Whether it’s hiking through arctic landscapes, hitting the ski slopes or devouring a steaming plate of poutine, Canada’s wonders are sure to set your soul alight.
For a country as vast as Canada, it can be overwhelming deciding which region to visit. Do you head west for the snowy mountains of Whistler? Are you itching to see the Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories? Have you always dreamed of seeing Niagara Falls? Or does Eastern Canada’s old-world French charm call to you? From east to west, our guide breaks down the best things to do in each corner of this spellbinding country. All that’s left to do is choose.
North: Arctic adventure & Indigenous culture
Wilderness reigns supreme across Canada’s Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Here, the townships are small and nature remains vast and untouched. You’re more likely to run into moose than another person in the Yukon, home to the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Meanwhile in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, tick off the ultimate bucket list experience – catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. For a dose of Indigenous culture, visit Aurora Village, an aurora viewing location nearby.
In the northern reaches, population runs thin – so you’re guaranteed to enjoy some jaw-dropping moments in nature all to yourself. At Tuktut Nogait National Park, keep an eye out for bluenose caribou and birds of prey. Head towards the Arctic Circle and explore the seldom-visited Aulavik National Park, one of the most isolated parks in Canada. This is the perfect spot for a contemplative hike through arctic lowlands or a paddle across the Thomsen River.
For more inspiration, read 6 Reasons to Tour Canada in Winter.
East: French heritage & rugged coastal beauty
Calling all Francophiles and lovers of poutine: Canada’s east awaits. The predominantly French-speaking province of Québec is a delightful mishmash of cobblestoned streets, old-stone buildings, leafy green parks and world-renowned gastronomy. Dine on poutine in Quebec City, the birthplace of this local favourite comfort food, catch a live jazz performance in the cultural capital Montreal and learn the history and traditions of First Nations Huron-Wendat culture at Huron Traditional Site Onhoüa Chetek8e.
When you’re ready to venture beyond city limits, the eastern Canada region is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Take a cruise along Ontario’s spellbinding 1,000 Islands, an archipelago that was once the playground for the 19th century elite (check out the historic summer mansions). At Nova Scotia’s UNESCO-listed Bay of Fundy, look out for the tell-tale sign of a spouting blowhole or the flash of a tail: this is a prime place to spot migrating whales. Back on land, visit unmissable national parks from Gros Morne to Terra Nova in eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
West: Winter sports & cosmopolitan cool
Many of those quintessential Canada experiences can be found in Western Canada. From skirting the world-famous ski scene to embarking on breathtaking wilderness hikes or dining at Fairmont Château Lake Louise, it’s all here. Get your heart racing on the ski slopes in Whistler, take the Sea to Sky Gondola over Howe Sound in Vancouver and ride a horse-drawn carriage through snow-dusted fairy-tale landscapes in Banff National Park.
Once you’ve ticked off all your British Columbia and Alberta bucket-list experiences, hit pause and simply revel in the wild beauty of Canada’s western regions. One of the best ways to do this is within the 11,000 square kilometres of Alberta’s Jasper National Park. This is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies, and is bursting with world famous landmarks like the Athabasca Glacier and Maligne Lake.
For more Western Canada travel inspiration, read Your Ultimate Guide to Western Canada.
South: Niagara Falls & Canada’s oldest national park
The ever-present mist and distant roar are your first clues that you’re approaching Canada’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls. In the kitsch town of Niagara, just an hour and a half from Toronto on the border of Canada and the US, Niagara Falls consistently draws in around 12 million visitors each year. See it during the day in all its glory, or time it for after dark when coloured lights are projected onto Horseshoe Falls (the largest of the three waterfalls) in a vivid and fantastical display.
Along Canada’s southern border in Alberta you’ll find Banff National Park, the oldest park in the country. Since opening in 1885, the national park has acted as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, where soaring peaks, forests, wildlife and glacial lakes are in abundance. If you’re a history buff, head to Ontario’s Fort William Historical Park, which features an accurate re-creation of life in the 1800s using reconstructed historic buildings and props.
Ready to book your Canada escape? Check out our handpicked packages.
Looking for more Canada inspiration? Check out Get Your Nature Fix in British Columbia: Adventures into Canada’s Wild.