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2018 Trans-Canadian Rail Journey: Toronto to Vancouver

Toronto • VIA Rail train • Jasper • Banff • Kamloops • Vancouver

12 Days from only $5495 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Trip Itinerary

Get more information about your detailed itinerary, like optional tours, exclusive Discovery Series events, and more.

©2015 The New York Times
Intersection: Toronto’s Nostalgic Style

Meet some of Toronto’s stylish locals to get a glimpse of the diverse fashion and culture of the region.

Local Perspective

Get a new perspective on the breadth of Canadian culture, from indigenous instruments to lassos and line dancing.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia

Explore where the Far East meets West—Vancouver and Victoria, our post-trip extension—with travel expert Rudy Maxa.

Trip Extension: Montreal & the 1000 Islands

Discover the architecture, street art, and independent eateries that help give Montreal its je ne sais quoi.

FROM
$5495
12 DAYS
$458/DAY
including international airfare
12 DAYS FROM $4895 Land Tour Only
Extend Your Trip
 
 
 

For example, combine this trip with America’s Majestic National Parks.
See More Options »

NEW: Activity Level

Our NEW Activity Level rating system ranks our trips on a scale of 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult) to help you determine if a trip is right for you. The information below is a general guide to our rating system, but see our itineraries for much more detailed physical activity information about each trip.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

From modern cities to the sublime scenery of the Rocky Mountains, immerse yourself in all that Canada has to offer on this transcontinental journey. Traveling for three nights by train onboard the world-class VIA Rail, and for two days aboard the award-winning Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll have a front-row seat to the spectacular expanses of wilderness for which our northern neighbor is justifiably renowned. Bookending your trip are Toronto and Vancouver, two vibrant waterfront cities that reveal the diverse flavors and traditions of this dynamic country. Along the way, you’ll explore the natural wonders of Banff National Park, enjoy two city tours, and discover the unique sport of lawn bowling in Stanley Park.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 4 nights from only $1045

    Curious About… Montreal
    Produced by Christine van Blokland and David Zelski
    This independent film features destinations you can visit on this pre-trip extension.

    Before your main trip, discover the proud heritage and European charm of Canada. Wander the cobblestone streets and take in the cultural attractions of Montreal, Quebec’s largest city. Then, spend a night in the picturesque 1000 Islands, where you’ll set sail on a boat tour along the scenic shores of the St. Lawrence River.

    View Extension Itinerary
Toronto Vancouver Expand All
  • Travel to Toronto today—your arrival time will depend on your departure city. Your Program Director will greet you in the lobby of your hotel and help you check in. This evening is yours to settle in and enjoy dinner on your own.

  • This morning, gather with your Program Director and fellow travelers, including those who took the pre-trip extension to Montreal & the 1000 Islands, for an orientation briefing. After, you’ll set out on a city tour of Toronto.

    Set along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore, Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the country’s cultural hub. Once a small French settlement, the city is now a modern, ethnically diverse metropolis, home to art museums, skyscrapers, and a burgeoning restaurant scene. Your tour will reveal the city’s signature sights, including Union Station, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the grandiose St. James and St. Michael’s cathedrals, constructed in the mid-19th century. From there, you’ll see a slice of everyday life at Eaton Centre shopping mall and witness Massey Hall, Toronto’s famous concert venue.

    Next, set off on a one-hour harbor cruise and take in views of Toronto’s beautiful skyline, pierced by the iconic CN Tower. Back on land, you’ll have time to explore the bustling St. Lawrence Market and enjoy lunch on your own.

    The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish, whether you’d like to stay and browse the vendors at the market or return to your hotel. Tonight, you’ll join your group for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

    Please note: St. Lawrence Market is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

  • Today, you’ll set out for an included tour of mighty Niagara Falls. Two hours from Toronto, the Canadian side of the falls offers no shortage of stunning vistas and points of interest along the Niagara River.

    Here, you’ll board a boat for a cruise into the waters below the falls, where you’ll sail right into the mist for a truly unique look at the powerful natural forces at work here. After your boat tour, you’ll have lunch on your own and some time to explore the falls independently.

    Later, you’ll return to Toronto, stopping on the way for a tour and a tasting at a local winery, for an opportunity to sample local vintages and see how they’re made.

    Tonight, after dinner on your own, bid farewell to Toronto and transfer to the train station, where you’ll board the VIA Rail train that will be your home for the next three nights as you journey across the continent to Jasper, Alberta.

  • Arise today and enjoy the first full day of your rail journey across Canada, traveling through the area of northern Ontario known as the “Canadian Shield,” a landscape of boreal forests dotted with thousands of lakes embedded into black granite hills. Keep your eyes open for sightings of caribou, moose, grizzly bears, and other iconic critters who make their home in this region.

    Your seat aboard the VIA Rail Train offers you an unparalleled viewpoint from which to observe the majesty of the Canadian wilderness. Throughout your passage, you’ll have the freedom to move about the wide aisles of the train as you please, settling into a spacious and comfortable seat in one of the train’s panoramic dome cars, which offer 360 degree views of the scenery around you, as well as the sky above. From the dome car, you can witness pink-streaked dawns illuminate the landscape, and then watch the sun set over the horizon and give way to the starry, unspoiled night sky. Each day will also feature brief stops as the train moves from station to station, giving you the chance to step outside for a little fresh air.

    In addition to the unforgettable scenery, you can enjoy a grand social experience, too. Along with your fellow Grand Circle companions, you’ll be sharing the train with other travelers from around the world, as well as Canadian citizens making their way from city to city. Whether you’re taking in the scenery, or settling in for a meal in the dining car, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and make cultural connections as you traverse the countryside.

    All of your meals aboard the train will be included, each one prepared fresh by onboard expert chefs. You’ll enjoy different cuisine each day, with every meal featuring ingredients inspired by the specialties of the region that you’re currently in. Plus, you can enjoy a host of onboard activities, including movie screenings, wine and beer tastings, and educational lectures presented by VIA Rail’s onboard Activity Coordinators.

  • This morning, your train will make a stop at Winnipeg, where you’ll have a few hours to disembark, stretch your legs, and see some of the nearby sights of the city. You might decide to spend some time at The Forks, a historic market and green space near the scenic junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, or visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which features moving exhibits documenting struggles against injustice around the world.

    Board the train again just before noon to continue your journey west—today’s route will take you through the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where you’ll see vast stretches of plains and open sky, with farming communities scattered throughout.

  • Today marks the conclusion of your train journey as you cross into Alberta and enjoy your first glimpse of the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains. While the VIA Rail route continues on to Vancouver, you’ll be getting off this afternoon in Jasper, an old trading post in Jasper National Park, for a more in-depth introduction to the natural treasures of the Canadian Rockies.

    Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and enjoy dinner on your own in Jasper. Your Program Director can offer suggestions for nearby places to dine.

  • Set off today on a full day of sightseeing. Your destination is Banff, and to get there you’ll travel along the Icefields Parkway, a surreal stretch of highway that weaves through two national parks and showcases the rugged beauty of the Rockies.

    Your route will take you past several glaciers that make up the massive Columbia Icefield. Here, you’ll stop to ride the Ice Explorer snowcoach onto the Athabasca Glacier—at nearly 1,000 feet thick, this frozen monolith is the largest glacier accessible by road in the Canadian Rockies.

    Continue on to Lake Louise to take in the picturesque alpine views Canada is known for. The lake stays frozen through mid-June, but in the warmest months, the water turns a distinct shade of turquoise.

    You’ll stop for a picnic lunch at the grand Chateau Lake Louise, which offers a striking vantage point to view the lake. Enjoy some free time to wander the trails on your own and take in the scenery.

    Arrive in Banff in the early evening and check into your hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight.

  • Today, discover Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canada’s oldest national park. You’ll begin with a guided tour of the Buffalo Museum, which celebrates the cultures and traditions of the First Nations People, who first inhabited the Northern Plains and Canadian Rockies.

    Next, visit the Bow Falls, whose rushing white waters are particularly impressive in springtime after a snowy winter. From here, you’ll take a scenic ride through the Tunnel Mountain Drive, passing park highlights such as Lake Minnewanka and the cone-shaped hoodoos, whimsical rock formations molded by years of erosion.

    Back at the hotel, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure with lunch and dinner on your own.

  • After breakfast, head to the rail station to begin your passage west on the famous Rocky Mountaineer train, where you’ll get a front row seat to the scenery of western Canada that people come from around the world to see. You’ll ride for two days, enjoying full daylight transits of the historic Canadian Pacific track, famous for uniting Canada from east to west.

    Today’s journey takes you through the Rockies from Banff to Kamloops. You’ll follow the rushing waters of Kicking Horse River through breathtaking mountain passes, flanked by tall coniferous forest trees, snowcapped peaks, foothills carpeted with colorful wildflowers, and dramatic narrow canyons.

    It’s a view unlike any other, and there’s no better way to take it in from a seat on the Rocky Mountaineer. You’ll ride in full daylight from the comfort of a spacious seat in a panoramic dome car, offering a 360-degree view of the Rocky Mountain majesty surrounding you.

    Each car features two expertly-trained onboard tour guides, who will provide live commentary to put what you’re seeing into context. They’ll help you spot local wildlife such as bears, elks, and deer, aim you towards the best photo opportunities, and explain the significance of the sites you’ll be passing by—such as the Continental Divide, the spiral tunnels, or Craigellachie, where the last spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific railroad track.

    Lunch will be served onboard during your ride, where you’ll have a choice of gourmet meals prepared by executive chefs, and made from the finest local ingredients.

    This evening, you’ll arrive in Kamloops, a 19th-century fur trading post set along the Thompson River. Transfer to a nearby hotel to rest up for tomorrow’s journey. Dinner is on your own tonight.

  • This morning, head back to the station to board the train and leave the Rockies behind as you head west across beautiful British Columbia toward Vancouver. Today’s ride, which includes another gourmet lunch, takes you through an alluring landscape of semi-arid deserts, rolling forest hills, crystal lakes, expansive plains, and rocky cliffs. You’ll ride parallel to the clear blue Thompson River, and watch the striking contrast as it converges with the muddy waters of the Fraser River, which you’ll follow the rest of the way into Vancouver.

    This evening, you’ll arrive at Vancouver, where you’ll check into your hotel and enjoy dinner on your own. The city offers an eclectic dining scene and is known for its Asian restaurants and seafood, so your Program Director is sure to have several recommendations.

  • Today, take a sightseeing tour of cosmopolitan Vancouver, a bustling seaport set against a backdrop of soaring peaks and blue waters.

    Your first stop is Stanley Park, dedicated by Lord Stanley in 1889 for “the use and enjoyment of of all people of all colors, creeds, and customs for all time.” Home to miles of lush trails and beaches, Stanley Park is also a popular spot for lawn bowling, which you’ll learn more about during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion with members of the local lawn bowling club.

    From here, explore downtown, the epicenter of business and government, and Gastown, the historic city center established in 1867 by riverboat captain John “Gassy Jack” Deighton. You’ll also tour Vancouver’s Chinatown—the second largest in North America. Notice the influences of 15th-century China as you pass Ming-dynasty architecture and manicured grounds.

    Spend an afternoon at leisure and enjoy lunch on your own in the city. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner on your final night in Canada.

  • Transfer to the airport for your return home today, or continue your Canadian discoveries on our optional Victoria, British Columbia extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Victoria, British Columbia

    3 nights from only $845

    Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia
    Produced by Small World Productions
    This independent film features destinations you can visit on this post-trip extension.

    After experiencing the rugged allure of the Canadian Rockies, discover the charms of Victoria, the “Garden City.” This sophisticated seaside community still has a British colonial feel to its streets and offers visitors high teas in the afternoons, but also a character that is distinctively Pacific Northwest. Explore its award-winning gardens and parks, walk rainforest trails, view galleries of local art, and stroll the flower-bedecked streets.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Trans-Canadian Rail Journey: Toronto to Vancouver

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