Manitoba is where Canada's heart beats. This a wonderful province in the centre of the country is brimming with natural beauty and spectacular scenery, not least of which is its namesake – Lake Manitoba. Lonely Planet has recognised Manitoba as one of its Best in Travel Regions in 2019 for its incredible culture and fauna. Home to the vibrant city of Winnipeg and several other notable towns, there is something for summer and winter holidays here. Delight in a close encounter with the magical beluga whales that come in their thousands to the Hudson Bay during the warmer months, or watch the mystical Northern Lights dancing across the dark winter night skies.
Manitoba’s capital, Winnipeg, is the province’s largest city and is a pleasant surprise in the middle of the prairies. With a range of accommodation from quaint bed and breakfasts to chic hotels and family-orientated resorts, the city has it covered and the shopping is excellent with several contrasting districts to explore. Originally an aboriginal trading post, Winnipeg has a rich history which is celebrated with many museums and attractions, such as the historic meeting place The Forks on the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers. It also has a thriving arts scene, boasting many concert venues, theatres and galleries and a huge array of talent in all areas.
In the north of the province on the shores of the vast Hudson Bay lies the charming town of Churchill. Popular with holiday visitors during the autumn months as one of the best places in the world to see wild polar bears and experience the awesome Aurora Borealis, the summer brings its own attractions, mainly in the form of the charming beluga whales as they flock to the bay for the warmer months.
Manitoba has an extreme climate and winters are cold and long. But it doesn’t run and hide, it embraces the weather. From snow-carving to ice fishing, traditional trappers’ festivals to outdoor spas, there is plenty to keep you busy - and plenty of cosy cabins, friendly faces and welcoming restaurants to help you warm up afterwards! There are also a number of well-maintained ski resorts scattered around the province. There is ample opportunity to head out into the undisturbed snow on snowshoes with a great many marked trails and endless backcountry to explore, with just the deer and the birds for company. Head out after dark and be guided by the moonlight as you watch the spectacular light displays trip across the night sky.
During the summer months the landscapes come alive; wildflowers scatter the prairies and meadows and blue skies abound. There are a huge amount of outdoor activities on offer, from boating or bathing on one of the sandy beaches, horse riding through the grasslands or following the pretty river trails on a bike, to thrilling whitewater rafting or rock-climbing. The region erupts in lively celebration as the summer festivals and events begin, from Dauphin’s Countryfest and River City’s Dragon Boats to festivals for every kind of music. And what could be more cheering than the fields of vibrant yellow flowers at the Manitoba Sunflower Festival?
Visit Manitoba on holiday and you will find the best of Canada in one province; skiing and winter sports, hiking, beautiful landscapes, dynamic city-life and simply amazing wildlife. Once you discover the heart of the country you won’t want to go anywhere else.
Things to do
Popular Manitoba holiday ideas
Top tips for visiting Manitoba
Top Tip 1
• Winnipeg has many excellent shopping districts, from the exclusive designer stores of Academy Road and the commercial shops in the historic Exchange District, to the trendy Osborne Village and the popular Forks Market.
Top Tip 2
• If you are visiting over Christmas don’t miss Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland, a fabulous drive-through light show boasting over a million lights. There are even free sleigh rides on weekend evenings.
Top Tip 3
• For a great Canadian experience take the overnight train from Winnipeg to Churchill which speeds through the beautiful landscapes in two days, bringing you refreshed and ready for your wildlife encounters on Hudson Bay.
Top Tip 4
• Churchill’s Tundra Buggy Adventure is one of the best ways to see the polar bears close up. They will often come right up to the vehicle to investigate, giving you an extraordinary view of these magnificent creatures.
Top Tip 5
• During the winter months Winnipeg’s rivers freeze and become home to the Guinness World Record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail. See the sights of the city as you glide along the ice, with regular warming-up points along the way.
Top Tip 6
• Riding Mountain National Park is a stunning place to visit with a variety of hiking trails and masses of wildlife, from beaver and black bear to moose and bison, as well as the charming lakeside town of Wasagaming.
Top Tip 7
• On a warm summer’s day there is no better place to be than Grand Beach in Grand Marais. The fine white sands are perfect for relaxing on and the waters are surprisingly warm. Stroll along the busy boardwalk or explore the sandy dunes.
Top Tip 8
• Each August, the small town of Gimli hosts the lively Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, or Islendingadagurinn. One of the oldest ethnic festivals in the country, it celebrates the Viking settlers with many family-friendly events.
Top Tip 9
• Visit the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach for a fascinating trip back in time with excellent events and workshops, telling the tale of the Russian Mennonites as they arrived in Canada. One of the highlights is a working windmill.
Top Tip 10
• For a pampering afternoon head to Thermea, the Scandinavian-inspired spa in Winnipeg, where you can relax in the outdoor baths and saunas and indulge in a massage or treatment. Open throughout the year, it is especially beautiful during the winter snow as the steam rises from the hot pools.