Seven scenic train trips across Canada
All aboard: railroad escapes from coast to coast
Words— Kaitlyn McInnis
Now that we’re collectively becoming more and more aware of how commuting by way of airplane is not exactly a sustainable travel option to be indulging in all the time, a trip via train is becoming much more appealing—and honestly, so many of us are quick to jump on an international flight to a far-flung destinations, sometimes it’s nice to get to know our own backyard in the comfort of a classic locomotive.
That’s why we’re looking to the most jaw-dropping train trips across the country for our next trip out of the office. From Vancouver to Halifax, these domestic trips combine the relaxation and laid back nature of a cruise with the breathtaking adventure travel so many of us crave. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the sweeping coastlines and mountain views from the comfort of your train car.
The Greenbelt Express: Toronto to Niagara Falls
Great for cyclists and nature lovers, The Greenbelt Express is a seasonal train service that services the surrounding Niagara region, specifically those who want to see the natural wonder on two wheels. The train has special bike cars with built-in racks and the entire trip takes just two hours and covers about 130 km.
Agawa Canyon Tour Train: Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon Park
Hop on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train for a roundtrip adventure from Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon Park. The train will take passengers through the rugged landscapes that inspired Canada’s most famous art movement, the Group of Seven, and spans about a day total time. It’s a particularly gorgeous getaway during the fall when the leaves are peak autumnal rainbow.
The Prairie Dog Central Railway: Rosser, Manitoba to Warren, Manitoba
A great day trip for a little adventure, The Prairie Dog Central Railway is a heritage railway that uses steam and diesel trains to travel between Rosser and Warren. Nestled just outside of Winnipeg, the trip lasts just an hour and includes a 90-minute stopover for anyone who wants to get out and explore a little—but the real adventure lies in the old school locomotive.
Rocky Mountaineer: Calgary, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia
We’re so quick to overlook the natural wonder of Canada, but there’s so much to explore in our own backyard—and that includes the First Passage to the West between Calgary and Vancouver. Here, passengers will witness the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies and the remote vistas of Canada's West while enjoying first class accommodations and fine dining—or a fraction of what you’d pay on an airplane.
Polar Bear Express: Cochrane, Ontario to Moosonee, Ontario
It may sound like a kids' movie, but The Polar Bear Express is one of the most interesting trips in terms of locomotive travel and Canadian culture. While the 300-kilometre trip doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping landscapes you’d find on some of the other trips on the list, it offers the chance to experience Northern Ontario First Nations culture and the communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory.
VIA Rail: Cross Country, Toronto to Vancouver
This cross-country journey is a must-see for all Canadians. VIA Rail’s The Canadian really showcases the diversity of the country’s landscape, taking passengers through the winding tracks and sweeping views only accessible by train. The trip begins in Toronto and takes four days to reach the West Coast—just the right amount of time to unwind, read a book or two, and get through your piled up list of podcasts.
VIA Rail: Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia
If you thought all the natural beauty resided on the West Coast, you’d be mistaken! The East Coast of Canada, specifically Nova Scotia, has some of the most impressive coastlines and tides in the world—in fact, the world record for the highest tide is in the Bay of Fundy! Via Rail’s The Ocean is a great way to see the Atlantic Provinces without paying an arm and a leg for air travel. The overnight trip spans just over 1,000 kilometres and takes a total of 24 hours. We recommend getting a private cabin and really enjoying old fashioned locomotive hospitality.