Though train travel is still a practical means of transportation throughout much of the world, in some places it has evolved into a leisure form of travel. Trains catering to travelers take tours of snow-capped mountain peaks, ancient landmarks and desert landscapes. Like cruise ships, but on land, multiple-day journeys make stops in different locations along the way, which is great for those outdoors enthusiasts who want to hike, fish or just explore quaint towns.
There is no shortage of excellent train trips in Colorado, most of them only a day long and dotted throughout the state, making at least one trip very convenient for anyone visiting the state. Colorado, with its 14,000-foot peaks, clear creeks and thundering waterfalls, is a great place for a train trip.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the most well-known trips. It has been named one of the 10 most exciting train trips in the world by the Society of American Travel Writers. Powering through high mountain passes with an old-fashioned steam engine, it provides a front-row seat for trips through canyons, past mountain meadows and through the San Juan National Forest (see Resources below).
Hiram Bingham Train, Peru
In the middle of the 1400s, decades before Columbus left on his voyage and discovered a new world, the Incans built a city seemingly on top of it. Getting to Machu Picchu used to take days, only accessible by making a very difficult four-day hike through the mountains of Peru.
Now, thanks to the Hiram Bingham train, the journey to Machu Picchu can be done in a matter of hours. While many archaeologists may scoff at such an important site being so accessible, no one will deny the beauty of the train trip, which leaves six days a week from Cusco. Dinner, live entertainment, admission to the ruins and bus transfers are all part of the deal.
The Bernina Express
The country between Switzerland and Italy is full of some of the most scenic landscapes in the entire world. One train trip lasting less than three hours from St. Moritz, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy, allows you to experience all of it. From glaciers to stone fields, to alpine meadows and rock cliffs, this train trip showcases it all.
The spiraling ascents and descents take you over the border between the countries and the highest alpine pass on the continent. No matter what your final destination is, outdoor-activity possibilities are endless. Both areas offer a hiker's and mountain climber's paradise. Mountain biking and road biking are also common in the area.