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How to explore Canada by road and rail

Canada by train
Canada by train

When you're exploring a country as visually spectacular as Canada you want to be as close to the ground as possible. Hire a car for the road trip of a lifetime, or ride the rails and traverse Canada's diverse landscapes by train. Better still? Combine the two and you're in for an unforgettable adventure. Read on to find out how you can travel from British Columbia in the west to Nova Scotia in the east without setting foot in a domestic airport. 

Along the rocky road  

Hire a car in Vancouver and wind your way through British Columbia's heartland on your way to Alberta. Stop along the way in the picturesque Okanagan Valley, abundant with farms, wineries and enormous lakes. The sunny township of Kelowna, perched on the shores of Okanagan Lake, is the perfect place to spend a few days. Hike the scenic trails, go paddling and swimming, and take advantage of the outstanding cuisine created from the locally produced fare. 


When you've had your fill, continue on through the iconic Canadian Rockies to the province of Alberta. Be prepared to make lots of stops along the way for mind-blowing photographs that you just can't get anywhere else. Grizzly bears - check. Glittering turquoise lakes - check. Sparkling waterfalls - check. 

The jewel in the crown of this epic road trip has to be Alberta's Icefields Parkway, rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 drives on the planet. From Lake Louise to the stunning town of Jasper, you'll glide past snow-covered mountains, alpine lakes and glaciers that snake down the slopes like icy fingers.  Pause for the ultimate photo opportunity at the crystal-clear Peyto Lake, and take a break at the Glacier Discovery Centre where you can board an Ice Explorer that will take you up onto the Athabasca Glacier for a mind-blowing stroll on the ancient ice field.  

When you finally reach the friendly mountain town of Jasper, you'll need a few days to take in the emerald lakes, forests, and soaring peaks of Jasper National Park. Insider's tip? Jump on a Spring Island Boat Cruise on Maligne Lake for photos that will keep your Instagram feed happy for weeks to come. 

Rail Plus tip: We can help you arrange a car hire and other Canadian packages. Get in touch with our team!

Romance the rails

Traversing Canada's vast heartland is best done by rail on The Canadian, a transcontinental passenger train operated by VIA Rail. You can board the train in many cities and towns, including Jasper, in any season. Watch the landscape change from the mountains of Alberta to the prairielands of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, to the colourful forests of Ontario. You will struggle to peel yourself away from the viewing windows that give you a front-row seat to the brilliant, ever-changing vistas outside. 

The Canadian Panorama 260 onpage
The Canadian

The cosy sleeper cabins are the perfect sanctuary for your time on board and the rhythmic chug-chug of the tracks are sure to lull you to sleep. There are plenty of stops along the way at tiny settlements and major cities, including Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba. Make sure you take the opportunity to explore this dynamic, multicultural city, with its eclectic Exchange District and bustling public meeting place called The Forks.  

The Canadian takes you as far as Toronto, but from there you can carry on with VIA Rail all the way to Halifax in Nova Scotia via Montreal, a relaxing journey punctuated by outstanding local gastronomy and Canadian wines. 

Put this journey on your bucket list. After all, it's not every day you get to ride a train that's so iconic it appears on Canada's ten dollar note!

Cruise the Maritimes

The three provinces that make up the Canadian Maritimes include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Explore these


interconnecting regions is by road and discover the natural wonders, culture and outstanding cuisine of these eastern regions. Start in Halifax and head south along the coastline to the hauntingly beautiful Peggy's Cove, the most photographed lighthouse in Nova Scotia. Visit the seaside towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, resplendent with colourful wooden homes set against the masts of tall ships moored along the waterfront.

Make your way to New Brunswick, where you'll witness the highest tides in the world at the incredible Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Walk the ocean floor during low tide at the Hopewell Rocks or abseil down cliffs into the bay at Cape Enrage. From here, cross the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island into Anne of Green Gables Territory. Visit the house that inspired the setting for LM Montgomery's famous novels, hike the Prince Edward Island National Park, and take a swim at one of the pristine beaches. 

Exploring Canada by road and rail allows you to create a bespoke itinerary to suit the season. Design your own route, choose your own adventures and enjoy the ride.

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