The Best Holiday Train Experiences This Winter - Family Traveller (USA)
One way to capture the magic of Christmas is to take a winter wonderland holiday train ride. These train routes bring the magic to life, and some even put their own spin on the Polar Express experience. Gather the family, don your Christmas pajamas, and settle in for a long winter's night.

The Santa Claus Express on Eurail

The Santa Claus Express is named for the jolly man whose seasonal commute mirrors the railways own route. The double-decker train travels in the night from Helsinki to Lapland, Finland's northern most region known for it's year-round winter climate. The train travels through Finland's snow-lined peaks, stopping in Rovaniemi and Kemijarvi. Situated on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is the official residence of Santa Claus, and home to Santa's personal post office, where millions of letters arrive each year to be checked, twice. Visitors can share their Christmas lists with Santa and enjoy the abundance of Christmas trees and native reindeer population, a true winter wonderland! A double sleeper car runs for 43 Euros or roughly $50 USD.

The Polar Express With The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

The Polar Express with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad takes families on a memorable journey. The 1¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot in North Carolina for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the North Pole to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS™, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ begins November 8, 2019, and operates through December 31, 2019.

The Polar Express Train Ride on Brightline, Ft. Lauderdale

Brightline is a magical way to get around South Florida this holiday season. Beginning in early December, all Brightline trains and stations will be in full holiday regalia. The hospitality-focused express, intercity passenger rail service will also deliver one of the season’s most anticipated events in the tri-county area, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Originating and culminating in Brightline’s Fort Lauderdale station, this one-of-a-kind experience will bring to life the heartwarming story by famed children’s author, Chris Van Allsburg, during a magical, one-hour trip aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ set to the performances and sounds of the Warner Bros. Pictures feature film.

The Polar Express Train Ride on Amtrak, Chicago

Powered by Amtrak, this magical experience opens November 30th and runs through January 1st. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip through the tunnels, rail yards, and neighborhoods along the Chicago River. Once on board, your car host will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa and his helpers board the train to greet passengers and each guest is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell. During the trip, characters on each car lead passengers in caroling and onboard entertainment – just like in the film! Each guest will take home a keepsake sleigh bell in addition to the wonderful memories made on this magical trip.

The Chocolate Train on Eurail

The holidays are all about indulging and splurging, making it the perfect time to sample Switzerland's chocolate and cheese. The "Chocolate Train" runs from Montreux to Luzern, allowing families to visit a cheese factory in the quaint village of Gruyère and the process of making chocolate in Broc. Reservations must be made online and are offered at 53 Euros or roughly $60 USD.

The Scandinavia Pass on Eurail

For a longer trip, travelers are encouraged to buy a "Scandinavia Pass," letting them explore all of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland by train. Highlight's include Gothenburg (Sweden), known for its large-scale street murals and underground Jazz scene, and Oslo (Norway) offering plenty of opportunities to ski, sled, and ice-skate. Youth passes (ages 12 - 27) for 3 day trips start at 169 Euros or roughly $191 USD, while adult passes are 206 Euros or $233 USD.

North Pole Limited, Scranton, Pennsylvania

Hop on board on the North Pole Limited and ride behind historic steam locomotive Baldwin No. 26 on an hour-long holiday excursion. En route, listen to popular Christmas songs aboard the festive passenger cars adorned with holiday decorations. Santa will visit each family to collect everyone’s Christmas wish lists and children and adults alike are encouraged to wear pajamas and settle in for a relaxing ride with family and friends.

The North Pole Limited has train rides operating on December 8, 14 and 15, 2019.