The arts are an integral part of Canada's cultural landscape, from the International Fringe Theater Festival (the world's second-largest) in Edmonton to mega museums such as Ottawa's National Gallery. Montréal's Jazz Festival and Toronto's star-studded Film Festival draw global crowds. And did you know Ontario's Stratford Festival is the continent's largest classical repertory theater? Even places you might not automatically think of – say, St John's or Woody Point – put on renowned shindigs (an avant-garde 'sound symposium' and a big-name writers festival, respectively).
BEST TIME TO VISIT CANADA
The best time to visit Canada is during the fall months, from September through November. The weather has cooled down but is still comfortable, the summer crowds have left, prices drop, and changing fall foliage provides a beautiful backdrop for a vacation.
Since Canada is such a large country, climate and temperature change drastically from coast to coast. Canada has very defined seasons, and winter can be harsh and long in some places. For example, winters in the Northern Territories begin early and end late, and places like Newfoundland and Labrador can experience snow until late May.
On the other hand, winter in the Canadian Rockies is epic, and people from all over the world flock to British Columbia and Alberta to hit the slopes around Whistler, Banff, and Revelstoke. Prepare for cold temperatures, though. In some places, like on the prairies, it can get as cold as -40°F (-40°C).
Summers in Canada are a beautiful thing, but it’s also the busiest time of year. June to the end of September is the main tourist season, so you’ll see inflated prices and large crowds. On the other hand, the temperatures are always lovely – often in the high 70s°F (20s°C). There are music festivals galore and all the cities celebrate winter’s end. It’s a great time to hike, bike, and hit the Great Lakes.
Shoulder season is also a fantastic time to visit Canada, although spring (March-June) can be quite wet. Fall (September-December) is highly recommended, as temperatures are still warm and the autumn foliage is really something special. Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces are well worth an autumn trek.
GETTING TO CANADA
Canada is connected by land to only one country, the US. This means that unless you are coming from the US by road, rail or boat, you will be flying into the country.
By Plane - Air Canada is the country’s national carrier and operates to almost 100 international destinations. All other major and some budget airlines from the US, Asia, UK and Europe and Australia fly into Canada’s biggest cities where you will find connections to more regional areas.
By Car - The only access to Canada by road is to the south with through mainland USA and to the west through Alaska. There are lots of road crossings along those boarders.
Greyhound run several coach services between the US and Canada if you don’t have your own vehicle. However, note hat there is no coach services that run west of southeastern Ontario until you reach Vancouver.
By Train - There are a few rail routes available through Amtrak. New York-Albany-Montreal, New York-Buffalo-Toronto and Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer train also travels between Seattle and Vancouver.
By Ferry - Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto are all home to major ports which see cruise ships coming and going throughout peak times. There are also a number smaller ports on the east coast that take cruise ships from time to time also.
Ferries operate for a few different border crossings also. The Victorian Clipper runs from Seattle to Victoria on Vancouver Island, the BlackBall Ferry runs from Port Angeles in Washington to Victoria also. From Alaska Ferries run south to Prince Rupert. And on the east coast you can take a ferry from Portland, Maine and Yarmouth to Nova Scotia.
GETTING AROUND CANADA
Because of Canada’s size, travel times can sometime be long. Whether you want to travel slow or fast, there are lots of cost effective (and a few splurge) transport options available.
By Plane - If you want to get from A to B quickly then flying will be your best option. Air Canada and WestJet are the two major carriers flying domestically, however there are host of smaller carriers that will take you to more remote regions in the north. All major cities in the country are well connected with multiple departures daily. Booking in advance will get you the best deal.
By Train - VIA Rail operate most passenger trains in the country with a few scenic tourist trains being operated independantly. The Canadian service runs straight across the country from Toronto to Vancouver and passengers are rewarded for their patience on this long four day journey with some spectacular scenery. The line formally known at The Skeena runs from Prince Rupert to Jasper making an overnight stop in Prince George. Scenery along this route is jaw dropping.
The famous (and pricey) Rocky Mountaineer trains runs between Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper during the warmer months. Again you will be in awe of the scenery. Over east where the biggest cluster of cities are located, you will find intercity trains between Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa. There are also overnight services between Montreal and Halifax. For a few scenic hours you can take a trip on The Polar Bear Express train from Cochrane to Moossonee in Ontario.
By Bus - GreyHound is Canada’s main coach line provider with a comprehensive network of services that cover most of the country. Smaller operators (like the Tofino Express on Vancouver Island) cover individual regions also.
Driving - Canada’s vast distances make it a great country for slow travel on a road trip if you have the time. Remember to carry plenty of supplier with you when setting out. Things like water, food and gas, especially if you are driving through some of the more remote areas. Road quality is generally pretty good however roads in the more remote regions may be unpaved. Snow and ice may cover the the road in some areas during the winter. Ensure you drive to the conditions and have good tyres and chains properly fitted. During summer watch for wildlife crossing the roads. Elk, moose, bears etc will often graze on the side of the road causing wildlife traffic jams. Be cautious of vehicles in front breaking suddenly for these wildlife sightings. Always pull clearly off the road and stay in you vehicle to view the wildlife.
WHERE TO STAY IN CANADA
- Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites
An indoor pool, a gym and a sun deck are located on the roof at Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites. Modern suites provide full kitchen facilities, and Mcgill University is 950 m away. This hotel furnishes each suite with a flat-screen cable TV and safety deposit box. The kitchen area offers a dining table, a stovetop and a dishwasher. A business centre and laundry facilities are available at this restored historical building by Ernest Cormier. Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites offers free newspapers at the front desk. Old Montreal is 1.6 km from the hotel. The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is 15 minutes' walk away.
This hotel in Whistler's Village North offers free WiFi and is a short walk to the lifts. Whistler Golf Course and Highway 99 are minutes from the hotel. Every unit at the Cascade Lodge includes a flat-screen LCD TV. A fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette is available in the units as well.Cascade Lodge features heated underground parking and car rental services. A ski and snowboard rental shop is on-site at the lodge. An outdoor heated pool and hot tubs are also available. The lodge offers an on-site fitness facility and laundry facilities. Peak 2 Peak Gondola is 100 m away. Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola is 7 minutes' walk away, while Green Lake is 8 minutes' drive away.
Offering free WiFi throughout, The Business Inn serves a free continental breakfast each morning. Studios and suites include a kitchen with stove. A variety of shops and restaurants can be found within 150 m from the property. Each guest room comes with a 46-inch flat-screen cable TV with free movies and a computer with a printer. They also contain coffee-tea-facilities, a clothes steamer, iron and air purifier. The Business Inn provides free laundry facilities. There is also a 24-hour fitness centre and front desk. Ottawa City Hall is with 750 m from the property, while Parliament Hill is 1.3 km away. Public parking is provided upon request with surcharge.
Offering a hot tub and fitness centre, Whistler Peak Lodge is 4 minutes’ walk from Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola. Kitchen or kitchenette facilities feature in all rooms. Free WiFi is included. A flat-screen cable TV and a sofa seating area are provided in each suite at Peak Lodge Whistler. A dining table is offered. Free toiletries and a hairdryer are available in the private bathroom. Select rooms include en suite laundry. Ski and bike storage are offered at Whistler Peak Lodge. A 24 hour reception and vending machines are also available. Shops and restaurants are available on the Village Stroll less than one minutes’ walk from this property. Whistler Golf Course Driving Range is 6 minutes’ walking distance from this Whistler lodge. The base of Whistler Blackcomb is 550 m away.
- Les Lofts St-Pierre by Les Lofts Vieux-Québec
Located 700 m from Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec in Quebec City, Les Lofts St-Pierre by Les Lofts Vieux-Québec provides accommodation with air conditioning and free WiFi. The units all have a seating area with a sofa, a cableflat-screen TV, Blu-ray player, a fully equipped kitchen and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and free toiletries. A dishwasher, a microwave and fridge are also featured, as well as a coffee machine. Popular points of interest near the apartment include Quartier du Petit Champlain, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and Terrasse Dufferin. The nearest airport is Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, 23 km from Les Lofts St-Pierre by Les Lofts.
Located 2 km from Strathcona Park, The Shore offers a restaurant, barbecue facilities and accommodation with a patio and free WiFi. Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning and features a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area, and a private bathroom with free toiletries. A dishwasher, a microwave and fridge are also provided, as well as a kettle. Guests at the apartment can enjoy windsurfing nearby, or make the most of the sun terrace. H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre is 3.5 km from The Shore, while Fintry Estate & Provincial Park is 3.6 km away. The nearest airport is Kelowna International Airport, 17 km from the accommodation.
- Beausejour Hotel Apartments/Hotel Dorval
Set in a residential area of Dorval, Quebec this property offers spacious apartment-style accommodations furnished with full kitchens. Begin the day at the Beausejour Hotel Apartments/Hotel Dorval with complimentary coffee or take advantage of in-room microwaves, coffeemakers and dishware. Relax on private in-room balconies or enjoy an energizing workout in the on-site fitness centre. Easily discover a number of local shopping centres and restaurants, situated within walking distance of the Beausejour Apartments. The property is also placed near major highways, making downtown Montreal within driving distance.
Located in downtown Montreal, Loft Hotel Montreal is one of the city’s last remaining Art Deco landmarks. The boutique hotel features fully furnished loft suites. Each suite at The Loft Hotel features spacious layouts with hardwood floors and high ceilings. All lofts have a living area with modern furniture and a fully equipped kitchen. Media entertainment includes free WiFi and a 40-inch flat-screen TV. The Loft Hotel Montreal offers business services. A tour desk is also available for guests convenience. Université de Montreal is 5 km from The Hotel Loft. Parc du Mont-Royal is 10 minutes' drive from the hotel.
SoLo Suites is set in Victoria, 4 km from Royal Roads University and offers air-conditioned accommodation with free WiFi, as well as access to a terrace. Each unit comes with a sofa, a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a well-fitted kitchen with a dining area, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. A dishwasher, a microwave and fridge are also featured, as well as a kettle and a coffee machine. Camosun College is 11 km from the aparthotel, while Point Ellice House is 13 km away. The nearest airport is Victoria International Airport, 33 km from SoLo Suites.
Hochelaga Inn is within a 5-minute walk from various shops and restaurants in the city centre of Kingston. It features free WiFi access and a free daily breakfast. Coffee and tea is served all day. The tastefully decorated rooms at this bed and breakfast offer air conditioning and a flat-screen cable TV. Ironing facilities are also included. Bathrobes and a hairdryer are found in the bathroom. At Hochelaga Inn you will find a 24-hour front desk, a garden and a terrace. The property offers free parking. It is at a distance of 400 m from Queens University and the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
- Cozystay Signature -Lake Okanagan Resort
With Fintry Estate & Provincial Park reachable in 22 km, Cozystay Signature -Lake Okanagan Resort offers accommodation, a restaurant, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a bar. Complimentary WiFi is provided throughout the property. A flat-screen TV with DVD player, private bathroom with a hairdryer, and a kitchen with dishwasher are featured in certain units. The holiday home offers a children's playground. After a day of hiking, skiing or golfing, guests can relax in the garden or in the shared lounge area. Waterfront Park is 22 km from Lake Okanagan Resort, while The Old Woodshed Kelowna is 22 km away. The nearest airport is Kelowna International Airport, 37 km from the accommodation.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN CANADA
The second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of beautiful landscapes and unique sites for travelers to explore. From coast to coast to coast, the country is home to vibrant and culturally rich cities, along with incredible natural wonders.
In Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains and cities of Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary dominate most itineraries. In Central Canada, Niagara Falls, Toronto. Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, are some of the most popular destinations. For those who venture out to Canada's Maritime Provinces in the east, the beauty of Gros Morne National Park, along with the cities of Halifax and St. Jhon's, provide their own unique character.
Off the beaten path, but equally impressive, is Canada's North, where great rivers flow out to the Arctic Ocean, creating some incredible territory for canoeists, and where polar bears can be seen in the wild. Travelers can explore the remote beauty of places like Nahanni National Park and the towns and cities of Churchill, Whitehorse and Yellowknife.
Canada is an adventurous place to explore, thanks to its incredible and diverse landscape from coast to coast. From skydiving to snowboarding to rafting the world’s highest tides, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner. Here are some of the best things and activities you need to do in Canada.
Turisti - Info gives you ideas to help plan your travels, see our list of top attractions and things to do in Canada.
Niagara Falls is Canada's most famous natural attraction, bringing in millions of visitors each year. Located just over an hour's drive from Toronto, along the American border, these massive falls drop approximately 57 meters. You can see the falls at an astoundingly close distance from several key points. Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge have been attracting tourists and daredevils for well over a century. Between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries there were numerous attempts to plunge over the falls in various types of homemade boats and barrels. This, along with tightrope walkers and other spectacles, led to the adjacent town of Niagara Falls developing a carnival type atmosphere that still persists today. Families will enjoy a walk down Niagara's outrageous Clifton Hill leading to the gorge and falls.
- Banff National Park & the Rocky Mountains
Banff National Park lies in the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, and showcases some of Canada's most beautiful scenery. Turquoise-colored lakes, snow-capped peaks, and glaciers are all easily accessible in this stunning park. The jewel of the park is Lake Louise, where green waters reflect the surrounding mountains and glaciers, and visitors can stroll easily around the shores. Just a short distance is Moraine Lake, another impressive alpine lake with an even slightly more dramatic surrounding. The Icefields Parkway, which runs from Lake Louise to Jasper, is an unforgettable drive and another major attraction in Banff. At the south end of the park is the lovely little town of Banff, providing all kinds of options for accommodation, shopping, dining, and nightlife. Banff is also a major winter sports area and home to Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village, two of Canada's most prominent ski destinations.
On the shores of Lake Ontario in Canada's biggest city is the iconic CN Tower, one of Canada's most famous landmarks. The tower stands an impressive 553 meters high and dominates the skyline. At the top, you can find fine dining in the revolving 360 restaurant, and enjoy a meal while looking out over the city and lake. The LookOut and the Glass Floor offer beautiful views out over the entire area. But even those who choose not to go up the tower will find themselves stopping to stare at the structure, which is visible from almost everywhere in the city. At night, the tower is lit in different colors.
- Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec)
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Canada's historic gems. Spread across the Upper and Lower Town of Quebec, this area contains the city's most historic buildings. The Lower Town, along the St. Lawrence River, is the site of the original settlement and home to the outstanding Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, as well as numerous other treasures. The Upper Town rests on 100-meter-high cliffs and is home to the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, Place d'Armes, and the Parque Historique de l'Artillerie. Old Quebec is one of Canada's most popular historical areas and is well developed for tourism. In addition to the historical sites, other highlights include artists displaying their works on Rue du Trésor; interesting museums, like the Musée de la Civilisation; and unique shops and restaurants.
Just a two-hour drive from Vancouver is the famous ski resort and village of Whistler. While Whistler has always been an important winter sports area, it has also developed into a popular summer destination, with golf, mountain biking, and a lively town atmosphere throughout the year. The village gained international attention in 2010 when it became one of the locations for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The area offers world class skiing, hotels, and dining, as well as a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities and beautiful mountain scenery.
Ottawa's Parliament Hill stands high above the Ottawa River and is graced by the Neo-Gothic-style Parliament buildings built in the last half of the 19th century. The most prominent feature is the Peace Tower, which divides the House of Commons and the Senate on either side. In front of the Parliament buildings is the Centennial Flame, lit in 1966 to commemorate the centenary of the Canadian Confederation, and behind the buildings is a sculpture garden. In the summer, the Changing of the Guard takes place on the front lawn of the Houses of Parliament, weather permitting. Below Parliament Hill, a lovely walk runs alongside the Ottawa River.
- St. John's Signal Hill National Historic Site
At the entrance to St. John's harbor, overlooking the city and sea, is Signal Hill National Historic Site. It was here, in 1901, that the first wireless transatlantic signal was received. It also played a strategic role in the Seven Years war with France, although the current fortifications were built during the hostilities of 1812. The Cabot Tower is one of the key sites of Signal Hill. It was built in 1897 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Newfoundland. It also now commemorates Guglielmo Marconi's reception here in 1901 of the first transatlantic radio telegraphy signal, transmitted over a distance of 2,700 kilometers from Poldhu in England. In the tower are exhibitions on the history of Signal Hill and the history of communications (with a special section on Marconi). From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the coast as far as Cape Spear — the most easterly point of North America.
Old Montreal, lined with lovely historic buildings, is a place to go for great shopping and fine dining. While Montreal itself is a vibrant modern city, Old Montreal, down by the waterfront, is where most tourists come to soak up the atmosphere. Some of the must-see places in Old Montreal include Rue Bonsecours and the landmark Marché Bonsecours in the old town hall building, the interior of the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica, the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, and the 1870s City Hall.
- Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
One of Canada's most unique attractions is the polar bear migration that sees these beautiful creatures make their way from land out onto the ice in Hudson Bay, near the town of Churchill in Northern Manitoba. This small community opens itself up to tourists each fall. Tours take visitors out in tundra buggies with caged windows for close encounters with the polar bears. The prime viewing time occurs in October or November while the bears are waiting for the water to freeze before heading out onto the ice.
Although it is less than a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland, Vancouver Island can seem a world away. Most people head to Victoria, BC's capital city, for sightseeing and culture, but if you head north into the wild and remote landscapes, the island holds some unexpected and unforgettable experiences. Nature lovers can hit the best hiking trails on Vancouver Island and set themselves up at some beautiful camping locations. Those looking for more comfort can always turn to one of the island's lodges or resorts. On the rugged west coast, a magnificent scene of huge ancient trees, sandy coves, and dramatic rocky shores reveals itself as you drive up to Tofino. Around this tiny but incredibly popular off-the-beaten-path tourist town, in nearby Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, you can find incredible hiking trails, endless beaches, great surfing spots, camping, and places where you can simply soak up nature in peace. Tofino is a year-round destination, although in the storm season from November to March, many visitors come to appreciate the huge waves rolling ashore; some come to surf, and others come simply to cozy up next to a fire in one of Tofino's lovely resorts looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Other destinations around the Island, include Nanaimo, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach, all on the eastern shore, looking out onto the Salish Sea. If you really want to get away from it all, head up to the far north of the island and explore Cape Scott Provincial Park.
The Bay of Fundy, located in Eastern Canada in between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is known for its amazing tides. The variation between high and low is the largest in the world, measuring up to a maximum of 19 meters (10 fathoms). While there are many ways to appreciate this natural wonder, some of the most popular locations and sights along the Bay of Fundy are the cliffs and rock formations at Hopewell Cape, Fundy National Park, the Fundy Trail Parkway, and Grand Manan Island.
Few Canadian cities have done such a beautiful job of developing their waterfront area as Victoria and its Inner Harbour. This is a great place for strolling, relaxing, shopping, dining, and watching street performers all against the backdrop of the harbor. The centerpiece of this area is the historic Empress Hotel, one of the city's most lovely buildings. Over the years, the Empress has welcomed kings and queens and, today, features a traditional high tea, which is one of the highlights for many visitors coming to Victoria. While the harbor area is popular year-round, it is particularly lively during the summer months.
Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park is more remote than many of Canada's most popular national parks, but worth the effort to discover this beautiful landscape of mountains and fjords. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring steep cliff walls, waterfalls, and interesting rock formations carved by the glacier-fed waters. Most visitors take a boat tour to appreciate the scenery, but there are also hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking. In winter, the park receives far fewer visitors, but is open for ski touring, complete with backcountry ski huts.
One of Vancouver's greatest treasures is the 405-hectare Stanley Park, conveniently located on the west side of the downtown area. Situated on a peninsula, the park is surrounded by the ocean and home to huge red cedar and Douglas fir trees. The seawall, which rings the park, has an extensive walking, jogging, and biking path with designated lanes for walkers and bikers. From the seawall are some lovely views of the city and mountains. A scenic drive also winds through Stanley Park with numerous pullouts. Within the park are the Vancouver Aquarium, scenic Beaver Lake, and the Stanley Park Pavilion and Rose Garden. Also of special interest are numerous totem poles, some of which were erected more than 100 years ago.
This 10-day affair is one of the most widely anticipated events in Western Canada, with many locals and summertime travelers planning their holidays around the Calgary Stampede. For this week in July, the city of Calgary turns into a true western town, where people who might otherwise be wearing suits to work instead don jeans and cowboy boots. At the Stampede Grounds are daily rodeo events drawing participants from across North America, thrill rides, games, food, and the nightly Grandstand Show. Around town, free "Stampede Breakfasts" are hosted by numerous establishments either at indoor or outdoor locations and usually consist of pancakes. Many big name country music performers also typically come to the city for this event.
- Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Winnipeg's newest major attraction, which has drawn both national and international attention, is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opening in 2014 near The Forks, the building displays a unique design that is eye-catching to say the least, with geometry and colors based on images of the Canadian landscape. Also unique is the concept behind the museum, which proved controversial when deciding which histories would be featured here. The museum highlights personal stories, capturing different perspectives, and focuses on a range of themes.
- Take a road trip through the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies is a place everyone must visit in their twenties. The best way to see all the sights is to start in Jasper and take a road trip down the Icefields Parkway to Banff National Park. Known as one of the world’s most scenic highways, prepare to constantly stop and marvel at the turquoise lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls. For the younger crowd, there are plenty of hikes and inexpensive campsites to enjoy in the summer, and Banff does have nightlife options.
When you think of Canada, you don’t automatically think about surfing. But Tofino, located on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast, is the nation’s surfing capital. For adventurous 20-somethings, it’s the best place to learn to surf in Canada. It’s home to 35 kilometers (22 miles) of surfable coastline, including Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Cox Bay. The water is also consistently 10°C (50°F) year-round, which means wetsuits are mandatory. Pacific Surf School is Tofino’s number one surf school.
The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is known as Canada’s Coachella, which is another festival everyone should visit in their twenties. Held every summer in Montreal, Osheaga is a six-staged indie music festival that draws some of the biggest names in music. Previous headliners have included Lorde, Muse, The Weeknd, Eminem, The Killers, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, and Arcade Fire. It’ll be an unforgettable weekend in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities.
A winter weekend in Ottawa is a must-do in Canada. Firstly, head to Gatineau Park to snowshoe and cross-country ski, as it has over 200 kilometers (124 miles) of cross-country ski trails alone. Then warm up in one of the city’s impressive museums. Next, it’s time to ice skate along the 7.8-kilometer (4.8-mile) Rideau Canal Skateway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finally, plan your trip to coincide with Winterlude, one of Canada’s biggest winter festivals.
You can’t go through your twenties and not experience a summer in Vancouver. The city is buzzing with people and events. Some of the best things to do during summer in the city include visiting one of its beaches, going for a hike, having a picnic in Stanley or Queen Elizabeth Parks, and cooling down at one of the city’s best breweries. The best summer festivals in Vancouver include Celebration of Lights and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. It is home to over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, three glaciers, more than 200 marked trails, five terrain parks, and 16 alpine bowls. Over two million people visit the ski resort annually, which has a long season from November to May. Whistler is a great place for a ski trip, as the village is brimming with excellent apres-ski sports, and there are many other things to do off the mountain.
- Shubenacadie River tidal bore rafting
You may have heard of the renowned Bay of Fundy, as it has the world’s highest tides. Every six hours, 100 billion tonnes of seawater pours into, and out of, the Bay of Fundy. The tidal bore makes roller coaster-type rapids, which is what you will be rafting on in the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia. It’s definitely one of the world’s more unique rafting experiences. Mud sliding along the banks of the river is also a must. There are many tidal bore rafting tour options available too.
- See the Northern Lights in Yellowknife
Yellowknife is the best place in the world to see the Northern Lights, which is visible up to 240 days of the year. The Northwest Territories capital is known for its long and clear nights in winter, which makes for perfect aurora viewing. The best time to see them is mid-November to April, but they can make appearances in late summer to early autumn. Aurora Village in Yellowknife has great hotel and tour packages available.
The Great Canadian Bungee isn’t just any normal bungee jump—it’s Canada highest. It sits just outside Gatineau Park, and about 30 minutes north of Ottawa. Participants jump off “The Rock” at Morrison’s Quarry, which is a 61-meter (200-foot) bungee jump. On-site, there’s also a 309-meter (1,015-foot) cable slide called the RIPRIDE zipline. If that isn’t enough adventure, there’s also the option to do a rafting and bungee bundle package too.
- Take a road trip along the Cabot Trail in the fall
The Cabot Trail is one of the world’s most scenic destinations. The highway stretches for 300 kilometers (186 miles) around Cape Breton Island, which Travel + Leisure Magazine recently named the best Island in continental North America. The best time to visit is definitely when the leaves begin to change in the fall. October is also when the Celtic Colours International Festival happens. Be prepared for astounding coastal views, cute towns brimming with artisan stores and warm Acadian hospitality, and adventures galore.
- Skydive over Vancouver Island
One of the best things to do in your twenties, no matter the country, is skydiving for the first time. There are many places across the country to take the leap, but Vancouver Island undoubtedly has the best views. Across the island, there are a few different skydive options. Capital City Skydiving is based out of Victoria. Pacific Airports in Campbell River has been operating for over 39 years, and SkyDive Vancouver Island is in Qualicum Beach.
- Winery weekend in the Okanagan
The Okanagan Valley is British Columbia’s premier winemaking region. In Kelowna alone, there are over 40 wineries within a 20-minute drive. There’s the option to drive between wineries or go on a guided winery tour. Some of the top award-winning vineyards include Summerhill Pyramid Winery, 50th Parallel Estate Winery, Mission Hill Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars, Painted Rock Estate Winery, and Tantalus Vineyards.
WHERE TO EAT IN CANADA
The unique dishes that Canada has created for the world includes an intriguing mix of sweet and savory food. Although it’s also the country that eats the most Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinners every week, there are many signature Canadian dishes; Turisti-Info gather the list of the native Canadian cuisines and the top places to try them.
Known as Canada’s national dish, poutine is a French-Canadian meal featuring three ingredients: fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Created in the 1950s in Quebec, the dish can be found everywhere today. Many eateries even serve their traditional poutine with additional flavors, such as butter chicken or pulled pork. Because it was created in Quebec, eating poutine in this province is as authentic as you can get. La Banquise is a 24-hour restaurant specializing in poutine, with over 30 different flavors on the menu.
The Nanaimo bar originated in Nanaimo, which is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It’s a sweet no-bake treat consisting of three layers. There’s a wafer crumb base, a center of custard-flavored butter icing, and a chocolate top layer. Although Canada is its birthplace, people can find Nanaimo bars across the world, including in Australia, Spain, and Laos. Labeled as “a corner of Paris in Nanaimo,” locals and visitors alike love the Nanaimo bars served at Mon Petit Choux. If one isn’t enough, Tourism Nanaimo has created a Nanaimo Bar Trail. Follow the map and find your favorite one in Nanaimo.
Butter tarts are small pastries consisting of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg filling. The filling goes on top of flaky pastry, and once baked, the tart’s filling will be crunchy on top and mostly solid. The tarts are quintessentially Canadian, but their origin is hazy. Some believe the history can be traced back to the 1600s, while others think the tarts resemble America’s pecan pies and Quebec’s sugar pies. Securing first place for the best butter tart at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival, The Maid's Cottage is obviously the top place to try an authentic butter tart. A family-owned business, stop by to try their secret recipe.
BeaverTails are deep-fried dough pastries, flattened to resemble a beaver’s tail, and topped with a myriad of flavors. The classic toppings include cinnamon and sugar or chocolate hazelnut spread. They were created in 1978 by a husband and wife in Ottawa, with the recipe passed down through the husband’s family. Their chain of stores, also called BeaverTails, now stretches across Canada. BeaverTails ByWard Market is the store’s flagship location, and where former President Barack Obama sampled the delicacy during his first visit to Canada in 2009.
A traditional French-Canadian dish from the 1600s, a tourtière is a meat pie traditionally served around Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It’s made from ground meat, with flaky pastry on the top and bottom. The signature tourtière spices are cinnamon, allspice, and clove. It can usually be found in many Canadian grocery stores year-round. To try an authentic tourtière, it’s best to sample the dish in Quebec, its province of origin. This Quebec City Restaurant is known for its traditional French-Canadian cuisine menu. The restaurant also has a $20 fixed-price lunch menu, which allows you to sample tourtière and more for a reasonable price.
Another dish people can thank French-Canadians for is split pea soup, a winter specialty in Canada. The most authentic version includes whole yellow peas, salted pork, and herbs. Newfoundland Pea Soup is another variation, which usually has more vegetables — such as turnips and carrots — and is topped with doughboys, or small dumplings. Try this at By the Sea Inn and Café, this Newfoundland Cafe says that “pea soup and dumplings have been a tradition for us Newfoundlanders on Saturdays,” so they keep with tradition and only serve the soup on Saturdays. It’s also located right by the sea, with the dining room over the water.
A variation of the original doner kebab, which is of Turkish and Greek origin, the donair was introduced to Halifax in Nova Scotia in the early 1970s. The Halifax donair is characterized by its use of beef instead of lamb and its sweet sauce, made from sugar, garlic, condensed milk, and vinegar. In 2015, Halifax named the donair the city’s official food. King of Donair was the first place to serve donairs in Canada when it opened in 1973. Together with traditional donairs, they also serve donair subs, egg rolls, panzarotti, poutine, and pizza. Just about every donair combination you can think of!
Saskatoon berries, also referred to as just Saskatoons, are purplish-blue berries that resemble blueberries. However, they’re closely related to the apple family and have a sweet, nutty almond flavor. The berries usually ripen in late June or early July. They are grown throughout Canada, but particularly in the Prairies and British Columbia. Obviously, they taste best when baked in a pie. Bon Ton Bakery may not be in Saskatchewan, but they bake a highly sought-after Saskatoon Berry Pie every year. The Edmonton bakery packs their pies full of wild Saskatoons, which means they’re only available seasonally, from August to October. The buttery crust and berry filling is worth the wait. Complement your slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream too.
Montreal-style bagels vary greatly from the traditional New York bagel. Firstly, they’re always cooked in a wood-fired oven. Secondly, they’re smaller, thinner, and sweeter, as they’re boiled in honey-sweetened water prior to baking. The Montreal bagel has a larger hole, and there are two common toppings: poppy or sesame seeds. One of Montreal’s most popular bagel stops, St-Viateur Bagel has been baking the city’s best bagels since 1957. Made with 100% natural ingredients, they say their bagels “are the ones your grandparents enjoyed, made with ingredients your children can read.” Flavors include cinnamon and raisin, flax, rosemary and sea salt, and all-dressed.
- Duck Duck Goose Tapas Bar - Saskatoon
Duck Duck Goose Tapas Bar is inspired by the owners’ experiences traveling in Spain, and their desire to bring Spain’s communal, interactive way of eating and rich flavors to Saskatoon. True to the tapas-style of dining, the restaurant features a small menu of European-influenced plates. However, dishes such as the duck poutine made with truffled fries, cheese curds and duck gravy pay homage to Canada's own cuisine. The restaurant also offers a number of Spanish, Canadian and European wines, as well as imported beers.
WHERE TO SHOP IN CANADA
While shopping is clearly about buying and bargain hunting, it’s just as much about having a great experience while you track down some excellent finds. From upscale neighbourhoods with wonderful little boutiques to one of the biggest mega-malls in the world, Canada has some of the greatest places to shop. Here are the top 10 picks of Turisti-Info for all the shopaholics.
A quiet neighbourhood of small streets sheltered from the overall noise and hubbub of downtown Toronto, Yorkville is arguably Canada’s poshest shopping district-store rent tops $300 per square foot, and those little streets are home to some of the biggest names in fashion and design, including Burberry, Prada, Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. (not to mention dealerships for Rolls Royce and Maserati). Bring a credit card-or three.
- West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Alta.
Although the “West Ed” relinquished the title of world’s largest mall back in 2004, this place is still a must-visit spot for serious shoppers, with some 800 stores and services spread across six million square feet of commercial space. It’s also a great place for those who are serious about partying, with a full-blown amusement park that includes the world’s tallest and longest indoor rollercoasters, a five-acre waterpark, an ice palace, mini golf and lots of other fun attractions.
- ByWard Market, Ottawa, Ont.
Just steps from the Parliament Buildings in our nation’s capital, ByWard is one of the oldest and largest farmers markets in Canada-but it’s much more than that. Attracting as many as 50,000 shoppers on warm summer weekends, vendors line the streets around the main market building, selling everything from flowers to jewelry to Beaver Tails, while the area is also home to Canada’s oldest tavern, Ottawa’s oldest church, more than 100 restaurants, and the National Gallery of Canada.
- The Forks, Winnipeg, Man.
This spot at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers has served as a traditional place of commerce for Aboriginal populations for more than six millennia and, in colonial times, brought together hunters, merchants and traders, so it seems rather appropriate that it now hosts millions of fashionable Winnipeggers and visitors from across the country. Home to promenades and riverwalks, theatres, galleries and several top-drawer restaurants, you may (understandably) get distracted from all the shopping available at its impressive indoor marketplace.
- Pacific Mall, Markham, Ont.
If you’re looking for authentic, East Asian delicacies and wares-but want to avoid the 12-hour flight-there’s no better place to visit than the Pacific Mall, in the suburban Toronto city of Markham. The largest indoor Asian mall in North America, the Pacific houses over 450 vendors, offering everything from herbs and flowers to Asian fashion, in a giant space modeled on traditional markets of the Pacific Rim.
- Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Que.
As far at atmosphere goes, it doesn’t get any better than Old Quebec City-once you pass through its historic gates and inside the walls of one of North America’s oldest cities, you’re effectively transported to another world (and another time). Famously known as “Europe without the jetlag,” Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers Continental fashions, Inuit art, a back lane lined with picturesque sketches of the city by local artists (Rue du Trésor), a tightly packed street of charming, atmospheric boutiques (Quartier Petit-Champlain) and the legendary Simons department store, opened way back in 1840.
- St. Jacob’s Farmers Market
Situated in the picturesque Southern Ontario town of St. Jacob’s-a charming spot famous for its horse-and-buggy Mennonite population-the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market brings together the bounty of this rich agricultural region, with hundreds of vendors selling their wares year round. In the summer, stalls selling everything from meat and cheese, to baked goods, furniture and crafts, spill out of the main post-and-beam building. In the warmer months, you can even climb aboard a horse-drawn trolley for a Mennonite farm tour.
- Yaletown, Vancouver, B.C.
A former wasteland of warehouses and rail yards, the wave of development that accompanied Expo 86 transformed this downtown neighbourhood into one of Vancouver’s hippest places to live, work and shop. No longer turning trains, the former roundhouse now hosts a community and arts centre, and the surrounding streets are lined with great patios, boutiques, and specialty shops selling designer fashion and jewelry stores.
Set on a peninsula across from downtown Vancouver, Granville has transformed itself from a gritty factory district (its original name was Industrial Island) to a bustling spot that attracts shoppers from around the world. Shop to the sounds of dozens of buskers at galleries (where you can watch artists at work), as well as browse more than 150 retailers selling artisanal foods and handmade crafts.
- Halifax Waterfront, Halifax, N.S.
Connected by a three kilometre boardwalk that runs along the edge of the famous Halifax Harbour, this downtown district hosts an eclectic array of attractions and amusements, including Pier 21-Canada’s foremost museum of immigration, the museum ship CSS Acadia, and numerous galleries and studios. It’s also home to the Halifax Farmers Market and The Piazza at Bishop’s Landing, where you can pick up anything from chocolate and wine to fine jewelry.