Loons gliding across mirror-like lakes. Jagged mountains topped with glistening snow. Dense pine forests alive with birdsong. Canada’s landscapes are vast, unspoiled and inspiring.
But you don’t have to “rough it” in a tent in the woods in order to see them for yourself. Luxury train travel in Canada gives you the opportunity to explore the pristine wilderness while leaning back in a comfy chair with a chilled glass of Okanagan Valley Chardonnay in your hand.
Read on to learn more about luxury train travel in Canada, as well as some insider tips for booking your trip.
Top Luxury Train Trips in Canada
The Rocky Mountaineer
One of the most famous and iconic luxury train trips in Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer provides an unforgettable experience. When you travel on the GoldLeaf service, you’ll glide through spectacular mountain landscapes while admiring the views from the bi-level, custom-designed, glass-dome coach. Along the way, you’ll be treated to gourmet meals created by executive chefs and made with fresh local ingredients.
Via Rail The Ocean
The oldest continuously running “named” passenger train in North America, The Ocean has been carrying travelers through Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia since 1904. This spectacular 836-mile trip glides along the picturesque Baie des Chaleurs, where small villages of clapboard houses line the rocky coast and the sunlight glints on the water.
Via Rail The Canadian
It’s impossible to see all of Canada in one trip, but this journey comes pretty close. You’ll travel from Toronto all the way to Vancouver – passing by stunning waterfalls, lakes, mountains and prairies along the way. It’s a five-day, four-night journey across five provinces and four time zones. When you travel in Prestige Class, you’ll enjoy excellent meals, private lounges and the services of a concierge.
Known for its high-quality cuisine, this “Train Touristique” travels through the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It’s a day trip train and it is available from May to December. As you admire the peaceful, pastoral views you’ll dine on refined dishes such as corn pesto-crusted local rainbow trout or flank steak au jus with miniature Quebec-grown potatoes.
Tips For Booking a Luxury Train Trip
Book a Sleeper Car
Whenever possible, treat yourself to a sleeper car when taking a luxury train trip across Canada. For example, the sleeper car in Prestige Class onboard Via Rail The Canadian is like a compact hotel room on rails – with a double bed, an en-suite bathroom and shower, a flat-screen TV and a large picture window.
There’s something so incredibly relaxing about sleeping on a train. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking movement of the cars and you’ll wake up somewhere new – with a fresh view outside your window.
Leave Extra Time for Onward Travel
It’s a good idea not to book onward travel on the same day your train arrives at the station. Your time of arrival is more of a general estimate, so keep your plans loose for the day you arrive so you don’t have to worry about missing your onward bookings.
Often trains traveling across Canada must give priority to freight trains, so this can sometimes cause a few delays along the way. (Which just gives you more time to relax in the lounge car and have another glass of wine!)
Bring Analog Entertainment
Many of the luxury trains in Canada have WiFi, but there may be some points in the journey across this vast and remote nation that you will be off the grid. If you want to take a break and enjoy a digital detox, this can be perfect for you. Being on the train makes you slow down and savor the moment in a way that is difficult to come by in this fast-paced world.
You can finally finish that book you’ve been meaning to read, write some observations in your journal or just gaze out the window and soak it all in. (Plus, many trains will have onboard activities such as wine tastings and live music, so there’s plenty to keep you busy.)
If you can handle the chill, there are a lot of reasons to consider enjoying your luxury train vacation in Canada during the winter months. First of all, the landscapes look simply magical when they are covered in a sparkling blanket of freshly fallen snow. There’s something so cozy and comforting about curling up with a mug of hot chocolate while you watch the frosty pines and frozen lakes go by.
Plus, the trains will be less crowded and you’ll get your pick of seats in the dome car. Also, winter is festival season in many of Canada’s cities, so you’ll have the chance to attend events such as Winterlude in Ottawa and Carnaval de Quebec in Quebec City.
Book As Early As Possible
When you are booking your luxury train journey in Canada, it’s best to book in advance. When you book early, you’ll get the best availability and the widest selection of fares and options.Also, train journeys can be customizable. It is often possible to add on tours and activities at the beginning or end of your trip. Or, you may be able to take a longer stopover in a particular destination along the route, so you have more time to explore.
This way, you can turn your train trip to Canada into a full, bucket-list experience where you see as much of this stunning country as possible!