From coast to coast, Canada packs in a potpourri of adventure. The globe’s second-biggest country is a wild mix of epic landscapes, modern cities, country roots and indigenous heritage.
Whether it’s the windswept islands off the coast of Nova Scotia or the towering, glacial peaks of the Rockies, there’s no end to the Great White North’s breathtaking beauty.
In spring, the sprawling meadows bloom anew with kaleidoscopic wildflowers. By summer the rock-flour rich alpine lakes sparkling fluorescent blue. In the fall, the foothills become awash with reds, oranges, and yellows. Come winter, the cities and wilderness alike become wonderlands.
Few countries can compete with Canada’s breadth of nature. But many of the best tourist attractions in Canada can be found in its cities. They boast world-class festivals, a touch of European elegance, all the while encapsulating the country’s vision as a multi-cultural society.
In this post, we'll cover:
27. Algonquin Provincial Park
In good ol’ Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park proves that there’s more to the province than meets the eye. The park is an enchanting mix of land and water. The maple-rich hills hide dozens of hiking trails while the miles of streams feed Algonquin’s 1,500 lakes.
Whether it’s on foot, bike or horseback, there’s no bad way to explore Algonquin National Park. As one of the most popular things to do in Canada, canoeing is especially a popular option here. The pristine wilderness has craggy ridges with brilliant views, while in the fall, it becomes a mix of gold and crimson.
It’s the water, however, that has given the park the bulk of its fame. 1,200 miles of lake and portages, with the addition of some backcountry camping, put this park on a pedestal.
26. Haida Gwaii
Along BC’s northern coast, Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of 150 islands rich with indigenous history. The remote archipelago has a storied connection to the Haida people and, as it remains largely untouched, each island is a splendid assortment of wildlife and flora.
To dive into the culture of the Haidi people, visit the Haida Heritage Center. You can explore the living culture within the Carving House and the Haida Gwaii Museum. Complement this by sampling some of the local cuisine, rich in seafood throughout your stay.
Beyond the human aspect, Haida Gwaii is home to sea-batter, unspoiled landscapes that include the Gwaii Haanas National Park and Naikoon Provinicial Park.
25. Parliament Hill, Ottawa
The heart of Canada, Parliament Hill, may not have been on your traveling bingo card. But arguably Ottawa’s most iconic landmark, the Hill is well worth the visit thanks to its beguiling Gothic architecture and delightful grounds.
Whether you’re Canadian or not, there’s something special about the walk up Parliament Hill. Here, the Senate, House of Commons and the striking Peace Tower hold sway over the surrounding landscape. In May you’ll even stumble on the Ottawa Tulip Festival.
Much of the area is open to explore. But you can go further by signing up for a free guided tour.
24. Elk Island National Park
In Alberta, the Elk Island National Park is an eye-catching refuge but not just for the wildlife that calls it home. The park is a great escape from the nearby city of Edmonton and is a place where a sense of calmness reverberates throughout.
The fun begins from the moment you enter. Plains and wood bison are found throughout the park, so always keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready.
Taking you beyond the park’s rounds are 11 hiking trails ranging from 30-minute jaunts to 5-hour treks. They take you through the aspen and spruce forests, while in spring and early summer, vast meadows are awash with wildflowers.
23. Wine Tour in Okanagan Valley
In British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley features one of Canada’s premier wine-growing regions. Award-winning vintages dot the valley. Vineyards sprawl into the foothills and the aromas of sage and lavender float through the air.
During the summer months, Okanagan Valley is a popular destination for locals and travelers alike. Along the valley, you’ll find an assortment of vibrant farmers’ markets and festivals. Or, you can ride along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail or take the boat to the lake.
But no time would be complete without a wine tour. This provides the best opportunity to sample some of the valley’s 100+ wineries without having to take the wheel.
22. Hôtel De Glace in Québec
Most of us love the summer. But, for a potentially controversial take, there’s nothing quite like a winter wonderland. For the handful of days we can withstand the cold, we need to make the most of it. You can do just that at Hôtel De Glace in Québec.
Just 20 minutes from downtown, Hôtel De Glace is an ice hotel that runs from January to March. The unimaginable architecture requires 2,300 blocks of ice and 15,000 tons of snow. They combine to create one of Canada’s most famous attractions that is well worth a visit.
By day, experience tubing, skating and snow rafting at Villages Vacances Valcartier. As night falls, sip on cocktails at the ice bar before crashing inside your own ice palace where temps hover at 5-degrees.
21. Great Bear Rainforest
Large swaths of wild land are becoming few and far between. However, you can explore the largest tract of temperate rainforest still in existence in British Columbia. Out on the coast, the Great Bear Rainforest is an amalgamation of wildlife. But it’s most celebrated for its trio of bear species.
Such little change has befallen this region that experiencing this rainforest is a trip back in time. The untouched wilds boast red cedar trees centuries old, while the remaining old growth forests hold the keys to spotting a rare white coated bear.
The Kermode is a sub-species of black bear with less than 400 in the wild. They’re found almost exclusively here. Beyond the land, lakes spread into the distance where orca and whales make their presence felt.
20. Montreal Jazz Festival
Montreal’s storied connection with jazz began in the Roaring 20s. Under the microscope of prohibition, the St. Antoine District flourished. The show goes on today, with the city’s reputation leading to the Montreal Jazz Festival.
The eclectic yearly lineup of some of the world’s best jazz musicians. They play across six outdoor stages in downtown Montreal. You can add another 10 indoor clubs and venues to the rhythmic menu.
However, the music is a part of what makes the festival the biggest on earth. Add on an abundance of art, Montreal’s culinary reputation, and you have a festival that hits all the senses.
19. Ride the Train through the Canadian Rockies
There are a few things in life that epitomize the idea of the journey and not the destination. Great train journeys on endless locomotives are one of those. On the Rocky Mountaineer or the Canadian, you can venture into the spectacular Canadian Rockies in comfort.
The Rockies aren’t just a domain of the fearless mountaineer. The train journey provides a firsthand experience of life among the world’s most stunning summits. The train tracks guide you by glacially carved peaks and down into lush valleys, with your window posing as the perfect postcard the entire way.
Although expensive, there are benefits to taking the Rocky Mountaineer over the Canadian. These include a focus on daytime journeys, opulent luxury and an indulging list of epic routes.
18. Surfing in Tofino
Canada isn’t just mountains, lakes and prairies that dance between sun-soaked summers and whitewashed winters. Out on the western Vancouver Island, in Tofino, the northern Pacific waves touch down.
Between Cox Bay, Long Beach, and Chesterman Beach, you’ll have a trio of great surfing spots to choose from. Sandy beaches provide the welcome mat as you dig your board into the surface and gaze upon the breaks. You’ll see folks lathered up in full-bodied wetsuits, especially in the colder months. When surfers who can’t get enough, continue to chase the perfect wave.
These breaks aren’t just the domain of the experts, either. Year-round surf shops will help beginners get kitted up, while summertime surf programs can help you ride your first wave.
17. Watch the Northern Lights in Whitehorse
It’s as if the world has turned upside down. A mix of swirling rivers coated with blues and greens swirl across the world’s ceiling. The Northern Lights are spellbinding, a natural dance that is all at once subtle and vivid.
One of the best places to see the Northern Lights is in Whitehorse, Yukon. From late August to early April, the long, dark nights make this town a hot bed for those seeking to witness this incredible phenomenon. Just a short jaunt out of downtown Whitehorse, the dark night sky becomes the perfect canvass.
While the sight is unpredictable, they tend to flourish after 10pm until 3am. So, rug up, fill a thermos of hot cocoa and cross your fingers.
16. Green Gables
Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it – so said Anne of Green Gables. The mystical and magical landscape that brought this film to life isn’t just for those characters. It’s there on Prince Edward Island, waiting for you.
Within Prince Edward Island National Park, the Green Gables Heritage Place is utterly charming – vibe that’s especially poignant for those that have read the book or seen the film.
You can tour the house where Anne was mistakenly adopted into. The captivating surrounding grounds and hiking trails personify the aura of the story. This is further brought to life by period actors.
15. Capilano Suspension Bridge
When in Vancouver, make the quick journey to the popular Capilano Suspension Bridge. Open all year long, the suspension bridge stretches 137 meters across the lush rainforest canopy. At heights of over 65 meters, it’s not for the faint of heart.
The bouncing and swaying of the bridge underfoot adds to the adventure. But such is its structural integrity, the bridge can hold the weight of a load Boeing 747!
The views from the bridge are marvelous as you gaze down at the Capilano River while admiring the beautiful Douglas-fir trees. From the main bridge, you can then wander over 7 smaller suspension bridges closer to the forest floor.
14. Rideau Canal
From Ottawa to Kingston, the Rideau Canal meanders through eastern Canada across 202 kilometers. Throughout there are lakes, rivers, cuts, and 25 lock stations adding up to one of the 1800s most remarkable engineering feats.
The best way to explore the canal, of course, is on a boat. Whether it’s a day tour or a houseboat trip, you’ll see the breadth of landscapes found along the canal.
Come winter, the canal freezes over, creating the largest ice-skating rink on earth. As warming huts, music and hot cocoa make their way to the canal’s edge, you can skate under the cool winter sky.
13. Dawson City
In the Yukon, Dawson City is a vibrant throwback to the heady days of the gold rush. Back then, old tunes spilled out of saloons onto wooden sidewalks while the horses waited along the dirt roads. A similar spirit of fun remains today, even with the rush long gone.
Today, Dawson City’s distinct false-front buildings remain intact. The deep red facade of the Downtown Hotel is an ever-present reminder of what was. But the nostalgia remains and can be seen in the gambling hall, filled with cancan dancers.
By day, travelers try their luck and search for gold on Bonanza Creek. Out on the Yukon River, paddle-wheelers go up and down, entertaining guests and ringing in the sunset with a dash of champagne.
12. Cabot Trail
There are some road trip doozies to be found across Canada. But, one of our favorites can be found away from the Rockies and in one of the country’s underrate regions. Spanning 297km along the coast of Cape Breton, the Cabot Trail is a visceral experience.
While the world moves westward, this far-eastern road feels remote. But the sweeping road provides access to exceptional vistas and adventures both on and off the land.
Carving its way along the coast, the road stands on the precipice of tumbling cliffs. Out your window lies the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. To stretch your legs, stop at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park for 26 unique hiking trails.
11. Skiing in Whistler
World class skiing and snowboarding aren’t exactly in short supply here in wintry Canada. However, at Whistler Blackcomb, you can experience an iconic mountain with some of the best powder on planet earth.
Whether you’re a beginner or expert, there is seemingly endless terrain to discover. There are over 200 trails and 1500+ meters of vertical drop. Add one an average of 450 inches of annual snowfall, and you’ll find yourself in a skier’s heaven.
For beginner skiers and snowboarders, we recommend starting with a lesson or two. But when you’re ready to explore, the terrain around Whistler Creekside will provide the best experience.
10. CN Tower, Toronto
It’s a weird yet unforgettable experience to sit in the bleachers of the Rogers Center in Toronto and see the CN Tower rise above you. On a clear summer day, it’s an unmissable distraction from the ballgame below. For me, it was a compass that I could travel by and its beautiful yet imposing presence soon became a symbol of home.
At night, the tower lights up in varied colors, often setting a mood for the low-hanging clouds. But throughout the day, folks from across the world venture up to the towers tip and bask in the enormity of the views.
You can step onto a glass floor and with your heart in your mouth, you dare take a look at the city below. To take it a step further, there is the CN Tower Edgewalk. It takes you outside where you strap in a hover over the tower’s edge.
9. Victoria’s Inner Harbour
On Vancouver Island, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is a sight for sore eyes. The classic harbor is filled with fishing boats, ferries, and recreational craft. Along the waterfront are sightly buildings, a flourishing marina, and the aroma of high-end seafood. It combines into an atmosphere that quickly sweeps you off your feet.
Wide, open pedestrianized streets make it as easy as it is fun to get about. You’ll wander by cozy cafes where you’ll grab your morning coffee. Soon, you’ll pass the Parliament buildings and maybe even venture into the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Souvenir shops dance between the waterfront restaurants before the splash of a whale’s fluke splashes down out in the harbor.
8. Calgary Stampede
Yeehaw! It’s Calgary Stampede time. Across ten days in July, the stampede is one of Canada’s great cultural spectacle. There’s something nostalgic, alluring and romantic about the cowboy way of life. Although you may not be ready to don the spurs just yet, the festival is a captivating way to celebrate Alberta’s western roots.
For over 100 years, the Calgary Stampede has taken place. To fuel yourself up for the experience, you must start with the classic (often free) pancake breakfast. From there, embrace the vibes in Calgary and take in one of the world’s biggest rodeos.
As the sun falls, the music rises at the Bell Grandstand Show will a dash of fireworks. Finish up with a little boot-scootin’-boogie at Nashville North.
7. Gros Morne National Park
On the west coast of Newfoundland Island, Gros Morne National Park was borne from the collision of continents. This created towering peaks that have since been carved brilliantly by glaciers.
These glaciers now lead down to rich, mossy valleys where rivers surge surrounded by summits.
Eventually, they reach spectacular fjords, arguably the best spot in Canada, to enjoy this phenomenon. Boats and kayaks venture out into the open bays, while hiking and biking trails dance between the valleys and peaks.
Come wintertime, you can embrace the suck and see a different side to Gros Morne. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing allow you to see this incredible place awash with white.
6. Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy
Along the border of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick lies the revered Hopewell Rocks. They stand surrounded by the waters of the Bay of Fundy as monolithic rock stacks forgotten by the mainland.
Wind and water have used their artistic powers of erosion to sculpt these delightful rock towers, none more famous than the Flower Pots. Along a half-mile hike from the interpretive center, visitors will receive their first picture-perfect views. Here, you’ll see 20 sea stacks stationed along the 2km shoreline.
Because of the unique shape of the bay, the difference in water level between high tide and low tide can be as much as 16 meters (52 feet). At high tide, the rocks are surrounded by the flowing bay, making it perfect for a paddle adventure. But at low tide, one can venture down to the ocean floor by foot for a closeup view.
5. Athabasca Falls
Among the jaw dropping beauty of Jasper National Park, one particular spot stands out. Athabasca Falls, at 25 meters tall, surges down into a narrow gorge with breathtaking force.
Although not an especially towering waterfall, the vast volume of water has made it a stunning Class 5 waterfall. It’s fed by ancient glaciers whose slow melt meanders down from the Columbia Icefield, slowly changing the world around it until a sudden, high-octane plummet.
It’s easy to access Athabasca Falls along the Icefield Parkway. A short, simple path diverges from the parking lot, bringing you to a number of viewpoints. They’re not just of the water either, with the imposing summit of Mount Kerkeslin standing in the distance.
4. Polar Bears of Churchill
On the eastern edge of Hudson Bay, a body of water that stretches into the Arctic Ocean, polar bears roam. Churchill is a remote village in one of Canada’s most harsh locations, yet every year folks pack their bags and make the journey.
That is, of course, to see the world’s largest apex predator. A title that’s slowly being diluted thanks to polar bears struggling in the rising temperatures. However, of the estimated 25,000 left in the wild, over half are found in the Canadian Arctic.
After a plane or train journey, you’ll arrive in the small town of 1,000. Off-road trips take you just out of town, close but not too close to these majestic, powerful creatures.
3. Niagara Falls
As touristic as it is thrilling, Niagara Falls is one of those destinations that we must all see. Around 90 minutes from Toronto by car, with trains also an option, the famous falls are an easy day trip from Canada’s biggest city.
It’s hard to encapsulate the sheer forceful beauty of Niagara Falls. Over 3,100 tons of water flow over the edge of the escarpment every single second. The cloud of misty white that flows above provides the site with a sense of the divine.
Accessible walking trails meander along the edge, bringing you closer and closer until you can feel the rumble and the mist. Boats take you to the fall’s base for an unforgettable shower. While at night, Niagara Falls’ tourist sign is set ablaze by streets of neon.
In Canada’s second oldest city lies streets that contrast with the wider North American vibe. In Vieux-Québec, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the scent of Europe. The UNESCO World Heritage Old Quebec City boasts cobbled streets worn by the passage of time, each guiding you by some of Canada’s best 18th and 19th century architecture.
It’s a place to wander and get lost. With no agenda, you can whimsically explore and then discover. From the Le Château Frontenac Citadel and the Plains of Abraham to Place d’Armes, and the Parque Historique de l’Artillerie, there’s no shortage of highlights.
But it’s the small things, the chic cafes and aromas wafting from the windows of local restaurants that take you away from Canada to another continent.
1. Moraine Lake
Whether it’s from the banks or high up in the mountains, the views of Canada’s turquoise lakes never grow old. They form memories that hold sway in the minds of many, and for us, that body of water is Moraine Lake.
In Banff National Park, the water is a sparkling gemstone surrounded by glacial peaks. Moraine Lake’s intense blue colors cast a spell on those that visit, while creating a dream destination for photographers.
With the famed Ten Peaks forming vast triangles around the lake, you’ll immediately want to explore. Trails can take you around the water’s edge to splendid viewpoints. But for the best experience, one must jump in a kayak and see the turquoise spread around you as you feel infinitely small among the jagged summits.