Slow Travel

Our Favourite Sleeper Train Journeys

Our Favourite Sleeper Train Journeys

The romantic spark of train travel has been reignited in the post-pandemic world, as travellers find themselves wanting to avoid flying and instead being drawn to the sleepy carriages of an overnight train, where the promise of cosy cabins, fine dining and panoramic views await. For those seeking luxury, without the airport admin of baggage allowances and security queues, the serene escapism of some of the best sleeper train journeys from across the globe might be just the ticket. This leisurely pace along the tracks allows passengers to truly relax and unwind into the comfort of the plush seats and fluffed duvets, as your destination inches ever closer. At nightfall, a stillness ripples through the carriages, as you’re rocked to sleep by the gentle movement of the train. Mornings bring a new dawn and a new location, ready to be admired from behind the windowpane. Of course, with so many scenic routes to travel it can be hard to know which rail wagon to climb aboard. Thankfully we’ve comprised a list of the eight most beautiful sleeper train journeys, crossing everything from entire countries to wild landscapes.


  1. Shiki-Shima, Japan
  2. The Ghan, Australia
  3. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
  4. 4. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
  5. Rovos Rail, South Africa
  6. The Maharajas' Express, India
  7. Orient Express La Dolce Vita, Italy
  8. Arctic Circle Sleeper Train, Sweden


Shiki-Shima, Japan

It should come as no surprise that Japan, a country renowned for its technological prowess and innovative design, has a futuristic sleeper train to match. Stepping into the lounge at Ueno Station begins your Japanese adventure, one that will take you through the country’s effortless blend of urban meets rural landscapes. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the Shiki-Shima, as there are countless seasonal trips and combinations to experience. Plus, with uber modern interiors, a slick ten-car double decker layout and geometric patterned exterior it’s apparent that (Ferrari and Maserati industrial designer) Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama has spared no expense in their creations. Nor has the train’s restaurant, with a menu crafted by Katsuhiro Nakamura - Japan’s first Michelin-starred chef - who’s taking meals-on-wheels to a whole new level of sophistication. The entire experience oozes luxury and confirms that this is one of the sleeper train journeys that rail enthusiasts just can’t miss.

view of mount fuji in Japan


The Ghan, Australia

Another one of the most beautiful sleeper train journeys that’s been winding its way through cities like Adelaide and Darwin since 1929, is none other than The Ghan in Australia. This nod to times gone by is an epic passage, that channels the frontier spirit and transports its precious cargo across the heart of the continent. Deserts and expansive landscapes slip slowly by in this romantic railway excursion, with plenty of opportunity to stop and experience the cities en route. On board, the earthy tones and elegant décor bathes the sleeper’s interior and the carriages evoke the golden era of rail travel (plus, the promise of all-inclusive wining and dining being only a request away would entice just about anyone!). It’s an experience that promises access to parts of Australia no other holiday can come close to, as you leave the everyday world at the platform in this perfect balance of rail comfort and adventure.

Railway station in Adelaide


Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

We might be taking some creative liberties with this addition to the list of our favourite sleeper train journeys, given that the Rocky Mountaineer isn’t technically a sleeper train, but humour us, as the views alone more than make up for its lack of cabins. With no double beds to lay your head after a day's traveling, guests instead opt for five-star hotels en route, and we can recommend some of the best stays that Canada has to offer. Back on board, passengers experience fine dining and scenery watching at its best, with windows that curve with the trains exterior and reveal the vast mountainous Canadian landscape all around. Clink cocktails and indulge yourself with an array of fresh ingredient dishes, as you carve your way through the Canadian Rockies. This is a chance for avid explorers to witness snow-capped jagged peaks and blistering winds from the comfort of the train's warmth.

Canada rocky mountains


Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

The Belmond trains have long been associated with making tracks to some of the world's most exciting destinations, with an unforgettable style perfect for the sophisticated railway goer. However, it’s the Belmond Andean Explorer that’s captivated the modern traveller, as it sweeps through Cusco, the Incan Empire’s capital, all the way to the Andean plains and white city of Arequipa. It’s easy to see why this is one of our top sleeper train journeys in the world, with countless scenic spots en route, you’ll likely find yourself glued to the window as Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca emerge from behind the glass. The opulent interiors of the train's carriages are almost as impressive as the unfolding landscapes, both of which you can enjoy on this vibrant journey through a time-honoured land, as you discover Peru’s natural wonders and ancient kingdoms.

Peru train journey


Rovos Rail, South Africa

Meandering its way along some of the most scenic routes South Africa has to offer, from Namibia to Tanzania, is the Rovos Rail. This internationally known rail network offers a world class travel experience unlike any other, earning its spot among the most beautiful sleeper train journeys. The wood panelled interior plays host to top cuisine, impeccable hosting and a timeless elegance and grace that’s apparent throughout. We’re talking ensuite cabins, complete with authentic Victorian tubs, sinks that transform into sofas and a pre-1940s dining carriage to eat, drink and be merry as you watch the surrounding views pass by. There are countless iconic landmarks to marvel at here, with both Victoria Falls and the savannahs of the Highveld coming into focus. You could even spot the Big Five on your travels or create a trip that’s completely bespoke to you, with add-ons at either end of the journey. That’s the beauty of the Rovos Rail experience, it has endless possibilities to see and do the most in South Africa.

View from train window looking at South Africa


The Maharajas' Express, India

One of the best ways to discover the true spirit of the incredible nation of India is, in our opinion, by voyaging on The Maharajas' Express. A worthy contender among the most beautiful sleeper train holidays, this amalgamation of grand opulence and no-expense-spared mentality has created a journey that’s worth experiencing. India’s colourful and vibrant towns appear between the carriage's windows, something you can admire from the comfort of your cabin (or roll-top bath, if you’re feeling extra lavish). There’s half a mile of train on offer and fourteen carriages to choose from, as you steam through barren mountainous landscapes and take in the untamed natural beauty India has in abundance. You’ll soon find yourself falling in love with the whimsical charm of The Maharaja Express and the hardest part will be pulling into the station on your return!

India Jaipur


Orient Express La Dolce Vita, Italy

The shiny new Orient Express La Dolce Vita, an ode to 1960s Italian glamour, will be ready to depart from the station and embark on its journey across Italy in 2023. The route sees colourful mountain stacked houses, glistening pools of water and sea and more unforgettable viewpoints than you can imagine. This is set to be one of the most beautiful sleeper train holidays Italy (and probably Europe) will have seen, covering Rome, Venice, Portofino and more. These jewels among the Mediterranean coastline have everything in abundance, from good food to good people, and the sleeper train awaiting its debut is no different. It plays homage to the iconic film La Dolce Vita, a historical period of all things glitz and glam, as travellers come aboard and step back in time. This new way to appreciate and experience a country so many know and love will offer train goers an environmentally friendly adventure. It’s one where the twisting forgotten tracks are explored, hidden treasures are ready to be discovered and stunning architectural triumphs can take centre stage.

Italy by train over water


Arctic Circle Sleeper Train, Sweden

Finally, we couldn’t list our favourite sleeper train journeys without a worthy mention of perhaps the most magical of them all: the Arctic Circle Sleeper train. Providing eager passengers with a unique round-trip route which takes you on 13 stops between Sweden and Norway, it brings snow-covered scenes and frosted windows coated in snowflakes, as you journey closer to the Arctic Circle. Depending on the season, you could even experience the famous Northern Lights’ spectacle or Midnight Sun, all from the comfort of your cabin aboard the train, which somewhat resembles Santa’s sleigh, thanks to its red and silver coating. While it might not have the opulence and grandeur of the previous sleeper trains, it does host all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Not to mention a hearty buffet carriage to refuel and energise before a day spent window watching and exploring stops along the way.

Snowy railway track