Trip idea / Canada

Rail Roads

Through Canada’s Eastern Cities

Discover a trio of eastern Canadian cities linked by train for a relaxed and laid-back cultural exploration, finishing at the Niagara Falls.

The Lowdown

  • When To Go:

    We recommend visiting from late spring when it starts to get warmer. Summer can be busy but buzzy with lively festivals in the cities. Autumn is a great time to catch the colours of the changing foliage.

  • How to Get There:

    Fly direct from London Heathrow to Montreal and return from Toronto.

  • Why We Like It:

    The mix of contemplative time on the train paired with cultural cities and world food at every stop is hard to beat!

There’s no doubt that travelling by train adds in an element of relaxation, as you sit back and watch scenery fly by, changing as your journey progresses. There is also a nice contrast to this with the dynamic energy and cultural heritage of Canada’s eastern cities, all linked by rail, with a finale at the thundering Niagara Falls.

Highlights

  • Enjoy an exploratory trip to eastern Canada discovering the French-Canadian heritage of Quebec, Ottawa and Montreal
  • Take the stress out of travel by boarding the VIA Rail which links each city on your itinerary
  • Discover fascinating French-Canadian architecture, art and culture in each city’s Old Town, museums and galleries
  • Enjoy a wealth of worldwide foodie experiences from poutine, sustainable seafood to Asian delicacies
  • End at one of Canada’s most magnificent natural sights: the Niagara Falls

    MONTREAL – 3 nights

    Start your two-week trip to eastern Canada in Montreal, found in the province of Québec and bordered by the Saint Lawrence River. Canada’s second largest city, multi-cultural Montreal is a vibrant fusion of North America and Europe, with at least 70% of the population speaking French as their primary language. The historic quarter of Vieux-Montreal is full of Parisian charm including the Basilique Notre-Dame and Chapelle de Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours which contrast with the glinting skyscrapers of downtown Montreal. Food is a big part of this city – savour your way around the cuisine of Chinatown and Little Italy without forgetting to sample Montreal’s signature dish – poutine.

    Arriving at Montreal’s train station, board your VIA Rail train, Canada’s national passenger railway, in Business Class to start your journey northwards towards Québec City, which takes less than four hours. As you leave Montreal, watch how the city suburbs give way to the mountainous terrain of Monteregian Hills and the lush Mont Royal. Further on, enjoy rural landscapes that wrap around small communities, dense forests and glades of maple trees.

    QUEBEC CITY – 2 nights

    Arriving by rail to the 400-year-old Quebec City via the Gare du Palais, feel welcomed to this well-preserved city of considerable charm, sitting riverside by the flowing Saint Lawrence River in the Quebec province. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, French-Canadian Quebec is a walled city that is easy to stroll around amid its cobbled streets, dotted with historic buildings such as the Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires and the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Quebec. Stop for a coffee and croissant to take in the enchanting scene including the labyrinthine Basse-Ville (Lower Town) where the Quartier du Petit-Champlain, the oldest shopping area in North America, is a pleasant place to browse the galleries and artisan shops.

    Board the Via Rail to continue southwards towards Ottawa, for a journey of around six hours. Sit back and relax, appreciating your stress-free mode of transport as you cross the rushing Saint Lawrence River and pass by Montreal and the rugged backdrop of the volcanic Monteregian Hills, speeding past the towns of Dorval and Alexandria before arriving at Ottawa.

    OTTAWA – 2 nights

    After a long spell on the train, you’ll want to stretch your legs and Canada’s capital city Ottawa is the perfect place to do this. Brimming with green spaces, bike trails, pathways and parks, Ottawa is surrounded by nature and riverways, including the Rideau Canal. The city itself is easily walkable, you can’t miss the cluster of government buildings at Parliament Hill where the pinnacle of the clock tower soars into the sky. It’s ideal for foodies too – hit Elgin Street for Asian fare, sustainable seafood, fine dining or classic burgers while Byward Market is great for snacks, street food and poutine stalls. A visit to the National Gallery of Canada will reward you with illuminating works of Indigenous and Canadian art.

    Back on the train, this time you’ll be speeding southwest towards Toronto on a journey that takes four hours. Fly past forests of maple trees – an iconic symbol of Canada’s national identity before skirting around the shores of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Break out of your reverie when you arrive at Union Station in Toronto, Canada’s busiest transport hub.

    NIAGARA FALLS – 2 nights

    Smoothly transition from train to bus in Toronto’s Union Station to make your way to the town of Niagara Falls where you will check into a comfortable hotel and recuperate from your journey – perhaps making use of the hotel’s indoor pool, spa and Jacuzzi.

    The next day will see you explore Niagara Falls, which is actually three separate falls, from several vantage points, soaking up the plunging curtain of water at Horseshoe Falls where the falls are most dense or from the lower platforms where you can walk behind the water. You can also ascend the 236-metre-high Skylon Tower for a bird’s eye view and perhaps dinner at the top. Aside from the falls, you might like to sample beers at the Niagara Brewing Company or explore Ontario’s acclaimed wine-making region – Niagara Peninsula – to visit independent wineries for tastings. After a few days here, transfer back to Toronto for your international flight home, saying goodbye to Canada until the next time.