5 of the World's Best Steam Engine Train Rides

Posted: 17 March 2020 | Updated: 17 March 2020

Everyone that’s seen the Harry Potter movies - and that means, let’s face it, everyone - has imagined themselves hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express and chugging off on a magical journey across the wilderness.

Sadly, the kind of magic belonging to wizards and witches isn’t real. But the magic of the steam train is. All around the world, there are beautiful journeys you can undertake through epic landscapes. This week, we’re exploring some of the very best.

Let’s hop aboard and check out the world’s best steam train experiences.

Puffing Billy

The Puffing Billy, which celebrated its 200th anniversary back in 2013, is the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive. Originally designed to transport coal from Wylam Colliery to Lemington Staithes on the River Tyne, the timeless locomotive now carries adventurers and history buffs alike. It has become one of Australia’s major tourist attractions, proudly standing besides kangaroos and vegemite. Why is it called “Puffing Billy”? Apparently, nobody really knows - the name remains shrouded in mystery until today. Will you take on the challenge and find out while enjoying the journey?

Royal Windsor Steam Express

Fancy yourself a royal experience aboard a steam train followed by a visit to one of the world’s most famous castles? Jump right on! The Windsor Express steam train service offers direct service from central London straight to the magnificent Windsor Castle. A unique and convenient way to get maximum enjoyment with minimum hassle, you might even catch a sight of the Queen if you visit in April during her yearly residence in the royal quarters. Be sure to enjoy a cup of tea for the quintessential British royal experience - or, if tea is too tame for you, the coach service also offers a Pullman style brunch option with bubbles.

Brocken Railway

If spectacular landscapes, charming villages and nostalgia are your thing, it is absolutely time to step aboard the Brocken train on Germany’s Harz railway. Formerly the mainline of the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways, the beautifully preserved steam train now functions as a tourist attraction in its own right while the network in its entirety is classified as a historical monument. As you enjoy the scenic routes from the comfort of your seat and reminiscence of days bygone, you might just pass the highest peak of Northern Germany, the Brocken mountain, at 1142m. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the (spectacularly scenic) ride!

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Brought to contemporary fame through Wes Anderson’s movie Darjeeling Limited, you might be surprised to read that the train is not just a figment of his dazzling imagination. Quite on the contrary - the precipice-topping train is actually UNESCO-listed and has been operating in some form since the late 19th century. Affectionately nicknamed “toy train” by locals, the legendary train zigzags through the breathtaking scenery of cloud-topped valleys, undulating foothills and lush tea plantations so characteristic of the Eastern Himalayas and is sure to provide you with a mesmerizing and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Cathedrals Express

Yet another historic British train journey easily accessible from the capital, the Cathedrals Express steam journey is evocative of old times, with its hissing and puffing locomotive. Once aboard the carriages, you are being whisked away on an unforgettable journey across rural England. Views of verdant hills and grazing sheep abound, and the train passes through plentiful picturesque towns, many of which boast a cathedral matching the film-star quality of the Cathedrals Express.

If you want to ride the Puffing Billy, make sure you check out our full range of Puffing Billy Tours here at AAT Kings. It’s a truly remarkable experience.

By AAT Kings