Looking for the best things to do in Canada? So were we on our recent trip to British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta. However, Canada is so much more than three provinces and it would take a whole lifetime to explore the beautiful country. That’s why we’ve asked our travel blogging friends to help us create the ultimate list of places to see in Canada. From Prince Edward Island to Tofino we tried to cover as many of the fun things to do in Canada that we could.
Canada is the spot for a vacation these days. The country has just about everything for any taste and they just celebrated their 150th birthday! If you’re looking for the great outdoors then there is hardly a better country than the second biggest on earth. There are an endless amount of landscapes, wildlife, and cities to marvel at.
So pack your bags and get ready to spot a moose (if you’re lucky)!
One of the best things to do in Ontario is head to the CN Tower. Take your CN Tower to visit a notch higher and walk around the circumference of the roof! You and a group (6 maximum) will first go to a room to be fitted in orange jumpsuits and a harness. Make sure you’re wearing closed-toed shoes with a sturdy grip! You will be asked to remove piercings and other metal accessories. The guide will check all shoes are properly on. You will go up the elevator and have cables attached to your harness once you’re at the roof’s opening.
The guide will have you do tricks—leaning back and forward over the edge and viewing the Skydome through your legs! Video and photos are included in the price. I recommend booking online to reserve a spot. The great thing is, the price includes admission to other CN Tower activities as well. Niagara Falls and Mississauga’s Marilyn Monroe buildings will be visible on a clear day. It’s one of the best things to do in Toronto!
If you’re in Kingston, Ontario – you have to take a ride on the famous Kingston Trolley. The vintage red trolley cars parade around the city and will take you on a historical tour around Kingston and the surrounding neighborhoods – all to the comical commentary from a fun driver.
This classic tour takes visitors to see Fort Henry, the infamous Kingston Penitentiary, and Bellevue House – where Canada’s first Prime Minister lived, among other sights built from limestone. What better way to see the historic “Limestone City” that was once Canada’s capital way back when! As a “hop on, hop off” tour, you’re also free to explore the areas and get back on the next trolley.
To hop on the Trolley simply head downtown via Princess Street and find the Kingston Visitor Experience Centre, located at the old train station by the waterfront on Ontario Street. This is where you also purchase tickets (around $25) and hop on board. The beautiful Kingston waterfront is surrounded by hotels, and there’s plenty of restaurants and patios to grab a bite before or after you ride
-Penguin and Pia
For me, one of the best things to do in Canada is to explore the incredible natural beauty in the form of hiking. One of Canada’s best hikes is the Top of the Giant Trail in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The Top of the Giant Trail is 2.7 kilometers, but don’t let that fool you.
You have to hike two other trails just to get to it, making the trail over 20 kilometers return. Along with the distance, part of the trail will have you ascending ‘the giant’, nearly vertically. But the views, and there are quite a few, are astounding. Taking the trail to its furthest reaches will have you standing atop one of Ontario’s highest cliffs, over 600 feet above Lake Superior.
Located an hour outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a not only a great place to explore, with over 100 kilometers of trails but also to stay. With over 200 campsites, including backcountry sites, as well as rustic cabins, there’s something for everyone.
-Lady’s Travel Blog
Aylmer Ontario is a small town in southern Ontario Canada that sits halfway between Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan on Highway 401.
Driving through Aylmer Village you will see some strikingly beautiful Victorian homes. Dripping with gingerbread and situated on deep green lawns these homes have been lovingly preserved over the years making Aylmer one of the prettiest places in Southwest Ontario. Many of these lovely homes have been turned into B&B’s. You will occasionally see the horse-drawn buggies and realize you are in the Mennonite and Amish country.
The Mexican Mennonites who live in and around Aylmer have returned here after their ancestors fled to Canada in the 1920s to avoid conscription. They refused to fight in any wars as they are committed to non-violence.
Thankfully for us Mexican food-loving Canadians, these hardworking people (who still speak Spanish) have brought with them their Mexican foods and ingredients and create bake. They sell a huge range of Mexican inspired dishes and ingredients in local shops and restaurants they have opened.
-Xyu and Beyond
If you’re wondering what to do in Canada you should check out Canada’s Parliament buildings. Canada’s Parliament buildings located in the capital city, are an absolute must-see in Ottawa. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Canada and is considered to be the heart of Ottawa. It’s in the core of the city, within walking distance to many hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions such as Byward Market and the Canal.
Canada’s Parliament Buildings consist of three buildings; Centre Block, East Block, and West Block. It dates back to 1866, however, everything except for the library was burned in a massive fire in 1916. The buildings seen today are designed in a gothic revival style with hundreds of carvings, reliefs, and gargoyles.
Tours are free to visitors year-round and run on a first come first serve basis. Tickets can be found at 90 Wellington Street, which is just across from Parliament. The tours run 20-45 minutes depending on how busy Parliament is, with the major highlight being a look inside the library (center block). Once the tour is over guests can also visit the Peace Tower which has panoramic views of the city
While the summer is often the time set aside for getting outdoors, winter hiking offers is the time to experience a different kind of beauty. Canadians have always been about embracing what is presented to them, and making the best of everything, so why not go for a hike in the winter?
My personal favorite area for all things winter hiking is in Northeastern Ontario. In particular, Windy Lake National Park (not far from Sudbury) as it offers some of the finest winter views around. Moreover, if you’d like to do more than just hike you can also do a fair bit of cross-country skiing, as well as snowmobiling.
In Northeastern Ontario, the town of Killarney offers more incredible hiking opportunities. Killarney Provincial Park is merely a 15-minute drive away, and the hiking found on the Granite Ridge Trail is some of the finest in Canada in my opinion. You don’t have to be an expert either as this area is open to people of all hiking abilities.
One of the best things to see in Canada are the polar bears in Manitoba. If you want to see polar bears in their natural habitat (and who wouldn’t?), there’s no better place than Churchill, which rightfully bills itself as the “Polar Bear Capital Of The World.” Located on the shores of Hudson Bay in the sub-Arctic region of northern Manitoba, Churchill is prime bear-watching territory thanks to chilly winds that turn the shallow water into ice early in the season. In October and November, hundreds of hungry polar bears make the pilgrimage to these shores to wait for enough ice to form that they can go out in search of their favorite delicacy, ringed seals.
There are only a few options for staying amongst these massive mammals: We chose Natural Habitat’s Arctic Tundra Lodge. The mobile lodge consists of two sleeper cars holding up to 29 passengers, a lounge car, a dining car, and a car for the 6-person crew. During four days there, you’re virtually guaranteed a bear-lover’s dream come true, with 24-hour a day access to all the sleeping, staring, cuddling and play-fighting polar bears your heart desires.
Attracted by the smells coming from the kitchen, there were rarely less than four or five polar bears within 50 feet of our lodge. Daily excursions in polar rover vehicles allowed us to explore the area, where we saw Arctic foxes, Arctic hares, snowy owls, and an occasional polar bear. But to be honest, the best viewings came from the cozy comforts of our lodge, where the bears were always right outside our windows. This is easily one of the best things to do in Canada.
-Green Global Travel
Another great thing to see in Canada is a Beluga whale! Many people know that Churchill, Manitoba is the world capital of polar bears but many don’t know that it’s also the world capital of Beluga whales! Each and every summer, tens of thousands of Beluga whales travel through the Hudson Bay, passing by the unique Northern community of Churchill.
This is an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with the intelligent mammals and see them in a variety of ways, including by boat, kayak, or even snorkel with them in the water! We’ve been all over Canada and all over the world and this is easily one of the best experiences we’ve ever had. When we snorkeled with a family of Beluga whales they came so close we could almost touch them.
-Must Do Canada
Speaking of fun things to do in Canada why not try a thermal spa? This Nordic-inspired spa isn’t what you’d expect to find in a prairie city. Promoting rejuvenation through a warm-cold-rest cycle, this oasis in Winnipeg’s south end features sixteen different relaxation areas. Start by heating your core temperature in the steam room or with an aufguss sauna ritual. Inhale the essential oils that the sauna meister swirls through the air with a towel while moving in rhythm to the music. Get a boost of adrenaline next by plunging into a pool cooled to 15C, swimming beneath a waterfall to reach the other side.
The cycle’s complete when you head into the relaxation pavilion for a cup of tea by the fire. The spa is open year-round but enjoying it in winter is a unique experience. You can dine at the on-site resto, and accommodation packages are available at several area hotels. The trendy Alt Hotel downtown is perfectly situated for enjoying many of Winnipeg’s other key attractions.
With the nearest ocean more than 1500km (930mi) away, the Humboldt water tower, masquerading as a lighthouse, makes a bold architectural statement. Built in 1915 to supply the Saskatchewan town with drinking water, the standpipe reservoir shimmers against an endless prairie backdrop of blue sky.
The city of Humboldt has situated 113 km (70 mi) east of Saskatoon at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 20. In 1996, with the landlocked lighthouse falling into serious disrepair, community volunteers set about restoring the unique structure. Guided tours are available in the summer months and by appointment the rest of the year.
The tour includes a climb of the 143 spiral stairs to the exterior catwalk. The 360-degree view of the prairies and the city of Humboldt itself are well worth the effort. Information about the tours can be found by visiting the Humboldt Museum website.
Most people who are visiting Canada, and even Canadians themselves, skip the middle part of Canada – Saskatchewan! Empty roads and endless skies make Grasslands National Park one of my favorite places to visit in Canada.
The most accessible part of the park is the West Block, which can be accessed via the little town of Val Marie. In Val Marie, you’ll find a small supermarket and visitor center where you can pick up a map. In the park, there are several hiking opportunities. We chose the 4km, 70 Mile Butte hike where you’ll have amazing 360 views over the plains at the top. We camped at the well-organized Frenchman Valley campground, located in the park.
From the campground several activities are organized daily, one of those is a tour of the Bison Facility. There is around 600 bison living in the National Park and while they are wild animals and free to roam the entire park, each year they are rounded up for a count and medical checkup at the Bison Facility. Altogether the Grasslands National Park is absolutely worth a visit, so put it on your Canadian itinerary!
Only a short drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia’s biggest city; the Lighthouse Route is a scenic driving trail along the South Shore from Peggy’s Cove to Yarmouth.
The first stop is the iconic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. Set upon a huge granite outcrop, this lighthouse was once one of the signallers for entrance into St. Margaret’s Bay. These days it is unused but is one of Nova Scotia’s most photographed landmarks.
However, the jewel in the Lighthouse Route’s crown is the town of Lunenburg. With a fascinating history of privateering, shipbuilding, and fisheries – Lunenburg isn’t short on interesting things to discover. It’s also home to one of the few 19th Century wooden buildings surviving in Canada, Lunenburg Academy, which sits dramatically atop ‘Gallows Hill’. Take a tour from the waterfront on a horse and cart; or visit the Bluenose II, the replica tall ship maintained by the Lunenburg Marine Museum.
Other picturesque towns on this trail are Chester and Mahone Bay, with waterfront cafés and quaint B&Bs. Fun fact: Lunenburg and the gorgeous South Shore has been the backdrop for TV series’ such as ‘Haven’, and movies such as ‘Jumping the Broom’ and ‘Dolores Claiborne’.
Tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia is definitely one of the best things to do in Canada for those who are seeking adventure! The Bay of Fundy is known to have the most extreme tidal changes in the world, which is the natural force that creates this extreme pursuit. Shortly after low tide, the incoming tide gets squeezed into the narrowing river mouths, which temporarily changes the course of the river to flow upstream! That’s called a “tidal bore.”
On the Shubenacadie River near the town of Maitland, the water rushes into the river so quickly and with so much ferocity that a series of intense rapids temporarily forms. This tidal bore occurs on the Shubenacadie just after each tidal change and rafting operators have it timed perfectly give thrill seekers a chance to run these unique upstream rapids!
Shubenacadie River Runners is a trusted outfitter for tidal bore rafting that we can personally recommend. The cost for the three-hour rafting trip is $85 CAD. It’s located about a one-hour drive from Halifax, which is a convenient hub to stay at when exploring the area. The intensity of the rapids is dictated by the moon cycle. We recommend going just after a full moon, which yields the biggest waves!
-Roaming Around the World
A wine tour in British Columbia’s picturesque Okanagan Valley, one of the world’s top emerging wine regions, is well worth a visit. Wineries run the gamut from small, family-owned affairs to large world-class wineries. Though the valley has only been producing great wines for 30 or so years, you’ll find varieties here from delicate whites to robust reds. The Okanagan Valley itself is flanked by mountain ranges, forests, deep mountain lakes, and is also home to apple, pear, peach and other fruit orchards.
You can self-drive, take a bus tour, or enjoy the region on a cycling or kayak tour. Most visitors stay in the small city of Kelowna, which is the region’s main hub, but there’s great accommodation all along the 200 kilometers (125 miles) Okanagan Valley. You can fly directly into the Kelowna International Airport, but many visitors prefer the scenic four-hour drive from Vancouver.
Tofino is easily one of the best places in Canada. Tucked away on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is itself off the west coast of Canada, is the district of Tofino. Its wild scenery of ancient rainforest bordering sandy beaches is a sight to behold, and well worth the trek from mainland Canada. Tofino is a year-round paradise for surfers, but it’s also a great escape for city dwellers and nature lovers who want can wander through the beautiful forests alongside giant trees, and along the rugged Pacific coastline.
Whale-watching is a popular pursuit, as whales grace Clayoquot Sound for a long season between March and October, with many also stopping off at natural hot springs accessible only by boat. The main places to stay on the peninsula are Tofino township and Ucluelet, with options to suit all budget-levels and tastes from backpackers, to hotels and eco-friendly lodges.
I’ll never forget my first sighting of a grizzly bear in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. It was a rare privilege to even be there as there are no roads. A trip by boat or, as we did, seaplane, from Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, are the only ways to the Great Bear Rainforest.
Imagine dripping moss hanging from the trees reaching out over the water as you drift along exploring the waterways through ancient forests of cedar and spruce trees. As the light begins to fade the forest takes on a magical ora. And then two fluffy ears peek out above the grass-like sedge that lines the river banks. The hours of searching is eventually rewarded as a great grizzly walks to the water’s edge leaving you in awe.
Of all the bears we spotted in the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest by far and the one most curious of us is pictured. Slowly sidling towards us, intermittently sniffing the air for our scent while gazing sideways directly at me as us in curiosity.
-Travel With Kat
One of the most fun things to do in Canada is canoe at Emerald Lake. As soon as you arrive at Emerald Lake, it will become clear where its name comes from. The water is so beautifully green that you won’t believe your eyes.
The best time to visit this lake is early summer when the color of the water is at its most vibrant due to the meltwater. It is normally frozen between November to early June.
The whole area of Yoho National Park is awe-inspiring, but the magic of this place is that it’s only a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise and not nearly as well known, you can soak in the spectacular surroundings of the Rocky Mountains without the crazy crowds.
The best way to enjoy the lake is by getting up close and personal on a canoe. Hiring a canoe is not cheap ($70/hour), but it’s well worth taking in the beautiful views from the water. Even if the nearby Emerald Lake Lodge gets busy, you will very likely have the whole lake to yourself.
Kootenay National Park is 35 minutes from the Canadian Rockies hot spots of Banff and Lake Louise, just over the Alberta line in British Columbia. While Kootenay may not get the number of visitors Banff and Jasper National Parks experience, adventurers who make the trip to Marble Canyon will find a quieter spot with all the spectacular natural beauty for which Alberta and British Columbia are known.
Marble Canyon is typically accessible year-round, making it an ideal place to hike in the warmer months and snowshoe during the winter. The glacial waters of Tokumm Creek and the Vermillion River come together and shimmer hues of turquoise as they wind through the narrow, but deep canyon gorge. The short trail climbs uphill but has steps, bridges, and railings to make navigating the path doable for all visitors.
In addition to Marble Canyon, several longer trails connect to the path for deeper exploration of the area (Check conditions in winter to be sure these trails are safe.) and the Continental Divide monument and hiking path is just a few kilometers up the road from the Marble Canyon trailhead.
-The Globetrotting Teacher
You don’t need to spend thousands on an expensive multi-day cruise to enjoy the stunning scenery along Canada’s Inside Passage. During the summer, BC Ferries runs an Inside Passage day cruise that plies these picture-perfect waters between Port Hardy, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and Prince Rupert, one of the remotest places in BC.
For just over $200 (more if you bring your vehicle) you get roughly 16 hours cruising through narrow passageways, past steep mountains, cascading waterfalls and the odd remote building.
The ships are big and comfortable with ample space for all passengers to take in the views, whether it be from the warmth of the inside cabin or enjoying the fresh air on deck.
The best thing about this cruise for me was the abundance of whales I encountered along the way. I saw dozens, some were even jumping right out of the water, putting on a great show for those who were braving the cold and wet on the deck.
-The Trusted Traveller
A mere 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver stands the stunning Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. Known for its outdoor activities; locals and visitors enjoy hiking, biking and lake swimming. There are ten swimming lakes the Pender Harbour District alone! Favorites include Ruby Lake, titled so because it turns red at sunset apparently, and Katherine Lake – great for families and rock jumpers.
Hiring a car is recommended as although the ferry from Vancouver is frequent, the local bus service is sparse around the lake areas. Car rental can be collected from the larger town of Sechelt for relatively cheap. Although you cannot swim in it, a visit to Skookumchuck Narrows is also recommended. The natural river rapids explode two-three times per day in Summer so the fifty-minute hike is definitely worth it for the event!
-Two Scots Abroad
Just an hour’s drive from Jasper National Park, along beautiful forest-shaded roads and past glimmering lakes, you’ll find one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Kinney Lake, nestled within Mount Robson Provincial Park, is one of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies and makes the perfect day trip for those craving a more remote mountain experience, away from the crowds of Banff and Jasper.
The hike to Kinney Lake is a comfortable 9km return loop, along the Berg Lake Trail, starting from the Mount Robson Visitor Centre car-park. The trail passes alongside the roaring Robson River and through moss-covered paths before reaching stunning Kinney Lake itself – a peaceful glacial lake tucked between the towering peaks. If you time it right and you could have the whole place to yourselves!
There’s a picnic area at the lake, where you can stop and admire the views before looping back or, alternatively, pitch up at the lakeside campground and spend a night under the stars.
Many people just think of Whistler as a winter destination. However, head up to the mountains in summer and you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities. One of the most extravagant is to take a helicopter up to one of the inaccessible glaciers in the mountains. After an incredibly-scenic flight, you’ll land amongst the rocks and the snow. From here, you can start to explore the surroundings.
I would suggest going with one of the longer options that allows you to go out hiking along the mountain ridges and across the glacier. You’re almost guaranteed to be the only people up here, with the glacier all to yourself and breathtaking views in every direction.
You can book your trip with Blackcomb Helicopters and they’ll pick you up from your hotel in Whistler town. Make sure you have a chat with them in advance about the exact trip you want.
-Time Travel Turtle
The Gulf Islands sit sheltered between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island and make an ideal vacation spot for nature lovers. There are more than 200 islands scattered throughout the Strait of Georgia (aka the Salish Sea) but only a handful of the larger islands are accessible by ferry.
This means that sailing around the islands on a private boat is not only an amazing and memorable experience but also one that makes you feel like you’re part of an exclusive club. You can still explore the markets, artist studios, and wineries in the towns reached by ferry, but what you will likely find even more exciting is navigating through the smaller, craggy islands to find your own secluded beach or quiet bay to moor for the night.
Don’t have your own sailboat? Not to worry, you can charter a private boat if you have some sailing experience or you can join a small group on a sailing charter vacation anywhere from 3 days or up to two weeks.
-Discover the PNW
When visiting Vancouver whale watching is a must. The sea around Vancouver is home to large pods of orcas, as well as plenty of other types such as humpback whales, grey whales and minke whales that pass through these waters.
After checking in and a safety briefing, you are off for a morning of whale watching adventure. We were personally lucky enough to see a pod of killer whales hunting since this meant they were resurfacing more often than if they were just swimming. During the tour, you’re not only searching for whales, but also other sea creatures like seals, sea lions, otters, and birds. Seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat is truly an extraordinary experience, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Vancouver. Check out a few of whale watching tours here.
The popular fictional novel Anne of Green Gables was set on the Prince Edward Islands. Since its publication in 1908, the novel has sold more than 50 million copies across the globe! For book lovers, it’s possible to experience the Anne of Green Gable’s package on PEI. This experience includes visiting the Anne of Green Gables Museum, checking out the Green Gables Heritage Place, watching Anne & Gilbert: The Musical, and seeing the birthplace of the author.
It’s one of the most popular things to do on the islands and attracts many visitors each year.
Just a short car drive from the P.E.I. National Park is a popular destination for many avid beachgoers. Covehead Bay on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island is a charming region that allows you to step back in time and be as active or as laid back as you choose.
Waste away the day eating fresh lobster rolls and drinking a cold beer at Richard’s Fresh Seafood restaurant at the mouth of the harbor on Covehead Wharf. In the afternoon take a stroll to the beautiful Covehead lighthouse. For those feeling a little more adventurous, hire a canoe and paddle out to enjoy peace and serenity while taking in the stunning views of the bright red cliffs, the sandy beaches and the grassy dunes that make this area so memorable. Outside Expeditions offers good value canoe and kayak hire starting at $50 an hour for a tandem sea kayak.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories may not be the most popular destination in Canada. It’s a bit hard to get to and is more associated with Canadian diamond mining than as a travel destination. But there are incredible things to do in Yellowknife that make the journey worth it. One of my favorite thing to do is go winter hiking.
The wilderness of the Northwest Territories is untouched, and when coated by freshly fallen powder, it becomes absolutely magical. While the winter days of Yellowknife may be short, there are not many other places where you can hike over frozen waterfalls underneath the glow of the majestic Northern Lights. When your hike is finished, you can warm up in one of the artsy pubs or restaurants that are taking over this northern Canadian city.
This freshwater lake located in the southern half of the Northwest Territories is massive, to say the least. Great Slave Lake is the 11th largest in the world and the second-largest entirely within Canada. At 28,568 square kilometers, it is even bigger than in some countries! One of the best things to do in Canada is to go fly-fishing. The lake has an abundance of pike, arctic grayling, and trout.
The lakes massive size means you can fish for days without ever seeing anyone else. Its northern location means 24-hours of daylight so hardcore fishers have to take a break.
If you’re looking to hike, scramble, and climb some mountains it’s tough to find a place better than the Canadian Rockies. We live smack dab in the middle of it all in the town of Canmore and have a wealth of options for climbs and hikes.
The town is heavily surrounded on all sides by literally dozens of peaks that are all accessible. Hikes range in length and difficulty from short jaunts up to Grassi Lakes, to multiday hike and technical mountain objectives. The mountains here are inspiring and it’s no wonder world-class climbers and millions of tourists.
Three notable hikes are Ha Ling, East End of Rundle and Lady MacDonald. All very steep and take a full day, but the views are beyond incredible. Ha Ling is the easiest of the three and most accessible for the average hiker.
East End of Rundle and Ha Ling are both accessed from the same car park, so if you feel like starting early and having a massive day you could potentially do both. Lady Mac is a short walk from Cougar Creek car park and has an insane ridge walk not far from the peak. Great for adventure junkies! If you want to find our favorite hikes you’ll have to do a bit more digging, but a little further from Canmore is Tent Ridge, a great entry-level ridge walk.
One of the best things to do in Canada in the winter is ice skate on Lake Louise. Many people know about the beautiful blue waters of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. However, did you know that in the winter the entire lake freezes and you can ice skate on it? It’s true! As soon as the lake freezes the Chateau Lake Louise creates a few separate ice rinks on the lake. Nearby, they rent out ice skates for winter lovers to enjoy a skate or hockey game! We were actually very surprised how great of shape the hotel kept these little ice rinks.
Don’t worry if you’re not a skater! One of the best things to do in Canada in the winter is a walk across Lake Louise and through the trees. Watch out for the horse-drawn carriages taking visitors through the winter wonderland. This is one of the best things to do in Banff, especially in December when Christmas is in the air.
Another fun thing to do in Canada is walk on a glacier. Jasper National Park is blessed to have a plethora of breathtaking panoramic landscapes and experiences that will leave visitors speechless. Perhaps the one attraction that epitomizes both of these aspects is the Athabasca Glacier. The exhilarating experience of walking on a glacier becomes a reality when you participate in the Glacier Adventure courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada.
Hop on board the one of a kind “Ice Explorer,” a dynamic vehicle perfectly designed for glacier transportation. When you arrive on the glacier, your immediate reaction may be to worry about breaking through the ice, but once you hear it’s approximately 90–300 meters (300–980 ft.) thick, your fears are quickly alleviated.
Take a moment to admire the awe-inspiring scenery. The landscapes are incredible as you enjoy views across the Columbia Icefield. If you are planning a visit to the Athabasca Glacier, you can easily stay in the town of Jasper and take day trips in.
The Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre offers visitors the opportunity to grab a bite to eat while reflecting on the amazing experience.
-A Brit and a Southerner
Mount Athabasca looms over one of the most popular attractions on the famed Icefields Parkway, but only a few get to see the view from the top. To reach the summit requires a long hike to a technical glacier crossing and then up an exposed face or couloir. The views are breathtaking in more ways than one. From the top, you can spot countless glaciers, icefields, and many of Alberta’s highest peaks.
The peak is one of many in the Canadian Rockies famous for reaching an altitude of 11,000 feet. Many climbers in the Rockies have the lifetime goal of summiting all 54 (58) of the peaks, and they are considered classic mountaineering objectives. At 11,453 feet in elevation with a massive glacier and convenient location, Athabasca proves to be a tremendous first “11,000er.” You can book a guided experience as a complete beginner through a mountaineering course, read more here.
Here you can unplug and enjoy a retreat as you spend the night outside “comfort camping” in a trapper tent. Get archery lessons and then head out into the woods for some 3D target practice. In the winter it’s possible to go snowshoeing through the woods as you hear about how traditional snowshoes were made and used by First Nations people. And in warmer months, a foraging walk is a great way to learn about traditional medicine and gather ingredients for tea, learn fire making and wilderness survival skills, and put them to the test as you start a fire for dinner.
-Roaming the Americas
Still wondering what to do in Canada? Why not head to the Badlands. The heart of the Alberta Badlands is home to one of the worlds most significant and important dinosaur fossil areas. Over 50 different dinosaur species and over 150 complete dinosaur skeletons have been found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various activities are organized for all ages to get to know the park and the surrounding landscape. You can join an informative hiking trail or you can go and explore the sites on your own. You can also learn all about dinosaurs in the interpretive center and go on a sunset photography tour. For the younger visitors, there is also a great children’s playground.
The location of the park is pretty remote with the closest town of Brooks being 48 km away. Drumheller is about a two-hour scenic drive away. However, both the dinosaurs and the awe-inspiring landscapes make the trip very worthwhile for anyone in Alberta. The best way to make the most of it is to stay overnight in the park.
The possibilities to overnight are either in the large campground with 120 sites or you can get a great glamping experience at their comfort camping site.
Horseshoe Lake is in Jasper National Park, just 30km south from a little alpine town Jasper. Although it’s along the famous scenic road Icefields Parkway, stretching from Banff to Jasper, it’s not on many people’s radar. Many Canadian turquoise lakes are beautiful to look at, but Horseshoe Lake is considered an adventurous destination.
Visiting Horseshoe Lake is one of the best things to do in Canada in the summer. The water is crystal clear with amazing shades of green, surrounded by cliffs and very refreshing. It has a horseshoe shape and cliffs you can jump from, ranging from 1 to 20 meters. The water is quite cold for swimming but the adrenaline from cliff diving is what warms you up.
There is only one advice I would give to anyone visiting – be careful and work your way up from a small cliff to a bigger one. Accidents are common usually caused by people whose bravery exceeds their cliff jumping skills.
There is arguably no ski resort in the world with a better view than Lake Louise Ski Resort, that photo above is what we’re talking about. In between runs screaming down groomers or tackling a bowl Banff National Park provides you some fresh air and stunning landscapes. We visited thirty resorts in one season and the views from Lake Louise were hands down some of the best in the world.
It also happens to be one of the largest ski resort in North America with 4,200 acres covering four mountain faces. The terrain varies between beautiful groomers, challenging steeps, and expert level chutes. The longest run here stretches for nearly five miles so start working out your leg muscles now.
If you head to slopes shoot us a message hello as it’s our home mountain and where we spend most of our winter. Our favorite runs are Brown Shirt Main, North Cornice, E.R. 6, Peyto’s Pitch, Wounded Knee, Upshoots, Grizzly Gully, Jerry’s Jungle, Juniper, Elevator Shaft, and Lookout.
Waterton Lakes are among some of the best places to see in Canada. When visiting Alberta, Canada, many people flock immediately to Banff and Lake Louise. Little do they know that Alberta’s southernmost national park, Waterton Lakes, is just as beautiful and much less crowded. As the Canadian counterpart to Glacier National Park across the border in the United States, the landscape here features beautiful, jagged ridges separated by sparkling turquoise lakes. Combined with Glacier National Park, it is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its jaw-dropping panoramas and abundant wildlife.
With several trails around the park, it’s the perfect destination for hikers of all levels. The most famed hiking challenge in Waterton Lakes is the Triple Crown, which consists of three challenging hikes – Crypt Lake, Alderson-Carthew, and Akamina Ridge. Hikers register at Pearls Café and will be recognized on the restaurant’s “Glory Board” upon completion (plus infinite bragging rights!). If you’re traveling to Alberta, make sure you put hiking in Waterton Lakes on your list!
The Icefields Parkway is a stretch of roadway connecting and located in both Banff and Jasper National Parks. Driving it is easily one of the best things to do in Canada. This is one of the most scenic roadways in the world! There are literally incredible mountains surrounding you all throughout the whole drive! Scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and beautiful turquoise lakes abound. I personally think the Icefields Parkway is one of the best things about Canada.
Places you do not want to miss are Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and the Columbia Icefield where you can take a guided tour and walk on the Athabasca Glacier! The Saskatchewan River Crossing, about halfway through the drive, is the only place to stop for gas, so be sure to plan ahead. There’s also a small store and a restaurant there. At Bow Lake, there is a small lodge and restaurant to stay and grab a bite to eat. You’ll want a car to really experience the full parkway and take your time taking in the beauty and snapping photos.
Participating in a night photography workshop is a way of creating memorable images of the spectacular Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. The water of the Bay of Fundy has helped shape the so-called ‘flowerpot rocks’ and is the location of the world’s highest tides.
Kevin Snair, a professional photographer, offers a 2.5-hour Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Workshop to photographers of all levels of experience. He also works as an interpretative guide at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. Throughout the workshop, Kevin provides expert insights into the rock formations and history of the region.
The easiest way of reaching Hopewell Rocks is by car. Halifax Stansfield International Airport is only a three-hour drive from the provincial park. The Innisfree Bed and Breakfast is a couple of minutes’ drive from the carpark where Kevin meets the participants of his photography workshops. It is a restored farmhouse dating from 1847. The nearby Broadleaf Guest Ranch is a good place to grab dinner before heading to the Hopewell Rocks.
King’s Landing Historical Settlement is New Brunswick’s most popular tourist destination. Just a 30-minute drive west of Fredericton, King’s Landing is a 19th-century village featuring actual homes, businesses, and artifacts that were transported to the area in anticipation of the flood that would be caused by the construction of the Mactaquac Dam.
King’s Landing is not just another theme village staffed by students. It’s a living, working community staffed by actors and real-life tradespeople (like printers, blacksmiths, and millworkers), whose job it is to make you feel like you are there in time. You get a history lesson from people who treat you as though you are a visitor to their homes and businesses in the 19th century. King’s Landing is a wonderfully immersive site, unlike anything you’ll ever experience.
The Bay of Fundy, located between the Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is one of the seven wonders of North America. Because of its shape and resonance, the Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides, which rise and fall between nine and 16 meters twice day. In some places the tides recede more than five km from shore, allowing visitors to walk on and explore the ocean floor. The period between high and low tide is approximately six hours, and the best way to experience the drastic change in the landscape is to visit the same place during both high and low tides.
There are many coastal communities along both sides of the bay, but one of the most beautiful spots in Fundy National Park, situated near the small coastal town of Alma, New Brunswick. Fundy National Park encompasses 206 square km. There is 100 km of hiking trails, beautiful cascading waterfalls, and three front-country campgrounds with more than 550 campsites. Yurts and cabins are also available for those who don’t want to rough it. Nearby Alma has several lodging options, along with a myriad of restaurants, bars, and gift shops. We loved our meal at An Octopus’ Garden, which features fresh seafood and farm-to-table fare.
Another one of the great things to do in Canada is sleep in an ice hotel. In true winter wonderland fashion, Hôtel de Glace is built from scratch each year and is around for just three short months. Hôtel de Glace is North America’s only ice hotel and located just outside downtown Québec City. The ice hotel is constructed from 30,000+ tons of snow and ice and consists of overnight sleeping rooms and suites, a handful of ice bars, ice chapel, indoor and outdoor ice slides, and arctic spas.
Spending the night at Hôtel de Glace is a cool experience not to be missed. They offer both simple rooms and elaborately carved suites, thermal sleeping gear and comfortable beds, sauna, and spa access, and in-room fireplaces (believe it or not). Though they promise comfort and warmth, the price of your room also includes a room at a nearby hotel for use of the showers and as a backup plan in case you get too chilly.
-My Wanderlusty Life
One of our favorite experiences from our travels in Canada was attending the gay pride festival in Montreal. It takes place in August when the weather is warm, the entire city is outside, and everyone is in great spirits.
We loved Montreal gay pride because the entire city gets involved, both gay and straight and has a genuine pride in celebrating their LGBTQ community. As a gay couple, we felt completely welcome at the parade by everyone. It was very humbling. The icing on the cake is that the country’s leaders were all here marching alongside us in the parade – Justin Trudeau the Prime Minister of Canada, Philippe Couillard the Premier of Quebec, Valérie Plante the Mayor of Montreal, and in addition, Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland.
Montreal is named so for the beautiful small mountain in the heart of the city named Mont Royal. Without even leaving the city center, you can hike to the top of the 764-foot “mountain” in the middle of the Parc du Mont-Royal, which takes about 45 minutes each way. What few people know is that the Parc du Mont-Royal was actually designed by the same person who designed New York’s Central Park!
From the top of Mont Royal, you have stunning views of downtown Montreal. I’ve been up twice, in spring and fall, and it’s been beautiful each time. In the fall, the orange foliage frames the city views, and in the spring, a sea of tulips bloom outside the chalet at the primary looking point, called the Kondiaronk Belvedere. In the winter the area is a popular destination for sledders and cross-country skiers.
During your stay in Montreal and after hiking Mont Royal, be sure to sample the local cuisine and stay in a cool neighborhood. My favorite is Le Plateau, which has tons of ethnic restaurants and great bars.
One of the best things to do in Canada in the winter is go skiing or snowboarding! We had spent the majority of our winter in Europe and seen plenty of charming ski villages, but Mont Tremblant had to be one of the prettiest ski resorts yet. It has all the European ambiance and charm, except on the North American continent. The village itself is compact and designed to be car-free, almost everything is a short five-minute walk.
From the village center, visitors have access to the beautiful mountain, trails, restaurants, shops, an ice skating rink, and restaurants. As Mont Tremblant is surrounded by the lovely Laurentians there is no shortage of winter activities to enjoy – including amazing skiing and snowboarding. We spent two full days navigating the mountain here on our snowboards and found it to be well designed for families, couples, or even a friends trip! After we left, we knew that Mont Tremblant is one of the best places in Canada for a winter vacation!
One of the top things to do in Canada is follow the Lighthouse Trail to the iconic Percé Rock found in Quebec Maritime. The breathtaking natural beauty which you will find on the Gaspé peninsula is dotted by lighthouses. All looking to guide ships in from the wild Atlantic into the St. Lawrence Seaway (and eventually to the port cities of Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto), these beacons of light are 40 in total!
Of these 40, 18 offer tourism activities or services to the public. Explore beautiful all-wood structures, to monolithic metal towers, each with a unique design and story. For something really fun, you can stay overnight in the Île Verte Lighthouse. The unique lighthouse we found is the mushroom-shaped Le Prince Lighthouse that stoically guards the entrance to the seaway.
In Nunavut, you are not only allowed to stand on floating ice, but you are encouraged! If you love adventure, the prospect of standing on a piece of ice in the Arctic ocean at a depth of 400 feet floating on water that can kill you in minutes will surely excite! When traveling to Nunavut to walk on Ice Flows, make sure you go with an experienced local guide for safety!
Your guide will show you how to pick out the perfect pieces of ice to safely stand on, discuss the depth of the ice itself some go 20-30 feet down into the water], and allow you to drink from pure-as-can-be wells of literal ice water that had collected on the ice piece. Standing on a piece of ice with no boat nearby on the Arctic Ocean is an experience you won’t soon forget!
To get to Nunavut, you may need to take between 2-4 flights, depending on how remote you want to get! Nunavut is an Arctic territory so you will either be camping out on the land or staying at a local inn and eating locally made food! There aren’t many options for food or lodging but that is part of the remote charm Nunavut has to offer!
-Follow Me Away
You can’t visit Canada and not consider ice fishing! It’s one of the best things you can do in Canada! Ice-fishing in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut is a surreal, bucket list experience and a crazy fun thing to do in Canada. Your trip will start from the moment you get dressed and ready for the Arctic elements. Once you head out onto the land, the temperature drops drastically so you want to be prepared with lots of layers of warm clothes. From there expect to ride out on a qamutik, a large Inuit sled pulled by a snowmobile to the frozen lakes or ocean.
Even in spring, holes for ice fishing need to be drilled 8 feet deep to reach the water. As you sit fishing you have a chance to take in the white barren Arctic landscape, far away from any distractions. Lucky fishermen may catch an Arctic char or trout. Your guide will help you stay warm with cups of tea and hot bannock bread. The easiest place to access Nunavut is via the capital Iqaluit, but you can also fly into communities like Cambridge Bay or Rankin Inlet.
-5 Lost Travel
Situated only 25 minutes north of the Yukon capital of Whitehorse, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve offers visitors a chance to see Yukon wildlife in its natural habitat. Encompassing more than 700 acres, the organization houses over 13 species of Northern Canadian mammal, including the arctic fox, muskoxen, thinhorn sheep, and moose, to name a few. The preserve operates as a non-profit organization, which participates in conservation, rehabilitation, and education.
We visited the preserve at the end of October, when winter had just made an appearance and covered the area in a beautiful blanket of snow. You can take a guided tour, or walk around the preserve on your own like we did. After your visit, I would recommend a trip to the Takhini Hot Pools, which are only a 5 minute from the preserve. The natural pools give you a chance to relax your muscles after your walk.
When you are in the Yukon, one of the best things to do is a flightseeing trip in a small plane over Kluane National Park. Kluane National Park is the home to the largest non-polar ice fields in the world. The flight starts from a small airfield near Kluane Lake and follows the river up into the mountains and then over rivers of ice.
Lateral moraines are stripes of dirt and rock that run the length of the glaciers show you where different glaciers combined. If you are very lucky and weather permits you can land on the Hubbard Glacier on the border between the Yukon and Alaska and get out and walk on a glacier. We got to try out this epic experience on our Yukon road trip.
A dog sledding adventure is a fantastic way to experience the life of a musher and their canine crew. Alaskan huskies are bred to be marathon runners and to compete in endurance races such as the famous annual Iditarod competition. At summer training camps in the Yukon, visitors can meet the dogs close up and take a dog sled ride through their training trails.
Alaskan huskies are smaller than you expect from a dog breed to race and are a mixed breed combining Siberian Husky, greyhound, vizla and mastiff. Puppies are often bred to coincide with summer visitors to the Yukon. As it’s a very remote part of the world, visitors play an important part in the dogs’ human socialization, which is crucial when the dogs are taken to more populated areas for racing. While there are plenty of dog mushing training camps that can be found in the Yukon, we highly enjoyed our visit to Tutshi Lake Musher’s Camp.
Did you know that Newfoundland and Labrador is the bird watching capital of North America? With over 29,000 kilometers of coastline, 35 million seabirds nest around the shores here. Gannets, storm petrels, black-legged kittiwakes, common murres, and even puffins can be seen making a messy and load racket.
Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve are two great places to get our your bird books and marvel at our winged friends. They say you don’t even need binoculars as the birds are so close. Watch out for the birds of prey! 800 bald eagles nest on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador making it one of the largest populations in North America!
On May 20th of 1932, the legendary Amelia Earhart left a small airfield in Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. 15 hours later she landed in Northern Ireland, alone and accomplished. She was the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic. Early aviators would often start their trans-Atlantic flight in Newfoundland as it’s one of the closest places in North America that you can get.
Nowadays you can visit this iconic landmark and see the Spirit of Harbour Grace and a statue of Amelia Earhart right where she took off.
-The World Pursuit
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a generous signup bonus of 60,000 points that has plenty of flexibility in redemption options. Chase Rewards are some of our favorite points to earn as they’re high value and can be redeemed in a multitude of ways. We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it was one of the first travel rewards we received and it’s well-loved by plenty of others. The awesome sign up offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed for $750 of free flight if booked through the Chase travel portal.
The other option is to transfer the points to a large selection of airlines such as United, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, or Korean Airlines. This is one of the best all-around credit cards for travel! Of course, everyone needs something different so check out our post on the best travel credit cards here or you can learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred on Card Ratings!
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling.
You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while your traveling around Jasper. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak.
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Banff then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Canada.
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me on every single hike I go on in the Rockies. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything in the mountains. Even in July, you may still find yourself reaching for a jacket!
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy a number of times. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.
Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourist that buys plastic water bottles in Jasper. It’s a waste of money and plastic!