Trains are the best way to see the European countryside as you bounce between the continent’s historic metropolises—but we’re not talking about Eurorail. Luxury trains are the real way to travel, especially when those trips come supplied with plenty of regional libations and celebratory tipples. Here, five seriously luxe train trips that will let you drink your way around Europe.
The Royal Scotsman’s Classic Whisky Journey has much to offer devout scotch enthusiasts, since the entire tour of the Highlands and Speyside is curated by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. On this seven-night, round-trip voyage departing from Edinburgh, a whisky ambassador leads your group through three distillery tours—Glen Ord, Glenlivet and Tullibardine—as well as private tastings of single casks and other geeky drams in the train’s observation car, as you look out on breathtaking Scottish lochs and mountainsides. You’ll even disembark the train as a fledgling member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
First class on other trains may make you feel like royalty, but The Presidential was created for actual royalty. Portuguese King D. Luis I commissioned the train in 1890 to transport visiting dignitaries, royalty and popes, and the locomotive did its job well until it was retired in 1970. In 2016, the Portugal’s National Railway Museum returned the train to the rails for a couple dozen trips each year through Portuguese wine country. Along with top shelf local pours, diners are treated to multi-course gourmet meals from Michelin Star chefs and a stop over at Quinta do Vesuvio, a private winery, for vintage ports and cigars.
We can’t promise the gins aboard theSteam-n-Gin Train will automatically taste any richer in the context of the rich English countryside in North York Moors National Park. But we can promise that you’ll learn how to enjoy the juniper spirit to the fullest with the help of a ride-along gin expert. The round-trip experience from Pickering will not only introduce you to the northern countryside of England, but also to local gins like Mason’s Gin in Bedale, Spirit of Harrogate in Slingsby and Whittaker’s Gin in Nidderdale. Mixed gin drinks, some light bites and gin-drinking Brits for company fill out a truly British drinking experience.
You’ll get plenty of Champagne on the Golden Eagle’s Champagne Express, along with plenty of still wine sure to delight your taste buds. Known as the luxury version of the Trans-Siberian Express, the high-end train operator has recently created a special tour with stops in many wine-producing regions from Paris to Venice. Beginning with tours and tastings at the homes of Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon—including a 4-course Champagne-fueled dinner on the Moët estate—the tour continues down the Route du Champagnes, before visiting a French vineyard in Riquewihr, a Swiss vineyard in Chiasso, and Italian vineyards near Florence and Verona. In between stops, you can sip away your ride in the Bar Lounge Car, where a resident pianist serenades guests and the bar stays open until the last guest leaves.
The old school Orient Express not only transported passengers from west to east but brought romance and luxury wherever it went. This modern incarnation may not quite match the original in distance—the routes bounce between London, Paris, Venice and Verona—but it could certainly go toe to toe with the 19th century train in terms of glitzy accommodations and dining. If the stylish art deco decor doesn’t make you feel like you are travelling back in time, a few glasses of vintage Champagne from Lalique glassware between bites of haute cuisine will make you fall right into that retro glamorous life.