Home World’s Top 25 Trains Journeys Latest News Membership Contact Us Book Now
Untitled Document
Click on map to enlarge

REGIONS
       Europe
       Asia
       North America
       South America
       Africa
       Australia/New Zealand


TOUR TYPES
       Luxury
       First-Class
       Steam/Railfan
       Cruise

 
       Join Our Email List
       Terms & Conditions
       Print this page
            
  World's Top 25 Trains Select:
 
 

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE)

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE), with its restored, 1920s vintage cars, is the world’s most authentic luxury train. Made famous in the Agatha Christie story, the train still runs on the legendary route from Paris to Istanbul. Many other itineraries are also available. They include Istanbul to Venice, and many itineraries including Venice, Krakow, Dresden, Prague and Paris.

 



Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE)

Rovos Rail Pride of Africa

Region: Africa
Tour Type: Luxury

Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa offers an old-world elegance and luxury to a degree that was never equaled in the 1920s. Many seasoned IRT Society travelers consider it their favorite rail experience. Celebrated not only for its fabulous equipment, the train is rightfully proud of its stellar dining and on-board service. In short, the entire experience is an exciting luxury rail adventure.



Rovos Rail Pride of Africa

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

No question about it: there is no better way to see Siberia. The all-ensuite Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express was launched in 2007 to much fanfare in Moscow. The UK operators of this train have made a huge push to up the ante on with a new Imperial Suite, as well as Gold and Silver Class accommodations, all with en-suite bathroom. The train also has two dining cars and a lounge car. It plies the famous Trans-Siberian route between Moscow and Vladivostok, as well as special tours of the Silk Road, Russia's Arctic and the Crimea.

Two Imperial Suites will continue to be available on all 2014 Golden Eagle departures. This type of compartment, the most spacious at 120 square feet, has been a huge success for luxury travelers. It offers a fixed king-sized bed, a dedicated dressing table and lounge area. All passengers will enjoy the upgraded service, presence of a quality control manager and improved food and beverage service throughout the Golden Eagle.

Latest News: Click here for owner Owen Hardy's blog on improvements in 2012 on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.

 



Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Royal Scotsman

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

The Royal Scotsman is a standout train and one of our favorites in the world. A small venue—just 36 passengers—it’s great for those who wish for a more intimate, luxury setting with gourmet, five-star dining, wine-pairing and superior service. Simply put, it is one of our favorite hotel trains. All the train’s cars, save the 1928-era diner, are of 1960s vintage equipment, but they have been recast into an Edwardian confection of varnished woods, polished brass and fine fabrics.

Latest News: Click here to see our video of Society President Eleanor Hardy's May, 2012 trip on the Royal Scotsman.
 

 



Royal Scotsman

El Transcantábrico

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

The 52-passenger Clásico El Transcantábrico train, which traverses Northern Spain, started in 1983.  Its launching was one of the first stories in The International Railway Traveler, founded the same year. The train set has six sleepers, each with four double compartments with ensuite facilities. The train is operated by Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha (FEVE), which means Narrow-Gauge Spanish Railways.

In May, 2011, a new luxury service, called Gran Lujo, was inaugurated. It features all Preferente Suites, which are each half a train car. These cabins are about 129 square feet. This will make a huge difference to some travelers who require more space and private lounge area.

The Preferente Suites have a double bed, long sofa, flat-screen DVD, computer for your private use (wifi when in stations) and lots of storage in closets, under the bed, and under the sofa. The Gran Lujo train will only take 28 passengers, and thereby be able to offer a much more intimate travel experience for discriminating travelers. However, these cabins can also accommodate three persons.



El Transcantábrico

Royal Canadian Pacific

Region: North America
Tour Type: Luxury

Just 30 persons can pretend to be royalty and come aboard to sample this train’s five-star dining, open-platform observation areas, several small salons, and large compartments with private, ensuite shower, toilet and sink. The train and its superb staff combine outstanding scenery, exclusive visits and elegant musical events with the top-notch service and cuisine. It all results in one word: “Wow!” The total RCP package is matched by just a few trains in the world.  It's tops in the Western Hemisphere.

Many of the cars for the Royal Canadian Pacific (RCP) train were built between 1917 and 1931 and were used as business cars for the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR).



Royal Canadian Pacific

Eastern & Oriental Express

Region: Asia
Tour Type: Luxury

In 1991, the Orient-Express company acquired New Zealand’s famed Silver Star, transported it to Southeast Asia and, following refurbishment, re-christened it the Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O). The train runs 1,262 miles between Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.


 



Eastern & Oriental Express

Danube Express

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

When we first experienced the Danube Express private train, we knew it would jump to IRT's World’s Top 25 Trains list.  The train started service with its gorgeous deluxe carriages in 2008.  All itineraries either start, end or go through Budapest, Hungary, where the train is headquartered.



Danube Express

Deccan Odyssey

Region: Asia
Tour Type: Luxury

The Deccan Odyssey is one of the subcontinent’s most luxurious trains; its cars, built in 2003, have been upgraded with new carpet and bedspreads recently, according to our ground suppliers. These improvements, which we recommended last year, bring this train up to “luxury” status, because its staff, service, amenities and food were already superb.



Deccan Odyssey

Shangri-La Express

Region: Asia
Tour Type: First-Class

The private Shangri-La Express is not a luxury train, despite its name, but it is the best way to see this fascinating country and much of its spectacular scenery. It is at this writing the most modern hotel train in China and far surpasses regular train service in every aspect. The Shangri-La Express is modern, air-conditioned and has first-class sleeping compartments with two bunk-style twin beds.



Shangri-La Express

Al-Andalus

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

Southern Spain’s opulent, broad-gauge Al-Andalus returned to the rails May, 2012, with its 1920s-era cars newly renovated. The Al-Andalus includes bar, lounge and two dining cars, as well as all-en suite cabins. The train combines stellar service, exquisite Art Deco styling and excellent cuisine for a unique tour of Andalusia. Please see IRT's review of Al-Andalus in our Track 25 blog from spring, 2012.



Al-Andalus

Glacier Express

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

The Swiss proudly hail the Glacier Express as the world’s slowest express. The train takes almost eight hours and the services of two private, narrow-gauge railroads to traverse the 168 mountainous miles between two posh resorts—Zermatt and St. Moritz. The Alpine route of the Glacier Express is what makes this train so marvelous. A serious quibble: we long for the old, second-class equipment which allowed us to open windows and photograph the fantastic scenery.



Glacier Express

Bergen Railway

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

The complete Oslo-Bergen line was opened in 1909 as the only year-round land transport between Norway’s two largest cities. The 300-mile length of track passes through 200 tunnels and 18 miles of snowsheds in addition to crossing more than 300 bridges. The scenery on the 7-hour Bergen Railway trip across the Hardanger plateau, the largest wilderness area in Europe, is breathtaking.



Bergen Railway

Flam Railway

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

With the Flåm Railway, it’s what you see outside that counts. In about an hour, the line climbs some 2,833 feet from Flåm station, nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord, to the mountain station at Myrdal on the Bergen Railway. On the 12.4-mile-long ride, you’ll see rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls cascading down the sides of steep, snow-capped mountains and farms clinging dizzily to sheer slopes.

The Flåm Railway is one of the world’s steepest standard-gauge railways, with a gradient of 5.5%. The railway recently underwent a facelift; its new fleet of trains, in forest green livery, comprises five engines and 12 cars. It also boasts new interiors and a unique guide and loudspeaker service.



Flam Railway

Maharajas' Express

Region: Asia
Tour Type: Luxury

The Maharajas' Express was custom-built to be the most luxurious train in India––and perhaps the world––offering state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. All cabins have large windows, LCD televisions, wi-fi access, individual temperature controls and full en-suite bathrooms. There is one Presidential Suite which comprises a full train car—the largest suite available on any train in the world. The two elegantly decorated dining cars serve a choice of multi-course Indian and continental cuisine. Two lounge cars provide cool drinks and comfortable seating. The train is 22 cars long, taking a maximum of 84 passengers.  The Maharajas' Express is the newest in The Society of IRT's World's Top 25 Trains list!



Maharajas\' Express

Bernina Express

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

The spectacular Bernina line was completed in 1910 and is run by Rhaetian Railways. Beginning in Chur, St. Moritz or Davos, it passes the glaciers of Piz Bernina, making this the highest railway crossing in all of the Alps. It travels over 38 miles, climbing grades of up to 7%––without rack and pinion––to more than 7,391 feet at the Bernina Pass summit, and drops down to just 1,408 feet at Tirano, Italy.



Bernina Express

Golden Pass Panoramic Express

Region: Europe
Tour Type: First-Class

Switzerland's Panoramic Express trains boast vista-dome cars for maximum viewing of the spectacular mountain scenery between Montreux and Zweisimmen. Super Panoramic Express trains also have a special, eight-passenger viewing area in the front of the train, above the driver, for the ultimate in ringside seats.



Golden Pass Panoramic Express

Hiram Bingham

Region: South America
Tour Type: Luxury

The gleaming blue-and-gold cars of the Hiram Bingham makes the 3.5-hour trip between Cusco and Machu Picchu every day but Sunday. The train has two 42-seat dining cars serving excellent Peruvian specialties for brunch on the journey to Machu Picchu, and for dinner on the evening return to Cusco. The train also has a gorgeous bar/observation car.



Hiram Bingham

Andean Explorer

Region: South America
Tour Type: First-Class

The Andean Explorer makes the 9.5-hour trek from Cusco to Puno and Lake Titicaca. You depart Cusco at 8 a.m., arriving Puno about 5:30 p.m. This addition covers one of the highest standard-gauge rail routes in the world, reaching altitudes up to 14,150 feet. A highlight is riding at sunset the few miles before Puno alongside Lake Titicaca.  The views are nothing short of spectacular.



Andean Explorer

Blue Train

Region: Africa
Tour Type: Luxury

The Blue Train is one of the world’s great luxury trains, and runs eight times a month between Pretoria and Cape Town. The current schedule is southbound on Mondays and the northbound on Wednesdays. The route is a 27-hour journey of 994 miles and includes a sightseeing stop in each direction. The Blue Train is operated by the state-run Spoornet.



Blue Train

British Pullman

Region: Europe
Tour Type: Luxury

The British Pullman is a luxury, vintage day train that completes the British leg of Orient-Express journeys between Paris and London. Passengers from the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express debark in Calais, France, and board a special bus for the short "piggyback" train ride through the Eurotunnel to Folkestone. There, they board the British Pullman for the ride to London's Victoria station. What's not to love about this experience? Fabulous food, lovely scenery and riding on such a gorgeous and historic train.

 



British Pullman

Rocky Mountaineer

Region: North America
Tour Type: First-Class

The Rocky Mountaineer has graduated to international status, as it has added Seattle, Washington to its well-explored repertoire in Western Canada. The train is comfortable and classy. Its luxury GoldLeaf Service, with custom-built glass dome coaches, offers fine dining on the lower level, including local wines, plus wind-in-the-face, outdoor viewing at the rear platform. There are four routes offered by this train: Vancouver to Banff and Calgary; Vancouver to Jasper, Whistler to Jasper via Quesnel and Vancouver to Seattle.



Rocky Mountaineer

Canadian

Region: North America
Tour Type: First-Class

The Canadian is VIA Rail Canada’s flagship train. It runs between Toronto and Vancouver three times a week, traveling 2,775 miles. IRT recommends Sleeper Plus Class so you can have a private bedroom on board the overnight train and the many perks that come with it—from a special waiting room at the main stations, to priority boarding, “welcome aboard” reception, wine tastings and all delicious meals included. The main delight is exclusive access to the great dome cars for seeing the sites day or night. The schedule from Toronto to Jasper allows three nights on board (10 p.m. departure Vancouver, 1:00 p.m. arrival Jasper.) All the way to Vancouver is four nights (three days, 14 hours and 42 minutes!) Arrival in Vancouver is scheduled for mid-morning.



Canadian

Palace on Wheels

Region: Asia
Tour Type: First-Class

The Palace on Wheels, with its cream-colored livery, is a joint venture of Indian Railways and the state of Rajasthan’s tourism office. Starting service in 1982, it was India’s first hotel train and has been gaining in popularity ever since.  Although it has the name "Palace" in its name, reviews of IRT owners and travelers indicate it is not up to international luxury standards. However, that said, IRT travelers say it is definitely a winning experience and, when compared with the normal trains in India, should definitely be on the World's Top 25 Trains list because of its unique itinerary.



Palace on Wheels

Sunlander

Region: Australia/New Zealand
Tour Type: First-Class

What better way to sample some of the iconic Australian pleasures: The Great Barrier Reef, the Kuranda Scenic Railway, the islands such as Fraser and the Whitsundays, and the rainforest? The Sunlander train links them all, with its overnight service crossing 1,045 miles on the east coast of Queensland, Australia, from Brisbane to Cairns.

The scenery is spectacular. The possible stopovers are, too. If you take the train straight through, it takes 32 hours.

In 2012, the Sunlander upped its game to three departures weekly in each direction, and the "Queenslander class" is offered on every one instead of just once a week. Also, the three-times-weekly tilt train, for shorter day trips, augments this service in a fantastic way, allowing extensive touring all along the spectacular route. Queensland Rail Travel is changing its Sunlander to an all-new trainset based on tilt-train technology in 2014 -- with three levels of service from the deluxe to back-packer, running six times a week.




Sunlander

Indian Pacific

Region: Australia/New Zealand
Tour Type: First-Class

Australia’s transcontinental Indian Pacific offers a twice-weekly service in both directions between Perth and Sydney, via Adelaide, across more than 2,704 miles. Almost 300 miles of it is across the longest straight track in the world, the Nullarbor Plain. The journey takes three nights, and our travelers report it’s frequently a very jolly departure, with many Aussies traveling the route, especially around holiday periods.



Indian Pacific

Ghan

Region: Australia/New Zealand
Tour Type: First-Class

The Ghan has a long and wild history, starting in 1878 when construction began on a line from Port Augusta. Until 1929, the last part of the journey to Alice Springs was accomplished by Afghan camel train, and that’s where today’s train gets it name. The Alice to Darwin “Top End” route, dreamed of for more than a century, was started in 2001. The first train arrived in Darwin in 2004. The service has been swamped with travelers. It takes 48 hours—two nights on board—to travel from Adelaide to Darwin over 1,852 miles of track. The Ghan has added Platinum luxury-class service, which is getting excellent reviews.



Ghan
2424 Frankfort Ave. Suite #2, Louisville, KY 40206  •  (800) 478-4881  •  (502) 897-1725   •  fax (502) 897-1729   •  email: tourdesk@irtsociety.com  • ©The Society of International Railway Travelers®