Games Like Ticket to Ride: Route Building Fun

Looking for games like Ticket to Ride? I recommend Trekking the World for a similar feel and complexity level.

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Ticket to Ride is one of the first stops on the way to developing the board game hobby. It’s a great gateway game that’s accessible to beginners but challenging enough to be fun for most gamers.

But at some point, you’ll be ready to add to your collection. If you’d like to try games like Ticket to Ride? You’re in luck. There are plenty of similar games to choose from.

Trekking the World is lightweight and works as a gateway game, much like Ticket to Ride. It’s fun for the whole family and requires strategy without being overly complex. However, it may not appeal to everyone.

I’ve rounded up and reviewed several board games like Ticket to Ride, complete with details on game mechanics, intended audience, and similarities.

Ready to get some ideas for what to play next? Let’s get this train rolling!

At a Glance

Ticket to Ride is among the most popular board games for its wide-ranging appeal. It has a nice blend of accessibility, balance, strategy, and lighthearted competition. For whatever reason Ticket to Ride appeals to you, there are games that fit that criteria.

If you enjoy board games that involve route planning, you might enjoy Railroad Ink, Carcassonne, or Empyreal.

Like strategic board games? Check out Scythe, Pandemic, Catan, or Power Grid Recharged. These are more complex and offer an added challenge.

If you want a game the whole family can enjoy, you’ll want to consider Trekking the World, Ticket to Ride: First Journey, Station Master, and Machi Koro.

Board Games like Ticket to Ride: Reviews

Trekking the World: Best Overall

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

Age: 10+

Publisher: Underdog Games

Calling all adventure seekers! Trekking the World is a great gateway game of world travel and strategy. Players are travelers racing around the world to visit popular locations and collect sets of souvenirs.

The game has a world map as the game board, with each player getting a personal board that looks like a suitcase. Players also have their own personal trekker meeple to move along the routes and visit the countries.

Trekking the World is similar to Ticket to Ride in the route planning and traveling to different cities, but instead of building train routes, you’re racing to visit five cities and claim their destination cards.

There are colored cards and cubes that help you keep track of your set collection and all the cities you’ve claimed. Trekking the World does include a decent amount of strategic thinking, but it’s not a heavy game. I would classify this as a lightweight game.

Trekking The World - The Award-Winning Board Game for Family Night | Explore The Wonders of The World | Perfect for Kids & Adults | Ages 10 and Up

It’s ideal for families and as an introduction to the board game hobby, much like Ticket to Ride. However, it might not be intense or difficult enough for veteran gamers.

When you’re ready for another challenge, there’s also the stand alone Trekking the National Parks. In this version, you’ll be visiting–you guessed it–the National Parks to collect stones.

Trekking the World is a little more complex than Ticket to Ride, but not by much. It’s a perfect game for families to enjoy and each park card has a beautiful photo and fact about that park so it’s educational too!


  • High-quality game components
  • Great for family board gaming
  • Quick to play
  • Easy to learn but requires strategy


  • Not challenging enough for diehard gamers

Ticket to Ride First Journey: Best Game for Kids

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 15-30 minutes

Age: 6+

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a kid-friendly introduction to the board game series. It’s perfect for your next family game night.

The brand-new map and simplified rules introduce young players to the game of cross-country travel. Players collect train cards, claim routes on the map, and try to connect cities with colored train cars. But the terms of victory are slightly different than in the original version.

Each player starts with four colored train cards and two tickets. Each ticket shows two cities, and you’re trying to build railroads to connect those two cities in order to complete the ticket. If you connect one of the West Coast cities to one of the East Coast cities with one route, you immediately claim a Coast-to-Coast ticket.

In Ticket to Ride: First Journey, the first player to complete six tickets and connect the cities wins. The original Ticket to Ride rewards the longest continuous route, whereas First Journey rewards speed.

You can play a single game in as little as 15 minutes, although it frequently lasts up to 30 minutes. This is short enough to keep the attention of younger players but long enough to make the game, you know, actually fun.

Ticket to Ride First Journey Board Game | Strategy Game | Train Adventure Fun Family Game for Kids and Adults | Ages 6+ | 2-4 Players | Average Playtime 15-30 Minutes | Made by Days of Wonder

First Journey is a great adaptation of Ticket to Ride. It balances simplicity with difficulty. Sometimes, games for younger children are so painfully simple that it leaves the kids bored and the parents ready to pull their hair out. This game has enough strategy to make it interesting, even if simple.

The bottom line? Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a fun game for the whole family.


  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Simplified but still challenging for kids
  • Good-quality game components


  • Instructions are lacking in some areas

Power Grid Recharged: Best Strategy Board Game

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 2 hours

Age: 13+

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Like Ticket to Ride, Power Grid Recharged requires players to build a network over set paths on the board. The board game is published by Rio Grande Games and is a slightly updated version of the original Power Grid game.

Power Grid Recharged is a board game of economic strategy and managing resources. It challenges players to earn income by establishing a power grid across multiple cities in 1950s Germany or the U.S.

Players must decide which type of energy to use, whether it be nuclear, coal, or even burning garbage. To build their network, players must buy power plants, fuel to run them, and connections. The player that can build the largest power network and keep it running is the winner.

Power Grid Recharged includes a double-sided map, with Germany on one side and the U.S.A. on the other. It also comes with wooden meeples, cards, money, and a rulebook.

Power Grid Recharged

The game play is more complex than in Ticket to Ride. There are more variables affecting player decisions, which increases the level of analysis and strategy involved in each turn. For that reason, games can take a couple of hours to play.

If you prefer more complex board games but still want games like Ticket to Ride, Power Grid Recharged should be at the top of your list. It has similar game mechanics but offers a heavier board game experience.


  • Heavier economic Eurogame
  • Requires strategic thinking
  • Expansions available


  • Learning curve

Railroad Ink: Best Roll-N-Write Game

Players: 1-6

Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

Age: 8+

Publisher: Horrible Guild Games

If you like creating train routes like in Ticket to Ride, you’ll love Railroad Ink. This roll-and-write game is easy to learn, quick to play, and family-friendly.

In Railroad Ink, each player has a dry-erase pen and an erasable whiteboard with a 7×7 grid. There are nine exits dotted around the edge of the grid. Each round players roll dice displaying road and railway routes. The routes all have different shapes, including straight lines, T-junctions, and corners.

Players draw the routes shown on the dice onto their individual whiteboards. The objective is to connect as many exits as possible to score points. Incomplete routes will cost you points, so it’s important to plan carefully! The player with the most points wins.

Railroad Ink comes in two versions, blue and red. In the deep blue edition, the Rivers and Lakes dice add waterways to the maps. In the blazing red edition, Volcanos and Meteor Dice add an extra challenge as players try to prevent their routes from being destroyed.

You can combine the red and blue editions to make the game suitable for up to 12 players. There are also several expansions available, so you’ll never run out of fresh challenges.

Horrible Guild Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition - Roll Dice and Draw Railways and Routes, 7 Rounds to Expand Your Rail Map - Expansion Dice Included Ages 8 & Up (Packaging may vary)


  • High replay value
  • Simple rules
  • Easy to transport
  • Many expansions available


  • Dry-erase markers aren’t great

Empyreal: Spells and Steam: Best Fantasy Game

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 20 minutes per player

Age: 10+

Publisher: Level 99 Games

For a fantasy-themed twist on network and route-building, try the board game Empyreal. This strategy game takes place during the industrial revolution in the fantasy World of Indines.

Players use mystical trains to cross a diverse landscape and gather exotic goods. With each contract you fulfill, your company grows, as well as your abilities and game strategy. Build the ultimate railway company and conquer the frontier—with magic!

Players each have colored train cars and a player board with a captain and specialists. They also have a certain amount of mana crystals, which they can use to cast a spell and build routes across the board.

Mana crystals have to recharge after each use, so you must be selective when and where you use them. When you reach the end of the line, you can deliver resources, take extra actions, or activate specialists.

The cities you connect to your network provide resources. You’ll have to adapt your strategies to maximize the value of your portfolio as the game progresses.

The game ends when a certain number of demand tiles are finished. Players will score points according to their demand tiles and the number of goods they have produced. Players can get extra points for special missions.

Empyreal Board Game | Strategy Game | Fantasy Train Network and Route Building Game for Adults and Kids | Ages 10+ | 2-6 Players | Average Playtime 20-120 Minutes | Made by Level 99 Games

This board game includes super high-quality game components. The colored trains and other plastic pieces are durable and detailed. The card holders help you organize them as you play, and there are instructions for how to put everything back together.

The only issue? The box is huge. There are a lot of components that take up space. You’ll need an extra large spot on the shelf for this box. The size of the game makes you think you’re getting an epic event game, but it’s really a lighter Euro-style train game. You can play it in one sitting, no problem.

If you’re looking for games like Ticket to Ride and you’re really into high-quality plastic minis, I recommend Spells & Steam.


  • Extremely high-quality components
  • Involves building routes
  • Fantasy-theme strategy game


  • Huge box
  • Pricey

Scythe: Best Medium-Weight Game/Runner-Up

Players: 1-5

Playing Time: 90-120 minutes

Age: 14+

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Scythe, by Stonemaier Games, is a competitive 4x (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) board game set in an alternate history of the 1920s. This is a great game for the veteran gamer or board game enthusiast.

In Scythe, you play the leader of one of five factions trying to assert dominance over Eastern Europe following the Great War. The city-state known as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors.

Each player begins the game with limited resources (power, coins, combat acumen, and popularity), a different starting location, and a hidden goal. The game is asymmetrical, so the factions are unique and always begin at the same point in each game.

Players must employ clever strategy to earn income for their faction by conquering new territories, gathering coins, achieving their hidden goals, producing resources, and uncovering the secrets of The Factory.

Scythe is a complex engine builder with area control mixed in, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But the action-selection mechanism makes the game move at a good pace, so you won’t be sitting a long time waiting for your turn.

Stonemaier Games Scythe Board Game - an Engine-Building, Area Control for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+

Scythe is one of the best games for those who despise dice rolls. Players have almost complete control over their fate. Even the encounter cards, which players draw during the game, provide the player with several options. Combat is also decided by choice and not by luck.

Even though there are a lot of moving pieces in Scythe, it’s not as difficult to learn as you might expect. And even though there is an element of combat, that’s not the focus. In fact, this game is extremely well-balanced.

If you’re looking for other games like Ticket to Ride, I highly recommend Scythe.


  • No player elimination
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Well-balanced
  • Strategy-based
  • Good pacing


  • Lengthy playing times
  • Can be a little overwhelming to start

Catan: Best Resource Management Game

Players: 3-4

Playing Time: 60 minutes

Age: 10+

Publisher: Catan Studios

Catan is the award-winning board game that put Euro-style games on the map. In this trading game, players roll dice to determine what resources they get. Then, they use those resources to build roads, settlements, and cities that earn them victory points.

Catan is played on a variable board made up of 19 terrain hexes. These hexes are where players build roads and settlements. Each player begins with two settlements, but they can spend more by spending resources. Each settlement must be adjacent to at least one other settlement or city.

The game ends when all the spaces on the board are filled or when a player reaches 10 victory points. The player with the most points wins.

The variable hex board means this game has a high replay value. Expect different gaming experiences each time you play. Catan definitely falls in the category of strategy games. Deciding how to spend resources and how to create routes are important factors in a player’s success.

Catan (Base Game) Adventure Board Game for Adults and Family | Ages 10+ | for 3 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 60 Minutes | Made by Catan Studio

Catan emphasizes network and route building, just like Ticket to Ride, and throws in resource management and trading. Its versatility is one of the reasons this board game has enjoyed such long-lasting popularity.

One major difference between Catan and Ticket to Ride is that Catan includes dice rolling. But don’t worry, the dice rolls don’t ruin all the fun and determine the outcome. They simply provide some randomization to make things exciting.


  • Includes route building
  • Turn-based strategy game
  • High variability
  • Balanced gameplay


  • Learning curve

Carcassonne: Best Tile Placement Game

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 45 minutes

Age: 7+

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Carcassonne is an award-winning game of tile placement and territory claiming. It’s often hailed as one of the foundational games of modern board games.

Like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne is pretty easy to play, making it a perfect game for families. However, it’s also a clever strategy game that’s difficult to master.

The game revolves around Carcassonne, a medieval southern French city. The players compete to build a civilization. To do so, they lay their tiles, then start to build fortresses, cities, and other game objects. 

The game is played on a variable board that is made up of tiles, each showing roads, cities, knights, monasteries, or farmers. Each player controls one to five farmers, represented with meeples. The players draw and place the tile to build an area.

When the players complete cities, monasteries, and similar features, they earn points, growing their game score. You want to place your tiles in a way that not only help you win, but also ruins your opponent’s chances of winning.

For this reason, Carcassonne can be cutthroat. If you enjoy thwarting the plans of other players, you’ll enjoy this game. The player with the most points when the game ends is the winner.

Carcassonne Board Game (BASE GAME) | Board Game for Adults and Family | Strategy Board Game | Medieval Adventure Board Game | Ages 7 and up | 2-5 Players | Made by Z-Man Games

Carcassonne has a high replay value. The tiles have endless combinations, so it’s tough to predict the winner until close to the end of the game. That makes the game more exciting and fun to play again and again.


  • Easy to learn, difficult to master
  • High replay value
  • Quick to play
  • Involves strategy


  • Reports of misaligned graphics

Machi Koro: Best Dice Rolling Game

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Age: 8+

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Switch out route planning for city planning in Machi Koro, by Pandasaurus games. This is a great game for family game night, must like Ticket to Ride.

The premise is simple. You’ve just been elected of the city Machi Koro, but the residents have high hopes for their city.

They want jobs, a theme park, a cheese factory, and maybe even a radio tower. Unfortunately, Machi Koro consists of a wheat field, a bakery, and a single die. Roll the die to earn income, which can be used to purchase economy-boosting cards. These include industries, businesses, restaurants, and establishments.

These cards increase your revenue streams, eventually allowing you to snag landmarks. The first person to finish four major landmarks wins the game.

Machi Koro’s simple rules make it fun for all ages. You can begin playing almost immediately, and each game only takes approximately half an hour. The colorful aesthetic and large chunky dice add an element of whimsy, as well.

Even though this board game is designed for two to four players, it’s best with four players. If you have two players, I’d suggest other board games.

Machi Koro Board Game The Ultimate City-Building Game! Fast-Paced Dice Rolling Strategy Game for Kids and Adults, Ages 8+, 2-4 Players, 30 Minute Playtime, Made by Pandasaurus Games

Machi Koro does not require as much strategic thinking as other games like Ticket to Ride. It might get repetitive after playing it a few times. The good news is that there are expansion packs available to add variation and excitement to each new game.


  • Great game for families
  • Easy to learn
  • Quick game play
  • Bright, colorful artwork
  • Expansion available


  • Can get repetitive

Station Master: Best Train-Themed Game

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 30-50 minutes

Age: 8+

Publisher: Calliope Games

Looking for other games with a train theme like Ticket to Ride? Station Master is a highly-interactive game set at the train station. Efficiency is the name of the game.

The game is played over a series of turns until all locomotives have left the station. On each turn, players either attach a railcar to a train, assign a passenger token to a locomotive, or play an action card.

Each passenger token holds a different value. Players lay the passenger tokens face down, so only the owner knows its value. Railcars determine the value of the train. The goal of the game is to score the most Efficiency points.

Action cards change up the game by removing cards and tokens, changing the values of trains, and more! Even though Station Master is not as intensely competitive as other board games, the action cards can add some excitement and create some tension.

When a train is full, it pulls away from the station. At this point, the Passenger tokens are revealed. Players score by multiplying the value of the train by the value of their Passenger tokens.

Even though the game is advertised for two to six players, it’s better with more than two players. It’s tough to take advantage of the action cards with just two people. The game moves quickly, though, and doesn’t have a lot of downtime between turns, which is nice.

The rules are pretty straightforward and easy to grasp. Most people have no problems after the first play-through. That makes it suited for younger players, as well.

Calliope Station Master Game for 2-6 Players, Family Games for Fun Fast Paced Game Nights

Like Ticket to Ride, Station Master is fun for casual board gamers. I wouldn’t recommend this for hardcore gamers, but it’s suited for beginners or mixed gaming groups.


  • Simple rules
  • Light strategy game
  • Detailed artwork
  • Good for kids


  • Need more than two players

Pandemic Board Game: Best Cooperative Game

Players: 3-4

Playing Time: 60 minutes

Age: 10+

Publisher: Z-Man Games

If you’d rather play with your friends instead of against your friends, you might prefer Pandemic. Don’t think that the cooperation lowers the excitement, though. This game is intense!

In Pandemic, players take on the role of CDC operatives tasked with containing and curing four deadly diseases that threaten the globe. It’s a race against the clock as specialists fight to find a cure before the next outbreak happens.

Each player plays the role of a different specialist with their own abilities. You could be the medic who can treat disease quickly, the researcher who can share knowledge, the operation specialist who can build research stations, and more.

Players begin in Atlanta at the Center for Disease Control. From there, they must travel the world and build research stations to find cures. Then they must deliver those cures across the globe.

Each turn consists of four actions. The active player determines which actions to take based on their location, unique abilities, and threat level. After the turn ends, the disease spreads and infects more locations.

Pandemic Board Game (Base Game) | Cooperative Board Game for Adults and Family | Ages 8+ | 2 to 4 players | Average Playtime 45 minutes | Made by Z-Man Games

Pandemic requires collective decision-making, so there are plenty of opportunities for conversation and interaction. The downside is that it could result in quarterbacking.

In spite of that, this board game is simply exciting. It’s easy to learn but tough to master. There’s only one way to win and several ways to lose. But I find myself enjoying this game just as much, either way, win or lose.

If you’d like a cooperative game like Ticket to Ride, Pandemic is perfect for your next game night.


  • Exciting gameplay
  • Cooperative format
  • High player interaction
  • Easy to learn, difficult to master


  • Quarterbacking is possible

Strategy Game Buying Guide

There are several board games like Ticket to Ride, but knowing what to look for is key in choosing your favorite board games.

You must first decide which weight/complexity level is right for you. The heavier the game, the more mental load it requires. Ticket to Ride requires strategy, but it doesn’t mentally drain players. It’s considered a lightweight game.

Power Grid Recharged and Scythe, however, are medium weight games. They require more mental energy and focus than Ticket to Ride does.

Secondly, think about the genre and thematic elements that appeal to you. Obviously, Ticket to Ride has a train and cross-country travel theme. Station Master and Trekking the World share that traveler vibe, but you might find all types of genres or thematic elements appealing.

Sci-fi, fantasy (Empyreal), mystery, adventure, you name it. There are board games that fit those categories.

Finally, consider what game mechanics you find engaging. Board games often incorporate different types of mechanics within in a single game, with one or two standing out.

For instance, Ticket to Ride includes route building, hand management mechanics. Hand management means the game rewards players for playing the cards in certain sequences or groups. The route building is more self-explanatory.

Catan includes a trading mechanism, and Railroad Ink has a roll-and-write mechanism. Each game has specific patterns that determine how the game progresses and ends. It can be trial and error if you aren’t as experienced, so I encourage you to play different types of board games to find which mechanics appeal to you.

Best Route Board Game: Final Verdict

There are loads of board games like Ticket to Ride, so there really is something for everyone! I recommend Trekking the World for the most similar gaming experience to Ticket to Ride.

If you’re up for something more challenging, however, I highly recommend Scythe for your next game. It’s a unique game that blends a lot of elements seamlessly.