Visiting Canada: Top 20 Things to Do and See
What to do in Canada?
Are you planning to visit Canada on your next trip?
To you, the great outdoors, wilderness, the gigantic North American cities, not to mention the rigorous winter and autumn with beautiful colours!
To help you organize your stay, I have prepared a list of places of interest, activities and things to see in Canada. And regardless of the season of your trip, you will find something to marvel at in the land of caribou!
So what to do in Canada?
- What to do in Canada?
- Visiting Canada: The Must-See
- Niagara Falls
- The Thousand Islands
- Mont Tremblant
- Banff National Park
- Icefield Parkways / The Icefields Parkway
- Jasper National Park
- Rocky Mountaineer
- Visit other national parks in Canada
- The Gaspé
- Whale Watching in Canada
- Nova Scotia
- See the Northern Lights in Canada
- Snowmobiling in Canada
Visiting Canada: The Must-See
For those of you who wish to go to Canada, I have prepared detailed itineraries for you depending on the length of your trip. I recommend you read them after reading this article.
You will find all the practical information and lots of good addresses in Canada.
- Itinerary: A week in Canada: All the steps to visit Canada in 1 week!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Canada: All our tips for organizing your 10-day trip to Canada!
- 2 weeks in Canada: Visit Western Canada in 15 days.
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Canada: Steps to visit Western and Eastern Canada in 21 days
- Itinerary: 1 month in Canada: Visit Eastern Canada in a month!
They will allow you to organize your trip super easily!
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments at the end of the article. I will be happy to help you organize your stay.
We start our top things to see in Canada with the city of Montreal, a practically mandatory stopover on your trip!
A very cosmopolitan and multicultural city, having lived there for three years, I can tell you that there are a lot of activities to do in Montreal!
Here are the places of interest that you should not miss:
- The Mont-Royal plateau with its typical houses with colourful facades and long exterior stairs
- Mount Royal Park and its famous belvedere to enjoy a panorama of the entire city
- Old Montreal, the historic district
- The Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica and its impressive interior
- The Old Port for a walk along the St. Lawrence River
- Saint Joseph’s Oratory, an imposing building located on one side of Mount Royal
And so you don’t miss anything about Montreal during your trip, find our article:
Between 2 visits, don’t forget to taste a typical Canadian dish, a poutine! 2 camps are opposed: those who love and hate. So you might as well make up your mind on the matter.
Then direction the second city of the province of Quebec after Montreal, Quebec.
There are no buildings like in Montreal; Quebec is a small old-fashioned city, more European than its big sister. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, it has retained all of its charms and has a unique cachet given to it by its old houses and small alleys. I loved the hot atmosphere that reigns there. Maybe at that time, it reminded me a bit of my country of origin, France.
Overview of places to see during your visit to the city:
- Château Frontenac, the city’s icon and one of the most photographed hotels in the world
- The promenade of the Dufferin terrace offers a breathtaking view of the castle and the St.Lawrence River, Île d’Orléans and Lower Quebec City.
- The Petit-Champlain district, the oldest in North America, with its pedestrian streets illuminated all year round, and it’s Place Royale where the city was founded in 1608
- The citadel of Quebec and its fortifications
- The Plains of Abraham, a vast green space where the Quebec City Summer Festival is organized every summer. It is the largest music festival in Canada, and we find great international artists such as The Rolling Stones, Muse, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga etc. There is something for everyone!
A few minutes by car from Quebec, I also advise you to see the Montmorency Falls. You probably don’t know it, but they are higher than Niagara Falls. Their flow is impressive, and they are all just as magnificent in winter when they are frozen. A footbridge located at the top allows you to cross them, guaranteed sensations!
3. Niagara Falls
Even if the Montmorency Falls are impressive, one must recognize that they are still less famous than the famous Niagara Falls.
For me, it is without a doubt one of my fondest memories in Canada and one of the attractions not to be missed on tour in Canada.
You can admire Niagara Falls from all angles and in different ways:
- By boat, of course! Please put on your cape (smurf blue the year we visited!), climb to the ship and off you go for a nice icy shower! The boat takes you to the foot of the falls, where the roar of the water is striking and where you can feel all the power that emanates from it.
- With elevator: You will descend just behind the massive curtain of water to enjoy a unique view. Here too, you risk getting a little wet.
- From the top of the Skylon Tower and its panoramic terrace
- And for the “luxury” version, by helicopter. It is certainly not cheap, but it is undoubtedly an experience you will remember all your life!
Friends, Toronto is not far from Niagara Falls, an excellent reason to visit Canada’s largest city.
Toronto looks like New York with its skyscrapers, many shopping districts and some with a more bohemian vibe.
The major attraction of Toronto is undoubtedly going up to the top of the CN Tower, so I gave it a try. Knowing that I have vertigo, you can imagine that I found it impressive. You first have to take the elevator, and when you come out, a transparent glass floor allows you to admire the view 1 13 feet below. Floor-to-ceiling windows also provide an exceptional panorama over the entire city.
If you need more to be impressed, no problem, I suggest you try the highest promenade in the world. You will be able to walk on the edge of the tower attached by a harness. It’s a shame; it didn’t exist yet when I visited it * sigh of relief *
List of other places of interest to see in Toronto:
- The Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s largest natural history museum
- The Ripley Aquarium of Canada and its 16,000 marine animals
- The historic distillery district with its restaurants, art galleries and trendy clothing stores
- The Art Gallery of Ontario
- The Toronto Islands, with their charming 1920s vacation homes
5. The Thousand Islands
During my visit to Niagara Falls and Toronto, I took the opportunity to take a boat trip to the Thousand Islands, a place a little less known in Canada.
The funniest way to visit them is to opt for a cruise of one or more hours. Boats depart from the towns of Rockport, Gananoque or Kingston. Most are tourist boats (around 50 people on board), but you can also take a private yacht.
The cruise will allow you to navigate in the middle of some of the 1,865 islands.
All of the different sizes, some have cabins or more luxurious houses, or even a castle!
6. Mont Tremblant
Mont Tremblant is one of the most famous places in Canada to admire the colours of Canadian fall.
And yes, this is where you will find the iconic postcard landscapes, with the trees in warm and colourful tones—colours ranging from yellow to intense red. If you are lucky enough to be in Quebec in the fall, you can integrate it into your circuit!
A hike starting from the bottom of the village and going up to the top of Mont allows you to admire the lake and its colourful trees with different points of view. It climbs quite a bit!
In winter, Mont Tremblant becomes one of the best ski resorts in Canada and is a delight for winter sports enthusiasts. There are about a hundred slopes and a 7-hectare snowpark, with ramps and slide bars.
Finally, in summer, you will find a summer toboggan run, a mini-golf course and of course you can enjoy many water activities on the lake. Read Also: The 20 most beautiful places to visit in Sweden
7. Ottawa: Canada
What if you did like me and visit the capital of Canada, Ottawa, during your stay?
A small list of sites to see in Ottawa:
- Parliament Hill: where is located the seat of Canada’s federal government
- Climb to the top of the Peace Tower for a 360° view
- Walk along the edges of the Curtain Canal, known to turn into the world’s largest natural ice rink in winter.
- Discover the BY market district, a vibrant district all day long
- Visit one of the many museums: the Canadian Museum of History, the Aviation and Space Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum.
A quick word about the Canadian Museum of History is genuinely one of the most interesting museums I have visited. The exhibits are super well done and captivating. We discover the history of the Canadian First Nations, and the collection of totem poles is impressive. It is not for nothing that it is the most visited museum in Canada! Include on your list of things to do in Ottawa.
8. Banff National Park
Banff National Park offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. There is no doubt that it has its place in my top things to do and see in Canada!
This natural park is located in the Canadian Rockies, a mountain range known to be among the most impressive in the world. The landscapes there are extraordinary.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff National Park is home to the two most photographed lakes globally: Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Thanks to the silt carried by the water from the glaciers, their colour is indeed an intense turquoise blue. You have to see it to believe it!
Another lake to see in the national park is Minnewanka, which at 21km long is the largest in Banff.
Around each lake, you will find many hiking trails to admire from all sides and try to make the perfect souvenir photo.
9. Icefield Parkways / The Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Canada, even in the world. I strongly advise you to integrate it into your program during your stay.
Over nearly 230 km, it connects the towns of Banff and Jasper, passing through national parks. Many car parks and belvedere have been set up to allow you to stop and admire the magnificent natural landscapes and take beautiful photos. Waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, rivers, lakes, nature lovers will be delighted!
On the road, you will be able to see in particular:
- Bow Lake, one of the most popular
- Lake Peyto has the particularity of being in the shape of a fox or a wolf (according to reviews)
- Waterfowl Lake
- Columbia Glacier
- Tangle Falls
- The valley of the five lakes
All information is on the glacier promenade website.
The glacier promenade is very touristy so if you can go early in the morning. To get the most out of the stops on the road, plan to sleep one night in Jasper or Banff (depending on which way you travel it) and return the next day to admire the places you might have missed.
On the way, you may spot wild animals. It is strictly forbidden to feed them and attract them to take pictures. Canada is super strict about this!
10. Jasper National Park
The Jasper National Park is the most significant part of the Rockies.
One of the main sites of this natural park is Athabasca Falls, fed by the melting of the same glacier. You can also travel the glacier on foot or take a bus with huge wheels specially designed to ride on it.
Also not to be missed in the park:
- The 50-meter-deep Maligne canyon
- Maligne Lake and Spirit Island are located in the middle
- Medicine Lake.
For hiking addicts, I recommend the Skyline trail, which will take you to discover the superb landscapes of the Rockies over nearly 43 km.
Jasper National Park
11. Rocky Mountaineer
In Canada, you can enjoy an unusual activity, the Rocky Mountaineer. Embark on one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world and also one of the most expensive – I’d instead let you know right away!
The train allows you to admire the beauty of the Canadian Rockies through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. You can explore places inaccessible by car during the day, and at night you will sleep in splendid hotels because the train only runs during the day to not miss any of the landscapes. And since it is a luxury train, excellent meals are served on board!
Several itineraries are possible with different departure cities ( Vancouver, Jasper) and varying lengths of stay (from 2 days to 3 weeks). The cheapest package, with two days on the train, starts at 1050 €.
To plan your Rocky Mountaineer adventure, visit the official website.
The Rocky Mountaineer
12. Visit other national parks in Canada
I told you about the Banff and Jasper national parks, the two most famous in Canada. But did you know that in Canada, there are more than 45?
For all outdoor enthusiasts and hiking, Canada is just THE ideal destination.
I offer you a small overview of the most beautiful so that you can include some of them in your program of things to see:
- Prince Edward Island National Park allows you to swim on one of its many sandy beaches.
- Pacific Rim Nature Reserve is known to be home to one of the best surf spots in Canada.
- Bruce Peninsula National Park renowned for its turquoise waters
- Gros Morne National Park and its 100 km of hiking trails in the wilderness
- The Hautes-Terres-du-Cap-Breton National Park, whose Skyline trail will allow you to admire the sunset on the St. Lawrence River
- La Mauricie National Park between Montreal and Quebec
- Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada’s largest
Entrance fees to national parks are payable, but from 2018, it is accessible for young people under 17 years old. You will have no excuse not to take your children with you!
13. Vancouver: Canada
Vancouver is a super pleasant city to discover during a trip to Canada. It also regularly appears in the top 5 of the most delightful cities in the world. Skillfully blending an urban centre with beautiful natural landscapes, the city is full of things to do.
I give you some ideas to discover it well:
- Stroll in Stanley Park
- Go to Granville Island to stock up on local products
- Cross the Capilano suspension bridge, 70 meters above the river
- Explore the Seawall, a 22km seafront promenade, a paradise for cyclists and joggers
- Visit the VanDusen Botanical Garden
14. The Gaspé
The Gaspé is a flagship region to visit; it is more and more touristy. Perhaps this is because National Geographic has classified it for years as one of the must-see Canadian destinations.
Here are the main attractions for which the Gaspé is famous :
- Gaspésie National Park, an ideal area for hiking
- The pierced rock in front of the village of Percé (original, isn’t it?)
- The northern gannet colony which has taken up residence on Bonaventure Island and which you can get as close as possible
- Forillon National Park of Canada and its magnificent landscapes of cliffs plunging into the sea
- Les Jardins de Métis occupying more than 100 hectares
To travel the Gaspé, nothing better than to take Route 132, a pretty scenic route that circles the peninsula.
15. Whale Watching in Canada
While living in Canada, one of the most memorable things is to see the whale.
The best place to try to see them is at the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, in Tadoussac more precisely. Whales find abundant food there and return there every year.
In Tadoussac, you will have the choice between several types of cruises: large boat, zodiac and even kayak for the bravest.
The best period for this type of sighting is from mid-May to October, but whales are most numerous in September and October, so if you are lucky enough to be there, then you may undoubtedly see some.
It is best to get up early and set off with one of the first boats to see the whales. There will be fewer people than late morning or early afternoon.
16. Calgary: Canada
Calgary is a good stopover city for anyone wishing to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks. Its location between the Canadian Rockies and the prairies gives it a unique appeal.
The city itself is vibrant in all seasons, although it is best known for its annual rodeo competition, the Calgary Stampede, every summer in July for ten days. The festival attracts over a million people and is broadcast across Canada. On the program, the rodeo, of course, but also shows concerts and a funfair. And especially every morning you can enjoy the pancake breakfast: everywhere in the city, pancakes are cooked and served for free and at will! For that alone, I love Calgary!
Other than that, in Calgary, don’t forget to:
- You get to Winsport to a bobsled run or experience the longest zip line in North America
- Visit the historic village of Heritage Park, where you can board a steam train or paddle steamer
- Walk along the Bow River and stroll on Saint Patrick’s Island
- Eat at Kensington Village, which has lots of good restaurants
- Climb to the Calgary Tower panoramic terrace to enjoy the 360 ° view and walk on the glass floor
- Discover the Glenbow Museum to learn all about the history of the region
- Take a picture of the Peace Bridge that lights up at night
The city of Calgary at night, with the Peace Bridge in the foreground
18. Nova Scotia: Canada
Nova Scotia is a magnificent region of Canada that has retained all of its authentic charms. Renowned for its splendid natural landscapes and excellent food made from seafood, you will not be bored for a second when visiting this region located on the east coast of Canada.
Overview of the main attractions of the region:
- Ride the 300 km of the Cabot Trail to discover some of the most beautiful coastal panoramas in Nova Scotia
- Visit the city of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most preserved colonial city in North America.
- Discover the region’s capital, Halifax
- Hike in Cape Breton Highlands National Park to the top of the cliff to watch the sunset (a mecca for marriage proposals!)
- Go to Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, a red and white lighthouse overlooking the bay, to take the famous souvenir photo emblematic of the region.
The must-see Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
19. Yukon: Canada
The Yukon is a less touristy destination in Canada. On the other hand, it is the dream if you want to stay off the beaten track in the country!
The region offers wild landscapes of incredible beauty where you will also have the impression of being alone in the world. The opportunity also to discover peoples with fascinating culture and traditions, the First Nations.
A small list of top things to see in the Yukon:
- Kluane National Park, where Mount Logan is located, is the highest peak in Canada
- Whitehorse, the capital, is the ideal starting point to visit the region
- The Yukon wildlife reserve to observe caribou and bison in their natural environment
- The Miles canyon with the hiking trails that border it
- The thermal springs of Takhini Hot Springs and their pools at 40 °
20. See the Northern Lights in Canada
Your trip to Canada will allow you to discover a fascinating and marvellous spectacle: the Northern Lights, which adorn the sky with colourful hues.
To do this, you will have to go to the north of the country, closest to the magnetic pole, that is to say, from 60 degrees of latitude. Winter is the season when you will have the most chance to see it because the sky must be clear and the total darkness. And of course, you will have to be careful because most of them occur between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The most famous places to see the Northern Lights are the Yukon and the Northwest Territories (towards Yellowknife). You can also go northeast to Nunavuk and Nunavit on Inuit territory.
To increase your chances of witnessing this breathtaking phenomenon, you can consult this site which gives the northern lights forecasts in real-time.
Northern Lights in Canada
Snowmobiling in Canada
One of the most popular activities and a must on tour in Canada is to go on a snowmobile trip! (Also called Skidoo there).
Canada has a whole network of marked trails where you can practice this sport in complete safety. There are several organized excursions to choose from, whether for a few hours or even a few days.
Most provinces in Canada offer this activity. However, if you are a beginner, prefer the shores of the St. Lawrence River and the Charlevoix region, which has easy trails.
The Laurentians, La Lanaudière, La Mauricie, Le Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean, the Eastern Townships and the Gaspé are all places where you can have fun on a snowmobile.
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.
Visiting Canada: Top 20 Things to Do and See