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Best Places to Visit in Canada for First Time Visitors

If you are thinking of visiting for your first time, the best places to visit in Canada are probably the most famous ones. Some of Canada’s amazing destinations are famous for a good reason, which is why I suggest the more popular Canadian destinations below as a wonderful intro to this multi-faceted and geographically diverse country.

Exploring Canada’s diverse geography, culture, and history is a rewarding experience. When it comes to natural wonders, few places can match Canada.

Across Canada, each province has its own unique attractions. When it comes to awe-inspiring natural wonders such rugged Rocky Mountains or fascinating multicultural scenes like Toronto, Canada has it all and offers an endless list of opportunities.

To make your browsing job a little bit easier, I am presenting a list of some of the best places to visit in Canada for your first time. But even if it’s not your first time – don’t worry. These places are all a must-see for anyone looking to experience what Canada has to offer.

Don’t forget to gear up your camera and take back those unforgettable memories with you.

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Do you need a visa to visit Canada?

An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is required for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to Canada. An eTA is linked to a traveler’s passport electronically. It can be used for up to five years or until the passport expires.

Canada doesn’t require a visa for citizens of fifty visa-exempt countries, including Australia, France, Germany, UK, Japan, and many more. Hence, Australians are required to obtain an eTA to enter Canada.

In 2015, the eTA program was launched by Canadian authorities to pre-screen foreign visitors to the country and determine their eligibility for entry.

Due to the system, authorities have been able to process applications of foreign visitors more quickly, resulting in shorter lines at customs and immigration.

Best Places to Visit in Canada for First-Timers

Here are some of the most famous places to visit in Canada that I suggest visiting for your first time in the country.

The Rockies—Best for Mountain Views and Wildlife Spotting

the Canadian rockies are one of the best places to visit in Canada for your first time

Canadian Rockies (Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash)

The jaw-dropping beauty of the saw-toothed, snow-capped mountains that divide British Columbia from Alberta spurs both awe and action. In total, five National parks – Banff, Yoho, Waterton Lakes, Kootenay, and Jasper – offer an abundance of opportunities to explore the lush wilderness, including miles of hiking trails, roaring rivers, and snow-covered ski slopes.

You might need some time to truly appreciate the Rockies, so for your first time in Canada, I suggest either doing some hiking/backpacking for a week or more, or choosing one National Park and place to stay and doing it well. Here are some of the best hikes in the Rockies.

Another popular way to take in the beauty of the area is by train, which takes passengers past shimmering lakes, riots of wildflowers, and glistening glaciers as they travel through mountain passes and river valleys on their way east or west.

Vancouver – Best for Culture

Vancouver Canada sunset aerial shot

Vancouver from above at sunset- have you seen anything so lovely? (Unsplash)

Vancouver consistently ranks high on lists of the best cities to live in the whole world, and for good reasons. The cocktail-lovin’ metropolis is surrounded by a sea-to-sky landscape of stunning natural beauty.

There are mountains to ski just outside the city, beaches all around, and Stanley Park’s dense rainforest just a few blocks from downtown’s glass skyscrapers. Moreover, it has a unique blend of Hollywood glamour and freewheeling counterculture (with a popular nude beach), as well as a vibrant multicultural community.

Vancouver is one of the best places to visit in Canada for your first time because it truly mixes so many different ‘vibes’ of Canada in one small area. From the beaches to the mountains to the harbor to the forest to the vibrant city, Vancouver truly has it all.

Toronto – Best Multicultural Experience

Toronto os one of the best places to visit in Canada for your first time - biggest multicultural canadian city

Wouldn’t you link to take in the view on one of these benches? (Unsplash)

This Ontario metropolis defies the definition of “big.” Visitors to Toronto can be transported around the world thanks to the city’s numerous cultural pockets, such as Greektown, Little India, and Koreatown.

You can get a bird’s eye view of the city from the 1,815-foot-tall CN Tower or visit the Hockey Hall of Fame for a taste of Canada’s most popular sport slash borderline religion ;). You can’s miss a hockey game either if you are there at the right time of year.

Afterward, visit St. Lawrence Market to indulge in delectable delicacies before venturing out to the Toronto Islands, if weather permits. Toronto can be tough to navigate for your first time but if you stick to the major tourist spots and explore the waterfront you can’t go wrong.

Whistler -The Best Place to Ski in Canada

whistler canada ski slopes best places to visit

Whistler Ski slopes (unsplash)

One of the world’s largest and most popular ski resorts, this alpine village is named after the marmots that populate the area and whistle like deflated balloons.

Whistler village, dating back to the late 1970s, is located just 90 minutes north of Vancouver. It’s regarded as a model of flawless beauty. Whistler’s main draw is skiing, but summer visitors on BMXs and SUPs outnumber their winter counterparts.

Recently, the resort has sprouted an art scene befitting a small European town. With 2.3 million visitors per year, Whistler is a popular tourist destination and is also famous for being the home of MANY Australian expats. If you want a quieter, more affordable vacation, choose your dates carefully to skip the crowds in Whistler.

Montreal Jazz Festival – Best Music Festival

Montreal Jazz festival biggest festival in Canada

Montreal Jazz Festival (Unsplash)

You won’t find a place like this, where you can watch the world’s best jazz musicians from among 500 shows, many of which are free, with more than two million other calm and respectful music lovers.

Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city, the French Canadian capital, and cultural heart, is a place you will enjoy for many reasons. With over 3,000 musicians performing in 650 shows, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is the largest jazz festival globally according to the Guinness Book of Records (450 free concerts).

Montreal’s downtown area is closed to traffic for the duration of the festival. You can relax under the stars at one of the larger outdoor venues or sit in dark drinking dens listening to jazz piano. There are also plenty of other festivals in both Montreal and in Canada that you will enjoy, such as Igloofest in Montreal and Shambhala in BC. Check out more of the best festivals in North America.

Niagara Falls – Best Photography Location

Incredible Niagra Falls (Unsplash)

Any time of year is a good time to see Niagara Falls. It’s always possible to take great photos here in the summer, but the winter is truly magical. On clear days, the ice-covered railings and tree limbs, as well as the massive plume of mist rising from the falls, make for stunning photography.

There are a number of great attractions in Niagara Falls that provide excellent views of the falls and photo ops. These falls are clearly one of the best places to visit in Canada for your first time as they’re basically a world wonder, referred to in many contexts. It’s magical to see them in person.

Churchill – Unique Experience of Meeting Polar Bears

Polar bears churchill canada

Look at that little cutie! But, you won’t want to get TOO close! (Unsplash)

Encountering a polar bear for the first time in life is a jaw-dropping experience. The two days of tiring journey on the train that you must take to the edge of Hudson Bay will be quickly forgotten when you see the amazing Canadian geography.

As the sole outpost in this region, Churchill also happens to be directly in the bears’ route of migratory travel. In late September and early November, tundra vehicles go out in search of the razor-sharp beasts, occasionally allowing you to get as close as a few feet away. In the summer, you can kayak or do stand-up paddle board alongside beluga whales.

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This is definitely one of the more remote and unique places to visit in Canada for your first time, but assuming you love adventure and unique experiences, it could be one of the best in your life!

Quebec City – The Best Food Scene

Quebec city one of the best palces to visit in Canada for food

Quebec City (Unsplash)

Quebec City, voted one of the world’s top 20 food cities by Conde Nast Traveler, knows how to do French-Canadian cuisine like no other city. With an abundance of rising culinary stars, the city is also home to a wide variety of “grandma’s kitchen” dishes that are being reimagined with a modern twist. Yum!

To get the best of both worlds, head to Chez Biceps BBQ on the Boulevard Henri-Bourassa for slow-smoked meat dishes; iX Pour Bistro on the 18th Rue for an eclectic neo-bistro menu; or Rue du Sault au Matelot for experimental global cuisine; and to The Billig for some of the city’s best sweet and savory crêpes.

Quebec City also has a fascinating culture and a lot of history. It’s a great place to visit for your first time in Canada to truly immerse yourself in the French part of Canadian culture and see some cute streets, historic buildings, and beautiful views in between meals.

Well, that’s it for the best places to visit in Canada for your first time! It might be a bit lengthy, but choose wisely and you’re sure to have an incredible trip to Canada. One thing I can be sure of is that it won’t be your last time there!

The 15 best places to visit in Canada right now

Two (2) attractive muslim adult female friends smile as they walk through the city. They are stylish and enjoying a cold winter stroll together.

Canada is a country chock-full of natural sites and urban delights, where visitors are equally as wowed by the wildlife and wilderness, as they are by the cultural and culinary offerings found in the cities that speckle the sprawling nation.

Peruse for polar bears on the open arctic tundra of Churchill or cruise Vancouver’s curvy coastline in a canoe while gawking at the city skyline. Feast on five-star fusion cuisine in Toronto, or take in a street-side jazz jam session in Montreal.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning to experience something new, these are the 15 best places to see in Canada. But be sure to plan ahead, because as the world’s second-largest country, you just won’t be able to do it all in one trip.

A couple ride bikes with fat tires over a snowy track by a lake in a moutainous area

1. The Canadian Rockies

Best for mountain views

The sawtooth, white-topped mountains straddling the British Columbia–Alberta border inspire both awe and action. Five national parks – Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Jasper – offer countless opportunities to delve into the lush wilderness, with ribbons of hiking trails, rushing white water and powdery ski slopes to satisfy travelers looking for mountain thrills.

This is one of the best places to visit in Canada in the winter, but outdoor adventures are aplenty during the summer months too.

Planning Tip: For a different perspective, take the train and experience the grandeur from the comfort of your seat: luminous lakes, jumbles of wildflowers and glistening glaciers glide by as the steel cars chug up mountain passes and down river valleys en route to points east or west.

A crossing at Downtown Vancouver where cars wait at the traffic lights and people cross the road during the day with snow-capped mountains across the strait in the background.

2. Vancouver

Best for combining city and nature

In Vancouver, sea-to-sky beauty surrounds the laid-back, cocktail-lovin’ metropolis. With skiable mountains on the outskirts, beaches fringing the coast and Stanley Park’s thick rainforest just steps from downtown’s sparkling skyscrapers, it’s a harmonic convergence of city and nature.

For the best of both worlds, pick up a plate and cold brew from a local joint and spend a day picnicking at one of the amazing city parks (during the summer months drinking is legal at most city parks).

Shop and stroll through the diverse and charming neighborhoods – you may even spot a celebrity along the way. Known as “Hollywood North”, Vancouver is the filming location for many TV and film productions shot throughout the year.

Planning Tip: With its mild climate and beautiful beaches, Vancouver is definitely one of the best places in Canada to visit in summer.

Two zipliners head down a wire towards a vast cascading waterfall

3. Niagara Falls

Best for an iconic travel experience

Niagara Falls may be short (it doesn’t even crack the top 500 worldwide for height), but when those great muscular bands of water arc over the precipice like liquid glass, roaring into the void below, and when you sail toward it in a mist-shrouded boat – the falls impress, every time.

While you’re there, extend your stay and head beyond the falls with a two-wheel biking adventure along the Greater Niagara Circle Route, or take a go at the Wildplay Zipline to the Falls, a pulse-pounding rush of a ride that offers unparalleled views of the falls below as you zoom through the sky.

A ski emerges in a plume of white snow between the snow-covered evergreen trees at Whistler ski resort in Canada.

Gorgeous Whistler is a top ski destination, but it’s also got a thriving cultural scene © stockstudioX / Getty Images

4. Whistler

Best place to ski in Canada

This alpine village and 2010 Winter Olympics venue is one of the world’s largest, best-equipped and most popular ski resorts, and it’s only a 90-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Featuring over 200 marked runs winding down two towering mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb – this destination is paradise for skiers of all levels.

Skiing may be Whistler’s raison d’être, but summer visitors with their downhill mountain bikes and stand-up paddleboards outnumber their ski-season equivalents, making the resort a year-round hot spot for locals and visitors alike.

Adding more diversity, Whistler has recently developed a thriving arts and culture scene, with highlights like the Audain Art Museum and Squamish Li’lwat Cultural Centre taking the stage as equally-appealing attractions to the famed slopes.

Shantel and Bocovina Orkestar perform a live concert during the Montreal Jazz Festival at night and are bathed in red light with a tree to the left of the stage

5. Montréal Jazz Festival

Best place for music lovers

As Canada’s second-largest city and the country’s cultural heart, Montréal is a marvel for music lovers. Watch the best jazz-influenced musicians in the world amongst over two million, equally-jazzed spectators at the Montréal International Jazz Festival. There are over 500 performances and shows to enjoy (and countless are free).

BB King, Prince and Astor Piazzolla are among those who’ve performed at the 11-day, late-June music festival. You may even get to join in on the fun with free drumming lessons and street-side jam sessions, as the good times roll day and night.

Planning Tip: Not into jazz? There are lots of live-music venues and events big and small found throughout the city.

Cobblestone roads of a historic neighborhood in Quebec City

6. Old Québec City

Best place to visit in Canada for couples

Québec’s capital is more than 400 years old, and its ancient stone walls, glinting spired cathedrals and jazz-filled corner cafes suffuse it with atmosphere, romance, melancholy, eccentricity and intrigue on par with any European city. The best way to soak it all up is to walk the old town’s labyrinth of lanes and get lost amid the street performers and cozy inns, stopping every so often for a café au lait and flaky pastry.

The city is also home to Québec’s honeymoon highway, Rte 132. Circling the Gaspé Peninsula, this road whisks puppy-eyed couples past the sea and the mountain with joie de vivre (enjoyment of life); more than 700,000 people tear down the tarmac each summer.

Of course, it has yet to approach the romantic popularity of Canada’s “Honeymoon Capital,” Niagara Falls, a region that draws more than 14 million annual visitors. But head for the La Gaspésie, instead, young lovers. Because if you’re on your honeymoon, you don’t need 14 million other people hanging around.

Cyclists ride bikes on an empty street in a large city

7. Toronto

Best for multicultural experiences

A hyperactive stew of cultures and neighborhoods, Toronto strikes you with sheer urban awe and cultural diversity. Will you have dinner in Chinatown or Greektown? Five-star fusion or a peameal bacon sandwich?

In Ontario’s coolest city, designer shoes from Bloor-Yorkville are accessorized with tattoos in Queen West, while mod-art galleries, theater par excellence, rockin’ band rooms and hockey mania add to the megalopolis. It is far and away Canada’s largest city, as well as its most diverse – about half of the city’s residents were born in another country.

Be sure to snap a photo of CN Tower, considered one of the best places to visit in Toronto, and for an added thrill, take a try at the Edgewalk, where you can walk around its perimeter while taking in unparalleled city views.

Waves softly roll onto a deserted Tofino Beach at Vancouver Island with the evergreen trees soft-focused in the background.

8. Vancouver Island

Best for nature lovers

Picture-postcard Victoria is the heart of Vancouver Island, beating with bohemian shops, wood-floored coffee bars and a tea-soaked English past steeped in tea culture since the 1840s.

British Columbia’s capital city is full of charm, but it’s only the kick-off point to an island that boasts a bounty of natural wonders to explore.

Brooding Pacific Rim National Park Reserve sports the West Coast Trail, where the wind-bashed ocean meets a mist-shrouded wilderness, and surfers line up for Tofino’s waves. With so many outdoor adventures to try, this is one of the best places in Canada for nature lovers.

Planning Tip: Wandering foodies will want to head to the Cowichan Valley, studded with welcoming little farms and boutique wineries.

Two people on a frozen canal holding hands; one is on ice-skates, the other is in a wheelchair

When frozen, the Rideau Canal in Canada becomes the world’s biggest ice rink © Preappy / Stocksy United

9. Rideau Canal

Best for ice skating

This 185-year-old, 200km-long (124 miles) waterway – consisting of canals, rivers and lakes – connects Ottawa and Kingston via 47 locks. The Rideau Canal is at its finest in wintry Ottawa, where a stretch of its waters become the Rideau Canal Skateway – the world’s largest skating rink.

People swoosh by on the 7.8km (4.8 miles) of groomed ice, pausing for hot chocolate and scrumptious slabs of fried dough called beavertails (a quintessentially Canadian treat). February’s Winterlude festival kicks it up a notch when townsfolk build massive ice sculptures.

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Planning Tip: Once the canal thaws, it becomes a boater’s paradise, meaning you can appreciate it whatever time of year you visit.

10. Manitoulin Island

Best place in Canada to celebrate First Nations culture

The largest freshwater island in the world, floating right in Lake Huron’s midst, Manitoulin is a slowpoke place of beaches and summery cottages. Jagged expanses of white quartzite and granite outcroppings edge the shoreline and lead to shimmering vistas.

First Nations culture pervades, and the island’s eight communities collaborate to offer local foods (wild rice, corn soup) and eco-adventures (canoeing, horseback riding, hiking). Powwows add drumming, dancing and storytelling to the mix for cultural-immersive experiences that connect you with the people and the land of the country that we now know as Canada.

A grain elevator and bin stand amongst the golden wheat of a field in the Canadian Prairies, Saskatchewan.

11. The Prairies

Best place for road trips

Solitude reigns in Canada’s middle ground. Driving through the flatlands of Manitoba and Saskatchewan turns up uninterrupted fields of golden wheat that stretch to the horizon, eventually melting into the sunshine. When the wind blows, the wheat sways like waves on the ocean, punctuated by the occasional grain elevator rising up like a tall ship.

Big skies mean big storms that drop like an anvil, visible on the skyline for miles. Far-flung towns include arty Winnipeg, boozy Moose Jaw and Mountie-filled Regina, interspersed with Ukrainian and Scandinavian villages.

Sea eroded 'flowerpot edifices' stand at low tide at Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy, Canada.

12. Bay of Fundy

Best place to spot whales

Not your average Canadian bay, though lighthouses, boats and trawlers, fishing villages and other maritime scenery surround it, with frequent landward sightings of deer and moose. The unique geography of Fundy results in the most extreme tides in the world, reaching 16m (56ft), about the height of a five-story building.

They stir up serious whale food, with krill and other plankton attracting fin, humpback and blue whales here to feast, as well as endangered North Atlantic right whales, making a whale watch here an extraordinary must-do.

Geological wind-sculptured rock formations stand against a blue sky in the Drumheller badlands, Canada.

13. Drumheller

Best for dinosaur lovers

Dinosaur lovers get weak-kneed in dust-blown Drumheller, where paleontological civic pride runs high thanks to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the planet’s pre-eminent fossil collections. The area’s focus on dinosaur fossils definitely makes this one of the most unique places to visit in Canada.

The world’s largest dinosaur is here, too – a big, scary, fiberglass T-rex that visitors can climb and peer out of (through its mouth). Beyond the dino-hoopla, the area offers classic Badlands scenery and eerie, mushroom-like rock columns called hoodoos.

Planning Tip: Follow the scenic driving loops that take you past all the good stuff.

A solitary polar bear stalks the ice along the Hudson Bay coast in Canada at sunset.

14. Churchill

The best place for polar bear encounters

The first polar bear you see up close will take your breath away, and there’s no better place for an encounter than the open arctic tundra of Churchill, Manitoba, which happens to be right on the bears’ migration path.

Planning Tip: From late September to early November, tundra vehicles head out in search of the razor-clawed beasts, sometimes getting you close enough to lock eyes with the beautiful bears. Summer lets you kayak or stand-up paddleboard with beluga whales.

Picture of an Inuit woman standing on a tundra in Baffin Island, Canada. The woman is wearing a thick fur hood over thick white traditional clothing. The woman is wearing a necklace decorated in white and purple. The sky above the tundra is filled with cotton white clouds.

Baffin’s small towns are home to Inuit art studios with high-quality artworks © RyersonClark / Getty Images

15. Baffin

Best for Inuit art and incredible landscapes

The forlorn, rugged landscape of Baffin Island is home to cloud-scraping mountains and a third of Nunavut’s human population. It’s Canada’s largest island (the fifth biggest in the world), and the ideal place for an arctic safari, where you can spot narwhals, belugas and bears in their natural habitat.

The island’s crown jewel is Auyuittuq National Park – its name means “the land that never melts” – and indeed glaciers, fjords and vertiginous cliffs fill the eastern expanse. The park is a siren call for hardcore hikers and climbers, and more than a few polar bears.

Baffin is also a center for Inuit art; studios for high-quality carving, printmaking and weaving pop up in many small towns that speckle the area.

This article was first published July 2021 and updated August 2022

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Buy the Canada travel guide

© Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet’s Canada is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip and what hidden discoveries await you. Savor culture in Quebec City, marvel at Niagara Falls and hike in the Rockies; all with your trusted travel companion.

15 Best Places to Visit in Canada for 2022 (By a Local!)

Given that it’s the second-largest country in the world, finding the very best places to visit in Canada is a tall order. With ten provinces and three territories, Canada is home to beautiful coastal regions, mountains, prairies, and tundra alike.

Not only was I born and raised in Canada, but I’ve traveled near and far around this beautiful country. In this article, we’re going to discuss the top 15 best places to visit in Canada. And while you’re here, bookmark my picks for the top Canada road trips!

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Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

15 Best Places to Visit in Canada

Vancouver Island

Located in the southwestern corner of Canada, this British Columbian island is the ultimate nature escape

Tall trees and moss in Cathedral Grove, Vancouver island

Me at Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island.

Located in the southwestern corner of Canada, Vancouver Island is where to go in Canada to fulfill your sea and forest dreams in one fell swoop.

While there, be sure to explore Victoria (the capital city of British Columbia), go hiking along the coast, surf in Tofino, and pay a visit to some of the most ancient forests in the country.

But most of all, make sure you go on a whale watching tour. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you can expect to see Grey Whales, Orcas, Minke, or Humpbacks. If whale watching is a priority for you, then definitely time your visit to be between April and October, when Orcas and Humpbacks are most present in the area.

Banff National Park

Canada’s first national park, this Alberta destination is perfect for outdoor adventures

Canoes in the turquoise wates of Banff, Alberta

Perhaps one of the most famous places in Canada, Banff National Park is located in the scenic Rocky Mountains, just 110km (68 miles) from the city of Calgary.

A great place for outdoor enthusiasts, I recommend visiting the town of Banff, taking a soak in one of the many hot springs, visiting the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, and spending time at Lake Louise. Or check out my full guide to the best activities in Banff National Park.

In the summer months, Banff experiences warm days, melted turquoise lakes, and world-class festivals galore. While, in the winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland perfect for skating, sledding, and winter hikes. If you’re feeling a little skittish about hiking the area solo, then a guide Banff hiking tour is the way to go (that link is to a highly rated one)!

While you’re in the area, if you want to cross another national park off of your list, then paying a visit to Jasper National Park is a great way to do it. Jasper is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies and is home to even more stunning views and natural attractions.

Bay of Fundy

With dinosaur fossils, gorgeous rock formations, and a famous tide, this New Brunswick destination is stunning

New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick gives visitors a trifecta of natural wonders: dinosaur fossils, whale migrations, and one of the most unique tidal systems on the planet.

The latter of which is actually one of the seven wonders of North America. In fact, the Bay of Fundy features the highest tides on earth at 16 meters (52.5 ft), and over 160 billion tonnes of seawater flowing in and out of the bay every single day.

To experience the Bay of Fundy’s tidal system at its finest, head over to The Hopewell Rocks, where you can walk around sea stacks at low tide and then witness the tide come in.

Montreal

A Quebec city known for history, foodie offerings, and incredible arts and culture scene

Montreal, Canada skyline at night with city lights shining against the river

Located at the convergence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, Montreal is Quebec’s largest city and an artistic mecca of sorts.

While here, it is worth the splurge to indulge in a personalized Montreal food tour (the city is famous for bagels, smoked meat, and poutine), take a hike up Mount Royal, wander the 17th-century cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, pay a visit to the Biodome, explore art at the Phi Centre, and catch a festival.

In particular, Just for Laughs, Osheaga (I can personally attest), POP Montreal, Montreal En Lumiere, and St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival are especially great.

Toronto (+ Niagara Falls!)

Just a two-hour drive away, the stunning Niagara Falls make for a great day trip from Canada’s largest city

Toronto, Ontario skyline with the CN Tower and Rogers Centre against Lake Ontario

(photo: rabbit75_dep / Depositphotos)

Canada’s most populous city, Toronto is a metropolis that offers a ton of fun no matter what you’re interested in.

While the Royal Ontario Museum, the CN Tower, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and catching a Blue Jay’s baseball game (or a Maple Leafs hockey game) are perhaps what Toronto is most known for, there is a ton to discover once you branch out from the main attractions.

For example, I recommend visiting the ever-eccentric Kensington Market on a Sunday in the summer (pedestrian-only), going shopping along Queen Street, taking the ferry out to Toronto Island, visiting one of the many music venues, and checking out the Toronto foodie scene. Plus, you can never go wrong with a day trip to Niagara Falls!

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Fun fact, visiting Niagara Falls from Canada is *better* than the American side because the American Falls make for better viewing.

For better or for worse though, you’ll find that the town of Niagara itself can be a bit like a mini Las Vegas. This is great if you love to party and gamble, but if nature and tranquility is what you’re aiming for, then skip the town of Niagara and head down the road to Niagara On The Lake.

Quebec City

If you’re keen on a Canadian city with a distinctly European feel, then look no further than Quebec City, Quebec

A nighttime shot of Quebec City

If a picture-perfect, European-style destination is what you’re aiming for on your trip to Canada, then look no further than Quebec City. Located just three hours from Montreal, Quebec City features the only fortified North American old town north of Mexico (it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site), strong francophone culture, and an incredible foodie scene.

Plus, the city has a ton of top-notch nature spots to explore nearby; some of the most beautiful places in Canada.

Montmorency Falls Park features waterfalls even taller than Niagara Falls, Canyon Ste-Anne has some beautiful suspension bridges and a via ferrata, Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier is home to a stunning glacial valley, and Baie de Beauport has a sandy beach perfect for relaxing on.

Winnipeg

The capital city of Manitoba, Winnipeg is a hub of arts and culture on the prairies

The human rights museum in Winnipeg Manitoba, with a

Canada’s centermost city, Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, the province’s most populous hub, and one of the top places to visit in the province of Manitoba. Famous for its Winnie The Pooh namesake, Winnipeg is a center of art and culture on the prairies.

Must-see things in Winnipeg include the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, eccentric neighborhoods (Osborne Village and the Exchange District are especially great), the historic Forks junction, and the Royal Canadian Mint.

While you are in the area, I highly recommend taking a day excursion from Winnipeg as well. Riding Mountain National Park, Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, and Gimli are a few faves!

Planning a trip to Manitoba? These 11 best hotels in Winnipeg will ensure you have a comfortable stay!

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

This central Saskatchewan city is known for farm-to-table experiences and exceptional prairie spirit

The skyline, river, and downtown bridge of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Also known as the “Paris of the Prairies” due to the eight bridges arching the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon, Canada does prairie spirit like none other.

While here, indulge in farm-to-table culinary experiences (you have to try the namesake Saskatoon berry), learn about indigenous history at Wanuskewin Park, paddle along the Saskatchewan River, catch a hockey or football game, go dog sledding, tour the LB distillery, or go for a swim at Manitou Lake.

Churchill

Whether you come for the polar bears or beluga whales, you’re bound to leave this Manitoba destination with a sense of awe

A polar bear walks among snow and ice in Churchill, Manitoba

Whether you tack it onto a trip to Winnipeg or take it as a standalone adventure, paying a visit to Churchill, Manitoba should 100% be on your Canada bucket list.

Known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World and therefore one of the most unique places in Canada, Churchill sits directly on a polar bear migration path. In fact, polar bears actually outnumber their human counterparts in this region during the late fall months.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Northern Lights shine over 300 days of the year in Churchill and the town sees a Beluga whale migration every summer. Although it’s an investment, I highly recommend taking this excellent Churchill tour from Winnipeg — you’ll get the full wildlife experience!

Cape Breton Island

Often taking the #1 island in Canada slot, this Nova Scotia destination is perfect for a road trip

The beautiful coastal highway winds along the shores of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Often ranked as the #1 island in North America, Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is known for its craggy cliffs, the scenic 298-km Cabot Trail, its multi-cultural Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Gaelic history, and its decidedly coastal culture. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia, and is perfect for a road trip.

While on Cape Breton, be sure to explore Sydney, the island’s largest urban area, go hiking or mountain biking along the 92-km Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park, indulge in all the fresh seafood, explore the quaint fishing villages, and go snorkeling with whales.

Charlottetown

Prince Edward Island’s capital city is chock-full of entertainment and Canadian history

View of different building shops in Charlottetown

A city full of seaside charm and plenty of fun things to do, Charlottetown, PEI is located on the east coast of Canada between Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick.

While staying in PEI’s capital, head to Cavendish Beach Music Festival (an annual July event that’s also the largest multi-day music festival in the Maritimes), hit the trails of Prince Edward Island National Park, or take a historical tour.

And I can’t mention Charlottetown without mentioning Anne of Green Gables. If this is your cup of tea, then you know Prince Edward Island was the setting for the original novel, and there are a ton of related sites and activities to experience in PEI.

Dawson City

This Yukon Territory city is known for its gold-rush history and natural spectacles

The northern lights dance green and yellow in the sky above Dawson City, Yukon

Dawson City has some great Northern Lights viewing opportunities!

If you have big dreams of panning the northern countryside for gold, then Dawson City, Yukon is for you. The hub of the Klondike Gold Rush, Dawson City was once a boomtown full of glamour and parties and is certainly one of the most historical places to visit.

Today, the town holds onto much of its glitzy past and is home to history tours, museums, festivals, and traditions.

In particular, perhaps the most famous thing to do in Dawson City, is in fact, kissing a toe. Found in the Sourdough Saloon, the Sourtoe Cocktail has been a Dawson City staple since 1973 and features, you guessed it, a human toe (which is not to be consumed). The rules are simple: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow — but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”

Pro Tip: Canada is a pretty safe place to travel, but the pandemic taught many travelers the importance of travel insurance for Canada. Check out that link for our full guide, or get a quote from directly from World Nomads.

Okanagan Valley

This British Columbia destination is perfect if you’re looking for an escape into wine country

An aboveground railway track runs in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia

Famed as one of the best places to visit in Canada (and the most beautiful), BC’s Okanagan Valley is home to beautiful vineyards, lavender fields, lakes, and forests. Truly a top place in Canada to relax and charge your batteries, I recommend basing yourself in sunny Kelowna while you explore the surrounding area.

In particular, you won’t want to miss taking a Kelowna wine tasting tour, skiing some of the many slopes, putting in one of the golf courses, floating along the Okanagan River, paying a visit to the Astrophysical Observatory, and exploring the Osoyoos Desert Centre.

Gros Morne National Park

This Newfoundland & Labrador park is full of scenic coastlines and natural wonders

Quaint seaside houses dot the landscape of coastal Newfoundland and Labrador

A UNESCO world heritage site, Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and is the second-largest National Park in the Maritimes.

Featuring glacier-carved fjords jutting out of the water, sky-high waterfalls, exposed red-rock mantle, and miles of sandy beaches, this national park has one of the most diverse landscapes in all of North America.

Baffin Island

The ninth-largest island in the world, this Nunavut destination is truly off-the-beaten-path

A glacier amongst the mountains on Baffin Island, Nunavut

One of the most unique places to visit on this list, Baffin Island is one of Canada’s most northerly destinations and is often described as an “Arctic playground.” Baffin Island is the fifth-largest island in the world and is home to impressive fjords, towering mountains, northern lights, ancient artifacts, amazing festivals, and animal sightings galore.

To get to Baffin Island, you’ll have to fly into the capital city of Iqaluit and base your adventures from there.

Frequently Asked Questions About Canada Travel

What’s the prettiest place in Canada?

As a Canadian, to me the top three most beautiful places in Canada are often thought to be Banff / Lake Louise, Gros Morne, and the Cabot Trail.

Where should I travel in Canada?

You should travel to the destination that best fits your interests. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are great for laid-back prairie explorations, Alberta and BC are perfect for mountain lovers, Ontario and Quebec are full of European-style beauty, the territories are known for arctic-style adventures, and the Maritimes are perfect for ocean lovers.

Which is the best province to visit in Canada?

The best places in Canada to visit for mountain landscapes are Alberta and British Columbia, while the Maritimes are well-known for their ocean views and unique culture.

Is Canada cheap to visit?

Relative to the rest of the world, no, Canada is not cheap to visit. That said, Canada is comparable to the US and American visitors will find it to be a bit of a bargain, especially outside of the cities.

That’s it for my top 15 best places to visit in Canada! I hope this gives you tons of ideas for your upcoming visit. Be sure to check out all my Canada travel blogs to help you plan your trip.

Have fun in Canada!

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