The second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of beautiful landscapes and unique sites for travelers to explore. From coast to coast to coast, the country is home to vibrant and culturally rich cities, along with incredible natural wonders. In Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains and cities of Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary dominate most itineraries. In Central Canada, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City, are some of the most popular possibilities.
For those who venture out to Canada's Maritime Provinces in the east, the beauty of Gros Morne National Park, along with the cities of Halifax and St. John's provide their own unique character. Off the beaten path, but equally impressive is Canada's North, with an opportunity to see polar bears in the wild and explore the remote beauty of places like Nahanni National Park and the cities of Whitehorse and Yellowknife. Here are some amazing places you should visit on your next vacation.
The largest city in Canada and arguably the best-known, Toronto is cultured and cosmopolitan, yet manages to remain relaxed, livable, and fun all at the same time. Canada's center of the arts and media has plenty of pleasant tree-lined streets in Yorkville for window-shopping and wandering; a host of independent galleries in West Queen West with edgy works; big-name music festivals year-round; and an adventurous, constantly evolving food scene. Toronto’s impressive sights may be what pull you in, but its vibrant neighborhoods, artistic happenings, and friendly locals will make you want to return.
Straddling the US-Canadian border, Niagara Falls is within reach of Toronto - and well worth it. The three falls combined, the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world (around 2,400 m3 per second). Once you have seen the Falls, explore the theme park-esque town that lives off the natural wonder's tourist appeal.
The second largest city in Canada, Montreal is France's home away from home. Centuries-old stone facades, traditional bistros, elegant boulevards, and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ make Montreal's reputation as an Old World city ‘manqué’ well-deserved. But this Francophone metropolis is no fossilized relic. When you travel to Montreal, step beyond the cobbled lanes of Vieux-Montréal, and you are surrounded by thoroughly of-the-moment buildings from the likes of I. M. Pei; innovative, globally inspired cuisine; boundary-pushing music from bands such as Arcade Fire and The Dears; and a dizzying blend of cultures that includes not just French but Italian, Chinese, and Caribbean. What binds all this together are the Montrealers themselves, who embrace their dualisms with relish. Visit Montreal to discover the European flair and sophistication of this unique Canadian metropolis.
Vancouver has been named the ‘best place to live in the world’ more than a few times. The west coast city in British Columbia boasts a buzzy cultural life, a rich platter of ethnically diverse restaurants and a cosmopolitan population. In addition, its numerous public parks, mountains, and waters in and around the city make it an excellent playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Meanwhile, its forward-thinking hotels, restaurants, and galleries have transformed this Northwest boomtown into an outdoorsy capital of cool.
The Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies span British Columbia and Alberta and is one of the world's most impressive mountain ranges. Boasting mind-boggling scenery and a number of Canada's highest peaks, the region is ideal for explorers. There are also a number of ski resorts in the mountain range, including Banff.
One of North America's largest and most popular ski resorts hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010 and boasts some 8,000 acres of pistes and 1,610m of vertical. Its ski area across two mountains - Whistler and Blackcomb - enjoys a long season from November to May and an impressive and reliable average snowfall.
Quebec and Quebec City
Quebec, the largest province in Canada, and its capital, Quebec City, are on the country's east coast, and play host to some of Canada's most beautiful countryside. Quebec City is one of the oldest settlements in North America, French-speaking and home to the Château Frontenac, a 19th century hotel that dominates the city's skyline. Quebec the province, of which Montreal is a part, has small, picturesque towns, ski resorts and moose.
For a capital city, Ottawa is a small charming city that is bike-friendly, peaceful, and a great base for exploring the Canadian wilderness on its doorstep in Ontario. Perched upon Parliament Hill are Ottawa's gothic government buildings, set against the slow-moving Ottawa River. Miles of late-Victorian brick houses dot neighborhoods. Canadian art and history are on display at museums throughout the city, including the impressive Canadian Museum of Civilization. Ottawa makes it easy to enjoy its beauty through outdoor pursuits.
The city is also blessed with a vibrant nightlife packed full of amazing entertainment. Canadian and international performances take the spotlight at the National Arts Centre, entertaining visitors with ballet, theatre and orchestral works.