Canada - Keep Exploring!
Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world’s second-largest country by total area.
The second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of beautiful landscapes and unique sites for travelers to explore. From coast to coast to coast, the country is home to vibrant and culturally rich cities, along with incredible natural wonders.
In Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains and cities of Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary dominate most itineraries. In Central Canada, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City, are some of the most popular destinations. For those who venture out to Canada’s Maritime Provinces in the east, the beauty of Gros Morne National Park, along with the cities of Halifax and St. John’s, provide their own unique character.
Off the beaten path, but equally impressive, is Canada’s North, where great rivers flow out to the Arctic Ocean, creating some incredible territory for canoeists, and where polar bears can be seen in the wild. Travelers can explore the remote beauty of places like Nahanni National Park and the towns and cities of Churchill, Whitehorse, and Yellowknife.
Five Unexpected National Parks to Visit
Looking for adventure? Look no further than Canada’s beautifully diverse national parks. No matter the season, there’s a park that will offer not only stunning scenery, but also unique experiences — from luxurious camping to snowshoeing.
Spring is the perfect time to get outside and explore. And there’s no better place to do it than at one of Canada’s National Parks. From trails worth exploring to fresh flowers budding, here are five parks to visit as the weather warms up.
Alberta: Elk Island National Park
Elk Island Park was created in 1906, becoming Canada’s first wildlife sanctuary. In 1913, Canada’s Dominion Parks Service established Elk Island as Canada’s 6th and only entirely-fenced national park.
Just 40 minutes from Edmonton, Elk Island National Park is the perfect escape from the city hustle. The big draw here? Bison and elk of course! There’s also a festival and geocaching if you’re looking for something lively, as well as Parks Canada classics like hiking, camping, kayaking, sailing, and more.
Ontario: Point Pelee National Park
Located about 50 kilometres south-east of Windsor, Ontario, Point Pelee National Park of Canada is one of the country’s smallest national parks, and yet this tiny green oasis attracts approximately 300,000 visitors each year.
More south than Northern California, Point Pelee is just as stunning (in our humble opinion). A lush, forested oasis, this park is perfect for a getaway. Head into the greenery during the Festival of Birds, where visitors can witness the migration of several species of birds. Or, set out on a wildflower walk, where you can explore the colors of the wildflowers that bloom every spring. Looking for something low-key? Have a picnic, paddle the wetlands, or explore the trails.
Saskatchewan: Prince Albert National Park
To see one of Canada’s few remaining populations of free ranging plains bison within their historic range, follow the road signs to the west side of Prince Albert National Park.
Just under three hours outside of Saskatoon, you’ll be transported to stunning wilderness in Prince Albert National Park. Tucked in a boreal forest, become one with nature as you’re surrounded by towering trees, free-ranging plains bison, and all sorts of other wildlife. In the park, you can lounge on the beach (when the weather heats up), canoe, cycle, and even explore the town of Waskesiu within the park itself.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Torngat Mountains National Park
From the Inuktitut word Torngait, meaning “place of spirits,” the Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for thousands of years.
Rugged wilderness and breathtaking vistas are what you’ll find in this Newfoundland and Labrador park. Because this park is fairly remote, the sprawling fields and jagged mountains seem untouched. In the spring, popular activities are camping and hiking, and there are plenty of spots to do both. Other top contenders are photography and wildlife watching, which you’ll find no shortage of through the expanse of this almost 10,360-square-kilometre park. Just remember to register when entering the park so the rangers can keep track of those exploring.
Northwest Territories: Aulavik National Park
Aulavik is considered a polar desert. The total annual precipitation for the park is approximately 300 mm, one third of which falls as rain during the summer.
Located on Banks Island in the Northwest Territories, this rugged and fairly remote park is home to a variety of landscapes that are sure to please any adventurer or photographer. Picture fertile valleys, polar desert, rocky coastline, and badlands. You can hike, camp, and even canoe or kayak (though you’ll need to access the park by air to go, or book with an outfitter). Keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of unique Northern nature and wildlife too, like the Arctic fox, as well as archeological artifacts.
Canadian Natural Wonders
Canada is a big place, but it’s far from empty. In fact, it’s filled to the brim with incredible natural wonders that will leave any lover of the outdoors awe-struck, and you don’t have to fly to the far corners of the country to enjoy them. There are amazing wonders within close proximity to Canada’s biggest cities.
Here’s a look at a handful of Canadian natural wonders you can experience within two hours of a major urban centre.
Less than a two-hour drive from Toronto sits Canada’s most renowned natural wonder: Niagara Falls. You might think that if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all, but the sound of the water as you approach it, the mist you feel on your face as you look up 50m at a torrent of blue and white, and the sheer power of the falls that you can feel to your bones… those things never really get old. Plus, the district of Niagara Falls is a city in its own right, full of attractions, entertainment, and terrific dining. If you’re looking to experience a Canadian natural wonder, this is the one.
Many people are surprised to discover that a waterfall one and a half times higher than Niagara Falls sits just minutes from Quebec City. At 83m, the Montmorency Falls are a sight to behold, both from within the city, and up close and personal in the Montmorency Falls Park (Parc de la Chute-Montmorency in French). Hang out near the base or ride the gondola up to the top for a spectacular view. More adventurous visitors might choose to hike one of the three Via Ferrata trails, stopping at viewpoints along the way for some Instagram-worthy shots, or even zip line across the falls.
Then there’s Shannon Falls, a beautiful waterfall less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver. Located in the provincial park of the same name, the falls originate 300m above sea level and steadily tumble down between granite cliffs. Located just off the picturesque Sea to Sky Highway, this waterfall is incredibly accessible and well worth the quick drive from the city.
Canada offers some of the best northern lights viewing in the entire world, and you often don’t have to leave the city to enjoy it.
The Northwest Territories provides some of, if not THE best aurora borealis viewing in the world. To see the bright reds, blues, greens, and yellows dance across the night sky, all you have to do is take a look through your hotel window in capital city Yellowknife—known as the “Aurora Capital of North America.” Within the city, you could also experience the Northern Lights by dog sled or while staying in a comfortable tipi.
The Yukon capital of Whitehorse is also a fantastic place to see this natural wonder in action. This city often finds itself underneath coloured skies. Only 20 minutes outside of the city, you can leave the lights behind and enjoy the aurora surrounded by nature before sleeping in a prospector-style tent.
If you can’t make it up to Canada’s territories, the Northern Lights have also been known to make a rare appearance in Edmonton, at the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve a couple of hours north of Toronto, and even in Prince Edward Island National Park half an hour north of the capital city Charlottetown.
Often called the best beach in Canada, Singing Sands in Basin Head Provincial Park, just 75 minutes from Charlottetown, is a nine-mile white sand beach with some of the warmest waters in the province. In fact, the beach is said to have some of the warmest waters north of Florida, occasionally exceeding 21 degrees. The beach’s strange name is a result of its fine sand, which squeaks as your feet press into it—the result of a high concentration of silica and quartz. There are 23 beaches on Prince Edward Island, and all of them are within a couple of hours of one another, so you can enjoy a handful of these natural wonders in a day.
Forget near the city—how about directly within it! Vancouver has nine beautiful beaches within its boundaries, so you never have to stray far from your hotel to enjoy soft sand beneath your feet. In fact, National Geographic named Vancouver one of the 10 best beach cities in the world. The standout of the bunch is probably Wreck Beach, an 8-kilometre, clothing-optional beach near the campus of the University of British Columbia. If you prefer to keep your kit on, then English Bay with its volleyball courts, diving platform, and peerless people watching in the heart of the city’s West End neighbourhood comes a close second.
You only need to travel 10 minutes from the city of Toronto to enter a completely different, beachy world. Hop on a ferry and journey to Toronto Island, and their three beautiful beaches. Lay down your towel and enjoy the best of nature with beautiful views of the city.
Finally, about an hour north-east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, sits Grand Beach, often named one of the best beaches in Canada. There, on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, you’ll find dunes reaching nearly 12m in height, and ample opportunities for sunbathing and swimming.
Other natural wonders
Every single year, thousands upon thousands of skiers and snowboarders take to the mountains of Whistler to enjoy some of the best snow conditions anywhere. In the summer, these mountains become a world-class mountain biking and hiking destination. Throw in the area’s incredible hot springs, lakes, and rivers, and it isn’t hard to figure why people flock to this village 90 minutes north of Vancouver to immerse themselves in nature.
While on the topic of mountains, the Rocky Mountains are undoubtedly a natural wonder, and they can be enjoyed after just a short, 90-minute drive from Calgary. That quick jaunt will bring you into the unmatched Banff National Park, home to glaciers, forests, rivers, valleys, and of course, mountains, all of which will dazzle you with their scale and beauty. It’s in this park that you’ll find the picturesque Lake Louise, with its jaw-dropping turquoise blue waters set perfectly in front of the Victoria Glacier. Then there’s the beautiful Moraine Lake, equally photo-worthy and a great place for a hike or paddle.
About two hours from Calgary in the other direction is Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the biggest dinosaur graveyards in the world. Fossils of nearly 500 species of animals and a remarkable 40 dinosaurs have been found amidst the park’s spires, pinnacles, and other formations.
Across the country, both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick host an internationally-known natural wonder: the Bay of Fundy. Home to the highest tides in the world, over 100 billion tonnes of seawater enter and leave the Bay twice every single day. The resulting 12m change in water level has shaped the unique landscape of the coastline and entire region, but is displayed most impressively at the unique Hopewell Rocks—only 30 minutes from Moncton, the second biggest city in New Brunswick.
Last but not least is Canada’s own tiny little Dead Sea, Little Manitou Lake. Located just over an hour’s drive from Saskatoon, this unique lake is filled with briny water that apparently possesses natural skin and body care properties. These properties take their origins in the concentrations of mineral salts, magnesium, silica, potassium, and other minerals found in the water. Go for a float to relax and rejuvenate your body.
Best Places in Canada for Relaxing Holidays
Ready to recharge? Consider a holiday in Canada, a vast and varied country, filled with places of immense beauty, quiet, and all the room you need to unplug and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.
Try sitting on the deck of a century-old home in coastal Newfoundland, a glass of Screech rum in hand, perhaps watching an iceberg floating slowly just off shore. Or try a hot tub with a view of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, a jade-green lake shimmering in the distance. Sound good? We’re just getting started. Here are more of Canada’s most incredible places to relax and unwind.
Cabana Desolation Eco Resort, British Columbia
On a quiet, uninhabited island in the heart of Desolation Sound off British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, Cabana Desolation Eco Resort is surrounded by warm ocean teeming with marine life and imposing Coast mountains. This off-grid resort uses the latest in conservation techniques to preserve the unspoiled beauty of Kinghorn Island, including environmentally sensitive systems for water, renewable energy, solar powered lighting, sustainably harvested and recycled building materials, and locally grown and harvested foods.
A house in Bonavista and Cape Race Adventures, Newfoundland and Labrador
A place of soul-stirring beauty and foot-tapping Celtic music, Newfoundland and Labrador is special. Even if you’re looking for some time to yourself, you’ll soon discover how much you enjoy the big-hearted locals. And that’s where Cape Race Adventures comes in, connecting you with folks who can invite you to an authentic “kitchen party” or show you the best place to watch puffins perched atop stunning cliffs. Take up residence in a 100-year-old salt-box house on the windswept Bonavista Peninsula and wait for a friendly knock on the door.
Lake O’Hara Lodge, British Columbia and Alberta
Beloved Lake O’Hara Lodge isn’t the fanciest backcountry accommodation on the British Columbia side of the Canadian Rockies. But it is super-friendly, laidback, relatively accessible, and the setting is just spectacular. Not too far from Lake Louise, Lake O’Hara is so popular that regulars from around the world return year after year to hike or ski the trails, savour the outdoor grandeur, and play in or on the lake, depending on the season. Guides come with the deal, and visitors plan their adventures over a hearty breakfast.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec
It may be the “world’s largest log cabin,” but Fairmont Le Château Montebello really is about finding sanctuary in an elegant, exclusive setting. Located in Montebello, Quebec, it’s a rustic-luxe resort on the Ottawa River, formerly a private 1930s club that has played host to numerous VIPs and world power brokers. Just rest and spa, or do as much or as little as you like. There’s certainly no need to leave the 65,000-acre property, which also happens to be a wildlife refuge. Onsite you’ll find a golf course, four dining options, three lounges, a health club with indoor and outdoor pools, and so many activities to keep you relaxed.
Lazy Bear Lodge, Manitoba
Head to Lazy Bear Lodge (of Lazy Bear Lodge Expeditions), located right in the town of Churchill. This may look like your classic log cabin, but there is nothing standard here. Built over 10 years by local resident Wally Daudrich, the hotel boasts windows recycled from an 1800s Hudson Bay Trading Post and the floor is recycled Douglas fir from a 1920 Canadian National Railway warehouse. Named as one of National Geographic Traveler’s top hotels, the lodge is your home base for polar bear tours and beluga whale viewing.
White Point Beach Resort, Nova Scotia
Sometimes it’s hard to have fun if your holiday is breaking the bank. Relax, and head to White Point Beach Resort on Nova Scotia’s south shore, a budget-friendly oceanfront resort near Halifax. The place looks like a postcard for summertime: a red-roofed 1920s pavilion with old-style charm on a white crescent beach right on the Atlantic. Stay in rustic cottages or the main lodge and join the nightly beach bonfire, or the occasional mussel bake. Stroll the long, sandy beach looking for the cute resident bunnies and take a surfing lesson. Or just sit and listen to the waves lap the shore — Nova Scotia-style therapy.
Langdon Hall, Ontario
Add a bit of the romantic to your relaxing getaway at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa, a prestigious Relais & Château property, also voted top in Canada by Condé Nast Traveler readers. With manicured grounds, elegant sitting rooms, walking trails, croquet, tennis, and a restaurant garden, the Georgian manor in Cambridge, Ontario is ready to cater to your any indulgence. Massage, food, fireside R&R — it’s all here. The six-course tasting menu features expert wine pairings and unexpected, but delicious desserts. Free wine tastings and cooking demos are on offer, too, if you decide to leave the cushy armchair by the crackling fire.
Are you long overdue for a relaxing holiday? Make it a Canadian holiday.
Montreal for Foodie's
Montreal is an amazing foodie destination. Why? Because the city simply lives for food. From traditional recipes handed down from our grandmothers to inventive new Quebec cuisine and exotic flavours from the four corners of the earth, chefs across the city continue to amaze and delight palates of seasoned and budding epicureans. While there’s no way we could possible showcase everything Montreal brings to the table (literally), here are a few selections from the city’s phenomenal food scene.
Try the Montreal musts
Montreal has several iconic foods you just can’t leave the city without trying. To start, the smoked-meat sandwich. Juicy, tender, dripping with goodness, you can try a sandwich stacked with savoury meat at Schwartz’s Deli. If you’ve never heard of poutine, it’s time you gave it a try. A tasty trifecta of cheese curds, chips, and gravy, you can get it “frilled up” with foie gras at Au Pied de Cochon, with lobster chunks at Le Garde-Manger, or choose from 30 different flavour variations from La Banquise. And then there are Montreal bagels, whose deliciousness has caused even the proudest of New Yorkers to admit defeat, and bow down to the champs. Make sure you enjoy one of these sesame-seed coated creations fresh out of the wood-burning ovens of St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmount Bagel, two legendary bagel shops within a short walk of one another. For full appreciation of the dazzling array of fresh local products—cheeses, meats, fish, breads, fruits, vegetables, and more—a trip to either the Jean-Talon Market or Atwater-Market is not only mouth-watering, but essential.
Venture out with new Quebec cuisine
The creativity of Montreal’s chefs continues to shine in restaurants around town. Boasting a menu based entirely on Quebec terroir cuisine, the young Manitoba has been getting rave reviews all around. Martin Juneau, one of Canada’s top chefs, is the owner of Pastaga, where dishes like guinea fowl from La Mauricie with mushrooms and celeriac root positively wow those lucky enough to eat there.
Chef Adrien Renaud at Foodlab delivers week-after-week with mouth-watering seasonal fare fresh from Canada’s lands and waters. Proving it’s not just savoury that puts a sparkle in our eye, Patrice Pâtissier, a darling little shop run by pastry chef Patrice Demers, dazzles dessert lovers with his financier cakes, dessert cups, and pecan shortbread. Oooh-la-la!
Indulgence is a part of Montreal living, so loosen your belt and don’t hold back. Chef Normand Laprise was a local pioneer in farm-to-fork cuisine, and continues to delight with his creativity at Toqué, bearer of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux seal and a regular name on any list of the top restaurants in Canada. Set amidst the arresting beauty of Old Montreal, the refined cuisine of Restaurant Les 400 coups should be on any foodie’s to-do list. For another great gourmet experience, book a table at Europea, another Relais & Châteaux restaurant in the heart of downtown that has diners swooning over its whimsical, seductive, and delicious dishes crafted with the utmost of passion.
Epicureans and famous American chef and food personality Anthony Bourdain can’t get enough of Joe Beef. The restaurant—another regular presence on “best of Canada” restaurant lists—creates laid-back, playful but impeccably crafted culinary offerings, all in that signature Montreal style.
Finally, Bouillon Bilk is a sure bet for a delicious and sophisticated meal, enjoyed in its tucked-away, unpretentious setting.