Canada just celebrated its 150th anniversary, and our northern neighbor saw an influx in visitors from all parts of the globe to every corner of their expansive country. Canada has much to offer and each region of the country is so diverse and different from one another. From majestic natural landscapes to skyscrapers in bustling cities, an incredible way to see Canada (or most of it) is by crossing the entire continent by train.
From majestic natural landscapes to skyscrapers in bustling cities, an incredible way to see Canada is by crossing the entire continent by train.
There’s something pretty spectacular about train travel that can be so inspiring and relaxing for the right traveler. Traveling by train is an adventure, one that should be planned carefully but with an open mind…because unexpected delays can occur any time during the trip. VIA Rail Canada offers different classes of travel for their various rail lines, making the trip possible for virtually anyone. VIA offers pre-planned trips for those who prefer to just pick a package and go. But, for the more adventurous types, each segment can be booked individually to create a more personalized experience. What follows is a suggested travel path, starting in Halifax, Nova Scotia and ending in Vancouver, British Columbia via The Ocean line, The Canadian line and regional commuter lines, as well as suggested hotels to enjoy along the way. Part of a journey is experiencing destinations on your own; therefore, we will leave it up to you to find your way around each stop.
To start your trip, WestJet offers flights to either coast of Canada from Los Angeles. Splurge and opt for WestJet Plus, a premium economy experience with extra legroom as well as elbowroom, as each middle seat is blocked off. Plus, passengers also receive priority screening, two checked bags, as well as complimentary in-flight food and beverage.
Start in Halifax: It is an Atlantic Ocean port in eastern Canada. Halifax is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia and is also known for its maritime history.
» Where to Stay: The Westin Nova Scotia. The hotel is one of the original railroad hotels owned by Canadian National Railways, which built landmark hotels all across Canada in the 1930s and 1940s. The Nova Scotian connected Halifax to the rest of Canada. The grand old dame re-opened on August 6, 1996 as The Westin Nova Scotian. The heritage hotel now offers 310 guestrooms, including 10 suites.
Train: The Ocean Line is currently the oldest continuously operated named passenger train in North America. The train has been well maintained for modern comforts while keeping its charm. Travel via Sleeper Plus, which provides everything you need to feel right at home in your cozy cabin for two with a shower. Inside the dining car, enjoy fresh meals paired with Canadian wines.
Québec City: It sits on the Saint Lawrence River in Canada’s mostly French-speaking Québec province.
Where to Stay: Château Frontenac. Ideally located inside the walls of Old Quebec, the iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac’s multimillion dollar renaissance restoration blends the charm of the hotel’s enchanting past with modern innovations, creating an allure that is fresh and seductive, balanced with the hotel’s rich history and dynamic future.
Montreal: It is located on the waterfront with a healthy mixture of historical as well as modern architecture. Montreal is unlike any other city in North America.
Where to Stay: Hotel William Gray. An upscale boutique hotel with only 127 rooms and suites, located in the center of Old Montreal. This property was carefully designed to not only be aesthetically appealing but ultra-convenient for guests, with an upmarket grill restaurant, a rooftop bar, a lobby bar, café and even a high-end retailer.
» Train: The Regional lines are used for short distances and do not have sleeper options. Travel in Business Class and gain access to the premium lounges, enjoy complimentary food and beverage as well as spacious seats with access to power outlets and Wi-Fi.
Ottawa: It is Canada’s capital, in the east of southern Ontario. Sitting on the Ottawa River, it has at its center Parliament Hill, with grand Victorian architecture and museums.
Where to Stay: Andaz Ottawa. The hotel promises a coveted urban location, with spacious guestrooms that celebrate one-of-a-kind facets of Canadian design.
Toronto: It is set upon Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore and is a dynamic metropolis with a core of soaring skyscrapers, including the iconic CN Tower.
Where to Stay: Thompson Toronto. Located in one of Canada’s trendiest neighborhoods, the historic factory buildings of King West Village are home to the ever-changing and eclectic hot-spots of Toronto.
Train: The Canadian Line: 2775 miles, 4 nights/3 days (non-stop). Leave the city center behind and glide through gentle prairie fields, rugged lake country and picturesque towns to the snowy peaks of the majestic Rockies. The Canadian brings the country’s ever-changing landscape to you, as you’ll never see any other way, with ease, comfort and exceptional service. Travel via Prestige, which is first class travel at its best, with your personal concierge and refined comfort. Take advantage of the lounges, scenic cars and dining car.
» Winnipeg: the capital of Manitoba, is in the heart of The Forks, a historic site at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
Where to Stay: The Fairmont Winnipeg. This popular downtown hotel with upscale amenities makes for a great business as well as leisure hotel and is near the Exchange area and the Forks.
» Saskatoon: the city is favorably positioned with the South Saskatchewan River winding through it. Seven bridges span its gentle flow, linking east to west.
» Where to Stay: The James Hotel: A contemporary boutique hotel centrally located in vibrant downtown Saskatoon on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River.
Edmonton: nestled in the heart of western Canada’s prairie, 1.3 million people call Alberta’s capital city home.
» Where to Stay: Hotel Macdonald. This iconic property has been the setting of the city’s finest events and recognizable fixture of Edmonton’s skyline since 1915. The hotel stands high on the bank overlooking the largest urban parkway in North America, The North Saskatchewan River Valley.
» Jasper: the unpretentious town of Jasper originated as a railway town and is located in the heart of Jasper National Park with its abundant wildlife, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and evergreen forest.
» Where to Stay: Jasper Park Lodge. Situated in Alberta’s magnificent Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge resort invites you to experience its Great Canadian Lodge, surrounded by nature and abundant wildlife.
Vancouver: a bustling and extremely coveted west coast seaport in British Columbia, Vancouver is one of Canada’s most diverse cities, which is surrounded by mountains.
Where to Stay: Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Known as the ‘Castle in the City’ with a prime downtown location, the hotel is minutes away from some of Vancouver’s biggest attractions.