Sleeper train travel in Europe has an undeniable romantic air to it. In “On the Road,” Kerouac’s runaways jumping freight trains and Paul Theroux’s Iron Rooster both come to mind as examples of great rail adventures from the past. In contrast, modern rail travel seems quite sterile, with formerly fascinating lines now so well-traveled that there is not much to say regarding them. Though there are few outliers. Some sleeper trains continue to capture the pure glamour and romance of setting off on a lengthy voyage throughout a continent full of opportunities.
Anyone looking for an opulent adventure around Europe should follow the list of our top 5.
Luxury El Transcantabrico
This luxurious, upscale train travels across Northern Spain on its way from Leon to Santiago de Compostela or vice versa. From the productive fields of Castile to the Bay of Biscay, the enchanted beauty of northern Spain awaits. Inside, opulent suites decorated with plush upholstery and wooden veneers create a relaxing atmosphere reminiscent of a five-star hotel.
Along the route, a posh coach transports travelers to and from locations including upscale eateries, museums, landmarks, and breathtaking natural settings. Six sleepers with four double en suite rooms each make up the train. Passengers can now reserve Preferent Suites, which each occupy half of a railway car, thanks to a recent service that was introduced two years ago. In addition to a private lounge room with opulent dining options, a flat-screen television, and a computer, these 129-square-foot apartments also offer a dining area.
The Scottish Highlands are accessible on a 2–7-night excursion by the country’s opulent railway. With cabins decked out in polished wood and brass, ornamented with tartan, marquetry walls, and antique fittings, they achieve their goal of creating the train counterpart of a Scottish five-star country house hotel admirably. You will receive priority treatment since there are only 36 passengers and three staff members per passenger.
Fantastic food, wine, service, and a few pre-selected off-board excursions like visits to distilleries, clay pigeon ranges, and castles are all included in the price. Take in the breathtaking Scottish Highlands scenery in between as you pass through coastal communities and along mountain peaks.
Danube Express Train
On the most fascinating path in the history of Europe, enjoy classic elegance and modern ease. What is there to dislike? The Danube Express departs from Budapest and travels through rustic Hungary and the heartland of Transylvania (yep, you may stop at Dracula’s castle), boasting the most opulent sleeping cars on the continent. Passengers are given a front-row seat to the breathtaking skyline that is developing before their eyes as it travels through the Bosphorus, with Topkapi Palace serving as its focal point. If you are willing to visit neighboring Bulgaria, there is a less-luxurious but famous Istanbul-Sofia night train, riding on which lasts between 10 to 11 hours. The trip is not as comfortable nor interesting as Danube Express so prepare to ‘kill’ your time in various ways, one of which might be playing games of chance at online casinos found on topcasinoexpert.com/country/bulgaria/.
Eight days are allotted for the trip, which comprises stays in Istanbul and Budapest. The interiors of cars are adorned with everything from dimming lighting to heated towel rails (naturally, in bathrooms with en suites). Three-course dinners in the dining car are part of the price and come with as much Hungarian wine as you would like.
This legendary journey must be included in any list of fantastic train routes. The Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast by passing through eight time zones. There are connections to China, Mongolia, and possibly North Korea, the Hermit State. The Trans-Siberian railway is the world’s longest at 9,289 kilometers.
Some intrepid individuals prefer to go the entire distance all at once; this takes a whole week. Most tourists, however, like the extra luxury and comfort of renting a private automobile between stops to visit the cities en route. Is anyone up for a city break in Vladivostok?
With the release of the 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 murder mystery novel “Murder on the Orient Express”, interest in passenger trains saw a rebirth. Although the fabled service is no longer in operation, a private company called the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has restored several ancient carriages and is now operating a service that resembles that most illustrious of trains.
In refurbished classic 1930s art deco coaches, travelers sleep, eat, and sip pricey champagne while being attended to by uniformed stewards. A two-night layover in either Budapest or Vienna is included on the Venice to Istanbul route, which connects two lovely northern hemisphere towns. Before retiring to luxurious beds in the guest rooms, guests can relax on banquette sofas in their private dining rooms.