Sometimes the most exciting part of a trip is the journey itself. Travelling by train can be both romantic and exhilarating, especially if you choose a route that is famed for its spectacular views along the way. Here are six iconic railway journeys where you’ll want to book a window seat.
Colombo to Jaffna, Sri Lanka
This incredibly scenic train line was only recently reopened following the civil war, allowing visitors to travel to northern Sri Lanka and explore the country’s second-largest city. Book well in advance to secure a seat in one of the observation cars that boast special large windows that offer unspoilt vistas of the scenery. Keep your eyes peeled as you pass by luscious green jungle and colourful Hindu temples.
Oslo to Bergen, Norway
Often touted as the most dramatic train journey in Europe, this train ride offers an endless supply of beautiful scenery to admire as it crosses high altitudes. Tourists travelling on this rail journey should disembark at Myrdal to take the steep but short detour down the mountain to the village of Flam that is nestled in the Sognefjord. The train stops along the way to allow passengers to photograph a beautiful waterfall that freezes during the winter months.
Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
One of the longest train journeys in the world, the entirety of the Trans-Siberian line is 5,772 miles. Passengers can opt to take the whole journey, or tickets for shorter sections are also available. Highlights include passing over the Ural Mountains, across a 3,000-foot-long bridge over the River Ob, through Siberian forests and past the largest freshwater lake in the world.
West Highland Line, Scotland
Perhaps the most famous section of this railway line is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, thanks to the Harry Potter film in which it featured. This isn’t the only reason to take a journey on the West Highland Line however. On the journey from Glasgow to Mallaig, you’ll pass by some of the most spectacular scenery in the British Isles, including dramatic glens, picturesque lochs and even the U.K’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Glacier Express, Switzerland
High in the Alps, the Glacial Express connects Zermatt and St. Mortiz via a particularly scenic railway line. The journey takes a day to complete as it passes by alpine meadows, glacial lakes and towering, snow-covered peaks. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for cattle boasting oversized cow bells, and pretty alpine villages. The highlight of the trip is the 200- foot-high Landwasser Viaduct, which vanishes into a tunnel cut into the mountainside, making for an incredible photo opportunity.
Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West
Connecting Vancouver and Banff, this incredible railway journey offers luxurious carriages and panoramic dramatic views. Your eyes will be glued to the windows the entire trip, as the train passes by Fraser Canyon’s Hell’s Gate and the Thompson River before climbing over the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might even spot a bear or moose on the side of the tracks.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.