As a country that is second in landmass to Russia, creating a Canada guide will quickly become a book in itself. Nearing the Arctic while still bordering the United States, you could spend a lifetime travelling Canada, however, most stick to the inhabited areas on the east and west coasts. By dividing the country into smaller digestible pieces, we can start to paint the many pictures of Canada’s stunning landscape.
It’s hard to choose a region to visit in Canada, each of them is as powerful, historic and adventurous in their own way.
The west of Canada welcomed explorers from many different countries in Canada’s early years, setting a framework for the multicultural country that it is today. Starting with Quebec, the first city in Canada that remains quintessentially French-Canadian, you can tap into a food culture unlike any other with influences from France and the French colonies in North Africa. Conversely, sitting next to New York state, Ontario province has a plethora of cities and attractions that pave the way to the American border.
The two cities of Ottawa and Toronto are within close proximity, broken up by a national park that showcases some of Canada’s amazing scenery, this journey south is finished with a show-stopper, a tour of Niagara Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world.
Across on the east coast of Canada, you have some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. Boasting some of the warmest climates in the country, British Columbia and its capital, Vancouver, has the benefit of being a coastal summer location whilst still being in reaching distance of the inland skiing paradise in Banff National Park. All of the best adventure tours in Canada are on Vancouver’s doorstep. No matter whether you want to go kayaking, whale watching, hiking or skiing, the east will have something for you.
By now, you are beginning to see just how much Canada has to offer: great cities and even better nature reserves pretty much sum it up! Read on to see it broken down;
When to Go to Canada
When to go to Canada depends on what you want to do. The Canadian summer, between May and August, and early Autumn in September and October offers a short window period of warmth between the cold months that you will otherwise experience.
If skiing in Canada is what you are looking for, then the season is much longer, spanning from November through to April, you’ll find some of the best powder in the world. The far end of the Northern Hemisphere is known for what is locally referred to as a seven-month winter!
Top Ten Places to Visit in Canada
Proudly holding the title of Canada’s best island, Cape Breton is just off of mainland Nova Scotia and the Maritimes of Canada. The island is perhaps best known for being home to the Cabot trail, which stretches out 298 kilometres across along the coastline going past harbours and fishing villages that echo of the island’s seafaring past as you’ll discover in this 4-day Cabot Trail adventure trip.
From standup paddleboarding to kayaking, skiing and ziplining, Cape Breton encourages you to explore its astounding natural beauty in the most adventurous way possible. When you are not out in the trees and on the beaches, you’ll be charmed by the mix of cultures that are embraced in Cape Breton, where Gaelic, Acadian and Aboriginal people characterise the island.
Vancouver has all that you look for in a city: culture, quirkiness, a great food scene, coastlines and mountains, all within reaching distance. Vancouver has become a mecca for western Canada tours, famous for its diversity, forward-thinking everything and artistic endeavours. To put it plainly, Vancouver is the capital of cool.
The perfect place to start your adventure tour in Canada, Vancouver is within close proximity to Banff, Whistler, and Vancouver Island with Canadian Rockies coach tours from Vancouver almost every day. Adventure-seekers will rejoice in having almost immediate access to some of the best walking trails and ski slopes in the world, depending on what time of year you are travelling.
Calgary and Canada Rocky Mountains Tours
The gateway to the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a city that is known for its towering skyscrapers and for being the gateway to infamous ski resorts where several winter Olympics have been held.
Just 60 miles west, you are face-to-face with Canada’s most spectacular mountain range, the Canadian Rockies. Banff, Jasper and Whistler come together to make the ultimate Canada ski trip package; a formidable skiing trio that see people from across the world coming to test what is said to be some of the best powder ski terrain there is.
Each ski resort town has its own character and charm with routes for all abilities. It’s possible to visit Jasper, Banff and Whistler on day trips from Calgary, however, spending more time there like in this 7-day taste of Canada trip comes strongly recommended.
Exploring the most famous waterfall in the world needs little introduction. Niagara Falls straddles the border of eastern Canada and New York state. It’s actually made up of three waterfalls that join together and fall dramatically off of the edge of the town of the same name.
A Niagara Falls Canada tour could take you along walking trails, on ziplines, cruises and even a helicopter flight to explore the spellbinding size of this natural wonder.
Trips like this Niagara Falls day trip from Toronto start in the air as you see the falls from the sky when you land in Niagara Falls town. You won’t be on the ground for long as the Niagara Falls Toronto tour takes you aboard a cruise into the mist of Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the trio, to feel its power. Your Niagara sightseeing tour finishes as the sun sets with one final glimpse of the falls as you take your returning flight to Toronto.
Montreal and Quebec
The two biggest cities in Quebec province, French-Canadian culture rings through Montreal and Quebec in very different ways.
Montreal is where old meets new in a way that no other city in Canada does. Think 18th-century early settler houses juxtaposed by skyscrapers; world-class museums and marketplaces that are bursting with products and speak to Montreal’s culturally diverse population and you begin to scratch the surface of this Quebecois city.
As Canada’s oldest city, Quebec is a stunning location where French colonial architecture meets a spectacular natural backdrop of the St. Lawrence River. The UNESCO World Heritage Old Quebec, an open-air museum in the centre of the city, is a quaint but cute fortified town that will teach you all about how the city was founded.
To see these two cities at their finest, you can hop between them on a Montreal to Quebec city tour.
While Yukon is the least-populated region of Canada, it is definitely one of the most beautiful! Cyan lakes, endless green forests that turn to winter wonderlands and a wildlife population that far outnumbers humans make Yukon a little slice of paradise; a truly off-the-beaten-path package tour to Canada.
Depending on what season you travel to Yukon, you will have a wildly different experience. You may even question if you are in the same place. In Yukon’s four months of summer, you can expect warm walks in the national parks, hot springs and canoe rides like in this Canada tour package. Come September, the whole region disappears under a thick blanket of snow. You’ll don your thermals to go snowshoeing and dog sledding before warming up in the hot springs like in this 5-day Yukon winter experience.
Toronto and Ottawa
Toronto and Ottawa are worlds apart yet sit within close proximity to each other – for a Canadian! The top place to go in Ontario, Canada; Toronto is a metropolis that represents the best of the country in one city yet Ottawa, the capital of the country, is small and calm, showcasing Canada’s natural bounty as you’ll see in this 8-day journey to the east.
With over 160 dialects and languages spoken in just one place, Toronto’s electric atmosphere is fuelled by its friendly people with roots reaching across the world. Whether you are looking for a food scene, music scene or even a beach, Toronto makes sure you have everything at your fingertips.
Ottawa is perhaps the only of Canada’s major cities to be easily navigated on foot. Situated by the river, Ottawa has a lively small-town atmosphere to it that will make you feel at home instantly. The city is known for its collection of museums, impressive outdoor spaces and for having some of the best adventures in eastern Canada; you can go rafting in the centre of the city!
How to Get Around Canada
As the second-largest country in the world, no matter how you choose to travel, you have to be prepared to travel for a long time. To make this manageable, most travellers take on one region at a time.
Self-Drive or Private Cars
One of the easiest, cheapest and most convenient ways to travel to Canada is getting a rental car or hiring someone to drive it for you. Some of the hidden gems of Canada are nestled in far-flung places that no other form of transportation can get to. Not to mention, along the way you’ll want to stop to take in the stunning views.
Rental cars are available at most airports. If you want to hire a driver, chat with our Local Designers, who are on the ground in Canada, while enquiring about a trip to find out more.
With a 95-hour drive from coast to coast, flying is the best and only choice for getting from A-to-B in less than 24 hours.
Flights are expensive; however, if you are travelling with limited time, this is your best option. You might be lucky to find cheap flights from Toronto to Montreal if you check regularly. There is a range of major airlines to choose from as well as a multitude of airports frequented across the country.
Canadian Rail Services
While the train services in Canada are modern and comfortable, if you are from Europe you might find Canadian train travel limiting in all departments. The trains in Canada run along the south of the country from east to west and are relatively infrequent. Compared to other modes of transportation in Canada, the train can be the most expensive; however, the views that you get along the way outweigh the negatives, making train holidays in Canada quite popular.
Where to Stay in Canada
This cosmopolitan metropolis is jam-packed full of accommodation options. Vancouver is compact, so you’ll find getting from A-to-B easy, making all areas of the city perfect to stay in.
From the Downtown area and the trendy Gastown to the West End and Yaletown, all areas of Vancouver have budget-friendly accommodation. However, if you are looking for luxury accommodation in particular, Vancouver excels more than most!
A province and a city, Quebec is the oldest in Canada and has a history and culture of its own. With this in mind, travellers looking to experience the city in all its glory should look no further than Old Quebec, where the foundations of the city and province were laid.
Whether you like to have your finger on the pulse or are an active box-ticking traveller, areas like Saint Roch and Saint Jean Baptiste will instantly immerse you in the French-Canadian way of life.
This megacity is home to the highest concentration of skyscrapers in the country. Toronto’s downtown area puts you right at the heart of the central business district (CBD) where you’ll be swept away by the beating heart of the city and immersed in the friendliness of Canadian culture. Other areas that offer a slower pace are the Harbourfront and Yorkville, Toronto’s boutique shopping district, reserved strictly for trendy travellers.
From stunning coastlines to inspiring cities, Nova Scotia welcomes all manner of travellers to its maritime lands. Quaint cottages, luxurious resorts, retreats and campsites make up the options on offer in the coastal province but its the location of these accommodation choices that matters!
Whether you choose to spend your time in the capital, Halifax or are looking for an adventure tour of Canada in Cape Breton, you’ll find innovative accommodation options like treehouses and domes in the most unlikely places!
Food & Drink in Canada
Vancouver’s Food Trucks and Fine Cuisine
Known for its food trucks and brunch spots, the stats are held pretty high on Vancouver’s food scene. The influence on what people eat is reflectly the blend of cultural backgrounds, particularly Asian, that make up Vancouver’s population.
One thing that stands out from any other place in Canada is Vancouver’s food truck scene that brings its craft beer market, fine dining and international cuisine together. Don’t underestimate this ‘western’ convention of street food!
French Quebecois Food and Poutine
Quebec city and Quebec region at large has a food scene that brought the late Anthony Bourdain to its shores. Think French with its own Quebecois twist from local produce and you get the picture. Quebec is home to two of Canada’s most famous products, poutine and maple syrup. However, this is only really the beginning of the food that you can try in the region.
In Montreal, you have the influence of French colonies from North Africa and the Arab World with a strictly Montreal idea of shawarma. When travelling through the smaller towns, you’ll find yourself on a cheese trail unlike any other. There’s only one rule for this part of Canada; come hungry!
All the Seafood in Nova Scotia
As a region known as an ‘ocean playground’ with parts simply referred to as The Maritimes, Nova Scotia is a seafood lover’s idea of heaven.
With lobster and scallops for days, you’ll quickly realise that this is a statement that no one takes lightly! As a cold region, hearty portions of fish and chips and chowder are never too far away, both classically comforting dishes that will never fail to leave you feeling full. However, if you want to dine in style, it’s the shellfish that you need to try!
The Food Mecca of Toronto
Naturally, Toronto is a foodie paradise. With a population whose roots stretch across the planet, Toronto’s food scene ranges from Mediterrenean flavours served al-fresco to corners of the city that could easily be mistaken for backstreets in Beijing.
No matter where you choose to eat in the city, you can guarantee it will be served with the character and charm that rings through the city. Whether it’s in old industrial buildings, Victorian buildings or rooftops with a view, you’ll capture the essence of Toronto instantly.
Cost of a Canada Travel Package
There are many things that have to be considered when envisioning your trip to Canada. To start taking steps, some of the variables to think about are;
Length of your trip
Season or month you choose to travel in
Accommodation class and type
How many places you visit during your trip
Number of activities or tours you take part in
Expenditure on shopping and dining out
Combine this with all of the outstanding locations that are waiting for you in Canada, you might be struggling to no where to start with planning a trip. However, there is a way the stress can be taken out of this.
With Designer Journeys, it’s as simple as specifying your budget, trip duration, activity preferences and how you like to travel to get the ball rolling. Based on the elements that make up your ideal trip, you’ll be connected with an in-destination Local Designer who will get planning based on your ideas.
Alternatively, browse our collection of fully-customisable Canada tours and relax in the knowledge that every detail has been taken care of.
To get an idea of how much a Canada trip package will cost, take a look at this 14-day West Canada and wine country trip that includes;
2- and 5-star accommodation
39 guided activities including a wine tasting
Airport transfers and transport by private car
Ten breakfasts and two dinners
However, changing the mode of transport or quality of accommodation in each location could increase or decrease the trip cost considerably.
When it comes to travelling, we all have different styles, requirements and even ideas of how to travel! Whether you want to design your own trip to Canada or browse our fully-customisable tours, our Local Designers in Canada will work with you to tailor your tour to match your travel requirements to get you on the road.
Festivals & Events in Canada
RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa & Montreal Jazz Festival – June-July
Although two very different festivals, we put these two together to highlight just how spectacular the west coast’s music scene is. While the jazz festival can only be compared to the legendary one in New Orleans, the Bluesfest in Ottawa is much more mainstream – sorry Blues fans.
Winnipeg Folk Festival – July
Making the most of the summer months, this music festival is just about the only reason you would go to Winnipeg. With a mixture of international folk music, outdoor art galleries and all-round good summer vibes, it’s definitely worth it.
Toronto International Film Festival – September
Considered the launchpad for some of Canada’s most successful directors and film in general, the Toronto International Film Festival is a force to be reckoned with. Keep your eyes peeled for actors and actresses you might be familiar with.
Toronto Poutine Festival – May
Way more than just chips, poutine is a Canadian dish that locals are incredibly proud of. If you are just here for the curds and gravy or prefer a more decadent choice of steak or lobster, you’ll find it at this festival.
Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival – June
Set on False Creek, the Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival is known for the stunning boats rather than the race itself. With intricate and sometimes very modern designs, this is the sort of the boat race that only Vancouver could host.
Quick Tips & Important Facts about Canada
- Religion: Christianity, although there are a mix of all faiths
- Currency: Canadian dollar
- Languages: English and French, however, Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi are widely spoken
- It can get really cold, so be prepared with extra clothing
- You may need a visa to enter Canada so it’s important to check
- Canada is big, so are the distances between places. Be prepared to travel far.
- Tipping in these parts follows the strict rules of 15% to 20% depending on the service quality for everything!
If you are on a self-drive tour, check the speed limits as it’s a little different in Canada.