Embark on an epic train journey through Canada
The Rocky Mountaineer rail company has established a reputation for combining refined luxury with impressive scenery, as its trains wind through one of the world’s most majestic mountain ranges. Traditionally starting in Vancouver – although one route extends from Seattle across the US border – passengers can enjoy a city break before heading high into the mountain passes.
One of our lifestyle writers, Erin Spurling, recently embarked on a journey through the wild landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta – here are her highlights.
Begin with a city break in Vancouver
It’s easy to see why this coastal city is so popular, as it effortlessly combines urban delights, sea and mountains. Start your exploration by taking the ferry to the north shore where you can catch the bus to Grouse Mountain. This resort never fails to entertain, with hikes, skiing, zip-lining, lumberjack shows, golf and grizzly bears. With panoramic views across the city, Altitudes Bistro is perfect for a relaxed dinner before descending back to sea level.
To see the best of the city during a short break, we recommend the walk from the waterfront down to Granville Island. Begin at Gastown where there’s plenty of opportunity for souvenir shopping at local boutiques and be sure to see the steam clock on Water Street – one of the last remaining of its kind in the world. For a bird’s-eye view of the city, take the 40-second elevator trip to the top of the Vancouver Lookout.
Follow Granville Street southwards, taking in the heart of the city’s shopping district. At False Creek you can board the small water bus to Granville Island. Allow plenty of time to explore this little oasis with its excellent food market, street shows and talented buskers.
Stay The Fairmont Pacific Rim and Waterfront hotels are on the water’s edge, making both ideally located for relaxing and exploring. Receive a complimentary room upgrade*, breakfast, early check-in*, late check-out* and credit towards food and beverages when booking through us.
All aboard for wildlife spotting and gourmet dining
Once you’ve explored the city, it’s time to set off on one of the world’s most leisurely train journeys. With an average speed of just 30mph and as the only train operating the route, the Rocky
Mountaineer drivers are able to slow down for particularly scenic stretches and halt whenever they spot wildlife, allowing for plenty of photo opportunities en route.
On-board meals are included and served at your seat, so you never have to worry about missing the vistas and with three levels of service there is something to suit every budget. Red and Silver Leaf provide spacious reclining seats, large windows, drinks and meals. Gold Leaf offers the ultimate indulgence, with hot gourmet meals as well as a separate dining room, a glass-domed bi-level carriage and access to an exclusive outdoor vestibule, so you can savour the fresh mountain air.
The staff are attentive and friendly, often regaling passengers with stories, and they are happy to answer questions and point out wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and grizzly bears.
Circle the peaks on a multi-day adventure
The circular journeys that begin and end in Vancouver showcase Canada at its very best. Varying from seven to 10 days, these loops can also include mini cruises in the wilds of Alaska. While stops such as Kamloops and Quesnel are pleasant, it’s once you hit the British Columbia-Alberta border that the landscapes become truly awe-inspiring. Nothing can quite prepare you for the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, the vast valleys of Jasper National Park or the imposing mountains that loom over the town of Banff.
If you’re stretched for time but still want to experience the magic of travelling by rail, a return trip from Vancouver to Whistler can be completed in a day; however, we recommend stopping for at least one night in the pretty mountain village to allow time to ski, enjoy a spot of shopping or unwind at an indulgent spa day.
Stay Luxurious Fairmont hotels line the route in Whistler, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff and each is ideally located to make the most of the surrounding views. When booking through our Travel team you’ll receive a complimentary room upgrade*, breakfast, early check-in* and late check-out*.
*Subject to availability