What is Canada's Best Train Trip?

Canada is home to some of the most scenic train trips in the world, but the greatest is undoubtedly The Coast to Coast by Train. This ultimate trip itinerary takes you across Canada to see the country’s top highlights, including Peggy’s Cove, Niagara Falls and Lake Louise. It also includes time on both VIA's sleeper train and Rocky Mountaineer.

That said, the list of best train tours in Canada is long. Each takes you through some of the world’s most spectacular regions and lets you experience the allure of this inviting country. The best Canadian rail journeys truly immerse you in our country’s awe-inspiring scenery. You can sit in a glass-domed car and take in the Canadian coasts, prairies or Canadian Rockies. Plus, the service on these trains pampers you. You can enjoy delicious food and relax in a luxe sleeper cabin or lounge chair.

A woman sits in glass-domed train car with a warm drink

Canadian Train Vacations is Canada’s largest tour operator specializing in train trips. We know the top Canadian train routes. Some are a quick tour of the country's highlights. Others offer a leisurely journey across the prairies, mountains and coastlines. You'll find your perfect train trip in Canada in our list below. 

These routes are just the starting point for our travel advisors. At Canadian Train Vacations, we specialize in creating personalized train vacations to Canada. Unlike typical travel companies, we reject the one-size-fits-all approach to travel. We create unique Canadian experiences tailored to you and your loved ones. You pick your hotel class, rail service, dining options, excursions and activities.

Top 12 Scenic Train Rides in Canada

Take a look at our suggested itineraries and get inspired.  Then contact us to start planning your dream train vacation.

Keep reading or chat with one of our local travel experts. We’re passionate about Canada and can help you at any stage of your vacation planning.

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1. Canada Coast to Coast by Train

The Coast to Coast by train tops the list of best Canadian rail trips. You’ll see the country’s top highlights, including Peggy’s Cove, Niagara Falls and Lake Louise. This trip includes time on VIA Rail, in a sleeper cabin, and on the Rocky Mountaineer. 

The route goes from Halifax to Vancouver, and can also be done in the reverse direction. The first leg of this scenic train ride in Canada is on VIA Rail's The Ocean train from Halifax to Quebec City. True to its name, this train takes you along Canada's Atlantic Coast.

Quebec City is a UNESCO heritage site has many historic landmarks and museums. From here, a short train ride on VIA Rail takes you to Montreal, where you can enjoy the French culture in Canada. This can include private food tours and walking tours of Old Montreal. With its architecture and French influence, the city has a very European feel.

Another short train ride takes you to Toronto. Once in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, you have time to explore. Our travel experts recommend a day trip out to see Niagara Falls. Next, you board The Canadian train in Toronto to travel to Jasper. On this part of the trip, you will see the prairies and the Canadian Shield. 

Once in Jasper, you have time to explore the Rockies. Travelling westbound, you experience Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West route. This takes you from Banff, through Kamloops into Vancouver. 

Miles covered on train: 3,240 

Days on train: 5 

Nights on train: 4 

Where to stay: In Toronto, consider staying at the Fairmont Royal York. This historic railway hotel is located in the city’s vibrant downtown and makes for an easy transfer to the train station for the journey from Toronto to Vancouver — one of the best train rides in Canada

2. Ultimate Canadian Rockies by Rail

For the top train trip in the Canadian Rockies, we recommend the Ultimate Canadian Rockies by Rail. This package includes time in a private cabin on VIA Rail, between Vancouver and Jasper. You also have time to explore Banff and Jasper. Plus there's two full days on the Rocky Mountaineer, between Banff and Vancouver. You can make this trip in either direction. 

Like all our trips, speak to your travel advisor about personalizing your trip. Choices include guided nature walks, a boat cruise on Maligne Lake, and a motorcycle sidecar tour in Jasper. 

Miles covered on train: 1,025 

Days on train: 3 

Nights on train: 1 

Where to stay: A top spot in Jasper is the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a 700-acre lakeside resort with plush rooms and incredible mountain views. 

3. Complete Canadian Rockies by Rail

Our most popular selling Canadian vacation gives you eight days to discover the Rockies. This includes two full days on a sightseeing dome car on the Rocky Mountaineer. This trip has the option of going eastbound, from Vancouver to Calgary, or westbound. You’ll have time to explore Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise. Your travel advisor can arrange personalized activities for you, such as canoeing, guided hikes, horseback riding, spa treatments and food tours. 

Miles covered on train: 594 

Days on train: 2 

Nights on train: N/A 

Where to stay: Elevate your train trip by spending your night in Lake Louise at one of Canada’s castle-like properties, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This stunning resort hotel sits on the shores of the turquoise lake and offers many luxury services.

4. Lords of the Wilderness Bear Viewing

This trip combines excellent wildlife viewing experiences with a train journey across Canada from Vancouver to Winnipeg. Start your adventure on the West Coast, where you travel to a wilderness lodge to view grizzly bears. Then, hop onboard The Canadian train in Vancouver and enjoy the journey through the Canadian Rockies before arriving in Winnipeg. From here, fly north to Churchill, a remote community in Northern Manitoba and the Polar Bear Capital of the World. Spend three days exploring the arctic tundra and searching for polar bears before flying back to Winnipeg. 

Miles covered on train: 1159 

Days on train: 2 

Nights on train: 2 

Where to stay: This unforgettable train trip includes time at Knight Inlet Lodge in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. A fly-in wildlife-viewing lodge, it is 100 per cent Indigenous-owned. 

5. Canada Eastern Rail Classic 

Discover highlights of Eastern Canada on this train trip, which includes a night on-board VIA Rail’s Ocean train. This is another trip which can be done in either direction, between Montreal and Halifax. You’ll spend time exploring Montreal and Quebec City. Hotel options include the historic Chateau Le Frontenac. While in Halifax, join a tour to Peggy’s Cove to see one of the world’s most photographed lighthouses. 

Miles covered on train: 835 

Days on train: 1 

Nights on train: 1 

Where to stay: One of the newest hotels in Halifax, the Muir Halifax, Autograph Collection by Marriott offers sweeping harbour views and easy access to popular restaurants. 

6. Across Canada by Train

Discover some of the best destinations in Canada with the Across Canada by Train tour. This train journey begins in Toronto and ends in Vancouver, allowing you to visit two major cities and some of Canada's most popular outdoor attractions. The 13-day itinerary includes Jasper National Park, Icefields Parkway and Lake Louise, making it the perfect choice for adventurous travellers.

Miles covered on train: 2,428 

Days on train:  5

Nights on train: 3

Where to stay: The Rimrock Resort’s unique location jutting from the side of a mountain above the town of Banff provides spectacular views.

7. Discover Whistler and the Canadian Rockies by Rail 

Possibly the best West Coast train trip if you want ocean views, this route travels along scenic Howe Sound. This itinerary takes travellers between Vancouver and Calgary and includes a scenic tour of Icefields Parkway. Customize your trip with extra activities in Banff National Park or Jasper National Park.

Miles covered on train: 717 

Days on train:  2.5

Nights on train: 0

Where to stay: The luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler is a perfect base for exploring this alpine town. Check out the steam room, saunas, hot tubs, and indoor/outdoor pools.

8. Trans Canada by Rail in Winter 

This train tour from Vancouver to Toronto is the perfect Canadian winter adventure. Board the train in Vancouver, then stop in the Canadian Rockies for some winter sightseeing and activities. See snow-capped mountains, then re-board the train and travel across the prairies before arriving in Toronto.  

Miles covered on train: 2,762 

Days on train: 4 

Nights on train: 4 

Where to stay: Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel is a luxurious base for your sightseeing, shopping and outdoor adventures. 

9. Canadian History and Culture by Rail 

This Eastern Canada train trip lets you explore the best of Ontario and Quebec in 10 days. After your arrival in Toronto, you are whisked away to the charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which sits on the shores of Lake Ontario. Here, you have the chance to visit thundering Niagara Falls or discover the area’s beautiful vineyards on a winery tour.

Then you’ll head back to Toronto, before taking VIA Rail’s Corridor train to Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. This trip itinerary includes a day in each of these cities, so you can discover the highlights on your choice of sightseeing activities. As you travel by train between Toronto and Quebec City, you’re treated to stunning views of the countryside.

Miles covered on train: 452

Days on train: 3 

Nights on train: 0 

Where to stay: The Prince of Wales Hotel in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake is a treasured landmark of Victorian elegance. Rooms are unique and intimate, featuring luxury furnishings and antique decorations. 

10. Essential Rockies with Alaska Cruise

Fancy ticking off two bucket list experiences in one trip? Our Essential Rockies with Alaska Cruise itinerary combines a luxurious Rocky Mountaineer train journey with a small ship Alaska cruise. You’ll get to see the highlights of Banff National Park, including Lake Louise, before taking the train to Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer takes you through the Spiral Tunnels, Rogers Pass, and the desert-like landscape of British Columbia’s interior.

You’ll fly from Vancouver to Sitka, Alaska, to begin your 7-night cruise. On this small ship cruise, you’ll see ancient glaciers, remote bays, and vast fjords in Southeast Alaska, with opportunities to enjoy whale watching, kayaking, hiking, and more.

Miles covered on train: 559

Days on train: 2 

Nights on train: 0 

Where to stay: A true highlight of the Rockies in itself, the Fairmont Banff Springs is often called Canada’s castle in the Rockies. Located a short stroll from the town, the hotel features superbly appointed rooms and attentive, personalized service.  

11. Canadian Train and Polar Bear Experience

This trip combines a sleeper-train journey from Vancouver to Winnipeg with a multi-day polar bear tour in Churchill. The train takes you through the Canadian Rockies and across the prairie provinces. Once you arrive in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital city, there's time to explore the city’s top attractions, including the Forks Market. Then you’ll travel to the remote town of Churchill, known as the polar bear capital of the world, for polar bear viewing, dogsledding, and more.

Miles covered on train: 1159

Days on train: 2 

Nights on train: 2 

Where to stay: Take in the storied history and architectural details of the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, and enjoy the luxe amenities, including an on-site spa with Turkish bath.  

12. Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland

If you’re looking for a winter train trip through the Canadian Rockies, our Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland itinerary is for you. Board VIA Rail’s Canadian train in Vancouver and enjoy an overnight journey to Jasper. This is a sleeper train experience, where you can relax in a cozy private cabin as the snow falls outside your window.  Once you arrive in Jasper, you’ll have four days to explore frozen lakes, icy canyons, and snow-capped mountains. Activity highlights could include a sleigh ride in Lake Louise, dogsledding in Banff, and an ice walk tour in Jasper.

Miles covered on train: 532

Days on train: 1 

Nights on train: 1 

Where to stay: Mingle with the stars in “Hollywood North” at Vancouver’s popular Fairmont Pacific Rim. This modern luxury hotel features amazing views of the harbour and mountains, plus has easy access to neighbourhood restaurants and shopping.

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Get inspired with sample itineraries, train information, route maps, and travel advice from our local experts.

Polar bear cartoon looking through a pair of binoculars
Polar bear cartoon looking through a pair of binoculars

Canadian Rail Journey Tips

Train travel in Canada is like taking a scenic tour across the country. If you want to see the best of Canada, there's no better way than taking the train. Here are some important things to know when planning Canadian train trips: 

  • Most trains run every few days. This allows you to enjoy a scenic train journey, then get off the train for some time to explore each destination. 
  • You'll stay in hotels when you're not on the overnight train. We offer different classes of hotels, depending on your preferences and budget. 
  • You’ll get access to unparalleled views. See wildlife and the best sights in the Canadian Rockies where there are no roads. 
  • It’s a great way to achieve ultimate relaxation. Disconnect from the world as you sit back in your luxurious seat. Enjoy exquisite food, wine, and views. 
  • There’s lots of opportunities to explore. At almost every destination, we offer activity add ons.
  • Planning train trips in Canada requires many different reservations and bookings, from the train itself to hotels and tours. Our local experts take care of all the details, so you can sit back and enjoy your vacation. We provide comprehensive documents, so you know how to connect with your drivers and tours. And our advisors are always available if you need help during your trip. 

#1 Travel tip: Set your activity level

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Your trip can be as active or adventurous as you like. Trek on an ancient glacier or see one on a helicopter ride. Relax in a spa or enjoy a local food tour.

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

Exploring Canada by Train

Rocky Mountaineer 

The famous Rocky Mountaineer train connects British Columbia and Alberta, running through the Canadian Rockies. It only runs during the day. There are scenic unique routes, with stops in Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, Vancouver or Whistler. 

The train offers two levels of service, GoldLeaf and SilverLeaf. GoldLeaf has a full-domed upper level, with spacious reclining seats. Guests eat in the lower-level dining room. Other amenities include an outdoor viewing platform, complimentary beverages and snacks, and dedicated hosts. 

In SilverLeaf, guests dine at their seat, next to large picture windows. There is a small, enclosed outdoor area.

A couple take in the view from onboard Rocky Mountaineer train’s Goldleaf Service outdoor viewing platform

Via Rail 

As Canada’s major passenger rail service, VIA Rail connects Canada from Vancouver to Halifax. It offers four different train routes. Major city stops include Vancouver, Jasper, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax. Depending on the train route, VIA Rail offers daylight or overnight sleeper train experiences. Its train cars feature large picture windows, so you can take in the vast Canadian landscape. Some trains offer a Panorama car, where giant windows extend to the ceiling. 

A VIA Rail train rides past Mount Robson during daytime

#2 Travel tip: Cover more Canada on the train

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For first-time visitors to Canada who want to take in as much as possible, a trans-Canada train journey is an ideal trip. Add time in terminal cities, such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax to explore.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

Types of Train Trips available across Canada

1. Daylight Train 

The Rocky Mountaineer runs from April to the end of September during daylight hours. It follows this schedule to make the most of the amazing views in the Canadian Rockies. Guests are transferred to hotels for overnight stops, and do not sleep on the train. 

2. Passenger Train 

VIA Rail is Canada’s main passenger train. It connects the country from Vancouver to Halifax with four major train routes. It offers different classes of train cars. Business class gets lounge access, food and beverage service included, priority boarding, extra luggage and wider, comfortable seating. 

3. Sleeper Train 

There are two train routes in Canada which allow you to sleep on the train. The first is between Vancouver and Toronto on The Canadian. You can break up this route with stop-overs in Jasper or Winnipeg. The second route with a sleeper train is the Ocean train from Montreal to Halifax. Both sleeper train routes are available all year long. Some sleeper trains in Canada are equipped with special panoramic viewing cars to provide you with the best view of the scenery day or night. 

Best Canadian Train Routes

Vancouver to Toronto

VIA Rail’s The Canadian connects Toronto and Vancouver. It stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Jasper. This route can also be travelled in reverse. This train covers a total of 2762 miles, which takes about 86 hours. Enjoy sweeping views in the Panorama car, where giant windows extend up to the ceiling. Travelling from Toronto to Vancouver, the Canadian carries you from the forests of Ontario, through the expanse of the Prairies, and past the dramatic snow-capped Rocky Mountains. 

Montreal to Halifax 

VIA Rail’s The Ocean train connects Montreal to Halifax. The 839-mile journey takes approximately 21 hours. It has been running since 1904 and is the oldest continuously operated named passenger train in North America. You'll first travel through the French-speaking province of Quebec. Then past a backdrop of lighthouses and seascapes in the Maritime Province of Nova Scotia. As you relax onboard, you'll see tiny communities along your route, representing French Canadian, Acadian, Celtic and English heritage. 

Vancouver to the Rockies 

Along with a segment of VIA Rail’s The Canadian route, The Rocky Mountaineer runs from Vancouver through the Rockies. There are three different routes to enjoy. The Rainforest to Gold Rush connects North Vancouver and Jasper, with stops in Whistler and Quesnel. The Journey through the Clouds also connects Vancouver to Jasper, but takes the Yellowhead pass, and stops in Kamloops. The First Passage to the West connects Vancouver to Banff, with a stop in Kamloops.

Canadian Regions to Explore by Train

Canadian Rockies and West Coast

Western Canada is known for its dramatic wild landscapes. This includes the mountains and glacier lakes of the Canadian Rockies. It also extends to the lush rainforests and Pacific Coastlines of British Columbia. It’s one of Canada’s most popular locations for a train vacation. Many remote areas are only accessible by rail. Spend an extra day or two exploring the city of Vancouver as well. 

Across Canada 

Make the journey across the country by rail. This coast-to-coast train trip connects Vancouver to Halifax, with stops in major cities, such as Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. If you only have one trip to Canada, this lets you see it all. Highlights include the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, the Canadian Rockies, and the Prairies. 

Eastern Canada and Maritimes 

Along with amazing scenery, there’s lots of history and culture to explore in Eastern Canada. Visit the cities of Toronto and Montreal. Add a tour to famous places, like Niagara Falls, and the not-so-famous hidden gems, like the charming fishing towns of the Maritimes. There’s a lot to discover in eastern Canada. 

North and Arctic 

Taking the train to Churchill is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This community sits on the edge of Hudson Bay. It takes two days and two nights of travelling north on the rails to get there. There are no roads into this subarctic region.

What Our Customers Say

This was the best vacation we have ever experienced

We are extremely satisfied with Fresh Tracks - they are outstanding communicators, efficient, knowledgable, and answered every question we had. This was the best vacation we have ever experienced

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Susan and William


Why book with Canadian Train Vacations?

We take care of all the details

You want to relax and enjoy your trip, not get overwhelmed by the planning. Let us make all of the bookings for you, including rail tickets, hotels, excursions and activities, meals and transfers.

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Independent travel with expert support

Enjoy local expertise and guidance with a personalized itinerary. Your preferences and needs are our priority. We take care of you from the moment you land until the moment you leave.

Get help when you need it

You’ll receive the inside scoop before you even leave home. And you can relax during your vacation because we’re only a phone call away if you have any questions while you’re in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are three of Canada's most famous train trips?

Three of Canada's most famous train trips are Rocky Mountaineer's scenic routes through the Canadian Rockies, VIA Rail's The Canadian — a sleeper train that crosses the country — and VIA Rail's Ocean train, which travels between Montreal and Halifax.

How much does a train trip across Canada cost?

The Coast to Coast by train package starts at $12,340 for a 19-day trip, including transfers, hotels, and some meals and activities.

Is there a coast-to-coast train in Canada?

One train does not travel coast-to-coast in Canada. VIA Rail connects the Atlantic coast (Halifax) to the Pacific coast (Vancouver) with four different train routes.

About the author: Louise Weiss is Director of Legendary Hospitality with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for more than 25 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in North Vancouver and has spent time... Read more

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