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Discover Eastern Canada by Rail

2 July 2019

Eastern Canada is filled with awe-inspiring sights, from its endless natural beauty to its diverse cities and charming coastal towns. There is a fantastic culture throughout the Eastern six provinces that embraces the deep history of the region while also respecting the tranquility of nature and welcoming the allures of modern-day life. A rail vacation to this part of Canada offers a bit of everything. Whether you crave the delights of seaside destinations or the amenities of the city, embark on a voyage of discovery aboard one or more of the East's famous rail lines.

VIA Rail’s Corridor Service

VIA Rail's Corridor Service is the best way to visit the cities along Canada's Windsor Corridor. From Toronto in the south to Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City in the north. Each destination is brimming with opportunity and adventure, from major attractions to lesser-known gems.

Toronto is the gateway to one of the world's most impressive natural displays, Niagara Falls, but it is also the largest city in all of Canada and filled with excitement. From the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum to St. Lawrence Market and the historic Distillery District, with its bootleg whiskey tunnels, Toronto is a great place to explore.

Ottawa, Canada's capital city, beckons visitors with its eclectic atmosphere that values both incredible architecture and nature. The art and culinary scenes are thriving in this metropolis, and there is an abundance of fascinating museums to explore. Some of the most popular attractions throughout the city include the Neo-gothic buildings of Parliament Hill, Jacques Cartier Park, and the beautiful Rideau Canal. The oldest public market in all of Canada is also located here, ByWard Market.

Montreal is a featured city on many Eastern Canada tours, thanks to its status as the country's cultural hub. Montreal is one of Canada's oldest cities and offers rich historical sites, fantastic restaurants, and an incredible dedication to the arts. Visitors seek out places like the Notre Dame Basilica, the Olympic Complex, and the historic buildings of Old Montreal and are delighted to discover views from Mount Royal and Montreal Harbor on the St. Lawrence River. Just north of the city, the breathtaking Laurentian Mountains charm with lovely views and quaint mountain towns. The incredible Montérégie countryside surrounds Montreal from the other sides and offers wineries, orchards, and maple farms.

Quebec City enchants visitors with its old-world France ambiance. Old Quebec's fortifications and cobbled streets are beautiful, as are the Chateau Frontenac, Plains of Abraham, and the Citadel. The oldest part of the city boasts UNESCO World Heritage designation and dates to the early 1600s. But history is not all this city has to offer; instead, there is a thriving arts district, excellent modern museums, and plenty of surrounding natural sites, including Montmorency Falls.

This rail line is conducive to short getaways, hopping between cities, or for longer, more in-depth explorations of these fantastic metropolises and their surroundings. Vacations By Rail offers several itineraries that feature this efficient network, to the delight of travelers seeking a rail vacation without spending the night on a train. Some popular Eastern Canada vacations utilizing VIA Rail's Corridor Service include:

  • Montreal and Quebec City by Rail
    - Features sightseeing in Montreal, Canada's cultural capital, and in the heart of Charming French Canada, Quebec City.
  • Maple Explorer
    - Spend nine days exploring Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. A highlight includes a day trip to Niagara Falls.
  • Montreal and Quebec - Holiday
    - A holiday-time trip through Eastern Canada featuring two days of sightseeing in Montreal and three in Quebec City.
  • Montreal & Quebec City Getaway
    - This five-day expedition includes sightseeing tours in both Montreal and Quebec City.
  • A Taste of Quebec
    - Highlighting Montreal and Quebec's rural regions, this tour features time in the Laurentian Mountains, whale watching in the Charlevoix region, and tours of quaint countryside destinations.
  • Ontario Food & Wine Experience
    - Some of the best gastronomic experiences in Ontario await on this tour that features a guided culinary tour of the ByWard Market in Ottawa, a food tour through Toronto's St. Lawrence Market and Old Town, a visit to Niagara Falls, and an excursion that presents the wineries of the Niagara region.

Train de Charlevoix

Explore even more of French Canada aboard the Train de Charlevoix. The Charlevoix region is set just outside Quebec and stretches up the St. Lawrence River to the attractive town of La Malbaie. Rolling hills and lovely mountain views surround the tracks as passengers are transported between small rural towns to coastal destinations for 78 miles. Featured destinations on this route include:

Baie-St-Paul, a historic charmer with its narrow streets and buildings dating back to the 1700s. The town is situated on the shore of the St. Lawrence River and offers an incredible art community. There are a thrilling contemporary art museum and endless attractions that capture the ever-impressive natural surroundings. From wineries and hiking trails to small municipal beaches, this community offers a little bit of everything.

La Malbaie, where seaside beauty is met with a backdrop of the mountains. This town is a haven for naturalists. Incredible skiing and hiking adventures lie inland, whereas whale-watching expeditions reign supreme on the river. Perhaps the most beloved attraction in the town is Casino de Charlevoix, a riverside casino with fantastic cuisine.

Joining the Train de Charlevoix for a rail journey through Eastern Canada is possible on tours like:

  • Quebec City & La Malbaie By Train
    - Begin with sightseeing surrounded by European elegance in Quebec City before venturing into the countryside to places like Montmorency Falls and destinations along the beloved Beaupre Coast. The trip wraps up with a ride on the Train de Charlevoix to Baie-St-Paul and La Malbaie and a whale-watching cruise on the St. Lawrence.
  • Quebec and Eastern Ontario Explorer
    - From cities like Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Huntsville, and Toronto to beautiful destinations throughout the Montérégie and Charlevoix countryside, there is no shortage of enchanting sights to behold on this 12-day trip.

VIA Rail’s Ocean

For the most classic of rail journeys, step aboard VIA RAil's Ocean, the oldest continuously operating "named" passenger train in North America. This rail line offers an overnight route between French Canada and the incredibly scenic Maritime Region in Atlantic Canada, following over 835 miles between Montreal and Halifax. Though the train carries history, the Renaissance cars are modern and comfortable. Vacations By Rail journeys include comfortable Sleeper Plus accommodations on the train. Enjoy delicious three-course meals with a view in the restaurant car. Watch the landscape as it changes from urban to rural and then again as seaside vistas break forth in the distance while in the famous Park Car, a 1954 dome observation car with comfortable seating and panoramic windows all around.

As the train arrives in the Maritimes, there are so many fantastic destinations to explore throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

In New Brunswick:

Moncton - One of the last major cities before the Maritimes transforms into peninsulas and islands, Moncton is known as the "Hub City." This locale is set in the heart of the Maritime region and offers an enticing mixture of seaside charm and urban amenities. Visitors enjoy the sandy beaches, Magnetic Hill, and numerous parks. Nearby, the Hopewell Rocks (also called the Flowerpot Rocks) show the ocean tides' power. Joggins Fossil Cliffs is a truly amazing place to see evidence of marine life and flora from millennia ago. Travelers also appreciate the proximity of Fundy National Park, where they can experience the dramatic tides of the Bay of Fundy firsthand.

St. John - Canada's oldest city and the only metropolis on the Bay of Fundy, St. John offers immense history and a wide array of attractions, both natural and historic. Some of the most popular attractions include the stunning Imperial Theater and the City Market. The Reversing Falls Rapids of the St. John River is truly a sight to behold, as are the views from the hiking trails at Rockwood Park. Nearby destinations, like Saint Martins with its exposed sea caves and Cape Spencer with its lovely lighthouse, make it an excellent gateway to the East Coast's beauty.

St. Andrews - The epitome of a Maritime coastal town awaits in St. Andrews. Take in beautiful views of the Atlantic while walking amongst buildings from over 200 years ago. This seaside destination is popular with whale watchers, historians, and gourmands alike. Some of the town's popular attractions include Kingsbrae Gardens and Minister Island, accessible by driving over the ocean floor at low tide.

In Nova Scotia:

Halifax - Nova Scotia's capital offers a contrast of old and new. Visitors can meander through historic sites like Halifax Citadel or walk along the Boardwalk with its old stone buildings. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is ever popular, as is the Public Gardens. Just outside Halifax, the Annapolis Valley is a rich agricultural region, home to numerous wineries, orchards, and farms. Peggy's Cove, a small community home to the most photographed notable lighthouse in Canada, and the beloved "Lighthouse Route" are also within proximity.

Cape Breton Island - Inspiring panoramas of sandy beaches, plunging cliffs, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean surround on Cape Breton. Perhaps the most famous attraction on the island is the Cabot Trail, a scenic roadway that rounds the island. The Cabot Trail takes travelers on a 185-mile circle through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, past lush coastal forests, into sleepy fishing villages and magnificent lookout points that overlook the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Atlantic. Other fantastic destinations on the island include the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site, the Fortress of Louisbourg, and the traditional town of Baddeck.

Lunenburg - A UNESCO World Heritage destination, Lunenburg offers a prime example of British colonization in North America. Old Town is filled with colorful buildings from as far back as the 18th century, and there are plenty of museums and historic homes to tour. One of the most popular attractions here is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.

In Prince Edward Island:

Charlottetown - Prince Edward Island's capital city is known to be Canada's birthplace. History, culture, and nature merge to create unforgettable surroundings. Travelers can visit the grandiose State House or St. Dunstan's Basilica. Victoria Park is a great place to look upon the waterfront, all red sand and crystalline blue water. Because Prince Edward Island is so small, Charlottetown is a fantastic hub for adventures to places like Green Gables Heritage Place, the setting for the "Anne of Green Gables" books, and Prince Edward Island National Park, home to hiking trails and breathtaking ocean views. There are also over 60 lighthouses to discover throughout the island.

VIA Rail's Ocean and the Eastern Canadian Provinces that make up the Maritimes are featured on several spectacular Vacations By Rail tours, such as:

  • Quebec City, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island
    - Spend ten days exploring the Maritimes' highlights by train and rental car on this rail and drive tour. Highlights include time on Cape Breton Island and a Halifax Harbor Hopper tour.
  • Eastern Canada Coastal Explorer
    - The luxuries of Eastern Canada await as vacationers embark on a guided cruise and gastronomy tour in Montreal, a wine tasting through the Annapolis Valley wine region, and spend two nights at the luxurious Fox Harb'r Resort. The rail and drive tour also features time at the Bay of Fundy.
  • High Tides and Scenic Trains
    - Featuring Moncton, St. John, and St. Andrews, this trip showcases the best of New Brunswick. Guests are provided a rental car for seven days and enjoy a guided tour of Montreal and a lobster cruise.
  • Quebec to the Maritimes Featuring VIA's Ocean
    - Discover beautiful cities and charming towns throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island on this 12-day tour. This tour's highlights are limitless and include a wine tasting in the Annapolis Valley, the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site, the Cabot Trail, and the Green Gables Heritage Place, amongst others.
  • Quebec to the Maritimes
    - Spend time in the eclectic city of Montreal and historic Quebec City before venturing East on VIA Rail's Ocean. On arrival in the Maritimes, Halifax is the perfect place to uncover the sunny beaches, hidden coves, and Nova Scotia's shorelines.

For the perfect mix of beauty, adventure, and European influence that you do not need to cross an ocean to find, discover Eastern Canada by rail.