Best tips for visiting Canada’s gateway cities


Canada gateway cities

READ TIME: 8 minutes

Although there are lots of airports across Canada, your international flight is likely to land in one of the main five gateway cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Québec City, Calgary or Montréal.

While you might be raring to go and explore some of Canada’s famed national parks and outdoor natural attractions, there is much more to explore in each of the gateway cities than meets the eye.

If you are booking your flights to Canada, then you should plan to spend some time in the city you are flying into as there are a whole host of attractions you can see and things to do in each one. Our guide takes a look at what you can do in each city so you don’t waste a minute of your time in Canada.


Airport: Toronto Pearson International Airport

Toronto is a great gateway city in Canada

Toronto is regarded by many as one of the best cities in Canada and due to it being around an hour away from  Niagara Falls and many of Ontario’s provincial parks, flights to Toronto from the UK are popular as the city is the perfect starting point for travelling to these attractions.

Toronto is much more than being a great place for the first stop on your holiday to Canada as the cosmopolitan and dynamic city is the cultural heart of the country.

There are lots of attractions you should visit in the city and John from Brits in Toronto tells us about some of the places he’d recommend you head to.

“If people are spending a few days in the city I would recommend visiting the historic St. Lawrence Market. It was first established in the early 19th century and features lots of great vendors, from meats to cheeses to seafood. A trip up the CN Tower is always fun too with its spinning restaurant and 360 degrees view of Toronto and the suburbs.

“Niagara Falls is only a 90-minute drive away and is spectacular. For spicy food, the Little India neighbourhood always hits the spot. And, if you feel like working that curry off, a nice stroll around High Park should suffice. Toronto is a great starting point as it’s such a multicultural city but with a strong British contingent.”

The city is also home to lots of museums, a thriving sports scene and entertainment venues like theatres and music venues, which are planning to re-open in 2021.

Best attractions to visit in Toronto:

•Lawrence Market

•CN Tower

•Royal Ontario Museum

•Distillery Historic District

•Toronto Island Park

READ MORE: Where to stay in Toronto


Airport: Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver is also considered to be one of the best cities to visit in Canada and it is one of the world’s most picturesque cities with it being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains.

With all these outdoor spaces on its doorstep, it is the perfect gateway city for explorers and nature lovers. The city itself is home to lots of green spaces, namely the 400-acre Stanley Park which is at the heart of Vancouver, as well as stunning beaches at English Bay and Kitsilano.

You can also explore the pathways into nature at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and enjoy stunning views from the sky-ride to the top of Grouse Mountain.

Vancouver is also world-renowned for its cuisine and you can enjoy fresh, local produce at Granville Island, fresh seafood and in the city’s different districts you can enjoy lots of different foods.

Becky Moore, the owner of award-winning travel blog Global Grasshopper recommends that you try some of the city’s craft beer.

“You cannot leave Vancouver without visiting at least one microbrewery. The craft beer scene is huge in Canada and shows no signs of slowing down with dozens of new craft and microbreweries popping up every year. If you can, try and arrange a craft beer crawl for an extra fun afternoon and make sure you include some of the top-rated destinations such as Brassneck Brewery, Powell Brewery and Bomber Brewing.

“Vancouver is the perfect place to start your Canadian holiday as it’s both beautiful and very safe offering you a taste of things to come including majestic mountains, sparkling waters, and beautiful foliage.”

Vancouver is also the start of the amazing Rocky Mountaineer train journey, taking you east into the stunning Rocky Mountains. Therefore the city is the perfect starting point for wider exploration.

Best attractions to visit in Vancouver:

•Stanley Park

•Granville Island

•Museum of Anthropology

•Kitsilano Beach


READ MORE: Where to stay in Vancouver

Québec City

Airport: Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport

Quebec City

Québec City is Canada’s oldest city and it is a popular gateway to the province of Québec. Instead of going straight on to your next destination, you should look to spend some time here so you can fully explore the city and everything it has to offer.

The city oozes with old-world charm as its quaint cobbled streets, architecture and little European-style cafes make it one of Canada’s most attractive places to stay.

There is so much you can do in the city and this ranges from enjoying a cruise down the St. Lawrence River to visiting attractions such as Place Royale.

If you love history, then you must visit the city as Old Québec is where you can discover 400 years of incredible history and stories from bygone times.

Best attractions to visit in Québec city:

•Place Royale

•La Citadelle de Québec

•Parliament Building (Hotel du Parlement) & Parliament Hill

•Basilique Cathedrale – Notre-Dame-de-Quebec

•Plains of Abraham

READ MORE: Where to stay in Québec City


Airport: Calgary International Airport

Skyline of Calgary

Calgary, being just a short distance away from the iconic Canadian Rocky Mountains means it is the perfect place to fly into if you are wanting to visit the likes of Banff or Lake Louise.

The city is famed for hosting the Calgary Stampede and if you are visiting in the summer you should certainly look to get tickets for the world-famous event. There are rodeos, chuckwagon races and concerts as the festival takes over the entire city.

Although the Calgary Stampede is on in the summer, it doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit as there are so many things you can do in the city. You can test your nerve by going down the Bobsleigh track with a professional driver or get stunning views of the city from the Calgary Tower.

Calgary is also home to a great food scene and Liz, the travel blogger behind the Young Adventuress blog, recommends heading to Charbar.

“Where do I start? The best brunch I’ve EVER had of all time was at Charbar.  It blew me away and I don’t say that lightly.

“Blending together Argentinian, Spanish and Italian flavours over an Argentinian woodfire grill, I wish I hadn’t eaten for days to prepare me for this meal.”

Best attractions to visit in Calgary:

•Calgary Tower

•Heritage Park Historical Village

•Calgary Stampede (held in July)

•Calgary Zoo

•WinSport: Canada Olympic Park

READ MORE: Where to stay in Calgary


Airport: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport


Montréal is the largest city in the province of Québec and with more than 60% of its population speaking French as their first language it is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.

With its French influence, the largest Italian population and Haitian population in Canada, the city is also home to 75% of the total Arab and Moroccan population in Canada, it is hugely cultural. The diverse neighbourhoods and cobblestone streets are great for exploring on foot.

There is always something to do in the city no matter what time of year you visit. In the summer there are a plethora of festivals and events that take place, while the likes of The Museum of Fine Arts and the Notre-Dame Basilica are some of the most popular attractions in the city.

Best attractions to visit in Montréal:


•Old Montréal

•Jardin Botanique

•Notre-Dame Basilica

•Parc Jean Drapeau

READ MORE: 48 hours in Montréal

If you are flying to one of these cities for your Canadian holiday with Canadian Affair, then these are just some of the things you can do and places you can see when you arrive or before you depart.

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