Enjoy a trans-Canada train journey from Toronto to Vancouver, before exploring the beaches and forests of Vancouver Island. Starting in Toronto you’ll take in the best of the city, from the top of the CN Tower to the delicious street food in Kensington Market, before heading to Niagara Falls for the day to marvel at the natural wonder.
Next, you’ll climb aboard the Canadian Train, which will carry you across prairies and mountains, through cities and vast empty plains towards the Pacific city of Vancouver. From here, you’ll drive over to Vancouver Island, where you’ll find rugged beaches, lush forests and shy black bears eating crabs along the shore. An iconic journey across the continent, combining cities and wilderness, this trip is a fantastic way to experience the best of 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. You’ll arrive in Toronto on the same day and catch a scheduled transfer into the city, where you’ll be dropped at your hotel and check-in for three nights.
Today is yours to explore the city at your leisure. Toronto is famous for its museums and galleries, so why not head to the Art Gallery of Ontario? Full of Canadian, American and European art, the museum is a highlight of any trip to this cosmopolitan city.
Enjoy a bowl of ‘poutine’ for lunch, a combination of chips, gravy and cheese curds (it's the ultimate Canadian comfort food), before spending the afternoon wandering through Chinatown and Kensington Market. These colourful neighbourhoods reveal Toronto’s multicultural heritage and independent roots – you won’t find any Starbucks or McDonald’s here.
Today, you’ll head off on a full-day tour to visit the mighty Niagara Falls. You’ll have plenty of time at the waterfall to take photos and admire the thundering waters. You’ll also get up close and personal on the Hornblower cruise, which will take you right into the spray for a unique view of Horseshoe Falls.
After a delicious lunch at the Fallsview restaurant, you’ll have some time to explore Niagara on the Lake, one of Canada’s prettiest towns. Heading back to Toronto, try heading up the CN Tower for a night-time view over the twinkling city and a drink at one of the quirky local bars.
You’ll climb aboard the train in the morning and settle into your cabin, ready for your journey across the continent. You’ll be enjoying a SleeperPlus class cabin for your four-night train journey through Canada, which means you can stretch out and enjoy the sunset each evening from your own cosy and private space. These cabins have their own private toilet and sink, and there is a shower in the train car that is shared between a handful of other cabins.
By day, you’ll sit in two comfortable armchairs, and in the early evening, attendants will fold down the beds to transform your cabin into a cosy 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 lounge cars with observation domes - these have large glass windows and comfortable seats. We highly recommend visiting one of the domed cars during the day, especially when you reach the Rockies. From the train, you can enjoy incredible mountain scenery that is so close you could reach out and touch it!
The journey also includes three delicious meals per day, as well as fruit and biscuits to snack on if you get peckish, as well as priority boarding in Toronto to make sure you board with plenty of time to spare. Alcoholic beverages aren’t included, but you can purchase drinks in the dining car with your meal while you meet fellow passengers and soak up the spectacular scenery from your window.
The train will arrive in the morning, giving you the rest of the day to enjoy Vancouver. Due to sharing the tracks with freight trains, there are occasionally delays to the journey, so we haven’t planned anything for you today, just in case you experience any issues.
If you do have time, we recommend heading up Grouse Mountain, just north of the city, where you can enjoy lots of activities, including hiking and a lumberjack show. You can also hop on the chair lift to the summit for panoramic views over Vancouver.
Vancouver is a fresh, outdoorsy city – no matter the weather you’ll want to get outside and explore. Start in Gastown, where you can roam the historic streets popping into tiny art galleries and boutique shops, before moving on to Chinatown to dig into a delicious dim sum lunch. After taking in these two iconic neighbourhoods, head to Stanley Park for the afternoon. The best way to get around is cycling, so why not rent a bike head to see the colourful totem poles at Brockton Point or English Bay Beach to relax in the sun?
There are plenty of museums to enjoy if you are interested in the history of this region (the Museum of Anthropology is especially good for First Nations artefacts). If you love food, head down to Granville Island Public Market, where you can browse the stalls, picking up all sorts of goodies from local BC cherries to freshly-baked pastries. Getting out of the city here is easy – make sure you visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge as it hangs precariously over the river in the North Shore.
Today, you’ll pick up your hire car and leave Vancouver, heading to Horseshoe Bay, where you’ll catch the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From here you’ll drive across the island to Tofino, where the rugged coastline is pounded by the wild Pacific Ocean. On arrival, you’ll check-in for three nights. Why not head off for a hike along the beach?
On your first day in Tofino, you’ll head off on a coastal bear watching tour, exploring the fjords and inlets of Clayoquot Sound. In May, the bears leave their cosy dens where they have been holed up all winter and head for the closest food source – the ocean! While the bears forage along the shore, you can easily observe and photograph them from the boat. It’s an exciting day and will give you a great introduction to the bears that you’ll hopefully see more of later in the trip.
The rest of today and the full day tomorrow are yours to enjoy beautiful Tofino. This tiny town sits on the edge of the Pacific Rim National Park, where you can hike through mossy rainforest and wander along windswept beaches while surfers ride the waves along the shore. Hire a kayak and paddle out amongst the islands by the harbour or settle in with a good book by the ocean. Tofino Brewery is also worth a stop to try the local ales, before heading to Wolf in the Fog for drinks or grabbing dinner from Tacofino – the best tacos on the island!
Today, you’ll leave Tofino and drive through Vancouver Island towards Victoria. On your way. back make sure you stop for lunch at the Old Country Market, famous for the goats that graze on the buildings’ grass rooftop.
This morning, you’ll set off on a whale watching tour on an open zodiac boat – perfect for the adventurous at heart! It’s an exhilarating experience, complete with sea spray, and these vessels are well known for their safety. Keep an eye out for the orcas that make their home in the bay - they’re mostly seen between May and October, but a few resident killer whales can be found on a year-round basis.
During the tour, you can also spot humpbacks, grey whales, porpoises and Californian sea lions frolicking in the water. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Victoria, where you can have a coffee by the harbour or head to the Royal British Colombia Museum to you can learn about First Nations history.
Today, you’ll leave Victoria and drive to Swartz Bay, just north of the city, where you’ll take the car ferry back to Vancouver. From here, you’ll drive straight to the airport to drop off your car and catch your flight home.
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.
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post ‘The most scenic drive of your life: a Canadian Rockies road trip’ - written by one of our consultants who has been there.
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.