Are you currently planning a trip to Canada? If so, you don't want to miss out on our ultimate list of all the best places to visit in Canada!
Canada is a one-of-a-kind place to visit. It is both the largest country in North America and the second largest in the world. For tourists, Canada has quite a diverse range of attractions to offer. From massive cities steeped in unique Canadian culture to the many National Parks and the unforgiving subarctic region beyond. A significant number of the best places to visit in Canada consist of wilderness and other recreational facilities including everything from beach clubs to ski resorts.
1. The Butchart Gardens
A National Historic Site of Canada, the Butchart Gardens is privately owned and operated by the Butchart family for over a century. In the early 20th century, Jennie Butchart convinced her husband to transform their limestone quarry into the Sunken Garden it is today. Additional gardens maintained by the family include the Italian, Japanese, and Rose Gardens. The Gardens include a “Concert Lawn” for live entertainment in the warmer months of the year. There is even a Saturday night fireworks show for ten weeks out of the summer. However, the Gardens are open all year-round, so you can visit anytime you like!
One of the most notable cities in Canada is Calgary, Alberta. It is the largest city in the region and also is home to the largest history museum in Canada depicting life from the mid-1800’s through the mid-1900’s. Each year thousands of tourists are drawn to Calgary for ten days for the world-famous Calgary Stampede. It is the most massive rodeo event in the world, known as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Whether you’re into the rodeo or not, Calgary is also home to regal nature including the Rocky Mountains, National Parks, and even a Historical Heritage Village. For history buffs, few cities in Canada have so much to offer.
3. Victoria and Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is one of the best places to visit in Canada off the west coast of the country and the US’s Washington State. The land is accessible by ferry and by boat from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington or from the Canadian mainland. The island houses the above mentioned Butchart Gardens, Tofino, the surf town, and of course the majestic city of Victoria. Whales, elephant seals, and other aquatic life reside around the city and its harbor. You will even see a horse-drawn carriage or two. For nature lovers, the Wild Pacific Trail is one of the most rewarding day trips you can make while visiting Vancouver Island. If you have a camera, you will want to bring it along. The trail offers once in a lifetime views of the Pacific Ocean to the south and west of Canada. It also presents stunning photo opportunities of the Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands to the east.
Another famous Canadian city well-worth a visit is Toronto, Canada’s largest and arguably most colorful cities. Perhaps the most cosmopolitan area in the country, there are nearly 150 languages in use in Toronto. Statistically, Toronto is the most multi-culturally infused city on Earth. Today, trendy industrial areas and edgy urban neighborhoods are popping up left and right in the city. Toronto is also a popular attraction for major events such as concerts, seminars, and the internationally recognized Toronto International Film Festival. The CN Tower, a regional landmark, with its 360 restaurants and its glass walkway, also finds its home in Toronto.
5. Old Town Montreal
If historic cities in North America are on your list of places to visit, you’ll not want to miss the old city of Montreal. Second in size only to Toronto, Montreal is the capital of Quebec and one of the best places to visit in Canada. It is also the biggest French-speaking city outside of Paris. The city houses theme parks, water parks, hotels, resorts, and all the shopping outlets the Kardashian in you can imagine. The best part of Montreal, to lovers of all things historical, however, is Old Town. A part of Montreal that is home to museums, cafes, restaurants, historic buildings, and other significant landmarks. In Old Town Montreal, you’re also just as liable to pass a bicyclist as you are a newlywed couple on their way to their honeymoon sweet via horse and carriage.
6. Niagara Falls
Number six on our list is perhaps the most well-known waterfall on planet Earth, Niagara Falls. Straddling the border between Canada and the United States, you can access the falls from either country. Stand in awe and wonder at the power of nature as thousands upon thousands of gallons of water spill from above. The falls are a great photo-opportunity for friends, family, and solo adventurers. Even if you don’t get the chance to take a helicopter flight over them or view them from the deck of a boat, they are highly enjoyable. Niagara Falls is just an all-around fun place to visit.
7. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains
For those who enjoy skiing, and extreme sports such as snowboarding and mountain climbing, it doesn’t get much better than Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain. These mountains are home to the world famous alpine ski resort, Whistler, one of the very best places to visit in Canada. Nestled into the Coastal Mountains of western Canada this resort is within two hours from Vancouver. Even the road to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains undoubtedly offers some of the most beautiful scenic views of Canada. Once you arrive in the mountains, there are three local villages and gondola transports for easy access to the slopes above. For the extreme outdoors type, Whistler is the resort you want to experience.
8. Banff National Park
The first National Park featured on our list is the Banff National Park. Situated in Alberta, it is the first national park of all Canada as well as the largest and most visited by tourists. A truly scenic park, Canadian wildlife such as grizzlies, bald eagles, bison, black bears, bighorn sheep, moose, and wolves call Banff National Park home. The park is also home to picturesque Lake Louise, one of the most breathtaking bodies of water in the country. Kayaking, fishing, snowboarding, and skiing are among the most popular in the region. Lake Louise has a ski resort in Banff as well. The Victoria Glacier and mountains are visible just beyond the park.
9. Athabasca Glacier
Credit: Jack Borno
Speaking of Banff National Park, Athabasca Glacier is only a day trip away. For those who are into capturing stunning one-of-a-kind photos, you will be hard pressed to create better photo-opportunities than those found among the glacial remnants of the ice age. Athabasca Glacier is accessible via a full-day tour that departs directly from Banff National Park. On the tour, you will enjoy not only Athabasca, but Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and the Columbia Ice fields as well. The tour also includes an all-terrain mini-expedition, a glacier sky-walk, a mountain picnic, and transportation to and from Banff.
10. Prince Edward Island
For those who’re seeking the more relaxing side of Canada, in comparison to its extreme sports and adventure type destinations, Prince Edward Island is an excellent choice. One of the best places to visit in Canada for seaside wildlife and nature is Prince Edward Island. The island is home to beautiful beaches, rolling hills, numerous golf courses, and unique wildlife such as the local harp seals. There is also no shortage of lovely seafood restaurants and fine dining spots.
Credit: The Royal Winnipeg Ballet / Facebook
Another culturally rich Canadian city is Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of Manitoba. Winnipeg may not be quite as versatile as Toronto. However, over 100 languages are alive in the city. Known for its local art scene, Winnipeg is often referred to as the “cultural cradle of Canada.” No doubt a strong-hold of artistic talent, Winnipeg attracts major entertainers in the music industry as well as being home to several annual celebrations including festivals, art shows, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as well.
Second, only to Old Town Montreal, the Old Quebec City is among the cultural heritage sites any history lover should visit while in Canada. Old Quebec consists of two main parts, Upper Town and Lower Town. Upper Town consists of buildings from the 1800’s with a sprinkling of older structures from the 1700’s and 1800’s, while the history of Lower Town dates back to the early 1600’s and 1700’s. Vieux-Quebec is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which gives you even more bragging rights after visiting. In the middle of the 20th century, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada established Vieux-Quebec as an official historic district. It wasn’t until 1985 that Old Quebec City became UNESCO certified.
13. Jasper National Park
This sprawling bational site is the largest Canadian park in the Rockies. It is a dream come true for nature lovers that adore hiking. Jasper National Park is the perfect place to spend a week or two exploring. Photography lovers will also enjoy the park as it is ideal for collecting an array of unique photos of dozens of animals that reside in the area. Another great place to visit for extreme outdoorsy types, within Jasper itself, is Pyramid Lake. Windsurfing, kayaking, ice skating, canoeing, and photography are just a few of the most popular activities around the scenic lake.
For those vacationing in Manitoba, consider breaking away for a few days and heading over to the little town of Churchill. The town’s main claim to fame is the polar bears who migrate from inland regions outward to the shores during the autumn each year. Outside of the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” tourism industry, there isn’t much to do around Churchill. However, for those who dream about seeing polar bears in person, what else do you need to do while in Churchill?
Vancouver is among the best places to visit in Canada for both those who love nature as well as those who enjoy an urban setting. Lying between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, Vancouver is the third largest city in the entire country. Vancouver itself is a modern and sophisticated city attracting thousands of tourists each year, while the surrounding area provides an ideal playground for nature-loving tourists as well. There are skate parks, boardwalks, and beaches, ski resorts fine dining restaurants and all the trimmings that come with larger cities.
16. Pacific Rim National Park
A unique park among the Canadian National Park system is the Pacific Rim National Park. The park consists of three sections including beaches, trails, and islands. This versatile park features gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests, and intriguing archaeological sites for history lovers. For those into exploring the beaches and coastal trails, it doesn’t get much better than Wickinnish, Florenzia, and Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park. However, always be aware of the daily tides to avoid getting caught in a dangerous situation.
The quirky town Edmonton is tucked away in Northern Alberta; it is home of the world’s first UFO landing strip. It is also home to Fort Edmonton Park as well as a local history museum. The real attraction to Edmonton is for the surrounding nature such as Elk Island National Park which is chock-full of (yep, you guessed it) elk. The park is also an official bison refuge and is teeming with Canadian wildlife. Edmonton is a great place to spend the weekend and bang out a trail or two.
18. Garibaldi Lake
Are you planning on visiting British Columbia anytime soon? If so, you may want to consider planning a side trip to Garibaldi Lake. As far as pristine beauty goes, the snow-capped mountains and the turquoise waters are hard to beat. For those who fancy photography, Garibaldi Lake offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for amazing photos. You will not want to leave your camera in the room even for one day. For the outdoorsy types, there are several gorgeous trails and overnight camping is available as well as other lakeside activities, even snowshoeing!
Another Canadian city known around the world is southeastern Ontario’s Ottawa, the nation's capital city. Not only is Ottawa home to hotels, museums, restaurants, and other tourist-friendly businesses, but it also houses local and federal governmental as well as major financial establishments. Ottawa attracts significant concerts, events, and tourists from around the world all year-round. Even in the winter time, the Rideau Canal at the center of the city transforms into the largest skating rink in the world.
20. Bay Of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is located on the Canadian shore and famous for its signature offer, the “walk on the ocean” experience. At the Bay of Fundy, you can partake in various activities such as bird watching, whale watching, scuba diving, and hiking. There are also golf courses, historical sites, vineyards, and wineries peppered through the area. For those who love the environment of the Canadian coast, the Bay of Fundy is well worth the trip.
An often overlooked destination in Canada when it comes to the tourist is Saskatoon. However, regardless of being looked over, Saskatoon has more than a little to offer its guests. From the hiking in the Meewasin Valley and the Beaver Creek Conservation area to boat rides along the South Saskatchewan River. For Students, Saskatoon is an excellent destination as it is home to many schools, festivals, and youth-friendly establishments. For fine arts and music fanatics, attending a live performance from the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra or visiting the new Remai Modern Art Museum will make for an enjoyable few hours for sure.
22. Gros Morne National Park
Another great spot for the outdoorsy type tourist is the Gros Morne National Park, one of Canada’s UNESCO certified World Heritage sites. The park is over 700 acres and sits on the west coast of Newfoundland. A couple of the main activities at Gros Morne are hiking through the Tablelands or partaking on the Western Brook Pond boat ride. If you love trekking and history, this park is a bit of a treat with its rust-colored exposed Earth mantle displaying the results of millions of years old collision between tectonic plates.
One of the best places to visit in Canada for hipsters and fans of the Atlantic ocean alike is Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax. Once upon a time, the seaside town was a haven for pirates as well as a British stronghold. Over one million immigrants have migrated into North America through Nova Scotia. It is also the resting place of the unfortunate passengers of the Titanic which drown in the nearby waters of the Atlantic ocean. Halifax is somewhat of a hotspot for hipsters, saturated with clubs, seafood and fine dining restaurants, festivals, museums, and art galleries. The city is also home to ski slopes, public parks, and of course the harbor itself.
24. St. John’s
Among the best places to visit in Canada for history buffs, St. John’s is a must visit destination. It is the oldest city in all North America. The city has all the normal tourist friendly establishments such as hotels, fine restaurants, museums, and even a historic fishing village, Quidi Vidi. St. John's is also home to some of the most active humpback and blue whale watching groups in the world.
The British Columbia resort town of Kelowna draws thousands of tourists to the Okanagan Lake and Valley each year. With so much to do the town stays packed with visitors all year-round. There are ski resorts, vineyards and wineries, and loads of nature. The lake provides an environment for swimming, boating, and fishing, while the valley is home to the regions many orchards and wineries. Kelowna is also known for its photographic beauty, so, don’t forget to pack the camera.
Ontario’s London is another of the best places to visit in Canada for historians. Various private companies in the city offer tours of all the local museums and significant sites via bus. The city is also home to the Jet Aircraft Museum and Fanshawe Pioneer Village, which depicts the development of London as well as the daily life of locals from 100 to 200 years ago. For nature lovers, hiking or kayaking along the Thames River is a must.
27. The Yukon
One of the most iconic of the best places to visit in Canada is the world-famous Yukon. More specifically, Whitehorse, the only city and so the obvious capital of the Yukon. For those who want to get a taste of the harsher climates of Canada, this destination is as good as it gets. A natural crossroads between the territories two largest highways, Whitehorse is an excellent spot to step off of the grid and explore the Yukon. Dall’s sheep and caribou are among the Yukon’s unique preserve of Alaskan wildlife.
28. Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Last but not least on our list of the best places to visit in Canada is the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A treasure for history buff, photographers, and nature lovers alike, Cape Breton Highlands is teeming with wildlife and stunning scenery as well as historical sites from the most recent Ice Age. This national park consists of hiking trails, astounding nature, and multiple manicured camping spots. Aside from hiking and camping the park is also excellent for a seaside drive or for cruising along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Whether you’re searching for the best places to visit in Canada with your family, or planning a summer of hiking, these 28 destinations in Canada will fulfill the urges of the inner-trekker in you.
The majestic and massive land that is Canada stretches across more of North America than any other Western country. It is full of breathtaking coastlines, millions of acres of pristine forests, lakes, and streams. The colorful cities full of multicultural communities from all over the world make Canada this one-of-a-kind destination that it is.
Have you recently visited one of the destinations from our “The 28 Best Places to Visit in Canada”? If so, how did it hold up to your expectations? Or, perhaps you’ve visited a Canadian destination worthy of being added to our list. Either Way, feel free to let us know all about it in the comments section below!
Have a safe and enjoyable trip in Canada!
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