A guide to the best Canadian cities to visit


Best Canadian cities to visit


Canada is home to some amazing cities, each with its own unique vibe, culture, and range of activities. Choosing a city break for your Canada holiday is a brilliant way to experience this incredible country. Not only can you explore these top destinations, but Canada’s cities work as the perfect gateway to discovering more of what Canada has to offer. In this guide, we highlight the best cities in Canada to visit, letting you know what they offer and what you can expect to enjoy.


Toronto top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 7,943

- Number of professional sports teams: 12

- Number of attractions: 2,000+

- Number of hotels: 616

- Number of parks: 90

Toronto is the capital city of Canada's Ontario province and the most populous city in the entire country. This dynamic city is an incredibly exciting place to visit, boasting over 2,000 attractions amid its soaring skyscrapers. One of the most famous landmarks in the city is the CN Tower, an iconic building boasting spectacular views, especially when you walk along the edge of the building, which is 116 stories tall.

Toronto is also known for its collection of professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and its baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Combine this with its epic culinary scene (there are nearly 8,000 restaurants in the city) and you can rest assured that flights to Toronto will lead you to delicious local food and top entertainment. A Toronto car hire is a great choice when visiting the city, allowing you to explore the iconic Niagara Falls – less than an hour away.

Jessica, from the blog, Diary of a Toronto girl, thinks Toronto is worth visiting for its food scene alone and has painted a picture of what to expect: “Being the multicultural hub it is, Toronto has some of the best and most diverse cuisines in all of Canada. Walking along a small stretch of Queen Street West alone, you’ll be able to come across an Indian restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and a Mexican restaurant all at once! Whatever you’re craving, you’ll probably be able to find at least a few spots here in Toronto.”

ALSO READ: Eat like a local in Toronto


Vancouver top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 4,351

- Number of professional sports teams: 6

- Number of attractions: 1,000+

- Number of hotels: 260

- Number of parks: 44

On Canada’s west coast, you will find the seaport of Vancouver, one of Canada’s best cities to visit. Vancouver is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, surrounded by mountains and water. As a result, it’s also a popular location for filming blockbuster movies and TV shows.

Vancouver offers visitors plenty of fun things to see and do, such as exploring Stanley Park, hiking Cypress Mountain, sailing the Strait of Georgia, shopping on Robson Street, and over 1,000 other attractions. There’s a line-up of fantastic hotels to stay at, and Vancouver also acts as a gateway to other Canadian treasures, such as the magnificent Canadian Rockies and the world-famous mountain resort of Whistler. You can also catch the epic Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver, embark on a cruise ship to Alaska or use the city as a base for a British Columbia road trip.

Tracy, from the travel blog Tracy’s Travels in Time, shares her favourite thing to do in Vancouver: “Hiring a bicycle and cycling around Stanley Park is the absolute top of my list of things to do in Vancouver. The park is a 400-hectare oasis with lots to offer the visitor, including natural beauty, wildlife, and arts and culture.”

ALSO READ: 48 Hours in Vancouver


Calgary top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 3,193

- Number of professional sports teams: 6

- Number of attractions: 910

- Number of hotels: 264

- Number of parks: 49

Calgary is a place to discover Canada’s wild west, where cowboys and the city come together, and skyscrapers and the Rocky Mountains meet. Located in the beautiful province of Alberta, Calgary is a fascinating city to visit, with rodeos, fairgrounds, and historical attractions all on display.

Calgary is a great place to take in the most iconic Canadian sport, ice hockey, with the NHL team, the Calgary Flames, being based in the city. Calgary is also on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains, and five World Heritage Sites surround the city. So, whether you want to explore a local ranch, look for fossils in Dinosaur Provincial Park or go skiing in Banff, Calgary is a great city to visit at all times of the year.

ALSO READ: The top attractions in Calgary


Montreal top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 6,240

- Number of professional sports teams: 8

- Number of attractions: 1000+

- Number of hotels: 570

- Number of parks: 44

Montréal, located in the province of Québec, is a vibrant city known for its rich history, French culture, and architectural beauty. It is the second-largest city in Canada and is often referred to as its cultural capital. Montréal is a lovely place to visit and seamlessly blends its French heritage with a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere. Iconic attractions include the historic Old Port, where you can stroll along the waterfront, as well as the stunning Notre Dame Basilica.

Along with fascinating museums and a quality arts scene, visitors can also look forward to the likes of Mount Royal Park and its breath-taking views of the city skyline. You can also sit down for a thrilling ice hockey game featuring the Montréal Canadiens, one of the most successful teams in the NHL (National Hockey League). The city is very passionate about hockey, as testified by the electric atmosphere at the team's home games in the Bell Centre.

One of Montréal’s must-visit neighbourhoods is the Old Town, dating back to the 17th century. Linda and David, from the blog, Retired and Travelling, enjoyed exploring this part of the city during their visit: “After we wandered along the waterfront, we strolled along the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal. Shops and restaurants lined the streets. Musicians entertained the people as they strolled or sat for lunch. There were many historic buildings in Old Montréal, but on this visit, we did not have enough time to see them all.”

ALSO READ: Five must-have experiences in Montréal


Quebec City top attractions


Québec City

- Number of restaurants: 1,129

- Number of professional sports teams: 1

- Number of attractions: 565

- Number of hotels: 292

- Number of parks: 32

Being Canada’s oldest city, Québec City oozes history, and with its parks, architecture, and cobbled streets, it is also one of the country’s most picturesque cities. Unsurprisingly, Québec City is regarded by many as one of the best Canadian cities to visit because it is home to lots of amazing attractions – over 500 in fact. You can explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Québec, visit La Citadelle and its unique star-shaped tower that sits above the St. Lawrence River, and enjoy the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the city, such as Montmorency Falls, which is just a few minutes from Québec City.

It is also renowned as a top destination for foodies, with its cuisine being known as a melting pot of European and Aboriginal influences. This is one of the reasons why there is a mix of restaurants and cafes in the city, and with more than 1,000 eateries, there is plenty of choice!

Emily Becker, a travel writer at the Be My Travel Muse blog, says she loved going on a walking tour of Old Québec: “Upon arriving in Québec City, run, don’t walk to catch a tour of Old Québec, the historic centre of the city. It is full of centuries-old buildings that will give you the feeling that you’ve been transported to 19th-century France. The neighbourhood is a World Heritage Site featuring hundreds of years of history, so touring with a guide is the perfect way to soak in all the sights while learning about the city’s beginnings.”

“Sure, you can browse the area on your own, but starting off with a tour is a great way to get your bearings and make a note of the places you want to spend more time at.”

ALSO READ: The top reasons you need to visit Québec this summer


Ottawa top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 2,424

- Number of professional sports teams: 5

- Number of attractions: 739

- Number of hotels: 186

- Number of parks: 34

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, and as the historical and cultural hub of Ontario, it is a hugely popular destination to visit. There is so much to see and do in the city, with incredible architecture, museums, historical sites, various annual festivals, and more than 700 attractions.

Parliament Hill and its buildings are one of the main attractions you can visit in Ottawa as these Gothic Revival-style buildings house the offices of the members of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate. There are free guided tours visitors can go on that will take you through the buildings and will give you an insight into the Canadian political system.

The Rideau Canal is one of the jewels in Ottawa’s crown and is a major attraction no matter what time of the year you visit the city. In the summer, it is filled with canal boats and going on a river cruise is a great way to explore the city, whilst, in the winter months, it transforms into the ‘world’s longest ice rink’ as the canal freezes over.

Julia, a full-time travel blogger who founded the Little Miss Ottawa blog, loves exploring Ottawa’s different neighbourhoods: “Start in the Byward Market, walk down Elgin, then down Somerset towards Chinatown, Little Italy and then Hintonburg! You’ll stumble upon so many great little shops, restaurants, cafes and more. I do this route quite often, and it’s always great for finding new gems.”

If you are a sports fan, the city is home to five professional sports teams you can watch, including the Ottawa Senators, who compete in the National Hockey League.

ALSO READ: A visitor's guide to Ottawa: Canada's capital


Victoria top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 619

- Number of professional sports teams: 1

- Number of attractions: 513

- Number of hotels: 171

- Number of parks: 16

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is one of Canada’s oldest and most picturesque cities, and with it being just a 90-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, it is easily accessible. The city has a rich history as it was founded in 1843, making it one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, and it was named after Britain’s reigning Queen, Victoria.

One of the first things you should do is to discover Victoria’s fascinating past. You can get a great insight by heading to the Royal BC Museum to learn about the city’s native origins and how it has changed from the time of the first explorers through to the city you see today.

Stroll around the city to soak up Victoria’s old-world charm and visit the Inner Harbour to see the unusual floating houses and shops, which are major attractions in the city. Victoria is known as the ‘City of Gardens’, and a visit to the most famous one, The Butchart Gardens, is a must. If you are exploring the city on foot, you should walk around Beacon Hill Park and take in the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. This isn’t the only park you can walk around, as there are 16 parks spread in and around Victoria in total.

Steph, a photographer and travel blogger who runs her blog, Love From Steph, says she loved the Inner Harbour when she visited Victoria: “Victoria’s Inner Harbour is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. You’ve probably seen photos of the Inner Harbour marina with the impressive Parliament Buildings in the background. This is the most popular section of the Inner Harbour and is incredibly picturesque with the colourful flowerbeds.”

Victoria is famed for being one of the best destinations for whale watching in Canada, with the surrounding waters around the city full of incredible wildlife. Orcas and other types of whales are so common that many local whale-watching tour companies will take you out again for free in the unlikely event that you don’t see whales on your first trip. Other wildlife you can see around the city includes dolphins, bears, seals, and humpback whales, to name just a few.

ALSO READ: 48 Hours in Victoria


Halifax top attractions



- Number of restaurants: 521

- Number of professional sports teams: 1

- Number of attractions: 312

- Number of hotels: 78

- Number of parks: 8

Halifax might not be as familiar as the other cities on this list, but it is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets and a great city to visit. You can use Halifax as a base to explore the stunning coastlines of the Maritime provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, or you can spend some time in this vibrant and cultural city.

We’d recommend visiting Canada's Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 as you will learn about the city’s history, and you will get a great insight into how Halifax became a gateway to Canada for nearly one-million immigrants between 1928 and 1971 from Europe, Britain and Ireland.

Due to its location on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax specialises in seafood, and during your visit, you have to try the lobster, which is legendary as some of the biggest and juiciest in the world. Halifax’s proximity to Nova Scotia’s breadbasket (the Annapolis Valley) supplies it with abundant fresh, local foods. There are over 500 restaurants located across the city, and many of these specialise in seafood.

Dariece Swift from the travel blog Goats On The Road recommends visiting Halifax’s waterfront: “This picture-perfect spot is the prized possession of Halifax. The waterfront walkway is a pedestrian-only zone, making it a great place to get away from traffic. Watch the locals fishing off the wharf, gawk at a docked superyacht, or pop in for some tasty snacks at the colourful outdoor food eatery — insider tip: try the beaver tails, poutine and locally made ice cream!”

If you are on holiday in Halifax, you should take the time to head to Peggy's Cove Coastal Region, just a 30-minutes’ drive from the city. Peggy's Cove, known as ‘Mother Nature's Playground’, is full of scenic coves, harbours and natural beauty.

ALSO READ: Where to stay in Halifax


All of the statistics regarding the number of restaurants, hotels, parks and attractions for each city was sourced from TripAdvisor, whilst the data for the number of professional sports teams was sourced from Wikipedia and the Rookie Road website for Montréal.

If you have been inspired to visit some of the cities featured in this guide, speak to us at Canadian Affair. We can organise your flights to Canada and create a city break or holiday that incorporates everything you want to do.

For more tips, guides, and advice, visit our blog.

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