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World’s 10 Best Overnight Sleeper Train Journeys to Try

Is there anything more thrilling than embarking on a beautiful overnight train journey? Trains are the best way to get closer to the culture and experience a more lively vacation. Beyond the beauty, there is a classic enchantment that the trains have on our minds. There are numerous overnight trains around the world, which are rich in that enchantment.

Here are the top overnight train journeys around the world you need to try.

1. Shosholoza, South Africa

Shosholoza train South Africa
  • Route: Cape Town - Johannesburg
  • Duration of the journey: 2 days and 1 night

You would have been expecting a lot of luxury trains in this list and it is true that a few places are filled by the regal trains of different regions but, Shosholoza manages to keep up with the luxury trains in providing a perfect trip with varying accommodation and luxury levels, starting from economic sleeper class to premier class.

If you are looking to cover South African destinations with elegant beauty, you can enjoy the excellent experience and comfortable stay inside the train.

2. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

  • Route: Arequipa - Cusco
  • Duration of the journey: 3 days

While the natural beauties of South America are famous for being untouched and colorful with local culture indigenous to the land, this overnight train is an inspiration to the culture, by itself. The train’s décor represents the beauty of Peru with hand-woven fabrics, Andean tone greyish shade, Alpaca wool fabric, and others. This train stands as a running museum of the tradition and crafts of the land.

Peru takes pride in incorporating its cuisine as an identity for its culture and thus, the train provides traditional Peruvian cuisine for dining along with a large selection of elegant South American wines.

3. Palace on Wheels, India

Palace on Wheels train India
  • Route: Delhi – Delhi
  • Duration of the journey: 7 nights and 8 days

Palace on Wheels is one of the top luxury trains of India and a classic pampering vacation to embrace if you are looking for covering eminent destinations of the land like Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and others.

Apart from the natural and heritage beauties of the destinations it covers, the Palace on Wheels is a beauty by itself. This train provides every amenities that would turn your overnight train journey into a star-hotel styled experience.

You can enjoy many amenities like a dining and bar, restaurant, lounge and spa, and others inside the train. Each traveler can choose between two styles of accommodations, which are bombarded with facilities like en-suite bathroom, spacious bed, upholstery, large windows, wardrobe, safe, luggage hold and others.

4. Silver Meteor, USA

  • Route: New York - Miami
  • Duration of the journey: 30 hours

How about gliding through the cosmopolitan beauty of America as you run through awe-inspiring sceneries for the entire 30 hours? The train covers 11 different states during its journey offering travelers to enjoy America from inside the pampering pod. While you stay inside, you are in for a luxury treat with en suite facilities, amenities and much more.

Do you know that this route was used in one of the Bond stories, ‘Live and Let Die’? This train route has been functional for more than 80 years and still capturing minds.

5. Stimela Star, Zimbabwe

Stimela Star Train Zimbabwe
  • Route: Hwange National Park – Victoria Falls
  • Duration of the journey: 1 night and 2 days

This is the first and the only tourist train of the land. The train has a classic nostalgic look with just two sleeping cars, a dining car, and a stylish lounge car. The train covers numerous destinations, allowing the tourists to enjoy and explore Zimbabwe, from different perspectives. Unlike most of the other overnight trains, this train does not run at night. After dinner, the train halts at Dele for tourists to rest in their comfortable cabins.

Some of the tourists prefer to stay at a separate accommodation for the night. They are taken in separate train cars and are brought back to the train in the morning to continue the journey. The train continues its journey on the next day before halting at the final destination.

6. Caledonian Sleeper, United Kingdom

  • Route: Euston Station - Aberdeen
  • Duration of the journey: 7 hours and 30 minutes

This is the longest train route covered by overnight train in Britain. The train has a convivial décor with many amenities like en suite bathrooms, lounge room, and others.

Do you know that this train was once an old diesel engine, which was deliberately made to run slow to avoid waking the tourists up at early in the morning? All the suites in the train have large windows, which help you capture the best of the beauties, especially the mountains covered the morning mist. There are five different accommodations to choose from depending on the type of luxury you are expecting from the vacation.

7. Russian Railways Train

Russian Railways Train
  • Route: Paris - Moscow
  • Duration of the journey: 1 night and 2 days

This train is the second-longest train of Europe running through five nations in just 1.5 days. This is the best way to cover different countries spanning two continents in one of the classiest way.

Starting from private showers to personal waiter service, you can choose to enjoy a stunning vacation. There are numerous styles of accommodation from the VIP section to affordable options. The train starts at every Thursday evening and you will reach the destination by Saturday morning.

8. Venice Simplon Orient Express, Europe

  • Route: London - Venice
  • Duration of the journey: 1 night and 2 days

This continental train is another trans-national train covering numerous European destinations between the two endpoints. This private luxury train is famous its long list of exclusive amenities. This five-star train has a historic heritage and nostalgic beauty.

The train has luxury and pampering in every element. This train runs only between March and November and this luxury train is one of the best ways to travel within Europe for a regal style vacation.

9. The Ghan, Australia

The Ghan train Australia
  • Route: Adelaide - Darwin
  • Duration of the journey: 4 days

The train runs for a little less than 3000 km between Adelaide and Darwin. During this journey, the train takes you on a trip through the wilderness of the land by providing comfort and pampering from within. You can choose to enjoy the view from the surrounding from the solitude of your saloon or enjoy it with a social group.

Starting from traditional dinner to exotic activities, the train trip covers numerous destinations as a part of a train vacation package. This overnight train package covers all the elements of your vacation and thus, you get to enjoy a holistic balance in your vacation.

10. Maharajas' Express, India

  • Route: Mumbai to Delhi, Delhi to Delhi, Delhi to Mumbai
  • Duration of the journey: One journey 3 nights 4 days and rest three journeys 6 nights 7 days

Maharajas' Express train run through many popular destination and offer 4 different journey. Embark on a journey to discover the land of the Maharaja. Inside the train, the passengers would be exposed to regal experiences and lifestyle with all amenities that are practical on a moving train. Starting from longue to butler service, the train takes care of every element of your pampering vacation. The train cover emblematic destinations of the country to experience the culture of the land and the natural beauty of Ranthambore National Park.

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Things to Know Before Traveling by Overnight Train

  • Always book in advance. Not all trains would allow you to book three or four months prior but, it is always better to book before you start your vacation.
  • The luggage hold space might be smaller and thus, it is best to pack in soft-topped luggage.
  • Even in many luxury trains, the corridors through which you can walk through will be a little cramped and carrying stuffed backpacks can be a nightmare.
  • If you are picking the top luxury trains, you need not worry about the sanitation and cleanliness. If not, it is always better to pack a couple of toilet rolls, hand sanitizer, and your own bedspread.
  • Trains might arrive late but, it never waits for anyone. Thus, always be at the station at least ten minutes before the departure time.
  • Not all trains provide free meals or paid-meal option. Thus, enquire about the facilities and if there is a paid-meal option, you can book it online, in most of the trains.
  • Your luggage is your responsibility. Every country has its own frauds and scams and thus, be alert.
  • Even if you are staying inside the train for just a night, it would be around 8 – 12 hours of nothing but staring outside the window. Even if you are traveling through the most scenic lands of the region, it could get mundane and unless you are in a luxury train filled with facilities, it is better to bring your own entertainment options.
  • Overnight train travel is like a peep into their culture and lifestyle. Be open to the colorful culture around you and make some friends.
  • Some train routes have the best food and some train routes could be bumpy. Thus, before you choose a train journey, surf details regardingthe journey and be prepared.
  • Most of the trains are equipped with technologies to allow you to enjoy a smoother night. But, if you are a night sleeper, carry eye mask and headphones. The trains could get pretty noisy sometimes.
  • If you have any medical condition or if you are prone to certain problems, it is always better to carry your medicine with you. Even in trains with medical facilities, you might not be able to find all the medicines.
  • You need to be wearing shoes all the time on the train while walking. Thus, wear something comfortable and something that can be easily take off and put on.
  • Do you wear a contact lens? Pack your contact lens in your luggage and wear glasses. Changing lenses can be a nightmare in trains if the train runs at a very high speed.
  • Do you have a good internet package for your mobile? Even then, do not expect it to be at its good speed throughout the journey. When trains cover rural and uninhabited regions while traveling, signal strength can be worse. Even trains with in-built Wi-Fi do not promise good strength throughout the journey.
  • If you are looking for privacy, you need to book VIP or First Class tickets or, stick with luxury trains. If not, privacy is something out of reach here.
  • Pack as much water as possible unless your train provides free water throughout the journey. Even if you are traveling in the most pleasing climate, you would need a lot of water during train travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will food and drink be available?

A: Some trains provide food and drinks as part of a package. If you are choosing just the train journey, you might have to pay for your food during the travel or, you can buy at any destination.

Q: What do I need to pack for an overnight train journey?

A: If you are staying for a night inside the train, carry a change of clothes, toothbrush, comb, towel and any entertainment source to keep you busy. If you are always on the phone, it is better to bring your phone charger with a local adaptor. Bring an eye mask, motion sickness pills, and earplugs, if you need any.

Q: How are sleeping compartments kept secure?

A: If you are choosing VIP Suites or first-class tickets, each suite has a secured door, which can be bolted from inside. In case of moderate budget accommodations, the compartments are partitioned with just thick curtains.

Q: How much luggage can I take while traveling on an overnight train?

A: According to avid travelers, it is better to stick with airline regulations and avoid oversize luggage as you need to store in under the berth or bed.

Q: Where can I store the luggage on the train?

A: Luggage can be stored under the berth or bed. Some luxury trains provide separate luggage hold area inside the cabins.