If you caught TPG’s guide to the best places to travel in 2024, which we released toward the end of last year, you spotted us getting extremely excited about train travel.
We’ve been trumpeting the glorious return of rail for some time now. With a slew of exciting new high-speed routes launching this year — alongside luxe sleepers and various other show-stopping itineraries — 2024 could see a much-needed rail renaissance.
Here’s a peek at some of the most exciting trains you should seriously consider taking in 2024.
The return of the Eastern & Oriental Express
In a standout moment for luxury rail, 2024 will see the revival of Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express, which will finally return to Southeast Asia in February since pandemic-related restrictions were lifted. Its return will feature restyled trains comprising eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar and its iconic open-air observation car.
Passengers will be able to choose between two brand-new high-end itineraries. The three-night “Essence of Malaysia” will journey between Singapore and Penang — stopping off at Kuala Lumpur and the island of Langkawi (via private boat) along the way — and will operate between November and February. The “Wild Malaysia” experience will operate March to May and again between August and October. This journey will go from Singapore along the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula — stopping at Taman Negara National Park and Penang before returning to Singapore.
Prices start at around $3,410 per person for this once-in-a-lifetime rail adventure.
Brussels to Dresden and Prague with European Sleeper
Following its launch in 2023, the aptly named European Sleeper will expand its Brussels-Berlin route onto Dresden, Germany, and Prague from May 2024. Along with connecting four of Europe’s most popular tourist cities, the link-up promises to bolster various other rail operations by providing effortless new connections via the European Sleeper’s Brussels hub. This will be of particular value to those looking to extend their potential destinations when traveling through Europe aboard the iconic Eurostar.
The trains will have various couchette beds and recliners alongside sleeper cabins to cater to travelers of all budgets.
Ultimate luxe with Orient Express’ La Dolce Vita
In late 2024, we’ll be graced by the launch of one of the most opulent rail experiences in existence, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train.
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Created by hotel group Accor, the art-deco style cabins of the La Dolce Vita will likely set a new standard for luxe-rail operations with its haute cuisine services, world-class bartending and slick stylings.
Passengers will have the choice of eight itineraries that span either one or two nights. Highlights include a Sicilian service starting and ending in Palermo via Agrigento and Taormina (but not before it passes by Mount Etna). Other itineraries include a romantic route from Rome to Venice with a stop at Siena.
Pre-booking for the La Dolce Vita opened on Dec. 6, 2023, here. Space is sure to go quickly on this one.
Paris to Berlin with NightJet, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF
These two iconic European cities can be visited via several new services for 2024. The first up comes from the veritable sleeper train pioneers, NightJet, launching three times weekly services via Strasbourg, France, and Frankfurt in time for the fall.
NightJet has an excellent track record right now for providing speedy, high-quality services between European cities, and this will be an immensely popular — and affordable route. Sleeper cabins are due to start at $105 per person, with seating options starting around $33.
This won’t be your only new rail option between the two cities. A partnership between German rail operators Deutsche Bahn and France’s SNCF will also launch a high-speed seven-hour TGV connection later this year. There’ll be both a daytime service and a night route with an additional stop in Strasbourg.
A new Belgium, Germany and Netherlands connection
Technically, this route launched in December 2023, but the seats are still fresh enough that it’s worth mentioning for 2024. This new connection links Liege, Belgium; Aachen, Germany; and Maastricht, Netherlands, courtesy of a rail collaboration between Arriva, SNCB (the National Railway Company of Belgium) and Nederlandse Spoorwegen. It’s a great new route for European city hoppers.
Old-school rail in Switzerland
If you’re after for a nostalgic train experience that truly embodies the romantic rattle and rhythm of rail, then look no further than Gornergrat Railway’s NostalChic train.
This exclusive carriage, a restored 1960s cogwheel train, will carry only 22 guests per week through Switzerland’s stunning mountain ranges, journeying from Zermatt and terminating at Europe’s highest open-air railway terminus, Gornergrat (a respectable 10,170 feet above sea level). The entire journey will take around six hours and includes drinks and snacks as well as a guaranteed window seat to take in the panoramic views and a four-course meal at Riffelhaus 1853 on Riffelberg.
The train will make the trip once a week and costs around $365 per person.
A high-speed historical Roman adventure
Rome and Pompeii are perhaps two of the most popular destinations in the world among history buffs. They both have a rich heritage that spans centuries. For 2024, you’ll now be able to take a weekly high-speed rail link between these iconic cities, traveling on one of Trenitalia’s cutting-edge Frecciarossa trains.
The journey will take only two hours, leaving Rome around 9 a.m. every Sunday.
High-speed Madrid-to-Paris connections
This year, Trenitalia is set to unleash its ultra-quiet (but ultra-speedy) Frecciarossa train on a new route connecting Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. The cutting-edge train will zip passengers between the cities at an astonishing 249 mph.
Meanwhile, Spanish rail company Renfe is also planning to extend its current daily Madrid to Marseille, France, service through to Paris in time for the looming Summer Olympics.
Finally, for those wishing to take on the ultimate rail adventure, specialist train company Railbookers has a jaw-dropping new itinerary that takes in 13 countries across four continents courtesy of seven opulent trains. Fittingly, the journey is set to take 80 days for any wannabe Phileas Foggs out there.
The full trip starts around $119,599 per person, departing Vancouver on Aug. 28. The price includes most meals, luggage transfer, flights and of course your rail ticket aboard some of the most iconic trains in existence, including the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada, The Belmond Royal Scotsman in the U.K., the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, the Golden Eagle Danube Express across Central Europe, The Maharajahs’ Express in India, Rovos Rail in South Africa and the aforementioned Eastern & Oriental Express in Southeast Asia.
With an array of exciting new lines and trains launching in 2024, there’s no better time to get out there and explore the world via rail. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly travel or something a little more opulent, there’s something for everyone.