The Most Scenic Train Rides In The World You Must Hop On

From the rugged landscapes of Scotland to the lush hills of Sri Lanka, these train journeys offer an unforgettable way to explore the world
The seven hour Kandy to Ella train journey
The seven hour Kandy to Ella train

If you're dreaming of a breathtaking adventure, look no further than these incredible train rides. From the rugged landscapes of Scotland to the lush hills of Sri Lanka, these most scenic train rides in the world offer a unique and unforgettable way to explore the world.

Pacific Surfliner

Pacific Surfliner, United States

This Amtrak route runs through the stunning Pacific Coast, beginning from San Luis Obispo, California. On this 351-mile journey, you get to explore the lively college town of San Luis Obispo and visit wineries nearby. Better than that is the gorgeous ocean views throughout the journey as the train passes by beaches, rocky coastlines and coastal towns. When you arrive in San Diego, you can explore Balboa Park's museums, dine in Little Italy, or experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Gaslamp Quarter. On board, while gazing out at beautiful views, you can dine or enjoy a cocktail at Traxx. Book on the Amtrak site. 

The Jacobite Steam Train
The Jacobite Steam

The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland

Starting in the Scottish Highlands town of Fort William, near Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, this 84-mile round-trip train journey is a true visual feast as it winds through emerald green hills, passes by crystal blue lochs, and navigates deep valleys while running through charming villages along the way. The pinnacle of the trip is the crossing of the iconic 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, which overlooks Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. 

Harry Potter fans will recognise this view, as it served as the backdrop for the Hogwarts Express, thanks to West Coast Railways, the operator of the Jacobite Steam Train. During the journey, the train briefly stops at Glenfinnan Station and continues through the lovely towns of Lochailort, Arisaig, and Morar. The final destination is Mallaig, a coastal gem on Scotland's west coast, where passengers have about an hour and a half to explore before returning to Fort William. The Jacobite Steam Train operates from April to October, and booking tickets in advance is highly recommended to secure your seat on this magical journey.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Napa Valley Wine

Napa Valley Wine Train, United States

The 36-mile round-trip journey from downtown Napa to St. Helena is every wine lover's dream come true. As you board in the industrial section of Napa, you'll have the opportunity to admire the town's outdoor contemporary art, featuring murals, sculptures, and beautifully landscaped parks—all promoted by Rail Arts District Napa. 

The train weaves through the charming towns of Yountville, Rutherford, and Oakville, offering gourmet meals and wines to enhance your journey. Not only does the Napa Valley Wine Train offer a convenient and safe way to explore and taste wines, but the train cars themselves are part of the experience, harkening back to the golden age of train travel. With mahogany panelling, polished brass accents, opulent fabrics, and etched glass partitions, the train's extensive renovation adds to the vintage charm.

The Chepe Express
The Chepe

The Chepe Express, Mexico

The Chepe Express lets you journey through some of Mexico's most spectacular and otherwise inaccessible terrain. Copper Canyon in the northwest state of Chihuahua is said to be four times the size of the Grand Canyon, with the deepest canyon plunging 6,167 feet into the Earth. The length of your ride depends on your starting point, but if you board the Chepe Express from Los Mochis near the west coast, your journey to inland Creel will take about nine hours. 

The Chepe Express, which opened in 1961 after several decades of construction, is an engineering marvel, crossing 37 bridges and passing through 86 tunnels. You will pass by the most diverse and breathtaking landscapes, including rugged terrain, towering mountains, deep gorges, ravines, and even picturesque agricultural areas. Be sure to book your trip in advance or use a tour company to arrange your visit. If you're heading eastward, sit on the right side of the train for the most awe-inspiring views of this natural wonder. Book at Chepe Express's official website. 

Kandy to Ella train journey
Kandy to Ella train

Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

This seven-hour journey that will take you through remote villages, past breathtaking waterfalls, and amidst lush green hills, all while traversing the tea plantations for which Sri Lanka is renowned. Originally constructed by the British in the late 1800s, Sri Lanka's rail system was initially employed to transport tea and coffee for export. Today, it serves as a favourite means to explore the country, offering diverse scenery and glimpses into local villages and their inhabitants along the way. Ella, a hill country village, is worth exploring either before or after your train journey. Kandy, located in central Sri Lanka, is a larger city with sacred Buddhist shrines and the scenic Kandy Lake. Most trains offer first-class observation cars with air conditioning, while some provide sleeping berths and reserved seats for added comfort. For the best views when departing from Kandy, sit on the right side of the train. Tickets for this picturesque ride are readily available at train stations throughout the country. 

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