Explore With Lora

Complete Guide to Taking the Train Across Canada

By: Author Lora Pope

Posted on Published: February 10, 2022  - Last updated: July 5, 2023

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Wondering about taking the train across Canada? I’ve done it twice in each direction, and it truly is one of my favorite adventures of all time.

Taking the passenger train across Canada is the best way to travel through my beautiful country.

This scenic journey will take you through the Atlantic Coast, Ontario’s great lakes, the Prairies, and the stunning Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Colombia.

If you’re planning a trip to Canada, taking the train is a wonderful way to get around the country and see all the incredible landscapes.

In this guide, I’ll lay out everything you need to know about the cross-Canada train, including routes, prices, and why this experience should be on your Canada bucket list.

How I took the Train across Canada Twice (for free)

I always dreamed of a rail trip across Canada, but I could never justify it on my budget. Then, the most fortunate turn of events happened to me.

I was mid-way through my trip around the world in Vancouver for a family wedding. I wanted to spend the summer going across the country to my hometown, St. John’s , and was trying to figure out the cheapest way to get across the country by land as I was on a tight budget.

Then I got a call from VIA Rail Canada, who told me that I had won their 40th-anniversary contest! The prize was two round-trip tickets for VIA Rail across Canada train tickets. I couldn’t believe it; the timing was perfect.

Even though I had two years to use the tickets, I wanted to go almost immediately. VIA Rail was surprised at how quickly I wanted to redeem my prize, but they kindly accommodated me. Before I knew it, I was off on a VIA Train across Canada!

Canada Train Routes

You have to take two different routes to get across Canada by train.

The Canadian , the Vancouver to Toronto train (or visa versa), and the Ocean , the Montreal to Halifax train.

You can take a regular VIA Rail commuter train to get between Toronto and Montreal. They aren’t as nice but run every day, and it only takes about five hours. By Canada distances, five hours is basically next-door.

The Canadian Train from Vancouver to Toronto

train across canada map

The train that brings people between Vancouver and Toronto (or vice versa) is The Canadian. It starts in Toronto at Union Station or in Vancouver at Pacific Station.

Toronto and Vancouver are both lovely cities to explore while traveling in Canada .

Toronto was my home for years, and I never get bored of exploring the city with so many things to do.

If you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Toronto, check out my post about the best boutique hotels in Toronto.

girl Hiking in Squamish near Vancouver

Vancouver is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, sitting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains . It is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, especially with so many options for weekend trips from Vancouver.

Check here for the best rates on accommodation in Vancouver.

girl holding train tickets in train station downtown vancouver

During the train ride from Vancouver to Toronto, you will pass through the Canadian Rockies with stops in Kamloops, Jasper, and Edmonton – Alberta’s capital city.

The views are breathtaking along the way, passing through some of the most beautiful places in Alberta.

mount robson british colombia

After leaving Alberta, you enter Saskatchewan. The train journey across Canada was my first time seeing Saskatchewan, and I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the landscapes were. The bright green endless canola fields are gorgeous in the summertime. 

canola fields in saskatchewan

From there, the Canadian train stops in Winnipeg, Sioux Lookout, and a long but beautiful journey through Northern Ontario with a stop in Sudbury before arriving in Toronto.

I loved this train route, especially the part between Vancouver and Edmonton.  

In Edmonton, they add on an extra panoramic window train cart with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, so you get the most stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.

girl staring out of train in British colombia

The Ocean Train from Montreal to Halifax

The Ocean train route map from Montreal to Halifax

The train journey between Montreal and Halifax is called The Ocean. It starts at either Montreal’s Central station or Halifax, and has many stops throughout Quebec and New Brunswick.

This train route only takes 23 hours, which doesn’t give you as much time to get to know the staff and other guests compared to The Canadian .

The train they use for the Ocean route is slightly different from the Canadian. It’s a newer train, but the rooms felt smaller.

The food is excellent (yay seafood!), and the scenery is stunning—especially the section closer to Halifax that goes along the water.

I loved my experience on both trains, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Canadian train route.

What to Expect On the Train Ride Across Canada

Accommodation on the train.

Your accommodation on the train depends on the ticket class you have. There are three tiers:

Economy.  An economy ticket will get you a regular seat on the train. However, economy passengers don’t have access to the dining/activity carts. There is a place to buy food onboard the economy section, but it’s an additional cost.

Sleeper class. All passengers in this class have access to the dining/activity cars. Plus, meals come with the sleeper class ticket, which is great because the food on the train is amazing. There are various bed options in sleeper class:

The best (and most expensive) option within the sleeper class is the one or two-bed private cabin with a bathroom.

The other sleeper class options are only semi-private. One of them is a bench seat that folds out into a bed, with a curtain to close at night. The bathroom is shared.

I also saw semi-private rooms with a similar bench/bed combo, but with a toilet inside with a lid that goes over it to turn it into another seat. Sleeping/sitting next to a toilet all day didn’t appeal to me, so I’d probably go with one of the other options.

Prestige Class: The ultimate class. The private cabins used to be first-class, but recently VIA Rail has made upgrades with new prestige carts. This is the luxury train across Canada!

The prestige rooms are soundproof, which is a massive plus because it can be noisy on the train. Inside the rooms, there is an l-shaped couch that folds out into a double bed, a large flat-screen TV, and massive windows to take in the views. And the best part – the rooms come with unlimited alcohol.

The catch? The VIA rail Prestige class price is around $10,000, and they are only available on the Toronto to Vancouver route. Unfortunately the prestige cart didn’t come as part of my prize, but VIA Rail was kind enough to let me see inside one of the prestige carts.

girl staring out window in prestige cart via rail

My prize was the two-person cabin which felt prestigious for a backpacker. It had a set of bunk beds, a sink, and a separate room with a toilet (showers are outside of the room). It’s a tight fit with two people, but I found it perfect when coming back as one person.

girl in via rail train

Another perk of prestige class is having access to an exclusive lounge. This cart is much nicer than any of the other viewing carts on the train.

After 4 pm, they allow all the other sleeper class passengers access to the prestige car. However, there are limited seats, so it’s a good idea to get there at 4 pm or even a few minutes before if you want to guarantee a seat.

The best part about the cart is that it’s at the back of the train, so you get views like this.

views of the rocky mountains from back of via rail train across canada

Amazing Scenery

The scenery is the best part of a Canada train trip. Getting to see the changing landscapes from coast to coast is an unforgettable experience. I feel lucky to come from such a beautiful and diverse country.

river in british colombia canada

Some of my highlights on the train ride across Canada were passing through Jasper National Park, Mount Robson, Fraser Canyon in British Colombia, the Canola fields of Saskatchewan, the never-ending lakes and trees of Northern Ontario , and along the ocean near Halifax. All of the sunsets on the train were magical.

sunset on the vancouver to toronto train

The best part about taking the train both ways across Canada is that you get to see parts of the country where it may have been dark before. 

For example, coming back on the Toronto to Vancouver train, we passed a beautiful stretch near the border of Manitoba and Winnipeg, which I hadn’t seen before.

The most beautiful part of the train ride is between Vancouver and Jasper. If you can only do one section of the train, this is what I’d recommend.

views of forest on the Panoramic train cart canada

Incredible Food

Dining on the train tour across Canada was one of my favorite parts of the experience.  I wasn’t expecting much, but the food was incredible.  They serve you three meals a day and do not skip out on quantity or quality.

At each meal, you get a menu with four options. Some examples of the entrees we ate included veal, braised lamb, duck, and salmon, and they always have one vegetarian option on the menu.

The dining cart on via rail train

They tailor the menu to the region you’re traveling through in Canada, adding to the experience. Expect great beef through Alberta and fantastic seafood on the East Coast.

Dessert comes with lunch and supper, which almost felt cruel because the desserts are SO GOOD. Like millions of decadent calorie good. Train calories don’t count, right?

lamb dinner

They also provide snacks on the activity cart 24 hours a day, including fruit, pastries, juice, and water. You likely won’t get hungry between meals because the food is filling, and being on the train is a pretty sedentary activity. I actually gained several pounds on the train!

Activities on the train across Canada East to West

The staff at VIA Rail are fantastic. They go above and beyond to make sure you have a great experience.

There are two activity carts on the train where the staff will do onboard activities, many of which are alcohol-related.

When you depart from Vancouver, Toronto, and Jasper, the staff organize a champagne departure toast (Pro tip: you can get seconds or thirds. Just ask).

They also have daily beer and or wine tastings where you can get a chance to sample local brews. There is also a paid bar on the train, but it’s not the cheapest. A beer is $10 CAD.

Champagne toast rail travel across canada

In the activity carts, there are board games and cards to play. Sometimes they play movies or host trivia and bingo games with prizes of Canadian souvenirs. Not going to lie; I got pretty into bingo on the train.

Sometimes they have live entertainment on the train in the activity carts. If you are an artist, you can apply to VIA Rail as a performer.

If you get accepted, you’ll get free accommodation and food in exchange for performing a few sessions on the train. What a great opportunity for traveling artists!

Admiring the beautiful scenery along the train ride is the best way to spend time. One thing I loved about the train ride is that the staff will come on the intercom and give visitors information about any points of interest you pass through.

They even slow down for scenic spots, like Pyramid falls in Alberta

pyramid falls alberta

Wi-Fi on the Canada train

There is no Wi-Fi on the Canadian train, and there are many points where your cell phone reception won’t work.

During the stretch through Northern Ontario, I didn’t have any signal for about 24 hours. You will have plenty to see and do during the day, but it’s a good idea to bring some entertainment for nighttime after dinner.

I recommend a Kindle E-reader  with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription, which gives you access to 1 million titles for just $9.99 a month. As a frequent traveler, I love having the Kindle unlimited subscription since it gives me access to so many books for less than the cost of one.

There was Wi-Fi advertised on the Montreal to Halifax train, but I couldn’t get it to work for me. Nevertheless, the train is the perfect way to detox from life – so make sure to bring a good book and enjoy the ride!

How long does it take traveling across Canada by train?

To go from Vancouver to Halifax, you can expect to be on the train for five to six days.

The Vancouver to Toronto train is three nights/four days, and the train from Montreal to Halifax is one full day (24 hours). The commuter train between Montreal and Toronto takes about five hours.

Delays on the train are common because the Canadian National Railway owns the railway tracks, and VIA Rail rents the use of them.

Since there is only one track, CN Railway has the right of way, and therefore VIA Rail has to stop to get out of the way when a freight train is coming.

They don’t know how much freight traffic there will be, so delays are common. On my first trip across the train from Vancouver to Toronto, we were 12 hours delayed by the scheduled time.

However, in November 2018, they updated the schedule to more accurately reflect how long it will take.

When I came back on the train from Toronto to Vancouver the new times were in effect, and we were right on schedule. Just prepare yourself to frequently stop because of freight traffic and that a delay can still occur. VIA Rail Canada doesn’t advise booking any onward travel the same day as scheduled to arrive.

You can view the most recent train schedule times on the VIA Rail Website.

Can you get off at stops?

Presuming the train is on schedule, they allow you to get off at some stops. Unfortunately, because we got so delayed on the train from Vancouver to Toronto, we only had time for quick 10-minute stops.

However, coming back West from Toronto to Vancouver, we had longer stops. The two main stops on the train ride from Toronto to Vancouver are a two-hour stop in Winnipeg and a three-hour stop in Jasper.

Both train stops are in great locations for exploring. The train stop in Winnipeg is centrally located, and they even make arrangements with a tour guide that will meet you at the station for a sightseeing tour of the downtown area for an additional $10.

Jasper is a small town, and the train station is right off the main strip, so you will have time to explore the charming downtown area of Jasper .

You can even head into some nearby trails in Jasper National Park if you feel like a hike. If you can, I suggest getting off at Jasper and spending a few nights . It’s one of my favorite places in the world.

train station at sunset in jasper alberta canada

Best time to take a train ride through Canada

The train across Canada runs year-round, and there’s no “perfect” time to take it. All the seasons have pros and cons.

I love summer, so taking the train in June/August was perfect for me. I loved the sunny days and long nights, allowing lots of time to soak in the scenery.

On the other hand, taking the train during winter would be a pretty magical experience. Imagine seeing the snow-covered mountains while being warm and cozy inside the train. But you’d need to bring warm winter clothes with you!

Then you have autumn when the leaves are changing color. One of the staff members told me this was their favorite time to be on the train, and I can imagine why.

One of the best parts about Canada is that we experience all four seasons, so pick your favorite one and take the train then!

Cross Canada Train Ride Cost

Taking the train in Canada is not the cheapest thing to do, but there are ways to make it work even on a budget.

The sleeper train across Canada cost varies significantly between economy, sleeper, and prestige class. Economy is the cheapest but has the fewest amenities.

I haven’t taken the train in economy class, so I can’t speak too much about it, but I know others who have said they enjoyed the experience. You get the same scenery, and it’s easier to meet people since you’re all on the same cart.

Check the VIA Rail website for the most recent prices. They frequently have sales, so it’s good to keep your eyes out (and for contests)! Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to buy train tickets.

Downsides of Cross Canada train trips

While taking a train across Canada is a magical experience, there are some downsides.

It isn’t a quick way to travel across Canada. If you’ve got limited vacation time and want to see a lot of the country, flying may be a better option.

The reality is that Canada is a massive country, and it takes a long time to get between places. The train is also prone to delays, so if you’ve got a tight schedule, it may not be the best option.

My biggest pet peeve with the train is that it doesn’t truly go across Canada because Newfoundland isn’t part of the train route. This is no fault to VIA Rail, the Toronto to Newfoundland train stopped working years ago due to a foolish decision by the government.

If you want to experience all of Canada, then you’ll have to include Newfoundland on your itinerary because it’s unlike anywhere else in the country.

The best way to visit Newfoundland after taking the train cross Canada is to rent a car in Halifax, spend a few nights , and then go on an East Coast Canada road trip.

From Halifax, you can drive to Cape Breton Island (which is home to one of Canada’s most scenic road trip s). And from Sydney, Cape Breton , there is a ferry that goes to Newfoundland.

The shorter ferry option is to go to Port Aux Basque, which is on the West coast of Newfoundland. This is a great place to start your trip if you want to visit Gros Morne National Park , just three hours away. From there, you can drive through Central Newfoundland all the way to St. John’s.

Tips for a Train Trip Across Canada

  • Book on Tuesday. VIA Rail has the cheapest offers posted on Tuesdays, so wait to book then. They also run promotions frequently, so keep an eye out for deals.
  • Pack light! The cabins are cozy so there won’t be much room for extra luggage. We shared a two-bed cabin with a 75L backpacking bag each and managed, but there wasn’t much additional space.
  • Expect delays. Although the train times are updated, delays are still prevalent due to the unpredictably on the freight trains.
  • Don’t book onward travel for the same day of arrival in case of delays . Instead, spend a couple of days exploring these amazing Canadian cities
  • Be prepared to disconnect. The train does not come equipped with Wi-Fi, and there are large parts of the journey where your cell phone won’t work. Embrace this time and enjoy the views!

Facts about Canada

Canada has two official languages – English and French. English is widely spoken throughout the country, but French is the main language in Quebec. 

Visa requirements: Many countries, including the United States and those within the EU, can enter Canada for six months without a visa.

Consult the Government of Canada website to see what your country’s requirements are. An electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)  is required for all visa-free travelers except Americans. It cost $7, and you can apply online.

Staying Connected – Canada has some of the worst cellular data rates in the world. The cheapest plans are with low-cost carriers like Sprint, but the service will be spotty outside of major cities. Bell, Rogers, and Telus/Koodo are the three main carriers that provide coverage across the country. The easiest and cheapest way to get data in Canada is to get an eSIM from one of these providers.

lora wearing a bright blue winter jacket standing in front of lake louise. the mountains in the background are covered in snow.

Arriving in Canada

Flying:  Canada has 17 international airports, with the biggest being Toronto Pearson (YYZ), Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL).

If you are flying from another country you will likely land in one of these airports and connect to the other provinces via a regional flight, although sometimes you can get a direct international flight.

Land:  Canada shares the world’s largest unmanned border with the United States. There are several points of entry in each province. Road-tripping is one of the best ways to visit Canada.

By Boat:  Canada is connected to both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean as well as some of the biggest lakes in the world. Thousands of cruises come here every year. There are port authorities in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and British Colombia. 

travelers standing on the skywalk in jasper national park. in the distance are large mountain peaks covered in snow.

Safety and solo travel in Canada

One of the best parts about traveling to Canada, especially for solo female travelers, is that it is incredibly safe! Canada ranks six on the Global Peace Index , making it one of the safest countries in the world to visit.

Canadians have a reputation for being some of the friendliest people in the world, and I like to believe this is true (I’ve also been told it is by many people).

We LOVE to help people, so if you’re lost or have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. Locals are friendly and love to chat. If you ask a local a question in Newfoundland, you’ll probably end up having your ear talked off and then be invited in for a cup of tea (which is perfectly safe to do).

It’s easy to meet people in Canada, making it a great country for solo travelers. 

lora wearing a hiking backpack with arms wide open overlooking a beautiful view on top of gros morne mountain in newfoundland. in the background are winding rivers through the mountains.

Other Canadian Train Trips

There is another Canadian train trip you can take called the Rocky Mountaineer.

It’s a separate train with three rail routes through the Rocky Mountains in British Colombia and Alberta, including stops in Banff National Park , Lake Louise, and Jasper National Park. I haven’t had a chance to take this train yet, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.

How long does a trip across Canada by train?

What is the best train trip in canada.

The Canadian train, which goes from Vancouver to Toronto, is the best way to travel across Canada. You’ll get a taste of all the diverse landscapes in Canada, from the rocky mountains of the west to the great lakes of Ontario.

Is there a train that goes across Canada?

Does via rail go across Canada? Almost! There is a train that goes from Vancouver to Toronto and a train from Montreal to Halifax, but there is no train to Newfoundland from Toronto.

I loved my experience taking the cross Canada train. I can’t thank VIA Rail enough for this incredible opportunity; it made my entire year! It’s one of the best ways to see the diverse landscapes of this country without having to worry about driving.

Have you taken the train in Canada before? Or do you have a similar train route in your own home country? Let me know in the comments below!

Like it? Pin it for later!

cross canada by train tour

Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

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Your article Lora was very helpful. We are looking forward to a train trip Toronto to Vancouver in the near future we spend three months in Pv. ourselves January, February, and March.

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I helped too much to understand a little about the Canadian Rail system. thanks!

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Where do you find the promotions? On what website?

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The VIA Rail website

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Hi Lora, Great descriptions of the VIA, got a good visual. Do you happen to know how I get get current info on the Canadian VIA? Such as, do they have the activity Cart with the COVID precautions? Your article may have changed my mind and I just might just take this adventure in the fall.

Hi Carolyn,

I’m glad you liked the article! On the VIA Rail website, they list the current COVID precautions: https://www.viarail.ca/en/plan/preventives-mesures-covid-19

I don’t see anything specific about the activity cart, so I would imagine it’s still happening with masks – but since I haven’t taken the train during COIVD, I can’t be 100% sure that’s correct!

[…] cars. For those who were waiting for the perfect picture, this is just the place to take it. Click here to learn more about this […]

[…] you’re travelling across Canada, check out this awesome train across Canada […]

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Hey Lora Thanks for the insight on your train experience. Beautiful pictures. And helpful information. Ive took the train a few times to the east coast. But never saw the west as would be different for me. I’ve always loved the idea of being on a train. Hope to do this adventure soon

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Glad you found it helpful! I hope you can do the train journey soon, it’s amazing!

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Thanks for sharing this great travel story.

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed!

[…] national parks. If you're doing a road trip along the world-famous Icefields Parkway or taking the train across Canada, it makes for a perfect […]

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Hi Lora, It’s a great read! Couple years ago I wanted to do the same trip, but I couldn’t! Hopefully one day I will, it looks so amazing!!!

I tried to pin this post, however when I click on the Pinterest button, the 2 pin images you share for pinning aren’t working. I mean I don’t see them as ones I can pin, I can only pin some other images that are not optimized for Pinterest. Have you had this problem yourself?

Thanks so much, I hope you can do the train trip someday! I just checked the post and when I clicked the Pinterest button it brought up all the images, including the pins. It may be because the page wasn’t fully loaded when you tried, as the pins are at the bottom so this would be the last thing to load. But if you scroll down to them you should be able to pin from there!

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I have yet to go cross Canada by rail(Looking at doing it 2020), but I have done several long distance Amtrak routes. I have done Boston-Sacramento I have also done Seattle-Hartford CT

Those must have been amazing! Definitely recommend doing Canada!

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Sounds marvelous, overnight train travel seems so luxurious. I am happy to hear that the food was great and I love the panoramic viewing carts! I fear only getting to see the scenery passing by and not having the chance to get out and hike through it or spend more time in it would be too much of a tease for me to handle but there is only one way to find out. Thanks for the informative post and glad to hear you enjoyed your trip so much! (P.S. Why are so many train stations called Union Station?)

Glad you enjoyed the post! You could always book separate train tickets so you have time to go out and explore. For example, take the train from Vancouver to Jasper, stay for a few days to explore the mountains, and then take another train from Jasper to Toronto. I’m the same way, I have to get out and explore the area. Especially in the rocky mountains, it’s just stunning and there’s so much great hiking there!

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Hello Lora, Happy to found this awesome and informative blog. This is the best touring post of outdoor activity. The natural beauty is fine and the internal bus environment is not bad. It is very interesting, there have a separate sink and toilet facility. thanks again share with me more.

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What an amazing opportunity! It sounds like an awesome trip. One I’ve always wanted to do (at least the Edmonton-Vancouver route) but the price has always stopped me (as you mentioned is a problem). It’s nice hearing about a trip from someone who actually did it, rather than just reading about it on the via rail website.

So glad it was helpful! The Edmonton-Vancouver route is definitely the best part about the trip if you do decide to do it! I think that part goes on promotion with via rail sometimes too so hopefully you could get it at a decent price!

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15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada

January 2, 2019 //  by  Follow Me Away //   181 Comments

If taking the train across Canada isn’t on your bucket list, it totally should be! Seeing the entire country, from Halifax to Vancouver, by train is an unforgettable experience like no other. You will go to sleep in one province and time zone and wake up in a completely different part of Canada.

The Canadian train is a wonderful way to slow travel across Canada and enjoy the scenery, cities, and people along the way.

cute map of Canada which the canadian train journey follows

We have put together some things you should know about a trans-Canadian train journey so you are fully prepared for the epic you are about to experience! We recommend  checking out Skyscanner to find the best and most affordable flights into Canada.

We use this tool to discover the best flights for our trip because you can easily compare rates. We also recommend booking your train across Canada journey on a travel credit card so you can earn points towards future travel! These are the travel credit cards we personally use! 

Feel free to join our private Facebook group to ask any further questions about taking the train across Canada that you may have and to share your photos and experiences! We welcome getting to know each and every one of you and hearing about your trip!

Before you go, make sure to check out our Packing List For The Train Across Canada

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

Table of Contents

Train Across Canada: Insider Tips, Schedules, Fares, & Routes

#1: via rail is the only company to offer cross canada train travel.

Via Rail Canada is owned by the Canadian government and is the only company to offer train travel from one end of Canada to the other. If you are looking to travel between Halifax and Vancouver, you are going to have to book through Via Rail.

Worried about only having one choice? Don’t be! Via Rail Canada has been operating for decades as the trusted name in train travel across Canada! When you take the Canadian train, you will be riding with Via Rail!

Check Hotel Prices In Halifax

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#2: The entire cross Canada train journey will take between 5-6 days, with no stops

Depending on the time of year you decide to take the train across Canada, the whole trip will take between 5-6 days. This is because you have to be sure that the Canadian train schedules match up with your connecting train!

If you are riding on “ The Canadian ” which runs between Toronto and Vancouver, the trip will be four straight days if you don’t get off.

If you want the true transcontinental experience and start in Halifax, you will take “ The Ocean ” to Montreal and then take a commuter train down to Toronto. If this sounds confusing, it really isn’t and Via Rail staff are just a phone call away to help with the planning.

Start Your Train Trip Off By Checking Hotel Price In Toronto

#3: Winter is the best time to take the train across Canada

You may be thinking that Canada in winter is a frozen tundra, but you are overreacting! We saw temperatures that ranged from 30-35*F in the mountains and 38-55*F everywhere else.

During the winter, you can book a transcontinental train journey for much cheaper than high season and will enjoy huge benefits including less people to compete with for views on the train.

Just make sure you pack your winter coat and a warm sweater for the train , you will want to be cozy! For more detailed information on what to pack, check out our post on 10 Things To Bring On The Cross Canada Train! 

If you are planning to stopover at some cities like we did, the cities will be free from loads of tourists and much cheaper as well. Most importantly, traveling by train across Canada during the winter actually gives you the best views of any season!

Since many trees have shed their leaves, you can see through them and out to the landscapes beyond!

If you traveled during the summer, the trees would have their leaves and you would be stuck in a “tree corridor.” Don’t forget to pack your camera for great photos! We love the Sony a6000 for an affordable camera that anyone can easily learn to operate!

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#4: Delays in the Via Rail Cross-Canada Train schedules are a very real thing…plan accordingly

Because of our booking process [we booked over the phone and the HR representative was leaving for surgery and 5 weeks of recovery the day after we booked], we did not know that the Canadian train would experience serious delays during our journey.

If we had known in advance and planned accordingly, the delays would have been no big deal. Since we had not, the delays had a big impact on a large part of our trip.

To be fair to Via Rail, they do have disclaimers on their website that you should not book onward travel or activities the day your train arrives into your station.

Delays are unlikely to happen every trip and our experience was extreme, but it is never bad to be prepared when taking the trans-Canada train.

Our Via Rail train was from Toronto to Jasper left 5.5 hours late which resulted in us arriving in Jasper 3.5 hours late [considering time change]. The Canadian train from Jasper to Vancouver [we did a stopover] was a whopping 9 hours late which cost us an entire day of sightseeing.

The moral of the story? If we had known about the possibility of delays in the Via Rail schedule, we would have simply added an extra day to our itinerary at each destination and would have expected delays at each stop.

Then, if we arrived at a reasonable time, it would have been unexpected. If you are planning to travel across Canada on Via Rail, simply build one extra day into your itinerary at each stop and do not book any flights the day you arrive.  You can keep abreast of on-time performance on Via Rail’s website. 

Don’t let delays keep you from taking the train across Canada, simply be prepared!

Check Hotel Rates In Jasper

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#5: Passenger trains in Canada share the track with freight and do not have priority

The main reason for all the delays on the Canada train? On Canada rail, freight trains bring in more money than passenger trains do so they get priority on the track. The freight company also owns the train tracks so Via Rail trains must often head over to a side rail to wait while freight trains pass.

Each train that passes may take up to 20-40 minutes because some freight trains in Canada can be 3 miles long!

Since passenger trains in Canada are a lot shorter, they must wait on a side track until freight passes. It is pretty neat to see the giant freight trains pass your train and count how many cars make up the train. That is a great way to make this part of the train ride across Canada even more enjoyable!

#6: Sleeping on the Trans-Canadian train is magically relaxing

We have slept in cars, on planes, and on cruise ships, but sleeping on the Canada train was something special and one of the best parts about taking the train trip across Canada.

The sound of the Canada rail cars traveling over metal tracks coupled with the relaxing movement of the train rocked us to sleep in under five minutes each night.

The motion of the Canada train was perfect enough to feel completely relaxed without feeling anxious about constant movement.

For an even more restful night, don’t forget to bring your sleep mask and earplugs for maximum comfort! Traveling by train across Canada made for some super restful nights!

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#7: Not stepping foot outside the Canada train for days on end is not a problem

You can get off the Canadian train at pretty much every stop if you want so not getting off for three straight days is totally on us! We are homebodies and it was winter so we didn’t mind hanging out on the train through Canada for over 72 hours.

We got plenty of exercise trekking between all the Canadian train cars multiple times a day [these things can belong!] and loved being cozy inside at all the stops our train across Canada made!

If you are considering taking Via Rail “The Canadian” train trip, choose your stops along the way or choose to ride the Toronto to Vancouver train the whole way! Whatever you chose, you Canada train experience will be memorable!

#8: Only some Cross-Canada trains have Wifi

“The Atlantic” and the corridor train in Canada that connects Montreal to Toronto both come equipped with Wifi in certain cars, but “The Canadian” [the longest Canada train you will be on] does not.

The connection on our trains from Halifax and Montreal was great and it was nice to have access to the outside world.

It would have been nice to have the option for Wifi on “The Canadian” but you won’t die without it and it’s a great way to detox digitally. If you plan to take the train ride across Canada, pack or download some books in case you want to read them.

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#9: You will find plenty to do and will rarely be bored on the train trip across Canada

In our entire 6 days of traveling by train across Canada, we can safely say that we were not bored one single time. The whole beauty of the train ride across Canada is getting to stare out the window and watch the world go by. 

We are an introvert/extrovert couple and the experience was delightful to both of us. Via Rail Canada has activities on board such as wine and beer tasting, live music, discussions about what is going on outside and more.

There are also magazines and books and a constant supply of coffee, tea, and snacks. We also downloaded movies and watched them at night while relaxing on our bed. A Canadian train trip is truly an enjoyable and relaxing experience that you won’t soon forget!

#10: Trans-Canada train food is actually very delicious

If you book a “sleeper plus” class ticket on “The Canadian” and “The Atlantic”, you will have access to three very yummy meals a day in the dining car when riding the Canadian train.

For each meal, you are offered a soup or salad starter, a choice between a variety of entrees, and a choice of dessert. We were thrilled that there was a vegetarian entree offered with each and every meal for Victoria.

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

The food you will eat during your time on the train through Canada is high quality and home-cooked by Via Rail chefs in the kitchen. They have the ability to make minor substitutions since everything is cooked right in the dining car.

During one of our delays, the only vegetarian food left on the Canadian train was a salad, so the chef cooked Victoria a delicious grilled cheese with soup and salad. We were really impressed by the flexibility and range of food offered on a train across Canada!

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#11: You can choose your accommodations for the train across Canada based on your budget

With a little saving, everyone should take the opportunity to take the train across Canada. Fortunately, Via Rail offers a bunch of options for each price point. If you are on an extreme budget, you can travel in economy class, but you will not receive meals and you have to sleep in your [comfy] seat.

Looking for more room? You can book a “roomette” on the “Canadian” which is a cute semi-private bunk bed that lines the hallway in the sleeper car. The beds are huge and you have a curtain for privacy.

Alternatively, you can book a private cabin for one, two, or three, depending on your needs. Finally, if you are looking to go all-out, you can book the pricey Prestige Class which offers a full bed, unlimited liquor, a TV and more.

Although it is expensive, prestige is already fully booked for the summer so it is quite a popular way to travel by train across Canada. We stayed in a cabin for two it was super roomy and comfortable for the journey! You can keep track of the lowest possible fares on this page! 

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#12: The “Dome Car” offers the best view of Canada by train

The “Dome Car” was our favorite part of the Canada train and one of the best parts about traveling by train across Canada. It is equipped with very comfortable seating that elevates you above all the other train cars, giving you a 360 view of your journey.

This car is by far the most popular so we suggest getting there early if you want to a good space [but don’t leave items to “save” your seat].

This car is perfect for photographers [or smartphone photographers ] because you can see the entire train, what is ahead, what is above, and what is behind. These days, you can buy really affordable GoPros that make taking great videos and wide-angle photos easy for anyone! It is certainly one of the best parts of seeing Canada by train!

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#13: You will meet a ton of new people on the train trip across Canada

Even if you are very introverted like Terrence, you are most likely going to meet a bunch of new people when riding the train across Canada.

We met people from different parts of Canada, America, Australia, England, and Korea. Simply by virtue of sitting together and admiring the scenery, you will start to connect with or chat with others.

People were intrigued by our camera which opened us to a lot of conversations making the train trip across Canada even more fulfilling!

In addition, you may not always get to sit at a private table for meals. Since the cars are so small and there are a lot of people, you may be put with other groups to dine. Other diners can tell if you are open to talking or not but some will befriend you anyway.

Out of all the meals we ate with others, there were only two where we didn’t chat with our meal partners very much. By the end of our train ride across Canada, we had given away every business card to save one to all our new friends!

#14: You will travel through 5 time zones and getting used to a new one is super easy on the Trans-Canada Train

If you choose the entire transcontinental train trip, you will pass through five time zones [Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific] from Halifax all the way to Vancouver.

Some people online seem to think that traveling losing time while your train is going forward will mess with your mind. It actually won’t and this is truly the best way to cross time-zones that we have experienced.

When traveling out west, we usually have a difficult time adjusting to the time zone. During our time on the Canadian train, we didn’t have a problem at all and our sleep was right on target the entire time!

If this is something you are worried about or considering, don’t fret! There is something about taking the train across Canada that makes time zones a lot easier to adjust to! If you think you may still have a hard time adjusting, we suggest taking some melatonin just in case.

See Prices For Vancouver Hotels

15 Things To Know Before Taking The Train Across Canada | Via Rail Train Trip Across Canada | What To Know About Via Rail Canada | How To See Canada By Train For Canada 150 | What To Do In Canada | Adventures In Canada By Train | Best Train Trips In Canada | How to travel across Canada By Train

#15: You won’t want to say goodbye to your train trip across Canada

You just rode a train across Canada which is something not many people get to do! When it comes time to pack up your belongings and say goodbye to the train and your journey, it is going to be really hard!

The experience is so unique that you will instantly begin to miss the motion, the meals, the views, your accommodations, and more.

We genuinely felt a little sad every time we had to step off the Canadian train, but especially when we arrived in Vancouver and had to leave for good.

Make sure to make the most of your travel so you can remember every detail about your time on the Canadian train!

Train Across Canada Routes

If you plan to take a train trip across Canada and you want to go the entire way, from Halifax to Vancouver, you will be taking two different Cross-Canada trains but they will all be with Via Rail Canada.

If you want to head from Toronto to Vancouver or back on the train across Canada, you will want to choose “The Canadian” option on the Via Rail Canada website under “The Great Western Way” tab. Via Rail Canada is the only company who provides the train trip across Canada through the entire country.

Train Across Canada Routes for the canadian train trip

“The Canadian” is the most popular train trip across Canada route and you really can’t go wrong with choosing it. It will show you the best of what Canada by train has to offer. But, if you are like us and want to truly travel Canada by train from one end to the other, you will choose “The Canadian” route as well as “The Maritime Way” Canada train route to take you through the Canadian Maritime area.

Train Across Canada Routes and maps for the maritime way train trip across canada

Fares And Prices For The  Train Trip Across Canada 

The good thing about taking the train across Canada is that you can choose the price you want to pay! If you are looking for a honeymoon or anniversary getaway, we recommend booking Prestige Class accommodation on the Canadian train to give you something romantic and luxurious.

If you are a student on a budget but still want to experience a train ride across Canada, Via Rail offers economy class fares and sales!

Winter prices for an economy ticket for the train through Canada start at $431 [updated 2018]. This is for the Canadian route from Toronto to Vancouver during the winter months.

We took the Cross Canada train in winter and highly recommend it! A winter fare for the train trip across Canada for Prestige Class, the most expensive Canada train fare offered, ringing in at $4,156 for the four-day cross Canada train trip.

Via Rail makes seeing Canada by train accessible to a variety of budgets with their varying cross Canada Train fares. There are budget trans Canada train options, luxury train across Canada options, and everything in between, depending on what you are looking to spend.

Check out the example fares directly from Via Rail below to see prices on the train trip across Canada.

Prices for the train trip across Canada | Fares for the train across Canada

Schedules And Timetables For Seeing Canada By Train

If you are looking for the updated train across Canada schedules and Cross-Canada train timetables, we recommend checking out this page on the Via Rail website . These timetables will show you the exact schedule for the train trip across Canada as written by Via Rail Canada.

Please remember that these trans-Canada train trip schedules are just predicted as things may change as detailed in our post above. We highly recommend being flexible when taking the Canadian train trip as the Canada train doesn’t always stick to the timetables laid out here due to freight trains, weather, and a variety of other reasons.

Schedules And Timetables For Seeing Canada By Train | train across Canada schedule

Safety Tips For The Train Across Canada

You may be surprised to see a section on safety tips for the train across Canada, but safety is important. Our number one Canada train safety tip is to make sure you are always holding onto two parts of the train at one time.

This means that if your feet are on the ground one hand should always be holding onto something on the train such as a wall, railing, or chair.

The train tracks in Canada can get quite old at parts which makes the ride a bit bumpy. The hallways are very narrow and if you aren’t holding on and walking slowly, you can get thrown between the walls, and yes this happened to us and other people on our cross-Canada train trip.

To avoid this, walk slowly and with care when making your way throughout the Via Rail train. Ensure that you are always holding onto something because although the ride may seem smooth, you can’t predict what the tracks are going to look like in a few moments and you are putting yourself at risk of being thrown off balance if the ride gets rough.

When walking between train cars, make sure to walk quickly and safely through the part where the cars connect. If you are taking the train across Canada in the winter, you will see snow buildup between the cars and it will be cold and possibly slippery.

As long as you are always anchored in two places [the floor and something else] you should have a safe and enjoyable train ride in Canada!

Safety tips for the train across Canada

Getting To The Cross Canada Train

Luckily, getting to the Cross Canada train for your train ride across Canada has never been easier! The train through Canada begins and ends in two major world cities, Vancouver or Toronto!

Depending on where you are coming from in the world, the prices to fly to these cities are quite affordable! If you plan to take the train across Canada from either the United States or Canada, you may be within driving distance to one of the places where the train ride across Canada either starts or ends!

If you are in driving distance to either Toronto or Vancouver, we recommend renting a car one way and leaving the vehicle at your destination. This way, you won’t have to come back to your starting point to return the car or pick up your own vehicle.

If you are flying in order to take the train across Canada, we highly recommend looking out for deals and considering budget airlines and a variety of days of the week in order to get the best deal. Luckily getting to the cross-Canada train is quite easy to do!

Visit Toronto Getting To The Cross Canada Train

Quick Tips For Taking This Train Trip Across Canada

Pack light for the cross canada train.

When taking the train across Canada, make sure to pack light but comfortably. We have a packing list for your Canada train trip, but we want to ensure that you understand how small the cabins on Vai Rail trains may be unless you book prestige class.

You want to have enough clothing to be comfortable in, but you also don’t want your clothing and bags to overrun your room on the train through Canada!

Call Via Rail If You Have Any Questions Regarding Booking Your Train Ride Across Canada

Via Rail is very helpful in answering all of your questions. If you have not found the answer here, feel free to ask in the comments and we will do our best to answer your Canada train questions to the best of our ability.

That being said, if you can’t find the answer anywhere online and want to make sure, it is a good idea to simply give Via Rail a call! They will help you out! You can call Via Rail here: 1 (888) 842-7245

Never Book Onward Travel The Day Your Cross Canada Train Arrives In Station

As detailed above, Via Rail must give priority to freight trains as Via Rail does not own the tracks for their train trips across Canada. As a result, you may experience delays that range from 20 minutes to 7-10 hours.

Be prepared for potential delays by not booking any onward travel such as flights or long drives on the day your Via Rail train is due to arrive in the station.

We also advise not to make any plans that are set in stone such as going to a birthday party or a specific hike. Make loose plans for the day you arrive at any station where you get off the Canadian train and be flexible as there very well may be delays.

Delays On The Canadian From Toronto To Vancouver Will Always Be The Worst

It is important to be aware that you may experience the worst delays when taking “The Canadian” route from Toronto To Vancouver by train. This part of the country is very popular with the freight trains, more than any other region in Canada. If you are taking the train from Halifax to Montreal or one of the other routes that Via Rail offers, you will be less likely in experiencing delays.

For our portion of our cross-Canada train trip that went through the Maritime provinces, we only experienced a few short delays whereas on “The Canadian” from Toronto To Vancouver, we experienced major delays as detailed above.

Instead of fretting about delays, we recommend you look on the bright side and be happy that you are getting “free” extra time on to enjoy travel across Canada by train. If you prepare yourself for delays ahead of time with our tips, you should be smooth sailing!

You Don’t Have To Spend A Fortune To Experience A Trans Canada Train Trip

Did you know that Via Rail has economy class? Although we did not personally take the train across Canada in economy class, we have heard from many readers that the Toronto to Vancouver train trip is still very worthwhile to take in economy class.

During our time on the trans Canada train, we did see economy class and the seats looked very comfortable. Economy class Via Rail passengers have access to their own viewing car and an area where you can purchase food too.

We have also been told that economy class on the train ride across Canada is a great place to make friends and meet new people from around the world!

Via Rail Also Offers Luxury Train Trips Across Canada If You Want Pampering

In 2017, Via Rail introduced their Prestige Class. It was brand new when we took the cross Canada train, but we peeked into the rooms and took a few photos. Prestige Class sold out an entire season very quickly and it is easy to see why.

The Prestige Class rooms are only on “The Canadian” which is the Toronto To Vancouver train trip and the rooms are huge and offer full-sized beds, picture windows, large bathrooms, and your very own dome viewing car for your class.

If you are looking for a luxury train trip in Canada, Prestige Class is perfect for you and after seeing the cabins in person, we highly recommend the experience! Sleeping in a full bed next to your partner while looking out as your trans-Canada train whizzes through the countryside? What could be better than that?!

Be Aware That The Canadian Train Is Not Equipped With Wifi And Prepare Accordingly

This may sound redundant, but this cross Canada train journey does not come with wifi accessibility. No idea why other than possible budget restrictions, but it is slightly annoying but not the end of the world.

Now you may be a more mature traveler reading this and thinking oh you young folks and your phones can barely go without wifi for 5 days but that isn’t the case! The majority of older travelers on our trans Canada train trip were very annoyed with the lack of wifi so we promise it just isn’t young people!

Instead, make sure to come to your train trip across Canada prepared with lots of reading materials and perhaps an ipad with some movies or books on tape downloaded. During the day, you will have plenty to see and do, but we found having a book and some movies for later at night after dinner was quite helpful and enjoyable.

We recommend a Kindle E-Reader and a Kindle Unlimited subscription which gives you unlimited access to over 1 million titles! You can do a free trial of the Kindle Unlimited subscription and just cancel after your cross-Canada train trip which is exactly what we did 😉

Map Of The Train Across Canada Route

Sometimes, it can be easier to visualize something which is why we created this map of the train across Canada route. You can see the true size and scale of where you will visit when you take the cross Canada train.

When you look at the photo below, you will see the name “Union Station” which is the name of the Via Rail station in Toronto.

If you are only taking “The Canadian” then your Canada train journey will begin or end at this point. If you are doing the entire thing, then this is where you will transition between trains just like we did. Feel free to download this map so you can keep track of where you are during your Canadian train trip!

Click Here For Google Map Of The Train Route Across Canada

Map of the train across Canada route | cross canada train map

With the proper preparation, the train across Canada will be the trip of a lifetime. It is such a fantastic experience that you won’t forget. During our train ride, we even talked to other passengers who have been on the same journey multiple times because they love it so much!

No matter what time of year you ride the cross Canada train, you will have a wonderful experience. Is a Canadian train trip on your bucket list? Make sure to let us know if you decide to see Canada by train! Let’s chat in the comments. 

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Canada by train: insider tips for the train across canada | how to see Canada by train | what to know before the train trip across canada | Via rail Canada train | canadian train trips | best things to do in Canada #canada

Please note: We were hosted by Via Rail for the purpose of this review. Our views are all our own and do not reflect those of Via Rail Canada. We were not paid to write this post. This post also contains affiliate links which means we may make a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase an Amazon product suggested by us. 

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Reader Interactions

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March 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

I’d do it just for those views! Scenery central

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March 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

It was absolutely scenery central!!

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March 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm

My wife and I will be taking the train car from Toronto to Vancouver summer of 2018. How far ahead should we book the trip if we want the sleeper car and meals.

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September 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm

How far ahead should you book for a sleeper car for 2 Toronto to Vancouver one way mid August

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September 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I would do it no later than early 2018 — that is a busy time of year and you will want to make sure to get the best accommodations you can.

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February 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

we would to travel sometime in the summer months

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February 19, 2019 at 1:42 am

Do you mean 2018 or 2019 travel?

To get exactly the accommodations we wanted, we booked six months ahead and bought “no excuses” travel insurance in case we had to cancel. The train only runs twice a week and sells out. Booking now is not too early!

Watch out for the schedule. The timing changes May 1, 2019. Check it out on the Via Rail website.

If your big “want” is the Rockies section, the direction of travel and timing is key. The run from Jasper to Vancouver westbound through the mountains takes 24 hours. Since the train never stops overnight, about half of the run is at night. Kamloops is the halfway point.

After May 1 westbound you’ll travel the Rockies past Mt. Robson in the day; when it’s dark at night you’ll go through the spectacular Thompson/Fraser River canyons in the Coast Range. Eastbound you’ll have daylight for much of the canyon. However, you’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn to see the North Thompson River canyon and the passes around Mt. Robson if you travel in late June/early July when the days are the longest.

Because of this timing dilemma, we ended up using a Rocky Mountaineer alternative west of Jasper and The Canadian between Jasper and Toronto. Both were worth the time and every Looney it cost us. Via Rail service was fabulous.

FYI, we booked through a knowledgeable travel agent rather than direct with the providers ourselves. The agent did a great job and was able to find and book some wonderful “hidden” deals.

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March 8, 2019 at 6:28 pm

How far ahead should we book if we want a sleeper car and meals

July 25, 2017 at 8:29 am

Everyone who travels this route MUST hear this song before they do … it so exemplifies this experience:


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May 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I rode the Canadian years ago in a cabin for one. West to East. Would like to do it again.

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August 29, 2018 at 8:35 am

Um…no stops ??? There is NO train that goes entirely coast to coast. You need to take at a minimum 3 different trains…Halifax to Montreal, Montreal to Toronto then a another from Toronto to Vancouver…the train is extremely slow and can be very boring. Via used to have a great deal where you were given 7 one way passesto be used over 21 days that would easily get you across the country and allow you to stop for a few days in different places.

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March 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Looks like a blast!

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March 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

WOW! We have to do this! We have been wanting to travel through Canada and we have also been wanting to do an epic train ride. This combines both of those dreams. Those winter photos are incredible! Thanks for sharing, we will be doing this one day!

March 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Honestly, this is the ultimate way to see Canada! If you don’t want to do the whole trip, you can pick segments to do too! Have fun and let us know if you book 🙂

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January 4, 2019 at 3:09 am

Can you go West to East then back again? Are they set up for someone in a wheelchair? It’s just me now. Would I simply double the 1600. for a round trip? I really enjoyed this article. Thank you. Lyn

January 4, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Hello! Yes you can take it both ways and many people on our train actuallly did that. Yes you do have to pay double but it is entirely possible to do. They did not seem very accessible when we went as parts have stairs BUT Their Prestige class should have more accessibility. I would call them and ask! They will know best. Good luck!

January 6, 2019 at 4:32 pm

You need to call the ViaRail “800” number and talk to the representative about your mobility issues, their accommodation/assistance options, and whether they will require you to have an able bodied travel companion accompany you (at a special fare).

FYI, The Canadian and some of the cars on The Ocean were built in the 1950’s — long before disability access was on anyone’s radar screen. In its recent renovation of The Canadian Park Cars (the rounded end car at the back of the train), they added a handicapped bedroom with roll-in rest room and an electric lift in the vestibule of the car for access from the station platform. However, the rest of the train is still problematic with narrow passageways, sharp turns, manual doors between cars, etc. Even in those Park Cars, they left the steps in the corridor where it passes under the dome enroute to the rounded lounge at the rear.

If your real goal is to see the Canadian Rockies by train, check out the Rocky Mountaineer alternative. Their equipment is new and handicapped friendly, and their services for passengers with special needs are excellent.

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March 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Oh my to be honest I didnt even know this train existed in Canada but it seems like a very fun experience even as a family. Delays can always be a pain but as you said, if you are prepared you can always make the best out of the situation and learn how to work around it.

March 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Yes! There were a lot of families with small children on the train too and the kids LOVED it! Yep, making the best of the situation is easy when you are a little prepared 🙂

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March 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Love that there are options for different budgets! The food looks tasty and the view look absolutely surreal!! Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure guys!!

March 16, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Yes! There is certainly something for everyone 🙂

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March 17, 2017 at 1:09 am

Would the scenery be as good going from the west to east? Looks like a super get a way.

Y’all are living a dream, enjoy it while your young then do it again when you get old. Blessings to ya.

March 18, 2017 at 10:40 am

Yes!!! The scenery is just as great going the other way! Via Rail makes sure to go through the prettiest areas in the daylight 🙂

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November 11, 2017 at 9:56 pm

I’m not sure about that… I think the scenery changes when you go the other way down the track.

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March 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

I had no idea that Canada had such an awesome way to experience their country from coast to coast. It looks like the winter is a great time to travel the train, and enjoy that great country.

Thanks for the info!

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March 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

This sounds like so much fun! This would be a perfect family vacation- our kids would get a kick out of riding the train!

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July 11, 2019 at 10:28 pm

Can you please explain how or if there would be stopovers at “ports of call”? If you get off the train and it leaves, do you catch another train or do you not get off? I would love to take this trip for our 30th anniversary.

July 12, 2019 at 2:56 pm

You can do free stopovers that is totally okay! Otherwise, the stops usually last between 15 minutes to a few hours!! Call Via rail they can best help you with this!!

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March 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

This looks amazing! I still find train travel to be a little romantic, especially with the thought of riding through landscape after landscape of winter wonderlands. I’m hoping to see more of Canada this year, and it’d be perfect to go from Toronto to Vancouver, where I have friends in each city. Definitely bookmarking for future use.

Also you guys are too cute!

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March 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Wow this sounds amazing! Definitely adding it to my bucket list now. The dome car is great – makes me wonder why we don’t have any in Europe!

March 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

The dome car is THE BEST!!!

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March 21, 2017 at 4:39 pm

This is a great post! Just planning our Canada trip to celebrate a “big” birthday later on in the year and a train journey is definitely on the cards, even if just between Vancouver and Jasper. Bookmarking for future reference!

March 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Yes! That is the great thing about Via Rail….you can choose how long/short you want to travel!

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March 27, 2017 at 6:15 pm

We traveled up from NZ to cross Canada by Via Rail train from Vancouver to Halifax in 2014. it was the most awesome trip imaginable! We overnighted in Toronto to go and see the Cirque du Soleil production of Kurios, then carried on to Halifax where we stayed a week. It was the most awesom trip 🙂

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March 27, 2017 at 7:10 pm

You quoted the train “the Atlantic” between Halifax & Montreal under #2. The train is referred to as “The Ocean” & not “The Atlantic”. Also you mention the portion between Montreal & Toronto is a “Commuter Train”. It’s not a Commuter train it’s rather VIA’s Corridor service. Also the bunks you mentioned in the hallway with a curtain they are refereed to as “Upper” & “Lower” berths.

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March 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

My mother and I took the Canadian a few years ago when there was a super deal. She was a senior so got an even better deal. One tip is to consider travelling from Vancouver to Toronto instead of the other direction. It doesn’t fill up as quickly so we were able to get the dates we wanted. We opted for a couple of stop overs (no extra charge) so stayed in Edmonton and Winnipeg until the next train came in a few days.

The food is wonderful and so are the views. This was on my bucket list but went right back on it after the trip. I want to go in every season.

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March 27, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Should a super great expérirence. But there a few error in the articles.

1. The Atlantic is discontinued since the 90. I I beleive you met The Ocean wish is still in service 3 time per week.

2. You dont take a commuter from Montréal to Toronto. Commuter train only run into the communauty around major city and not run by Via rail. You want to take a Via rail intercity train wish do run Montréal Toronto.

3. It is true that you want to plan you trip carefully, The Ocean dont arrive in Montréal in a good enouff time to transfer to the intercity train to catch the Canadian on that same day wish the canadian run 2 time peer week. The only way to make it is to Leave Halifax a Friday. arrive in montréal on saturday 45min waiting time for the departure of the Toronto train arriving same day you must wait 6 hours for the Canadian departure

4. Once again the Atlantic is not in service for many. It the Ocean that have the Wifi.

All of this because the Ocean was cut 6 to 3 time per week. and the Canadian off peck season was cut 3 to 2 time per week. And are Government are not investing enouff for a better Passager rail system into are country.

Dont take me wrong I love the train and would love to find time and budget to travel from my town to Vancouver one day.

But people in Canada should complaint to there MP to get are Government investing back into Via rail for new modern equipement and restore many service that was cut. Like the Super Continental at one time the Canadian was on CP rail and the Super continental on Cn rail. imagine taking one to go to Vancouvert and the other to come Back. Imagine arriving in Montreal and Toronto and you dont have to wait hour or day for the Vancouver connnection.

To all are MP and PM Trudeau please make Via rail create again

March 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Yes!! Thank you for your feedback! And we would love to see the MP and PM invest in Via Rail again too 🙂

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March 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm

My hubby and I did the trip on The Canadian last May. When I read out your article he accused me of writing it – we completely agree with your summary. Only thing you didn’t comment on are the fabulous staff. We can’t wait to do it again – and yes, in winter next time!

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September 12, 2017 at 10:20 pm

What cabin did you stay in? Trying to find out the size of the beds and how comfortable they are.

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September 26, 2017 at 11:56 pm

We stayed in Prestige Class. It was a wonderfully comfortable queen size bed with Italian bed linens, down duvet, and lots of down pillows. However, the way the bed is made up, one person is on the “inside” against the cabin wall and the other is on the “aisle” side. Means the inside person has to climb over or around the other to get up in the middle of the night. But, on balance, we’d do Prestige Class again in a heartbeat. FYI, in regular sleeper class, the beds are singles.

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February 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Hi we are doing the trip May what was weather like.?Will we need jumpers?

February 4, 2018 at 3:46 pm

We would suggest bringing a light one as Canada can be a bit chilly even in May! Depending on if you are doing a stopover anywehre and where you are from and how well you handle the cold 😉

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March 27, 2017 at 9:03 pm

FYI, the Halifax – Montreal train is called “The Ocean”, not the Atlantic.

The Atlantic was a different train route that was discontinued well over 25 years ago.

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March 27, 2017 at 9:30 pm

already did the trip loved to do it again,sooner the better

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March 27, 2017 at 10:17 pm

As I have a pass, I frequently travel in the econo version of the journey between Winnipeg and Vancouver. Why not? It’s free you say. Well….l have stopped doing this for many reasons, the main one being how uncomfortable it is for me (6ft high) and the extreme delays. I have been delayed over 20 hours. The toilets stop working frequently, and the equpipment, which is circa 1950, is starting to show its age. West jet works for me.

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March 28, 2017 at 1:45 am

Not long now for us. We are traveling from jasper to Toronto super excited. We have a cabin as we do like some private time. This is our present to us for 25 years of marriage.

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March 28, 2017 at 2:20 am

I’ve wanted to ride the Canadian for 10 years but seeing as how I’m on a fixed income I couldn’t afford it but now that I have a reloadable gift card I can keep adding and adding money to it until I have enough to go to the west coast I’m thinking of going to Edmonton for a leafs vs oilers game I’m picking there cause my cousin lives in Calgary but the train doesn’t go there so I’ll have to give him my arrival and departure times so we can spend time with each other once I get enough on my card I’ll save my money and buy the tickets the following hockey season!

March 28, 2017 at 12:07 pm

That sounds like an amazing trip!!!

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March 28, 2017 at 9:31 am

I have been fortunate to have travelled from Vancouver during winter to Kingston and West in mid-spring. The lower berth I had going East was perfect. Going West my only complaint was the shower wall was right across from me so no view across from me. My most recent train trip to Jasper and back was in Economy – definitely off season, less expensive and fewer people. However, the 12 hour delay was ridiculous. We did get some free meals – often there is not room in the dining car for Economy class to buy a meal – although by the last supper the choice was sparse. I think everyone should travel on Via at least once. I am already planning my next trip.

March 28, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Delays are never fun but we are glad it all worked out and you are already planning your next trip!

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March 28, 2017 at 9:45 am

The train from Halifax to Montreal is actually called “The Ocean” and started service in 1904.

Yes, it’s a perfect trip. Look for sales! It’s more affordable that way!

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March 28, 2017 at 10:13 am

The train DOES stop, and you can get off and stretch your legs, although not for very long. There are longer stops at Winnipeg, Edmonton and Jasper, depending on the train’s on-time performance.

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March 28, 2017 at 11:10 am

You have a lot of good information here. I agree with about 90% of what you say. But you have a few factual errors and some debatable opinions. I hope you won’t take it amiss if I focus on those things.

#1. I agree.

#2. The Atlantic was a Halifax-Montreal train that ran via Saint John and Sherbrooke. It was cancelled in 1994. The remaining Halifax-Montreal train, on a different route via Campbellton and Ste-Foy, is called the Ocean.

#3. Winter travel has its advantages, but the days are very short. In December in Edmonton, the sun is above the horizon for less than 8 hours, so much of your trip will be in darkness. So you need to weigh the pluses and minuses for when to travel.

#4. You’re right that you need to expect delays. But you say “If you are planning to travel across Canada on Via Rail, simply build one extra day into your itinerary at each stop…” Unfortunately, that’s not possible, since both the Ocean and the Canadian only run 2 or 3 days a week, and you have to work around that schedule.

#5. I could nitpick about some of the technical details, but this is basically correct, and important to keep in mind.

#6. I’m glad you slept well, but not everybody reacts the same way. I love long-distance train travel, and I’ve spent over 200 nights on trains, but I usually don’t sleep very well. For me, the nighttime part of the trip is just something to be endured for the pleasure of the daytime part. I find that earplugs are a big help for sleeping, as the cars usually have something that creaks and rattles.

#7. You’re kidding yourself if you think walking between cars on the train is good exercise. The Canadian makes a 20-30 min stop for servicing about three times a day, and I find that a brisk walk up and down the station platform during those stops is very helpful. There are longer stops in Winnipeg and Jasper, where you may have time to explore the town a little (or maybe not, if the train is running late).

#8. Sometimes the wifi works well on the Ocean and corridor trains, sometimes not. Don’t count on it being available.

#9. Totally agree.

#10. I agree, the food is generally excellent. Only the Canadian has an on-board chef. The Ocean does not, so variations from the usual menu with no advance notice may not be possible. If you have special dietary needs, you should contact VIA in advance of your trip so see if they can accommodate you.

#11. A roomette is the former name for what is now called a cabin for one. The “cute semi-private bunk bed” that you describe was formerly called an open section. VIA now just calls them upper and lower berths.

#12. I agree that the dome cars are great. Readers should be aware that the Ocean has only one dome car, only open to sleeping car passengers, not coach (economy) passengers. The Canadian has at least two domes, one of them open to all, including coach passengers.

#13-15. Totally agree.

March 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

Hey Tom! Thanks so much for your response! We had been meaning to change it to “The Ocean” but were on another trip with no wifi 😉 Very good comments and love how you commented on each point. Interesting to hear you dont sleep as well…we love white noise for sleeping so creaking isn’t a problem!

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March 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Trip sounds great but how and where do I book it.

March 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

You can book on Via Rail’s website or by calling them! We linked to their site many times in our post so just click on one of the links to find it 🙂

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April 16, 2017 at 3:56 am

This looks so exciting! I really want to try traveling by train, definitely an adventure worth trying!

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April 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Hi Victoria and Terrence!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all! I’ve been on the fence between doing a trip via train across the US with Amtrak vs. doing it across Canada with Via Rail. Have you done a trip like this one in the US by any chance (perhaps from D.C. to LA)? If not, do you know anybody who have done the two and would be kind enough to share their thoughts?

You also mentioned that “People were intrigued by your camera…” What camera did you use for these stunning photographs!? I hope you don’t mind sharing.

I’ve always said I’d do this trip “when I grow up” and you made me realize that hey, why not now? And if not now, then when? So glad I stumbled upon your post and thank you for inspiring me! Sending all the good vibes you way…

April 30, 2017 at 7:42 pm

You also mentioned that “People were intrigued by your camera…” What camera did you use for the photos on this post? Those are some beautiful pictures! I hope you don’t mind sharing.

I’ve always said I’d do this trip “when I grow up” and you made me realize that hey, why not now? And if not now, then when? So glad I stumbled upon your post and thank you for inspiring me! Sending all the good vibes you way.

May 1, 2017 at 11:44 am

Thanks so much for your response! There is no time like the present to travel North America by train! We know folks who have done Amtrack but it certainly isn’t the same thing as Via Rail. If you are looking for economy, they are both similar. If you are looking for an actual place to lay down, Via rail is the way to go. They even offer budget options that are more expensive than economy but cheaper than a larger room where you have a private bunk to sleep in and still get to eat in the amazing dining car. Amtrack only offers seats. We use a Sony A99 camera for our photos and smartphones too 😀

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August 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm

We are experienced Amtrak travelers, and you are wrong about “Amtrak only offers seats”.


We have always booked the bedroom as my husband is 6’6″ and the roomettes are too small. We are considering our first via-rail trip. Do any of the sleepers have a private bath as the bedrooms on Amtrak? Is there anywhere on the ViaRail website that explains what the sleeping accommodations are like? I’ve looked at some of the information and can’t seem to find it. Also, one other post mentioned that you can get off at intermediate stops with no increase in price. Is that true? We have traveled all the major long distance Amtrak routes and would recommend the Zephyr, which is the Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA route. It goes through the Rockies and is gorgeous.

August 4, 2017 at 7:22 am

Yes it is true. There might be some seasonal restrictions i.e., perhaps in the busier times (summer/fall) … just give them a call and ask. I think there is a restriction around how long the stopover can be, but I believe it was quite a bit of time (1-2 weeks). Most who were doing it got off the train for a few days in Jasper.

The sleeping accommodations range from 1) seats to 2) berths with curtains to 3) private rooms with 2 bunk beds and a private toilet to 4) the Prestige car. If you buy the private room or the prestige, all the meals are included.

Hope that helps.

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September 5, 2017 at 2:44 pm

All meals are provided in the Berth section too

August 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Hello Cici!

First off, thanks for the correction regarding Amtrack! We did not know! Second, here is the link to the accommodations on Via Rail http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/rockies-and-pacific/toronto-vancouver-canadian/classes-and-services as Mark said above! Yes, you are able to stopover, but again, as Mark said, it is always a good idea to give them a ring if you want to stopover for a long time. We loved stopping over in Jasper and highly recommend it!

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September 20, 2019 at 9:40 am

Hi my husband and are both in our 70 s and are flying out of UK to see our son in stk Louis we would love to take the train from Toronto to Vancouver but are a bit worried about managing the higher bunks would two lower bunks be better as the prestige cabin a little over our budget, any advice welcome Di x

September 21, 2019 at 4:11 pm

I would say it depends on how fit you are to climb up. If you use any accessibility device I would say no it would be difficult but a lot of people on our train in their 70’s were in bunk beds! Only you know your body!

May 1, 2017 at 5:30 pm

We did Amtrak from New York overnight to Chicago; then Chicagoe down to new Orleans. AMtrak was great – but no where near as good as our Via Rail Experience

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June 20, 2017 at 10:47 pm

This is a treasure trove of information on Canadian Railway. I am hooked already. It is quite good to note vegetarian dish being served on the train. On the whole this is worth a try at least once.

June 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm

You are so sweet!!! Thank you for this comment, it made our day!

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June 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

We just traveled the Canadian Toronto to Vancouver. It is the best experience ever. We loved every bit of it. The scenery was stunning food was first class and we made lots of new friends from all over the world. This must be on everybody’s bucket list.

June 29, 2017 at 12:53 pm

A week doesn’t go by when we don’t think about how fantastic the experience was!!

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June 2, 2018 at 4:20 am

Hello 🙂 Did you get off and visit at all? How does it work please ? Been dresming of going out west from Montreal . Wondering if we could hop on and hop off as we go ?

June 2, 2018 at 6:42 am

Yes! We got off in Jasper for 3 days! You are able to plan free stopovers at any of the stops along the way! The best is to call Via Rail and ask all the questions you need! They are quite helpful 🙂

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July 16, 2017 at 4:33 pm

I’m so glad I came across this article. My husband and I are going on the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver in less than 3 weeks. We cannot wait, and your article has really whet our appetite even more! We are going onto Saskatoon a couple of days after arriving in Vancouver so it really will be a trip of a lifetime. (It’s actually a late honeymoon trip, we got married in March this year).

July 16, 2017 at 5:17 pm

First of all, congrats on married life! Second of all, this trip is the perfect thing for a honeymoon! The little train cars are so romantic and you are just going to love it!

July 25, 2017 at 8:18 am

We had the pleasure of being on the same trip as Victoria and Terrence at the same time — I can assure you their account is very good. Had many lovely conversations with them and enjoyed their company. One thing I am not sure they mentioned is, you can arrange to disembark at certain locations, stay a few days and resume your trip on the next passing train with no extra charge. Something I wish would have known. Many got off at Jasper and stayed there for 3 days and them picked up the next train.

It was a pleasure meeting you Terrence and Victoria — good that you are making your lives an adventure!

July 30, 2017 at 1:14 am

Hi Mark!! Thankk you so much for commenting! Good to hear from you! We kind of touched on that in another article but not as much as we should! Hope all is well with you!

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March 16, 2018 at 5:14 am

Hello T & V! I am planning on taking the Canadian this July, I will be back in Canada after ten years. I use to live on the Vancouver Island and now I am going back to visit friends. I will be flying to Toronto and flying back home from Vancouver because I want to visit friends in Toroto as well. Could you tell me or share the link about the dropping off in some cities? I think it would make the experience even better for me!

March 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Hello! Have so much fun!! Here is a post we did about the stops we saw along the train. There are even more stops that we didn’t get to do and we suggest contacting Via Rail directly about this either by phone or twitter or email! They will be able to help you add them to your trip 🙂 https://www.followmeaway.com/can-see-best-canada-train-breathtaking-stops/

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August 6, 2017 at 11:52 pm

Definitely on my list of things to do. I love travel by train. I’ve been across the whole US on Amtrak, and would do it again in a heart beat, even though it’s usually 8 hours late getting to California. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be to go sea to sea in Canada. I expect delays in train travel. I’m envious of you folks who have already made the trip.

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August 15, 2017 at 8:48 am

Hi there, your blog is fantastic and extremely helpful. My husband and I are looking at doing the train ride in October. I was just hoping you could clarify something for us as we are having difficulty finding the answer on the ViaRail website – if you purchase the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver, do you have the option of getting off at each stop for an extended period of time, say 1-2 nights, and then pick the train back up? Any assistance is much appreciated and thanks again for the fantastic blog.

August 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Hello Jasmine! Congrats on deciding to do the train! We would suggest calling Via Rail! They are very helpful and will be able to answer evey question you have! Yes, you are able to get off at each stop for a longer period of time, but it all depends on when the next train comes! We had to wait 3 days for the next train from Jasper, but that was winter so the October schedule may be different! Just call Via Rail for the best assistance! Good luck and have fun!

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August 15, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Thanks for the great post. We are excited to take the trip next week on The Canadian. Couple of questions. We are all vegetarian. Do we have to let them know our food preference days in advance? Is there no WiFi on this train at all? I couldn’t figure it out from their website. My kids won’t be happy without WiFi. Thanks in advance.

August 16, 2017 at 1:32 am

Nope! No wifi at all 🙁 Sometimes you can get a bit of phone service when passing towns but there is no Wifi. We feel like this is something Via Rail needs to consider upgrading on as a lot of guests find wifi very important. There is a vegetarian option included on the menu for each and every meal which is amazing! You don’t have to call ahead at all and the meals were quite delicious!

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August 27, 2017 at 11:19 pm

Making this trip in November 18, 2017. We are so looking forward to it. It will be our first train trip for both of us.

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August 30, 2017 at 9:15 am

Does the canadian have electrical sockets for charging mobiles etc

August 31, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Yes they sure do!! Many of them!

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September 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Great article and helpful comments! May I ask a “practical” question? For those of you who have taken Via, what’s the ‘customary range’ for tipping – the room attendant? And the restaurant server? Assume typically pleasant service. Thanks.

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September 5, 2017 at 11:50 am

Maybe I missed something but is this a round-trip vacation?

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September 12, 2017 at 5:38 am

Brilliant article ! I’m moving to Toronto this winter and plan to take this train during Spring. Do you perhaps think Spring is any good, with all the rain?

Can’t be more excited 🙂

Carolina | Myglobalattitude.com

September 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Hey Carolina! We loved toronto and think the train would be just amazing in the spring! Even if it rained a little it is so magical to get to ride the train through the rain…very romantic! Have so much fun and good luck!

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September 13, 2017 at 6:06 am

We are going in winter 2018 for a month. Am so glad I stumbled upon this page. Just what we wanted to do. Get on and off the train and stay for a night or two in a hotel and do some sightseeing. Could you please tell me the stops so I can do some research on what to do in every stop. We will start in Toronto and last stop will be Vancouver to ski. Thank you so much.

September 13, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Hi Mary — the best thing to do is to contact VIA and let them know when you are going so they can confirm where you will be able to get off for a visit. I imagine it changes with the time of year. In March when we went you could get off at Winnipeg and Jasper. The train will likely leave late from Toronto because the freight trains have priority over VIA and they can be sitting on a spur for a while as the freights go by … so keep that in mind. Our train was 6 hours late leaving. If you are connecting in Vancouver, leave a full 24 hours for the connections. We had a great time and met lots of wonderful people from all corners of the planet – literally!

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September 17, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for sharing this information. It was very helpful. I still have a couple of questions, though.

My husband smokes and I didn’t see any information on the train’s smoking policies. Is there designated smoking areas available, smoking bedrooms, etc?

Is it possible to make the trip a round trip experience or do you need to arrange other transportation back to where you started?

September 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Hello Rhonda! There is no smoking at all onboard the train. That being said, your husband will be able to step outside during the train stops to take a smoke break. This is what the staff did during our trip and it is open to passengers too. You can certainly take the train round trip if you want to but the fare will just be more expensive than if you took it one way!

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October 11, 2017 at 2:09 am

Victoria and Terrence, Excelente! Have you considered doing the Trans Siberian Railway from St. Petersburg to Beijing? You guys do an amazing job so I would be very interested in seeing that post. Thanks

October 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm

YES! We would love to do a train journey like that!

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October 22, 2017 at 12:30 am

Are the Northern Lights visible from “The Canadian” route during the winter?

October 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm

They have actually been known to be seen on The Canadian! Of course it depends on the weather and how bright an area is but it has happened in the past! Good luck!

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March 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Kris you’d have more luck with VIA Rail’s Hudson Bay train to Thompson Manitoba, the furthest north VIA goes (the line is unfortunately washed out north to Churchill). See also http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/boreal-routes .

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November 1, 2017 at 9:13 am

Thanks for the information, it was just the extras we needed to know before our trip. Just wondering how the baggage allowance works in sleeper class on the Canadian? I imagine if there are 3 of us in one cabin there will not be much room for all our bags? And things aren’t clear about weight limit or if they have to be checked and not in our cabins?

Thanks in advance 🙂

November 2, 2017 at 7:21 am

You will not have much room in the cabin so we recommend checking your luggage and bringing a small backpack for your clothes! Have fun!

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December 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Have already booked for Aug 2018, in celebration of our 50th wedding anniv, looking forward to the trip. TOR – VC, inland passage cruise, then back to TOR so we’ll have VIA both ways. Round trip on AMTRAK Boston MA to TOR and back will be included. With buffer days included, we’ll make it a 26 day vakay……….CAN”T WAIT!

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December 31, 2017 at 9:14 am

Great information and article thank you. I am thinking of taking the Via Rail from Toronto to Vancouver either summer 2018 or 2019 (depending how quickly I can save). I will be flying over from the UK. Is it something that you would recommend for a solo female traveller and did you both feel safe with adequate security etc? Were the staff patient and courteous as I would probably ask them lots of questions being that I am quite anxious?

I’m still a bit confused regarding the baggage allowance. So I could take for example a 20kg pack which would need to be checked into the luggage compartment for the duration of the trip and then take a smaller pack into the cabin, or could I have it all with me?

Sorry for all the questions, any help and advice is appreciated.

December 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Oh gosh YES!!! The Train Across Canada is PERFECT for solo female travelers…maybe even more so than couples because couples have to sleep in bunk beds. The trains are 100% safe and the staff is so kind and helpful! We ask a lot of questions too and they are just happy to chat with you and talk to you because the train is long for them too and they are working not having fun like the rest of us! The rooms are TEENY TINY so you woudln’t want to bring a lot of baggage. We each had a carry on size luggage and a backpack and although it fit into the room it was quite large! I highly recommend packing something a bit smaller to use while you are riding the train! Have so much fun!!

December 31, 2017 at 2:12 pm

100% safe for a single female — no issues at all. Staff are courteous and are helpful, but at points they are quite busy, so you have to pick your time. Rooms are small, so I’d suggest bring on the train what you need for 4 days and pack the rest away in baggage. Depending on the package you choose, all meals are included and they are quite good.

Some things to remember — VIA rents the rail tracks so has to give way to CN freight trains at certain spur points. This can delay the train – so, leave a full 24 hours if you are making a connection at the other end. You might not need it, but it allows for these delays and gives you a chance to poke around for a day – lots to see.

Also – and this is important — you are allowed to disembark the train at certain locations and get back on several DAYS later at no extra charge. This allows one to stay at a place on the route and then just pick up a few days later where they left off. Jasper is a place I’d suggest you do that … gorgeous spot with lots of wildlife … we were were sharing the tracks with a huge herd of elk when we arrived.

If you have never been to Western Canada, it can be overwhelming in is vastness, beauty and appeal … while there are many gorgeous spots on this planet, Western Canada has to be one of them.

Finally — listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy (You Tube it) to get a sense of what the railroad meant to Canada … he sings it best!

Enjoy your trip!

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August 16, 2018 at 9:29 pm

I was just reading your comments and it caught my attention as I am also thinking of doing this trip by myself. I am single female and never thought too much about the safety issue, maybe because I live in Canada. My soon took this same trip few years ago with a friend, in the month of January and absolutely loved it. I am also trying to save for it but am really hopeful I can do it within the year. Good luck to you and hope you really enjoy it!

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January 13, 2018 at 1:46 pm

I just came across your post (great by the way!) and wanted to offer my encouragement to the budget traveler.

I found riding in coach absolutely comfortable and a great way to socialize and make friends for the journey. I took The Canadian this past June and had two seats to spread out in all the way Vancouver to Toronto. I met plenty of Canadians and travelers from Germany, France, England, Australia, Japan, China, and Denmark (I was the sole American). The train car camaraderie was great! There were even a number of people in their 50s and 60s who did the whole trip in seats.

And ultimately you’ll spend most of your time in the veiwing car anyway!

January 13, 2018 at 8:26 pm

Thank you for this!! This is great to hear!! We hope other people listen to this comment! 🙂

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March 9, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Just booked our VIA rail Vancouver to Toronto June 10, 2018. Before that Alaska cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver. i am so excited. loved reading your blog. tons of useful information. thank you. Blessing to you both. happy travelling.

March 9, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Wow!! Your trips sound amazing! have so much fun on both the cruise and the train! Thank you for your kind words 🙂

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March 16, 2018 at 8:54 am

We are travelling from Toronto to Jasper in late May on the Canadian then train again up to Prince Rupert to see the Grizzly bears!!

As Brits we are never sure of tipping rules when travelling. What should we expect to pay on the Canadian – we are travelling in Prestige class to Jasper.

One of our dreams to do this trip

March 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

How fun!! We suggest talking to Via Rail representatives as we did not travel in prestige class so aren’t sure about their tipping policy. It wasn’t like a cruise where they made it apparent that you had to tip by placing little envelopes around either!

March 18, 2018 at 3:16 pm

You will have a great trip — Canada is a huge country and many from Europe do not appreciate that it takes longer to fly from one end to the other than from England to Canada.

In any event, on another trip, we went to see the Grizzly bears at Prince Rupert and it was great. The males will not let you get very close, but the females are not as shy. I assume you are going to the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park … an amazing place. On our way up to the reserve (we went by a very small boat up the Khutzeymateen River), we ran into a pod of Killer whales … they were so close, I could reach out and touch them … one of the most amazing experiences of my life. They played around our boat as we putted our way up the river.

You are about to embark on one of the most amazing experiences you could ever have … I live in Canada and it still boggles my mind — the beauty is stunning.

March 19, 2018 at 6:16 am

We are very excited about the trip – taking in niagara and Vancouver as well. We are staying at the Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge for three night. May be a bit early for the whales but should be plenty of grizzlys!!

March 19, 2018 at 1:37 am

We traveled from Jasper to Toronto in Prestige Class; pricey but worth every dime. The cabin was a dream and the crews were wonderful. The suggested tip in Canadian Dollars in cash is C$10 per night per person to the cabin attendants. We tipped more because they took VERY good care of us — late morning continental breakfasts in our cabin or in the Park Car bar area, laying out late night nightcaps for our room before they went off duty at 11:00 p.m. when we were watching a movie, etc. Note that the crews change in Winnipeg, so you’ll need to tip the Toronto to Winnipeg crew before they leave the train and the Winnipeg to Jasper crew just before you leave the train. Meals are included and the menus don’t list prices. The suggested tip was C$2-3 per person for breakfast and lunch and C$5-7 per person for dinner. Because Prestige Class includes any beverages, including wine, I figured our meals would have been more expensive than regular sleeper class. We never had breakfast in the dining car, thanks to the wonderful Prestige Class cabin attendants. However for the two of us at lunch I tipped C$10 each day and for dinner I tipped C$20 each day. For our entire trip I had taken a supply of small envelopes with small cards like are used by florists to identify the giver of a bouquet. I discretely passed out the tips in the envelopes. For the Prestige Class cabin attendants, we wrote a brief note of thanks on one of the cards and included it in the envelopes. When we arrived in Toronto, they had staff waiting for us to take our luggage and take us across to the Royal York Hotel. In Jasper, I would expect they will have a golf cart ready to take you to the station if you need/want it. When we left Jasper, the train was 26 cars long (yes, 4/10th of a mile) and virtually sold out. They took us by golf cart from the station to the Park Car where our cabin was located — way down the street.

March 19, 2018 at 5:24 am

Thank you very much for the detailed response. It will really help and you have suggested some nice additional touches. The UK is still not really a tipping country other than in London so the international “rules” are interesting – someone should write a book on it!! Thanks again John

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March 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Thinking of doing this trip alone in 19. I need to stick to a tight budget but was hoping to stop off at several places en route. Can I use VIA rail 10 passes to do this ?

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April 3, 2018 at 7:04 pm

I’m disabled and normally use a walker. How wide are the isles and easy is it to get around? I heard there is access to a narrow wheelchair on board? Sounds like the train makes enough stops during the day that that will be the best time to move between cars for me. We are booked May 1st Toronto to Vancouver.

April 3, 2018 at 8:23 pm

I would not rely on train stops to use as the only periods to move in the train — there are VERY long periods when the train does not stop. If there is a narrow wheelchair, I would suggest that you make sure that it is available for you. The hall passages in the train are narrow and I am not even sure that a regular walker is narrow enough — might want to check with VIA about that. Also – there is a lot of lateral movement in the train she is up to full speed and it can make walking, even for able-bodied, challenging. I hope I am not being too negative, I just want to make sure that you are fully prepared to have the best time that you can!

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May 3, 2018 at 3:47 am

Thanks to sharing such a great tips to know more about Canada Trains. I am sure people will get more help from your post.

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August 22, 2018 at 1:56 am

Hello, Thanks for the information regarding the trip. Traveling with the train with 2 children (2years and 3 years) is ok? We can stop in a few cities during the trip to visit Canada ? Liz

September 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

My wife and I did this 2 years ago. The train will briefly stop in a few cities along the route, but you can arrange to get off at a stop and stay there for a while ( week) and then get back on the next train. Traveling with 2 small kid would be challenging as you would have to split the kids up between 2 births and one would be with you and the other with dad … there might be some arrangement to accommodate your family that I am not aware of – so that would be worth checking. You’d also have to be careful traveling between cars with the kids, especially if you were going in winter. It is a beautiful trip, but might be something you might do when they are a bit older (assuming there are no other arrangements that I am not aware of that are more accommodating to families). Best to call VIA and speak to them directly.

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October 5, 2018 at 9:41 pm

This is truly an experience that shouldn’t be missed! We don’t get the opportunity to travel by train much in the US so Canada is the perfect place to do it, while enjoying the jaw dropping views. On my list!

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October 6, 2018 at 5:18 am

You will have a great trip. Lot of thanks for sharing

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October 6, 2018 at 7:19 am

One for the bucket list for sure. I’ve never been to Canada, but it has been a dream of mine for quite some time. And travelling across the country in a train sounds like the perfect thing to do (we do love a road trip, so having it without the driving sounds like a win-win to me). Love your photographs and the detailed guide.

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October 6, 2018 at 7:46 am

Only been to Niagara Falls, but Canada is on my bucket list <3 I'd love to go!

commented on your blog  please find mine, I've shared it today xxx

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October 6, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Traveling across Canada by train is now on my bucket list! It looks absolutely amazing!

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October 6, 2018 at 10:13 pm

Victoria and Terrence, thank you for the train across Canada blog with photos. You helped us make a decision to take the trip. I pray for your peace and safety as you travel the world!!

October 7, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Wonderful! have so much fun!!

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October 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

Such a nice tips for the traveler in Canada. Thank you very much for the train across Canada blog. I was a plan to visit Canada end of this year, I am going to beneficial for this post 🙂

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October 19, 2018 at 9:18 am

This is great, thanks! Definitely on my list to do one day so this is very helpful.

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October 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm

This may sound silly, but if I booked the Toronto to Vancouver train, am I expected to book flights or an alternate mode of transportation back to Toronto upon reaching Vancouver? That would make the trip considerably more expensive!

October 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Yes that is indeed what must happen unless you buy a return ticket which is also quite expensive 🙁

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October 29, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Great informative blog – But, Toronto to Jasper Not UNUSUAL for train to be 10 to 24hrs Late, up to a Maximum of 48hrs. Who knows this may not occur for you, but if it does = Missing out on scenery that you were hoping to see/Accommodation in your hotel/Tours booked, but worst of all Never Knowing When you will Actually get on the move again eg Winnipeg train maintenance, waiting for freight to pass, being told that you will depart at a certain time, and then deferred AGAIN and AGAIN! Due to these factors – DO NOT DO THIS TRIP! Outside of this – I agree with the other aspects of the blog. I would so love to recommend this trip, as there are numerous Positive Aspects, but can’t due to reasons given. BUYER BE AWARE!!

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June 27, 2019 at 12:28 am

That sounds like the usual train trip in Argentina. We were supposed to leave at 9am but were delayed until 6pm. It soon got dark and we missed ALL of the scenery we hoped to see by taking the train.

October 30, 2018 at 11:17 am

Yours is a reason to plan contingencies better. I think most who have taken the trip have arrived within 12 hours of their scheduled arrival time (for us it was 5 hours). If planning to take the trip, ALWAYS plan any connecting transportation at least 24 hours after your scheduled arrival. 95% of the time that will be enough … but the end of the trip is so beautiful, why not plan a 2-3 day stay (or more) and take a few extra days to enjoy! I would never not suggest this trip because you might be delayed a little, afterall this IS train travel … just know a delay is possible and plan accordingly.

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December 9, 2018 at 2:44 pm

I’m surprised no one else has asked this question, but here goes…! Are you allowed to bring your own alcohol on the train? We are booked in a Cabin for Two so have privacy. Thanks!

December 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm

ooooo! That is a good one and we don’t know! You would have to contact Via Rail for that but we assume that would not be allowed. That being said, if you secretly brought some there is no way they could ever tell. But shhh we didn’t say that 😉

December 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

If you have your own room, I believe that you are allowed — but check to be certain. I believe you can only consume it in your own room.

December 9, 2018 at 3:58 pm

I have checked and the answer I gave it correct.

December 9, 2018 at 6:44 pm

According to the ViaRail policies section of their website, personal alcoholic beverages (i.e., not purchased on the train) may be consumed ONLY in sleeping car cabins. Under the various provinces’ laws, personal alcohol may not be consumed anywhere else on the train. In addition, the website policies section also outlines disrespectful and unsafe behavior that will not be tolerated anywhere on the train and it includes intoxication.

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December 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Victoria and Terrence,

What a fantastic article and all the other comments about this trip have been extremely helpful. My husband and I plan on doing this trip in May 2020. Vancouver to Halifax. Is one direction really any better or worse then the other? We plan on booking the Prestige Class. Also we are thinking of booking our 14 day trip with Vacations by Rail. Which gives us longer stays and nice hotels when not on the trains. This is a trip we have thought about doing for a long time. I do not believe that arriving late is any big deal. I am sure there are nice hotels and things to do in Halifax.

December 30, 2018 at 5:01 pm

The answer to your question about direction depends on what you want to see, and the schedule of The Canadian. For most travelers, the “must see’ is the Canadian Rockies between Jasper and Vancouver. The problem is that the trip takes 24 hours, and since the train is constantly moving, half the trip is in the daytime and half the trip is in the dark. The Vancouver-Kamloops half of the trip is through the Fraser and Thompson River canyons as they cut through the Coast Range. The Kamloops-Jasper half of the trip is through the alpine valleys between the ridges of the Rockies, through the pass near Mount Robson, and down the valley into Jasper. You have to decide what half you really want to see and then consult the Via Rail schedule to see which direction is best that year. East of Jasper, the schedule doesn’t make much difference in either direction – either way the scenery is a day of trees and a day of prairie. Prestige class was worth every penny we spent; the accommodations were wonderful and the crews were terrific. (There are two crews; the changeover is in Winnipeg.)

The “miss nothing” alternative in the west is to take the Rocky Mountaineer which overnights in Kamloops so the entire train trip is in the daytime. In addition, they offer the Rocky Mountain crossing east of Kamloops on either the Via Rail route direct to Jasper, or the more spectacular Canadian Pacific route across Kicking Horse pass into Lake Louise and Banff. We took the latter and drove the Ice Fields Parkway between Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper—about 165 miles of spectacular scenery.

My only other suggestion is to schedule your trip between June 15 and July 15 – the longest days of the year. This will insure maximum daylight for viewing the scenery and visiting the places along the way. It will also avoid the potential of cold, wet May weather. FYI, the last danger of frost and freezing temperatures is generally the end of May in many of the northern areas you’ll be visiting.

December 31, 2018 at 10:50 am

Thanks so much for your reply. It is a great help. Now we have to decide which company to book with. Vacations by Rail or Across Canada by Train. Any thoughts on either one?

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January 5, 2019 at 8:21 am

Hi Victoria and Terrence, this is really on my bucket list. Thanks for this post. It reminds me to pursue this travel.

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January 6, 2019 at 9:32 am

This was a fantastic post! Just about everything I needed to know and great tips within!! The only thing I’m still left questioning is if via rail will cargo vehicles too? So if we take a train from Toronto to Halifax, is there any option to bring our car with us? I don’t know the proper term for this so was having troubles finding it on the via website.

January 6, 2019 at 8:22 pm

The VIA train is strictly a passenger train. You might be able to arrange that your car goes across in a freight train and you can hook up with it when you arrive.

January 6, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Barbara-Ann: I have no experience with either Vacations by Rail or Across Canada by Train other than seeing their advertisements. We used an experienced local travel agent in our area who specializes in putting together independent trips with lots of unrelated elements.

January 6, 2019 at 6:55 pm

Thanks for the info.

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January 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Ah how serendipitous I just ran across this; am hoping to do a Canada train trip for my husband’s 50th birthday this year. Good to have some tips, I really knew next-to-nothing about it. Nice article.

January 12, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Wonderful!! You are going to love the trip! Happy bday to your husband

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January 13, 2019 at 10:32 am

Glad I read all This information. Want to plan a trip so I will call Via Rail soon. Very informative.

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February 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

So much useful information, thanks! Any person who is planning to travel by train in Canada has to read this article.

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March 16, 2019 at 10:15 pm

Your blog was VERY informative and answered many questions I had even though I booked the trip on the Canadian 3 weeks ago for departure from Vancouver to Toronto the first part of April. Just curious as to how you made arrangements to be considered being hosted by VIA Rail.

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April 12, 2019 at 10:59 am

what about small pets dogs

April 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Unless they are service animals pets are not allowed.

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May 31, 2019 at 8:26 am

I am so interested in the Cross Canada portion of the sight seeing train ride from Toronto to Vancouver. However the website isn’t user friendly in identifying the schedule date or the months – I need time to plan to fit a schedule.

How do I do that? I wish they have live chat lines to make things more transparent.

May 31, 2019 at 12:48 pm

You can call Via Rail! They are very helpful and will assist you in planning and rates!

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June 21, 2019 at 10:38 am

I recommend getting a Canrail Pass if you want to travel all around Canada. For less than a return trip from Toronto to Vancouver you get 7 unlimited distance one way trips to be used in a 60 day period. It’s a good way to see a lot.

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August 12, 2019 at 6:36 pm

Hi Jim, I did buy the Conrail Pass and booked the first distance from Toronto to Jasper. Then like to take the next train from Jasper to Vancouver. Then Vancouver to Winnipeg and Winnipeg to Churchil to see the polar bears. Then return from Churchill to Winnipeg and go from Winnipeg back to Toronto. This is my plan, but what I don’t know is if there is always a seat available or might the train be fully booked? Many thanks for your answer, because I come from Austria and calling ViaRail is not so easy.

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July 10, 2019 at 7:25 am

I am thinking of doing the Toronto to Vancouver on the Canadian in July, and driving back to Toronto in a car would be a great way to see more.

But unfortunately, renting a car one-way for just 1 person is expensive, and driving/delivering someone else’s car is hard to find 🙁

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September 14, 2019 at 11:01 am

Wold love to cross Canada by rail however I have many relatives, friends to see in almost every province. Are there any such things as a stopover an reboard the next day the train comes through . Like I have a few family members in Alberta, Thunder Bay, and Deep River we would like to see them for a a couple of days then reboard later like spending 2 days at each stop. Is this option available to its passengers. Pete Unwin.

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September 16, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Question: We are travelling from Toronto to Jasper on the Canadian in late October 2019. The literature on Cabins for 2 states it can be locked from the inside. Does it not also lock from the outside? How are my carry-on bags/clothing/meds etc. protected while I am away from my cabin for meals and sightseeing? This is a concern!

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September 19, 2019 at 2:21 am

Great blog with some useful information. Thx 🙂 I’m planning on doing the Westerner at the beginning of January, travelling from Toronto to Vancouver, stopping off in Jasper. I am debating between n upper or lower sleeping berth, as there is about a $250 difference. I am trying to ascertain while it is in sleeping mode just how much daylight there will probably be – it seems a little pointless paying the price difference and not being able to see much thru the window. I have emailed VIA to enquire but they unfortunately skirt around answering it, I look forward to hearing from you.

October 7, 2019 at 5:43 pm

Yes, I agree with all! Great helpful info on this blog, thank you! Question: we are travelling to Jasper from Toronto leaving Oct 23. We’ll be on the train for three days, then in Jasper for 3 days then back home again to Toronto on the train for three days. My question is: Is it chilly on the train? We have a cabin for 2 but will of course using the Park Car and the Observation Car as well as the Dining Car. It’s autumn/early winter in the West so we’re wondering if we’ll be cold sitting on the train all day. Thanks for your advice!

October 8, 2019 at 2:09 pm

You won’t be cold but def wear a sweater or pullover of some kind as walking through the car does get a little chilly. It isn’t cold by any means!

October 10, 2019 at 11:12 am

Thank you! Just don’t want to be chilly sitting there.

Did you have any issues with the lack of outer door locks on the cabins? Leaving all of our clothes and toiletries unattended is a little unnerving. ViaRail said they’ve had no issues with it. We’ll take valuables with us when we’re in other cars. Thanks!

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December 14, 2019 at 12:04 am

ok seems like persons using wheelchairs like seniors and others with invisible disability are not considered worthwhile having set up a marketing plan for us. just a goof or indifference ? we do eat meat so vegetarian dishes are a allergen to many of us, again indifference or willful ignorance?

December 14, 2019 at 2:11 pm

I’m sorry, what do you mean? I think this is better directed at Via Rail for feedback! We are just people who went on the train and reviewed our experience to help others the best we can 🙂

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April 21, 2020 at 8:07 pm

This is a cool experience! I wanna try this soon. Just want to ask, how about if I wanna take a bath, is there any?

April 21, 2020 at 11:03 pm

Hey!! It is a fun experience! There are no facilities for a bath. Just showers. So sorry I wish there was!

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February 13, 2023 at 4:09 pm

Hello we went on the Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto had a great journey in August 2017 one way .we had bunk beds that came out of the wall and small sink plus toilet .ect .we saw the Rockies mountains in day time which was wonderful to see along with the wild life and changing scenes as we went .The question we ask is we understand if you now travel from Vancouver to Toronto .going through the Rocky Mountains is now at night ,so you cannot view them .Whilst if you travel from Toronto to Vancouver you view the Rocky Mountains during the day now ,so reverse of what we were able to view last time we did the journey .The via site is a bit scarce on detail to do with the Canadian .We booked direct last time and allowed for issues ie delays ect on board ,as one unfortunate sole took ill .so we had a 4 hour stop in the middle of nowhere .the marshal onboard took charge of the situation and a rescue vehicle came eventually .We have also been advised as we are across the pond UK to allow two days in Toronto ie hotel accommodation in case our flight is delayed ect which I guess is good practice if we come that direction ,so we are trying to plan ahead with a travel company ,so we are double checking the latest via schedule plans ,we are not using their chat box AI .,we prefer a human as AI CAN ONLY SEE IN BLACK AND WHITE so any comments would help good or bad thank you .

February 15, 2023 at 2:38 pm

Hello Nigel! i think this is very smart! Our train was also VERY delayed getting into Vancouver and it was super bad delay like 12 hours that led us to missing an entire day of nice weather. Always plan for delays as the freight trains rule up there!

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Scenic Train Trips Across Canada

John Borthwick / Getty Images

Canadian train trips 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 it offers a fairly extensive system of rail transportation across the country, though not in every province. Other rail companies provide relatively luxurious, scenic adventures or unique vintage experiences. 

Rocky Mountaineer: Calgary, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia

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 three, four, or five nights through mountains, canyons, rivers, and glaciers.

Rocky Mountaineer: Vancouver to 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, and an old mining town 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. 

VIA Rail: Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to Jasper, Alberta

This train  travels 720 miles (1,160 kilometers) between the Rockies and the North Pacific Coast through remarkable and varied landscapes. Passengers will see lakes, rivers, mountains, dotted by historic villages, farms, and sawmills out the train's windows. Wildlife, like 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 room at a hotel or bed-and-breakfast.

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. 

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.

South Simcoe Railway: Ontario

This tourist attraction was lovingly restored by a community intent on preserving railroad heritage. Between May and October, people board this hour-long scenic journey on the South Simcoe Railway between Tottenham and Beeton, Ontario, through the Beeton Creek Valley. You'll ride in restored 1920s coaches for this vintage train trip and hear commentary from the conductor.

The South Simcoe Railway  is the only operating European steam engine in Canada and one of the last operating excursion steam engines in Canada. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007.

VIA Rail: Cross Country, Toronto to Vancouver

If you want to get a true sense of the breadth and diversity of Canada, book 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 kilometers), 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  and as remote and picturesque as Blue River, British Columbia (population 269). 

VIA Rail: Churchill to Winnipeg, Manitoba

This two-day, 1,000-mile (1,700-kilometer) journey 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." On trips in the summertime, you'll see beluga whales and experience the midnight sun.

VIA Rail: Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia

This overnight, 836-mile (1,346-kilometer) trip on The Ocean route 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 populations and a culture steeped in European tradition, and end in Halifax, a busy Canadian port city that's brimming with maritime hospitality.

A ride on  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.

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Rail Across Canada

Cross canada on the via canadian.

Operating year-round, the VIA Canadian is one of the world’s great train journeys. Travelling 4466km, VIA Rail’s signature train journey takes four days to travel between Toronto and Vancouver, offering comfortable sleeping carriages, outstanding dining, double-story panoramic dome cars, and a peaceful, elegant ambiance. With its wide viewing windows, watch the country’s landscape transform before you, from the lakes of Ontario, across the prairies and through the mighty Rockies. Guests can explore key towns or cities along the way, or just sit back in comfort and enjoy the views.


Length of Trip :  4 Days

Cost :  Price depends on whether you’re travelling Economy Class, Sleeper Plus Class (with meals included), Upper berth, lower berth or want your own cabin.  Prices range from $1000 – $4000 per person one way.    Click here for more info

Best time to go :  The Canadian runs year-round, with limited service in winter months. The views change with the seasons, so can be as spectacular (if not more) in fall as they are in the spring. Summer brings longer days with more chance to look out the window.

Wheelchair friendly :  Yes

Family friendly :  Yes, although make sure the kids bring books and games to keep them entertained.

Where to eat :  The renovated dining cars serve outstanding full-course meals. Meals are included in the price of the Sleeper Plus class ticket. Cold drinks, snacks and other beverages are always available in the Skyline car. Other than baby food and formula, passengers are forbidden to bring their own food on board.

Official Site :  Click here  for more information about The Canadian

Getting There :  The Canadian departs from either Toronto Union Station or Vancouver Pacific Central Station, although it can be joined at various stops along the way.

Note from Robin :  VIA have invested more than $22million into refurbishing the Canadian, with all-new designs, carpets, and cabins (some with double beds). Staff are wonderfully friendly and offer various activities throughout the journey, such as beer tastings, games and talks about the landscape.

cross canada by train tour


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All Inclusive Luxury Rail Tours

Travel across canada in style with prestige accommodations aboard via rail.

Combine nostalgia and luxury to get prestige: unparalleled customer service, five-star accommodation, and the finest attention to detail. The Prestige rail cars aboard VIA Rail’s “The Canadian” train are a masterpiece of design and a once in a lifetime travel experience. Cap off this all-inclusive train experience by including private transfers, private tours and Fairmont Gold Floor hotel rooms.

cross canada by train tour

What makes Prestige Class different from the standard sleeper cabins?

  • A spacious cabin
  • A large window
  • By day, a large “L” shaped leather sofa, facing the window
  • By night, a double murphy bed, facing the window
  • Private bathroom, including a shower
  • A flat-screen TV
  • A stocked mini bar
  • Heated floors
  • Unrestricted access to the Prestige Park Car
  • Concierge Service
  • Priority Reservations in the dining car
  • Pre-dining appetizer service
  • Expedited luggage handling at major stations
  • Priority check-in at major stations

cross canada by train tour

This is a view inside one of the spacious and luxurious Prestige cabins. By day it is set up with a large, leather sofa. Of course you also have access to various other cabins like the Skyline, Park and Renaissance car, but spending time in here is perfect if you are looking for a little bit of privacy.

cross canada by train tour

In the evening staff come around and pull out the double murphy bed hiding inside your couch. This bed is positioned facing towards the large window, so when you are lying in bed trying to fall asleep, or just opening your eyes in the morning, you can watch Canadian landscapes pass by.

cross canada by train tour

This is a view of the Park Lounge car. You will have unrestricted access to this car during your time on board the train. Some activities that take place here are wine tastings, and interactive talks about the surrounding area and it’s geography.

cross canada by train tour

Travel on one of our Canadian Prestige train trips during the winter months of November to March and save!

Because of Canada’s cold winters, the major tourist season is during the summer months. That makes travelling in winter an excellent time to avoid crowds and cut costs. By travelling on one of our Canadian Prestige trips, you can experience the undeniably beauty of our winter season while also avoiding the cold weather as you cross the country from the warmth and comfort of VIA Rail’s Canadian train!

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Updated travel information for Mexican citizens coming to Canada

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

News release

Canada and Mexico have maintained a deep, positive and constructive diplomatic partnership over the past 80 years. We have worked to ensure North America is the world’s most competitive economic region and maintain strong bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. To support travel and people-to-people connections between Canada and Mexico, while also preserving the integrity of our immigration system, the Government of Canada is adjusting its travel requirements for Mexican citizens.

February 29, 2024, 8:30 a.m. – Ottawa – Canada and Mexico have maintained a deep, positive and constructive diplomatic partnership over the past 80 years. We have worked to ensure North America is the world’s most competitive economic region and maintain strong bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. To support travel and people-to-people connections between Canada and Mexico, while also preserving the integrity of our immigration system, the Government of Canada is adjusting its travel requirements for Mexican citizens.

As of February 29, 2024, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, Mexican citizens who hold a valid US non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years and are travelling by air on a Mexican passport will be able to apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA). With the high number of Mexican citizens currently holding US visas, the majority will continue to enjoy visa-free travel to Canada. Those who do not meet these conditions will need to apply for a Canadian visitor visa. This responds to an increase in asylum claims made by Mexican citizens that are refused, withdrawn or abandoned. It is an important step to preserve mobility for hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens, while also ensuring the sound management of our immigration and asylum systems.

The application process for Mexican citizens seeking a work or study permit will not change. Mexican citizens who want to work in Canada will continue to have access to a wide number of existing labour pathways, including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

Canada supports ongoing travel, tourism and business with Mexico. We will continue to work with the Government of Mexico to strengthen our regular pathways to immigration, and with our provincial and territorial counterparts to support a system of managed migration as well as to support those in need of protection. Canada is expanding its network of visa application centres in Mexico to better serve these clients. Today’s action will relieve pressure on Canada’s borders, immigration system, housing and social services, while preserving mobility for Mexican citizens who want to come to Canada.

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is a vital example of the mutually beneficial migration that we seek to promote regionally and globally. Canada is ready to work with Mexico to build on this program, through the modernization of a new SAWP bilateral agreement, to offer Mexican workers new opportunities, through the incorporation of year-round primary agriculture and seasonal fish, seafood and primary food processing into the program. This will benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the Canada–Mexico relationship.

Canada is continuously monitoring the impacts of its visa policies for both visa-exempt and visa-required countries, as well as asylum claim trends. These challenges are not limited to one country. Any adjustment to Canada’s travel requirements are made to preserve the integrity and sustainability of our asylum and immigration systems.

More information about these changes, including for people in transit or with upcoming flights, is available on IRCC’s website .

“Mexico is an important partner to Canada. We will continue to welcome Mexican temporary workers, students, visitors and immigrants who bring diverse skills and important contributions to our economy and communities. We strive for balance between the movement of people between our two great countries, and the need to relieve pressure on our immigration system so we can provide protection to those who need it the most.” – The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

Asylum claims made by Mexican citizens reached a record high in 2023 at a time when Canada’s asylum system, housing and social services were already under significant pressure. The majority of these claims (approximately 60%) were either rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or withdrawn or abandoned by the applicant.

In 2023 alone, asylum claims from Mexican citizens accounted for 17% of all claims made that year from all nationalities around the world. The country’s asylum claim rate has risen significantly since the visa was first lifted in 2016 (from 260 claims in 2016 to 23,995 claims in 2023). 

All eTAs issued to Mexican passports before 11:30 p.m. Eastern time on February 29, 2024, will no longer be valid—except for eTAs linked to Mexican passports with a valid Canadian work or study permit. Mexican citizens travelling to Canada without a valid work or study permit will need to apply for a visitor visa or reapply for a new eTA —if they are eligible.

Mexican citizens holding a valid work or study permit can still travel by air to Canada with their existing eTA as long as it remains valid, and they can continue to study or work in Canada based on the validity and conditions of their permit. Mexican visitors who are already in Canada on an eTA can stay for as long as they are authorized (up to six months from the date they arrive in Canada). However, if they plan to leave Canada and wish to return, they must have the proper travel documents (visa or new eTA). 

Most approved visa applicants receive multiple-entry visas, which allow them to visit Canada as many times as they want, for up to 10 years, or until their passport expires.

The eTA is a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travellers need in order to travel to or transit through Canada by air. IRCC first began expanding its eTA program to eligible citizens from visa-required countries in 2017. Mexico will now be among 15 countries whose citizens can to fly to Canada on an eTA, instead of a visa, if they meet certain requirements .

Related products

  • Link to News Release in Spanish

Contacts for media only:

Bahoz Dara Aziz Press Secretary Minister’s Office Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [email protected]

Media Relations Communications Branch Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 613-952-1650 [email protected]

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