The Great White North – there’s heaps more to Canada than you might first think. With a land area that narrowly outmuscles China to take the second spot (behind Russia) of the largest countries on the planet, it’s no surprise that Canada conceals a trove of magical experiences just waiting to be discovered.
Admittedly, there are large parts of the country that are reserved predominantly for arctic explorers and polar bears but that still leaves all the bustling metropolises, world-class ski resorts and breathtaking nature parcelled up in an inimitable fusion of indigenous and European heritage. There really is nowhere quite like Canada and we’ve put together a highlight reel of unmissable stops for your itinerary.
The largest city in the province of Québec, Montreal has a history that predates even the nation of Canada by at least 200 years. The city is situated on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and is named after Mount Royal, the three-peaked hill at its heart.
A modest 2 million residents call the city home but its multicultural neighborhoods receive over 5 times that number in visitors each year. Tread the cobblestoned streets among French colonial architecture in Old Montreal and visit North America’s Notre-Dame Basilica, then unwrap the creative soul of the Mile End and Plateau districts, just north of Downtown.
At night, the streets come alive; bars and restaurants teem with desirous denizens. A new wave of young chefs are transforming Montreal’s food scene and have been responsible for putting it on the culinary map – restaurants like the Argentinian Porteño inspired Beba and the achingly Parisian, Tiers Paysage.
You can find the Casino de Montréal, the country’s largest on Notre Dame Island, a short trip over Concorde Bridge to the east. But don’t worry if you’ve not the energy, you could also get your slots fill from the comfort of one of the city’s acclaimed boutique hotels.
2021 was the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the area and there are still a bounty of spellbinding experiences to be found in the region. The wooden boardwalks of the territory’s capital, Whitehorse, sits on the banks of the river Yukon, which was once the lifeblood of the mining industry.
These days you can observe herds of migrating caribou, wandering grizzlies and even enjoy your own husky powered transport before witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights from the Takhini Hot Pools’ mineral springs in the winter.
Straddling the natural frontier between Michigan, USA and Ontario, Canada, Niagara Falls is a longstanding bucket list staple for many, and for good reason. The 167 foot high waterfall is the second largest in the world displacing 3,160 tons of water every second.
The neighboring cliffside park is home to Skylon Tower whose observation deck provides an unbeatable vantage point. Travel north to the lowlands of Niagara-on-the-Lake on the shores of Lake Ontario; a region synonymous with wine and world class golf courses.
If Canada has a truly international city of the world, it’s Toronto. The capital of the province of Ontario, it’s the country’s most populous metropolitan area and North America’s fourth.
Toronto’s diverse inhabitants are symbolic of its history as an important destination for Canada’s immigrant population and the city fizzes with sensory life and color as a result. A foody’s solitary dilemma here is to actually arrive at a decision – a plurality of authentic cuisines await at every corner, quartiere and bairro.
The indigenous population are routinely recognized and celebrated on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Indigenous Peoples Month and if you want to learn more about their history, respectfully attending one of the many powwows is recommended. Here you can find authentic crafts, clothing and literature.
Canada’s premier ski resort, Whistler is in the heart of British Columbia, an hour and half’s drive north of Vancouver. The season typically starts on American thanksgiving and starts to draw to a close towards the tail end of April. One of the two mountains remains open for spring skiing until late May.
But it’s not just the powdery goodness that brings people to Whistler. The summer months offer beach fun at Lost Lake Park, hikes without the need for so many clothes and even some summer snowboarding at Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain.
Almost the same distance in the opposite direction from Vancouver lies Victoria, one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific Northwest coast. Victoria sits on the southeastern tip of Vancouver island and has a gentle climate and relaxing atmosphere to match.
It’s a perfect spot for families to dip in and out of the many museums, take a water taxi tour of the inner harbor and appease grumbling tummies in the compact but vibrant Chinatown. And make sure you’ve not left before dining at one of the highly rated seafood restaurants serving up the freshest catches of the day.
Canada has such a diverse and varied appeal that belies its igloo and ice hockey stereotypes. But one thing that is true is the welcoming nature of the people that call the country home. It’s time to get the map out and start planning your Canada vacation today.