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Despite its large geographic size, getting around Canada is fairly easy thanks to an excellent transport system. The country has well-established road networks and an extensive railway system, as well as a large number of domestic airports – all of which combine to make travelling around Canada straightforward and painless.
Public transport in Canada
VIA Rail is Canada’s national passenger rail services operator, and its trains link major Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, and many smaller communities.
There are different service classes on Canadian trains, though the country’s rail services are generally high quality regardless of class. The trains are neat, the seats are spacious and passengers can access free WiFi.
Travelling by train costs more than by bus, but it's more comfortable. It’s recommended to buy train tickets in advance as it’s cheaper than buying them on the spot.
Bus services in Canada are also excellent. The buses are clean, safe and reliable.
There are a number of service providers offering intercity bus travel, with extensive networks across Canada and even extending into parts of the United States.
Intercity buses may include onboard toilets, air conditioning, reclining seats and movies, and some also offer free WiFi and electrical outlets. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, at a bus terminal or via an agency.
Taxis in Canada
Most cities in Canada usually have several taxi companies to choose from, and these can either be hailed in the street, caught at a taxi rank or pre-booked over the phone. Metered fares are regulated in cities and cannot be negotiated. Drivers generally expect a tip of between 10 and 15 percent. Taxi drivers in all major cities are required to carry official identification issued by the city.
Ride-hailing apps such as Uber are also available in many parts of Canada.
Domestic air travel in Canada
Given the size of Canada, air travel is often the most efficient and affordable way of getting across the country.
The Canadian airline industry is highly competitive. Industry leaders, such as Air Canada, have stiff competition from rising low-cost airlines, including Sunwing Airlines and Swoop, which means there are always great deals to be had.
Cycling in Canada
Canadian towns and cities promote cycling and try to provide cyclists with the best possible riding conditions, including dedicated cycle lanes.
Cyclists in Canada must follow the same road regulations as other vehicles. Wearing a helmet is compulsory in most provinces. There are plenty of dedicated bicycle stores all over Canada, while many of the larger Canadian cities have also implemented bike-sharing schemes to further incentivise cycling.
Driving in Canada
Driving is the most common means of transport in Canada. Expats will be able to use their foreign driving licence for a few months, but will ultimately have to exchange it for a Canadian one. This may either be a straight swap or a full driving test may be required.
Under Canadian law, all cars must be insured and registered with the owner’s provincial or territorial government. Insurance costs can vary across Canada, so expats should do some research before committing to a company.
►To learn about expat money matters see Banking, Money and Taxes in Canada
"Canmore has free local bus transport which is a great benefit. The town itself is quite small so it’s possible to get around on foot. As Canada is a big country, public transport doesn’t cover all areas. It’s essential to have your own car if you want to move between cities." Find out more about life in Canada in our interview with Tim and Kamila.
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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