A train journey across Canada offers breathtaking scenery and appears on many people’s bucket lists. It’s an excellent way to see the country, whether you choose to travel from coast to coast or whether you just take in one region. Travelling overland across Canada’s vast landscape you will come across emerald green forests, crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, vast wilderness areas and cosmopolitan cities. If you’re planning any rail tours to discover Canada, here are some tips to get you started.
VIA Rail Canada is the operator running long-distance trains across Canada. VIA Rail trains will take you between Canada’s major cities, and even all the way across Canada on the between Toronto and Vancouver. The other very popular train company is the more luxurious Rocky Mountaineer, which takes you through the Rocky Mountains from Vancouver via Kamloops & Jasper. Travelling through this area of rugged natural beauty, you will go past mountain ranges, glacier-fed lakes and rivers.
On VIA Rail’s inter city trains you can travel between the major cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, plus there is a service which links Montreal and Quebec. ‘The Canadian’ takes four nights to complete, traveling all the way across Canada from Toronto to Winnipeg, Edmonton, Jasper and Vancouver. ‘The Ocean’ is also a spectacular route along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Halifax. There are also plenty of day trips: you can travel between Victoria and Courtenay on Vancouver Island, do the ‘Whistler Sea to Sky climb’ with Rocky Mountaineer between North Vancouver and Whistler, or take the train between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Rocky Mountaineer offers three rail routes through the Canadian Rocky Mountains so you can observe the magnificent snow-capped mountain peaks from the comfort of a luxurious train.
Accommodation on trains
If you choose to take ‘The Canadian’ with VIA Rail, considered one of the world’s best train journeys, you’ll be travelling in an original 1955 stainless steel coach. You can either choose to sit in a reclining seat in Economy Class, or travel in a private sleeping car with meals included in ‘Sleeper Touring Class’.
The Rocky Mountaineer has three classes of service: RedLeaf, SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf. The RedLeaf coach has large picture windows and you can sit back in a roomy, reclining chair. You receive complimentary soft drinks and snacks, as well as chilled meals served to your seat. The SilverLeaf coach is a single-level glass domed coach with large windows. You get roomy, reclining seats, breakfast and lunch served to your seat, plus complimentary soft drinks and snacks. GoldLeaf is the most luxurious coach; a two-level, glass domed coach with full-length windows and exclusive dining room, gourmet hot meals and complimentary beverages and snacks.
If you’re backpacking Canada on a budget, then you can save money on train journeys by getting a rail pass with VIA Rail. The Canarailpass-System is best if you are travelling coast to coast, and is valid for 7 one-way trips in Economy Class within a 21-day period. There is also the Canarailpass-Corridor, which is suitable if you are exploring southern Ontario and Southern Quebec. This pass is valid for 7 one-way trips in Economy Class within a 10-day period. Traveling by train all the way across Canada can sometimes be expensive, but you can cut down on the cost by focusing on one region or looking out for special deals with VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer.
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Pictures courtesy of freewallpapers.com, titanhitours.co.uk and,VIA Rail Canada.