Canada has no shortage of natural wonders and urban highlights. Culturally rich cities such as Vancouver and Calgary and natural phenomena like the Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains are just some of the highlights.
With so many attractions, which are famous worldwide, it can be hard to decide on the ones you should visit during your holidays in Canada. As experts in Canadian travel, we’re here to guide you through some of the top attractions in the country and let you vote for your favourite in a quiz at the end.
Recommended activity: Feel the spray from the waterfalls on the Hornblower Niagara Cruises
Fun fact: The three waterfalls that makeup Niagara Falls produce the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America.
Seen by many as Canada’s most famous natural attraction, Niagara Falls is visited by more than 30 million people every year.
The falls (comprising of three waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls and American Falls) is a natural spectacle not to be missed during a holiday in Canada.
Make a day of it at Niagara Falls and hop onto the different activities available. We recommend the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, going up the Skylon Tower and visiting the Aquarium of Niagara.
Sheila Berrios-Nazario from travel blog Golden Age Trips says Niagara Falls is her favourite attraction in Canada.
“This park has a special place in my heart not only because the falls are impressive, but because it connects Canada with the United States.”
Sheila goes onto say that going to the Niagara Falls is a trip many people will never forget.
To find out more about Niagara Falls, click here.
The Canadian Rockies
Recommended activity: Hiking the picturesque Berg Lake Trail
Fun fact: You can taste some of the world’s freshest water at the Columbia Icefield between Banff and Jasper National Parks. The meltwater from the icefield flows into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans.
The Canadian Rockies are an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream with mountains and forests to explore and lots of wildlife to see, from grizzlies to wolves.
Lying between the interior plains of Alberta and northern British Columbia, there’s no doubt that you will have seen photographs of this stunning scenery. There are lots of must-visit places in this corner of the world such as Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Park.
Recommended activity: Eat at the 360 Restaurant
Fun fact: It is one of the seven wonders of the modern world
The CN Tower is seen by Torontonians as the crown jewel of the city’s skyline and it is recognised all over the world.
At 553.33 metres high it was once the world’s tallest freestanding structure and in total it took 40 months and 1,537 workers to construct the tower.
Recommended activity: Go ice skating in the winter months or on a boat cruise in the summer
Fun fact: There are over 40 locks on the canal
The UNESCO World Heritage Site gracefully cuts through the centre of Downtown Ottawa and is the heartbeat of Canada’s capital.
The canal is a hive of activity with lots of activities on offer. In the warmer months of the year, it is a great place for walkers, runners, in-line skaters and cyclists to visit. Boat cruises and kayaking are also popular pastimes amongst visitors.
During the winter months, this iconic canal becomes the world’s biggest ice-skating rink, but it is the beauty and history that truly attracts the crowds. The canal was completed in 1832 and was built as a reaction to the War of 1812 in a bid to keep British supply ships away from the US border.
Whistler Blackcomb Resort
Recommended activity: Go skiing (ski season is from November to April)
Fun fact: Whistler Mountain was originally called London Mountain due to the frequent fog at lower elevations
Constantly ranked as one of the best mountain resorts in the world. Whistler is a great place to visit during the winter and summer months.
During winter there are more than 8,100 acres of skiable terrain as the mountains offer over 200 marked ski and snowboard trails, 16 alpine bowls and 3 beautiful glaciers. During the summer, mountain bikers from around the globe descend on the area to take on world famous mountain biking routes.
There’s also plenty of hiking trails and the incredible 4.4km Peak2Peak gondola ride between the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Recommended activity: Go on a free guided tour of the parliament buildings (they are available every day)
Fun fact: According to Narcity, Parliament Hill was home to a colony of cats in the 1930s which were brought in to deal with a plague of rats and mice.
If you’re spending a bit of time in Ottawa, then Parliament Hill should be at the top of your bucket list. Similar to the Houses of Parliament in London, Parliament Hill is the political heart of the city, but the government buildings offer fantastic views of the Ottawa River.
Parliament Hill is also a hub for some of Canada’s biggest events throughout the year, including the annual Sound & Light Show. This show is a multimedia event that is set against the backdrop of the Parliament Buildings.
Recommended activity: Take a tour around the Notre-Dame Basilica
Fun fact: Montreal is a UNESCO city of design
Old Montreal is full of charm with its cobblestone streets, beautiful churches and French cafes. It’s also replete with history, being home to evidence of First Nations encampments and artefacts dating back thousands of years.
Old Montreal and the Old Port are regular backdrops for a variety of annual events, with grand squares hosting the likes of the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, Christmas markets and lots more.
Recommended activity: Go polar bear watching
Fun fact: It’s also known as the Beluga Whale Capital of the World
Known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, Churchill is certainly a unique place to visit with its rugged beauty and plethora of wildlife.
Located on the shores of Hudson Bay on the northern border of Manitoba, this popular town can only be accessed by air or by train. This remoteness, however, is a large part of its charm and it is the best place in the world to see polar bears in their natural environment.
In addition to the wildlife, Churchill is a great spot to watch the Northern Lights. The best time to see this natural phenomenon is from January to March as the skies are at their darkest, but they can be seen all year round in this part of the world.
Bay of Fundy
Recommended activity: Whale watching from Digby
Fun fact: The Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s most complete “Coal Age” fossil record.
This rugged coastline in Nova Scotia is home to 300-foot cliffs and a sea that is teeming with whales (around 15 species of whales are believed to hang out here).
There’s so much more to do here than just whale watching as nestled between twin mountains is the Annapolis Valley, a fertile wine-growing region that’s home to lots of wineries.
One of the most iconic experiences in the whole of Atlantic Canada can be had here and that’s watching the highest tides in the world. They’re at their highest in the Minas Basin region of the Bay and can reach an incredible 16 metres in height!
Gros Morne National Park
Recommended activity: Sea kayaking is a great way to explore the national park during the summer months and in winter you should try snowshoeing.
Fun fact: For anyone who likes their geography, the park is home to one of the best examples in the world of continental drift.
The Gros Morne National Park is one of Canada’s greatest national parks and is a popular area to visit due to the number of activities on offer. You can sea kayak and hike in the summer months and snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowmobile in the winter.
The park in Newfoundland is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its spectacular scenery is renowned all over the world, with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and many pristine lakes.
Recommended activity: See Canada’s oldest city on a cruise on the St. Lawrence River
Fun fact: The city is the oldest French-speaking community in North America
Old Quebec oozes old world charm and, in a similar way to Old Montreal, the area is full of cobbled streets, impressive architecture and Parisian-style cafes.
History buffs can learn about Old Quebec’s French roots, while foodies can enjoy a culinary experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.
The Chateau Frontenac, which is the most photographed hotel in the world, is certainly worth a visit. Ride on a horse-drawn carriage or watch the street entertainers, singers and artists – there’s new to see around every corner.
Recommended activity: Take in free entertainment at Rope Square (Olympic Plaza).
Fun fact: The Calgary Stampede site says around 1.2m people visit the event over the 10 days. That’s more than 120,000 people visiting the Calgary Stampede on a daily basis and this makes it the third largest city by population in Alberta.
The Calgary Stampede is one of the greatest events in the world and is where the culture of the Old West is brought back to life.
What’s dubbed as ‘the greatest outdoor show on Earth’, the Calgary Stampede has a full rodeo schedule, multiple concert stages and countless stalls selling anything from cowboy hats to delicious food.
Here at Canadian Affair, we offer a number of Calgary Stampede holidays that you should take a look at ahead of next year’s show, which takes place from 5-14 July.
Recommended activity: Walk, bike or rollerblade on the Stanley Park Seawall.
Fun fact: At 9pm every evening the sound of cannon fire can be heard ringing through the air. This is the Stanley Park 9 o’clock gun.
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s biggest park and being in the heart of the city it has become one of the most popular attractions in the whole country.
Charles Kosman, who runs the travel site The Barefoot Nomad, says Stanley Park is one of his favourite attractions in Canada.
“At over 400 hectares, it’s rare to find such a large park in the middle of an international city. Stanley Park is what makes Vancouver truly unique. Whether you’re biking, walking or just laying on one of the many beaches scattered throughout the park, it never fails to impress how a city can have such a natural wonderland on its doorstep.
“With hundred-year-old giant red cedars, huge Douglas firs and a generous scattering of maple trees, the park is a veritable forest in the heart of the city. Add in the giant Seawall with its miles and miles of paved pathways overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the always entertaining Vancouver Aquarium, scenic Beaver Lake, and the Stanley Park Pavilion and Rose Garden and you could spend your entire time in Vancouver just enjoying the park. Of course, with Vancouver’s amazing restaurants, nightlife and shopping, you would be missing out but without a doubt, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s best attraction.”
Recommended activity: Take in the views from the GoldLeaf Service carriages, which have glass-domed roofs offering 360° views.
Fun fact: The train runs through seven mountain ranges (the Cascade Range, Rocky Mountains, Coast Mountain Range, Cariboo Mountains, Selkirk Mountains, Centennial Range and the Premier Range)
The Rocky Mountaineer train route is one of the world’s most iconic journeys. It takes in the best scenery in the Canadian Rockies, allowing travellers to see wilderness that can’t be accessed any other way, while enjoying pure luxury.
The train runs between April and October and there are four different routes. The most popular are:
– Journey through the Clouds – running from Vancouver to Jasper
– First Passage to the West – running from Vancouver to Banff
– Rainforest to Gold Rush – running from Vancouver via Whistler to Jasper
– Coastal Passage – running from Vancouver to Seattle
The Cabot Trail
Recommended activity: Sample the fresh seafood on offer in each town you stop at.
Fun fact: The Cabot Trail was named after Italian explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) who visited Cape Breton in 1497 during a sailing mission for King Henry VII of England.
With beautiful coastal views, the Cabot Trail is one of the most scenic drives in the world and is easily Cape Breton Island’s most famous attraction.