Five unmissable journeys

Seven Stars train in Japan
The Seven Stars in Japan: a “luxurious mini-cruise on rails”

Japan by rail

Less a means of transport than a “luxurious mini-cruise on rails”, the Seven Stars train is the best way to take in Japan’s third-largest island, says Leslie Woit in The Independent. The journey “cuts a slow, regal sweep” through northern Kyushu, with flutes of Champagne “sloshing” in the Blue Moon car. Berths feature “surprisingly spacious” en suites, writing desks and two cosy single beds.

But Deluxe Suite A at the end of the train is “the ultimate blowout”, boasting its own sitting room, bedroom and floor-to-ceiling picture window. There is a lottery for bookings due to high demand, but international guests get preferential odds.

• Applications from April for trips between October and February 2017. A three-night journey starts at £3,110 – CruiseTrain-SevenStars.com.

Germany by boat

The River Rhine has held “an irresistible fascination” for travellers over the centuries, says Frank Barrett in The Mail on Sunday. Take a cruise on the new SS Maria Theresa to find out why. The two-week journey leaves from Amsterdam and takes you to Cologne, home to the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

Then the boat enters the “wonderful” Rhine Gorge, “where you watch every castle in the expectation of seeing Rapunzel letting down her golden tresses”. Rudesheim is a “glorious place to wander around”. Famous for its winemaking, make sure you sample the local vintages.

• From £3,799 per person departing 6 November – see TitanTravel.co.uk/uniworld or call 0800-988 5873.

Spoleto, Italy

Italy by car

The “short but spectacular” drive out of Spoleto in Italy’s Perugia province is like “a landscape opera in a prologue”, says Lee Marshall in The Sunday Telegraph. Act one takes you through a “cool, steep-sided green valley dotted with solid stone-built villages” with a “vaguely Alpine feel”. Then it’s on to a “sweeping vista across a fertile upland plain” to the walled town of Norcia, beloved for its truffles, the Benedictine monastery and the Sibillini mountains. The road climbs steeply to Passo di Gualdo, where the Piano Grande upland valley, famous for the “rainbow tapestry painted by its wildflowers” appears in all its glory.

• Length 101 miles – allow three hours driving. See Italia.it/en.

Tanzania by hot air balloon

Two million wildebeest and 250,000 zebras roam Tanzania’s Serengeti region. So embarking on a balloon safari to observe them in their natural habitat is “simply magical”, says Anne Gorringe in the Daily Express. If you are really lucky, you may even spy gazelle, leopards, lions, hippos, giraffes and other wild animals in the Serengeti National Park. You can go ballooning at any time of the year, thanks to the moderate climate, but March to May is a “wonderful” time to go. That’s when the animals are “on the move during their impressive migrations”.

• See BalloonSafaris.com.

Dog-sledding in Norway

Norway by dog sled

Finnmark in northern-most Norway is no country for the ill-prepared, says Andrew Eames in the FT. But come for “the extremes of wilderness living” and dog-sledding. After a night in the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, a “low-slungcathedral of ice” in a “Narnia-like world”, the start of the three-day journey across with a professional dog team is admittedly “hard” for beginners. So it’s just as well the eager dogs lead you on a trail that twists through the trees. After dark, the Northern Lights “trip their way across the sky”.

• Three-day trip costs from £1,755 per person – VisitNorway.com.