Four spectacular train journeys

Alice Grahns looks at four of the world's best train journeys.


The Ghan, named after Afghan cameleers, is the most romantic way to cross Australia
(Image credit: ©2006 Great Sourthern Rail/Tom Roschi)

"There is something irresistibly romantic about a railway holiday," says Qin Xie in The Mail on Sunday. "It's not just the nostalgic glamour long associated with these slow journeys it's the sense of adventure that comes with disembarking and exploring at each stop." And where better to experience that than a trip through the Australian Outback on The Ghan?

This locomotive, named after the Afghan cameleers who used to cross this remote region of Australia, is one of the most popular ways to travel between the Northern Territory and Adelaide in the south. On the four-day seasonal service, you can hop off and enjoy excursions to harder-to-reach spots such as Alice Springs and Coober Pedy. The food on-board easily rivals a Michelin-starred restaurant, showcasing local dishes such as crocodile boudin blanc and buffalo massaman.

Austravel has a nine-day trip to Australia from £2,799 per person, including flights and three nights on the Ghan Expedition.

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A tour of southern Africa

If you're in a hurry, travelling by train may not be an obvious choice, but "for time-poor travellers... looking for affordable luxury", the Shongololo Express has it all, says Olivia Greenway in The Daily Telegraph. The "Southern Cross journey" takes you to Mozambique and Swaziland, and then north through Zimbabwe to the Victoria Falls. Her highlights included "a trip to Swaziland and the craft markets, rhino-tracking on foot with an anti-poaching team, visiting ancient bushman rock paintings in the Matobo Hills" and a sunset cruise by the Victoria Falls.

The Southern Cross journey costs from £3,115 per person based on two sharing.

Travel through the heart of Thailand



Take the slow train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for "the cost of a one-day London travelcard" and get an adventure into "Thailand's historical heart", says Alex Robinson in Wanderlust. Slowly travelling south to north reveals "a land of misty temples, golden Buddhas and epic history". Passengers pass by Ayutthaya, once the power centre of Siam, located by the river Chao Phraya, as well as Phitsanulok, another former Siamese capital.

In Chiang Mai, remnants of the ancient Lan Na city the old name for northern Thailand exist in the "brick walls with gabled gates, stucco-encrusted stupas and lily-filled moats". Today, they rub shoulders with "modish, modern Chiang Mai a town of artists, students and emo fringes". Take the back alleys around Nimmanhemin Road for "funky coffee bars, chic boutiques stuffed with Thai home dcor and silks, and an antique shop with shelves of glittering silver temple bowls and jewellery".

Revealed Travel (01932-424252) offers bespoke trips, including train travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

An epic Bulgarian adventure

For an experience slightly closer to home, try a whistle-stop tour of Bulgaria in steam locomotives from the Forties. Passengers "enjoy an epic journey across the Thracian Plain to the Black Sea", says Gavin Bell in The Daily Telegraph. The black and green steam locomotive starts with a climb through "a dramatic gorge with hamlets perched high on a ridge above a river winding its way to the Danube". It passes by Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital, as well as Varna, a commercial port on the Black Sea. A highlight is the old quarter of the city of Plovdiv, a "jewel set in stone".

Several travel firms arrange occasional steam tours of Bulgaria, including PTG Tours, Ulpia Toursand The Railway Touring Co.

See the world and lose pounds

Next month, Weight Watchers ishosting a seven-night, wellness-themedCaribbean cruise aboard the4,300-passenger MSC Divina, sailingfrom Miami, says Bloomberg Pursuits.Weight loss and the expansive buffetsof your typical cruise may not seemto go together, but it's not as crazy asit sounds. Today's cruise lines "tendto devote more space to wellness andspas". The Divina will be calling in atJamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel inMexico, and the Bahamas, and a cabincosts $945. The trip is sold out, but asecond one is planned for November.

Alice grew up in Stockholm and studied at the University of the Arts London, where she gained a first-class BA in Journalism. She has written for several publications in Stockholm and London, and joined MoneyWeek in 2017.