Oh Canada, how I miss you and wish I could go on a Canada holiday right now.
But the next best thing to being in Canada is writing about it (for me, anyway). I thought I would share the 10 places I loved visiting in Canada and recommend you add to your Canada bucket list. Although I crossed off a few of the best cities in Canada, there are still so many places I’m yet to see. But for now, these are my recommendations for the best places to visit in Canada on your next Canada holiday.
I mean, could I really begin with any other Canadian city? I know I may be biased, but Vancouver is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and one of the best cities in Canada. It has the perfect combination of urban and nature that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The fact you can go from brunch in Gastown to tobogganing on a mountain within an hour is mind-blowing.
To prepare for your visit, check out my 24-hour guide to Vancouver, where to take the best photos of the skyline, and the best budget things to do in the city. Personally, I recommend visiting Vancouver in summer, between July and September. From experience, this is when it rains the least and there are so many fun festivals and markets to enjoy. If you’re looking for budget accommodation in Vancouver, check out Samesun Backpackers.
Ottawa is one of those cities that gets a bad rap, but I recommend adding it to your Canada holiday itinerary. The capital city is small, so it can easily be explored in a weekend. I only spent one day in Ottawa but I was instantly charmed. I took a boat cruise down the Rideau Canal, visited the Parliament and even stayed in a former jail. Yes, that experience was unforgettable and kind of creepy. I visited Ottawa in fall and had clear skies and perfect weather.
Whistler is less than a two-hour drive from Vancouver. The ski village is home to North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb. But I personally haven’t gone skiing in Whistler (I am too uncoordinated for that). Instead, I’ve spend Christmas in the snow at Whistler, and I’ve done two day trips to Whistler in fall. It’s a year-round destination to visit in Canada.
I also think one of the best parts about Whistler is getting there. The Sea to Sky Highway has got to be one of the world’s most beautiful drives. If you have time, make stops at the Sea to Sky Gondola and Squamish.
If there’s one place that needs to be on your Canada holiday itinerary, it’s the Canadian Rockies. Jasper is just as charming as you’d expect. It’s a small town that’s home to cute cottages, shops with rocky facades and friendly locals. It’s also surrounded by sights like Maligne Canyon and Lake.
Speaking of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a total tourist hotspot, but I still believe it’s one of the best places to visit in Canada. It’s easy to walk or take the public bus to a lot of the town’s main attractions. I spent my time doing a day trip to Lake Louise, walking to Bow Falls and soaking in the hot springs. In my opinion, it’s much more budget-friendly compared to Jasper and is close to a lot of the beautiful natural attractions the Canadian Rockies are known for. If you’re also exploring Banff on a budget, check out Samesun Backpackers. If you’re not, than head to the castle on the hill at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
I am so glad I got to see Victoria and a little slice of Vancouver Island before I left Canada. I really did leave it until the last minute, as I visited Victoria with my bestie during my last month in Vancouver. But it was prettier than I imagined, thanks to its colourful Victorian architecture, floral hanging baskets and floating homes. If you have more time on Vancouver Island, I recommend driving to Tofino. It’s one place that sits very high on my Canada bucket list.
Visiting Quebec feels very strange. I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact I was using Canadian money but trying to speak French. Just like in Europe, most locals speak English. But the magnificent architecture, particularly in Old Quebec, makes you feel like you’re in Europe. I know a lot of people might choose between visiting either Montreal or Quebec City, but I believe they’re both deserve a visit. Here’s a little photo of the world’s most photographed hotel to convince you to visit Quebec City.
To be honest, I didn’t fall in love with Toronto, so it doesn’t make my list. However, when you travel to Canada you should definitely take the time to see Niagara Falls. They are as impressive and powerful as they seem in photos. I just took the Greyhound bus from Toronto, which was cheap and easy. While in Niagara Falls, I walked around the main streets (which resemble Vegas), did a Hornblower Cruise (highly recommend) and took a hundred photos.
The Okanagan is located approximately four hours inland from Vancouver. Its main city is Kelowna, but when I visited I stayed with a friend in Vernon. We had previously met on a Contiki tour of Asia in 2011. I recommend visiting the Okanagan when you travel to Canada as it offers something different. It has the snowy mountains, ski resorts and picturesque lakes of other places in Canada. But it’s also home to many award-winning wineries.
I visited the Okanagan in fall during the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday and honestly it blew me away. We went to an orchard and picked pumpkins, visited vineyards, played in the first snow on the mountain, watched hockey and I even held a joey. It was such a fantastic Canadian holiday.
Last but definitely not least is mesmerising Montreal. I only had a day to explore Montreal, but I left wanting more. It’s as beautiful as Quebec City with the same European architecture. I also spent most of my day in Montreal eating and I don’t regret a minute of it. My friend and I began with a treat from Juliette et Chocolat, which was completely decadent and delicious. We followed this with savoury crepes for lunch, because when in
France Montreal. You will eat very well in Quebec — trust me.
Obviously, I have literally just scratched the surface when it comes to Canada. I still have so many provinces and territories to explore, including Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. But I am glad I at least got to experience some of the best cities in Canada before I came home.
What place is on your Canada holiday bucket list?
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