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Have you ever thought of exploring Canada from end-to-end, curious as to how you can pull it off? Then there’s no better journey than the Great Canadian Train exploration!  Onward with the Great Canadian Train Itinerary!

The Great Canadian Train Itinerary
VIA Rail’s Vancouver-bound Canadian soars above Parry Sound, Ontario on a gorgeous autumn afternoon.

By taking a trans-Canada trip via its railway, experience once-in-a-lifetime sights and sounds of the nation. From its diversity in both culture and landscape, there’s a reason it’s one of the most sought-after journeys globally. Of course, it’s nothing to sneeze at…Journeying across a country’s entirety is a feat in and of itself. However, by carefully planning your itinerary, you’ll be sure to enjoy every second of it. 

While there are many ways to personalize your itinerary, what follows will be a detailed guide to the most popular and comprehensive route from Toronto to Vancouver and everything in between. 

Why Embark on The Great Canadian Train Journey? 

Before we dive into the specifics of the itinerary, it’s important to discuss why the Great Canadian Train journey is such an incredible journey to make. For those that have already done so, you know what we’re talking about. 

Withstanding the most obvious reason being the experience, below are five of the most popular reasons for embarking on such a trip: 

  1. Explore Paths Less Travelled 
  2. Enjoy the Convenience of Being Transported to City Centres 
  3. Meet Likeminded People Along the Way
  4. Travel in Comfort 
  5. Slow Time Down and Enjoy at Your Leisure 
Bow River view , Canadian Rockies - The Great Canadian Train Itinerary
Iconic view of Morant’s Curve where the Canadian Pacific Railway runs along the stunning Bow River with the beautiful Canadian Rockies in the background, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Explore Paths Less Travelled 

While planes will take you to popular travel hubs, the majority of travel is spent in-air with little to see but the clouds. Similarly, while cars will provide you with the opportunity to explore, most of the journey is spent eyes peeled on the road ahead. 

Trains, however, are special. Not only will they take you to popular travel hubs, but you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy. Explore paths less traveled and see the nation with new eyes. 

Enjoy the Convenience of Being Transported to City Centres 

Unlike airports which tend to be away from city centers, most Canadian train stations are centrally located. So, enough with the time-wasting involved transporting from the airport to the city’s core. With trains, you’ll be conveniently dropped off right where you want to be. 

Meet Likeminded People Along the Way

To use to air travel comparison again, most simply seek to go from point A to point B. As such, it’s not uncommon for most to sit in silence or sleep until arrival. For those who opt for rail travel, however, it tends to be a different crowd. 

Whether it’s socializing in dining cars or conversing with the seat next to you, enjoy connecting with like-minded people who have the same vision of traveling as you! 

Travel in Comfort 

Unless you’re traveling first class, planes are infamously uncomfortable. However, plane seats aren’t the most comfortable of rides…With trains, however, you’ll have more legroom while being provided the luxury of being able to up and walk around. 

So sit back and recline your chair as you look out the window that boasts beautiful Canadian terrain. It’ll be the most comfortable traveling experience you’ve had to date!

Slow Time Down and Enjoy at Your Leisure 

While travels range in purpose and duration, train journeys are intended to be longer, more leisurely explorations. With little to plan but the train itinerary itself, what’s not to be excited about rail travel? So, slow down time and enjoy traveling at your own pace, no matter how fast or slow that is. 

The Ultimate Canadian Train Itinerary 

The journey that you take is ultimately up to you. Whether you choose to plan a shorter or longer journey is irrelevant; you’re bound to enjoy it nonetheless. However, this article is called The Great Canadian Train Itinerary for you a reason! As such, we’ll be detailing a comprehensive journey comprising a tour from Toronto to Vancouver.

Note: While the following itinerary is a 10-day itinerary, it’s important to remember that you can choose to explore each destination for as short or as long as you want. In other words, Just because it’s a 10-day itinerary doesn’t mean that the trip is only ten days in length.

If this is something you’d be interested in exploring, continue reading! As mentioned, the journey begins in Toronto, Ontario…

The Great Canadian Train Itinerary
Toronto Union Station Photo Credit: Marc Bruxell /Shutterstock.com
Day 1: The Journey Begins in Toronto! 

Wherever you currently reside, you need to first make your way to Toronto, Ontario, where your journey’s first leg will begin. Toronto is the ideal departure destination for its easterly location to the rest of Canada, excluding Atlantic Canada, of course.

From Toronto, you will also journey through Lake Ontario, a scenic journey in and of itself!

Day 2: En Route to Niagara Falls, North Side

Before departing Ontario, you’d be remiss not to take a detour to Beautiful Niagara Falls. It’s here where you can hop off the train and paint the town red at the Falls and Clifton Hill. 

Whether you want to overnight it in a hotel or hop back on the train that evening, it’s then time to return to Toronto before questing out west. 

Day 3: Return to Toronto to Begin the Quest out West! 

Via the Rail the Canadian, it’s time to depart from Ontario and make your way to Western Canada. Before you get there, however, there are a few stops along the way. Prepare yourself, for this is where the long-haul begins!  

Luckily, the train boasts comfortable bedding for those overnight treks…

Day 4: En Route to Winnipeg, Manitoba

As you travel through Ontario, you’ll want to make, at the very least, a brief stop into Winnipeg, Manitoba, while you have the chance. While it may not be your favorite destination, it’s a checkbox of provinces that you’ve hit! 

As Canada’s central province, its regional attractions are certainly worth exploring. 

Day 5: Onward to Saskatchewan 

Departing from Manitoba, Saskatchewan is the next stop on the Great Canadian Train Journey. Known widely for its prairie landscapes and boreal forests, it’s a top destination for exploring Canada’s nature. 

It’ll also be a great introduction to the outdoors before exploring Canada’s National Parks in Alberta and British Columbia! 

Day 6: Pitstop in Alberta En Route to Jasper National Park! 

Next, take the scenic Albertan Route known as Yellowhead Route before arriving at the first National Park of the itinerary, Jasper National Park. Here, you’ll have the opportunity for several excursions. 

First, take a trip to Maligne Lake and maybe even sign up for a rafting tour. Next, take a guided tour of the glacier ice fields. Finally, if time permits, take a drive towards Lake Louise before continuing your travels to Banff National Park. 

Day 7: Onward to Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a destination where you could spend an eternity. Luckily, with the Great Canadian Train Itinerary, how long you spend is up to you! A couple of notable attractions to check off your list include Bow River and the Falls. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you may even get to hit the hills. 

In any case, be sure to plan for at least 2-3 days here, minimum. It’s otherworldly…

Day 8: En Route to Kamloops, British Columbia 

From Banff, it’s finally time to head to British Columbia. Here, you’ll have the opportunity for several pitstops, from Kamloops, Victoria, and of course, Vancouver. The first stop? Kamloops.

Here, you’ll have the pleasure of dipping your toes into Western Canadian history before taking the scenic drive to Vancouver. First, however, it’s a ferry crossing to Victoria. 

Day 9: Stopover in Victoria, British Columbia

Before reaching your final destination on the Great Canadian Train journey, it’s a pitstop to beautiful Victoria. Here, you can enjoy a morning, afternoon, weekend, or otherwise spend more time visiting all of its beautiful nature parks. 

An often overlooked BC destination, and Victoria might just turn out to be your favorite pitstop of them all…

Day 10: Complete the Tour in Vancouver, British Columbia
Great Canadian Train Journey
Pacific Central Station, Vancouver Image Credit: Margarita Young /Shutterstock

Last but certainly not least, you’ve made it to the final destination of the Great Canadian train journey. Plentiful in mountains, greenery, and ocean views, there’s no better city to end your travels than in Vancouver. I hope you enjoy it! 

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