The expanse of Canada’s natural beauty, from mountains and glaciers to secluded lakes and forests, is almost unparalleled worldwide. But Canada’s allure is not just the great outdoors. Canada has cosmopolitan cities that are clean, safe, friendly, and multicultural. In fact, Canada repeatedly is lauded as one of the world’s most livable countries. Whether your interests are river rafting or live theater, Canada won’t disappoint.
Canada has many modern, multicultural cities, each with its own distinct personality. Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are possibly the best-known, but there are so many others that highlight different aspects of Canada, such as its maritime culture, mountainous landscape, French history, or its indigenous people. Each city is delightful for different reasons.
In addition, Canadian cities are generally much smaller than the biggest counterparts in the United States, so they are easy to navigate. Canadian people, even in big cities, tend to be friendly to strangers, and crime is relatively low.
Although it’s doubtful you’ll get to all of them in one trip, these cities are the most popular destinations for visitors to Canada:
- Vancouver, British Columbia, has been a hot spot in Canada for years as far as the number of people who want to live there goes. No wonder. It is on the water and next to a mountain range, making it postcard pretty. In addition, in a country where winter reality can be harsh, Vancouver has a moderate climate, which includes not much snow and early spring. Downsides include lots of rain and low housing availability despite high prices.
- Calgary, Alberta, is probably most famous for its Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo that attracts more than a million people every July. Calgary is a natural gateway to the Rocky Mountains.
- Niagara Falls, Ontario, is home to the Horseshoe Falls, the most powerful waterfall in North America and possibly the best-known in the world. The city itself is very touristy, but there are more charming places nearby.
- Toronto, Ontario, is the biggest, brashest city in Canada, often mistaken as the nation’s capital. The nearly 6 million residents of the metropolitan area are a diverse mix of English, Chinese, East Indian, Irish, Scottish, and Italian, among other ethnicities. Vibrant and textured, Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
- Ottawa, Ontario, is Canada’s capital and home to the country’s government. The city has a cultured yet friendly vibe.
- Montreal, Quebec, is Canada’s second largest city but arguably the cultural capital of the country, with its wide range of festivals and museums. It is European in feeling and quite liberal in character. Much of the old part of the city has been preserved and is a highlight for visitors.
- Quebec City, Quebec, is a stunning city because of its location, architecture, and level of historical preservation. French is even more common here than in Montreal, though most of the people you will interact with if you’re a visitor also speak English.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia, represents all that is great about the Maritimes (a group of three provinces in Eastern Canada that all border the Atlantic Ocean): Friendly, down-to-earth, fun, affordable, and scenic.
- Victoria, British Columbia, has a rich English history dating back to the 1840s when the city was established as a trading port but a deeper provenance as an aboriginal community.
Few countries boast the number and range of natural wonders that Canada does. With more coastline than any other country, mountain ranges, lakes, forests, arctic lands and even a small amount of desert, Canada has a diverse landscape full of surprises.
Some of Canada’s most spectacular and popular natural attractions are the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Nahanni National Park Reserve, Cabot Trail, Niagara Falls, and a multitude of scenic drives.
Canada is an affordable vacation choice. Historically the Canadian dollar is worth slightly less than the U.S. dollar, so prices in Canada generally seem reasonable to travelers.
One of the best reasons to visit Canada is to take advantage of the fabulous outdoors— and there’s a lot of it. Canada is the second largest country in the world, but its population is relatively small. Consider that the United States. has about nine times the number of people that Canada does on a slightly smaller land mass. Canada has expansive uninhabited land that gives Canadians and visitors room to roam. Some of the most popular outdoor activities in Canada are camping, skiing and snowboarding, golfing, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Events and Festivals
Canadians know how to put on a party. Just check out any one of these popular Canadian events and festivals to find out how hospitable Canadians are.
- Celebration of Light, Vancouver (largest fireworks competition in the world)
- Calgary Stampede
- Edmonton Folk Music Festival
- Toronto International Film Festival
- Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa
- Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City
- Celtic Colours International Festival, Nova Scotia
Lots of Canadians head for warmer climates in the winter, but while they’re leaving the country, skiers and other winter enthusiasts from around the world are pouring in. Canada is a famous “northern” destination, but it’s not all igloos and snowcaps. Spring, summer, and fall have their own charms and add to Canada’s appeal.
Of course, because Canada is so large, the climate varies greatly, allowing for a wide range of activities year-round.
For example, Western Canada, including Vancouver, has a relatively moderate climate with not much snow and early spring. Contrast that to Montreal, which has long, cold winters with loads of snowfall. It definitely pays to know about your destination and what to expect weather-wise.
Canada’s French Heritage
French culture remains a prominent part of Canada, mostly in Quebec, but also in Ontario and the Maritime provinces. Canada is officially bilingual, although it’s certainly not necessary for tourists to speak French. Quebec, which was settled by the French in the 1600s, is where visitors can visit Montreal and the provincial capital, Quebec City. Quebec remains very European in feel. Its rich history and distinct heritage make it a unique tourist destination.
Canada’s laid-back attitude and expansive variety of outdoor activities and events make it a fantastic travel destination for families traveling with children. From hiking or skiing and snowboarding to visiting Quebec Winter Carnival or the Calgary Stampede, a Canadian vacation with kids is good fun for the whole family.
Diverse cultures, climates, and landscape make Canada a destination to suit any interest. Canada is a country of immigrants and has a policy of encouraging diversity. Thus, urban hubs feature a range of ethnic neighborhoods, restaurants, and shops.