Eight Canadian Train Trips to Dream About

Beautiful train trip through the Yukon
Beautiful train trip through the Yukon

Canada has a long history with its trains and in fact the development of the rail system helped unite the east and west a form the country we have today. In total Canada has some 49,422 km of train track – though most is used for freight nowadays. Still there are some excellent train journeys the public can enjoy. Check out these eight great Canadian train trips that you can dream about doing.

Through Cheakamus Canyon on the Rocky Mountaineer
Through Cheakamus Canyon on the Rocky Mountaineer

One of the great Canadian train trips – Vancouver to Jasper on the Rocky Mountaineer

The Rocky Mountaineer also offers a two day trip from Vancouver to Jasper or Banff with an overnight stop in a Kamloops hotel. That allows you to go through the Rocky Mountains during daylight hours. It’s a wonderful, relaxing experience with some first-rate scenery and top of the line friendly service.

I loved the vantage point from the train ride through the mountains – quite a different experience compared to a drive.

Snack time on board the Rocky Mountaineer
Snack time on board the Rocky Mountaineer

The longest Canadian train trip for those who want to travel from Vancouver to Halifax

If you have three days and 10 hours then jump on board Via Rail in Vancouver and head east to Toronto. You leave Vancouver in the evening so the timing is such that you get some of the best Rocky Mountain scenery during daylight hours.

A trip like this will give you a real sense of the vastness of the country. If you’re keen to continue east catch a train to Montreal and switch again for the 21 hour trip to Halifax. That will take you almost five days to complete.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway – one of the shortest Canadian train trips

If you want to experience a slice of Canadian history then hop on board the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.

It takes you 10 miles along the only preserved section of the Kettle Valley Railway track in the Okanagan Valley. It was built between 1910 and 1915 and originally used to transport fruit and families to the coast.

In 90 minutes you’ll ride through orchards, past some of the Okanagan’s famous 100+ wineries and get a terrific view of the canyon 238 feet below from the Trout Creek Bridge. It operates from May to September.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway
The Kettle Valley Steam Railway – Photo credit: Nils Oberg on Wikimedia Commons

Calgary to southeast Alberta and back

For a luxurious train experience starting and ending in Calgary, take the six nights/seven days tour on the Royal Canadian Pacific train.

The cars have been restored to their former elegance – complete with brass fittings and brocade chairs. Some of the highlights on the week long trip include Banff, Lake Louise, the Spiral Tunnels, the Columbia Valley, Crowsnest Pass and Waterton Lakes National Park. Back in 2008 National Geographic Traveler called it a Tour of a Lifetime.

The Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park
The Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park

Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba by train

Do you have two days because that’s what you need to complete the 1700 kilometre great Canadian train trip across the sub-Arctic region of northern Manitoba? Chances are if you’re on this train you’re heading up to see polar bears and northern lights in the late fall or to see the beluga whales in the summer.

No matter what this is a train trip of adventure. You can do the return trip for under $400 – if you’re okay with sleeping upright in a chair. There is a sleeper class too but expect to pay hundreds of dollars more.

Arcadian train trips to Churchill
In the dining car on the way to Churchill – Photo credit: Lee Coursey on Flickr

Toronto Niagara Greenbelt Express

Are you looking to get out of Toronto this summer? Starting this coming May long weekend you can take the train from Union Station in Toronto to Niagara Falls – with your bike on Friday nights and weekends.

The Niagara station is located one block from the 56 kilometre Niagara River Recreation Trail which takes you through glorious wine country to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It’s also possible to get off in St. Catherines and explore Port Dalhousie and the Welland Canal. There is room for up to 46 bikes on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Maid of the Mist boat ride to Niagara Falls
There’s a reason you’re given raincoats on the Maid of the Mist tour – Photo credit: Olivier Guillard

Quebec City to La Malbaie, Quebec

If you want great food along with fantastic scenery then the Charlevoix Touring Train deserves to be on your bucket list. The train travels 140 km, 85 of which are alongside the St. Lawrence River. It’s one of the Canadian train trips you can do as an out and back ride.

There’s a stop in Baie-Saint-Paul but it’s the food that gets rave reviews and people on board. Locally sourced ingredients form the basis of gourmet lunches and dinners that Chef Turcot from the Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu has composed. Unfortunately, the train is no longer operating during ski season.

Canadian train trips - a scenic ride along the St Lawrence River
There’s some good relief and a few tunnels to get through the rock

The White Pass – Yukon Railroad Experience 

I did this trip in July 2017 and though part of it is in Alaska a large stretch is in British Columbia and the Yukon. It’s the most scenic of the Canadian train trips I’ve ever done, though I was certainly lucky to have a sunny day. There is a stop on Bennett Lake where you can exit the train and hike a short distance on the Chilkoot Trail.

Read: The White Pass – Yukon Railroad Experience

Canadian train trips with exceptional scenery in the Yukon
Gorgeous scenery chugging along beside Bennett Lake

Further reading on adventures in Canada

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Eight great Canadian train trips lasting from a day to many days



  1. Back in the summer of 1970 my wife and I made a rail trip from Vancouver to Moncton via CP Rail . We slepped in a dormer roomette nights and had meals provided as part of the fare. We visited my wife’s aunt at Moncton and feasted on lobster. We then carried on to Truro Nova Scotia for a much longer visit. Then we took a trip back to Vancouver from Halifax via CN Rail. Same provisions at night and for eating it was great. We were fairly poor and that is why we had a roomette. That thing was really meant for one person, I’m quite sure. The room had a bed that folded back into the wall and made a couch. There was a toilet and a sink and they were covered by the bed at night. If someone wanted to pee the bed had to go back and one person crammed themselves into the doorway to make way for the bed going up. No matter, we were fairly newly married. 🙂 Another bright point of the trip was the car designed to view the scenery. Pretty terrific. Another was the food. It was very good. Oh, almost forgot, we stopped for a couple of hours underground in Montreal below a Place Vil Mare. Sorry if my spelling is off. It gave us a chance to shop right there in the big city. Lots to see and do.

  2. I have travelled from Montreal to Toronto & Montreal to Quebec City but clearly I need to go out and go west!

    I dream of seeing Manitoba and the majestic Rockies.

    Great post!

    1. @Karla I would love to take the train from Winnipeg to Churchill which I understand is quite the experience. And I’ve done a small section on the Rocky Mountaineer and that was great fun.

  3. I love posts on train trips! I have never been on one but I’ve wanted to do the Vancouver to Halifax trip on VIA for years now. This was fun to read 🙂

  4. Thank you very much for sharing this great post! I love train trips and these look really wonderful. 🙂

  5. Wow, these are long rides! It takes only a few hours of nonstop car/bus ride to get from one end of Israel to the other. Some people here think that a 1 hour commute is a big deal. I would love to travel to northern Manitoba in the summer, see the whales, then wait for the polar bears and Northern Lights.

    1. @Ayelet The trip you would like to do is the one that is at the top of my list. I hope to do it in the next few years but can’t decide what I’d like to see more – polar bears or beluga whales – but you can swim with the beluga whales.

  6. These all sound like fun. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never taken a train in Canada, but have done my share of train trips in Europe.

    1. @Laurel I think trains and Europe go together because they do make travel easy. Unless you’re in the Windsor-Montreal corridor that’s not always the case in Canada. But for sheer beauty you can’t beat some of these train trips.

  7. I would love to do any of these Canadian train trips. We have always thought of taking the scenic train to Whistler from Vancouver. I can imagine how beautiful that must be. But, my dream train trip would have to be the one starting and ending in Calgary on the Royal Canadian Pacific train and visiting all those National Parks. These are all great ideas, Leigh!

    1. @Mary Your dream trip would be a beauty especially since there is lots of time to get off the train and explore.But even the one day Rocky Mountaineer trip is good fun.

  8. No we have not, but we have followed train tracks all over Canada. I think every photo of a lake or river has a train track beside it! When we are over 60 we are going to do the Vancouver to Halifax (discount for over 60’s). Canada is such a beautiful country – to live amongst this beauty must be awe inspiring.

  9. I love train trips and these look wonderful. Years ago we stayed at the Post Inn adjacent to the train tracks just the east side of the Continental Divide. We so wanted to get on that train and head west. I don’t see that route here, so maybe it’s gone. The Vancouver to Jasper trip would be a great substitute- or maybe that’s the route.

    1. @Billie There is a train trip that takes you to Banff – where you stay overnight in Kamloops and Banff in hotels and not on the train. You do get to see all the Rocky Mountain scenery during daylight hours. The Vancouver to Jasper would also be a very interesting train experience.

  10. Okay, here’s some other cool Canadian trains travelers may want to try. All are in the Province of Ontario:
    The Algoma Central Railway in Ontario operates a milepost train between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario. The 476km/296mi train accesses wilderness lodges, Lake Superior Provincial Park and Chapleau Game Preserve, a massive tract of Crown Land where animals are protected. Backcountry trippers can load their gear- even their canoes and kayaks and get dropped off at mileposts along the rail line.

    Another cool milepost train in Ontario is VIA Rail’s “Budd Car” which operates between the Northern Ontario communities of Sudbury and White River (home of original Winnie the Pooh bear), a distance of 484km/301mi. There are towns along it that are only accessible by rail. The Budd Car are self-propelled diesel cars that were made by the Budd Co. of Philadelphia.

    The Polar Bear Express (seriously, that’s what it’s called) has been a lifeline to James Bay communities since 1932. Travelers pick up the train in Cochrane in Northern Ontario. Regular and milepost stops are made along its route. The train even has its own dedicated canoe car for backcountry trippers. Final destination is Moosonee (often referred to as the gateway to the Canadian Arctic) located on the Moose River, just south of James Bay.

    1. Thank you so much for that comprehensive comment. I know about the Polar Bear Express but must have been on the wrong website yesterday as it had looked like it had been replaced by a bus. I was wrong and am happy to see the train still goes up to Moosonee – a trip I’d love to do.

  11. The only train rides I’ve taken were in Asia: hot, cramped, and uncomfortable. These train trips look like something I’d do because I actually want to 🙂

    1. @Jill Train trips in Canada would be at the other end of the spectrum – though if you didn’t opt for a sleeper car on some of the longer journeys you may be a bit stiff by the end of the trip.

  12. I have thought a train trip across the wide spaces might be better. I used the train a lot in Europe but it is safer then the usa and canada is safer too

    1. @Eileen We never hear of safety issues on the trains in Canada – and that’s hopefully not a news blackout but because there aren’t any problems. I remember in Italy in particular one had to watch your things with great vigilance.

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