Reasons to Visit Canada
Canada is the second largest country in the world, home to some wild and diverse landscapes, multi-cultural cities and incredible sights. So it’s no surprise that Lonely Planet named Canada the number one place to visit in 2017.
One of the biggest reasons is that in 2017, Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, which means lots of festivities. Across the country, from Vancouver to Toronto and Whitehorse to Charlottetown, there are big events planned to celebrate. Especially in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, where they claim to be having the biggest Canada Day party!
Another big plus for visiting in 2017 is free National Parks admission! Thanks to Parks Canada, locals and visitors alike can enjoy free admission to all National Parks, and National Heritage Sites. . From the unbelievable Canadian Rockies in the west to the fantastic Bay of Fundy in the east, Canada is home to so many different habitats. This makes our National Parks some of the most beautiful in the world. There are over 45 National Parks in Canada and over 150 Heritage Sites. That adds up to huge savings and great incentive for budget travelers!
There are countless reasons why you should book your ticket to visit Canada! And here are over 20 recommendations from travel bloggers across the globe!
Vancouver, BC – Sarah Hughes from Live Dream Discover
The more I travel around this globe the more I can say with certainty that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With a backdrop of majestic mountains and evergreen trees, a foreground of sand and sea and a modern, clean and compact urban center it really is picture perfect. It also makes for an unrivaled destination for the nature lover. Within the same day you can go skiing, play on the beach, run or cycle the seawall and explore the numerous parks around the city. In addition to its scenic perfection Vancouver is also a wonderful melting pot of cultures. This means world class shopping and entertainment and some of the most diverse and delicious cuisine you will find anywhere on earth.
Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC – Danielle Ditzian from Like Riding a Bicycle
While Victoria is worth visiting for a ton of different reasons, my favourite thing about the city is Beacon Hill Park. A short walk from downtown lies this huge park, which could not be more diverse. As you’re walking along you’ll pass through your usual tree areas, complete with little gardens, until you reach a more rocky area that reminds me of the barren lands of Africa. If you keep walking, you’ll reach the ocean, with the Olympic Peninsula in the States lying directly across from you – snow-capped mountains in the distance and everything. But one of my very favourite things about this park is that it actually has world’s tallest totem pole, which is definitely worth checking out! A wander through this park can take hours as it is huge, but on the other side, you’ll always reach civilization again (a blessing for some!) I highly recommend taking a wander when in Victoria!
Sunshine Coast, BC – Gemma & Craig from Two Scots Abroad
Oh, Canada! You absolute beaut with your Rocky Mountains, off – piste skiing, and jumping cities but I have a secret to share, the magic happens on the Sunshine Coast! A mere forty minutes away from Vancouver, on a very scenic ferry ride, is Gibsons. Gibsons is where you can hike to Soames Hill, kayak around the ducks, or sip some craft beer at Persephone. Moving further up the Coast you’ll reach the arty Roberts Creek with its yoga studio and community mandala. Sechelt has a cinema (!) as well as lazy Sunday brunches at the Lighthouse Pub and paddle boarding in the inlet. Then it’s lake life, take your pick of the Sunshine Coast’s Pender Harbour & Egmont Districts 10 lakes, my favourite so far is Katherine Lake but I can’t wait to go back (on a more permanent basis) to try out more!
Banff National Park and Jasper National Park – Matthew Bailey from Must Do Canada
Situated right next to each other in Western Alberta, these two parks provides some of Canada’s most jaw-dropping scenery. From giant mountain peaks to lush pine tree valleys, this is an area that should be on every nature-lovers bucket list. Whether you’re looking to drive one of the world’s most scenic highways, hike in some of the world’s most wild backcountries, or ski some of the world’s best powder, there’s truly something for everyone in the Canadian Rockies. In the summer, grey mountain peaks emerge from lush green valleys and turquoise-colored rivers. In the winter, snow blankets the area, presenting an entirely different beauty that contrasts the bright-saturated colors of the summer. In fact, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are so beautiful throughout the year that one must visit in both seasons to truly experience the grandeur of the area. Whether you’re coming for adventure, luxury, or something in-between, spending time in the Canadian Rockies is one of the best things to do in Canada.
Edmonton, Alberta – Alouise Dittrick from Take Me to the World
My pick for a place in Canada to visit in 2017 is my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton is home to West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America that has shopping, dining, a hotel, a skating rink, an indoor water park, an amusement park, a full-sized replica of the Santa Maria ship and more. West Ed is fun to visit, but there’s more to Edmonton than a mall.
You can learn about the history of the region at the interactive Fort Edmonton Park (be sure to stop at the candy store on 1920’s Street). If you love art there are many Art Galleries along 124th Street and the Alberta Art Gallery downtown is always worth visiting. You can see some fantastic theatre in the city with one of the many local theatre companies. In fact, Edmonton hosts the world’s second largest (after Edinburgh, Scotland) fringe theatre festival in August. There are a variety of other festivals throughout the year like the Deep Freeze Festival, Jazz Fest LitFest, The Street Performers Festival, and the Servus Heritage Festival, to name a few.
There are great shopping and dining in neighbourhoods like Old Strathcona, 124th Street, Garneau, Alberta Ave, and 104 Street. The city has lots of parks and trails if you want to go hiking or biking (or cross-country skiing in the winter). Plus if you get tired of the city you can take a road trip to nearby Elk Island National Park, an hour east of the city.
Kananaskis, Alberta – Thea Wingert from Zen Travellers
Canada is well known for its national parks, but many provincial parks deliver similarly exquisite views without the crowds. With access starting at less than an hour from Calgary, Kananaskis Country an easily accessible, year-round mountain playground where the hiking, biking, skiing and horseback riding trails are incredible. In fact, the area is so popular with Calgarians, that there is even a widely successful guidebook called “Where the Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies” which features over 58 trails in “K-Country.”
Another selling feature is that animal sightings are very common in K-Country. To that end, I have been lucky enough to see black bears, grizzly bears, moose, big horn sheep, and deer while hiking, biking, or skiing there. Since it is only a short detour when travelling from Calgary to Banff or Lake Louise, and it is free to visit unless camping overnight, Kananaskis Country should not be missed if visiting Canada in 2017.
Calgary, Alberta – Christina Saull from My View from the Middle Seat
Calgary, Alberta is a city that has transformed itself. Surrounded by relatively flat farmland, this gateway to the Canadian Rockies has seen a resurgence in the past few years, fueled by Canada’s growing oil and gas industry. The Kensington neighborhood is transforming itself into a destination in itself with boutiques, cafes & specialty eateries. Calgary Olympic Park, once home to many of the sports in the 1988 Olympics, has transformed itself into an adventure park which includes Canada’s highest zip line and a ride down the Olympic bobsled track. But this city of a little over a million people hasn’t forgotten its roots: every July the Calgary Stampede comes roaring into town, with its traditional rodeo and festival. With direct flights from across Canada and the U.S., Calgary is the perfect destination for a few days stay prior to heading into the mountains.
Whitehorse, Yukon – Lies Veldeman from Non Stop Destination
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory and is the perfect starting point for a Yukon adventure. With only 35,000 people living in this province, the Yukon is the ideal destination if you love the wild.
In summer, you can paddle the Yukon River or several lakes around Whitehorse and follow the trail of the Klondike Gold Rush to Dawson City. In winter enjoy a day of dogsledding and chase the Northern Lights at night.
For my 30th birthday in October, I escaped the city (Vancouver) and flew to Whitehorse with my boyfriend. Our first stop was the Yukon Wildlife Preserve (a must!), where we encountered moose, lynx, arctic foxes and muskoxen to name a few. We spent a good few hours walking through the snow, admiring these beautiful animals. Afterwards, with temperatures plummeting below zero, we took a dip in the warm Takhini Hot Springs just outside the town.
The roads were quiet on our way back to our B&B, with only two cars passing us. I loved the silence, the emptiness and the vast forests around us. With no light pollution in this part of the country, you can admire the unspoilt night sky, and if you’re lucky, see the Northern Lights dancing above you.
ALCAN Highway / Signpost Forest – Paige Brown from For the Love of Wanderlust
A few years ago I had the pleasure of driving all 1,387 miles of the ALCAN Highway! It’s easy to have a great time on this drive because there are so many awesome stops along the way, both natural and man-made. This highway was originally constructed in the early 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the months of construction a homesick G.I. decided to make himself feel better by posting a sign for his hometown. Thus created the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake. Now people who pass by are invited to hang a sign from home or their travels along with 75,000+ others! Don’t miss out on other stops like Whitehorse, Muncho Lake and Kluane Lake. Not to mention it’s like a drive-thru animal park along the road and the mountain views will keep you inspired the entire drive! Plus, it’s the gateway to an Alaskan adventure!
Inuvik, Northwest Territories – Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs
The town of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories is the gateway to experiencing the Arctic. Located above the Arctic Circle on the scenic Mackenzie River, which becomes a frozen highway in winter and leads to the city of Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean, Inuvik offers a broad range of adventures and outdoors activities in winter and summer alike. Those eager for thrilling things to do will love winter activities such as dog-sledding, tundra camping, snowmobiling, Northern Lights, and reindeer watching. Warmer months will offer fishing, boating, and kayaking in remote rivers, biking and hiking the wilderness. Those looking for culture and history will be interested in local festivals such as the Muskrat Jamboree and the small but well documented Western Arctic Regional Visitor Centre to learn more about the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in peoples. One can reach Inuvik by plane or drive the scenic Dempster Highway linking the town from Dawson City, Yukon, going through high mountains and deep rivers. An authentic Arctic destination for the adventurous spirits.
Bruce Peninsula National Park – Me!!
My top pick for reasons to visit Canada in 2017 is the Bruce Peninsula. The Peninsula is home to some of Ontario’s fabulous natural wonders, from Flowerpot Island to the Grotto. And is where you’ll find the Bruce Peninsula National Park. This amazing park should be on everyone’s list of National Parks to visit during your trip to Canada in 2017.
The Park cover 150 square kilometres and is a hot spot for nature lovers. Its home to some incredible natural beauty and wonders! From peaceful lakes where you can camp or stay in a yurt to the famous Grotto and dense forests full of wildlife to massive rugged limestone cliffs, a visit to this Park will wow you. If you love to hike than you’ll love the many trails through the park, many of which lead to some epic views over Georgian Bay’s crystal clear blue waters. And Ontario’s great Bruce Trail begins at the northern section of the park in Tobermory and runs throughout.
Toronto, Ontario – Oksana & Max from Drink Tea Travel
Our hometown, Toronto, is a city you can’t miss on your trip to Canada. A visit to Toronto isn’t about the sights and attractions, but rather a chance to understand the nuances of what it really means to be Canadian. Toronto offers an incredible mosaic of cultures, traditions, cuisines, and experiences that will guarantee a really unique visit.
Climb to the top of the CN Tower, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, catch a baseball game at the Rogers Centre, take a trip to Toronto Island, rub shoulders with hipsters at the Kensington Market, get lost in the cobbled walkways of the Distillery District, and spend the rest of your time exploring the various pockets of culture that make up Toronto. Late Spring/early Fall is a great time to visit if you want to take advantage of Toronto’s film, art, and music festival scene and of course to enjoy the rare good weather!
Algonquin Provincial Park – Sophie Nadeau from Solo Sophie
One of the best reasons to visit Canada is obviously all of the stunning National and Provincial Parks dotted throughout the country. Not only a wildlife lovers paradise, the parks are full of ways in which you can truly immerse yourself in nature. Algonquin Provincial Park is situated in Northern Ontario around eight hours north of Toronto. Stunning in summer (with good weather to match), the prettiest time to visit the Park is likely fall, when the foliage turns burnt orange and umber tones…
Niagara Falls, Ontario – Renata Pereira
A trip to Niagara Falls should be on everybody’s bucket list. If you’re in Toronto, Niagara is just 90 minutes away. It’s worth the drive even if you can only spend the day.
First, let me clarify that there are two cities called “Niagara Falls”: one in Canada and one in the USA. They are connected by a bridge, and when you visit either side, you can also take a day to explore the other, as they offer different views of the falls and different attractions.
Personally speaking, I prefer the view from the Canadian side, as that’s where you can clearly see all 3 waterfalls that straddle the border. It’s free to watch, you just spend money if you want to join any tour for an up-close look.
During your trip, make sure you also see the falls in the evening. There are great light projections, making them look even more amazing. Also, take some time to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. That’s where the famous Canadian ice-wine is produced.
Unfortunately there’s also a tourist catch in the region: hidden fees (for marketing, recycling, etc). You can ask at the establishments for them to be removed, but in some occasions they may say a fee is mandatory while it’s actually optional (it happened to me). Just be smart about it and enjoy the trip!
Northern Lights and Cree Culture in James Bay, Quebec – Safia Dodard from Nomad Junkies
The region of James Bay in Quebec is huge, almost the size of Germany. Far from being a popular tourist destination, it is mostly known because of hydroelectricity. This is very unfortunate because here are five very good reasons why James Bay should be on your bucket list while visiting Canada.
1- Northern Lights: Forget Scandinavia or Iceland, it is possible to get good sightings of Aurora Borealis up north. Make sure you are bundled up and enjoy this dancing light show from Mother Nature.
2- Wildlife: If you thought you had to go to Africa to experience a safari, think again! From moose, caribou, wolves, lynx and even bears, you’ve got it all in this northern version of the Big Five. For bonus points, try to spot a wolverine!
3- Native culture: as travelers, we sometimes go out of our way to see native people in their traditional villages, but we forget that there is a very rich native culture right in our backyard. With nine Cree communities in the James Bay region, you get quickly introduced to the First Nations way of life.
4- Scenery: As you cross the 50th parallel, the environment around starts to change. As more black spruces cover the land, the more north you get, the more is gives way to lichen which covers the ground like a blanket of snow.
5- Culinary delight: If trying scorpions in Thailand or starfish in China was not enough, you will be gladly surprised by the offering in Northern Quebec. Let the Crees introduce you to Walleye, bannock, moose stew or deep fried fish giblets-like snacks.
Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec – Marta Correale from Learning Escapes
Pristine mountain scenery, rivers rushing though unspoilt forests and a plethora of activities for the outdoor enthusiast: this, and much more, is Mont Tremblant National Park, in Quebec. Located about 80 miles North West of Montreal, Mont Tremblant is an easy weekend excursion from the city, but one of those places that keep calling the visitors back. In the winter, its peaks are covered with powdery snow and cozy resorts welcome skiers with crackling fires and beautiful shopping. In the summer, hiking trails and water activities make both families and hikers flock here: camping opportunities and hotels abound and, after enjoying a multigenerational trip to Mont Tremblant with kids as young as 2, I can truly say that Mont Tremblant is a must-see destination for all ages.
Winter Carnival, Quebec – Sharon Mendelaoui from Dream Travel Magazine
It is a winter tradition in Quebec and the world’s largest Winter Festival. Quebec Carnival is filled with original experiences that are on the bucket lists of many Canadians and world travellers.
For starters you have to tour the ice palace built with a new design each year out of clear non-melting ice. If you plan your visit well you’ll meet famous Canadian celebrity Bonhomme du Carnaval. Known as the spirit of the Carnival Bonhomme is a snowman as famous as Santa, who visits Quebec during the 3-week festival.
Quebec Carnival is filled with fun activities for the whole family from snow bowling, tubing and dog sledding to browsing the many exhibitors throughout the carnival area.
There are also famous and popular foods to try like fries, cheese curds and gravy: a favourite known as Poutine. Chocolate covered, deep fried dough known as the Beavertail is also a favourite and one can’t visit Quebec in winter without indulging in some frozen maple syrup taffy.
No trip to Quebec City for Winter Carnival would be complete without a ride on Quebec’s famous wooden toboggan. It is one of the oldest attractions in Canada and its hill has three icy runs that will have you sledding at up to 70KM/hour. It’s a super fun ride and the best $3.00 you’ll ever spend.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland – Lindsay Davis from I’ve Been Bit
Of all the national parks I’ve visited (8 and counting!), Gros Morne was the one that surprised me the most. The variation in terrain is astounding! At one end you have beautiful Western Brook Pond which is a part of the Appalachian Mountains’ northern most section. Further into the park you’ll see not just a variety of wildlife but waterfalls, marsh, and more! Or if you head south west, you’ll think you’ve driven into a desert as you explore Gros Morne’s tablelands. No matter where you go, you’ll be awestruck by Newfoundland’s natural beauty. If you’re going to hike any trail though, head for the Lookout Trail – it’ll take your breath away!
Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick – Alison Cornford-Matheson from CheeseWeb
New Brunswick is often seen as Canada’s ‘drive through province’ owing to its mind-numbingly boring stretch of Trans-Canada Highway. Exit the highway, however, and you’ll find some of the most stunning and surprising landscapes on the East Coast. New Brunswick has two national parks, and while Fundy with its dramatic coast is popular with visitors, the less well known Kouchibouguac National Park is a real hidden gem. Kouchibouguac (pronounced Koo-she-boo-gwack and meaning ‘river of long tides’ in Mi’kmaq) is found on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Route, on the Northumberland straight. Its endless stretches of sandy beaches boast the warmest salt water north of Virginia and are home to scores of marine and bird species.
But there’s more to Kouchibouguac than beaches, encompassing 238km2 of incredibly diverse natural habitats including forest, marshes, bogs, dunes, estuaries, and rivers, there’s plenty of nature to discover. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, water sports, camping, and educational activities encompassing everything from nature talks to learning about New Brunswick’s First Nations. Kouchibouguac National Park truly lives up to its slogan ‘difficult to pronounce… impossible to forget.’
Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia – Heather Hudak from Wanderlust Wayfarer
Just an hour’s drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia, brings you to the quaint community of Peggys Cove. Located on the shore of St. Margarets Bay this active fishing village is famous for its iconic lighthouse. But it’s so much more than just a great place to get a photo by the ocean.
Upon arrival, you’ll immediately feel like you’ve been transported to the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie. Only 60 people call Peggys Cove home, and they welcome visitors with open arms. You’ll want to park at one end of town—either the tourist center or the the Sou’Wester—and then take a stroll through the entire community. From tattered trawlers to colorful cottages, you’ll get your fill of fantastic photo opportunities.
As you walk through town, be sure to check out the many boutiques offering handmade jewelry and trinkets from local artisans. And you must try the lobster rolls and chowder at one of the seaside cafés. It’s to die for. When you’ve had your fill, take a walk on the rocks to get up close and personal with Peggys Point Lighthouse.
Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, PEI – Julie Cao from Always On the Way
One of the best places in Canada to visit is Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island (PEI). This capital city of PEI was once the birthplace of Canada, where 23 delegates of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia met to discuss uniting Canada’s Maritimes. However, border issue has brought into attention, which has plant the seed to establish a larger union. Eventually, Canada was born on July 1st, 1867.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, groups of tall ships will be arriving in Charlottetown as part of the trans-Atlantic race. These tall ships will begin sailing from Greenwich, UK and will dock in Charlottetown’s waterfront between June 30 and July 2, 2017. The ships will be open to visitors and islanders for tours and will allow them to experience the ships’ unique structure.
Plenty of live concerts and shows will take place at Victoria Park. There are also bouncy rides and face panting stands to entertain children, and a swimming pool, and playground. The celebration ends with fireworks over the shore of Victoria Park. Peakes Quay Restaurant and Bar has a large patio for guests to have delicious seafood dinners while enjoying the festival environment of Canada Day.
Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish, PEI – Elizabeth Bornstein from A Suitcase Full of Books
“I’ve always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world…” This statement made in Anne of Green Gables by L. M.
Montgomery could not be more true. The vistas alone are enough to draw visitors, but many make the pilgrimage to PEI thanks to Anne. Book fans should start your PEI visit at the Green Gables Heritage Place in the heart of Cavendish. The spotless white house with green trim looks just as you’d imagine, and an Anne actress can often be seen outside posing for photos. This house, not originally named Green Gables, was the farmhouse of Montgomery’s grandfather’s cousins and the inspiration for the book setting. Montgomery’s elder relatives may also have inspired the fictional occupants of Green Gables.
Inside the house you’ll see artifacts from the 1800’s, the time period Montgomery’s family lived in the house. You’ll also see some items from the Anne story that make it feel as if the fictional characters really do exist and if you wait a little while, they’ll walk right back in from the farm task they went out to complete.
Upon exiting the Green Gables house you’ll find a couple nature trails. Lovers Lane leads you on a tree-shaded loop past Anne’s babbling brook. The Haunted Wood trail, however, leads you to the site where Montgomery’s childhood home, where she lived with her grandparents, once stood. After checking out the second site, return to Green Gables for a raspberry cordial. And who knows, you’ll probably meet some “Kindred Spirits” while you’re there.
Will you be visiting Canada this year?
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