When planning a trip to Canada, every traveller must face the question of exactly HOW to get around. Canada is enormous, so the journeys are just as important as the destinations. Getting from A to B will be a massive part of the holiday. Should you fly? Take a road trip? Here’s another idea – hop on the train.

Canada’s excellent public train network not only offers a great, comfortable way to zip between provinces, but it’s a real experience in itself. During my recent trip to Canada, I rode the iconic Ocean Train from Montreal to Nova Scotia, and these genuinely counted amongst the highlights of my trip. When it comes to Atlantic Canada, the journey is the reward!

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The Corridor train from Montreal to Quebec

My first encounter with Canada’s rail system began on the fairly modest 3.5-hour train ride from Montreal to Quebec City. After a visit to the smart passenger’s lounge in Montreal Central (included with all business class tickets), I cosied up in my comfortable leather recliner in business class. The recliners are more like comfortable armchairs than train seats, so you can put up your feet and let the world go by.

Take the train through stunning Eastern Canada | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, with my legs fully stretched out my recliner and the scenery zipping by. The service is exceptional - beyond anything I had imagined. Drinks were served regularly, and I was dished up a surprisingly delicious meal a couple of hours into the trip, accompanied by a smooth glass of red. The staff were so warm and welcoming that I felt immediately at ease.

The seat configuration is also very pleasing. There are double seats on the left side of the train and single ones on the right, so it caters to both couples and solo travellers. Every detail has been designed with the customer in mind.

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With several daily departures, the Corridor is a brilliant alternative to flying between the cities. Despite taking a little longer than a flight, it’s very popular with business travellers, so comfort and convenience are paramount.

The train covers the journey from Toronto to Montreal in just under 4.5 hours, and it’s a far more relaxing experience than flying. There’s Wifi on board and power sockets throughout the train, making it perfect for business and leisure travellers alike.   

Overnight on the Ocean train from Quebec to Halifax

After a few days in stunning Quebec, I was excited for the next part of my trip – the 22-hour overnight ride from Quebec to Halifax on the Ocean! It’s a long journey, but I was still wow-ed by my last Canadian train experience and couldn’t wait for the next one. I was not disappointed.

By the time the Ocean Train rolls into Quebec, it’s already been on quite a journey. The route begins in Montreal, with a few select stops on the way to Nova Scotia. The check-in procedure was smooth and friendly, and before long, I made my way to my cabin – my little hotel on wheels for the next 22 hours! Each cabin includes a private toilet with a sink. When I got on board, my bed had already been made by the attentive staff, and I was soon rocked to sleep by the soft motion of the train.

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The next morning, I couldn’t wait to peek outside and see what was happening. I was rewarded with the first rays of sunlight glinting through the trees while the train snaked through the dense Canadian wilderness. It was a fantastic way to start a day.

Next, breakfast! This breakfast was undoubtedly one of the most scenic ones I have ever had. While I enjoyed fresh croissants and a hot cup of coffee, the woodland gave ways to an amazing coastal seascape as we reached the inlets past Campbellton. 

Enjoy breakfast with a view aboard the Ocean Train | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

After breakfast, I set off to explore the train. If you’ve always thought that taking a train trip was just about sitting around, you should think again! I counted 13 sleeper-only cars between the breakfast car and the end of the train. The last carriage was my favourite, with a downstairs lounge serving coffee, tea, soft drinks and light snacks.

On the upper floor, I discovered the beautiful vista dome, with large windows offering incredible 360-degree views across the endless forested landscapes. I grabbed a cup of tea, sat back and let the world go by – literally!

Soak up the scenery from the domed car of the Ocean Train | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

Back in my cabin, the attentive staff had already flipped the bed away and transformed my bed on wheels into a private daytime cabin. In the late afternoon, we reached Halifax, not only the destination of this particular journey but, indeed, the end of the line.

The Ocean Train travels between Montreal and Halifax three times per week in both directions. It’s a comfortable, unforgettable and scenic way to journey from the cities of Eastern Canada to the more remote Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Canada’s comprehensive train network

The two train routes that I travelled are just a couple of the scenic rail journeys that you can do in Canada. There are plenty of other ways to explore the second-largest country in the world by rail, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. In fact, there are some places in Canada that you can only reach by train, putting the wilderness at your fingertips.

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For a real continent-traversing experience, The Canadian is a quintessential journey. Starting in Toronto and ending in Vancouver, it’s 4466km of pure Canadian adventure! Lasting for four days and four nights, it’s an epic trip, but you have the option to break the journey along the way. Riding the Canadian, you’ll be mesmerised by the little-visited vastness in the middle of the country as you watch forests and mountains give way to endless prairies.

The Canadian departs twice a week in either direction from May to October. During the journey, you'll stay in a private sleeper cabin by night and soak up the scenery from the vista dome car by day.

Soak up the views from the dining car on the Canadian Train | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

Remote Canada by rail

If you fancy getting off the beaten track, try a journey aboard The Skeena, which loops from Jasper up to Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast. It’s easily one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Crossing the Rocky Mountains on its way to the rugged British Columbian coast, this two day and one night journey is a stunner.

The Skeena train is also ideal for travellers that don’t enjoy sleeping onboard, as it stops overnight in Prince George. This means that you don’t pass through any of the spectacular scenery at night, ensuring that you don’t miss a thing! Sit back, relax, and soak up the Rockies from the comfort of your seat.

Travel through the Canadian Rockies on the Skeena Train | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

Business class versus economy?

While economy is a reliable option for shorter haul journeys, such as quick Corridor trips between Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, I would strongly suggest business class on longer rides. Business class is a million times more comfortable - nobody wants to spend several days and nights in an upright seat.

In Sleeper Plus on the Ocean Train, you’ll have your own cabin and meals and drinks are included. Not only that, but a Sleeper Plus ticket gives you access to the domed viewing car and luxury lounge at the rear of the train. Instead of waiting in drafty station halls, business and Sleeper Plus passengers get access to the business lounges at every station. These lounges all feature free soft drinks, TV and refreshments.

Settle into a Sleeper Plus cabin on the Ocean Train | Photo credit: VIA Rail Canada

Excited to explore Eastern Canada by rail?

We are experts in planning multi-stop holidays, tailor-made trips and complex round the world flights. We can arrange every aspect of your Eastern Canada adventure, from flights to train tickets, tours and top-notch accommodation. To get started, give us a call on +44 1273320580, send us a quote request by email on contact Stefanie directly.

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