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The Best Train Trips and Experiences in Canada
The Canada train trips on this list offer stunning scenery and provide more than just transportation from point A to B. Though train travel in Canada tends to be more expensive than bus or sometimes even air travel, train travel is relaxing, scenic and social. The romance of the train is alive and well on Canada's major rail systems.
Canada's national rail system is VIA Rail and offers a fairly extensive system of rail transportation across the country (though not in every province). Other rail companies operate to provide relatively luxurious, scenic adventures or a unique vintage experiences.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Rocky Mountaineer, "First Passage to the West" - Calgary, Alberta/Vancouver, BC
One of several scenic train runs offered by Rocky Mountaineer, the First Passage to the West between Calgary and Vancouver retraces the steps of 19th century explorers and passes by the spot where the Last Spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven. Travel 3, 4 or 5 nights through mountains, canyons, rivers and glaciers.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Rocky Mountaineer, "Sea to Sky Climb" - Vancouver/Whistler, British Columbia
The Whistler Sea to Sky Climb is a three-hour journey that takes passengers past some of Canada's most stunning scenery. The train hugs Howe Sound, water inlets, Cheakamus Canyon, snow-capped mountain peaks, an old mining town and more before arriving at Whistler Village mountain resort.
The train runs northbound to Whistler in the morning and southbound back to Vancouver in the afternoon, so many people stay at least one night in Whistler to break up the trip.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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VIA Rail, Prince Rupert, British Columbia/Jasper, Alberta
This train travels 1,160 km between the Rockies and the North Pacific Coast through remarkable and varied landscapes. Passengers can enjoy lakes, rivers, mountains, dotted by historic villages, farms and sawmills. Wildlife, including bear, moose, elk, wolves and eagles are also known to inhabit the area. This trip has an overnight layover in Prince George where guests can book a hotel room or bed & breakfast. Read more about the VIA Prince Rupert/Jasper rail route.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Polar Bear Express, Northern Ontario
The Polar Bear Express connects the coastal communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory to Cochrane, offering visitors the chance to experience the people and landscape of Northern Ontario.
This trip does not have the wide appeal that Rocky Mountaineer, for example, does and is more for train enthusiasts and those with a particular interest in First Nations culture or just a desire to travel well off the beaten path.
The Polar Bear Express is a traditional train, with limited comforts and is notoriously delayed. The 186 mile route between Cochrane and Moosonee is scenic, but once in Moosonee, there isn't much to do. In addition, the name of the Polar Bear Express is a misnomer in that few polar bears are seen in this region of Canada.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Agawa Canyon, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
This scenic exploration of Northern Ontario takes passengers 114 miles north of Sault Ste Marie and back again. This rugged landscape features granite rock formations, towering trestles and mixed forests typical of the Canadian Shield. This 10-hour Agawa Canyon rail excursion includes a stunning coast down into the Agawa Canyon at which point passengers are invited to roam the area and enjoy its beauty, including four waterfalls, close up. The Agawa Canyon train trip is particularly popular in late September to early October when fall foliage is peaking. Book early for these times.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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H.C.W. Steam Train, Hull/Chelsea/Wakefield (near Ottawa, Ontario)
This tourist attraction was lovingly restored by a community intent on preserving railroad heritage. Between May and October, people from all over the world board this half-day, 40-mile (64 km) scenic journey between Hull, Quebec, and Wakefield, Ontario.
The H.C.W. Steam Train is the only operating European steam engine in Canada and one of the last operating excursion steam engines in Canada and celebrated its 100 anniversary in 2007.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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VIA Rail Cross Country - "The Canadian"
If you want to get a true sense of the breadth and diversity of Canada, consider a trip on VIA Rail's The Canadian. This cross-country journey begins in Toronto and takes four days to traverse the more than 2,700 miles (4,400 km), five provinces, and four time zones to reach Vancouver on the Pacific Coast. The Canadian showcases Canada's forests, lakes, mountains and expansive prairie grasslands as well as the people who inhabit the cities and towns along the way: places as urban as Toronto, Ontario, and as remote and picturesque as Blue River, British Columbia (population 269).Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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VIA Rail, Churchill/Winnipeg, Manitoba
This two-day 1,700 km journey (over 1,000 miles) from Winnipeg to the subarctic region of Northern Manitoba gives passengers the chance to see the Northern Lights, polar bears, First Nations culture and some beautiful northern landscape.
This train route runs year-round, but it's between October and November that the polar bears make their trek through Churchill and can be viewed close up in "tundra buggies." Summertime sees beluga whales and experience the midnight sun.
Read more about VIA Rail's Churchill/Winnipeg route.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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VIA Rail, Montreal, Quebec/Halifax, Nova Scotia - "The Ocean"
This overnight 1,346 km (836 mi) journey connects two of eastern Canada's most bustling cities. Though very different, Montreal and Halifax both have much to offer visitors and are excellent examples of the different cultures and history that make up Canada. Begin your journey in the early evening in Montreal - a city with one of the world's largest French-speaking population and a culture steeped in European tradition - and end in Halifax, Canada's busiest port cities and one that is brimming with Maritime hospitality.
The Ocean is a great chance to experience the romance of train travel, including sleeping and dining, and some gorgeous scenery in less than 24 hours.
Read more about VIA Rail's The Ocean.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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VIA Rail, Montreal/Gaspe, Quebec
The Montreal/Halifax train route was cut in 2013 and no longer operates.
The Gaspé Peninsula is a a mostly coastal region of eastern Quebec surrounded by the St. Lawrence waterway and the Bay of Chaleur. It offers diversified and picturesque sea and mountain landscapes, valleys, bays and coastlines as well as whale watching, sea excursions, kayaking, bird watching, salmon fishing, lighthouse and architectural tours, hiking and scenic drives.