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Exploring Canada by Train

May 17, 2018

For newlyweds, there’s nothing better than starting life’s journey together with an incredible honeymoon vacation. Some couples prefer to enjoy quiet time together and relax away the stress of wedding planning, while others opt to make their honeymoon the adventure of a lifetime. If you fall somewhere in the middle, consider traveling Canada by train for an unforgettable mix of scenic vistas, outdoor excursions, cosmopolitan flair, and luxurious relaxation. 

Why Travel by Train

Train travel harkens back to a simpler time – a time when the journey itself was a highlight of the trip, not just the destination. In a time before airport security, three-hour layovers, Uber rides, and subway stations, traveling by train was considered luxurious and romantic. There’s not only the charm and nostalgia of the train itself, but the fact of what a train can accomplish cross-county, weaving through landscapes that are largely inaccessible by other modes of transportation.

Between these exclusive views, your own private room, the sociable fine-dining car, and glass-walled carriages built expressly for sightseeing, the nearly-lost art of train travel is experiencing a sort of revival, and Canadian railways are helping lead the way.

Why Canada

Nature lovers, city slickers, and adventure seekers alike will find plenty to entertain them in Canada, and train travel is the best way to sample the best of everything. Canadian railroads carve through remote terrains and unparalleled beauty, scaling mountainsides and winding along vast canyons. If you’re content just to look at Mother Nature’s marvels, go right ahead and leave the hiking gear at home – or, if you’re the sporting type, outdoor excursions abound at each stop along the way. The beautiful thing is that amount of adventure you partake in is entirely up to you.

Canada also boasts everything from big city living to quaint seaside towns, giving you and your sweetie the chance to enjoy an array of cuisine, nightlife, boutique shopping, and historic landmarks. And if cruises are up your alley, some railroad lines offer packages that pair train routes with Alaskan ocean cruises. It’s all waiting for you in Canada – and it’s best experienced by train!

Lands Glorious & Free

With Canada being such a vast, expansive country, the thought of narrowing down just where to travel can be overwhelming. Luckily, railroad lines have made it easy for tourists, taking nearly all of the guesswork out of honeymoon planning. With thoughtful, pre-determined itineraries, you can leave the planning to the professionals. Here are some of the regions and journeys available to you:

Coast to Coast

All aboard for a cross-country trip! Couples who want to see the whole of Canada can hop VIA Rail’s Pan Canadian line, with service from Toronto to Vancouver. There are several departure times throughout the week for the four-day journey, so you can travel whenever works best for you.

Far North

A train allows you to venture to remote destinations and rugged terrains that you otherwise wouldn’t – or even couldn’t – explore by any other means of transportation. In the far north of Canada, there are very few roads, so train travel is the only way in or out. VIA offers a two-night itinerary that starts in Winnipeg and ends in Churchill, Manitoba on the shores of the Hudson Bay.

Nearer North

During the summer, the Polar Bear Express journeys between Cochrane, Ontario and Moosonee on James Bay. This is a one-day return trip, so it’s a perfect way to get a taste of northern Canada without an overnight stay. Folks say this day trip isn’t so much about jaw-dropping vistas, but rather offers a unique glimpse of local life in the north.

The Rockies

If you don’t have time to cross all of Canada, make the Canadian Rockies your priority. Trips through the mountains run from Vancouver to Calgary or vice versa, and train travel happens (mostly) by daylight so you don’t miss a single stretch of scenery. As touring the Rockies by train is indeed the most popular with honeymooners, railroad lines have gone above and beyond to ensure luxury and once-in-a-lifetime memories. Let’s look at how two different train lines let you ride in style.

VIA Rail

This is the overnight train ride of your dreams! Make the 720-mile trek between the Canadian Rockies and the North Pacific Coast with VIA Rail’s tour of Western Canada. You’ll zoom past snow-capped mountains, glacial rivers, immense canyons, and vast stretches of wilderness in newly-renovated train carriages. Prestige Service is the way for lovebirds to go on VIA Rail, with Prestige guests enjoying a large bedroom with a double bed, full ensuite bathroom, a larger picture window for sightseeing, and amenities like flat-screen TVs, complimentary drinks – alcoholic, too! – and 24/7 butler service.

Rocky Mountaineer

What most obviously sets the Rocky Mountaineer apart from VIA Rail is that passengers sleep on the VIA Rail, whereas passengers on the Mountaineer stop at various cities to sleep at luxury hotels along their journey. This way, you’re guaranteed to do all of your traveling by daylight, so you can fully experience the Rocky Mountain scenery. The Rocky Mountaineer has been operating from mid-April through mid-October since 1900, and they’ve certainly mastered comfort and luxury after all that time.

GoldLeaf Service includes access to glass-domed train carriages, an exclusive outdoor viewing platform, locally-sourced, hot gourmet meals prepared by Michelin-trained chefs, morning scones, afternoon wine & cheese, and alcoholic drinks included throughout your journey. Oh, and when it’s time to stay in one of those luxury hotels, complimentary baggage service makes it so your suitcase will be waiting upon your arrival. Pretty dreamy, right?

While you may never want to leave the luxury of the Rocky Mountaineer, the destinations include exciting and eye-popping cities like Seattle, Vancouver, Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, where there’s lots to see and do once off the train. Here’s a snapshot of what these stops have to offer honeymooners.

Seattle

Hop on a vintage trolley, visit the Space Needle, bop around the International District, stroll the Chihuly Garden & Glass Exhibit, and feast on fresh seafood – it’s all happening in Seattle! The downtown area is also nice and compact, so it’s easy to explore on foot.

Vancouver

Skyscrapers mingle with a landscape of ocean, mountain, and great big sky. Surrounded by the Coast Mountains and Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is a favorite destination of foodies, wine and beer lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. You can walk or bike along the sea wall, snap a photo in front of the Olympic cauldron, hike or take a gondola up Grouse Mountain, or even do a day trip to Granville Island with its charming public market, artisan boutiques, and views of the harbor.

Banff, Alberta

Boasting Canada’s first National Park and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff’s breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife, and culinary magic draw many visitors. Nature lovers can find lots of outdoor adventure in Banff, including a hot spring soak or hiking Tunnel Mountain for awe-inspiring views.

Lake Louise

Located about 30 miles from Banff, Lake Louise is a picture-perfect, blue-green lake nestled at the base of Victoria Glacier. Here you can paddle the lake or hike along the shores, sip afternoon tea at the Fairview Lodge, or ride the gondola to the top of Mount Whitehorn, where you may glimpse grizzlies. At the top of the mountain, dine at the Whitehorn Bistro and savor the majestic views below.

Jasper

For stargazing honeymooners, Jasper is a must for your bucket list. Here you’ll find the world’s second-largest Dark Sky Preserve. You can also take the 90-minute boat tour of Maligne Lake and Spirit Island, the most-photographed landmark in the Rockies. While on your excursion, watch out for wildlife, and make time for more hot spring action at the Miette Springs.

Wherever your trip to Canada takes you – along mountain peaks, scenic coastlines, northern tundra, or urban gems – one thing remains constant. With an adventurous spirit and the love of your life at your side, an unforgettable honeymoon is just a train ride away.