Many Canadian cities frequently make the list of “best cities to live in” worldwide. This is in part due to the majority of Canadians embracing multiculturalism which has made Canada a truly vibrant and progressive country.
As versatile in culture as it is large in size, Canada has varied landscapes ranging from the Rocky Mountains to the beaches towards the west coast, from the peaceful towns to the ever bustling metro cities, there is something for every visitor. Toronto, with its hip neighborhoods, has excellent beaches, whereas the Canadian capital, Ottawa is home to magnificent museums and the astonishing Rideau Canal, popular with ice skaters during winter.
Canada Travel Info
Language: Canada has two official languages, English and French. However, the English speaking population is much larger than those who speak in French.
Currency: Canadian Dollar.
Visa: Travelers planning to visit Canada are required to obtain a Canadian Tourist Visa also known as a Canadian Temporary Resident Visa or a Canada Visitor Visa. Though the basic requirements remain the same which include a valid passport for six months with two empty pages, a return or onward journey ticket, proof of finances and other stay details.
Electricity: Canada operates on 120 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Canada Festivals & Celebrations
L’International des Feux Loto-Quebec: Also famous by the name of The Montreal Fireworks Festival, this is the biggest fireworks festival on the planet. The festival occurs annually in La Ronde beside Dolphins Lake where a crowd of thousands of people gather to witness the spectacular fireworks. Around 8 or 9 famous fireworks companies participate in this festival.
Winterlude: Winterlude festival goes on for three weeks and is celebrated in the month of February. Canadian cities, particularly Ontario, Ottawa, Quebec, and Gatineau celebrate the Winterlude with lots of passion and vigor. These cities also hold a party along with parades and ice sculptures. People enjoy ice skating in the largest rink of the world and also participate in ice sculpture events.
Just for Laughs: Started in 1983, this Just for Laughs comedy festival is the largest international comedy festival on the planet. The city of Montreal hosts this festival annually in the month of July. Due to its popularity, the festival now extends for a whole month mainly in the Latin Quarter which is famous for its cafes and theaters.
Safety In Canada
Canada is a safe place to travel to although thefts and scams are prevalent in all big cities around the world so be mindful of this. Major cities like Toronto are under the constant threat of a terror attack, as with all major cities worldwide, but security measures are in place. Based on my own travel experiences, I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered to be. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Canada.
Top Things To Do In Canada
Take a Kingston Trolley Tour
For all those visiting Kingston, Ontario, taking a trolley ride is a must. The vintage trolleys, red in color, run around the city and take visitors on a tour in and around Kingston and the nearby places as well. The tour includes a visit to the Fort Henry, Bellevue House, and the legendary Kingston Penitentiary and some sites built from limestone. This is perhaps the best way to see the remarkable limestone city that was the Capital of Canada long back.
Go hiking the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
For the outdoor enthusiasts, one of the best things to do in Canada is to hike the sleeping giant Provincial Park. The top of the trail is about 2.7 kilometers, but that’s not about it. You need to hike two more trails to get there, making the return journey around 20 kilometers long. The giant is nearly vertical at some parts making the trail a lot more challenging. But the view from the top is overwhelming.
Tour the Parliament Buildings of Canada
The parliament buildings of Canada are situated in Ottawa and are among the most magnificent buildings of Canada. They are located in the center of Ottawa and are a must visit. They are at a walking distance from many tourist attractions and hotels. The parliament buildings are divided into three buildings- East Block, West Block, and Central Block. The buildings are constructed in a gothic revival style and are adorned with reliefs, carvings, and gargoyles.
Experience Winter Hiking
Often summer is the time designated for any outdoor activity, but winter hiking makes you experience an entirely different type of beauty. The northeastern part of Ontario is the perfect place to go for winter hiking, notably the Windy Lake National Park with its beautiful winter views. In case you are interested in more than hiking, you can opt for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling.
Polar bear spotting at Churchill
Churchill is perhaps the best place to observe Polar Bears in their natural habitat and is rightly called the Polar Bear Capital of the World. The site is located alongside Hudson Bay and is a popular bear-spotting territory due to the cool winds that transform the shallow waters into sheets of ice. In October-November, Polar bears travel in large numbers to the shores and wait for the ice to be enough that they can fish for their favorite food, seal.
Snorkel With Beluga Whales
Everybody knows that Churchill, Manitoba is world famous for being the polar capital, but only a few people know that it is the world capital for Beluga Whales as well. Every Summer Beluga whales travel through Hudson Bay in huge numbers and northern Churchill. This gives the people a splendid opportunity to observe these intelligent mammals closely and see them in a number of ways including on a boat, snorkeling with them in the water and on a kayak.
Visit the Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan is one part of Canada that most people skip during their visit to the country. The Grassland National Park located in this part of the country with its vacant roads and endless skies is one of the best national parks in the country. The West block of the park is the most reachable part and can be accessed from the town of Val Amrie. Around 600 Bison call this park home. They are wild animals and are allowed to roam freely all around the park.
Drive the route to the Lighthouse
At a short drive from Halifax, the biggest city in Nova Scotia, the lighthouse is a beautiful driving trail along the south of the shore starting from Peggy’s cove reaching Yarmouth. The iconic lighthouse is the first stop near Peggy’s Cove. This is located on a huge granite base and was once used to send signals to ships entering the St. Margaret’s Bay. It is out of use today but is the most photogenic landmark of Nova Scotia.
Sample Wien in The Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is one of the emerging vineyards of the world and a trip to this area is a must. The wineries in the area are many, some are small and family owned while the others are World-class wineries. Although the city has been into producing wine since the past 30 years only, yet they have a vast variety ranging from robust red wine to delicate white.
Canoe in Lake Emerald
The moment you reach lake emerald, you will understand why it has been named so. The water is delightfully green and appears surreal to the eyes. The lake is the most beautiful during summers as a result of meltwater. The lake is usually frozen from November to June. To look at the lake closely, take a canoe and enjoy the beauty. Although hiring a canoe is expensive, yet the amount is worth the beautiful views that you get to witness.
What To Eat In Canada
Canada has contributed to the culinary world through its age-old savory soups and creamy desserts. Some traditional Canadian dishes that you must try during your visit are listed below.
Tourtiere: Tourtiere is a French-Canadian meat pie and is an integral part of the cuisine since the 1600s. Ground meats are blended with breadcrumbs and flavored with spices and coated to give a delicious buttery crust to form some excellent pies.
Beaver Tails: A well known Canadian chain sells pastries which are stretched in such a way that they appear like beaver tails. They are served with cinnamon sugar or coated with Nutella. The base of this sweet indulgence is bannock.
Bannock: This flatbread originated in Scotland and was enthusiastically adopted by the Canadians. Bannock is sliced into wedges and resembles a basic scone that can be easily made in your kitchen.
Poutine: Poutine is one of the most outlandish and significant dishes of Canada. It is considered a gem that originated as a French Canadian recipe. Some small towns of Quebec claim to have invented the delicacy which includes a peppery meat-based gravy and fries topped with curd.
Butter Tarts: This dessert is the best example of early Canadian cooking and is as old as a century. It comprises of a delicate, flaky crust and a creamy center filled with butter, egg mixture, and sugar.
Where To Stay In Canada
Canada can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Canada is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Canadian hostels and dormitories make travel here more affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Canada is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Canada.
If you’re backpacking in Canada or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Canada much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Canada Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Canada
The best time to visit Canada is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see Canada with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between May and September. July to August is peak tourist season right across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, especially from mid July to mid August so prices will be higher during this time.
Canada Travel Budget
Canada can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Canada really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 dollars a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 dollars per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Toronto and Vancouver then budget about 250 dollars plus a day.
- Budget: $35 – $100
- Mid-range: $100 – $250
- Splurge: $250 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Canada Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Canada is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during Spring, Autumn and Winter.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold in some parts of Canada during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Canada.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Canada include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.