Canada is often touted as being one of the most desirable countries on the planet for holidays – the history, friendly locals and the nature in abundance alone is enough to draw flocks of tourists year in, year out, but what about those first timers to the country? What should they definitely not miss? Check out the top five places in Canada to check out and start planning that epic Canadian getaway.
Most visitors to Canada want to head out west to the city of Vancouver and its adjacent island, conveniently of the same name. Vancouver is a large coastal city within driving distance of the mountains as well which makes it a keen spot for sports enthusiasts of all kinds as well as a top spot for skiers and snowboarders in the winter. Home to such fantastic local neighbourhoods like Gastown and Granville Island as well as Robson, Vancouver has a lot going for it these days and is basically the spot for anyone who loves a chilled out vibe, great food and local beers and a bit of coastal scenery.
The Rockies aren’t just a great spot for some truly stunning scenery, they’re also a great place for those wanting to take advantage of some of Canada’s truly beautiful and proudly maintained national parks. Jasper and Banff National Parks both rest just over the border between BC and Alberta and are both well worth a visit with lots of truly stunning spots to stop to take it all in. For a breathtaking experience, check out the Icefields Parkway which connects Jasper and Banff along what is arguably one of the most scenic roads in all of Canada.
The capital city of Alberta may not look like much when you research it online but it has a whole host of fantastic delights for the summer traveller. Proudly going by its nicknames of River City and Festival City, it boasts river valley forested areas cutting through the middle of the city which is a whopping twenty two times bigger than NYC’s Central Park. Be sure to plan your trip for around August when you can experience such events as Shakespeare in the Park, the annual Fringe Festival, Street Performers Festival, the annual Folk Fest, Klondike Days Fair, and the Heritage Festival. You see now why it gets the name Festival City! Aside from this though it also hosts some truly unique neighbourhoods such as the University area with its bohemian and hipster vibe as well as Downtown’s Oliver area. Don’t forget to visit West Edmonton Mall – a truly unique shopping experience.
Home to the beginnings of Canada, Quebec is still home to some of the most beautiful examples of early European colonial architecture in Canada. Due to its culturally French heritage (read: great food and wine!), Quebec is the birthplace of Canada’s signature dish, poutine – a mid of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. The province of Quebec is home to two main cities that visitors should make time for – Montreal and Quebec City (also known simply as Quebec). Be sure to try melted maple syrup rolled in snow, tire sur la neige if visiting in winter, as well as an afternoon skating on the historic St Lawrence River. Even if it’s not winter, this is a great view anyway, so bring your camera. To experience some of Quebec’s true rural treats, head out to the Laurentian Mountains for some hiking and wildlife viewing.
The Maritime provinces of Canada are rarely visited by your typical tourist, which makes them even more awesome to visit for those new (or old!) to Canada. Comprised of a number of islets, islands and peninsulas that you can canoe around with your dry bag, the Maritimes have a rich nautical history mixed with settlements from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Ireland and Scotland. In fact, there are still dialects of Scots Gaelic spoken in parts of Nova Scotia, as well as Irish found in very remote and outlying outport towns in Newfoundland. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are pretty well on the travel map and can be traversed easily by travellers, but Newfoundland still remains relatively difficult to get to for some, but for those willing to make the effort, let’s just say – it’s worth its weight in gold.
So there you have five top places in Canada well worth a visit for either a newcomer or an old hat to this awesome, vast and welcoming nation. Pack your bags – everyone’s welcome in Canada.