7 Most Scenic Train Rides in The World

Train rides are a relaxing yet exciting mode of travel. Many of the most attractive destinations in the world are home to scenic train rides, meaning they are ideal for making your way from one beautiful location to another. 

Whether you love views of mountainous terrain, spectacular architecture, foliage and forestry, or anything in between, there is something for everyone. If sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the view while on the way to your next destination appeals to you, stay tuned!

This list will reveal the seven most scenic train rides in the world.

Bernina Express, Switzerland

Bernina Express traveling and exploring the Swiss Alps towards Italy, Europe. Image credit: Andreas Stutz via Unsplash

Known as the "most spectacular way to cross the Alps," the Bernina Express carefully makes its way from Switzerland to Italy, bridging northern and southern Europe. With a plethora of alpine views, the train also passes through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges.

It is the highest railway across the Alps, meaning passengers will experience some of the best views. Visitors can also stop off at Ospizio Bernina, a station located at the highest point on the railway, to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Alps.

Glenfinnan Viaduct, United Kingdom

View over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Shiel. Image credit: Thomas Tucker via Unsplash

Famed for its feature in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. Traversing between Fort William and Mallaig, the train takes the West Highland Railway bridge over the River Finnan, which is 100 feet below.

The views from this train ride are some of the most picturesque in the world, featuring lush green hillsides, flowing waters, and wildlife. Passengers can stop off at Glenfinnan and enjoy the historic railway station, as well as a museum.

From the station, there is a 1.5-mile path that takes approximately 45 minutes to walk, bringing you to the Glenfinnan monument. Visitors can also get up close and personal with the structure of the viaduct and marvel at the stone arches beneath the railway, built in the 1890s.

Sri Lanka's Rail System from Kandy to Ella

Scenic view from the train in Sri Lanka from Kandy to Ella. Image credit: Yves Alarie via Unsplash

Sri Lanka's Rail System begins in Kandy, the second-largest city in the country. Surrounded by hills and valleys, the scenic location is also known as one of the cultural capitals, full of mosques, temples, and churches.

The railway itself boasts views of rolling green hills, vibrant wooded areas, and tea plantations. After about seven hours, the train ride ends in Ella. Once there, hike to little Adams peak or the Ravana falls and cave for breathtaking sights.

Conway Scenic Railroad, United States

View of fall colors in Frankenstein Trestle from the Conway Scenic Railroad. Image credit: Evan Leith via Unsplash

Located in North Conway, New Hampshire, United States, the Conway Scenic Railroad operates on two historic railway routes. Visitors can choose to book a trip through the Mount Washington Valley to Conway or opt for a ride along Sawyer River that recreates the historical experience of traveling via train.

The Mountaineer route is a four to six-hour trip in 1950s-style passenger cars with different experiences to choose from. Along with the heritage packed into each visit, passengers can enjoy the panoramic views of forests and land that surrounds them.

TranzAlpine, New Zealand

View from the train windows of TranzAlpine railway over Waimakariri river gorge on route to Arthurs Pass. Image credits: Steve Heap via Shutterstock

The TranzAlpine train travels from coast to coast on New Zealand's south island. On it, passengers get a front-row view of the extraordinary turquoise water, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.

The train ride, just under five hours one-way, climbs the spine of the mountainous terrain with views of gorges and river valleys. Then, it goes through Arthurs Pass National Park and descends into a lush beech forest. All in all, the short trip packs a punch when it comes to the scenery!

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado

Aerial view of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado, US. Image credit: Floyd Cox via Unsplash

One of the most scenic railways in the US, and named a National Historical Landmark in 1961, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is truly stunning. The train ride is three and a half hours in length and presents a taste of authentic railroading history along the way.

There are multiple trips for passengers to choose from, including a scenic trip through the San Juan National Forest, a Cascade Canyon winter train ride, and a Polar Express-themed trip.

On each ride, visitors will enjoy learning the rich history of Durango and the railroad, while taking in the dramatic alpine Colorado landscapes.

Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver, Canada

Shot of the snow peaked Rocky Mountains and forest from the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada. Image credit: Geoff Brooks via Unsplash

Banff, Alberta, and Vancouver, British Columbia, are both famed for their glacial waters and dense, lush forests, so it is no surprise that a train ride between the two is an incredibly enjoyable and beautiful ride!

The Rocky Mountaineer traverses through Banff and Vancouver in two days with the option to travel in either direction. In Vancouver, passengers will enjoy the luxuries of the city, as well as the beauty of the oceanside and mountainscapes.

From there, the train then passes through the semi-desert landscapes of the interior to the riverside city of Kamloops. Finally, the train passes through mountainous terrain and arrives in Banff with views of the Rocky Mountains.

Choose One of These Train Rides!

Train rides are spectacular car-free adventures, whether you are looking for scenic views for a day trip or a top-notch vacation.

Located all over the world, the options outlined in this list boast some of the most beautiful scenery. As an added bonus, they will bring you to unique and culturally enriched locations that you can cross off your bucket list.