- Location: North America.
- Capital: Ottawa
- Currency: Canadian Dollar
- Language: English and French
- Best time to Visit: April to September
- Time Zone: (UTC-3.5 to -8)
- Calling Code: 1
- Major Airports: Pearson International Airport
Looking for a relaxing journey into North America’s vast untouched wilderness? In search of vibrant cities filled with cultures of all kinds? There are plenty of places to visit in Canada that will give you both! The world’s second largest country by land mass is a treasure trove for nature lovers and cosmopolitan city dwellers alike, featuring some of the most diverse experiences you could hope for when selecting a spot for your next getaway. That said, with so much to choose from, how can you possibly know where to go? Here are eight destinations you won’t want to miss, whether you are wanting to dive into a major metropolitan area or curl up with Mother Nature:
Of all the cities in French Canada, this one seems to have grown up with Paris in mind. Historic buildings are woven in among the skyscrapers and designer shops, creating a contrast between old and new that is both striking and curious at the same time. Begin your trip with a scenic walk on the hill overlooking the city, then journey downtown to experience the pulsing nightlife and excellent cuisine. If you get the chance, get a table at a restaurant on the port just before dusk – the orange sun falling behind the horizon casts a wondrous purple-red glow over the world’s second largest French-speaking city.
Quite possibly the country’s most diverse city, you will find a lot to love about the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains, it maintains a small-town feel despite its size. There are dozens of quaint restaurants and charming shops in the downtown area, as well as dozens of art galleries to draw you in. If you’re looking for a trip to the theater, the annual “Bard on the Beach” festival brings Shakespeare to the masses every summer.
No matter if you want to get out for a ski or just see if you can get your eyes on some of the country’s largest wildlife, this remarkable mountain town must be on your itinerary. Hike up nearby peaks to get a sight of elk, mountain goats, or other local fauna, then schedule a soak in the outdoor hot springs to soothe your muscles. Even a leisurely stroll can be quite fruitful: the Bow and Spray Rivers bend majestically through the Canadian Rockies on the edge of town.
Though the question is certainly up for debate, the capital of Quebec may be the most European city in the New World. Still surrounded by fortifications built to defend it from the British, Old Quebec City retains the same picturesque stateliness as when it was built by the French five centuries ago. Architecture buffs will want to stop at the famous Chateaux Frontenac, a former fort that has been converted into a luxury hotel with sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River.
Isolated in Banff National Park in southwestern Alberta, you will find this the ideal spot for a romantic getaway on the edge of one of Canada’s best natural wonders. Dense evergreen forests blanket the jagged peaks that rise all around, providing a magnificent backdrop for long day hiking or an afternoon by the fire in the exquisite chateau on the banks of its icy blue waters. Come ready to take photos – one view is better than the next!
A large number of Canadians call this modern city home – and with good reason! Known to many as the unofficial party capital, it is filled with tremendous restaurants and an outstanding live music scene. The CN Tower stretches high into the sky, allowing amazing views of the growing metropolis as its amber glow spreads across the countryside when day turns into night. Plus, it’s just a two-hour drive from Niagara Falls, meaning you can feast your eyes on natural and manmade wonders in the same day.
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
The rugged terrain along this 185-mile path provides visitors the opportunity to skirt along one of the world’s most stunning coastlines. Weave along the narrow two-lane highway, hugging the curves of this verdant mountain landscape that dives into the frigid ocean below. Some of Canada’s most pastoral landscape, the route is lined with small, welcoming communities that are ideal for a romantic weekend away from the pressures of modern life.
Visiting a tiny town in an icy section of already-cold Canada might seem like an odd idea, but the Polar Bear Capital of the World is well worth it. Nestled on the shores of Hudson Bay, a trip out onto the waters will likely give you an up-close-and-personal encounter with a sleek beluga whale. And, if you are willing to brave the biting winter air, it is one of the best places on the planet to view the Aurora Borealis – the spectacular Northern Lights dance brightly over the snowy meadows from late November to early March.