RM18 Morants1 Train Exterior

Dreaming about seeing a polar bear in the wild? Or walking in a wintery wonderland of icy canyons and frozen waterfalls? Maybe sipping wine as you take in iconic mountain scenery is more your speed. Whatever your travel personality — adventurer, romantic or exploring off-the-beaten path — and whether you're a senior looking for an accessible trip, a couple ready to rekindle that romance, or a family hoping to reconnect, there’s the perfect Canadian train vacation for you. (Demand for 2022 and 2023 is already skyrocketing, so be sure to book soon!) 

1. An Epic Northern Adventure

Polar bears sparring in the snow

The Polar Bear Expedition by Train is truly a unique experience. Departing from Winnipeg, you have two nights on board the train. It’s the only access to certain areas of the province of Manitoba and locals are able to flag down the train, so you’ll get a real perspective on what it’s like to live in this part of Canada. You might even see the Northern Lights while lying in your berth on the train. Once in Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, your visit includes polar bear viewing from a Tundra Buggy and local sightseeing from a dog sled!

2. Rocky Mountain High

Kayak in lake in Alberta

Whether you’re taking in the iconic views from the luxurious comfort of the Rocky Mountaineer or walking on the 10,000-year-old Athabasca Glacier, the Complete Canadian Rockies by Rail is truly an immersion into this region. Travel from Vancouver to Jasper on the train — enjoying the fine dining and exclusive service — before making your way by motor coach from Jasper to Banff, via Lake Louise, with plenty of time to explore each locale. This trip can be personalized to suit a variety of tastes, and can include sight-seeing, foodie tours and active outdoor pursuits. 

3. A Cultural Immersion

Parliament Hill in fall form the river, Ottawa

For those travelers who enjoy frequent and shorter rail trips, the 10-day Canadian History & Culture by Rail is a great choice. Explore Toronto and the Niagara Region, travel to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and immerse yourself in the cultures of Montreal and Quebec City over three different rail journeys between two to five hours in length. You’ll appreciate the cultural contrast between French and English Canada — and the flexible train times mean you can really personalize the length of your stay in each destination.

4. A Taste of Everything Canada

Pow Wow Cafe serves traditional Indigenous cuisine by Toronto Ojibway chef Shawn Adler in Kensington Market

The country’s majestic and ever-changing landscape is but one reason to consider a rail journey across Canada. For those looking for a little bit of everything, the Canadian Cross Country Journey is a great option. Along with four days of scenery and locally inspired cuisine on the Canadian — that takes you across the Canadian Shield, through the Prairie provinces, and the Rockies — you have two nights in both Vancouver and Toronto, meaning you’ll have a chance to sightsee on either end of your trip. Enjoy Indigenous Food Tours in Toronto, tour museums and art galleries, and try a fly over tour of Vancouver with Harbour Air. To get an even fuller experience, add on tour options to places such as Niagara Falls outside of Toronto and Butchart Gardens in Victoria — you can even venture up the famous Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler.

5. The Wild West Coast

A grizzly bear walks through a river with a large salmon in its mouth

Perfect for those who want to maximize their wildlife viewing, our Lords of the Wilderness Bear Viewing trip gives you plenty of chances to spot grizzlies and whales in the wild. Along with wildlife viewing on Vancouver Island, you'll have time to explore the stunning oceanside city of Vancouver.  And then you’ll cap off this remarkable experience with an awe-inspiring rail journey through the Rockies, before heading to Churchill, Manitoba to see polar bears in the wild. 

6. A True North Winter Wonderland

Couple skating in frozen Lake in banff

Who can resist the magic of Canada’s Snow Train? On the Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland, you'll ride overnight on VIA’s Canadian train from Vancouver to Jasper, and be transported to a marvelous landscape of frozen river canyons and snowy forests. While summer might be the most popular time to photograph the Rockies, winter is certainly a fabulous time to experience it. After exploring Jasper, where you can try the Maligne Canyon Icewalk Tour, you’ll travel to Lake Lousie for a snowy sleigh ride. Then carry on to Banff, where you can experience several iconic Canadian winter activities, including dog sledding, snow shoeing, or skating on a beautiful frozen lake. Finish each day cozied up in front of the fire in an inviting mountain lodge.

7. From Sea to Shining Sea

Waves around Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

If you want the ultimate train adventure, there’s no better option than the 19-day Coast to Coast by Train. It’s also the perfect choice if you think you’ll only get to Canada once and really want to do it right. This trip takes you from Vancouver to Halifax (or vice versa) with stops in the Rockies, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec. It also lets you experience both the sleeper train, with three nights on VIA Rail’s Canadian, two Corridor train rides and one night on the Ocean Train, as well as two days on the Rocky Mountaineer, which only runs during the day. 

You’ll see many of the highlights of Canada, including West Coast totem poles, the turquoise water of Lake Louise, thundering Niagara Falls and picturesque village of Peggy’s Cove — home to one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world — just to name a few.

A crowd of people admire the Niagara Falls from a viewing platform
Athena McKenzie
An experienced lifestyle journalist, Athena is Fresh Tracks Canada's managing editor.