Canada gets more than 18 million foreign visitors annually generating over $80 billion-a-year for the Canadian tourism sector, making it bigger than fishing, farming, and lumber combined. Canada is the second-largest country in the world and has a lot going for it, but a few reasons that tend to attract tourists the most are:
Nature – Canada is among the most beautiful countries in the world, full of scenic forests, lakes, and mountains which make it a perfect destination for hiking, camping or just wandering around.
Winter Sports – Canada’s mountainous geography combined with the snowy climate has resulted in no shortage of must-see resorts and parks for anyone interested in snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing.
Cities – Canada is a large country with several beautiful and modern cities that are appreciated by people who have a taste for urban life
Best Time to Visit Canada
Planning a trip during the summer months is a good time to visit Canada when pleasant temperatures and sunny days are norms. Despite Canada being so large, the weather patterns are mostly the same across the country. Fewer crowds, lower costs, and warmer weathers make May a good time to plan a visit to Canada. Although it is still a little cold, the spring flowers start blooming and snow is largely gone due to which national parks become more accessible and lodges start to reopen, giving the visitors a chance to explore the country before the peak season starts.
During September – October the Canadians enjoy autumn by making most of the outdoor activities in the pleasant and cool weather. With stunning autumn colors and fewer crowds, it is a great time to visit Niagara Falls. If you’re planning a visit between late August to November don’t forget to check out The Salmon run; salmons returning from the oceans attract hundreds of bears and other predators.
Spring and fall seasons from March to May and September to November respectively are the best times to visit Canada as the weather is just perfect. Try avoiding June to August as this is the peak season and attracts lots of travelers. If you don’t mind traveling in hard weather and want to experience snowfall then December to March is the best time to visit Canada
Best Places to Visit in Canada
#1 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Bringing in millions of visitors every year, Niagara Falls is definitely among the top places to visit in Canada. Both the Niagara Gorge and Niagara Falls have been attracting daredevils and tourists for centuries now. Numerous attempts have been made to plunge over the falls in different types of homemade barrels and boats between the 19th and 20th centuries. This, along with other spectacles like tightrope walkers, resulted in the development of a carnival-type atmosphere in the adjacent town of Niagara Falls. Many people think of Niagara Falls as just a waterfall in the United States, when in actuality they are three falls on the border between Canada and the United States.
While the smaller Bridal Veil and American falls are mostly on the U.S side, the Horseshoe Falls is located mainly on the Canadian side and is the largest falls, these three falls combined have a much higher flow rate than any other in the world. If you don’t want to drive yourself to Niagara Falls, take the tour from Toronto which is an easy way to see the falls. The most exciting part of the tour is the Hornblower Niagara Cruise, which takes you up and close to the main Horseshoe Falls. Tours also make stops at other key sites like the beautiful little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Whirlpool Rapids, and the Floral Clock. The area surrounding these amazing falls has an abundance of restaurants, casinos, observation towers, high-rise hotels, and souvenir shops.
Jasper National Park
#2 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
The largest among Canada’s Rocky Mountain Parks is the Jasper National Park in the Alberta province. The park is located on the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains, north of Banff National Park and boasts of rugged mountains, forests, broad valleys, wild rivers, and alpine meadows. The top attraction at the park however is the Athabasca Falls which is a really beautiful waterfall thundering through a narrow gorge, huge quantities of water pour over the falls even when there are low water levels in the upper Athabasca River. Jasper spans over 10,878 square km (4,200 square miles) which are filled with diverse animal and plant populations, active geologic processes, and scenic mountains.
The park also extends west to the heights of the Continental Divide, including the highest peak in Alberta, Mount Columbia (3,747 meters). The Athabasca and Brazeau river valleys along with several waterfalls, hot springs, lakes, and canyons can be found in Jasper’s montane region. The vegetation in the valleys mainly includes white spruce and lodgepole pine. Mountain avens and dwarf birch are sturdy species that characterize the alpine region. Mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, wapiti (elk), lynx, moose, beavers, wolves, and bobcats are among the park’s typical wildlife. With so much to offer Jasper National Park should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Canada
#3 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Pristine wilderness, jewel-colored lakes, and soaring mountains are what awaits you in the world’s third and Canada’s oldest National Park, Banff National Park. Whether it is hiking through untouched forests or skiing the slopes or paddling the turquoise lakes in the summertime or soaking in the steamy hot springs during the winter, the irresistible beauty of the park gives travelers from around the world a chance to immerse themselves in the outdoors throughout the year. Many people are attracted to the park because of its remote location and sheer size as it gives more opportunities to explore this untouched piece of the globe. There are two famous routes through Banff, doesn’t matter which you pick as both are filled with glistening multi-colored lakes, dramatic canyons, jaw-dropping sceneries, and majestic waterfalls. The park offers shuttle services so whether you have your car is not important.
Banff National Park offers different luxuries like five-star hotels, spas, and restaurants not very far from the park. The park also has a wide range of animals that can be spotted like wolves, black and grizzly bears, bison, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and moose. What makes the park one of the most picturesque places to visit in Canada is Moraine Lake, one of the most photographed places in western Canada. Surrounded by mountains in Alberta the gorgeous blue-green glacier-fed lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The site was nicknamed Twenty Dollar View as it was featured on Canada’s $20 bill at one time.
#4 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
The largest city in Canada and also the capital of Ontario, Toronto is home to a dynamic mix of tourist attractions, from galleries and museums to the very popular CN Tower, Toronto Islands, and Niagara Falls at just a short drive away. The Entertainment District is Toronto’s answer to New York’s Broadway and comes to life in the evenings. This is the go-to place to see major theater productions with the latest musicals, shows, and concerts. The area is filled with places for socializing with a wide range of dining options as well as hotels. Another reason why Toronto is among the top places to visit in Canada is the Toronto zoo which has a diverse and outstanding collection of approximately 5,000 animals. Some of the popular ones include tigers, penguins, pygmy hippos, orangutans, lions, and many more. An interesting thing about the zoo is that it is divided into several sections with each representing a prime region of the globe. Some of the top highlights at the zoo include the Tundra Trek, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Gorilla Rainforest.
Distillery District in Toronto is a restored historic area that has been converted into a trendy shopping and entertainment district. Charming artists’ studios, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries fill the old buildings. One of the most well-known events held here is the annual Toronto Christmas Market which has a huge Christmas tree standing in an open square with wooden stalls decorated to sell unique gifts and large fire pits to gather around. Lap blankets and heat lamps are provided by restaurants for dining outside despite the cold. If you’re a hockey fan then a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto is a must-do!
#5 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
The second-largest city in the Quebec province of Canada, Montreal is located where the Ottawa Rivers and St Lawrence meet. Also considered as Canada’s capital of culture, the city is one of the most welcoming, diverse, forward-thinking, and energetic cities in North America, with an energetic breed of musicians, a great party scene in its newer parts, and modern street art. The official language of the city is French and is spoken by most of the people. Old Montreal is a part of downtown Montreal and is the highlight with its quaint museums, cobbled streets, and historical buildings, with some of them even dating back to the 17th-century. If you’re looking for some exceptional views don’t miss the chance to climb up the clock tower in the Quai de l’Horloge. While Montreal itself is a vibrant modern city, Old Montreal is lined with lovely historic buildings with many places to go for fine dining and great shopping.
What makes Old Montreal among the top places to visit in Canada is the landmark Marché Bonsecours in the old town hall building and Rue Bonsecours, the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, the 1870s City Hall and the interior of the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica. To get a taste of the European flavor try taking a horse-drawn carriage ride around the grand buildings of Vieux-Montréal and the cobblestone streets.
#6 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
One of the largest cities in Canada, Vancouver is located in south-western British Columbia, a famous foodie hotspot and also among the best places to visit in Canada especially for seafood lovers who are fond of freshly caught wild salmon and prawns. Vancouver was founded by an Englishman as “Gastown”, with a penchant for storytelling and beer. The city’s grand parks, impressive suspension bridge, and forests beckon travelers to explore them, as do the city’s museums and shops. Tourists can relive the glory of the 2010 Winter Games by visiting the marvelous Olympic Cauldron and other Olympic venues. However, the star attraction in Vancouver is Stanley Park which covers an area of over 1,000 acres with gardens, green spaces, and woodlands. Surrounded by the ocean and home to huge Douglas fir trees and red cedar, the park features a picturesque Seawall, Water Park, and an Aquarium. The seawall has extensive biking, walking, and jogging paths with designated lanes for bikers and walkers. Within the park the scenic Beaver Lake, the Stanley Park Pavilion, Rose garden, and the Vancouver Aquarium are major crowd pullers.
Some of Vancouver’s other top attractions include Canada Place waterfront complex housing the Vancouver Convention Center, Granville Island’s remarkable food market, stunning gardens, and Chinatown’s vibrant array of shops. Popularly known as the ‘Hollywood of the North’ because of its large film and TV industry, the city also has the fourth-largest cruise ship terminal in the world carrying around 900,000 passengers through the terminal every year.
#7 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Thriving in time-honored traditions like afternoon tea and heritage architecture, Victoria is a quaint place in the beautiful capital city of British Columbia. Located in the southern end of Vancouver Island, the place has wet mild winters and warm summers with a mild year-round weather condition. Tourists can enjoy stunning views from all directions whether it may be looking over the Strait of Juan de Fuca or getting a glimpse of the mountains on mainland British Columbia or looking out over the harbor. Diverse festivals including the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Victoria Festival, Victoria Fringe Festival, and Feast of Fields help tourists experience Victoria’s culture. With wilderness in its backyard and ocean at its doorstep, the city is one of the best places to visit in Canada for outdoor activities like whale watching, hiking, and kayaking.
Victoria has more cycling routes than any other Canadian city, allowing tourists to explore the scenery. The city has everything from a world-renowned science and natural history museum to an amazing park with a range of unique cafes, restaurants, and shops where peacocks roam freely. If you happen to visit the city during Labor Day in September then don’t miss out on the classic boat festival, with the harbor filling up with wooden boats.
#8 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
The largest province in Canada, Quebec, and its capital, Quebec City play host to some of Canada’s most beautiful countryside on the east coast. Although being the only fortified city north of Mexico, it welcomes visitors with open arms. French-speaking and home to the Château Frontenac (a 19th-century hotel), Quebec City is one of the oldest settlements in North America. Montreal is a part of the Quebec province which has ski resorts, picturesque towns, and moose. The grand winter carnival, the Carnaval de Québec and the luxurious hotel named, Château Frontenac are major crowd pullers here. The 19th-century hotel dominates the city’s skyline and is the perfect spot to splurge on afternoon tea, because of its gorgeous architecture the site was proclaimed to be a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.
Some of the popular attractions to explore include the Citadel where you might catch Canadian troops staging a military ceremony, the beautiful Terrasse Dufferin, and Battlefields Park. The old buildings, curving cobbled streets, picturesque cityscape, and ski resorts make Quebec the most charming places to visit in Canada. In addition to the historical sites, other interesting things to do include visiting museums like the Musée de la Civilisation, checking out artists displaying their works on Rue du Trésor, and indulging at unique restaurants with lip-smacking cuisines. While vacationing in Quebec, don’t forget to check out the Montmorency Falls that is located just 12 kilometers away from the heart of the city, the falls are stunningly beautiful and measure at about 100 feet higher than the famous Niagara Falls.
#9 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Whistler, British Columbia is just a short trip from Vancouver by road or air and is the perfect place to enjoy summer as well as winter vacations. This picturesque village has undergone a lot of development over the years to give us the vibrant, high-end town it is today with world-class hotels, restaurants, and shops. Winters provide reliable snow for outdoor activities like snowshoeing, tobogganing, skiing, biking, hiking, and golfing. Art museums and cultural centers here help in exploring the vibrant culture of the town. Whistler is also home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America making it one of the top places to visit in Canada for winter holidays! Although Whistler is known for snowboarding and alpine skiing, summer months keep up the adventurous spirit with activities like mountain biking and hiking. People who like the indoor can indulge in activities like going ice-skating, enjoying a scavenger hunt, bouncing on a trampoline, or playing at the indoor playground. A chalet-style, compact pedestrian village located at the base of Blackcomb and Whistler mountains is the hub of Whistler
While at Whistler try visiting the Whistler Olympic Park, which hosts several sporting activities like cross-country skiing, the biathlon, Nordic combined, and ski jumping. The park has become really popular after it hosted the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Apart from the Olympic Park, festivals, bars, restaurants, and spas combined with endless outdoor activities make Whistler the ultimate place to unwind and escape.
#10 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city was once a lumber town. In the middle of the 19th century, many mills were built along the Ottawa River which resulted in it becoming a beautiful green city filled with waterways and blissful parks, while also making it the sixth-largest population in the country – and growing. The city is bilingual, so expect to hear people speaking a mix of both French and English. In the summer months, biking is popular, and come winter these trails are converted to ski trails. In Canada, the winter experience is not complete if you haven’t skated on the very popular Rideau Canal’s skateway which is one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter. Equivalent to 90 Olympic size skating rinks, over 1 million people gather here and skate away on this world’s largest skateway during winters. You can enjoy skating on these skateway stretches in front of Chateau Laurier hotel and the Parliament Building between January and mid-March, while enjoying delicious hot food from the standing stalls nearby.
Although Ottawa is not Canada’s official cultural capital, it is among the best places to visit in Canada if you’re a history buff! The city is home to some amazing historic buildings like the National Library and Archives, which is the fourth largest library in the world. Many federal establishments like the Parliament Hill where the ceremonial Changing of the Guard takes place are also present in Ottawa. Packed with unique eateries, bistros, boutiques, coffee shops, and clubs, four square blocks in the Byward Market is another interesting tourist attraction here.
#11 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Located in the eastern end of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton has a rich heritage with people of Scottish, English, French, and Irish origins living here. This piece of land is unexplored and undisturbed through centuries. The most popular attraction here is the drive on the Cabot Trail. The highway goes along Cape Breton’s rocky northern shore for 185 miles, ascending to the plateaus of Cape Breton Highlands National Park and passing along the Margaree River, connecting around eight major communities with diverse backgrounds. Cape Breton is among the best places to visit in Canada if you enjoy lobster and landscapes. With a host of traditional Scottish music concerts, this is the only place in North America where you can hear Gaelic spoken.
Another popular crowd-puller in Cape Breton is whale watching. Towards the top of the island at the northern tip, sightings are just about guaranteed here, tourists can reach this spot by taking a boat or kayak tour. If you’re looking for some delicious seafood don’t miss out on the scenic fishing villages such as Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove.
#12 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Known for its fruit orchards and wineries, Okanagan one of the best places to visit in Canada for wine lovers. The landscape here is so beautiful you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into heaven. So try making most of the moment by not only savoring the beauty around with your eyes but also through your camera’s lenses. While here don’t forget to check out some famous wineries like Summerhill PyramidWinery, Tantalus Vineyards, Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, CedarCreek Estate Winery, and Kitsch Wines. On the shore of huge Okanagan Lake is the main city of Kelowna, surrounded by provincial parks and pine forests. The downtown area of Kelowna incorporates a lakeside cultural district and waterfront City Park. If you want to experience a warm welcome to Canada then you must plan a visit to Osoyoos. Osoyoos is a town in the Okanagan Valley which is one of the major wine-producing regions of Canada and is also known for its beaches, warm water, and water sports facilities. This stretch is considered the most beautiful in the Okanagan Valley as it is here that you get some of the best views of Canada. While here don’t miss out on the very popular and entertaining wine tasting tours.
Another top attraction here is Kelowna, located on Okanagan Lake in the heart of the Okanagan wine country. The city is surrounded by vineyards, provincial parks, orchards, pine forests, and mountains. Outdoor activities such as golfing, hiking, and boating are popular in summer while the ski resorts nearby attract tourists in winter.
Gros Morne National Park
#13 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
More remote than many of Canada’s popular national parks, Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park is definitely worth the effort of discovering this beautiful landscape of fjords and mountains. The National park is considered important to the world, geologically, as it helps people understand how the continents and oceans were created by studying the ancient rocks found here. The park is a nature lover’s paradise and features steep cliff walls, interesting rock formations that are carved by the glacier-fed waters, beautiful waterfalls, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most tourists prefer taking a boat tour to cherish the scenery, but there are also kayaking and hiking opportunities available. In winter the park is open for ski touring although the park receives far fewer visitors.
Gros Morne National Park is also popular among wildlife viewers who can spot everything from giant whales to tiny songbirds; deer, black bears, and moose are common. The summer months are the best time to visit the park. The exception is from February to April which is the peak winter season when there is another mini-boom in cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Let us know in the comments if this blog helped you plan a better vacation to Canada!