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Water seems to be the only element that prevents trains from bringing the continents together. If it were not for the oceans, the world would be crisscrossed by those tracks that take us from here to there with a certain level of nostalgia. Some have become classic routes that are destinations in themselves. Train travelers have the unique experience of absorbing the journey and the landscapes while delighting in utmost luxury.
Perhaps the most famous of all luxury trains is the Orient Express, created to cover the route from Paris to London, and later to Istanbul. But there are many others. There is its Asian alter ego: the Eastern and Oriental Express, which runs through some of the most exotic landscapes in the world as it moves through Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Laos.
If you want to cover the Silk Road, you can opt for Le Transsibérien Golden Eagle, which takes 21 days and 20 nights from Moscow to Beijing. Also running through Asian lands, the luxurious Indian Palace on Wheels is worthy of Maharajas. Legendary trains also serve the remote territories of New Zealand and Australia. The Coastal Pacific, the Indian Pacific, and the famous The Ghan, which runs through Australia’s Red Centre in one of the longest train journeys in the world, from Adelaide to Darwin.
In Europe—where luxury train travel has its origin—we find some of the most iconic trains in the world, including the 20-cabin Belmond Royal Scotsman, which runs through the Scottish Highlands. On this train, dinners are formal, requiring men to wear tuxedos or traditional kilts. There is also Al-Andalus offering rides through different regions of Spain such as Andalusia and Extremadura, with itineraries as the Camino de Santiago (Pilgrimage of St. James) or the Ribera del Duero and Rioja wine routes. In Switzerland, there is the exclusive Glacier Express, which takes about seven hours from the Zermatt station to Davos or to the famous Alpine resort of St. Moritz. As Al-Andalus, many luxury tourist trains emulate cruises with stops in cities and towns for passengers to take excursions and learn more about the local cultures.
Africa also has its share of enchanting trains. Rovos Rail runs between Cape Town, South Africa, and Cairo, Egypt, with safari excursions included. Its alternate, also luxurious, is the Blue Train, which travels through South Africa.