Combine a city break with a countryside self-drive by taking the Ocean Train to Nova Scotia. Begin in the French-influenced city of Montreal, where poutine and smoked meat sandwiches make a delicious start to your trip before hopping onto the Ocean Train as it sets off towards the sea. Settle down in your comfortable cabin to sleep, before enjoying views of the landscape the next day, growing ever greener as you glide towards Halifax.
From here, you will explore the best of Nova Scotia, from whale-watching in the Bay of Fundy, to tasting fresh oysters in Prince Edward Island and learning about First Nations culture in this ancient land. For a unique glimpse into the Maritime provinces, with a spectacular train journey and city break included, this is a fantastic holiday to enjoy Canada.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. On arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel and check in for three nights.
With two days to explore this cosmopolitan city, you’ll find an intriguing mix of both French and British cultures. You’ll be faced with exciting dining and shopping options, plus some magnificent architecture in the shape of the Notre Dame Basilica. Wander through the French Quarter, take in the views from Mount Royal, and see the Olympic site and McGill University. We’ve included a bike tour for you, a great way to explore the city quickly! This fun tour will guide you through all the highlights of the city, as well as stopping for a taste of Montreal’s most famous bagel at St-Viateur Bagel and a glass of wine afterwards!
Spend the day enjoying Montreal before boarding the Ocean Train in the early evening. You’ll be enjoying a SleeperPlus class cabin for your overnight journey to Halifax, which means you can stretch out and enjoy the sunset this evening from your own cosy and private space.
By day, you’ll sit in a comfortable seating area, and in the early evening, attendants will fold down the beds to transform your cabin into a little bedroom with a lower and upper berth single bed. The cabins have power sockets and a fan, as well as towels, soap and shampoo. Throughout the journey, you’ll have access to the Park car which is domed with large glass windows, and available only to SleeperPlus passengers, offering you the best views of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as you head towards the coast.
Waking up this morning, you’ll be winding along the Restigouche River, with early morning mist shrouding the green riverbanks and lush pine forests. Spend the day enjoying the train and the views – small farms and shimmering lakes will pass by, as New Brunswick slowly turns into Nova Scotia. Stop to stretch your legs on the platform in Moncton before the train bends around Bedford Bay and delivers you to Halifax in time for dinner by the harbour.
Spend the entire day exploring the harbourside city of Halifax. Dominated by the Citadel, this star-shaped fort complex will afford you some amazing views over the buildings below. The Historic Properties are old warehouses by the waterfront – home to plenty of boutiques, pubs and cafes perfect for a refreshment break and people-watching. Breathe in the clean seaside air and just relax in this colourful city.
This morning, you’ll pick up your hired car and drive south. First stop is Peggy’s Cove, a small village with houses built right into the granite rock, overlooking the Atlantic. You can explore the historic centre before hiking out to the coast to see the beautiful lighthouse. Next up is Old Town Lunenburg, a lovingly restored Victorian town perfect for a nice wander and a break for lunch.
The Kejimkujik National Park is a little further on; here you’ll find Canadian wilderness at its best, offering epic hiking and peaceful canoeing on its shimmering lakes and rivers. Finish your day in Annapolis, a quaint Victorian settlement on the banks of the Bay of Fundy where you’ll check in for two nights.
The nutrient-rich waters of the Bay of Fundy are host to a variety of marine life, and today you’ll head along the Digby Neck to join a whale-watching excursion. You’re likely to see minkes and humpbacks, and possibly even the rare North Atlantic right whale. It is such a beautiful landscape and such a thrill to these creatures up close. Return to Annapolis Royal for the afternoon to enjoy the picturesque architecture and cute shops.
Follow the curve of the bay towards Prince Edward Island today. Break for a lunch of local farm-to-table food in Wolfville and then make time to stop a little further on at Grand-Pre, a historic site which celebrates the area’s history as an Acadian settlement. The Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures, so you will learn very different things about the people that lived here, descended from both French colonialists and local First Nations tribes. Cross the Confederation Bridge and you’ll arrive on Prince Edward Island, where green hills and hidden coves await.
Known as the ‘Garden Province’, Prince Edward Island was host to the meetings that led to Canada being formed as its own country. In Charlottetown, you can visit the Province House National Historic Site before venturing north to the Prince Edward Island National Park. Here, you can see sand dunes, beaches and Green Gables, the fictional home of Anne, the island’s most famous daughter.
Head to the Lennox Island Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre to learn about the indigenous tribe from this area, a fascinating First Nations tribe whose original language was written in hieroglyphics. After a day exploring this lush island, make sure you try some local seafood for dinner; garlicky mussels, spicy oysters and buttery lobster – it’s all fresher than fresh here, and delicious!
Take the ferry back to Nova Scotia today, stopping en route at the Orwell Corner Historic Village. Orwell is an abandoned village with a cluster of buildings restored to create a sense of life in the 19th Century. Once you’ve landed, continue east to Cape Breton Island, a little piece of Scotland in North America. Made up of craggy cliffs and endless pine forests, it’s a beautiful spot to finish your holiday in Canada.
For some awesome views of the Gulf of St Lawrence, follow the Cabot Trail through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. There are plenty of beautiful hiking trails to pick up, and along the way, you can stop at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, the Glenora Distillery, a college of Arts & Crafts and the Acadian Cultural Centre.
Looking for an amazing Nova Scotia sunset? Make sure to reserve your spot on a Skyline Sunset Hike with the Cape Breton Highlands National Park team. For more amazing views, head over to Bras d’Or Lake, where you can meet the resident highland cows and soak in the incredible scenery at the Highland Village Museum.
Drive north to discover the Fortress of Louisbourg, a historical site offering an impressive restoration of a French garrison town during the 1700s. Here you won’t just look at the fortress, you will really experience it, hearing the cannons firing and greeting villagers in period dress.
Another must-see is the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, dedicated to the life and inventions of this fascinating man who spent his summers on these shores. Taste the local tipple at Breton Brewing Co., where live music and delicious craft beer provide a cosy evening activity.
Spend your penultimate day leisurely driving along the scenic Bras d’Or Lake towards mainland Nova Scotia. It takes around 5 hours, but you can start in the morning and slowly make your way back to Halifax, stopping in at small villages or seaside towns on your way. Spend your final evening in Halifax, with some fresh seafood and a glass of local sparkling wine to toast the end of an amazing adventure through Montreal and Halifax.
Your time in this beautiful region comes to an end today. Drive back to the airport in time to catch your overnight flight back to the UK.
Summer runs from mid-May to early-September offering little rainfall and warm temperatures – great for outdoor activities so tourism peaks at this time. Spring is pleasant as the cherry blossoms bloom and the winter clouds make way for sunny skies.
Temperatures drop during Autumn, bringing chilly days and increased rainfall. Winter in Canada may only appeal to the brave, but British Colombia has the mildest winters in the country and the close proximity to some world-class skiing brings a fair number of outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, if you do brave the elements, you’re likely to find reduced room rates.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.