7 Unique Train Journeys Worth Taking in Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer offers an exhilarating train experience, taking you through the Rockies from Banff National Park to Vancouver
The Rocky Mountaineer offers an exhilarating train experience, taking you through the Rockies from Banff National Park to Vancouver | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Gargi Garach

Canada has many exquisite gems in its expansive landscape, and one of the best ways to experience all the country has to offer is to travel by train. From the Canadian Rockies to the tundra, we look at the train journeys through the Great White North that offer not only scenic expeditions but also local cultures to sample along the way.

The Rocky Mountaineer

The Rocky Mountaineer is a top choice when planning a train trip through Canada. The scenery stretching from British Columbia to Alberta is jaw-dropping, and you can view it all through the train’s glass-domed roof. Three different routes traverse through the Canadian Rockies; the most popular is the First Passage to the West, a two-day journey from Banff to Vancouver via Kamloops and Fraser Canyon.

When you arrive in Vancouver, stay at one of these hand-picked accommodation options to experience the city like a local.

The Rocky Mountaineer railway train winds its way through Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver) Route

To explore Canada from east to west, this four-day, cross-country journey with VIARail cuts through picturesque scenery. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy a long and winding 2,791mi (4,466km) ride that encompasses the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, complete with stops along the way. You can also take in the Rockies on the west coast. It runs several days a week and offers tempting discounts during winter.

Treat yourself to a stay at OPUS Vancouver boutique hotel in the unbeatable location of the city’s enduringly cool Yaletown.

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, is a narrow-gauge train connecting Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, to the Alaskan port of Skagway. It passes through Lake Bennett and Carcross, so you can dive into the history of the region and learn how it got its nickname of the Railway Built of Gold. It also traverses the White Pass Summit, the international border between the United States and Canada. Due to challenging geographical conditions, it only runs in summer.

Edgewater Hotel in central Whitehorse is an ideal place to stay before embarking on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. It’s near the airport and attractions such as the MacBride Museum, Yukon Wildlife Preserve and Takhini Hot Pools if you want to explore the area further.

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway travels between Whitehorse, Yukon, and Skagway, Alaska

The Winnipeg-Churchill Train

Snaking from Winnipeg to Churchill, this two-day journey is one of awe and splendor in the tundra. Enjoy spotting polar bears while soaking in the picturesque subarctic views. Take in the scenic shoreline of Hudson Bay, and meet the beluga whales in the Churchill River. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the dance of the Northern Lights in Churchill.

If you’re flying into Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport before setting off on the train journey, book a stay at the Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel by Lakeview – a stylish boutique hotel.

The Prairie Dog Central Railway

Travel back to simpler times on this steam rail train. The volunteer-run Prairie Dog Central Railway operates from Inkster Junction Station in Winnipeg. During this four-hour journey, you’ll experience the Great Train Robbery first-hand, explore some vintage Canadian artefacts and sample local produce from rural vendors. It runs every weekend from May to September. It also hosts special events; if you go in October, you can board the Halloween Express.

Stay in the heart of Winnipeg by booking at the Fairmont, right next to Red River. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the Bell MTS Place indoor arena and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The Prairie Dog Central Railway travels between Inkster Junction Station in Winnipeg and Grosse Isle

The Ontario Polar Bear Express

If you’re looking to travel off the beaten path, the Ontario Polar Bear Express will allow you to discover remote communities of the north and sample local food and art. From Cochrane to Moosonee in northern Ontario, this trip is unique in that its service is a true ode to traditional train journeys.

Spend the night on Moose Factory Island at Super 8 by Wyndham Moosonee to truly experience the pure Canadian wilderness.

Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Plunge into the heart of the Canadian wilderness, and experience the unparalleled beauty of the Agawa Canyon Park, with stunning views of the Talus Trail and Bellevue Valley Trestle. On this journey, you’ll see unique granite rock formations and mixed forests of the Canadian Shield, and the stunning views of Hubert Lake and Bridal Veil Falls will quench your wanderlust. This train operates seasonally from June to October.

Delta Hotels by Marriott Sault Ste Marie Waterfront is about a 15-minute walk from the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Book a stay now to make use of the indoor pool, sauna and fitness center. There’s also an on-site restaurant that focuses on steak and seafood.

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is most popular during fall

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