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The best train sets kids and grown-ups will love

(Image credit: Unsplash)

A fantastic train set is and always will be timeless, and enjoying putting together and playing with a track should be an essential part of every childhood. But getting the right one – and a good quality one at that – can make all the difference to the overall experience for both adults and children. Pieces that fit together and come apart with ease are a must, as is having enough pieces to make an interesting shape. Supporting toys such as miniature stations, characters, bridges and even full scenescapes with charm and game-playing inspiration can take the fun the magical heights!

When looking for a train set to fuel the imagination, your choice will naturally depend on the age of the child playing. But don’t forget, you can always add on to your first train track so that it grows with your little one. Going for a classic, wooden option is often a good call during early years and as many of the major brands work with each other, you can pick and choose your favourites from the wide range available and expand your train world. Electric sets, of course, come with their own level of excitement and beauty, but given the hefty price tag and delicate structure these usually aren’t the best choice for playing with. Certainly one for all the family to enjoy watching, and an heirloom to pass on for generations to come, though.

Do be warned: once your child gets their first train set, there’s no looking back! Expect to be roped into building bigger and better tracks every day (oh, okay, if we must…).

(Image credit: Amazon)

Janod Giant Circus Play World

Story-based circus train set and characters crafted with wood

Reasons to buy
+Includes story-box filled with 23 wooden figures and train+Compatible with most wooden train track from other brands+Unusual theme makes for imaginative play
Reasons to avoid
-Figures not very robust and can break

Roll up! Roll up! If you’re looking for a train track that will whisk you and your child off into another world, you’ll love this circus-themed set designed to use alongside storytelling. 

The wooden track itself provides a couple of interesting twists and turns (along with bridge and level crossing) yet remains simple enough for even young children to enjoy. This is very much a train set that is made to be touched, as setting up your circus and bringing characters to and from the show is all part of the fun! 

We love the unique theme and how this particular set really combines a variety of gameplay, making it all the more enjoyable for kids with varying interests. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hape Grand Station Set

Interactive station with record-your-own announcement option and track set

Reasons to buy
+Realistic station with loads of electronic features+Create your own announcements with play and record buttons+High quality wooden track compatible with other brands
Reasons to avoid
-Requires very flat, smooth surface to work on

If your child is always keen to get involved in their train track world rather than just watching it go around doing its thing, they will love this grand station set that invites you to be the conductor. Kids can choose the destination by inserting one of the five tickets included in the set and watch with delight as and vibrant image of the city is then projected onto the platform. When the train is ready to depart (or arrive!) your little ones will have endless fun recording their own messages for the passengers. 

If the station itself wasn’t exciting enough, this kit also comes with a pretty decent sized track that can be arranged in a variety of different ways, a 3-carriage high speed electric train, a taxi and bus and a selection of play characters. What’s more, the 3 AAA batteries required are also included so the fun can start right away.

(Image credit: Amazon)

BRIO World-Safari Adventure Set

Small safari set that is ready to grow with your child

Reasons to buy
+No small parts, so safe for young children+Made from FCS certified wood+An enormous amount an addition pieces and toys available
Reasons to avoid
-High price for limited track pieces

Founded in 1884, the BRIO name is synonymous with some of the world’s favourite train sets. One thing you can be sure of when going for this brand is quality. And on top of that, there are endless parts and accessories for you to add when ever your child is ready to take their set up a notch.

The company’s latest release, world-safari adventure, is a basic set with just 10 pieces of track to build with but the addition of some jungle friends and veterinarian offers the chance to encourage logical thinking and understanding of the real world. And it’s built to last too: BRIO proudly tests the breakability all of its toys up to 25% more than the law demands.

As with most of BRIOs toys, this track is ‘open ended’, meaning it is entirely customisable and ready to grow when you are. Another huge plus to this set is the ‘sibling safe’ promise – no small parts are used in the set so siblings younger than the recommended 3+ age limit are perfectly safe in the same play environment.

(Image credit: Amazon)

LEGO DUPLO Town Steam Train for Toddlers

Push & Go electric train set with Bluetooth enabled command bricks and app

Reasons to buy
+Designed for little hands – very easy to build with+Can combine with other LEGO DUPLO sets for many track combinations+Remote control functionality to activate sounds, lights and movement
Reasons to avoid
-A step away from a traditional train set

We love the contemporary twist this innovation set brings to the classic pastime of train play. As the LEGO toys so often do, this easy to use, interactive train set has taken a traditional toy and turned it into something marvellously modern, with plenty of room for brain-building activities included to boot.

Those of you who favour screen-free play time won’t be so keen on the idea of app involvement, but if you’re happy to bring a little of it into your child’s fun you will love the educational aspect of this. There are multiple games kids can play through controlling their train via the app, getting brains whirring in a whole new way.

On top of this, the blue-tooth ready command bricks add a whole new, modern level to this train set. Pop one of four instructional sticks into the track and watch as the train responds. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

Melissa & Doug Take-along Railroad

Fold up train set to take with you on your travels

Reasons to buy
+Neat suitcase design small enough for plane and car journeys+Built in tracks and trains ready to play+Available in a variety of designs 
Reasons to avoid
-No buildable track included

If your child simply cannot be parted with their beloved train set, this nifty little fold-up track is essential! It’s small, light (even light enough to get kids to carry), made of sturdy wood and offers enough room to store all the bits and pieces included. 

The tracks are in-built and ready to play with which, although removes the building aspect of a good old-fashioned train set, can be extremely handy on-the-go. If you’ve got a long journey coming up, this might be all you need to keep little ones occupied for hours.

Each set comes with a lovely selection of scenery and fun play pieces, so children are still able to build their world, as well as four vehicles.

Ruby Deevoy

Ruby Deevoy is a wellbeing, beauty and natural lifestyle expert. She regularly reviews innovative and natural products for her lifestyle column in Chat!, Top Sante and CBD marketplace nabino among many others.