Home Must See 10 of the world’s best public transport rides: readers travel tips

10 of the world’s best public transport rides: readers travel tips


Theres no need for expensive tours when you can take a cable car to a cloud forest, a train through a gorge or a $10 bus to fantastic vineyards

Winning tip: Ferry to Mull and Iona, Highlands and Islands

Idyllic Iona is reached by a 10-minute, 3.50 return, ferry from Mull. It is the culmination of a pilgrimage starting at Oban on the mainland with the 45-minute ferry to Craignure and then bus, from which you can enjoy the isolated beauty of the road across Mull to reach Fionnphort. You embark on your short voyage to Iona with seals and dolphins playing in the wake of your ferry, impressive sea bird displays and the teal- to indigo-shaded waters. You will be rewarded with spiritual refreshment at sixth-century-founded Iona Abbey, the freshest fish in the St Columba Hotel and beautiful beaches near the Iona Hostel.


Readers’ tips competition: send a tip for a chance to win a 200 voucher

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print, and the best entry each week (as chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet) wins a 200 voucher from hotels.com. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Hovercraft to the Isle of Wight

Photograph: Colin Burdett/Alamy

The hovercraft trip between Southsea (Portsmouth) and Ryde may well be the worlds only passenger hovercraft service, and its one of the most exciting rides you can take. That moment when the craft rises ponderously from its haunches, then slides gloriously sideways into the sea is one of the most exciting bits of any journey I ever go on. Theres the feeling of flying in fact, the reality of flying without any of that tedious business of getting to an airport and climbing into an aircraft. Those hovercraft go fast a shame its over in 10 minutes, but you get to see Victorian forts in the Solent and other interesting marine craft that traverse the channel. Yes, its noisy, but my, its fun.
From about 24 return,

Free tram, Melbourne, Australia

Photograph: Getty Images

There could not be a more charming way of exploring Melbourne than the City Circle tram, a quaint Burgundy and Gold W6 class tram, with glossy wooden bench seats and panoramic views. It trundles around a circular loop of the city centre, with the rolling commentary sharing anecdotes about the history, buildings and parks. You can hop on and off all day between Melbournes vibrant centre, Flinders Street and the pretty waterfront. It is the saviour of travel-worn feet, a wonderful novelty and, best of all, its free.
Anna Kennett

Medelln cable car, Colombia

Photograph: Getty Images

For under $1, you can glide smoothly out of the citys centre to barrios on its lush surrounding hills and even further into the cloud forest on cable cars, part of Medellns metro network. This transport is not only cheap and convenient for locals but is a wonderful way to take in all of the different flavours of this fabulous city. Line L takes visitors to the Arv Park nature reserve, with its miles of trails and bountiful wildlife. A fifth line (Line M) is due to open this summer as the network expands.

Alilaguna water bus, Venice

Photograph: Getty Images

If you reach Venice by air, buy your tickets for the Alilaguna water bus from Marco Polo airport and follow the well-signposted route to the jetty. We found the linea rossa boats frequent (they run twice an hour in summer) and clean, and the staff were helpful. A cheap and unhurried trip across the lagoon via the Lido and Murano, with a stop near Piazza San Marco. Incredibly scenic.
Returns 25 between airport and Lido, alilaguna.it

Wine-tasting by bus, Argentina

Quilmes fort. Photograph: Alamy

Doing a wine-tasting trip is brilliant if you use the bus. The Mendoza-bound 339 from Salta to Cafayate follows a route through steep rocky valleys, dusty, cacti-covered hills and flashes of surprisingly lush green vegetation to deliver you 190km south to some of the countrys best vineyards in beautiful Cafayate, well known for its Torronts grapes. Youre almost certain to be the only tourist on the 339, and if you stay onboard for another hour youll arrive at the ruined fortress of Quilmes atop a hill that commands a majestic view of Tucumn province.
Tickets from around US$10. The 339 is operated by Flechabus.com.ar but other bus companies operate between Salta and Cafayate, including transporteaconquija.com.ar

Sleeper from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Photograph: Ian Atkinson/Alamy

We booked the SE2 Reunification Express overnight train from Ho Chi Minh in the far south up the east coast to Da Nang, taking about 18 hours. What a great experience. Soft(ish) sleeper, lots of stops, the opportunity to talk with locals on and off the train, and fascinating sights along the way. Dinner of two boiled eggs, accompanied by rice wrapped in a banana leaf, was tasty and filling. Its not fast or luxurious, but beats flying hands down.
Sleeper from about $50 one way,
Mike Kilbane

Derry to Coleraine train line, Northern Ireland

Photograph: Alexander Cimbal/Alamy

Trains in Ireland are as rare as hens teeth in this day and age but those that do exist boast some of the most spectacular and scenic views anywhere. Particularly the 45-minute Derry to Coleraine journey which Michael Palin described as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world. Hugging the unspoilt coast of the north-west of Ireland, this journeys highlights include Downhill Strand (where Stannis Baratheon oversaw the burning of the statues of the Old Gods for you Game of Thrones fans) and Mussenden Temple perched on the clifftop above the railway.
10 one way, translink.co.uk

Ferry journey, Alaska and the Aleutians

Photograph: Danita Delimont/Alamy

Instead of expensive and environmentally harmful cruises, take the Alaskan State Ferry between Bellingham, Washington State (just across the border from Vancouver), and Juneau, the Alaskan capital. It runs at the least weekly and takes about 60 hours. The accommodation may not be as smart as a private cruise but the scenery is the same and your fellow passengers are much more interesting. You can continue your journey along the Aleutians to the remote port of Dutch Harbor on Unalaska island perhaps the most remote place you can ever get to by public transport in North America. Ive been on the ferries twice both memorable journeys subsidised by the Alaskan taxpayer.
Adult from $418 (Bellingham to Juneau),
Simon Fowler

Historic railway near Patras, Greece

Photograph: Charalambos Andronos/Getty Images

Train journeys dont get much more dramatic and technologically interesting than the Odontotos rack railway between Diakopto and Kalavrita in Greece, south of Patras. The journey covers 22km and takes 68 minutes as the train winds its way through the Vouraikos gorge, a geologic area recognised by Unesco. To allow for the ascent of 750 metres, a cog or rack system kicks into effect at certain points on the route. Youll move through towering cliffs, with rushing waterfalls below and a canopy of plane trees above. The destination, Kalavrita, was the scene of an infamous wartime massacre, marked by a moving museum and memorial site.
Return ticket 19, odontotos.com
Ian Ferguson

Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips

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