Travel options to explore Canada

Canada is ideal for touring on a RV road trip, but there are other modes of transport that allow you to soak up all the spendid beauty it has to offer. Charlotte Flach seeks out four fun alternatives

Rail

The Rocky Mountaineer’s Western Canada trips and Via Rail’s coast-to-coast itinerary on The Canadian are relatively well known among UK travel agents, but there are other ways clients can get back on the rails.

For a touch of nostalgia, catch a ride on the Southern Prairie Railway, which provides an authentic pioneer experience. Tours showcase the prairies of southern Saskatchewan and the beauty and wildlife of the grasslands en route to Horizon to the west and Pangman to the East.

In British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway chugs along the only preserved section of the historic Kettle Valley Railway built during 1910 and 1915. Alongside traditional trips, the company offers seasonal themed voyages and murder mystery rides.

Canada’s autumn colours have been described as ‘supernatural’ and The Agawa Train which runs through the Agawa Canyon in Ontario is a great platform from which to see them. The 10-hour journey operates from August to mid-October, departing from downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Look out for waterfalls and bears along the way.

Sea Plane

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British Columbia offers some of the country’s best seaplane tours, with its breathtaking nature best viewed from above.

Described as one of Canada’s most authentic west coast experiences, options offered by Harbour Air reveal some of the highlights of the province and beyond. Packages and flights, ranging from 10 minutes to day trips, are available as group tours or private options.

Take a turn over the skyline of British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, join an all-day island hopping tour of the Gulf Islands, or explore the pretty Sunshine Coast from the air.

The Vancouver seaplane tour is a popular option, with panoramic views of where the cityscape, distant mountains and sprawling harbour meet. The 20-minute small group tour is limited to just 14 people and includes a carbon offset levy for climate-conscious travellers.

Near Whistler, local operator Authentik Canada runs 40-minute seaplane tours that give a bird’s-eye view of the glaciers, mountain peaks, volcanic formations and alpine meadows that surround the waters of Garibaldi Lake. It is not uncommon to see wandering black bears.

Motorbike

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Perfect for cross-country tours and covering a lot of ground quickly, motorbikes are a universal favourite for exploring both solo and in groups. Bikes can also be taken off-road to explore nature in all its forms, including the country’s mountains, national parks, forests and lakes.

On the east coast, the Cabot Trail is one of the country’s most Iconic highways and a ‘must-do’ drive. The 300-kilometre road runs along the coast of Cape Breton and connects many of the island’s most popular attractions, quaint towns and villages – and provides an adrenaline rush for anyone who loves to burn the rubber.

Out west, consider the southern route from Edmonton, Alberta, to Victoria Island, British Columbia. It passes through the Crows Nest Pass before turning westerly through Sparwood and Fernie and then descending to Osoyoos, the only desert in Canada. Plan a stop to visit Lake Osoyoos and its orchards and wineries. Then it is briefly back into the mountain passes before the ride all the way to the Vancouver Island Ferry at Tsawwassen.

Freedom Biker Tours run guided motorcycle tours in the Maritimes, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, with options from seven to 10 nights. Groups of up to 15 will explore the Canadian Shield, Cape Breton Island, the West Coast and Vancouver Island, through the Canadian Rockies, plus the Kootenay and Okanagan Regions.

Cycling

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Take on some challenging and rugged routes on an e-fat bike tour as you plow through the snow at Banff National Park or cruise the winding mountains of Jasper.

As part of a push towards more sustainable tourism, both Alberta destinations are encouraging cycling as a preferred method of seeing the local sites. Jasper began permitting e-bikes on all its multi-use trails in 2019, while 15 of Banff’s 30 cycling trails are now e-bike-friendly.

Journey Bike Guides offers private guided mountain biking tours in Jasper, priced from $79-$129 depending on occupancy. In Banff, Bikescape’s guided mountain e-biking tours start from $144. Keen solo explorers can hit the trails independently by renting a cruiser e-bike from SunDog Tours in Jasper, starting at $50 for two hours. In Banff, Snowtips Bactrax offer a full kit for the ride to Lake Louise, from $80 per day.

Biking is not just a countryside pursuit, with many cities offering affordable and convenient ways to sightsee.

Montréal’s Bixi bikes are a forerunner of London’s ‘Boris bikes,’ offering the same concept and with a handy app to help cyclists find rental stations across the city.

In Vancouver, Mobi Bikes is a public bike share scheme, that offers a 24-hour, 30-day, or 365-day pass that gives access to any bike at one of the many docking stations. In summer 2022, Mobi expanded its network, adding 50 new stations and 500 e-bikes to its fleet.