Canada Travel Guide: Best Places To Visit in Canada

Canada Travel Guide: Best Places To Visit in Canada

Canada is an extremely large county, but many tourist attractions are gathered along the border with the U.S. Some travelers feel that the best tourism and travel in Canada lies in its marvelous natural landscapes and we think they may be right, but Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are very special. In most travel guides, a great deal of attention is paid to the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Coast, but the Maritimes have have much to offer and are hardly a second fiddle to the rest of the country.

The Maritimes, the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Niagara Falls – there are so many wonderful choices to make when exploring Canada. Let us help – read our recommendations on the leading attractions and the best places to visit in Canada and then make your reservations.

In addition to our recommended best places to visit, we provide links to official tourism websites, if one exists, for the cities or areas we recommend. When we are unable to find an official tourism website, we provide what we think is the most informative of the commercial-tourism websites for that location. Hopefully, our information will let you discover what you need to know for planning a trip to Canada.

Québec

Québec Province offers scenic delight and two cities that may rank as the best of Canada.

  • Québec City
    • Québec City, located on the St. Lawrence River, has an  Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s  charm, history, and architecture has a distinct European flavor. Québec displays its French heritage in a variety of ways and the French language is preferred by the majority of the city’s citizens.
    • Be sure to see the Quartier Petit-Champlain, a  fanciful neighborhood  bordering the Place Royale, the Fortifications of Quebec (several miles of fortifications that defended the Old Town), La Citadelle of Quebec – often referred to as America’s Gibraltar (guided tours only) and the Québec Old Port, for views into the history of an early settlement in North America.
    • Although it is a commercial hotel, every tourist should visit the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which dominates Old Quebec and is based on the architectural styles of the Renaissance and Middle Ages.
    • Visit the City’s official tourism website for more information.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
  • Montreal
    • Montreal is beautiful  culturally diverse city that is a great place to visit. It is the second largest French speaking city in the world and mixes old-world charm with a modern infrastructure.
    • Be sure to see picturesque “Old” Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Park Olympique built for the 1976 Olympics and the impressive Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.
    • Take in the eclectic but charming Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood and the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal, which is a tourist center for many activities, including cruises and other excursions.
    • For more information visit the city’s official tourism website.
City of Montreal, Quebec
City of Montreal, Quebec

Ontario

Ontario’s main attractions hug the Lake Ontario Shoreline.  If you have not toured the Lake, put it on your agenda of things to do.

  • Toronto
    • Toronto is the “trendy” city of Canada: it has great entertainment venues, world-class theater, fantastic restaurants, and numerous interesting attractions, including the Hockey Hall of Fame, the CN Tower, a classic “Old Town” and the well-regarded Art Gallery of Ontario.
    • The city has a number of delightful parks that come alive in warmer weather.
    • If you have time, see the St. Lawrence Market Complex in historic Old Town Toronto.
City of Toronto Landscape
Toronto Skyline
  • Niagara Falls
    • The Falls are glorious and a world-famous attraction: it’s a shame that you have to pass through an embarrassingly touristy visitor district to see this glorious natural landscape.  However, the glitz, knickknacks and sometimes vulgar storefronts seem to attract tons of tourists, as do the numerous chain restaurants.
    • The falls can be seen from the Skylon Tower  , for those who want to see it but not get wet.  Most visitors prefer to take the Maid of the Mist  cruise , a 30 minute adventure that takes you very near the base of the Falls.
    • You will find no shortage of hotels in Niagara Falls and you can find detailed information about the Falls, the city and its attractions at the official tourism website of Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Picture of Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist boat tour
  • Niagara on the Lake
    Town of Niagara on the Lake

    Niagara On The Lake

    • This bucolic town is a delight. It has a high-quality summer theater series and is a wonderful place to stay when exploring the Lake Ontario area.
    • The town provides a restful atmosphere and is a great setting for cycling and outdoor activities.
    • See the official website of the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau for more details on visiting.
    • Book a Bed & Breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake and enjoy a town rich in history, wineries and beauty.
  • Ottawa
    • Ottawa, the Capital of Canada, is near the border of Quebec Province.  Ottawa is a pleasant town that is known for its festivals (particularly its Tulip Festival), Winterlude (billed as “America’s greatest winter festival), numerous museums and overall pleasantness.
      • Favorites include touring the Parliament of Canada, visiting the Canadian Museum of Civilization (a history of Canada’s people) and the National Gallery of Canada.
      • Ottawa has a number of fine restaurants, good nightlife and an active performing arts community that will keep your evenings busy during a visit.
    • The Capital of Canada is located on the Ottawa River where it is joined by the Gatineau River and  the Rideau Canal Waterway.  The Rideau Canal connects beautiful lakes and rivers between upstream Ottawa and Kingston, which is located on Lake Ontario.  If you have time, arrange  a sightseeing cruise along the Rideau. In addition,  river-side trails are available for some great bicycling.
      • If you prefer to drive, the Rideau Heritage Route, which wanders through impressive scenery eventually connects with the Thousand Island area and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
    • Gatineau National Park, just across the river in Quebec Province, is a delightful place to visit any time of the year, but in autumn the changing colors of its forests makes it one of the most beautiful places in the world.
    • The official tourism website of Ottawa provides additional details on visiting this comfortable, Canadian Capital.  You might also find the official tourism website for Ottawa & Gatineau  to be very helpful.
Canadian Parliament, Ottawa
Canadian Parliament, Ottawa

Alberta

Alberta marks the front of  the Rocky Mountains in Canada: the “Rockies”  seem to get better the further north you go.

  • Banff National Park
    • Banff is incredibly beautiful mountain country.  You can drive and observe the scenic beauty of the area or you can  participate in any number of outdoor activities.
Banff, Alberta
Banff, Alberta
  • Lake Louise
    • The Banff area was highly glaciated in the past and the resulting topography created many lakes but only one Lake Louise.  Lake Louise is one of the most gorgeous lakes in the world.
      In addition, it is one of Canada’s most popular attractions and you will need to make reservations up to a year in advance.
  • Jasper National Park
    • Jasper National Park   continues the string of beautiful landscape  north from Banff.  Drive the Icefields Parkway in Jasper to experience one of the world’s most scenic drives.

For details on visiting the Alberta area, see Travel Alberta  the area’s official tourism website.

Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise, Alberta

British Columbia

Magical may not be exactly the right word for British Columbia but the province is incredibly beautiful and you will not regret a visit.

  • Vancouver  
    • Situated in a gorgeous setting, Vancouver offers something for everyone.   You will run out of time before you run out of things to do in Vancouver. Art, museums, parks, beaches, and good food abound.
    • See Tourism Vancouver  for details about visiting this pleasant city.
Vancouver Harbour, British Columbia
Vancouver Harbour, British Columbia
  • Victoria
    • There are a number of things to do in Victoria but  to the north, Butchart Gardens steals the show: although, high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria is quite a treat. In addition, the Royal British Columbia Museum provides fine examples of the region’s history.
    • The  official Victoria Tourism website provides a great section on things to see and do in Victoria.
  • Whistler/Blackcomb
    • If you like mountain resorts, this is the place for you. World class skiing in the winter and great golf in the summer.
    • See Tourism Whistler  for details on visiting.
    • Click HelloBC to visit the official tourism website of British Columbia.

British Columbia, Canada

The Atlantic Provinces

  • Canada’s Atlantic Coast offers a beautiful coastline, startlingly attractive villages, and wilderness in abundance.  Attractions are less widespread in these area, but if you like the seashore and the remote great outdoors, these may be areas of interest to you.
  • Nova Scotia  and New Brunswick are popular locations, but Newfoundland and Labrador beckon to the outdoor enthusiast (You do remember the  “Lure of the Labrador Wilds” by Jack London?).  Finally, don’t forget Canada’s smallest and greenest province, Prince Edward Island, which has its own set of treasures to offer.
Whale watching in Newfoundland
Whale watching in Newfoundland

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for Canada has additional details about the best places to visit on our list, as well as information on other noteworthy attractions.

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