25 Best Train Rides With Kids Around the World
Train rides are by far one of the best ways to travel with children. They’re easiest on the environment too when compared to other modes of travel. Trains let parents spend their time enjoying the scenery with their kids instead of having to navigate and drive, or deal with hectic and cramped air travel. The slower pace allows for appreciating the surroundings and talking with children about what they’re seeing. Most trains have dining cars, which makes mealtime with the kids easier. Some provide overnight accommodations and private rooms with ensuites. Here are 25 of the best kid-friendly train rides around the world. Photo: Sternstunden/Fotolia
»Swiss Chocolate Train
A child’s dream, the Swiss Chocolate Train features singular first-class style. Modern panorama or vintage 1915 Belle Epoche Pullman coaches provide visitors with exceptional views of the varied Swiss countryside. This nine-hour train ride leaves from Montreux and travels to the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory in Broc to indulge on Swiss chocolate, Switzerland’s most famous specialty. Kids obsessed with trains and chocolate will love every aspect of this journey, and the scenic mountain, lake, and valley views are just the icing on the cake. During the ride guests will enjoy coffee/soda and croissants followed by cheese fondue before deboarding at the chocolate factory.
»Darjeeling Toy Train
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 1881 Darjeeling Toy Train climbs the Eastern Himalayas to Ghoom, the highest railroad station in Asia. Passengers pass by spectacular scenery as the miniature steam train loops to the highest point and begins its descent to Darjeeling. Kids will love the interesting landscape with its streams, tea gardens, and enchanting valley views; and the brightly colored costumes of friendly Lepcha and Bhutia women and their children. The looping railway means there are no tunnels to contend with, and the miniature size of the train means it travels at a slow pace – roughly 7 mph. The mesmerizing trip takes about eight hours to complete
»Bangkok to Chiang Mai
The SRT, State Railway of Thailand, is one of the most popular modes of travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. And the best trains to catch are the #9 Train during the day, or the #10 overnight sleeper train, depending on if you want the kids to sightsee along the way, or to sleep. There are other options, but these two trains are the newest. They’re powered by electricity, which makes for a quieter and more pleasant ride. Parents springing for first class can book two private rooms with inter-connecting doors. Families can head to the dining car for convenience store-style food, or if traveling first class, can have it delivered to their rooms.
»Belmond Grand Hibernian
Families can travel across the Emerald Isle in luxury aboard the Belmond Grand Hibernian. Interiors of the ten opulent carriages feature Dublin-inspired Georgian architecture, stone counters that have been hand-crafted, Ulster carpets, and rich details, including the Celtic knot. Four double suites with ensuites are perfect for family travel. Two restaurant cars serve gastronomic bliss with seasonal ingredients sourced along the ride. Legends and Loughs, Grand Tour of Ireland North or South, and the shorter Taste of Ireland journeys are the most popular. The kids will love seeing ancient castles, interesting landscapes, and rare wildlife as they pass by. The whole family can indulge in world-class malts as they ride.
Families can cross the Alps on a train ride from Chur to St. Moritz-Valposchiavo to Tirano, Italy. This train ride is sure to impress the kids as they watch the scenery change from glaciers to palm trees. Alpine landscapes along the way include 196 bridges and 55 tunnels. Panoramic cars are modern and allow for the best unobstructed views of the Alps. The second leg of the trip from Valposchiavo to Tirano is a UNESCO World Heritage route. During summer, riders can take advantage of open carriages for a completely natural experience. Kids can snap pictures of the landscape without the problems of reflected light from windows for lasting memories.
Photo: Silvano Rebai/Fotolia
»Cass Scenic Railway
Cass Scenic Railroad offers passengers rides on a 1901 historic steam engine. The open-air passenger cars are refurbished flat cars previously used for logging. The trip up Cheat Mountain to Bald Knob takes passengers to the highest point for a geared locomotive east of the Mississippi. The 22-mile trip up and back takes about 4.5 hours. At the top, families are rewarded with spectacular views. Kids will appreciate the ‘hobo’ lunch aptly named King of the Road that is served on a 30-minute stopover at Whittaker Station. Adventurous families can book an overnight in a caboose atop Bald Knob. Small children may need noise canceling headphones, and everyone should bring a sweater or jacket.
»Cusco to Lake Titicaca
PeruRail Titicaca runs from Cusco, across the Andes Mountains to Puno, Peru. There is an open-air observation car where families can take in the panoramic views of the Andean landscape. This breathtaking journey is 10.5 hours and climbs in elevation from 11,152 feet to 12,500 feet. Gourmet food is served in two Pullman cars with 1920s décor. In Puno, the big draw is Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, and the world’s highest navigable lake. Tours of the Uros Islands (floating islands) are inexpensive and provide travelers a one-of-a-kind experience. Family members can bring carry-on bags with them; all other bags are stowed on the train.
A trip aboard Rauma Railway offers guests a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience one of Norway’s most beautifully scenic regions. The train travels between Andalsnes and Dombas, departing four times a day throughout the entire year. Each trip lasts just under two hours. The Railway features comfortable, yet modern trains equipped with air conditioning, large panoramic windows, a restroom area, and vending machines. During the summer the trains even feature an electronic guiding system which provides information about the various sites along the way. This is an excellent trip for children as it’s short and provides awe-inspiring scenic views that will keep them distracted and entertained.
Elipsos Trenhotel is an overnight train that travels from Paris to Madrid and Paris to Barcelona in both directions. The train is known for its exceptional facilities, unparalleled service, and divine à la carte menu. Patrons will feel as though they are relaxing in a moving hotel room that boasts incredible scenic sights along the way. Travelers can choose from three service classes, tourist, business, or grand. The latter is the most lavish with complimentary meals, a private bathroom, and welcome gift. The train is also equipped with an onboard restaurant serving Mediterranean and international fare. Elipsos is ideal for children, as they’ll fall asleep in one city and awaken to another without a hitch.
Photo: Mykola Mazuryk/Fotolia
»Istanbul to Tehran by Rail
G Adventures offer a seventeen-day train tour that departs from Istanbul Turkey and travels to Tehran, the capital city of Iran. This tour traverses through some of the world’s most unexplored territories such as the Cappadocia region and Van Lake. It also makes several stops along the way to enjoy various attractions and activities. This includes a visit to Anitkabir, Mt Ararat, Ahtamara Island, and Naqsh-e-Rostam as well as Ishak Pasha Palace, Van Castle, Karim Khan Citadel, Vakil Mosque, and a guided tour of Persepolis. This is an ideal trip for parents who want to both educate and entertain their children. They will travel the Silk Road, learn of the region’s ancient history, and sample the diverse culinary flavors of Turkey and Iran.
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Often referred to as one of the world’s greatest train journeys, the Jacobite Express takes visitors on an 84-mile round trip adventure past some of the most impressive scenic extremes. It begins close to Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain; visits Arisaig, the country’s most western mainland rail station; and passes the Loch Morar, Britain’s deepest freshwater loch. From there it passes the River Morar, the country’s shortest river, before finally reaching Loch Nevis, Europe’s deepest seawater loch. The train also stops at Fort William, Glenfinnan, and Arisaig before reaching the final destination of Mallaig. The dramatic and constantly changing scenery coupled with the curvy and winding railway make this a great excursion for kids.
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»Northern Nevada Railroad
A National Historic Landmark, the Northern Nevada Railroad is an over one-hundred-year-old historic passenger railroad that served Ely, Nevada’s, historic copper mining region. It still features the original railway, track, passenger station, locomotives, rolling stock, and buildings of the era. Visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in all of the historic railroad experiences Northern Nevada has to offer. This includes a 90-minute train ride that heads to the Ruth mining district, a tour of the authentic train yard and maintenance shops, and a “Be the Engineer” experience. The latter gives parents and their kids the chance to run and drive a real locomotive.
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»Mount Washington Cog Railway
The first mountain climbing cog railway train in the world, the Mount Washington Cog, offers scenic train rides to the top of Mount Washington. Visitors will travel from the station situated in the heart of the majestic White Mountains to the Northeast’s highest peak. This funky train excursion is ideal for children who like a little adventure. The train climbs North America’s steepest railroad tracks to the tip of the nearly 6,300-foot tall mountain. At the top they will be rewarded with exceptional views of New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, some of Canada to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
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Railjet is the high-speed train of Austrian Railways. It is capable of reaching speeds as high as 143 mph when the route allows for it. It offer various trips and travels to several cities, but the most well-known route is Munich to Salzburg to Vienna to Budapest. It’s an ideal excursion for families traveling with children as the trip passes by a stunning and varied landscape. The beautiful Bavarian countryside, the Alps, Salzach River, and the hilly terrain of both Austria and Vienna are just a few of the backdrops. Crossing from Vienna to Budapest the area is wide, flat, farmland where more than 200 wind turbines nest. Railjet then crosses the famous Danube and arrives at the historic Keleti Station.
Photo: Leonid Andronov/Fotolia
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Based in Pretoria at Rovos Rail station, the Shonololo Express is a special touring rail offering their distinct journeys across Southern Africa. The excursions traverse South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, and can last 12 to 15 days. These tours are only available for adults and families traveling with children ten years or older. Each of the specially planned trips offer their own unique stopping points such as the Southern Cross journey. Kruger National Park, the Kapama Reserve & Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center, the Great Zimbabwe Monument, and Antelope Park, are just a few of the stops along the way.
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»The Caledonian Sleeper
The Caledonian Sleeper is one of the premier super sleeper trains in the world. Its route from London to Fort William, Scotland, is also one of the most iconic and scenic journey’s on the planet passing by heather-scattered moors slightly south of the legendary Glenfinnan Viaduct. This overnight sleeper train offers three accommodation styles, first class, standard class, and the sleeper seat, which is the most economical option. The train also features the Lounge Car, a relaxed on-board restaurant serving up delicious Highland cuisine. As an added bonus children under the age of twelve eat for free. This is an excellent train ride for families traveling with small children, as they can sleep through most of the long journey.
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The ultimate train excursion across Canada, The Canadian allows visitors to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind in favor of gliding through rugged lake country, picturesque prairie fields, charming picturesque towns, and the snowy summits of the magnificent Rockies. An incredible three-day and four-night journey traveling an astounding 2,775 miles from Toronto to Vancouver, this is an ideal trip for families with children. They can choose among Prestige, Sleeper Plus, and Economy classes, each with their own unique benefits. The Canadian offers a dining car featuring delectable epicurean fare. The skyline car boasts ceiling windows, and the panorama car features giant windows extending from the ceiling down.
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The Ghan is a train excursion ideal for parents who want their children to unplug from the tech that consumes them in favor of a one-of-a-kind expedition across Australia. Departing from Darwin, guests glide across 1,851 miles of the country’s varied landscape in the comfort of their private luxury cabins. This four-day three-night journey makes several stops along the way from the Aussie Outback and Katherine Gorge – ancient sandstone cliffs to the vast Northern Territory and the underground town of Coober Pedy, this tour has it all. Along the way families will participate in activities such as camel treks, an Outback Barbecue Tour, and mining at the Umoona Opal Mine.
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»The Grand Canyon Railroad
Since 1901, families have flocked to the Grand Canyon Railroad to journey into the heart of one of the world’s natural wonders. It’s a historic ride that especially appeals to kids thanks to the Cowboys who greet them at the train station, the funky musicians who roam the train playing the songs of the Old West, and the Passenger Service Attendants who share their knowledge as they cruise around the South Rim. Even more amazing are the locomotives themselves, these vintage classics were all restored with love and guests can have their choice of train car. After this entertaining ride, families will enjoy exploring the small yet exciting mountain town of Williams.
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»Heber Valley Railroad
Heber Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad that provides excursion trains from Heber City to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon. The line is roughly sixteen miles long and takes a total of three hours roundtrip. One of its biggest draws is the diverse scenic landscape. Cascade Mountain, Mount Timpanogos, and the Provo River are just a few of its natural highlights. Spotting deer, foxes, moose, hawks, and eagles is commonplace. Families with small children are especially fond of this railroad as they offer several themed train rides such as Dinosaur Days, Star Wars, Princesses, and Pirates. They also feature adventure trains that combine a ride with either zip lining or rafting which are great for older kids.
Photo: Heber Valley Railroad
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»Train to the Clouds
Argentina’s most popular and famous train ride is Train to the Clouds. It begins in the town of Salta, dips into the Lerma Valley, and rises again to Quebrada del Toro. The route continues past the ruins at Tastil, and past Antonio de los Cobres before finally reaching the spectacular viaduct over a desert canyon in La Polvorilla. Passengers ride a bus partway up the mountain to meet the train, take a 3.5-hour train ride, and return to Salta by bus. The whole thing takes about 12 hours. Snacks are included, and you can get the kids lunch on either the dining car or buffet car.
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Glacier Express takes guests on an eight-hour journey through three of Switzerland’s twenty-six cantons, Valais, Uri, and Graubunden. Along the way they’ll witness varied and truly incredible panoramic scenic views. This includes the Albula Line, the alpine village of Zermatt which overlooks the Matterhorn, Oberalp Pass, and The Rhine Gorge known as the Grand Canyon of Switzerland. While enjoying the lovely alpine panorama, travelers can enjoy a wondrous gastronomic experience from the onboard Le Restaurant, serving fresh dishes paired with carefully selected regional wines. For patrons with children, the Panorama Wagon might be the ideal seat selection, as they provide an audio guide in various languages with interesting information about the route.
Photo: Ludmila Smite/Fotolia
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25 Best Train Rides With Kids Around the World
- Swiss Chocolate Train, Photo: Courtesy of Sombat - Fotolia.com
- Darjeeling Toy Train, Photo: Courtesy of erhardpix - Fotolia.com
- Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Photo: Courtesy of Ursula - Fotolia.com
- Belmond Grand Hibernian, Photo: Courtesy of pfeifferv - Fotolia.com
- Bernina Express, Photo: Courtesy of Silvano Rebai - Fotolia.com
- Cass Scenic Railway, Photo: Courtesy of Don - Fotolia.com
- Cusco to Lake Titicaca, Photo: Courtesy of TOBY - Fotolia.com
- Dombås Åndalsnes, Photo: Courtesy of STUEDAL - Fotolia.com
- Elipsos Trenhotel, Photo: Courtesy of Mykola Mazuryk - Fotolia.com
- Istanbul to Tehran by Rail, Photo: Courtesy of Adamchuk - Fotolia.com
- Jacobite Express, Photo: Courtesy of Roelof - Fotolia.com
- Northern Nevada Railroad, Photo: Courtesy of lexpixelart - Fotolia.com
- Mount Washington Cog Railway, Photo: Courtesy of PHB.cz - Fotolia.com
- Railjet, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Shongololo Exporess, Photo: Courtesy of almaholm - Fotolia.com
- The Caledonian Sleeper, Photo: Courtesy of dcookd - Fotolia.com
- The Canadian, Photo: Courtesy of adonis_abril - Fotolia.com
- The Ghan, Photo: Courtesy of FiledIMAGE - Fotolia.com
- The Grand Canyon Railroad, Photo: Courtesy of malkolm - Fotolia.com
- Heber Valley Railroad, Photo: Heber Valley Railroad
- Train to the Clouds, Photo: Courtesy of fabrizio248 - Fotolia.com
- Glacier Express, Photo: Courtesy of Ludmila Smite - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Sternstunden - Fotolia.com
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