5 Scenic Canadian Train Trips

See recent posts by Stefanie Waldek

While Canada’s major cities are certainly a tourist draw, its wilderness is a sight to behold on its own. While the more audacious might choose to hike the mountains and plains, there is a much more convenient method of sightseeing—trains. Canada’s train system can take guests across the entire country, viewing everything from the rocky cliffs along the Atlantic to the picturesque Canadian Rockies. These trains are but a few of the great offerings for a Canadian adventure.


1. Rocky Mountaineer

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Roderick Eime

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Roderick Eime

One of the most well-known trains in Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer covers the country’s southwest corner. There are several different routes that can take you to Banff, Lake Louise, Kamloops, Alberta, Quesnel, Whistler, and Vancouver. (Travelers can also ride the rail across the border to Seattle.) Rather than offering sleeper cars, Rocky Mountaineer makes overnight stops, so guests can relax in the comfort of a hotel. During the day, travelers can sit in the double-height sightseeing cars and enjoy high-end dining options.

2. Royal Canadian Pacific

If you’re looking to travel similar routes out west, but with an added nostalgia, consider the Royal Canadian Pacific train, which comprises 10 business cars from the 1920s and two locomotives from the 1950s. It’s not just their exteriors that have been maintained—each car is outfitted in period decor, from walnut paneling to silver settings. The vintage train features upscale guest rooms with single or double beds, as well as en suite baths.

3. The Ocean

Courtesy of Flickr/Dennis Jarvis

Courtesy of Flickr/Dennis Jarvis

Run by Canada’s VIA Rail, the Ocean train connects Montreal and Halifax. The nearly 24-hour journey takes travelers 836 miles through Canada’s Maritime provinces, traversing quaint countryside filled with farms, pine-covered hills shrouded in mist, and charming seaside villages. Guests can enjoy the double-decker Park car, which features two lounges on its first level and a special sightseeing deck with panoramic windows on its second.

4. Polar Bear Express

Courtesy of Flickr/Marty Bernard

Courtesy of Flickr/Marty Bernard

As one might expect, the Polar Bear Express takes travelers north, connecting the cities of Cochrane and Moosonee. Operated by Ontario Northland, the train covers the Northern Ontario wilderness on a five hour journey each way. While the train is mainly used by commuters these days, it’s a scenic way to reach the Gateway to the Arctic, as Moosonee is known. Note: Despite the train’s moniker, polar bears are not often seen along the route.

5. The Canadian

Courtesy of Flickr/Andrew Kaszowski

Courtesy of Flickr/Andrew Kaszowski

For the grand tour of Canada, take VIA Rail’s luxurious Canadian. The four-day, three-night trip brings travelers from Vancouver to Toronto, crossing the Canadian Rockies and the open plains of Ontario. For guests looking to extend their trip, this main route connects to several others, including paths to Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Churchill in Manitoba, Montreal, and even Halifax (via the Ocean route), among several others.

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