5 Scenic (and Cozy) Train Trips to Book This Winter

From short hops on sightseeing trains to multi-day excursions aboard sleeper cars.

Train journeys are one of the most nostalgic ways to travel, and they become even more romantic in the winter months. Scenic routes become even more majestic when it’s cold outside, transforming into winter wonderlands decked out in white. There’s nothing as comforting as watching flakes of snow fall while cuddled up inside your own luxe sleeper cabin as the train sweeps past frozen rivers, frosty mountains, and picturesque villages.

Whether you’re looking for an extended multi-day trip on an overnight train complete with plush dining and bar cars or a simple sightseeing journey of a few hours, there’s a winter train ride for your taste and your budget.

These train journeys offer chances to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, spot wildlife from your seat, and even potentially glimpse the Northern Lights. Here are five scenic train rides to book this winter for cozy journeys through Europe, Canada, and Japan.

ANDREA_PETO/Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

New Years on the Golden Eagle Danube Express

This is the ultimate winter train itinerary. Imagine whizzing by the snow-dusted roofs of charming towns and Baroque palaces along one of Europe’s most scenic rivers, snuggled into your private sleeper car with a warm cup of tea. That’s the experience on board the Golden Eagle’s Danube Express, whose “New Year in Vienna” journey weaves through iconic cities, known for transforming into winter wonderlands. During the nine-day itinerary, expect to see the Royal Palace in Budapest, Christmas markets in Vienna, and the postcard-perfect Czech town of Cesky Krumlov, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back on the train, relax in the glamorous Bar Lounge Car with a glass of Champagne before heading to the Restaurant Car for a dinner with white-glove service.

February 9-10, 2019 - A band of subtly coloured aurora over the snowy trees of the northern boreal forest in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Cassiopeia is at left. This is looking north.Alan Dyer/Getty Images

Via Rail Canada: Winnipeg to Churchill

For a mesmerizing journey through pristine wintry nature, consider booking a ride on Via Rail Canada’s route from Winnipeg to Churchill. Along the thousand-mile trip, you’ll discover why this region is called “The Great White North.” Expect to see snow-laden evergreen trees, frozen rivers, and even the Northern Lights, all rushing past your window. Once you reach Churchill, treat yourself to a polar bear safari—this town has the largest concentration in the world. Keep in mind that Via Rail Canada isn’t a luxury train, but it does offer sleeper cars if you want to travel the entire two-day, two-night journey.

Courtesy Switzerland’s Jungfrau Railway

Switzerland’s Jungfrau Railway

If a day trip is more your speed, try hopping on the Jungfrau Railway cogwheel train, which carves its way through the Swiss Alps up to the highest rail station in all of Europe. You’ll cross teetering bridges and tunnel through mountains, catching panoramic vistas of icy alpine peaks, including the Eiger and Mönch peaks, as well as the Aletsch Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Halfway through the breezy 35-minute trip, the train stops at Eismeer Station for five minutes to give passengers a chance to drink in the views before arriving at Jungfrau Station, perched more than 11,000 feet above ground. Stepping off the train at this altitude, you’ll be truly immersed in a pristine winter atmosphere. Visit the area’s Ice Palace and Sphinx Observatory before hopping back on the train to reverse your trip down the mountains.

Trees in the snow and Myoko mountain range, Niigata PrefectureGetty

The Setsugekka on Japan’s Echigo-Tokimeki Railway

The name of this train, Setsugekka, is Japanese for “snow,” “moon,” and “flower,” and is meant to highlight the fact that stunning views are available on its routes year-round. In the winter months, this compact sightseeing train packs a punch when it comes to a quintessential cozy ride in luxury. The two-car line rambles through some of the most beautiful territory of Niigata Prefecture, between Joetsu-Myoko Station and Itoigawa Station. Through the large observation windows that curve up to the ceiling, you’ll catch views of the Sea of Japan, hills of evergreen trees tinged with snow, and towering mountain ranges frosted in white, including Mount Myoko, one of the most famous peaks in Japan. The train prides itself on offering a luxurious resort-like experience on board—during your three-hour journey, you’ll be offered several courses of gourmet Japanese food served bento-box style in the dining car and local sake from the Sakura Lounge, decorated to evoke cherry blossoms and birch trees.

Courtesy Belmond British Pullman

Belmond British Pullman

For an opulent day trip, consider a jaunt aboard Belmond’s British Pullman. Most of this luxury line’s journeys are round-trip out of London’s Victoria Station, so travel on the British Pullman is truly all about the onboard experience—and it doesn’t disappoint. With restored train cars from the 1920s feature intricate marquetry, as well as vintage light fixtures and seat upholstery, you’ll feel transported to another era. The winter tableaux of the English countryside blanketed in white whooshing past your window only enhances the atmosphere. Journeys in December 2023 and February 2024 range from festive holiday lunches and Champagne afternoon teas to murder mystery experiences, where the drama unfolds as the guests wine and dine. (The train doesn’t operate in January.)