Canada hosts an incredible array of landscapes no matter where you travel. Here’s a look at our top ten favorite spots across the country…
From the dramatic sea cliffs of Newfoundland and Labrador on the east coast, the charming alleyways of Montreal, to the snow-capped mountains of British Columbia, Canada has no shortage of amazing destinations.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island are along the west coast of Canada. The city offers a great big city experience and Vancouver is consistently ranked in the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. Vancouver enjoys a relatively mild climate year round. Rainy winters turn into gorgeous mild summers with a multitude of clear, sunny days. Colloquially referred to as “Gastown,” the city is known for being an active arts and music hub in British Columbia and boasts an impressive list of concerts and events each year. Guests enjoy the abundance of parks here, especially the 1,000-acre Stanley Park and the famed Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Other areas of interest include Vancouver Marine Science Center, The University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, and an aerial tram ride up the side of Grouse Mountain. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave time to trek across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, perched a whopping 230 feet above the Capilano River.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Just a short 78-mile drive from Vancouver, this ski resort village beckons to those who seek adventure on the slopes in the winter and an intense mountain biking experience in the summer. The pristine slopes of Blackcomb Mountain attract thrill-seekers year round. With more than 200 trails crossing over 8,100 acres, this ski resort boasts one of the longest ski seasons in North America and is consistently ranked the No. 1 Mountain Resort. With an average annual snowfall of 40 feet and runs for all experience levels, every skier can enjoy the mountain. In addition to skiing, you’ll find opportunities to ice skate and snow tube, plus the chance to try dog sledding and zip lining! Make sure you ride the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola too; it crosses the three miles between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and offers incredible views year round.
Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Found in Jasper National Park, Maligne Canyon is a breathtaking place to see waterfalls rushing out of limestone walls. In some places, the canyon measures more than 150 feet in depth and follows the Maligne River from Medicine Lake. Lace up your hiking boots and follow the beautiful river trail for the best views of the canyon. The hike takes about three hours round-trip and along the way, you’ll see unique green shades of the glacier-fed river water. Stop for photo opportunities one the bridges and lookout vistas along the trail for a closer look into the limestone walls. Those brave enough to hike Jasper in the winter will find the river frozen over, and have the option to experience a guided ice walk along the canyon.
Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Alberta
One of the six toes of the Columbia Icefield, this glacier is a rapidly disappearing part of the Canadian Rockies ice. The icefield stretches across the continental divide, between British Columbia and Alberta. Athabasca Glacier is about three and a half miles long and ranges from 300 to 900 feet thick; it covers an area of roughly 2.3 square miles. It is one of the most accessible parts of the icefield and the most visited glacier in all of North America. Take a guided tour to hike out onto the ice, or enjoy a breath-taking walk out on the glass “Glacier Skywalk” and look down at the glacier from 800 feet above.
Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
Named for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Lake Louise is a uniquely emerald colored lake found in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fed by Victoria Glacier, this small lake covers just a quarter mile of the total surface area and drains into nearby Bow River. Perched on the lakeshore is Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a 100-year-old luxury mountain resort, which serves as an ideal base for visitors to explore hiking trails in the area, as well as rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing. Day trip options include trails to Saddleback Pass, Fairview Mountain, Mirror Lake, Lake Agnes, Devil’s Thumb, Mount Whyte, and Mount Niblock. In the winter the area is a hot spot for ice fishing, ice skating, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta
Also in the borders of Banff National Park, you will find picturesque Moraine Lake. Perfectly framed by snow-capped mountains and soaring evergreens, this lake sits in the Valley of Ten Peaks. Another glacier-fed lake, the turquoise color of Moraine Lake intensifies throughout the summer months as the glaciers melt. Explore the surrounding area on foot or rent a kayak and take to the water. Popular hikes include the short Rockpile Trail, which leads up to the natural dam of the lake, or the challenging Perren Route, which takes the adventurous hiker to the Neil Colgan Hut- the highest permanent, habitable structure in Canada.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
No trip to Ontario would be complete without a stop at iconic Niagara Falls. Situated on the border between Canada and USA, “Niagara Falls” is the collective name for three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Together these three falls combine to form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and showcase an impressive 160-foot drop. Niagara Falls attracts more than 30 million visitors annually and is one of the top tourist destinations for both countries. In the summer, the falls are illuminated in the evening hours, and boat tours go to the base of the falls during the day. “The Maid of the Mist,” the oldest and best-known boat, has been taking tourists into the spray since 1846. Viewing Niagara Falls from the Canadian side offers guests a unique perspective, as tunnels give the illusion of walking through the water. Above the falls are the manicured gardens of Queen Victoria Park and Skylon Tower. On clear days, visitors can see Toronto from the tower’s observation deck.
Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and second-largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Set on an island in the St Lawrence River, the city is noted for historical significance and commerce and has earned a UNESCO “City of Design” designation. Founded by French colonists in 1642, the early settlement was a major fur-trading outpost. Today the city contains all manner of architectural styles and is considered the cultural capital of Canada, especially of Francophone Canada. In 2017 the city was named the best city in the world to study abroad; there are 11 universities within the city and the highest number of university students per capita in North America. Throughout the year, Montreal hosts many world-renowned art and music festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Montreal World Film Festival. Other must-see sites in the city include the Montreal Botanical Gardens, Old Montreal, the Jean-Talon Market, the Montreal Bio-dome and the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.
Prince Edward Island
It may be the little but this maritime province wants for nothing when it comes to picturesque views, quaint towns, and gastronomic perfection. With fewer than 150, 000 permanent residents and no actual land boundary, the island is Canada’s smallest province in both landmass and population. Conversely, however, it is the country’s most densely populated province. Enjoy the island’s excellent culinary traditions, both seafood, and farm-to-table, and admire the beautiful pastures overlooking red rock shoreline. Cycle along part of the 470-kilometer Confederation Trail or relax in Victoria Park in Charlottetown.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Known for its Celtic cultural roots and excellent wildlife view opportunities, Cape Breton is a larger island in Nova Scotia lying just off the mainland. One of world’s largest saltwater lakes, Bras d’Or, dominates much of interior of the island. Elsewhere on Cape Breton, you’ll be awed by rocky shores, glacial valleys, mountains, woods, and plateaus. In the northern end of the island, Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers abundant hiking trails with sweeping ocean vistas and chances to spot bobcats, lynx, bald eagles, bears, otters, and coyotes. Cast your eyes oceanward, and you might catch a glimpse of multiple species of whales including humpback, fin, minke, sei, and pilot.
Have you visited our great northern neighbor? Share your favorite Canadian experiences in the comments below or check out our guided vacations to Canada.