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 unique destinations. The country hosts an incredible array of landscapes no matter where you travel. Here’s a look at our top ten favorite places to visit across the country.
The Best Cities to Explore in Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, and Vancouver Island, are along the west coast of Canada. The city of Vancouver offers a substantial big-city experience, and it is consistently ranked one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. The city's guests and residents enjoy the variety of local cultures and abundance of parks here, especially the 1,000-acre Stanley Park. The First Nations Totem Poles in Stanley Park are one of the top sites in the area. Other areas of interest include the city's vibrant and thriving Chinatown, Vancouver Marine Science Center, The University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, and an aerial tram ride up the side of Grouse Mountain.
Vancouver enjoys a relatively mild climate year-round, and 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. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave time to trek across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, perched a whopping 230 feet above the Capilano River.
Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and the 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 Canada's cultural capital, especially in Francophone Canada.
In 2017 Montreal 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. Montreal hosts many world-renowned art and music festivals throughout the year, 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.
Arguably one of the world’s most multiculturally diverse cities, Toronto is known to locals as "The 6ix" for the first official area code, 416. Canada’s hipster enclave, and largest city, is about unique neighborhoods, fusion food, fascinating museums, vintage shopping, and a healthy obsession with hockey. The city’s icon, the CN Tower, its 1814-foot spire dominates the landscape at the center of it all.
For a taste of Toronto's local food scene, head to Kensington Market, undoubtedly the most diverse of all the city’s neighborhoods, where the idea of fusion food is taken to all new heights. Or explore the Queen West neighbourhood’s impressive collection of art galleries and design studios.
Ottawa is full of local icons: The Rideau Canal, Sussex Drive, the Royal Canadian Mint, the National Art Gallery, the Supreme Court of Canada, the War Memorial, the National Art Center, the War Museum and National Archives and Library, and the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica - the oldest church in Ottawa. Visitors to the city can even stop outside the homes of the Canadian Prime Minister and Governor-General (Be sure to wave hello!).
Explore Ottawa's vibrant food scene in its neighborhood food markets. Discover local produce and dishes, and introduce yourself to the area's friendly chefs and food artisans at Byward Market.
Or, experience culture with an authentic Pow-wow dance performance with music by First Nations members at the Museum of History. Take a fascinating interactive beading workshop to learn about the Storyboot Project, a partnership between Manitoba Mukluks and our TreadRight Foundation—a fun and feel-good way to support the revival of these traditional arts.
Victoria, British Columbia
Embrace the Garden City status of Victoria and spend as much time as you can at the world-renowned Butchart Gardens, a beautiful National Historic Site of Canada featuring groups of floral displays. Butchart Gardens include a 55-acre showcase of gorgeous floral gardens that have colorfully transformed a once unused quarry.
If you have the chance, take the time to venture out on a whale-watching expedition in the waters off Victoria. While it can’t be guaranteed in advance which of the abundant marine wildlife you’ll see on your journey, chances are you’ll spot magnificent bald eagles, porpoises, or seals. Spring and summer are the best times of the year to see a number of different species of whales including Bigg’s killer whales (orca), humpback whales, South Resident orca, Minke, and gray whales.
Our Top Canada Vacations
Glorious views, beautiful scenery, warm hospitality, and outstanding activities ensure a sensational trip to one of the world's most beautiful corners.
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 worldwide 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. Visitors can see Toronto from the tower’s observation deck on clear days.
Maligne Lake & Spirit Island, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Amid the aqua waters of Maligne Lake, you'll find Spirit Island. The island, a spiritual place for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, is not actually an island most of the time. Spirit Island becomes a true island for a few weeks in the spring when the lake's water levels rise with heavy rain and melting snow runoff. For most of the year, it's a tiny grove of trees set in pristine nature, separated from the mainland by an isthmus. Should weather permit, don't miss a chance to cruise out to the island and take a picture. Spirit Island is famously photogenic and is, in fact, one of the most photographed places in Canada.
Maligne Canyon is a breathtaking place to see waterfalls rushing out of limestone walls. The canyon measures more than 150 feet in depth in some places and follows the Maligne River. Embark on a leisurely walk admiring the sheer limestone cliffs of Maligne Canyon. Or indulge in a delicious meal surrounded by a ring of mountains at the Lake Maligne Chalet, a rustic log building situated on a rise of land offering magnificent views of beautiful Maligne Lake.
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 North America. Take a guided tour to hike out onto the ice, enjoy a breath-taking walk out on the glass “Glacier Skywalk,” and look down at the glacier from 800 feet above.
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta
At 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 lake's natural dam, or the challenging Perren Route, which takes the adventurous hiker to the Neil Colgan Hut - the highest permanent, habitable structure in Canada.
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 the nearby Bow River.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Just a short 78-mile drive from Vancouver, Whistler's ski resort village beckons those who seek adventure on the slopes in the winter and mountain biking experiences in the summer. 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.
Whistler has an average annual snowfall of 40 feet and runs for all experience levels, so every skier can enjoy the mountain resort. Still, the pristine slopes of Blackcomb Mountain attract thrill-seekers year-round. 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.
Tours that go to Niagara Falls, Jasper, Banff, or Whistler
Explore Canada's outdoor treasures, get up close to the world’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls, take in the majestic Rockies, witness Alberta’s breath-taking wilderness, and discover the natural wonders of Banff and Jasper National Park.
Learn the art of living the good life and you brace yourself for crisp sea breezes and hearty Nova Scotian hospitality in Halifax. Make sure to pay a visit to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. From small craft boatbuilding to World War Convoys, the Days of Sail to the Age of Steam, the Titanic to the Halifax Explosion, you’ll discover the stories, events, and people that have come to define Nova Scotia and its relationship with the sea. Go on an exploration of Halifax's sights including the Citadel National Historic Site, built in the mid-18th century to defend the town from various enemies.
Traverse The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
Enjoy the dramatic coastal views and highland scenery, offering an endless source of artistic inspiration as you wind through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Unspoiled natural beauty and sweeping coastal vistas provide a mesmerizing backdrop for driving along the Cabot Trail. Keep an eye out for moose and bald eagles as you travel in search of whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia
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, seafood, and farm-to-table, and admire the beautiful pastures overlooking the red rock shoreline.
Prince Edward Island is also home to quaint Charlottetown. The little city is a nautical dream, with colorful fishermen’s cottages and picturesque harbor. The city is also known for hosting the famous Anne of Green Gables musical every year.
Shediac Bay & Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Travel to New Brunswick, crossing the Northumberland Strait via the engineering feat that is Confederation Bridge. Head to the waters of Shediac Bay to celebrate all things lobster. Get a closer look at Acadian culture while diving into the lobster industry, learning about old fishing techniques that helped shape the region's way of life. Make sure to savor a delicious lunch of lobster served local style before you journey south to the Bay of Fundy in search of the world’s highest tides.
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. Bras d’Or dominates much of the island's interior, one of the world's largest saltwater lakes.
On Cape Breton, you’ll be awed by rocky shores, glacial valleys, mountains, woods, and plateaus. At 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.
Canadian Maritime Vacations
Enjoy a hearty mix of sea breezes and cultural charms traveling through the quintessential maritime destinations of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and more on these effortless vacations.
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