There’s nothing as rewarding as an adventure with your best friend by your side, and no better way to see the varied landscapes of the world than through the windows of a gently coasting locomotive. These world-class, pet-friendly train rides will have you and Fido crossing vast Nordic landscapes, riding alongside expansive lochs in Scotland, following in the footsteps of wizards and more!
The Jacobite, Scotland Fort William, United Kingdom
Fort William to Mallaig may not ring any bells (or whistles), but the Hogwarts Express probably will. The 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct that The Jacobite passes over has been immortalized in the “Harry Potter” movies and signifies the start of Harry and his friends' adventures. Although you’ll recognize some of the surroundings from the films, there are no chocolate frogs on the snack trolley and the train sadly doesn’t end up at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The Jacobite is a classic steam locomotive that traverses rural surroundings along the 84-mile round trip. You and Fido will love the journey, which pauses on the viaduct to let you admire the sweeping views from either side before continuing on to the highest mountain and deepest freshwater loch in Britain. There are two possible stops along the way. The first is at Glenfinnan Station for a much-needed break for Fido and a quick look around the Glenfinnan Station Museum. The next, by request to the guard, is at Arisaig, a village known for its rocky coastal views, blue seas and white-sand beaches. There's a chance for a nice long walk with your dog at the end of the line in Mallaig, a thriving fishing port with a ferry terminal. The 90-minute lunchtime stopover gives you plenty of time to enjoy a meal at one of the many dog-friendly eateries in town, like the Chlachain Inn, just two minutes from the station.
If you’re extending your stay in the area and waving goodbye to the Jacobite, you can either book a pet-friendly room at the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig or jump on a pet-friendly ferry with Caledonian MacBrayne Hebridean & Clyde Ferries to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. There, you can explore medieval castles and epic landscapes that would make an ideal setting for a quick game of Quidditch.
Delaware and Ulster Railroad, NY Arkville, NY
The Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York attract visitors for a host of reasons. With some of the best fly fishing spots in the country, stellar hiking trails with an abundance of wildlife, and the skiing slopes of Hunter and Belleayre Mountains, it’s a year-round tourist destination. And then there’s the Delaware and Ulster Railroad, a historic gem that keeps people coming back for an unforgettable train ride. Dogs (and cats, although they rarely make the effort) are invited to join their owners on this slow-paced tour of the Catskills. Fido will receive his very own ticket before boarding the train, which he can get punched and keep for his scrapbook.
The trip lasts two hours and spans 24 miles of relatively flat land between Arkville and Roxbury, two small historic towns. Riders pass pastoral farms and quaint hamlets, travel through tunnels of trees that display an array of vivid colors during the fall months, and hug the east branch of the Delaware River. Beyond these dramatic backdrops, the silhouette of the Catskill Mountains in the distance makes for a stunning photo op for you and Fido. Start your trip off with a few nights at this Ski House with Amazing Views of the Catskills.
The Bergen Line, Norway Oslo, Norway
Since its inception in 1909, The Bergen Line has transported people across 310 miles of vast Nordic country, from Norway’s capital of Oslo to its second city, Bergen. There’s really no journey like it anywhere else on Earth. Within minutes of leaving the capital, the train is engulfed by sublime countryside. Hilltop farms gradually dissipate as you approach Lake Krøderen, a picturesque body of water. The heavily forested area surrounding Hallingdalselva River follows, like a scene stripped straight from “Star Wars.” In fact, Hardangerjøkulen Glacier near Finse, the highest station in Norway and one of the stops on the Bergen Line, is where George Lucas filmed scenes of the planet Hoth for “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Fido might notice other dogs through the window of the train who aren’t enjoying yet another vacation. These hard-working Huskies can often be spotted thundering through the snow around Taugevann. The train weaves alongside clear rivers and fjords before finally stopping nearly seven hours after departure at the historic Bergen Train Station. The colorful and pet-friendly Marken Gjestehus is a short walk away.
The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, OR Garibaldi, OR
All aboard The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, a steam train adventure on the West Coast. Dogs are welcome to join in the fun on this historic, repurposed train that winds along tree-lined and coastal tracks, taking in views across Miami Cove and Tillamook Bay. Passengers bringing their canine companions along for the ride are asked to sit in the open-top section of the train, which gives pups more room to stretch their legs. It’ll be paradise for Fido, like sticking his head out of the car window, except his whole body can enjoy the cooling breeze. The train sets off from the station in Garibaldi, a small and charming fishing village. Before you board, try the locally caught crab, cod and octopus at pet-friendly restaurants like the Garibaldi Portside Bistro, a pleasant eatery with coastal views to accompany your food.
The 90-minute trip leads up the coast and stops at the town of Wheeler, where you and your best friend can explore a cluster of antique stores, like Wheeler Station Antiques. From here, your journey takes you to Rockaway Beach, where the mountains meet the sea. Reserve a room at the Surfside Oceanfront Resort for a beachside vacation far from the hustle and bustle of any major city.
The Settle - Carlisle Railway, UK Settle, United Kingdom
There’s no better way to experience Britain than on a train ambling through vast swaths of green countryside. If this sounds like Fido’s cup of tea, book passage on the incomparable Settle - Carlisle Railway. The train winds through the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian Fells, providing a glorious backdrop of windswept moors, wide valleys and rolling hills. Before setting off, grab a drink at The Golden Lion. This converted 17th-century coaching inn is now a pet-friendly pub where dogs are greeted with a water bowl.
Once aboard the train, gaze wide-eyed at the views from either side of Ribblehead Viaduct as you ride over it. The quarter-mile-long overpass is more than 100 feet tall and is made up of 24 arches. There are eight stops between Settle and Carlisle, each a historic railway station with its own tale to tell. If Carlisle, the train’s final destination, is also your last stop, the pet-friendly Hallmark Hotel Carlisle is an easy stroll from the station.
Skunk Train, CA Fort Bragg, CA
The Skunk Train stinks, right Fido? Not quite the flattering introduction that the other trains have received, but that’s because the Skunk Train actually does stink … or at least it once did. When motorcars were introduced on the Skunk Line in 1925, the heating units were powered by crude oil and the engines by gasoline. The fumes poured in through the open windows of the carriages, reminding passengers of the spray of a skunk. Thankfully, nothing smells amiss about this trip anymore. These days, the train transports tourists eager to get a glimpse of ancient redwoods, the pretty estuary the train departs from, and luscious meadows. There are two different routes you can enjoy on the Skunk Train. The Pudding Creek Express is a 7-mile journey that starts at Fort Bragg and passes through Noyo River Canyon, the epicenter of the area’s redwood population, before ending at the old logging town of Glen Blair. Wolf Tree Turn is the second route, an 8.5-mile trip that departs Willits in the heart of Mendocino County and embarks on a two-hour journey through a tunnel and into Noyo River Canyon.
A stop at Crowley allows your pooch to stretch his legs and have a pee break. And just two minutes from the train station in Fort Bragg, you can rest after your fun-filled day at The Beach House Inn. Pets receive a welcome bag and have access to a private dog park at a sister property half a mile away.
The Caledonian Sleeper Train, UK London, United Kingdom
The Caledonian Sleeper Train is a pet-friendly fleet of trains that runs from London to some of Scotland’s quintessential destinations. The journeys all take place at night, which might have you wondering how it can be so scenic when it’s dark out. When you witness the sunrise over Scotland’s archetypal lochs, valleys and mountains, you’ll understand how these trains made it onto our list. Sleeper trains have trudged along the tracks from London to Scotland since the 1850s, and the Caledonian Sleeper carries on the tradition in modern, upgraded style. Snuggle into your cozy cabin with Fido and help him adjust his eye mask as you settle in for the night. When the sun rises, you’ll open your eyes to another country and the start of a brand new adventure.
There are many routes to choose from, but one of the most popular will take you to Edinburgh, where you can walk the cobbled streets and explore the Scottish capital’s world-famous castles, dungeons and monuments. One day isn’t enough to explore this magical city, so book a stay at the ibis Styles Edinburgh Centre St Andrew Square. The hotel is close to numerous pet-friendly activities including Greyfriars Bobby and The Potter Trail.
Conway Scenic Railroad, NH North Conway, NH
Our next stop is the Conway Scenic Railroad, located where the White Mountain Range passes over the border between New Hampshire and Maine. There are two different journeys to choose from, both departing from the historic North Conway Train Station, which was built in 1874. The Valley Train is the perfect excursion for families with dogs to enjoy on a summer’s day. Taking you on a picturesque route through a valley, the train crosses over the occasional babbling stream and river, with the beautiful backdrop of the mountains in the distance. You can either travel half of the route to Conway, which is about 11 miles and takes just under an hour, or go the whole 21 miles to Bartlett on a trip that lasts for almost two hours.
The second route is the Notch Train. Spanning 60 miles and taking around five hours to complete the round trip, the Notch is for people and dogs who want to discover an epic stretch of country from Portland through the White Mountains to Vermont. Your journey takes you over Crawford Notch’s unbelievably sheer bluffs, steep ravines, choppy streams and dramatic mountain vistas. You’ll then cross Frankenstein Trestle, a huge wooden bridge built in 1875. The trestle rises to an impressive 1,623 feet above the ground, an astonishing achievement when you consider it was built more than 140 years ago. Fido won’t have to hold it in for the whole ride, as there’s a layover at Crawford Station. Bring a picnic lunch for you and your pooch, or grab a bite from the snack bar (alas, they don’t offer dog treats). Located near the train station in North Conway, the pet-friendly Spruce Moose Lodge and Cottages offers a pleasant night’s stay after your trip.