If you love slow travel and revel in the art of indulgent vacationing, few things compare to a sojourn on a luxury train. Here are luxury train journeys across the world, handpicked for those who like to take things slow. By Ananya Bahl

1. The Venice Simplon-Orient Express


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Exemplifying the ‘Golden Age of Travel’, this luxury train journey tells fantastic tales as it traverses through some of the most magical cities in Europe. These include London, Paris, Budapest, Vienna, and Venice. An art deco wonder, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express exudes the charm of the 1920s, replete with polished wood, gorgeous upholstery, and antique fixtures. The food served onboard its Cote d’Azur dining hall takes inspiration from stops along the way be it Brittany lobster or Provencal tomatoes. The black lacquer panels of the L’Oriental bar beckon residents for a nightcap. In 1977, Belmond’s founder, James B Sherwood, bought two vintage carriages at an auction in Monte Carlo. By employing expert artisans, and including heritage carriages from trains like Le Train Bleu and Rome Express, he launched the first journey of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express’s iconic midnight-blue cars in 1982.

2. The Transcantabrico Gran Lujo


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See a less-visited part of Europe as the Transcantabrico Gran Lujo navigates through the Atlantic-facing hinterland in northern Spain. The train’s saloons are perfect examples of railway heritage, and four of them are original 1923 Pullman cars. Adding to its vintage style is the fact that it runs on the narrow-gauge railway so the suites are narrower without compromising on bed spaces. The regions covered include Galicia to the Bay of Biscay through Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Castile, and León. As the landscapes unfold, regional gastronomy, art, and monuments unravel at a leisurely pace. The train is stationary at night, enabling guests to enjoy a luxurious slumber and also the nightlife at its stops.

3. Maharajas’ Express


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Recipient of the “World’s Leading Luxury Train” award at the World Travel Awards from 2012 to 2018, the Maharajas’ Express journeys through India’s fabled regions while offering classic luxury hospitality that reflects the nation’s royal houses. It has four deluxe cabins, a junior suite, and a presidential suite. Two fine dine restaurants, Rang Mahal and Mayur Mahal, designed in traditional Indian frescoes, serve up Indian and international cuisines. The Rajah Club and Safari Bar offer a range of wines and spirits, along with a wonderful collection of books. The Maharajas’ Express offers five itineraries, covering destinations like New Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Ranthambore, Fatehpur Sikri, Mumbai, Udaipur, Orchha, and Khajuraho.

4. Belmond Royal Scotsman


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Touted as a “Grand Highland Fling”, this trip is one that rekindles romance as you flirt with the charming Scottish Highlands. The train’s 10 mahogany-clad cars fuse Edwardian elegance with the warmth and comforts of a country house. It also boasts the cerebral Bamford Spa, a bar featuring 50 types of single malts served with Scottish folklore, and wild local seafood along with game-rich menus. The region is perfect for outdoorsy travellers. The experiences include mountain bike tours, rounds of golf on famed courses, private outdoor dining by the shimmering waters of a loch, stargazing with an astronomer, and peaceful yoga sessions against a rugged backdrop.

5. The Ghan


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This luxury train journey traverses through the Australian outback between Adelaide and Darwin. There are options that cover a shorter journey to Alice Springs which is a stop along the way. Now in its 91st year of adventurous exploration, the Ghan has, over the years, improved upon its status as just a way to cross the deep Australian outback. It now offers spectacular dining, sophisticated private cabins, attentive service, and the bonhomie of co-travellers. It is an all-inclusive journey from coast-to-coast through Australia’s “fiery red centre.” Regional menus and a chance to sample the country’s great outdoors including cruising the Nitmiluk Gorge, learning about Katherine’s ancient indigenous rock paintings, and experiencing authentic outback life on a cattle station are on the agenda on this larger-than-life trip.

6. Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express


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Considered by many to be the world’s greatest railway journey, the Trans-Siberian Express runs through intriguing portions of Russia. It acts as a connector between East and West, journeying through the magnificent Ural Mountains, steppe landscape, and Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. From Moscow, straight to Vladivostok, the express train passes through Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and even Mongolia’s capital, Ulaan Bataar. As the only private train of its kind operating in this part of the world, along with awe-inspiring destinations, it offers guests the comfort of luxurious cabins, sumptuous dining, and delectable drinks.

7. Seven Stars in Kyushu


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The lovely Japanese island of Kyushu, which enjoys the charms of the mountains and seaside vistas, forms the backdrop for this train journey. The significance of seven in its name is that it represents the seven prefectures in Kyushu. It also embodies the island’s seven attractions (nature, food, onsen or hot springs, history and culture, “power spots” for refreshing experiences, humanity, and trains). The train has seven carriages. An elegant dining car serving dishes seasonal to Kyushu and a charming bar car for relaxation after hours ensure you are pampered through your stay aboard the Seven Stars in Kyushu. The train’s panoramic windows offer insight into the lives of the locals as you cruise along this 3,000-kilometre-long journey.

8. Eastern and Oriental Express


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This gorgeous train journey meanders between cosmopolitan cities and ancient wonders in the Far East. It also presents an interesting juxtaposition in its experiences which range from adventure to relaxation. The Eastern and Oriental Express’s splendid green and gold carriages are adorned with cherrywood panelling, Thai silks, and Malaysian embroidery to give guests the true feel of the region. The journeys include stops like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Malacca, and Penang. Elegantly appointed and upholstered suites invite you for deep relaxation aboard this train while the sumptuous pan-Asian fare is the order of every meal.

9. Rovos Rail


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For more than 30 years, the Rovos Rail has been leading luxurious train journeys on the African continent. Crossing countries, this train journey covers Cape Town, Durban, Dar Es Salaam, Victoria Falls, and even Lobito (Angola). Guests can choose from a variety of journeys that even span up to 15 days. The company also offers a special nine-day golf safari train journey through the various regions of South Africa. Rovos Rail journeys can be enjoyed on Pullman, deluxe and royal suites. Their itineraries boast game viewing, spectacular mountainscape, ocean views, and cultural showcases.

10. Rocky Mountaineer


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You get to merge the majestic Canadian Rockies with a luxury train journey for this experience. Choose the Gold Leaf option to see the mountains through bi-levelled glass-domed coaches, gourmet breakfasts and lunches, and an exclusive outdoor viewing platform. Their most legendary journey is from Vancouver to Banff via the riverside town of Kamloops (where you stay overnight at a partner hotel). Engaging storytellers inspire you with tales about the flora, fauna, and terrain along the journey.

Related: Best Meals On Wheels: Delicacies Served On Trains Across The World