A Full Travel Guide to Canada

In this Canada travel guide you will find fun facts, tips for traveling to Canada, things to know when traveling to Canada and more!

 

Group Travel to Canada with Road Scholar

Chosen as our Campus of the Year for 2020, Canada is one of our favorite countries to explore. Our experts at Road Scholar can help you navigate the vast landscapes and diverse cities that wind through all 13 provinces and territories in this Canada travel guide. From educational tours through Quebéc’s lively art and history scene to exploring the vast countryside by train, there are many adventures to be had in Canada. 

 

We hope this Canada travel guide answers all the questions you may have before you embark on your journey. Read on to discover our Canada travel tips and learn more about this intriguing destination.

Canada Fast Facts

  • Population: 37.59 million
  • Languages: English and French
  • Capital: Ottawa (population 994,837)
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Time Zone: UTC-3:30 (NF and southeastern LB), UTC-4 (most of LB and all of NB, NS, and PEI), UTC-5 (eastern NU, ON, QC), UTC-6 (MB, most of SK and NU), UTC-7 (AL, NT, western NU, SK, eastern BC), UTC-8 (BC, YT)
  • Size: 3.855 million square miles – the 2nd largest country in the world by total area
  • Major Cities: Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montréal, Québec City, Saskatoon, St. John, Yellowknife, Charlottetown, Whitehorse and Halifax

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Alberta
  • Population: 4.371 million 
  • Capital: Edmonton 
  • Time Zone: UTC-7 
  • Known for: The Rocky Mountains, fly fishing, hiking, unique wildlife and national parks 
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Edmonton, Calgary, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park and the Calgary Stampede

See our adventures

British Columbia
  • Population: 5.071 million
  • Capital: Victoria
  • Time Zone: UTC-7 (Eastern British Columbia), UTC-8 (Western British Columbia)
  • Known for: Scenic coast, bear and whale watching, hiking, kayaking and water sports
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Vancouver Island, Victoria, Whistler, Yoho National Park, Glacier National Park, Kootenay National Park, Haida Gwaii and Butchart Gardens

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Manitoba
  • Population: 1.369 million
  • Capital: Winnipeg
  • Time zone: UTC -6
  • Known for: Polar bears, northern lights, beluga whale watching, wildflowers and remote landscapes
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Winnipeg, Churchill, Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Canadian Fossil Discovery Center, Riding Mountain National Park, Pinawa Dam Provincial Park and Whiteshell Provincial Park

See our adventures

New Brunswick
  • Population: 776,827
  • Capital: Fredericton
  • Time zone: UTC -4
  • Known for: The Bay of Fundy, Acadian culture, maritime history and whale watching
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Saint John, Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy National Park, Roosevelt Campobello International Park,  Parlee Beach and Kouchibouguac National Park, Kingsbrae Garden and Kings Landing

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Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Population: 521,542
  • Capital: St. John’s
  • Time Zone: UTC -3:30
  • Known for: Remote and dramatic landscapes, welcoming people, fishing history, whale watching, puffins, fossils, iceberg viewing and hiking
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Gros Morne National Park, Terra Nova National Park, L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve and Twillingate and Fogo Island

See our adventures

Northwest Territories
  • Population: 44,826
  • Capital: Yellowknife
  • Time Zone: UTC -7
  • Known for: Gold mining history, remote landscapes, northern lights, kayaking, canoeing, bison, hot springs, midnight sun and First Nations culture
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Banks Island, Victoria Island, Nahanni National Park Reserve, Wood Buffalo National Park, Hay River and Great Bear Lake
Nova Scotia
  • Population: 971,395
  • Capital: Halifax
  • Time Zone: UTC -4
  • Known for: The Bay of Fundy, maritime history, fishing villages and seaside towns
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Halifax, Cabot Trail, Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park

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Nunavut
  • Population: 38,780
  • Capital: Iqaluit
  • Time Zone: UTC -6 and UTC -7
  • Known for: Northern lights, winter sports, little to no cars, remote landscapes, polar bears and arctic wildlife, birdwatching, midnight sun and Inuit culture
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Baffin Island, Ellesmere Island, Iqaluit, Repulse Bay,  Auyuittuq National Park, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Sirmilik National Park and Qaummaarviit Territorial Park
Ontario
  • Population: 14.57 million
  • Capital: Toronto
  • Time Zone: UTC -4 (eastern Ontario) and UTC -5 (western Ontario)
  • Known for: The Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, unique nature, theater and multicultural cities
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Toronto, Thousand Islands, Ottawa, Parliament Hill, Niagara Falls, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Fathom Five National Marine Park, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, National Gallery of Canada and Royal Ontario Museum

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Prince Edward Island
  • Population: 156,947
  • Capital: Charlottetown
  • Time Zone: UTC-4
  • Known for: Coastal drives, lighthouses, seafood, biking, red sand beaches and the home of Anne of Green Gables
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Charlottetown, Summerside, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI National Park, 6 Basin Head Provincial Park, Confederation Centre of the Arts and Confederation Trail

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Québec
  • Population: 8.485 million
  • Capital: Québec City
  • TIme Zone: UTC-5
  • Known for: Bilingual province, French culture and European-inspired architecture
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Montréal, Québec City, Place Royale, Le Château Frontenac, Forillon National Park, Chutes Montmorency, Canadian Museum of History, Mont Tremblant, Hudson Bay and Bonaventure Island

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Saskatchewan
  • Population: 1.174 million
  • Capital: Regina
  • Time Zone: UTC -5 & UTC -6
  • Known for: Northern lights, stargazing, amazing sunsets, kayaking, canoeing, sand dunes, prairies, purple sand beaches and First Nations culture
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert National Park, Grasslands National Park, Wanuskewin Heritage Park , RCMP Heritage Centre, Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Qu'Appelle Valley
Yukon
  • Population: 35,874
  • Capital: Whitehorse
  • TIme Zone: UTC -7
  • Known for: Gold mining history, northern lights, pristine wilderness, unique wildlife, glaciers, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, midnight sun and First Nations culture
  • Major Cities/Attractions: Dawson City, Chilkoot Trail, The Northern lights Space and Science Centre, Kluane Nationa Park, Ivvavik National Park, Tombstone Territorial Park, Miles Canyon, MacBride Museum, Emerald Lake and the Yukon River

See our adventures

“Going across Canada was a lifelong dream that was finally fulfilled! I met people from all over the world and was exposed to such a vast geography and wealth of information that I am still thinking about it daily, even a month after I arrived home. My favorite place was Jasper National Park – its beauty is remarkable!”

— Jerry from Ligonier, Pa. —

Weather in Canada

Like the United States, Canada’s climate depends on where you want to explore. Though cold weather is probably what comes to mind first, Canada actually has four very distinct seasons, and many of its major cities are in the southern region, away from the arctic north.

Western Weather: British Columbia

If you’re looking for a mild summer and winter, stick to the coast where the Pacific Ocean offers a nice breeze and snow is mostly replaced by rainfall. Toward the center of B.C. though, temperatures can be pretty compatible to many parts of the U.S., averaging 86-104°F in the summer and snowfall will be pretty regular from November to March. Spring and fall are beautiful all over this province though, bringing temperatures perfect for light sweaters.

Rocky Mountains Weather: Alberta and Eastern British Columbia

In the western part of the mountains it can be quite humid, but head inland and you’re welcomed by the refreshingly dry air. Winters can be quite cold in this region at around 30°F– though perfect for skiing! – and blizzards are a possibility. However, every so often when the wind changes, a warm and dry Chinook is gifted on the region, drastically raising the temperature and melting all the snow. In the summer, enjoy the mild temperatures around the low 70s, with cooler nights.

Great Plains Weather: Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Southern Northwest Territories

Prepare yourself for long, cold winters and shorter summers, though precipitation is at its lowest in this region. Pack a heavy jacket and face possible negative temperatures December-February, but be rewarded in the summer with temperatures in the 70s. Northern parts of Manitoba are met with arctic and subarctic temperatures, dropping as low as -20°F in the winter and averaging 65°F in the summer.

Northern Weather: Yukon, Nunavut, Northwest Territories

Sticking true to its reputation as the “Great White North,” these territories are met with arctic and subarctic temperatures, dropping as low as -20°F in the winter and averaging 65°F in the summer. Keep in mind that parts of the region fall in the “land of the midnight sun” where the sun shines 24 hours a day in the summer and not at all in the colder months.

East Coast Weather: Ontario, Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

The Canadian east coast provinces get an abundance of precipitation all year round but the Atlantic current also offers a nice breeze in the summer. Temperatures are around the 30s in the winter while averaging in the low 70s for the summer, with fog more common during the hotter months.

Best Time to Visit Canada

Here at Road Scholar, we agree that the best time to visit Canada is April-June and September-November where the weather is warmer and the crowds have lessened from that of peak season.

That being said, the best time to visit Canada is certainly subjective. If you don’t mind cold weather, the wintertime offers beautiful snow-filled landscapes and excellent offerings of winter sports. In winter, visitors will be able to ski the steep Chutes of British Columbia, ice skate the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, and witness the spectacular Northern Lights. 

In Springtime in Canada with milder temperatures and fun festivals throughout the country.  Feast your eyes on a sea of beautiful Tulips in Ottawa at the Canadian Tulip Festival. The Annapolis Apple Blossom Festival in Nova Scotia is not to be missed. And who doesn’t love to bear witness to the blooms of a cherry tree, which you can do in Vancouver at the Cherry Blossom Festival. What a spectacle of eye candy for those who appreciate nature in full bloom! 

If you are ready to forge ahead with the rest of the crowds in the summer months, there are beautiful sights to behold. In July, tap into your love of cowboy culture at the Calgary Stampede in July, and then listen to some of the best jazz in the world at the Festival de Jazz de Montreal (Montreal Jazz Festival in July) in Quebec. If you appreciate the great outdoors, summer is a great time to soak in all the open space and natural wonders Canada has to offer. 

The bright, colorful changing leaves of Autumn will leave you awe-inspired from September to December. From a luscious green, the foliage in Canada transforms to vivid yellows, oranges, and reds. A few of the popular events in the Autumn season are The Tremblant Symphony of Colors in Quebec, Kitchener/Waterloo Oktoberfest, the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival in St. Catherines, and the Celtics Colors International Festival in Nova Scotia.

A Guide to Canadian Culture

Canada was once a French colony, which was conquered by the British, and now the country has a dual colonial heritage that influences its culture today. Canadian culture is known to be multicultural and progressive, with influence from Great Britain, French, and America. British, French, and America. Canadian culture consists of indigenous people and immigrants from around the world that make the country a melting pot of arts, customs, and languages. 

Canadians enjoy publicly funded health care, gun control, programs to eradicate poverty, and equal rights through race and gender. Canada has two official languages, English and French, as well as 60 Aboriginal or Indigenous spoken languages 

A few things Canada is known for: maple syrup, ice hockey, Northern Lights, polar bears, Niagara Falls, and spectacular National Parks.

 

Bilingual Provinces

Though English will be spoken at almost any public place and major city as one of the official languages of Canada, New Brunswick and Manitoba have declared themselves bilingual English and French, and Québec has actually declared themselves unilingual, with its primary language being French. Canadian French does differ slightly from European French, with additional variations for Métis French and Acadian French, due to its English influences. In addition to French and English, there are also 12 Indigenous language groups in Canada.

Aboriginal People

From the prairies to the arctic, the Aboriginal people have communities across the country, with three major groups. The largest is the First Nations, who mainly reside in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories (making up just over a third of this territory). Explore the arctic region of Canada and you’ll find “Inuit Nunangat” – Inuit land that’s been inhabited for over 5,000 years. Similar to First Nations, harmony and interdependence with the natural world is an Inuit core value, and hunting is an important way of life. The last major group is the Métis Nation, who have mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, and consist of almost 600,000 people. Though these mixed marriages have been traced back through the centuries, the Métis people weren’t officially acknowledged until 1982 and fought for their recognition as full-rights Aboriginal people until it was granted in 2003.

Food & Drink

Each province has its own regional specialties but perhaps two of the most well-known Canadian foods are poutine and maple syrup. The former is Québecois invention consisting of fries topped with gravy and local cheese curds, though many restaurants have put their own spin on the classic. If you’re craving something sweeter, you’ll be pleased to know that Canada produces 71% of the world's pure maple syrup, 91% of which is produced in Québec. Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also love this sweet sap, which was introduced by the Aboriginal people to early Canadian settlers. Seafood from the coastal provinces is also world famous, especially lobster from New Brunswick (the town of Shediac, is the lobster capital of the world!), scallops from Nova Scotia and mussels from P.E.I.

Some might be surprised to discover that wine in Canada is award-winning and differs across the country. Ontario and British Columbia are the biggest wine producers, followed by Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec. Ice wine is the most famous, as Canada is the world’s leading ice wine producer, followed by white wine, though red wine production is slowly increasing around the country. In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where the climate isn’t great for grape wine, fruit wineries and meaderies are becoming more and more common.

A Guide to Canadian Festivals

Montréal Jazz Festival

One of the largest festivals in all of Canada, the Montréal International Jazz Festival features around 3,000 artists from all over the world on 20 different stages. The weeklong event draws millions of music lovers every year in late June, and many performances are available for free to the public. Popular artists that have performed have been Patricia Barber, Morcheeba, Steel Pulse, Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy, Colin James and Melody Gardot.

Shaw Festival

If you’re passionate about theater, the not-for-profit Shaw Festival should definitely be on your list. Run by the second largest repertory theater company in North America, the Shaw Festival features 14 plays on three different stages, all set in the stunning Niagara wine country in Ontario. Unlike a typical festival that happens annually for a week or weekend, this festival lasts from April to December, with plenty of play options to choose from.

The Calgary Stampede

Experience the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” in Alberta where Canadian cowboys and cowgirls show off their skills at the world’s largest rodeo. This 10-day event in July features bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and more. Although this festival’s main focus is to teach western culture, as well as First Nations traditions, it also features a music festival with 300 performers on five stages, a parade and grand fireworks display.

The Toronto International Film Festival

With around 500,000 people attending every year, the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world. Every September, roughly 400 films are showcased on about 30 screens, including many future Academy Award-winners such as "The King’s Speech," "12 Years a Slave" and "Green Book."

“Exploring the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the fall with amazing colors and cool weather, experiencing the popular ‘tourist sites’ without the crowds, tasting the most delicious Canadian offerings and being led by an outstanding, compassionate leader who knows about all things Canadian – you owe it to yourself to discover the Canadian Maritimes with Road Scholar! I can't imagine finishing life without a serious visit to our great neighbors to the north.”

— Marstin from San Anselmo, Calif. —

Canadian History

Though inhabited by Aboriginal peoples for centuries, the first European explorer who touched Canadian soil was John Cabot in 1497, followed shortly after by Jacques Cartier, who claimed the east coast for France. Soon, Britain also sailed toward this new land, claiming part of the present-day Canadian Maritimes and pushing the indigenous tribes out of the region along with the other European explorers. After several battles over land ownership between the French and British, Canada was officially born in 1867 and consisted of just three provinces, though the next 30 years would bring seven new provinces and territories to this land. 1946 and 1999 would complete what is now modern-day Canada with the addition of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut, respectively.

A brief timeline of Canada’s history

14,000 BCE
The first known inhabitants of Canada are the Paleo-Indians, who moved across the Beringia land bridge from eastern Siberia into Yukon

1534
Jacques Cartier claims the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for France.

1583
Newfoundland becomes England’s first overseas colony.

1756
The Seven Year’s War begins between the French and British Canadian colonies, and ends with Britain claiming Québec..

1867
The British North America Act united Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as the Dominion of Canada.

1870-1880
Manitoba enters the Dominion of Canada, followed by British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories.

1898
With the popularity of the gold rush, Yukon is separated from the Northwest Territories.

1905
Alberta and Saskatchewan become provinces in Canada.

1949
Newfoundland becomes the next province to be a part of Canada.

1982
Great Britain transfers all legal powers to Canada, granting it complete independence.

1999
Nunavut is the last territory or province to become a part of Canada, completing what is now the modern country.

What to Expect When Traveling to Canada

 

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Documentation for Adults

A passport is required for entry into Canada from any other country, as well as a valid visa if you’re traveling from a country that requires it (the U.S. does not require a visa). You will also need to present your passport (and visa, if required) when exiting Canada.

Documentation for Children Under 16

If possible, it’s best to also bring along your children’s passport when traveling to and from Canada to ensure you’re complying with all of the country’s travel rules. However, if they do not have one, you may be in luck. Whereas adults have to prove that they’re a U.S. citizen and their identity, children under 16 only have to prove they’re a citizen to enter Canada, and just presenting their birth certificate will suffice. However, if you are flying back to the U.S. from British Columbia or Newfoundland, your child will need to present a passport to get back into the U.S., or will need a passport card if they’re driving back into the U.S. from these two provinces. It’s also recommended that if the child is only traveling with one parent, that the accompanying parent has a letter of authorization from the other parent to take the child on a trip out of the country.

Transportation

Certain major Canadian cities have public transportation, but your best bet for exploring the cities is by walking, taking a cab or using ride sharing service. However, if you’re looking to explore more of Canada, we recommend renting a car, driving from the U.S, flying domestically or riding a bus, ferry or train. If you plan on covering a large distance, VIA Rail Canada offers a rail pass that allows you to travel throughout all of Canada for one price, though taking a domestic flight is usually the most common mode of transportation for such vast distances. If you’re looking to cover just one province or region, buses are the most common way to get around (particularly Greyhound), though driving a car is also very convenient. In coastal cities, ferries are sometimes the only way to hop to the secluded islands, and the major islands should have road access.

If you’re visiting Canada with Road Scholar, you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to be traveling in Canada. We’ll take care of all the arrangements for you, leaving you with more time to explore and learn!

Money

American Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards in Canada, though you should check with your bank regarding foreign transaction fees. The U.S. Dollar may be accepted in most hotels, popular sites and major retailers in cities; however, it’s a good idea to bring Canadian Dollars to spend at smaller stores and in rural communities. Luckily, ATMs can be found in most hotels, malls, convenience stores, restaurants and bars, but you should check with your bank regarding possible fees and you should expect a withdrawal fee from the ATM. Bonus tip: Ride share service prices will show up in Canadian Dollars, which is good to keep in mind while budgeting.

 

“We ventured to Manitoba to see the Northern Lights, which we did – it was a grand display and we watched it for hours. However Manitoba is so much more, from visiting the museums in Winnipeg to the staying at the research facility in Churchill. The lecturers were excellent: the information on the aurora borealis, how to photograph it, local cultural history and learning the current situation of the indigenous peoples were all bonuses!”

— Marilyn from Rockville, Maryland —

Where to Stay in Canada

From historic hotels to beachside resorts, there are a variety of options when it comes to staying in Canada. Enjoy sleeping close to nature in a national park lodge, or camp under the stars in one of the country’s many Dark Sky Reserves. Or, take a step back in time at some of Canada’s most historic hotels like Le Château Frontenac in Québec City and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. If you want to live like a local, you may enjoy booking your accommodations ahead of time with sites like Airbnb.

Canada Travel Tips

If you’re planning a trip to Canada, here are a few things to do before going to Canada and tips to make the most out of your visit.

Brush up on your French

Although English is widely known even in the bilingual provinces, a “bonjour” or “merci” is always appreciated. In addition to brushing up before traveling, there are a number of handy apps that are free to download on your phone that can help translate back and forth between English and dozens of other languages, including Google Translate for both Apple and Android devices.

Useful French Phrases

  • Hello; Good day — Bonjour
  • Good evening — Bonsoir
  • Goodbye — Au revoir
  • My Name is Marie. — Je m’appelle Marie.
  • How are you? — Ça va?
  • I’m fine, thank you. — Bien, merci.
  • Yes/No — Oui/Non
  • Excuse me. — Pardon, excusez-moi.
  • Do you speak English? — Parlez vous anglais?
  • I don’t speak French. — Je ne parle pas français.
  • I don’t understand. — Je ne comprends pas.
  • Where is...? — Où est...?  — 
  • Where are the bathrooms? — Où sont les toilettes?
  • How much does it cost? — C’est combien?
  • Can you help me? — Pouvez-vous m'aider?
  • Please  —S'il vous plaît
  • Thank you. — Merci.
  • You’re welcome. — Je vous en prie.
  • I’m sorry. — Je suis désolé.
  • Check, please. — La facture, s'il vous plaît.

What to Pack for Canada

  • Cash (to exchange for local Canadian Dollars)
  • Passport
  • Credit card (Visa and MasterCard preferred)
  • Comfortable walking shoes and sandals/flip flops
  • Full med-kit (some comfort items may not be easy to find)
  • U.S driver’s license (if you’re intending to drive)
  • Medical insurance card
  • Thermal underwear (if traveling in the winter)
  • Outlet Adapter (if traveling to Canada from somewhere other than the U.S.)

Don’t Forget Souvenirs

If you’re going to be in Canada for less than 48 hours, you can bring back $200 worth of goods duty free, and that amount will go up to $800 if you’re staying for longer than that. Planning on taking home some delicious ice wine? You’re in luck, because the U.S. allows you to bring back 1 liter of alcohol duty free from Canada, and you can also bring back 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars (provided they’re not from Cuba). Items that prohibited from bringing into the U.S. are: Fruits, vegetables, plants, cut flowers, meat and animal products.



“British Columbia surpassed my expectations. You can't guarantee that wildlife will appear when you want, however, the wildlife we saw apparently didn't get that message! Bears, orcas, humpbacks, porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, eagles, great blue herons all appeared as if on call.”

— Barbara from Weimar, Calif. —

Best Places to Visit in Canada

Still wondering where to go in Canada? Here are a few of the best cities, national parks and places to visit.

Niagara Falls

Straddling the New York and Ontario border, this iconic waterfall group is a must-see. The largest of the three falls is the 167-foot-tall Horseshoe Falls, or the Canadian Falls, which has the most powerful waterfall flow rate in North America. You can explore all three falls from above at beautiful lookout points or you can study them from below during fascinating boat rides in the Niagara Gorge. If you’re looking to unwind after an exciting day at the falls, the area is actually home to quite a few wine tours that make for perfect way to round out your adventure.

Bay of Fundy

Two of the smallest Canadian provinces, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are home to one of Canada’s greatest phenomena: the Bay of Fundy. As 50 feet of water swell in and out of the coastline twice a day, entire landmasses are exposed, not to mention the little critters that live on the ocean floor. Discover the most powerful tides in the world during high tide at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick, where the incredible tides rise, making the 40-70 foot sandstone structures look like small rocks dotting the ocean. Then return at low tide to see these massive structures fully exposed, putting into extraordinary context the impact of the Bay of Fundy.

Banff National Park

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful places Canada has to offer. Glacier-fed lakes tint the water a crystal blue, snow-peaked mountains blend with the coniferous forests that cling to cliffs and hikers, bikers and kayakers alike can be seen enjoying this natural paradise. Keep an eye out for the moose, elk, bighorn sheep and bison that roam Banff’s acres of verdant landscapes or walk through the small town to get a taste of local culture. We recommend exploring the breathtaking ice fields in Canada’s first national park, and then make your way to its neighbor, Jasper National Park, for a nature-filled weekend in Canada’s most picturesque landscapes.

Québec City

A beautiful blend of Canadian and French culture, Québec City is a melting pot unlike any other. With its Old Town deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the distinction of being the only fortified city north of Mexico and 18th-century architecture around nearly every corner, Québec City is more like a living museum than a capital. Brush up on your French while exploring the galleries, bistros and bookstores of this bilingual city, and immerse yourself in the 400 years of history that lies around every cobbled corner.

Vancouver

Head over to the West Coast to explore the treasures of Vancouver, the capital of British Columbia. Edgy yet historic, artistic yet refined, Vancouver is a city full of distinct flavors in every one of its unique neighborhoods from Gastown to Yaletown. Surrounded by water that breathes vibrant life into the city, Vancouver is filled with gardens and green spaces, including one of the world’s largest at Stanley Park. Hop on a bike like the locals to explore the massive murals and Art-Deco architecture or stop in a captivating restaurant in this world-famous food city. However you choose to explore, you’re sure to be met with open arms as the locals show you the true meaning of Canadian hospitality.

Top Things to Do in Canada

If you’re looking for a quick sightseeing guide, here are a few of our favorite “must-do” activities in Canada.

  • Head to Manitoba to search for the northern lights as they dance beautiful greens and yellows across the sky in Churchill.
  • From the waterfalls of Waterton Lakes National Park to birdwatching in Point Pelee National Park, each one of Canada’s 48 parks is begging to be explored.
  • Kayaking, rafting and canoeing are great ways to get a different perspective of Canada from its glacier-fed lakes and mighty rivers.
  • Put your best foot forward on hikes throughout Canada’s mountain ranges and boreal forests. We recommend starting at the Canadian Rockies or making your way to Gros Morne National Park.
  • Did you know 60% of the world’s polar bear population lives in Canada? Get up close to these beautiful creatures in Manitoba’s Hudson Bay with expert conservationists.
  • Keep an eye out for arctic fox, moose, humpback whales and more unique wildlife that call Canada home as you learn why each animal is drawn to each region.
  • Though many places shut down for the winter, Canada thrives! Take advantage of the colder weather and mountain landscapes while skiing, curling, snow shoeing, dog sledding, snowboarding and playing hockey.



“Newfoundland has icebergs, snow-capped peaks, scenic bays, miles of green forest, fog-shrouded valleys, and more and more. But even more, Newfoundlanders possess a greeting spirit unlike virtually any we have seen. They listen not just to be polite but because they want to hear what you say. They welcome you because they love their land and they want you to love it too.”

— Russell from Normal Ill. —

Read Up Before You Go

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