6 Unforgettable Coastal Rail Journeys That Will Leave You in Awe

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Coastal Train Journeys

When it comes to travel, we often focus on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. But what if the journey itself was the destination? That’s exactly what these coastal train routes offer. Swap planes for trains and embark on adventures that are so much more than just a way to reach a destination. Whether it’s multi-day journeys with breathtaking views of waves crashing into cliffs or quick, scenic bursts of sparkling seas, these coastal train routes will make you appreciate life in the slow lane.

  1. Coastal Pacific – Christchurch to Picton, New Zealand

    • Duration: Just over five hours
    • Highlights: This journey starts in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island and takes you on a picturesque ride to the charming port town of Picton. The train is designed for sightseeing, with panoramic side and roof windows that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the stunning scenery. There’s even an open-air viewing carriage for unrestricted photography. Along the way, consider breaking up the journey to explore Blenheim’s vineyards or Kaikōura, where you might spot sperm whales.
  2. The Mandovi Express – Mumbai to Madgaon, India

    • Duration: Approximately 12 hours
    • Highlights: This Indian rail journey is a feast for the senses. Departing from Mumbai, you’ll traverse the Konkan coastline, with the Arabian Sea on one side and the Sahyadri hills on the other. The Mandovi Express is renowned for its onboard food options, including chicken lollipops, fresh samosas, and deep-fried okra. As you enjoy the culinary delights, fellow passengers engage in card games and sing Bollywood hits, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
  3. The Riviera Railway – Cannes, France to Ventimiglia, Italy

    • Duration: 90 minutes
    • Highlights: If you’ve ever wondered what life on the French Riviera is like, this commuter train journey provides a glimpse. Traveling multiple times a day, the double-decker train offers views of terracotta-colored villas and golden sand beaches. During the summer, you’ll see bronzed bodies on pontoons, surfers riding the waves, and the Ligurian Sea glistening in the sunshine. Don’t miss the chance to sample pissaladière, a traditional flatbread, during a stop in Antibes or Juan-les-Pins.
  4. The Reunification Express – Hué to Da Nang, Vietnam

    • Duration: Two-and-a-half hours
    • Highlights: Vietnam’s key railway line runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and the journey from Hué to Da Nang is a standout. As the train winds through the jungle, you’ll be treated to stunning views of lush greenery and the South China Sea. This section of the journey offers glimpses of creamy sand beaches and sunlit bays, making it a must-do experience in Vietnam.
  5. Coast Starlight – Sacramento to Los Angeles, USA

    • Duration: From Sacramento to LA, the journey takes approximately 14 hours
    • Highlights: The Coast Starlight takes you from Seattle to Los Angeles, but it’s the segment between Sacramento and LA that steals the show. With panoramic windows and a dining car serving delectable dishes, this train ride is more than just transportation—it’s a social experience. As the train hugs the cliff edge, you’ll witness the transition from green to blue seas and sandy shores, all while enjoying Californian chardonnay.
  6. St Erth to St Ives – Cornwall, UK

    • Duration: Just 10 minutes
    • Highlights: Sometimes, a short journey can be just as memorable. This quick ride from St Erth to St Ives in Cornwall, UK, is a burst of coastal beauty. You’ll pass the Hayle estuary, sand dunes, and Porthkidney beach with its turquoise waters. The scent of the sea fills the air as you wind your way above Carbis Bay, where sunbathers bask on golden sands before arriving in St Ives.

These coastal train journeys offer a unique perspective on some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. So, whether you’re a travel enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply someone looking for a new adventure, consider swapping the fast pace of modern travel for the charm of these coastal train rides. It’s a chance to slow down, savor the moment, and let the journey itself become the destination. All aboard!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Coastal Train Journeys

Q: How long is the Coastal Pacific train journey in New Zealand?

A: The Coastal Pacific train journey in New Zealand takes just over five hours.

Q: What can I expect to see on the Reunification Express in Vietnam?

A: On the Reunification Express in Vietnam, the highlight is the two-and-a-half-hour stretch between Hué and Da Nang, where you’ll enjoy views of lush jungle, banana plantations, and the stunning South China Sea.

Q: What is unique about the Coast Starlight train journey in the USA?

A: The Coast Starlight train journey in the USA offers a social experience with panoramic windows and a dining car serving delicious meals. The segment from Sacramento to Los Angeles provides breathtaking views of the sea and sandy shores.

Q: How much does a one-way ticket on the St Erth to St Ives train in Cornwall, UK, cost?

A: A one-way ticket on the St Erth to St Ives train in Cornwall, UK, costs £3. It’s a short but beautiful coastal journey worth experiencing.

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