Are you looking to travel south of the border from the United States by train? Several rail options connect major US cities to popular destinations in Mexico.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer:

Amtrak runs trains from Los Angeles to Nogales, right across the border from Mexico.

You can also take the Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver, then connect to VIA Rail Canada trains to Mexico.

This comprehensive guide covers how to travel by train to Mexico from the US. We’ll provide an overview of routes, fares, visa requirements, and tips to help you plan your Mexican train adventure.

Amtrak Routes from the US to Mexico

Traveling by train from the United States to Mexico is a unique and scenic way to explore both countries.

While there are no direct Amtrak routes that go all the way from the US to Mexico, there are several options available for travelers to reach the border and continue their journey by other means.

1. San Diego to Tijuana

One popular route is from San Diego, California to Tijuana, Mexico.

Amtrak offers a train service called the Pacific Surfliner, which runs from San Diego to Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, travelers can take a bus or taxi to the border crossing at San Ysidro and then continue on foot into Tijuana.

2. El Paso to Ciudad Juarez

Another option is to travel from El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Amtrak operates the Sunset Limited train route, which runs from New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California.

Passengers can board the train in El Paso and then cross the border into Ciudad Juarez by foot or by taking a taxi.

3. Brownsville to Matamoros

For travelers in Texas, there is the option to take the train from Brownsville to Matamoros.

The Amtrak Texas Eagle route runs from Chicago, Illinois to San Antonio, Texas. From San Antonio, travelers can take a bus or taxi to Brownsville and then cross the border into Matamoros.

4. Nogales to Hermosillo

If you’re in Arizona, you can travel from Nogales to Hermosillo.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route runs from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. Passengers can board the train in Nogales and then cross into Hermosillo by bus or taxi.

It’s important to note that when crossing the US-Mexico border, travelers will need to go through customs and immigration checks.

It’s recommended to have all necessary travel documents, such as a valid passport, visa (if required), and any other necessary documentation.

Connecting Through Canada by Train

If you’re planning to take the train from the US to Mexico, you may be surprised to learn that one of the most popular routes involves a connection through Canada.

While it may seem like an unconventional choice, traveling through Canada can offer a unique and scenic journey to complement your trip to Mexico.

The Rocky Mountaineer

One of the most renowned train journeys in Canada is the Rocky Mountaineer.

This luxurious train takes passengers through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, offering stunning views of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests.

The train operates various routes, including ones that connect major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.

Connecting to Amtrak

Once you’ve experienced the beauty of the Rocky Mountaineer, you can connect to an Amtrak train to continue your journey south to the US-Mexico border.

Amtrak offers several routes that connect with Canadian cities, such as the Empire Builder which travels from Chicago to Seattle, and the Coast Starlight which goes from Seattle to Los Angeles.

These routes provide a comfortable and convenient way to reach the border.

Why Choose the Canadian Route?

While it may seem like a detour, traveling through Canada by train offers numerous advantages. Firstly, the scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies is unparalleled.

The train journey itself becomes an unforgettable part of your overall travel experience.

Additionally, connecting through Canada can provide a more relaxed and leisurely pace for your journey.

Instead of rushing straight to the border, you have the opportunity to enjoy the stunning landscapes, visit charming Canadian cities, and even explore national parks along the way.

Tips for Traveling through Canada

Before embarking on your train journey through Canada, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Check visa requirements: Ensure you have the necessary visas to travel through Canada and the United States.
  • Plan your itinerary: Research the train schedules and plan your connections accordingly to avoid any unnecessary delays.
  • Bring essential documents: Carry your passport, identification, and any necessary travel documents to cross the border smoothly.
  • Pack accordingly: Be prepared for various weather conditions, especially if you plan to explore Canadian cities or national parks during your layovers.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your train journey through Canada and reach your final destination in Mexico with ease.

Booking Tickets and Fares

Booking tickets for a train journey from the US to Mexico is a straightforward process that can be done online or at the train station.

Several websites offer the convenience of booking train tickets in advance, allowing travelers to secure their seats and plan their trip accordingly.

It is recommended to book tickets as early as possible to ensure availability, especially during peak travel seasons.

When booking tickets, travelers should be aware of the different fare options available.

The fare prices can vary depending on factors such as the class of travel, the duration of the journey, and any additional services or amenities offered on the train.

It is advisable to compare the fares across different platforms to find the best deal. Some websites also offer discounts for group bookings or for booking return tickets.

Types of Fares

There are generally three types of fares available for train travel from the US to Mexico:

  • Standard Fare: This is the regular fare that covers the basic cost of the journey. It is suitable for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option without any additional services or amenities.
  • Business Class Fare: This fare offers a higher level of comfort and amenities compared to the standard fare. Travelers opting for business class can enjoy spacious seating, complimentary meals, and access to exclusive lounges.
  • Sleeper Fare: This fare is ideal for those who prefer to have a bed or sleeping accommodation during the journey. Sleeper fares typically include a private cabin or compartment with bedding facilities.

Additional Charges

In addition to the fare prices, there may be additional charges that travelers should be aware of.

These charges can include reservation fees, baggage fees, or fees for specific services such as Wi-Fi access or onboard entertainment.

It is recommended to check the terms and conditions of the ticket booking to understand any additional charges that may apply.

It is also important to note that fares can vary depending on the season and demand. During peak travel periods, such as holidays or weekends, fares may be higher.

It is advisable to plan the trip accordingly and book tickets in advance to secure the best fares.

For more information on booking tickets and fares for train travel from the US to Mexico, visit the official website of the train operator or consult a reliable travel agency specializing in train journeys.

Passports and Visas for US Travelers

When planning a trip from the US to Mexico by train, it is crucial for travelers to ensure they have the necessary passports and visas. Here’s what you need to know:

Passport Requirements

All US citizens, including infants and children, are required to have a valid passport when traveling to Mexico.

It’s important to note that passport cards, which are valid for land and sea travel between the US and Mexico, cannot be used for train travel.

A traditional passport book is necessary for train journeys.

Before your trip, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date.

This is a general requirement in many countries, including Mexico. Additionally, check that your passport has enough blank pages for entry and exit stamps.

Mexican Entry Requirements

US citizens traveling to Mexico as tourists do not need a visa for stays of up to 180 days. This applies to both train travelers and those arriving by other means of transportation.

However, it’s important to note that the Mexican government may require visitors to complete a tourist card, known as the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple), upon arrival.

The FMM is typically provided by the airline or train staff before you reach the Mexican border.

It’s important to fill out the FMM accurately and keep it with you throughout your stay in Mexico. When departing Mexico, you may be asked to present the FMM, so make sure you keep it safe.

Other Considerations

While a visa is not required for US tourists, it’s essential to research and understand any specific entry requirements or restrictions that may apply to your situation.

For example, if you plan to work, study, or engage in any other activities in Mexico beyond tourism, you may need to obtain the appropriate visa beforehand.

Tips for Taking the Train to Mexico

If you’re considering taking the train to Mexico from the US, here are some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey:

1. Research the Train Routes

Before embarking on your trip, it’s important to research the various train routes available. Mexico has an extensive railway network with multiple options for travelers.

One popular route is the Chihuahua al Pacífico, also known as the Copper Canyon Railway.

This scenic route takes you through breathtaking canyons and offers stunning views of the Mexican landscape.

2. Check the Train Schedule

Once you’ve decided on a train route, make sure to check the train schedule. Trains in Mexico may not run as frequently as you’re used to, so it’s important to plan your trip accordingly.

Additionally, be aware that train schedules may vary depending on the season or holidays, so it’s always a good idea to double-check before your departure.

3. Purchase Tickets in Advance

To secure your seat on the train, it’s recommended to purchase your tickets in advance. This is especially important if you’re traveling during peak seasons or on popular routes.

4. Pack Essentials for the Journey

Remember to pack essential items for your train journey. This may include comfortable clothing, snacks, water, entertainment (such as books or music), and any necessary medications.

While some trains offer onboard amenities, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for any situation.

5. Familiarize Yourself with Customs and Immigration Procedures

When traveling across borders, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the customs and immigration procedures.

Make sure you have all the necessary travel documents, such as a valid passport, visa (if required), and any additional documentation requested by the authorities.

This will help streamline the process and avoid any unnecessary delays or complications.

6. Be Mindful of Safety Precautions

While train travel in Mexico is generally safe, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety.

Keep your belongings secure, be cautious of your surroundings, and avoid displaying valuable items.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so trust your instincts and take necessary measures to stay safe during your journey.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to take the train to Mexico and have an unforgettable travel experience. So, pack your bags, hop on board, and get ready for an adventure like no other!


Traveling by train from the United States to Mexico offers a unique perspective on the landscape of North America.

With stunning views along the way, riding the rails south of the border makes for an unforgettable adventure.

By planning your route, arranging documents, and booking tickets in advance, your Mexican train trip will be smooth and hassle-free.

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