5 Train Trips
Published: April 2009
By Sarah Kantrowitz
Take a transcontinental journey the old-fashioned way (and in serious style) on one of these five routes.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express—a reconstruction of the train that inspired Agatha Christie's famous mystery—glides from Paris to Istanbul in six days and five nights, past bustling European cities and through the snowcapped Alps. Aboard the O-E, the journey is both the apotheosis and the last frontier of travel for the sake of experience—at a truly civilized pace. It's also, in the 21st century, the grandest way to wander off the grid (the company has wisely abstained from installing Wi-Fi). The 18 wagons-lits have been restored to the glory of the 1920's and 30's, a renovation replete with luxurious silks and velvets. Now, a new Central European tour, which will pass through Vienna, Kraków, Warsaw, and Prague, is set to launch in July 2007. Even as the world speeds up, there are some things still worth the wait. Orient-Express; 866/674-3689; www.orient-express.com; day trips from $675.
The Blue Train Connecting
Cape Town to Pretoria, the Blue Train celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. It offers an onboard wine list of award-winning South African varietals, and packages that include game drives and golf rounds. Blue Train; 27-12/334-8459; www.bluetrain.co.za; tours from $1,080.
Palace on Wheels
Travel like a maharaja aboard the Rajasthani-decorated Palace on Wheels for a round-trip seven-night itinerary from New Delhi to Agra—or opt for the new Heritage on Wheels, which travels from Jaipur through Bikaner and Shekhawati, regions known for their colorful frescoes. Palace on Wheels; 888/463-4299; www.palaceonwheels.net; tours from $600.
Two-day itineraries provide connections between Vancouver, Calgary, and Jasper; all trains catch dramatic views of the Canadian Rockies' freshwater rivers and awe-inspiring canyons and valleys. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations; 800/665-7245; www.rockymountaineer.com; tours from $650.
This flagship voyage, from Moscow to Vladivostok, comprises the world's longest rail trip (9,001 miles). Its parent company, the Russia Experience, also offers more than 24 itineraries exploring 18 destinations, including St. Petersburg and Beijing, as well as lesser-known cities like Harbin and Hanoi. Russia Experience; 44-20/8566-8846; www.trans-siberian.co.uk; tours from $1,175.