Canada has it all - cosmopolitan cities, breathtaking scenery, wonderful food and friendly people. To make the most of your trip here, add these destinations to your list of the best places to visit in Canada:
The capital city of Ontario is one of the world’s most metropolitan, full of towering skyscrapers, huge public parks, excellent markets and world-class hotels. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the CN Tower, which, if you’re brave enough, offers a skywalk at the very top with incredible views over the rest of the city. Toronto is also the home of ice hockey (although non-Torontonians may disagree!) so if you want to learn what all the fuss is about visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s a wonderful attraction for all the family with 3D movies, interactive exhibits and chances to dress up. Other popular things to do in the city include the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, another great one for families.
Known as Canada’s ‘culture capital’, Montréal is one of the best places to visit in Canada if you enjoy architecture, art and history. Its most famous landmark is the Notre-Dame Basilica which bears more than a passing resemblance to its Parisian namesake. Its interior was actually inspired by the design of the Sainte-Chapelle in the French capital rather than the Notre-Dame. At night, there’s a stunning light and sound show. For great art, visit the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts which has works from European Old Masters, local artists and a sculpture garden. If you’re visiting Canada when the weather’s pleasant take a walk or Segway tour around Old Montréal, starting off at the Place Jacques-Cartier, ticking off the St Lawrence River, the Old Port and the trendy 19th century waterfront Rue de la Commune, which has some of the city’s best independent shops.
Known as the northern lights capital of the world, Yellowknife is the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. It was born when miners found gold in the area and fast became a booming economic city. Its location 400km south of the Arctic Circle makes it arguably one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis. Stay at Aurora Village and enjoy the Northern Lights in all their glory, as well as ice fishing, snowshoe treks and dog sledding. To learn more about the history and culture of the Northwest Territories, visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center.
4. Niagara Falls
You can visit this incredible force of nature on a day trip from Toronto. The city of Niagara itself isn’t really much to write home about and has a reputation with some Canadians as a mini Las Vegas. But despite this, the Falls are definitely one of the best places to visit in Canada, especially if you’re heading to Toronto. The waterfall divides the Canadian state of Ontario with the US State of New York. Bride Veil Falls on the American side of the rift forces the water to crash into rock, while the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side flow into the Maid of the Mist Pool. The most popular viewing point in Canada is Table Rock.
5. Prince Edward Island
If the sheer size of Canada’s mainland seems daunting to you, head to Prince Edward Island instead. Fans of the classic Anne of Green Gables books might recognize Prince Edward Island as the home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery. You can actually visit the House of Green Gables, which is now a national heritage site celebrating Anne and Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables aside, the island has plenty of other things going for it: 1,00km of shoreline, red sandstone cliffs, golf courses, festivals throughout the year, cycling routes, hiking trails (including the 435km Confederation Trail), fishing and kayaking. Airlines operating out of Toronto, Montréal, Halifax and Ottawa all fly to Charlottetown Airport on Prince Edward Island.
6. Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia province is the place to go to see whales, porpoises, puffins and seals in their natural environment. The eastern Canadian region is one of the most popular places in the world for whale-watching trips, with 12 species of the incredible animal living in its waters. The best time of year to see them is summer and fall and there are dozens of tour operators to choose from. The province’s capital city, Halifax, has lots to do for all the family; there’s the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, one of the most popular places to visit in the province. It was built between 1749 and 1861 atop the central hill in the city to guard the port and keep watch for enemies. The best time to visit is from May to October when you’ll be able to take a ghost tour or dress up as a soldier for the day. Other popular Halifax attractions include the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 which explores how the country was shaped and influenced by immigration. If you want to see more of the area’s stunning landscape, take one of the most popular road trips in Canada: the 298km Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Cliché or not, the scenery along this trail – the lakes, mountains and wildlife – are truly breathtaking. It’s no surprise it draws artists who take inspiration from their surroundings, and you’ll find lots of painting studios, sculpture galleries and pottery shops.
Canada’s capital city sits on the Ottawa River and is often voted as the best place to live in the country. It’s home to the country’s huge Parliament building, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. It’s another of Canada’s best places to visit if you’re vacationing with kids in tow. Children will love the Canadian Nature Museum which has a whole blue whale skeleton, as well as dinosaur bones. One of the most popular things to do in Ottawa is iceskating. It’s so popular that people skate to work along the frozen Rideau Canal in winter! It’s a huge tourist attraction in winter months, check out all the details here.
If you’re into cycling, Victoria, the capital of British Colombia, should be top of your list of places to visit in Canada. It has more cycling routes than any other city in the country and is very well established for two-wheel travelers. Two of the most popular bike trails are the Galloping Goose Trail and the Seaside Touring Route. Don’t fret though, there’s plenty to do in Victoria for non-cyclers, too. If you’re taking the kids to Canada, take them to the Victoria Bug Museum which has more than 50 species of creepy crawlies, or to the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm in the Beacon Hill Park (closed until March 2018).
*Published November 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.
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