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When Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days was first published in 1872, travel looked very different, with steamships and trains as the most common methods of transportation. In fact, it was around this time that the railway transformed travel, allowing it to become more standardized, with scheduled times for departures and arrivals.
It was this notion of regulated travel that prompted the book’s protagonist, Phileas Fogg, to wager £20,000 that he could travel around the world in 80 days. Alongside his valet, Fogg circumnavigated the globe and, by book’s end (spoiler alert), won the wager.
Nearly 150 years after its publication, the book and its featured destinations remain popular, with several film and television adaptations created in the ensuing century and a half. To see these classic destinations for yourself, it’s not difficult to recreate Fogg’s original route around the world, while staying at historic accommodations along the way. Here’s how to make the epic journey.
London to Brindisi, Italy by Train
The first leg of the journey requires land travel across Europe, from London to Brindisi, a historic port city in Italy. Phileas Fogg accomplished this by taking the Orient Express, a long-distance passenger train with operations dating back to 1883. Today, travelers can cross Europe in a similar way, using a series of connecting railways, such as the Thameslink from London to Paris and the Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) from Paris to Milan and then to Brindisi as a Eurail pass-holder.
After arriving in Brindisi, you can climb the city's famous steps to see the Roman columns, stroll through the quaint Fisherman’s Village, or watch the sunset at il Castello Alfonsino di Brindisi, also known as the “Castle of the Sea.” Situated in the heart of the city, Grande Albergo Internazionale is a historic hotel that retains the elegance of the 19th century, while offering modern-day amenities.
Brindisi, Italy to Suez, Egypt by Steamer
After departing Brindisi, Fogg climbed aboard a steamer and crossed the Mediterranean Sea towards Suez, Egypt — home of the famous Suez Canal. While there are no ferries that make this exact journey today, travelers can fly from Puglia to Cairo and drive two hours to Suez.
In Suez, you can see the Suez Canal House (day-long canal tours are available from Cairo), visit the Ismailia Museum, which contains an impressive collection of Greco-Roman artifacts, and dine on fresh seafood at the Al Khalifa Fish Centre. In Cairo, book a room at the Marriott Mena House — the same historic hotel where Empress Eugenie resided for the Suez Canal inauguration in 1869.
Suez, Egypt to Mumbai, India by Steamer
On the journey’s next leg, Fogg departed Egypt to cross the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, arriving in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) after 13 days at sea. Today, travelers can recreate such a journey aboard Silversea Cruises, which departs Awaba (Petra) and makes six stops over 16 days before arriving in India.
In bustling Mumbai, take in the city’s sights, smells, and sounds by visiting Crawford Market or tour the city via rickshaw. End the day with an Indian feast at Peshawri, one of the city’s best restaurants, and then watch the sunset over the water at the Gateway of India. For accommodations, book a room at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, a palatial hotel that opened in 1903 to much fanfare.
Mumbai, India to Kolkata, India by Train
Fogg left Mumbai by boarding a three-day train to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) but ended up being waylaid when he discovered the train tracks ended in Kholby. To complete the journey, Fogg rode an elephant for 50 miles to catch another train. Although it would be impossible to find an elephant to ride across India, there are trains that currently travel from Mumbai to Kolkata — a journey that takes more than a day.
In Kolkata, visitors can snap photos of Victoria Memorial Hall, the most photographed building in the city, and visit Dakshineswar Kali Temple, a beautiful Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. Another must-see is Mother House, where Mother Teresa was laid to rest and is still honored for her selfless service to the people of Kolkata. A former hotspot during British rule, the Oberoi Grand Kolkata is a historic hotel that dates back 125 years, with décor that combines Victorian elegance with Indian culture.
Kolkata, India to Hong Kong by Steamer
After departing India, Fogg climbed aboard a steamer towards Hong Kong — departing the Bay of Bengal and voyaging through the Malaccan Straits and across the South China Sea. There are currently no cruise ships that make this journey today, but there is a cruise line that travels from Mumbai to Hong Kong, stopping in seven countries and 14 ports over the course of 30 days. To make things simpler, adventurous travelers can also fly to reduce travel time to four hours.
Once you reach Hong Kong, the city’s most famous landmark is Tian Tan Buddha, also known as “Big Buddha,” located at Po Lin Monastery. To forgo the steep climb to the Buddha, Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car that carries passengers to Ngong Ping Village, allowing easy access to the monastery, Big Buddha, and Tai O Fishing Village. For overnight stays, the Pottinger is a boutique hotel that retains the charm of Old Hong Kong and is located near Old Town Central, one of the city’s most historic districts.
Hong Kong to Yokohama, Japan by Steamer
From Hong Kong, Fogg caught another boat to Yokohama, Japan — a six-day journey across the East China Sea. Travelers can recreate the same voyage by booking a six-day cruise from Hong Kong to Yokohama with Silversea Cruises. Historically, Yokohama, a city south of Tokyo, was the first Japanese port to welcome outsiders, and it remains a popular stop for cruise ships today.
In Yokohama, there’s plenty to do, such as visiting Sankei-en, a traditional Japanese garden that contains historic buildings dating to the 1400s. There’s also Sōji-ji, a tranquil Buddhist temple offering monthly meditations in English. And the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is a popular stop for noodle lovers to learn about (and eat) their favorite dish. The Hotel New Grand is the city’s preeminent historic hotel, dating back to 1927, and meticulously preserved to reflect its cultural roots.
Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco by Steamer
After departing Japan, Fogg embarked on a lengthy, 22-day steamer voyage across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco. To travel this leg of the trip, travelers can book a 13-night cruise from Yokohama to Vancouver, British Colombia. From there, it’s an easy jaunt down to San Francisco via plane, train, or automobile.
Situated on the Califonia coast, San Francisco offers ample activities to pass the time. Requisite sights are Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. Riding one of the city’s historic cable cars will help you see the city through Fogg’s eyes (the transportation system was built a year after the novel’s publication) while staying at the elegant Hotel Whitcomb will transport you to the grandeur of the early 20th century.
San Francisco to New York City by Train
After his departure from the California coast, Fogg traveled on a transcontinental train through the heart of America to New York City. Such a journey can be easily booked via Amtrak on a mixed-service journey that requires a short bus ride and two different trains over the course of three and a half days.
Upon arriving in the Big Apple, the world is your oyster. From strolling through Central Park to venturing to the top of the Empire State Building, New York has plenty of sites to see. Other interesting stops include the Vessel, one of Manhattan’s newer art installations, and the High Line, an elevated public walkway built on an old railway. As for historic places to stay, New York has plenty, such as St. Regis, the Plaza, and the Knickerbocker, to name a few.
New York City to London by Steamer
On the final leg of his journey, Fogg departed New York and crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a steamboat headed towards France. After bribing the crew to take him to Liverpool, Fogg was forced to disembark in Dublin, taking a mailboat and subsequent train in order to reach his final destination of London. Today, the journey between New York and London is made simple aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, a nine-day transatlantic cruise with zero stops.
As it turns out, London is the ideal place to celebrate the culmination of a round-the-world trip, filled with history, charm, and plenty of pubs. Renowned sites like Big Ben and the Tower of London are essential, as are Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. You can easily also explore the city from the lofty height of a double-decker bus or on foot with London Walking Tours. To rest your weary feet, book a room at Stafford London, which has a rich history dating back to the 17th century.