Luxury trains offer travellers a unique experience of comfort, elegance, and nostalgia, transporting them to a different era where life moves at a slower pace and every detail is taken care of.
From the legendary Orient Express to the scenic Glacier Express, these are some of Europe's most historic and luxurious train lines and how you can enjoy them today.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
The Orient Express is the most famous train in the world, thanks to its association with mystery novels, movies, and celebrities. The original Orient Express service was launched in 1883 by Belgian entrepreneur Georges Nagelmackers, who wanted to create a comfortable and luxurious way to travel across Europe.
The train ran from Paris to Constantinople (now Istanbul), passing through several countries and offering passengers fine dining, sleeping carriages, and even a piano bar. The Orient Express was also a witness to History, as it carried royalty, diplomats, spies, and soldiers during peace and war.
The Orient Express service declined in popularity after World War II due to the rise of air travel and European political changes. The last direct train from Paris to Istanbul ran in 1977, and the name Orient Express was retired in 2009.
However, the legacy of the Orient Express lives on in the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a private luxury train that has operated since 1982. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express uses restored vintage carriages from the 1920s and 1930s, featuring art deco furnishings, wood panelling, and Lalique glass. The train offers several routes across Europe, but the most classic one is the once-a-year five nights from Paris to Istanbul.
Photo by Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
The frequent route from London to Venice is soon to end due to border problems between the UK and the EU, and travellers need to depart from either Brussels or Paris instead.
For bookings and further information, please visit the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express website.
The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is not a single train but a scenic railway route that connects two of Switzerland's most famous mountain resorts: Zermatt and St. Moritz. The route was completed in 1930 after several decades of construction involving bridges, tunnels, and viaducts across the Swiss Alps.
The Glacier Express covers 291 kilometres (181 miles) and passes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges. It takes about eight hours to complete the journey, making it one of the slowest express trains in the world. However, speed is not the point of this train; instead, it is the spectacular scenery that makes it worthwhile.
Photo byGlacier Express
The Glacier Express offers passengers panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, valleys, lakes, and forests. Some highlights include the Matterhorn, the Rhine Gorge, the Oberalp Pass, and the Landwasser Viaduct.
The train also has a dining car that serves regional specialities such as cheese fondue, rösti (potato pancakes), and apple strudel. The train operates all year round, but each season offers a different experience. In winter, you can see the landscape covered in snow and ice; in spring, you can witness the melting of the glaciers and the blooming of flowers; in summer, you can enjoy the green meadows and sunny skies; and in autumn, you can admire the changing colors of the leaves.
For more information and bookins please see The Glacier Express website
The Belmond Royal Scotsman
The Belmond Royal Scotsman is a luxury train that offers exclusive tours of Scotland's Highlands and Lowlands. The train was launched in 1985 by British Rail as a sister service to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
The train comprises nine carriages that accommodate up to 40 guests in 20 twin or double cabins. Each cabin has an en-suite bathroom with a shower. The train also has two dining cars that serve Scottish cuisine using local ingredients such as salmon, venison, and whisky. The train has an observation car with a veranda where passengers can relax and enjoy the views.
The Belmond Royal Scotsman offers various itineraries ranging from two to seven nights. Some of the destinations include Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Fort William, and Isle of Skye.
Photo by Royal Scotsman
The train also stops at various places of interest, such as castles, distilleries, gardens, and golf courses and provides entertainment such as live music, storytelling, and lectures on board. Each journey is limited to a small group of guests to ensure a personalized and intimate experience and operates from April to October.
For more information and booking please see the Royal Scotsman website.