Train passing through Bow valley under the surveillance of mighty Rocky Mountains
Great White North
Great by name, great by nature – this is the ultimate trip to immerse yourself in the very best of Canada. The dazzling cities, the blockbuster scenery and of course, the world-famous wildlife.
Spend a month getting to know this magnificent country, fill your camera with the extraordinary sights and take part in some exhilarating activities that you’ll never forget.
Take a two-day rail journey on the famous Skeena: often listed as one of Canada's greatest rail journeys
Have an up-close encounter with Canada’s wildlife on a whale watching trip off Vancouver Island (keeping your eyes peeled for grey whales, humpbacks and orcas) and on an early morning boat trip on the lookout for grizzly bears
Experience the Athabasca Glacier on an exhilarating glacier walk
Take in the spellbinding Canadian Rockies as you travel down the Icefield Parkway: one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Take in the incredible scenery from your private onboard day cabin as you cross the Inside Passage by ferry.
This immersive Canadian experience includes international flights, excursions, accommodation, breakfasts and some lunches and dinners.
From the first conversation until you arrive home from your holiday, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has travelled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip. All of our trips are entirely bespoke and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.
Hello, Canada! On arrival in Vancouver, you'll hop on the Sky Train downtown (or a cab if you prefer) and head to The Listel, an arty little hotel in Vancouver’s West End. You’ll have time over the next couple of days to familiarise yourself with the city (making sure not to miss the delightfully historic Gastown). Vancouver is a pretty compact place, making it easy to explore on foot.
Your second day begins with a two-hour guided bicycle tour of Stanley Park. Set on the waterfront and flanked by mountains and forest, this enormous urban park has beaches, walking trails, a scenic seawall and family friendly attractions. You’ll cycle the circumference (ideal for kicking jet-lag into check) and glean a load of interesting facts from your guide.
Your morning exertions on two wheels are rewarded with a ride on Vancouver’s latest attraction, FlyOver Canada. It’s a high-tech simulator-style experience that flies you over Canada, tempting you with the scenic treats that are in store over the next couple of weeks. From there, it’s an easy walk back to your hotel in the West End, but there are plenty of restaurants, bars and shops that will tempt you to linger a little longer in this charming waterfront area.
Things to do
City + Wildlife
This morning you’ll board a seaplane for an exhilarating 35-minute transfer to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Check into the chic Oswego Hotel, before a delicious 3 hour walking food tour of Victoria, to sample some of the best Canadian delicacies. Expect to try some traditional local staples such as candied salmon, poutine and, of course, maple syrup. You’ll meet the chefs, learn a little more about the history and culture of Victoria from your knowledgeable guide, admire the architecture in downtown, and return to your hotel in a food haze.
On day 4, it’s time to begin discovering the incredible wildlife of Canada. And what better way to start than by hopping onboard a zippy little boat and venturing out to spot Victoria’s magnificent resident and transient orca whales? You’ll be collected from the Oswego Hotel and board a boat from Victoria. These waters are home to three orca pods, but it’s not just the captivating killer whales you can expect to see. Porpoise, sea lions, seals and otters are found in abundance in this area too. You may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of humpback, minke or grey whales.
Things to do
Time to hit the road. Collect your hire car and head north on the Island Highway for a few hours, passing through Duncan, the so-called City of Totems, to Courtenay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Courtenay is the central commercial hub of the mountainous Comox Valley, but has a small and welcoming feel to it. Tonight, you’ll spend the night at the cosy Old House Hotel & Spa, a comfortable riverside retreat in the midst of the Comox Valley’s striking scenery.
After a hearty breakfast at the Old House Hotel, it’s back in the car again to continue the journey north. Stop en route for a fresh salmon lunch in the charming coastal town of Campbell River. Spend some time at the waterfront spotting seals then wander to the shops and restaurants on Pier Street before continuing your car journey – you’ve got a little less than three hours on the road ahead of you.
The Telegraph Cove Resort is in the tiny village of the same name, on the east coast of Northern Vancouver Island. Once you’ve checked in for your two-night stay, it would be wise to get an early night so you’re up and ready for a full day tour of the coastal mountains and Knight Inlet the next day – it starts at 7am, so set an alarm.
Your mission on Day 7? Spend a day finding black and grizzly bears. You’ll head out on a small boat to the grasses in the river lowlands, where bears turn over rocks to find crabs, barnacles and mussels. They’re hungriest in the morning, but trust us, it’s worth waking up early. These creatures in their natural habitat surrounded by Canada’s scenery is nothing short of incredible.
You’ll leave picturesque Telegraph Cove today and drive to Port Hardy where you’ll drop off your hire car. It’s less than an hour away, so you can spend some time exploring rugged Port Hardy when you arrive. Your hotel, Quarterdeck Inn and Marina Resort, overlooks the scenery and you’ll be checked into a comfortable and spacious guest room on a B&B basis for a restful night’s sleep, in anticipation of the nautical adventure to follow next day.
You’ll spend the next two days exploring Prince Rupert. You’ve got some decisions to make – visit British Columbia’s oldest surviving salmon cannery? Head to Dodge Cove on a water taxi? Or just enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of this harbour-front town. There are two notable museums highlighting a culture that draws much from its aboriginal heritage.
All aboard the Skeena Train! Today you’ll start an epic two-day train journey through some of British’s Columbia’s most beautiful scenery, heading inland from Canada’s west coast. Gaze out of your window and watch miles and miles of spectacular forest and mountain scenery rushing by. It’s sure to enchant you, so just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Come evening, you’ll disembark for an overnight stay at the Sandman Signature Suites in Prince George.
Activity & Adventure
After breakfast on day 13, your train journey continues, crossing from the province of British Columbia into Alberta, enjoying lunch on-board before pulling into Jasper in the late afternoon. You’ll make your own way to the beautifully refined Park Place Inn where you’ll stay for three nights.
Brace yourself - you’re in for an exciting morning. You’re off to see Jasper’s most incredible scenery in the side car of a Harley Davidson! It doesn’t get much cooler than that, right? Driven by a professional rider, you’ll zoom around the Canadian Rockies in truly inimitable style. On a two-hour tour, your guide gives you a choice of places to visit, either the Athabasca Falls, Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake or Mount Edith Cavell. Whichever you choose, you’re in for an exhilarating ride.
Come afternoon, the time is yours to explore Jasper.
Set off early to beat the crowds down the Icefields Parkway to the Athabasca Glacier, about 90 minutes away from Jasper. Your private guide will meet you for a hike on the magnificent glaciers. It’s a steep (but mercifully short) climb to the edge of the glacier, and your expert guide will point out moraines, mill wells and small crevasses. All the while you’re surrounded by some of the Rockies’ most dramatic peaks. It’s utterly enchanting.
After your icy encounter, it’s back in the car to continue into Banff National Park where you will be based for the next three nights in a luxury cabin at the rustic and cosy Moraine Lake Lodge. Be prepared for some serious downtime – blissfully there are no TVs or phones in the cabins. Instead, curl up in luxury bedding and immerse yourself in the soaking tub. Or better still, sit on your balcony and marvel at the truly awesome scenery.
On day 19, take a 15-minute drive to Lake Louise where you’ll hike for an hour or two to Lake Agnes tea house where you’ll be charmed by the vivid views of Lake Agnes, Mirror Lake and Lake Louise itself.
Then it’s onwards to Banff, a 40-minute drive from Lake Louise, to check into the Banff Aspen Lodge for two nights. Spend the evening out and about in the town, perusing the little shops and playing a game of “no, you decide” over which restaurant to go for.
On day 20, expect non-stop adventure. The impressive Banff Gondola will whisk you over the treetops and up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in less than ten minutes. Here you can follow the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk that gives you access to the most mesmerising views. Spend a little time exploring the interactive exhibits and the 360 degree observation deck in the summit centre before gliding back down the mountain.
Switching gears today, from the natural glory of Banff National Park, to the razzle dazzle of urban Montreal. You’ll hop back in the car and drive 90 minutes to Calgary airport to drop off your hire car and check in to the four-hour flight that will whizz you over to richly cultural Montreal.
On arrival in this life-loving city, you’ll need to make your own way to Hotel Nelligan, a smart and urban hotel that will seem a world away from the rugged world of this morning.
Things to do
Travel day klaxon! You’re Ottawa-bound today. Make your way to Montreal’s train station in plenty of time for the two-and-a-half-hour train journey to the capital, upon arrival make your way to the super-slick Hotel Metcalfe in downtown Ottawa.
You’ll arrive in time to get out and explore the city in the afternoon – but you’ve got a full day tomorrow to explore the city at your leisure. We love getting our bearings of a city by going up – in Ottawa’s case, that’s taking the angled lift up to the top of the iconic Peace Tower for city views. Don’t miss the ByWard Market, an enormous farmers’ market. For the politically-minded, there are federal buildings to explore. And cultural nomads will appreciate the choice of excellent history and art museums.
Activity & Adventure
A whirlwind two days in Ottawa comes to a close, and it’s back on the train. This time to Kingston, just two hours away. It’s a small city, and (how’s this for a fun fact?) Kingston was fleetingly the capital of Canada, before Queen Victoria stripped it of its title declaring it was too close to the American border and could not be effectively defended.
From the train station, you’ll make your way to Confederation Harbour and check into the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel for three nights. Your contemporary room will have a marvellous view over the water, that’s wonderful to wake up to in the mornings. You’ve got the afternoon to relax or have a stroll around the city.
Next day, there’s a full itinerary lined up. You’ll be heading out of the city to kayak through the Thousand Islands, an archipelago of over 1800 little islands. You’ll have private guide to talk you through this dramatic national park, and there’ll be opportunities to stop off along the way for a leisurely hike or even a swim. After lunch, your guide will take you to some of their favourite islands.
On your third and final day, you’ve got a whole day to yourself in and around Kingston. You might want to visit the Fort Henry National Historic Site, or one of the city’s fine museums. The choice is yours.
It’s another couple of hours relaxing on the train today, heading to your final stop on this incredible itinerary – glittering, multicultural Toronto. You’ll spend two nights at the SoHo Metropolitan, a great hotel in the heart of the city. On your first night, you'll head to the top of the iconic CN Tower to bag a premier view of this sprawling and vibrant city. If you’re daring, you could even try the EdgeWalk, a 20-minute outdoor walk around the unbounded perimeter of the main pod. Certainly not one for the fainthearted, but the bragging rights are surely tempting...
On day 29, you'll be collected after breakfast and taken for a short drive to Niagara Falls. You’ll board the iconic Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat tour, providing you with an up-close view of the magnificent Great Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the mighty Canadian Horseshoe Falls. You’ll marvel at the thundering power of the water and the dramatically eerie mist. After a three-course lunch, you’ve got some time to do some shopping (AKA panic buying last minute souvenirs), experience Journey Behind the Falls or walk along Clifton Hill. Afterwards, enjoy some time in Niagara-on-the-Lake (surely one of Canada's prettiest towns) before returning back to Toronto for your last night.
You should have some time on the morning of day 30 to get out and about in Toronto one last time before making the journey to the airport for your overnight flight back the UK. You can choose to take a cab (it takes around 30 minutes) or take the Union Pearson Express to the airport. Just don’t be surprised if you get home and realise that you’ve left your heart in Canada.