5 Iconic Movie Trains You Can Actually Ride

Train journeys feature in some of the most iconic and popular movies. Whether romantic, inspirational, mood-setting, dramatic, magical, or the scene of epic struggles and crimes, these trains have become ingrained in our shared pop culture. They’re not all fiction, however. Here are five amazing movie trains you can actually ride to relive the adventures of your favorite characters and film moments.

1. The Orient Express – Murder on the Orient Express & From Russia With Love

Perhaps the most well-known train in the world, the Orient Express is most closely identified with the Agatha Christie mystery novel, Murder on the Orient Express, and the 1974 and 2017 film adaptations. It’s also the scene of the epic train fight in the second James Bond movie, From Russia with Love.

You are not likely to become a murder victim or suspect on the actual Orient Express (though it would be an epic setting for a murder mystery party!), which runs from London, England to Venice, Italy. Rather, you can step back in time with the art deco designs and furnishings of the train’s luxury coaches and enjoy the stunning European scenery through the windows.

Old world luxury aboard the Orient Express

Leaving London, the Venice Simplon Orient Express stops in Paris and Verona before arriving in the picturesque city of canals, cobblestones, and bridges that is Venice. Depending on your time and budget, you can opt to do the entire journey or just part of it, beginning and ending at any of the four stops along the way.

2. The Jacobite – Harry Potter

In the film adaptations of JK Rowling’s worldwide phenomenon fantasy series, Scotland’s Jacobite Steam Train was used as the Hogwarts Express, the train which takes Harry and his schoolmates from King’s Cross Station’s Platform 9 ¾ to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry each term.

In reality, The Jacobite runs through the Scottish Highlands from the largest highland town, Fort William, to the smaller port town of Mallaig, passing some stunning scenery along the way. Perhaps the most iconic section of the ride is crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct, which was featured prominently in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron follow the train in a flying car. The Jacobite has two daily departures from April/May to September/October. Each schedule allows you 1.5-2 hours in Mallaig to explore the town and/or have lunch or afternoon tea before returning to Fort William.

The Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct

3. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – The Darjeeling Limited

This one is a bit of a cheat. There is no actual train called “The Darjeeling Limited”. Much of the 2007 Wes Anderson movie of the same name was shot around Jodhpur and Udaipur, India. However, the film is set in the mountainous region of Darjeeling where there is a scenic tourist ride called The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that has the out-of-time, quirky feel of the movie. This little steam train actually has UNESCO World Heritage status and provides multiple riding options. Try a “jungle safari” on demand or take one of several daily round-trip “joy rides” from Darjeeling to Ghum.

The famous Batasia Loop section of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

4. The Trans-Siberian Railway – Doctor Zhivago & Transsiberian

Another of the most iconic trains in the world, the Trans-Siberian has made appearances in several films. In the classic romantic drama, Doctor Zhivago, Yuri and his family travel by train across barren, frozen Russia from Moscow to the Ural Mountains. The Trans-Siberian’s route covers this journey and the entire country of Russia, from St. Petersburg or Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east. Ride it in winter for a more authentic Zhivago experience ?

The snow-covered tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway

Alternatively, you can also ride it to the East Asian cities of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia or Beijing, China. A more modern movie that covers the entire Trans-Siberian route is Transsiberian, a mystery involving an American couple traveling by train from Beijing to Moscow.

5. Budapest to Vienna – Before Sunrise

The gorgeous 1995 Richard Linklater movie Before Sunrise is basically one long epic conversation taking place between young travelers Jesse and Celine, who meet on the train from Budapest, Hungary to Vienna Austria and form an intense connection. The film spawned two sequels, 2004’s Before Sunset and 2013’s Before Midnight, though the original is the only one with a good portion set on a train. You can echo this icon film train journey multiple times a day on Railjet. Perhaps follow it up, as the film’s young lovers do, with a stroll around Vienna.

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  • Train Travel: The Romance & the Reality
  • 5 Lesser-Known Wacky Festivals Around the World

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