Lonely Planet Writer

Take a steam train through the most remarkable spots in Ireland and the UK

Later this year you’ll have the chance to travel by steam train through some of the most spectacular scenic routes in Ireland and Scotland, surrendering yourself to the natural unfolding of time as your train gently chugs along through inviting terrain.

Travel by heritage steam train through some of the most scenic routes in Ireland and the UK. Image by Stephen Comiskey

In September, you can enjoy a steam train tour through Ireland’s most popular scenic attractions including Killarney, in Ireland’s Lake District, and Galway Bay. The ‘Emerald Isle Craic Express’ will take place on board traditional-style carriages that are hauled by the heritage No. 4 Tank Engine or No. 85 Merlin, a steam locomotive owned by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) which dates back to 1932.

The departure point is Dublin and the tour takes a leisurely six days so passengers have plenty of time to watch tranquil scenes unfold from the comfort of the train’s traditional-style Craven Coaches (or Pullman carriage if they for the pricier option) and from the on-board bar where they can enjoy Guinness on tap.

Pullman Dining in one of the Craven Coaches. Image by Stephen Comiskey

Operated by Steam Dreams, the tour comes with optional excursions to other points of interest such as Cork City, the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. It’s due to take place between 6 and 11 September, with guests staying overnight in carefully selected hotels along the way. Prices start from €1360pp (£1195/US$1548).

Steam Dreams’ Juliet Sorley told Lonely Planet Travel News that they’re delighted to operate the tours in Ireland once again after a brief hiatus. “Tours to Ireland are extremely popular and offer passengers the perfect combination of picturesque scenery, interesting excursions, fabulous steam trains and high quality hotels not to mention a very warm welcome from locals,” she said. “Our guests will have a very relaxing time while taking in all the beauty Ireland has to offer and some fabulous experiences.”

Slow travel at its best with the Flying Scotsman. Image by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Britain’s most famous train, the Flying Scotsman, is taking an extended tour through Scotland in May 2019 after its £4.2m refurbishment three years ago. Owned by the National Railway Museum in York, the iconic A3 class locomotive (built in 1923) will chug along the original London to Edinburgh routing over nine days with Steam Dreams’ ‘Highlands & Islands Explorer ‘ tour. The trip includes two options, a Highlands or Islands tour and both include a tour in Inverness and a stay in Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis.

The trip takes place between 9 and 17 May with additional excursions offered. Prices start from £1995pp (€2279/US$2585)) and there are a range of different class options available.

For more information, see here.

If you’re looking for more slow travel inspiration, see Lonely Planet’s guide to the world’s most amazing train journeys.