1.Thrilling Train Trips: El Chepe
The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico — better known as El Chepe — rolls though more than 400 miles of northwest Mexico, between the inland city of Chihuahua and Topolobampo on the Gulf of California. In between, it crosses the Sierra Madre and the incredibly scenic Copper Canyon, which is actually a set of canyons formed by six rivers. Along the way, El Chepe rumbles across 37 bridges, and ascends to an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet at the Continental Divide.
2. Thrilling Train Trips: Venice Simplon-Orient Express
The original Orient Express train — the famed stuff of Hollywood lore — is no more, but you can still ride two of that historic train’s cars on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. The modern train is composed of historic carriages from the 1920s and '30s, now restored and luxuriously appointed. The train stops at a number of European cities, including London, Prague, Rome, Venice and Vienna, and passes through pristine countryside in countries such as Switzerland and Germany. And once a year, it re-creates the classic Orient Express journey between Paris and Istanbul.
3. Thrilling Train Trips: Coast Starlight
The trains on this Amtrak route are somewhat utilitarian, but the scenery is gorgeous. The Coast Starlight runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, showing off such sights as the Cascade range, verdant forests, the desert areas of Northern California, and volcanoes such as Mount Shasta and Mount Rainier. Just south of Sacramento, the route jogs over to the coast, and from Oakland southward — especially south of San Luis Obispo — are magnificent stretches of Pacific coastline.
4. Thrilling Train Trips: West Highland Line
Chugging between Glasgow and Mallaig, the West Highland Line shows off the heart of the Scottish Highlands, passing lochs, heather-strewn moors and craggy coastline. The line is probably best known for the 100-foot-high Glenfinnan viaduct, which was depicted in the “Harry Potter” movies as part of the route followed by the Hogwarts Express. ScotRail operates frequent trips along this line, while the private West Coast Railways runs steam-powered trains from May to October.
5. Thrilling Train Trips: The Glacier Express
With a name like The Glacier Express, you know icy alpine beauty is in store. This 170-mile train line takes you on a 7½-hour trip between Zermatt, just a few miles from the Matterhorn, and the posh resort area of St. Moritz, through Switzerland’s Oberland region. Panoramic windows allow you a spectacular view of the glacial peaks, as well as the valleys, forests and mountain streams at lower elevations. Along the way you’ll encounter 291 bridges, 91 tunnels, and arching viaducts that deposit you right into the face of a mountain.
6. Thrilling Train Trips: The Rocky Mountaineer
If you want to sit back and enjoy the landscape rolling past you, or enjoy romance, adventure and history, nothing beats a great train journey. Here are our favorite train lines around the world.
Take in the splendor of the towering Canadian Rockies with the Rocky Mountaineer train, which operates four routes between Vancouver in British Columbia and Calgary or Jasper in Alberta. The Rocky Mountaineer’s trips are generally two-day treks and run only during daytime, so you don’t have to miss a moment’s worth of scenery to nighttime darkness. Along the way, you’ll see canyons, waterfalls, temperate rain forests and ice fields, all part of routes that are more than a century old.