let's just say it's both gorgeous and terrifying. Looking down the 65-metre drop to the Landwasser River below could cause you vertigo, and you may want to hold on tight to your seat before the train plunges into a black tunnel through the mountain.
Maeklong Railway Market, Thailand
Other railways pass through magnificent landscapes. Maeklong Railway passes through the Maeklong Food Market in Bangkok. That, in itself, wouldn't be so fascinating, aside from the fact that the train almost brushes off the food stalls while the vendors stand by like it's no big deal. You can watch the scene first-hand from the market, or take a ride on the Maeklong Railway for a different perspective.
The train tracks run straight through the middle of the lively market. The food is often all over the tracks, and the shoppers are free to walk through until the train approaches. And then, several times a day, the horn announces the train is near.
You'd probably think that shopkeepers frantically clear the passage, but it's far from it. They casually start packing up their goods to let the train pass, creating a pretty unbelievable sight for the tourists. The whole market perfectly encapsulates the train as it goes through, with the fruit, fish and vegetables pulled back just enough not to be sliced in half by the metal wheels.
Tren A Las Nubes, Argentina
The Train to the Clouds is one the most popular tourist attraction in Argentina, with good reason. This train will take you through the most captivating landscapes in the Andes, and lift you some 4,200 metres above the sea level.
As far as the architecture goes, Tren A Las Nubes is incredible. You just might get dizzy as the train speeds across bridges, tunnels, viaducts, zigzags and spirals. Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to revel in all the sights. And, if you need a break, the train makes two stops to let the passengers enjoy the highlights of the journey a little longer.
One of the two stops, La Polvorilla Viaduct, is the most impressive part of the train ride. The famous viaduct lets you admire the Puna grassland from 65 metres above the ground.
The train doesn't operate during the summer due to the heavy rain. But, whenever you decide to take this trip, don't forget your warm clothes and an umbrella. We suggest the reliable and easy-to-pack Blunt Umbrellas XS Metro that's pretty much the strongest collapsible umbrella out there.
Maharaja's Express, India
India has one of the most fascinating cultures in the entire world, and Maharaja's Express is probably the most luxurious way to experience this incredible country. Hop on the Maharaja's Express and indulge in the opulence and comfort worthy of a royal.
Dubbed "palace on wheels," Maharaja's Express is designed as a five-star hotel. The most impressive of all is the presidential suite that might make you forget you are on a train. Well, except the scenery will be moving. And, we're guessing you won't mind a 24-hour personal valet service.
You may be tempted to stay in your room enjoying the lavish life, but don't forget to gaze through your window every now and then. Don't worry, the ride also includes off-train trips during which you'll get to explore wonderful cities, hang out with elephants, go on a safari, and visit Taj Mahal.
Durango And Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, USA
Watching Durango And Silverton Train slide through the lush forests and mountains of Colorado, steam coming out of its locomotive, is truly a magnificent scene. But, riding inside this 1882 coal-fuelled, steam-powered train is an even cooler experience.
The train was originally imagined mainly as a freight train transporting silver and gold, but the passengers quickly recognized the view as the real treat. Now, this railway is a tourist attraction taking you through time with the interior still furnished in Victorian fashion. And if you doze off for a moment, you just might believe you are back in the 19th century.
The spectacular panorama of Colorado that will surround you is something you wouldn't be able to see on the highway. And, the splendour of the nature outside is exactly what turns this train ride into an experience you will remember for a lifetime.
Talyllyn Railway, Wales
Welcome to the most charming railway on the planet. If Talyllyn Railway looks familiar, it's because this adorable train served as inspiration for the famous Thomas the Tank Engine books.
The train itself was built in 1865 and it still uses the locomotive and the carriages that operated back then. When it comes to the route, it covers barely above eleven kilometres, so keep your eyes peeled while you're cruising through the idyllic Welsh countryside.
The ride is pretty short, but the fun is not over when you reach the final stop. Don't miss out on the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at the Tywyn terminus, full of fascinating artefacts from the train tickets to locomotives, representing the history of the railway over the last 200 years.
Keep in mind the unpredictable Welsh weather and pack smart before you get on the Talyllyn train. A classic North Face Men's Half Dome Hoody is always a great idea because it will keep you warm while you admire the splendid Welsh landscape.
The saying "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey" may sound like a cliché, but it really comes to life on the train tracks. These railways pass through some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet and they give you just enough time to take it all in.
So, what do you say? Would you like to jump aboard one of these fascinating railways? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!