The best luxury train holidays in Europe and further afield

luxury train holidays, venice simplon orient express
The best luxury train holidaysVenice Simplon-Orient-Express. Courtesy of Belmond

From Scotland to Switzerland, Istanbul to Alaska, train travel has entered a new golden age thanks to the demand for eco-friendly holidays and slow travel, as well as a renewed sense of the journey being as important as the destination.

Avoiding airport delays, security queues and packed aircrafts is another big factor contributing to the rise of rail travel, which has resulted in a flurry of new European sleeper train routes.

What is the most luxurious train?

Among the most luxurious trains to experience in the world is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which launched in 1982, making its first journey from London to Venice. The train is famed for its restored 1920s and 1930s Art Deco carriages, along with a tempting array of routes including Paris to Istanbul, Paris to Prague, Paris to Budapest, Amsterdam to Venice, and Brussels to Verona, plus winter trains to the French Alps.

How much is a luxury train holiday?

The cost of a luxury train holiday depends on the company, what your package includes, and how long the journey takes. As a guideline, the classic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express route from Paris to Venice costs from £3,530 per person but booking the journey as part of a longer holiday will help you get the most of your getaway.

For instance, as a trip of a lifetime, you can experience the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express with Good Housekeeping as part of a tour of Venice, where prices start at £5,999. The package includes flights from London to Venice, followed by three nights in the spellbinding city, exploring its famous sights and enjoying dinner and a talk with TV broadcaster, journalist and train fanatic Michael Portillo.

You’ll then embark on the overnight train journey (with Michael in tow) to Paris, complete with aperitifs, a four-course dinner, and a sumptuous breakfast of fruit, pastries and fresh coffee.

What is the most luxurious train ride in the UK?

When it comes to the most lavish train rides in the UK, one of the finest is the Belmond British Pullman, a restored 1920s train with antique-style marquetry, vintage lighting and heritage upholstery, and a history of transporting royalty and film stars. Today, it takes train lovers to historic cities, likes of Bath, York and Canterbury; stately homes, such as Blenheim Palace and Sandringham; and seasonal events, including the Chelsea Flower Show and Royal Ascot; and ancient castles.

With Good Housekeeping Holidays, you can enjoy an exclusive train ride through the English countryside on the British Pullman to Highclere Castle, the location of Downton Abbey, where you’ll join a talk with owner Lady Carnarvon. A published author and passionate proprietor, Lady Carnarvon will discuss the history of the stately home, reveal some of its secrets and share stories from the set of BAFTA-winning TV show.

The day includes a welcome drink and three-course brunch on your journey to Highclere Castle, champagne during the talk, and a three-course dinner with wine, coffee and petit fours on the return journey.

Other luxury UK trains include Belmond’s Royal Scotsman, which offers cinematic train tours of the Highlands, trips to heritage homes and gardens, and whisky tastings at world-class distilleries.

The Northern Belle, a seven-carriage luxury train dating back to the 1930s, also offers an opulent experience. Departing from stations all over the UK, the train takes guests on both day and weekend journeys around the country, offering everything from stately home visits to champagne afternoon tea.

Where is the best place to go for a luxury train holiday?

If you’re looking for a rail trip abroad, the best places for luxury train breaks and holidays are Switzerland, India, Australia and Canada, with some of the most famous luxury trains around the world being the Glacier Express, the Rocky Mountaineer, The Ghan, The Blue Train, the Palace on Wheels, and the Andean Explorer.

Looking for the best luxury train holiday for you? Be inspired by these ideas from Good Housekeeping Holidays' collection...

A Venice city break and Venice Simpon-Orient-Express overnighter to Paris

Join journalist, broadcaster and rail enthusiast Michael Portillo on his very first trip aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. In March 2025, you can spend two days in Venice before taking an overnight journey to Paris aboard the magnificent train.

After visiting bucket-list landmarks like St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge's Palace in Venice, you’ll get to relax onboard, with meals in the plush dining car, cocktails and conversation in Bar Car ‘3674’, and a night in a luxurious cabin.


luxury train holidays, inside the venice simplon orient express

An Alaska cruise with Canada's national parks and a Rocky Mountaineer ride

The Rocky Mountains and Alaska are two of North America’s most spectacular areas of wilderness but are surprisingly easy to combine in one trip with Good Housekeeping this summer. From the town of Banff in southern Canada, you can explore both Banff and Yoho national parks, and then ride the historic Rocky Mountaineer train through a landscape of mountain passes, serene lakes, river canyons and pristine forests.

Pulling into Vancouver, step aboard Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess ship and sail through Alaska's Inside Passage, with its fjords, humpback whales, orca, bald eagles and bears, indigenous communities, and fascinating Gold Rush history.


the best luxury train holidays in europe and further afield
SL_Photography - Getty Images

Lake Como, St Moritz and A Bernina Express ride

The Bernina Express is an enchanting, UNESCO-listed train that travels along the highest railway line in the Alps and gives you a unique view of Switzerland's shimmering lakes and mountain peaks from its spacious, panoramic carriages. On Good Housekeeping's Italy-Switzerland adventure, departing in September or December 2024, you’ll board the Bernina Express in Colico on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy, northern Italy.

After the ride of a lifetime, you'll alight in Switzerland's most famous and glamorous Alpine resort, St Moritz. Upon returning to Italy for the rest of the trip, you'll also enjoy a cruise on Como, taking in its quaint ports, picture-postcard villages and dreamy mountain backdrop.


the best luxury train holidays in europe and further afield
Francesco Bergamaschi - Getty Images

A first-class rail tour of Switzerland

Switzerland’s rail network is renowned for its comfort and efficiency, and is comprised of several iconic mountain railways that you can experience on this glorious Good Housekeeping trip. Enjoy a return trip on the Gornergrat Mountain Railway from Zermatt, which offers outstanding views of the Alps’ famous Matterhorn, as well as a return ride on the Bernina Express to Tirano (in Italy) and back, on which you’ll see the Swiss mountains, glaciers and lakes give way to Italian greenery.

From Zermatt, you’ll then take one of the most extraordinary train journeys, the Glacier Express. Known as ‘the slowest express train in the world’, it chugs along at 24mph for 181 miles through spectacular Alpine scenery, which you'll enjoy from a first-class carriage as you feast on a fabulous lunch. This trip also includes five-star hotel stays in upmarket Zermatt and St Moritz.


the best luxury train holidays in europe and further afield
Courtesy Glacier Express

A journey to the home of Downton Abbey on the British Pullman

This September, you can travel from London’s Victoria Station to Highclere Castle, a Grade I-listed country house in Hampshire that was built in 1679 and is surrounded by acres of verdant parkland designed by Capability Brown.

On this fabulous day trip, you’ll travel with Good Housekeeping editor-at-large Gaby Huddart on the British Pullman, a luxurious Belmond train, aboard which you’ll enjoy both brunch and dinner. At Highclere, you can savour a glass of champagne as you listen to an exclusive talk by castle owner and resident, Lady Carnarvon.


the best luxury train holidays in europe and further afield
Belmond British Pullman

A no-fly holiday to the Swiss Alps and ride on the Glacier Express

Flying is strictly off the agenda on this five-day Swiss sojourn, which departs in October 2024, March 2025 and October 2025. You’ll begin with a Eurostar trip from London to Paris, then travel onto Basel and finally to Switzerland's mountainous resort town of Interlaken. After a day visiting the town of Lucerne, its surrounding lake and other villages, you’ll head to Chur to join the Glacier Express.

While onboard, you’ll ascend into the snow-clad mountains, chug past ravines and charming villages, and journey through the Alps’ dramatic Oberalp Pass, all the while enjoying a three-course lunch. After returning to Interlaken that evening, you’ll spend your final day exploring the Swiss capital of Bern before heading back to London via train once again.


More travel ideas:

- The best cruises for 2024

- Venice's hidden gems

- The 2025 holidays worth booking in advance

- The best mother-daughter holiday ideas

- Amazing holidays with celebrity guests

the best luxury train holidays in europe and further afield
Courtesy Glacier Express

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