PICTURE THIS. You wake up under a cosy set of blankets, look out of your hotel window and spot snow covered mountains, a frozen lake and the slow dancing of snowflakes as they descend onto your window sill.
Following a hearty breakfast, you step outside into this winter wonderland landscape, ready to embrace the cold temperatures and some exciting activities that you wouldn't be able to enjoy back home.
Canada & Alaska Specialist Holidays believes that you do not have to be a skier or a snowboarder to get the most out of what the Canadian winter has to offer travellers. Here are a few expertly chosen recommendations on how to get the most out of your winter escape.
VIA Rail connects all major Canadian cities and provides a great variety of ticket and accommodation levels (if you are on an overnight service).
Whether you are travelling from Vancouver to Jasper or from Jasper all the way through to Toronto, VIA Rail's networks offer a huge range of potential itineraries for you to stop and enjoy the Canadian winter.
For shorter journeys you have the option to purchase either economy or business class tickets, depending on how inclusive you'd like your ticket to be. For overnight and multiple day train journeys, you'll still have the option to purchase a seat-only ticket, but you can also upgrade to have an upper/lower birth bed that has a curtain for privacy or private cabin (with a door) for one, two or four.
Vancouver is the perfect destination for your winter holiday as it incorporates both a city and a wilderness getaway thanks to its idyllic location being surrounded by the ocean, mountains and nature. What better way to battle the cold than with carbs and brews?
There are walking tours that will take your tasting buds on a ride to the best spots downtown or Gastown. You can also take the Granville Island Market Tour for the best fresh food in town. East Van is also known as 'Yeast Van' for a reason – it is home to a high number of breweries, all walking distance of each other, which is sure to warm you right up.
For an outdoor winter experience, Grouse Mountain is your one-stop shop. Head to the top of the mountain to enjoy activities like tobogganing, the Light Walk and the Snowshoe Fondue package, where you reward yourself with cheese and chocolate after a one-hour snowshoe tour.
Home to famous natural wonders like The Columbia Icefield, Maligne Lake and Athabasca Falls, Jasper is an outdoor adventurer's dream. Some of the highlights are ice climbing, fat biking and the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, which is a guided trek through a frozen wonderland.
If all this adventure makes you feel exhausted and cold, why not pamper yourself by staying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and indulge in some spa treatments, or high tea followed by some skating on Lake Milfred.
BANFF & LAKE LOUISE
In similar style to Jasper, Banff & Lake Louise embrace the winter months with fun, outdoor activities surrounded by memorable scenery.
The number one thing to do in Lake Louise is to ice skate on the frozen lake during the Ice Magic Festival where the lake is transformed with ice sculptures. To get you in the Christmas spirit, Banff hosts a Christmas Market which coincidently runs around the same time as the Banff Craft Beer Festival.
After all this activity, take a break and have a soak in the steaming waters at Banff Upper Hot Springs. From Banff you can also take a helicopter tour to visit Abraham Lake and bear witness to the natural phenomenon where methane gas bubbles under the lake's surface. This is a photographer's dream tour.
Thanks to direct flights from Calgary, Yellowknife is easily accessible from the Rockies and no winter holiday is complete without the chance of seeing another natural phenomenon – the Northern Lights.
You have the option to base yourself in Yellowknife and partake in a nightly Northern Lights excursion or take a bush plane out to a wilderness lodge like Blachford Lake Lodge, where you can enjoy the lights from the comfort of your own room.
Yellowknife offers a smorgasbord of flavours, snowmobile racing, ice fishing, snowshoeing and many other winter activities. However, the biggest attraction that this colourful city offers is its friendly locals.
Visiting Quebec City is like mixing a Canadian and a European holiday into one. Add the snowy winter to the scenery and you have yourself something out of a fairy tale.
Walking through Old Quebec, you will quickly realise that this is one of the most photogenic cities in Canada. If you climb to the top of Observatoire de la Capitale, you will find an unbeatable view overlooking the snow-covered city.
With a bustling music scene, nightlife and restaurants, you'll have no shortage of things to do. Make sure to fit in a walking food tour through Old Quebec and have a plate of poutine or two. Or visit North America's only Ice Hotel and be in awe of its impressive architecture and décor.
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