Rail vacation types

Just as there are so many different trains around the world, from sleeper to Shinkansen, Highland to high speed, there are also lots of different rail vacation types. It used to be that rail vacations were divided into opposing camps. First, the rail romancers who loved traveling in style on the ‘late’ Orient Express (‘late’ as in now defunct, rather than British commuter train ‘late’). Or, in contrast, the backpacking, Interrail hippy scene, where young people would spend months on end loving life and all things loco. However, the railway vacation market has changed a lot, not only crossing this divide and catering for all budgets, but also helping you create imaginative itineraries around your rail trip. Ideally with a funicular thrown into the mix. Just because we love that word – funicular.

Long distance classic rail vacations

These are the mega multi-destination mothers, where the train journey itself is almost as important as the places you are staying at en route. The Trans-Mongolian Express, Trans-Siberian Railway, Vietnam’s Reunification Express are all fine examples, and the less well known Transcantabrico El Clasico railway vacation in Northern Spain – a luxurious way to explore this stunning north coast and mountains. They can be tailor made for individuals, or in a small group.

Vacations by rail

Although many of these vacations are also on classical routes, such as around India, into the Highlands of Scotland, across the USA, or from London to Istanbul, Malaga to Marrakech, they aren’t the iconic long distance ones. They are, however, the hidden gems of the train lover’s world, taking you into mountains and valleys that you could reach by car, but it wouldn’t be as fun. They are ideal for people who don’t want the hassle of driving on vacation, but still want to access lots of interesting places.

Our top Railway Vacation

Scotland by railway vacation

Scotland by railway vacation

Experience authentic Scotland independently and car-free

From £1345 to £1425 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made from April to the end of October.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Railway or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Rail as part of the vacation

These vacations may not even have the word ‘train’ in the title, but it does still play an important role. They are like the supporting actor to the lead, if you like. Such as the Machu Picchu rail trip which will be the highlight of any vacation in Peru. Or simply taking the train in Japan. Unlike so many other countries, most tourists choose to travel by train here, just because it is such an efficient, fast and cool experience. A trip to Alaska is always exciting, but taking the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park is the way to go. And you can’t go to Sri Lanka without experiencing one of their extraordinary train journeys, such as the rickety train journey into the hills from Kandy to Ella. And fitting a sleeper journey into your vacation is always an adventure, such as the Southern Explorer in Thailand, from Bangok to Nakorn Si Thammarat or the Caledonian Express from London to the Highlands of Scotland.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Belur Ashok] [Topbox: upyernoz] [Vacations by rail (Ecuador): John Barrie] [Rail as part of the vacation: Gary Bembridge]