Canada is a massive country known for its pristine wilderness, but it also has some world-class cities filled with vibrant culture. If you’re planning your Canada travels, here are some tips for making the most of your vacation in this beautiful country:
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is Canada’s largest city and it boasts diverse cultures and interesting architecture. While you’re in Toronto, consider taking a 90-minute drive to quaint and famous Niagara Falls on the U.S. and Canadian border. Another must-do is to take an elevator ride to the top of the CN Tower - the second-tallest freestanding structure in the world at 1,815 feet. You can dine at the 360 Revolving Restaurant or just see the sites below from the sky pod. Experience history, nature and science at premier Toronto attractions like Ontario Science Centre, the historic Casa Loma Castle, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo. If you’re a hockey fan, don’t miss the impressive Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. There’s plenty to see at the Harbourfront Centre and you can find good deals at the bustling Kensington Market or enjoy a leisurely stroll and gourmet foods at the St. Lawrence Market. If you need to escape the bustling city, hop on a ferry to the Toronto Islands for beautiful scenery, peace and quiet as well as awesome Toronto skyline views.
Montreal is considered the most European city in all of Canada. Unlike other parts of the country, French is the primary language spoken here, though English is commonly used as a second language. While you’re in Montreal, hitting up Vieux-Montreal - the old town - is a must. You’ll find cobblestone streets, quaint shops, French architecture and excellent dining options here. Art-lovers will want to spend at least three hours exploring the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which hosts a massive collection of everything under the sun, including works by famous European painters Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Miro, Matisse, Dali, Picasso, Rodin, Goya and El Greco.
Other must-visits are the beautiful Montreal Botanical Gardens, St. Joseph's Oratory, the Parc du Mont-Royal and the Notre-Dame Basilica.
Vancouver is a harbour city and the third largest in Canada, located on the West Coast and close to the United States’ Pacific Northwest region. Take a tour on an old steamboat in Vancouver Harbour and head to Granville Island’s open-air public market, where kids can also check out the Kids Only Market. You can rent kayaks on the island or make waves at the free water park. Other must-visit natural areas in Vancouver are stunning Kitsilano Beach, the 400-acre Stanley Park, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where you can cross the famous bridge and hike on the trails including the daunting Cliff Hanger Walk. Don’t miss the Vancouver Art Gallery, the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, Science World and a ride in a gondola up Grouse Mountain for stunning views.
Canada’s historic capital also has plenty to do and see. Take a scenic bike ride or walk along the Rideau Canal - a 125-mile waterway that cuts through the city center. Take a free tour of the three neo-gothic structures that make up Parliament Hill, and be wowed by the futuristic architecture of the National Gallery of Canada - just across from Parliament Hill - before stepping inside to see famous works by Picasso, da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as various traveling exhibits. Ottawa is swimming in excellent museums - some others include the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Elgin Street is the perfect spot for fine dining and nightlife, and Gatineau Park, north of the city, is the place to go to escape the crowds.
Canada has too many beautiful natural areas to name, but the hands-down best are Glacier National Park, Banff National Park and the Butchart Gardens.
Glacier National Park is a fairytale-like park in the Rocky Mountains, about a six-hour drive northeast of Vancouver and a four-hour drive west of Calgary. It has stunning vistas, more than 700 miles of hiking and walking trails, opportunities for every type of outdoor recreation and it sits on more than 500 square miles of pristine forests, mountains and meadows. Banff National Park isn’t far from Glacier National Park and offers similar sights and opportunities on more than 2,500 square miles. It’s truly the gem of Canada.
The Butchart Gardens are a National Historic Site of Canada, and they’ve been in bloom for 100 years. They’re located near Victoria on Vancouver Island and are simply breathtaking, with acres and acres of flowers, plants and trees, many of them very rare, and all cultivated and placed in a way that makes them appear surreal, as if they’re from a storybook.