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 Orient Express
Photograph: Belmond Orient Express

The Orient Express is launching three epic new routes in Europe

Travellers will now be able to board the train in Rome, Florence, Geneva, Brussels and Amsterdam

Huw Oliver
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Huw Oliver
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We sure could with a splashy trip to look forward to right now – and a ride on Europe’s legendarily opulent Orient Express may be just the thing.

Traditionally, the route runs all the way from London to Istanbul. But the train officially known as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers several shorter routes, and has in fact just announced three more that are set to start later this year. The changes mean travellers will now be able to board the train in five more essential cities: Rome, Florence, Geneva, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Three new routes are being added so that the train takes in ever-greater swathes of Europe’s most beautiful scenery. The first will connect Amsterdam and Venice, with stops in Brussels and Paris, while the second will run from Rome to Paris via Florence, with an option for travellers to stay overnight in Tuscany. The third will run from Geneva to Venice, stopping in Verona and passing through the famous Brenner Pass in the Alps.

The train itself (which was made famous by Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’) has also had an upgrade, with three grand new suites named after European cities on the London-Istanbul route. The Prague suite will be done out in gold, purples and Cubist-influenced mosaics; the Vienna with golds, greens and plenty of fin de siècle ornamentation; and the Budapest will weave in Gothic and Ottoman touches, inspired by the two sides of the Hungarian capital.

So what are you waiting for? Oh, yeah: that. With Europe now battling a third major wave of infections, it may be a little too early to plan a trip on the Orient Express right now.

Nonetheless, Belmond, which runs the service, is still taking bookings from May to November (and promises flexible booking right up until the week of departure). The price tag – in the multiple thousands for each trip – isn’t exactly accessible. But if you’ve been stashing away cash for a big post-lockdown trip, what better way to spend it?

Did you see you can now travel through Mexico on an all-you-can-drink tequila train? Take a look around.

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