Best value Canada from east to west

Oh, Canada! So many great places to visit, so where and how to book the trip of a lifetime? Relax as we take you through the six top regions, and suggest the most affordable and enjoyable ways to get there.

Eastern Canada
This is where the savvy travellers are heading in 2018. I experienced the road trip of a lifetime in July, covering Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, with four great days in Quebec City towards the end. Why is it so cool? Because it offers everything a traveller can want – rugged coastal beauty, historic moments and monuments, wildlife, nature trails, amazing food and wine, and the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. We suggest a self-drive itinerary in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. But for a super affordable adventure in Ontario (think lakes, trails and Parliament Hill) and French Canada, including Quebec City and Montreal, look no further than the Globus Historic Cities of Eastern Canada 2018 Nine-day Tour.

Way up north
And Canada does stretch way, way up north. There are many ways to enjoy the very diverse experiences on offer in the Rockies, Yukon Territory, Northwest territories, and the unbeatable glaciers and icy coastlines. The delights of the Canadian Rockies need no explanation, including train journeys through these marvellous mountains, the wildlife and Icefields Parkway, onto the cultural delights of towns such as Lake Louise and Banff. The gold-mining history and First Nations heritage are a source of wonder in the Yukon, while the northern lights are best viewed as far north as you can go up the Dempster Highway. Cruising the Discovery Passage, around the Alaskan coastline, and, if you are lucky, a small ship Arctic expedition, as a once in a lifetime experience. Until you have seen the giant glaciers, you haven’t really lived. How to cover these experiences in one holiday? Try the 26-day Scenic Alaska, Yukon and Rockies Panorama Tour, from Victoria to Vancouver.

Loving the wild west
The biggest party on the planet is held in Calgary, Alberta, every July, at the Calgary Stampede. It’s a celebration for all ages and stages, so taking the grandkids is also a great idea. Why? Because it is a celebration of traditional farming and agriculture, the finest produce, the most fun music and dancing, as well as the most competitive events from Canada’s wilder days, including rodeos, chuck wagon racing and boot scooting. There’s something for everyone at the ‘greatest live outdoor show on earth’ when the whole town dons check shirts and denims and hotel foyers are filled with chuck wagons and hay bales. Mix it up with an Alaskan cruise before or after, and you can tick a lot of bucket list boxes in one hit. Try the APT 22-day Calgary and Alaska cruise adventure – currently, your companion flies free.

East-West extravaganza
Is this going to be your trip of a lifetime? Quite rightly, you figure, if you are flying for 14 hours to Vancouver you might as well make the most of your time? So, combining eastern Canada and the west makes a lot of sense. Well, this is how I would do it if I had the four weeks. Yes, it’s a 28-day journey, nine nights in the east, 11 in the west and a seven-day Holland America Cruise to Alaska. The tour starts in Toronto and concludes in Vancouver. In between you will experience the best of the destinations covered above, plus Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and Whistler, the winter and summer retreat. From the majesty of the Niagara Falls to the tranquillity of Lac-Saint-Joseph, this trip covers an extraordinary seven out of the top 10 Canadian bucket list experiences as voted by 4550 YourLifeChoices members in July this year.

Marvellous Maritimes
The Maritime provinces in eastern Canada are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PEI). These provinces have a strong Celtic and French history, and this means great local cuisines and wines, a multitude of historic sites and learning experiences and easy self-drive opportunities.  Entering the provinces from Montreal on board Via Rail’s ‘Ocean’ is also a treat, with one day and one night to experience to learn about the very different provincial cultures and sample their cuisines. Those who like to be pampered will enjoy a Trafalgar Enchanting Maritimes guided tour, featuring 10 towns and cities in 11 days, the fabulous Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, the birthplace of federation in Charlottetown, and Anne of Green Gable’s cottage on PEI. Get ready for lobster suppers, whale watching and historic lighthouses. 

Winter delights
After a lifetime of hot sunny Christmas days, how many of us yearn, just once, to experience a white Christmas? Well, yearn no more. Canada has a myriad of opportunities for heat weary Aussies to experience the beauty of a winter wonderland, snowmen, mulled wine and cosy fires included. One of the stand out experiences has to be a stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, where ice carving, skating and egg nogging are all part of the celebration. For great family fun, why not try the Whistler Village fire and ice show? And for those wishing to combine the joys of snow-covered scenery with expert guidance, Intrepid’s 11-day Canadian Rockies and Northern Lights tour ensures you will ‘get down and get with it’, including experiencing a back country snowshoe hike.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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