Need a change of scenery?

By Evie Carrick
April 14, 2020
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Watching people, clouds, and birds pass your window is only entertaining for so long. After a while, a change to your limited, self-quarantined reality may be necessary. And while you can virtually visit museums and even national parks from your couch, they’ve got nothing on a brisk train ride through the Swiss countryside or journey around the Arctic Circle.

Virtual train rides offer viewers the chance to zone out and calm the mind, while seeing new landscapes, some of which many people will never experience in real life, quarantine or not. Plus, you don’t have to worry about train fare or if the onboard amenities are up to par — just pour yourself a hot cup of tea (or a cocktail to fit the destination) and hop aboard.

1. The Flåm Railway, Norway

Credit: Getty Images

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, this 12-mile route takes you from the end of Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, up to the high mountains at Myrdal station. Along the way, you’ll pass waterfalls, deep ravines, snow-capped mountains, and high-altitude farms, all while watching the weather shift from sun to rain.

2. Geibi Line to Fukuen Line, Japan

You can get a taste of the Japanese countryside as you travel virtually from Hiroshima Station to Fuchū Station on the Geibi Line turned Fukuen Line. The route passes through the mountainous area of the Chūgoku region, so expect to see stunning bridges and long, dark tunnels cutting through mountains.

3. Bernina Railway, Switzerland to Italy

The trip starts in St. Moritz, Switzerland on a perfectly sunny day and ends in Tirano, Italy via the high-mountain Bernina Pass. Sit back with an Italian-style caffè and watch as the train cuts through picturesque villages and rumbles alongside dizzying cliffs and sparkling blue waters. Along the way, you’ll break a few records — albeit virtually: It is the highest railway alpine crossing in Europe and the highest adhesion railway on the continent. Not bad for a fully virtual experience.

Credit: Getty Images

4. Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Colorado, United States

If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to the top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak, which sits 14,115 feet above sea level, here’s your chance. Hop aboard North America’s highest train and join this fast-motion virtual tour. The trip starts at the station in Manitou Springs and climbs the well-known peak in a matter of minutes, allowing the viewer to sit back and enjoy the dizzying ride.

5. Belgrade–Bar Railway, Montenegro

You’ll start your journey in the town of Bar, near the Adriatic Sea, before passing through the line’s longest tunnel (20,246 feet) and over the highest railway bridge in Europe. After zipping through the country’s impressive mountainous region, end the virtual trip in the town of Bijelo Polje — 102 tunnels and 96 bridges later.

6. North Wales Coast Line, England to Wales

Travel along the beautiful Wales coast aboard a British Rail Class 175, a type of diesel passenger train used in the United Kingdom. The virtual excursion kicks off in the city of Chester, England and quickly travels over the border into Wales, passing through lush countryside before hitting the coast and continuing west.

7. Nordland Line, Norway

The adventure starts on the Trondheim Fjord in Trondheim and only seems to get snowier as you head farther north. Eventually, you virtually pass into the Arctic Circle before ending in the municipality of Fauske. If cold and snow don’t sound appealing, you can experience the trip in one of the other three seasons here.

8. Ferrocarril Central Andino, Peru

Often considered to be one of the world’s most scenic railroads, the Ferrocarril Central Andino links the Pacific port of Callao and the capital city of Lima with Huancayo and Cerro de Pasco. This four-part virtual journey begins in Chosica and ends near the Galera railway station in the Andes. In part one, you’ll traverse the massive Puente Carrión bridge; part two climbs from Matucana to San Mateo, one of the most scenic parts of the line; part three takes travelers over the Puente Infiernillo bridge, which passes through a tight canyon with high rock walls on either side; and finally, part four lets you travel virtually through one of the world’s highest railroad tunnels.

9. 7 Express Line, New York, United States

Credit: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

If you find yourself strangely missing the familiar sounds of your commute, this cab-view video of the New York City subway will scratch the itch. The 7 Express Line (Flushing Express) travels from Queens to Manhattan, providing outside and underground views along the way. And if you’re into trains, keep in mind that this footage was shot on one of the line’s R62A trains, which have since been returned to the 6 train.

10. Sarajevo–Ploče Railway, Bosnia and Herzegovina

You can explore the Balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina by train, thanks to this virtual cab-view video. Starting in Čapljina, you’ll dip into Croatia quickly before crossing the border back into Bosnia and Herzegovina and ending your trip in the country’s capital, Sarajevo. A good portion of the journey follows the Neretva River and passes through tight, mountainous terrain and over the Bradina Pass.

11. South Western Railway, England

You’ll start your virtual journey on the London Underground at London Waterloo station and then head west, eventually dropping south toward Southampton and ending at Southampton Central station. Along the way, you’ll see the London skyline before moving into the vibrant, green countryside.

12. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado, United States

Credit: Joseph Sohm/Getty Images

This historic line takes travelers from one mountain town to another, traveling over a high-alpine mountain pass to get there. This three-part tour offers guests a virtual ride on the three-foot-wide narrow-gauge heritage railroad as it traverses over 45 miles between Durango and Silverton. During part one, enjoy the breathtaking journey along a narrow ledge cut into a sheer cliff face far above the Animas River; in part two, the train chugs high up into the Colorado mountains; and in part three, it heads down the mountain pass into the Wild West town of Silverton.

13. Wengernalp Railway, Switzerland

Enjoy a perfectly clear driver’s-eye view of the stunning route from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg. You’ll virtually cross pretty Swiss villages and tree-covered slopes as you climb up into the mountains, eventually passing views of snow-covered mountains and deep valleys.