15 Best Places to Visit in Canada for 2021

Canada

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.

1 – Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Tall trees and moss in Cathedral Grove, Vancouver island
Located in the southwestern corner of Canada, Vancouver Island is a paradise that will 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.

2 – Banff National Park, Alberta

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.

3 – Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy includes sea stacks and high tides

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.

4 – Montreal, Quebec

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.

5 – Toronto, Ontario (+ Niagara Falls!)

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

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!

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.

6 – Quebec City, Quebec

A nighttime shot of Quebec City's Old Town, Quebec

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.

7 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

The human rights museum in Winnipeg Manitoba, with a "Winnipeg" sign in front.

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!

8 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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.

9 – Churchill, Manitoba

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!

10 – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

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.

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.

11 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

A downtown shot of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

A city full of seaside charm, Charlottetown, PEI is located on the east coast of Canada between Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick. While in Charlottetown, 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 tours to experience.

12 – Dawson City, Yukon Territory

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

13 – Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

An aboveground railway track runs in the Okanagan Valley of British ColumbiaFamed 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 place 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.

14 – Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador

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.

15 – Baffin Island, Nunavut

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.

By: travellemming.com

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