5 luxury train holidays to take in 2016

Train holidays have always had a certain romance about them, and they’re currently enjoying a renaissance in their popularity.

With this in mind we thought we’d share our hand-picked top 5 train journeys for 2016 – so if you’re looking for a unique holiday with a loved one this year, and want the luxurious surroundings of a world-class train journey on an iconic train, this should be a great starting point, courtesy of us here at PlanetRail.co.uk.

  1. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – a pan-European luxury train holiday

This journey has to be the ultimate in luxury train holidays. Originally a scheduled international train service, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has experienced route, engine and carriage changes throughout its lifetime, but has unequivocally always been considered the height of luxury and comfort for the discerning traveller.

The Orient Express Luxury Holidays

The timetabled incarnation of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express fell victim of high-speed trains and ceased operation in December 2009, but Belmond (formerly Orient Express Hotels Ltd), realising the need and desire to preserve this unique experience, revived the original route from Paris to Istanbul, using original CIWL Venice Simplon-Orient-Express carriages from the 1920s and 1930s to revive the route and offer a luxury train holiday.

Orient Express Historic Routes Map

The current routes from London to Venice or Venice to London on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express are easily the most popular and here at PlanetRail.co.uk we have a special offer available here based on 2 sharing and saving up to £1,400 from the list price.

Alternatively there is the option to travel from London to Venice, then on to Budapest or Vienna before returning back to London over 8 days, with the entire journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Again, we can offer a tailor-made trip to suit, an example of which can be found here or by calling 01374 825292.

A similar train holiday, but visiting Prague from London via Venice is also available, with details here.

Orient Express Rolling Stock Carriage External

Just by looking at the routes, rolling stock, and incomparable luxury and comfort of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, it’s little wonder it makes it to our top spot in our top 5 train journeys for 2016.

2.    Rovos Rail – The Pride of Africa, South Africa, Tanzania & Namibia

Less well known than the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Rovos Rail offers arguably a higher level of luxury for train holiday travellers, and is especially famous for its on-train as well as off-train experience.

Rovos Rail Train Holiday Capital Park Station

The dining, accommodation, and service are in line with any luxury traveller’s expectations and the restored Rhodesia Railways carriages offer accommodation ranging from the 76 square foot Pullman, right up to the Royal Suite, which occupies half a train car and 172 square feet of accommodation with its own full-size ‘Victorian’ bath!

Operating out of Pretoria, South Africa, routes extend to Cape Town, Durban, Victoria Falls, Dar Es Sallam in Tanzania and Swakopmund in Namibia. If you’re feeling especially opulent, the Pride Of Africa can even be privately chartered for a unique tour of Africa by train. Golf lovers can take advantage of their Golf-Safari tours, which comprise two 9 day options, with additional non-golfing excursions planned for those loyal travellers who perhaps don’t enjoy the game as much as their partners. Due to the current weakness of the South African Rand this is the ultimate in affordable luxury.

One of the dining cars in the Rovos Rail Pride of Africa all set up to serve lunch.

3.    The El Transcantabrico – Spain’s Oldest Luxury Tourist Train

With original 1923 pullman coaches, the El Transcantabrico operates 2 routes; the El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo train running from San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela and back, and the El Transcantabrico Clasico train running from León to Santiago de Compostela through Bilbao and back.

El Transcantabrico

We think that the El Transcantabrico deserves a special mention in our luxury train journeys of 2016 as it carves a route through the often under-explored regions of Northern Spain, offering exquisite cuisine, culture and vistas throughout the journey.

El Transcantabrico interior

The carriages are beautifully restored to show off the true comfort and luxury of the era, and as El Transcantabrico comes to a gentle halt each night, there are endless opportunities for passengers to fully enjoy the local culture of the towns and evening entertainment throughout the holiday.

4.    The Iconic Palace On Wheels – An Indian Luxury Holiday

Palace On Wheels Train Holiday At Jaipur

In 2010 the Palace On Wheels was voted the 4th most luxurious train in the world – which is fitting as over half a decade on, it comes in at position 4 in our top rated luxury trains.

The origin of the Palace On Wheels stems from the opulent carriages, which were originally meant to be the personal railway coaches of the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India.

Though the days of the Maharaja and colonialism may be firmly in the past, the luxury and comfort of the era most certainly lives on. The Palace On Wheels runs with 14 coaches, each named after former Rajput states, and 2 restaurant cars, each offering regional as well as international cuisines.

The Palace On Wheels offers 7, 8 and 9 night itineraries and departs from New Delhi, travelling through Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Agra & Khajur before returning to New Delhi.

A must for those wanting to discover all the mystique of India, in luxurious surroundings, it is particularly well suited to those hoping to see as much of India as possible with a limited amount of time.

5.    The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express – 6,600 miles of luxury

Golden Eagle interior Train

Our fifth entry into the luxury train trips of 2016 is the utterly unique Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. Taking travellers 6,600 miles (10,600 km) through no less than 8 timezones, this is officially the world’s longest train journey.

The Golden Eagle itself travels the course of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, linking Moscow with far eastern Russia, The Sea Of Japan and Mongolia & China.

Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Express Exterior

The journey takes just over 2 weeks and incorporates unbelievable scenery and experiences along the way, with the option to travel in the Siberian winter months for a winter wonderland experience, or opt for warmer dates during summer to experience the Ural mountains and the stunning Lake Baikal – the largest Freshwater lake in the world, holding some 20% of all unfrozen freshwater on Earth.


It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and has a price tag to match the level of luxury you’d expect – the imperial suite can fetch £24,000 per person for a one way trip from Vlavidostok to Moscow.

Golden Eagle Interior

All of these top five luxury train holidays can be booked directly with operators or, if you want a bespoke service with tailor-made itineraries and expert knowledge and insight, you can use one of the specialist rail holiday providers like ourselves planetrail.co.uk – voted Best Rail Holidays Company 2015 in the British Travel Awards.

For more information on this or any other train holidays, please contact us on 01374 825292.