Holidays for train lovers

Holidays for train lovers

So many of our favourite classic films are set during the golden age of railway travel – and the good news is there are still lots of ways to enjoy this sedate way of travelling, whether at home or abroad.

Make tracks and explore further afield

Explore the Canadian wilderness pioneer-style, with a three-day journey from North Vancouver to Jasper. The route takes in one of the highest railway bridges in the world, a national park and the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The three-day itinerary includes two days of train travel (with breakfast and lunch) and two nights’ hotel accommodation, plus station and hotel transfers. Prices start from £1,373pp.

Book a flexible ticket on the 35-hour Seattle to Los Angeles route in the US and you can stop off along the west coast to see sights such as San Francisco and Big Sur. Alternatively, ride the whole way on the daily-departing service, enjoying the scenery and elegant dinners. If you’re sleeping on board you can pay to try local wines and cheeses in the parlour car. From £122pp.

If you’re keen to explore India but nervous about travelling alone, a guided train holiday could be the answer. Using the country’s extensive rail system, the India Rail Odyssey trip journeys from Amritsar to Kerala, via the Taj Mahal, tropical beaches and jungle-lined foothills. Departs on October 4, 2015. Prices cost from £1,599 including 21 days of travel with drivers, a tour leader and local guides, breakfast and hotel/train accommodation. Flights not included.

In the UK

A trip on the Orient Express is on many people’s bucket list, but did you know that as well as luxurious trips across Europe, you can also take a UK day trip on its sister train, the British Pullman? The vintage steam trains offer routes across the UK, visiting cities such as Cambridge and Bath, taking in famous destinations including Chatsworth House, or just entirely focused on fine dining on-board. The Christmas lunches look extra special! Departures from Plymouth or London Victoria. Prices start from £215pp.

What could be better than being lulled to sleep by the gentle motion of a train, and waking up across the border? On board the new Caledonian Sleeper service you can do just that. Climb aboard in London, enjoy a delicious Scottish-themed dinner (haggis is optional!) and alight at Inverness, Aberdeen or Fort William. Seats start from £23.90, standard berths start from £58.50, and first class berths start from £141.90.

In Europe

There are few ways to travel that are more glamorous than the Eurostar. Now, as well as existing routes to Paris, Brussels and others, there’s a new direct line from London to the sunny south of France. Take the train straight to Lyon (from £89 return), Avignon or Marseille (both from £99 return) and soak up the sun in lavender fields or by the coast. There are often ticket promotions running in local museums and galleries for those who have travelled there by train, so make sure to check before your trip.

Enjoy a ‘best of both’ trip to Switzerland, combining several days of luxury train travel with time in a hotel and escorted sight-seeing. This impressive 11-day itinerary includes a day trip with first-class seats on the Bernina Express panoramic train – the route of which
is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll also take the Glacier Express train to the mountain village of Zermatt. Swiss Classic Tours start from £1,939pp including flights from Gatwick, rail journeys, transfers, accommodation for 11 nights and half-board.

Dream trip…

If you saw any of Joanna Lumley’s documentary series about the railway in July, you’ll know that next year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Tran-Siberian Express. This incredible route takes two weeks to get from Moscow to Ulaan Baatar (the capital of Mongolia), via horse riding in Mongolia, swimming in the world’s deepest lake and sipping Champagne with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. The only catch? Its hefty price tag, starting from £10,595pp all-inclusive.
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