Best Snow Train in Canada

Canada is even more beautiful in the ice and snow — there's a certain magic to winter in this country. Imagine gliding through the frozen landscape on a snow train in Canada. Brilliant-white mountain peaks are framed by deep-blue skies. Icy forests of spruce and aspen line the tracks, providing the perfect backdrop for winter train rides.

Incoming VIA Rail train journeys through scenic passage of trees and snowcapped mountains

When the train stops, you can enjoy sleigh-rides, snowshoeing or simply relaxing by a crackling fire in your lodge. Canada has many things to see and do, from shopping in Toronto or Montreal to taking a guided tour of a glacier at the Columbia Icefield. 

At Canadian Train Vacations, our travel experts use their insider knowledge to create custom winter train vacations for every traveller. Whether you want to relax and enjoy some cozy solitude or experience pulse-pounding outdoor adventures, we can put together a personalized itinerary that suits your every need. Best of all, we can help you find the best add-on excursions, ensuring your trip is everything you dreamed it would be. Discover more in our guide to Winter train trips.

Popular Winter Train Trips in 2024/25

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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Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland 

Step aboard one of the best snow trains in Canada for a 9-day journey from Vancouver to Banff. You'll see snow-covered evergreens, white-capped mountain peaks and frozen lakes, all from the comfort of your seat. You can even personalize your itinerary by adding a day of skiing or a guided Northern Lights viewing experience. 

Miles covered on train: 333 

Days on train: 1 day 

Nights on train: 1 night 

Trans Canada by Rail in Winter 

When it comes to Christmas trains, Canada has some of the best travel options—including the Trans Canada by Rail in Winter package. After traveling through the Coast and Cariboo Mountains on a sleeper train, you'll step into the winter wonderland of Jasper. Customize your trip with a private tour of Icefields Parkway. After exploring the Canadian Rockies in Winter, you’ll get back on the sleeper train to travel across the Prairies to Toronto.  

Miles covered on train: 2,762 

Days on train: 4 days 

Nights on train: 4 nights 

Canadian Cross Country Journey in Winter 

Experience a sleeper train journey across Canada in the Winter, travelling from Vancouver to Toronto. Enjoy the snowy landscapes as they transform from the towering Rockies to the expanse of the prairies. Visit some of Canada’s most iconic places, including the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and Stanley Park. Add on to your trip with an excursion to Victoria to see the famous Butchart Gardens, beautiful in every season.  

Miles covered on train: 2,762 

Days on train: 4 days 

Nights on train: 4 nights 

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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

Why Take a Snow Train in Canada?

Top of VIA Rail's train, The Canadian, the best snow train route in Canada

Embarking one of the many Canadian snow-train tours guarantees a magical experience. This type of vacation combines breathtaking scenery, unparalleled comfort, and the thrill of winter adventures. Immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of the Canadian wilderness, all while enjoying the cozy confines of a cozy heated train car. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to unwind amidst stunning landscapes, here are some compelling reasons to take the Canadian snow train. 

1. Unmatched Winter Scenery

From late November to March, much of Canada's landscapes are a winter wonderland, with vast expanses of snow-covered forests, frozen lakes, and majestic mountain ranges — especially if you’re on one of our Canadian Rockies winter train tours. 
Look out the panoramic windows on winter train rides and you'll witness the beauty of the country transformed by snow. Imagine gliding past towering pines draped in their snowy blankets, watching the sun set over glistening white fields, and marveling at the serene, untouched wilderness. Winter train travel in Canada offers a unique vantage point to appreciate these scenic vistas. 

2. Cozy and Relaxing

One of the greatest joys of taking a Canada snow train is the cozy, relaxing environment it provides. As the winter train passes through the snowy landscape, you can sit back in a comfortable, heated car, wrapped in a warm blanket with a hot beverage in hand. The gentle pace of train travel, combined with the picturesque views outside your window, creates a soothing ambiance perfect for unwinding. 

3. Potential for Wildlife Spotting

Winter rail holidays in Canada are not just about snow and scenery; these lands are also home to a variety of impressive wildlife. From the comfort of your train seat, you might spot elk, moose, or even the bright red fur of a fox. The stark white backdrop of winter makes it easier to spot these animals as they forage or move through the snow. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the chance to see these creatures in their natural habitat. 

4. Unique Winter Activities

Canadian winter train vacations also include incredible activities you can enjoy along the way. Depending on your route, you might have the opportunity to disembark and engage in a variety of winter sports and activities. Picture yourself snowshoeing through quiet, snowy trails, experiencing the thrill of a dog sled ride, or skating on a frozen lake under the clear winter sky. These iconic activities allow you to fully embrace the winter season in Canada.

Top Snow Train Routes in Canada

When it comes to experiencing the magic of Canada's winter from the comfort of a snow train, one route stands out for its scenic beauty and unique experiences: VIA Rail's Canadian journey between Vancouver and Toronto is the top snow train route in Canada, offering a spectacular cross-country adventure on a sleeper train.

1. VIA Rail's Canadian Journey: Vancouver to Toronto

VIA Rail’s Canadian journey is one of the most iconic train trips in the world, taking you from the bustling cityscape of Vancouver, through the majestic Rockies, across the vast prairies, and finally into the vibrant metropolis of Toronto. This sleeper-train route provides an extraordinary cross-section of Canadian geography and offers passengers the chance to see the country in its full winter glory.

2. Experience the Rockies in Winter

The journey through the Rockies is particularly enchanting, with the train winding through snow-covered peaks, frozen waterfalls, and serene alpine forests. The panoramic windows of VIA Rail’s trains provide an uninterrupted view of this winter wonderland, making it a photographer’s dream.
You’ll also have the opportunity to disembark in Jasper, a charming mountain town nestled in the heart of Jasper National Park. In winter, Jasper is the perfect base for exploring the Rockies. While the train only has a scheduled stop of four hours, we highly recommend extending your stay in Jasper – you can always get back on the train the next time it passes through. 

Canadian Winter Train Experiences

1. Sleeper Train 

VIA Rail has sleeper trains on two of its routes: The Canadian and the Ocean train. The Canadian runs between Vancouver and Toronto, while the Ocean train connects Montreal with Halifax. Some of these trains have panoramic viewing cars, giving you a bird's-eye view of Canada's winter beauty. Ice, snow and animals wearing their winter coats are just a few of the things you'll see along the way. 

Interior of VIA Rail Sleeper Plus Class Cabin with two bunk beds and a window

2. Winter Snow Train

VIA Rail also has several routes that make it easier to attend one of the many festivals and other special events that take place in Canada during the winter months. You'll never forget your first glimpse of frozen Niagara falls, sparkling in the sun and creating mini rainbows as the light reflects off the ice. The Quebec Winter Carnival is also a can't-miss event.

People at the Quebec Winter Festival celebrate in the streets of Old Quebec City and enjoy festivities

Celebrate Winter in Canada

  • Canada comes alive at this time of year with festivals dedicated to celebrating the magic of the snowy season. 
  • Carnaval du Quebec: Watch the lights twinkle on the ice palace, dance to live music, see the elaborate floats in the night parade, and cheer on the Ice Canoe Race. 
  • Winterlude: One of the biggest events in Ottawa, this is a joyous, bombastic celebration that includes live music, dancing, and an ice-carving competition. 
  • Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival: Every year expert chainsaw-wielding ice carvers gather to hew shimmering works of art from towering 300lb blocks of solid ice. 
  • World Ski & Snowboard Festival: The best skiers and snowboarders come from all over the world to compete in this 10 day festival in the alpine village of Whistler, BC. 

#1 Travel tip: Plan early for the holidays

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Thinking about spending Christmas in the Canadian Rockies? Book your trip early as there are only a few train departures and hotels sell out fast.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

Activities for Your Winter Trip

Rather than hide from the snow and cold, Canadians embrace it by making the frozen wilderness their chilly playground.

  • Dog Sledding: Glide swiftly across a frozen lake or through a silent, snow-laden forest pulled by a team of strong, beautiful huskies.
  • Snowshoeing: It's so much easier to explore the remote winter backcountry when you can step nimbly across even the deepest drifts.
  • Ice Skating: Go for a spin on Lake Louise or wind through the heart of downtown Ottawa on the frozen Rideau Canal.
  • Hot Springs: Ease yourself slowly into the steamy, sulphur-scented waters of Banff Hot Springs and let your muscles completely relax.
  • Maple Taffy Making: A quintessential Quebec treat, maple taffy is made with real French Canadian maple syrup, drizzled into a bank of fresh snow.
Sled dogs run through snowy landscape during daytime

Sled dogs run through snowy landscape during daytime

A group of snowshoers in Lake Louise take in the wintry view which surrounds them

A group of snowshoers in Lake Louise take in the wintry view which surrounds them

A couple ice skate by castle carved out of clear ice on Lake Louise while the sun is shining

A couple ice skate by castle carved out of clear ice on Lake Louise while the sun is shining

A couple in Banff Upper Hot Springs pool during winter

A couple in Banff Upper Hot Springs pool during winter

A couple enjoys sugar shack maple taffy candy at Quebec City’s Winter Carnaval

A couple enjoys sugar shack maple taffy candy at Quebec City’s Winter Carnaval

#2 Travel tip: Keep warm while it snows

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If you’re not a fan of cold weather but seeing snow is on your bucket list, a winter train journey is perfect for you. You can view the beautiful landscape while staying warm onboard the train.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

Canada Winter Pictures

These stunning photos offer just a glimpse of what Canada has to offer travellers during the winter season. 

A couple enjoys a sleigh ride and takes in the snowy landscape around them on a clear day during winter time, A view of Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and surrounding forest after snow, Turquoise river in Athabasca Canyon and rocky landscape covered in white snow, Couple stand on suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park with a view of tall trees covered in snow

Winter Weather in Canada

The winter weather in Canada is actually not as cold as you might think. Here's a quick look at the climate in three regions with very different environments. Looking for a snowy wonderland? You can always count on plenty of snow in the Maritimes, the Prairies and the Rocky Mountains.

Winter in the Rocky Mountains 

Temperatures in the Rockies can drop to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). However, due to the dryness of the air, even extreme temperatures feel bearable. The average temperature in Banff National Park during the winter months is around -12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit). Plus, as long as you are bundled up in boots, a scarf and a toque (that's Canadian for "woolly hat"), you'll be just fine. After all, the locals say, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." Keep in mind the weather can change quickly. 

A family roasts marshmallows over fire while sitting on outdoor bench with a mountain in the background

Winter in Quebec 

The winters in Quebec are freezing and snowy, but that doesn't stop the locals from celebrating with a full calendar of festivals. The coldest months of the year are January and February, when up to 30 inches of snow cover can fall. Weather in Quebec is wetter than on the prairies, which means more storms and a damp kind of cold. Bring a water-and-windproof outer layer and make sure you schedule time in your day to warm up inside by a fire. 

A person using their phone to take photo of Quebec Winter Festival mascot

Winter in the Prairies

Compared to the wet cold and blustery winds of the Maritimes, the climate in the Canadian prairies is very dry—so even as the thermometer dips to low temperatures it doesn't feel as cold. Plus, on many winter days in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the sun will still be out and shining, warming the air and making the newly fallen snow sparkle. One thing to watch out for is that the dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin. Bring plenty of lip balm and moisturizing lotion.  

A group travelling in snowshoes leap forward leaving steps in the fresh snow on a bright and clear day

Planning Your Snowy Train Journey

Embarking on a winter rail holiday in Canada requires some planning to ensure you get the most out of your experience. From choosing the best time to travel to booking your tickets and considering accessibility, here’s what you need to know to plan your perfect winter adventure.

Best Time to Travel

  • Peak Winter (December - February): Travelling during peak winter months ensures that you’ll encounter Canada’s winter at its most magical. From December to February, snow is abundant, covering the landscapes in a pristine white blanket. This is the best time to see the country in its full winter glory. The downside is that the busiest time for the snow train is over Christmas vacation, so trains can be more crowded, and bookings may need to be made well in advance.
  • Shoulder Seasons (November and March): If you prefer a quieter journey, consider travelling during the shoulder seasons of November and March. These months still offer the beauty of winter, with a good chance of snow, but with fewer tourists. This can mean a more relaxed experience on the train and at popular stops like Jasper. Additionally, shoulder seasons might offer slightly lower prices and more availability.

Booking Resources

When it comes to booking your snow train journey, using a specialized travel service like Canadian Train Vacations can offer significant advantages over booking directly with train companies. Canadian Train Vacations specializes in creating comprehensive travel packages that include not just train tickets, but also accommodations, guided tours, and excursions. This can simplify your planning process and ensure that all aspects of your trip are coordinated seamlessly. They offer expertise in personalizing itineraries to meet your specific interests and needs, whether you’re looking for luxury, adventure, or a mix of both. Additionally, their local knowledge can help you discover hidden gems and unique experiences that you might miss when booking independently.

Accessibility Considerations

For travellers with accessibility needs, planning a snow train journey requires some additional considerations to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Many Canadian trains, including those operated by VIA Rail, offer accessible services and facilities. This includes wheelchair-accessible cabins, onboard assistance, and accessible washrooms. When planning your trip, it’s essential to communicate your specific needs to the booking service or train company to ensure that appropriate accommodations are made. Canadian Train Vacations can also assist with planning accessible routes and activities, providing peace of mind and making your journey as smooth as possible.

What Our Customers Say

We had such a great time that we may do the trip again

We had a wonderful time on our trip. All the hotels were outstanding and the transfers went very smoothly. We especially enjoyed the trip from Lake Louise to Banff with our driver... 

Patricia Jean and Richard review of their [object Object] trip

Patricia Jean and Richard


Why book your train journey in Canada with Canadian Train Vacations?

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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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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

How much is a winter train ride in Canada?

The cost of a winter train vacation depends on several factors, including the length of the trip, the type of accommodations you select and whether you add any extra excursions to your itinerary. Our most popular winter train tours typically cost between $3,180 to $7,050 per person.

Where can you go on a winter train vacation in Canada?

Canada has many options for winter train vacations. Some of the most popular destinations include Quebec and the Rocky Mountains. Many travellers also like to cross the country on a trans-Canadian adventure to see the diverse landscapes changed by the snow and ice.

What is the best place for a winter train holiday?

The best place for a winter train tour is a rail excursion through the Canadian Rockies, home to Jasper and Banff National Parks. The region has something for everyone, from the outdoor enthusiast who wants to go downhill skiing to the avid reader who'd prefer to curl up by the fireplace with a good book.

Is there a Christmas train in Canada?

While Canada doesn't anything specifically called the Christmas train that carries passengers, VIA Rail runs its winter train service through the snowy Rockies throughout the holidays. Christmas is a very popular time to take The Canadian Train that crosses the country. The railway offers an assortment of seasonal meals and activities.

What is the Snow Train in Canada?

The Snow Train is a passage linking Vancouver with Jasper. To experience this magical winter train trip through the Canadian Rockies, ask one of our travel advisors about the Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland trip.

About the author: Hannah Poaros-McDermott is the Senior Content Coordinator at Fresh Tracks Canada. She has previously written for and shared her local knowledge in Where Vancouver, Where Whistler, and Essential Vancouver magazines. Originally from the UK, Hannah travelled... Read more

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