Canada is home to many things: outrageously beautiful landscapes, candy-colored coastal towns, rich Indigenous culture, Ryan Reynolds, and more over-the-top poutine creations than we can count. The best places to visit in Canada are all about its diverse cultures and scenic beauty, making for experiences that enrich you and your palate as much as the wide-open spaces clear your mind. Opportunities to go deeper here are vast and stretch from coast to coast to coast, dip way down south and way, way up north. The world’s second-largest country knows no limits when it comes to travel, but these 26 places are a pretty good start, eh?
1. Niagara Falls
Cascading between the U.S. and Canadian border, this group of roaring waterfalls showcases the power of nature in all its misty glory. After a 40-minute drive from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, hop aboard one of Hornblower’s boats to be one of their drenched delighted guests, or book a ticket for the “Journey Behind The Falls,” a transformative ride both below and behind these surging giants.
2. Toronto, for its diverse cuisine
Hailed as one of the most diverse cities on Earth, 250 ethnicities call Toronto home, earning its motto, “Diversity, Our Strength.” From fish tacos at Grand Electric to Scaramouche’s Canadian grass-fed filet mignon and superlative sushi at Shoushin, this is a must-visit city if you travel for food. A $47 flat fee taxi ride or a $12.35 train fare will get you from Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto in under 45-minutes, where you can slurp soup dumplings in Chinatown, devour bibimbap in Koreatown, gobble fried dosa in Little India, and sample fry bread at Toronto’s First Nations restaurants.
3. Montreal Bagels
They say it’s something in the water. Hand-made then boiled in honey water and finished off in a wood-fired oven, the crispy crust of a Montreal bagel has become a national treasure. Snag a warm one at the famous St-Viateur Bagel, or try a neighborhood gem like Beaubien Bagel for unfussy, unrelenting levels of deliciousness. Land at Montréal-Trudeau Airport and take a bus or taxi downtown in less than it takes to craft a bagel. They’re worth the flight.
4. Québec City
A little slice of Europe in North America, history and culture permeate throughout the city. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore Wendake, a 17th-century Huron-Wendat settlement that’s slightly outside the city. Try Indigenous cuisine at Restaurant Sagamité and stay at Hotel-Musée Premières Nations, a First Nations boutique hotel. Accessible by plane to Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, or train to Gare du Palais, the nation’s capital is captivating.
5. Lobstering (Barrington)
Hailed as the “Lobster Capital Of Canada,” this charming coastal community is hard not to fall in love with. Fly into Halifax Stanfield International Airport or take the CAT ferry from Bar Harbour, Maine to south Nova Scotia. Here you can gaze at towering light-houses, learn to row a traditional Dory or try your hand at weaving wool at the Woolen Mill Museum. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying lobster poutine followed by a sundae from Dan’s Ice Cream Shoppe.
6. Cape Breton Island
Rugged coastlines and dramatic landscapes encapsulate the territory of the Mi’kmaq People. Walk the famous Cabot Trail but save energy for a Mi’kmaq Medicine Walk through the forest. Stop at the Membertou Heritage Park to learn about the culture of the Mi’kmaq People and stay for lunch at Kiju for local cedar plank salmon. Catch a connecting flight to JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport or enjoy a scenic drive on the Trans-Canada Highway all the way to Cape Breton Island.
7. The Bay of Fundy
A natural wonder, this bay is home to the highest tides on the planet. At the head of the St. John harbor you can see a waterfall flow upstream and the St. John River flow backwards in a swirling mass of whirlpools at high tide. During low tide walk along the Atlantic Ocean floor at Bay of Fundy National Park looking for dinosaur fossils and exploring caves with the Fundy Geological Museum.
In the summer months, travelers can spot the rare North-Atlantic right whale off the coast with a local whale watching tour. Renting a car is the best option for exploring after landing at Greater Moncton-Roméo Leblanc International Airport, Fredericton International Airport or stepping off the VIA Rail.
8. Village Historique Acadien
There are more than 25,000 Acadians living in New Brunswick. Descendants of French settlers, they’re known for a joie de vivre palpable in their music, festivals and food, most visible on August 15, National Acadian Day. After landing at Greater Moncton-Roméo Leblanc International Airport or Fredericton International Airport, rent a car and drive to Village Historique Acadien. Here travelers get a peek into Acadian life in the 18th-century from its open-air museum and Acadian cooking classes. Stay overnight at the Château Albert, designed by an Acadian architect.
9. Bison in Riding Mountain National Park
The plains bison at one point had vanished from Manitoba, but thanks to a conservation effort in the early 1900s, visitors can now witness these striking creatures up close. The park’s closest airports are Dauphin and Brandon Municipal. From here, rent a car and visit the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure inside Riding Mountain National Park, home to 40 roaming plain bison.
10. Manitoba Wildlife Safari
When it comes to a Canadian safari, you won’t be seeing lions. Instead, the “Big 5” here are polar bear, grizzlies, moose, wolf, and plains buffalo. You’ll spot black bears, moose, deer, and elk in Riding Mountain National Park, and polar bears, caribou, arctic fox, and belugas in northern Manitoba. Multi-day tours led by companies like Great Canadian Travel start at Winnipeg International Airport, take you through the National Park and then up to Churchill for a chance to see these truly majestic animals and in winter, gaze at the Northern Lights.
11. British Columbia’s ski resorts
There’s no better place to traverse the fresh powder than one of British Columbia’s 13 ski resorts. The famous Whistler Blackcomb has two mountains to choose from, ideal for beginners, experts and families. If you’re after something smaller, try Apex Mountain or Manning Park Resort. Fly into Vancouver International Airport and drive towards the rugged mountain peak for some unforgettable skiing and snowboarding.
The perfect mix of vibrant city and natural beauty, Vancouver has it all. From the airport, the quickest and most sustainable way to get to the city center is a 25-minute ride on the Vancouver International Airport Skytrain. With a city-wide emphasis on going green, try Forage, an area favorite restaurant specializing in locally sourced ingredients. After, shop local designers on Main Street and pay a visit to The Soap Dispensary, the city’s first zero-waste, refillable shop while you’re there.
Prince Edward Island
13. Red Sand Beaches
The deep red hue intensifies as the tides creep up the beaches on Prince Edward Island. Rich with iron, around 500 miles of striking red sand beaches can be found here, including Thunder Cove Beach, a local favorite, and the more popular Cavendish Beach is a short drive away. Renting a car is the best way to enjoy the red sands, available at Charlottetown Airport or bring your own on the PEI Ferry.
14. Green Gables Heritage Place
A beloved literary landmark, Green Gables Heritage Place was the inspiration behind local author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous novel Anne Of Green Gables, a tale about a spunky orphan named Anne. A 40-minute drive from Charlottetown Airport, the house is open for tours, or walk the grounds and skip along the Haunted Wood Trail— just like Anne would do.
15. Trans-Canada Highway
Also known as Highway 1, this country-wide highway has a 406-mile section across Saskatchewan. You’ll need to stretch your legs along the drive, so stop for some bird-watching at Moose Mountain Provincial Park or admire Indigenous beading and artwork at Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery. When you get hungry, the newly-opened The Moose and Bannock serves First Nations cuisine well worth stopping for.
16. Prairie Grasslands
Wheat waves in the wind on Saskatchewan’s millions of acres of grasslands. Due to climate change, this ecosystem is one of the country’s most threatened. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association works closely with local ranchers, Parks Canada, and provincial governments to protect the rolling hills, caribou, and woodland valleys. A short drive over the U.S. border with Montana takes travelers to Grasslands National Park where they can do self-driving tours or walk the plentiful hiking trails.
17. Banff National Park and the Rockies
The piercing blue waters of Lake Louise against craggy, snow-capped cliffs—you’ve definitely tapped “like” on these images before. A nature- and Instagram-lover’s dream, the majestic Moraine Lake and the Peyto Lake viewpoint is a hike that should be at the top of the list. And from December to February, visitors can watch the bright green and purples of the Northern Lights dances across the Rockies. The Jasper Dark Sky Preserve makes an ideal spot for viewing the phenomenon, in addition to epic stargazing. From Calgary International Airport, it’s a 90-minute drive or bus ride to Banff.
Like something out of a storybook, Canmore’s jagged mountain top scenery is actually real. A much-loved adventure sports destination, this Rocky Mountain town offers hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, rafting, and climbing. Boutique shops, the Indigenous art gallery, Carter Ryan Gallery, and cozy cafes are scattered around town. Name it, and you can do it—all a 90-minute drive from Calgary International Airport.
19. Fogo Island
Off Newfoundland and Labrador, Fogo Island offers a treasure trove of natural beauty and small-town charm. Home to an exciting art community and the award-winning design masterpiece Fogo Island Inn, the island’s 11 small cities and towns are best explored by car. Connect to Gander International Airport, rent a car and take the 50-minute ferry to Fogo Island. Once you land on the island, you’ll feel like you’re a world away.
20. Iceberg Alley
Floating from Labrador down to Newfoundland, these giant chunks of ice are tens of thousands of years old. Best viewed in late May or early June, travelers can book with companies like Iceberg Man Tours to get close to these massive icebergs or kayak around them. Fly to John’s International Airport, rent a car and drive from St. Lewis to St. John’s, spotting icebergs the entire way.
21. Yellowknife to See the Northern Lights
There’s no better place in the world to catch a glimpse of the undulating aurora borealis than the dark skies of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Indigenous-owned businesses like Aurora Village and North Star Adventure offer hotel and aurora-viewing packages for the best chance of spotting this mystifying natural phenomenon with the naked eye. You’ll need at least one connection to reach Yellowknife Airport, but trust us, it’s worth it.
22. Virginia Falls
Inside the remote Nahanni National Park Reserve is one of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls. Twice the size of Niagara Falls, it’s reachable by chartered floatplane from Fort Simpson or Yellowknife or by extensive hike. There are a variety of licensed air charter companies to get you there safely, including Alpine Aviation and Summit Air.
23. Dog Sledding
A time-honored mode of transport in the Yukon territory, dog sledding has been a popular activity for decades. Indigenous tour operator Josie’s Old Crow Adventures takes guests along the Porcupine River or up Crow Mountain driven by lead dogs, Bucko and Leo. Each of their 16 dogs is like a member of the family, and all respond to “Mush!” This is a fly-in-only community of 240 people, so take a plane to Old Crow Airport to start your adventure. If you come in wintertime, there’s a good chance you’ll catch the Northern Lights in this remote northern territory.
24. Klondike Gold Rush
One August day in 1896, a man named Skookum Jim struck gold in Bonanza Creek. What followed was one of the world’s biggest Gold Rushes. Today, travelers can trace the path of the more than 100,000 prospectors along the Chilkoot Trail hike or fly to Dawson City Airport via Whitehorse International Airport. A 15-minute drive takes you to Dawson City, home to the country’s oldest gambling hall, Diamond Tooth Gerties, where a can-can show is still the main attraction. Borrow a pan from Dawson City Visitor Centre and go panning for gold at Free Claim #6; anything you find, you keep.
25. Narwhals (Arctic Bay)
Known as the unicorns of the sea, narwhals may as well be mythical creatures. A whale varietal, these sea dwellers are famous for the long tusk jutting out of their heads. With just 80,000 remaining in nature, the majority of them spend their time in the Canadian Arctic. Arctic Bay Adventures is Inuit-owned and operated with multi-day packages to spot narwhals near Baffin Island. Fly to the ultra-remote Arctic Bay Airport and be sure to pack your binoculars.
26. Inuit culture
Nearly 40,000 people live in Nunavut, with the vast majority being Inuit. A largely young population, mostly under the age of 40, they’re passionate about sharing their traditions with the world. At the Jessie Oonark Centre in Baker Lake, artists carve soapstone, and seamstresses create pieces from traditional materials like seal skin. At the Uqqurmiut Arts and Crafts Centre in Pangnirtung, craftspeople create tapestries and design prints for sale. With no roads, air is the easiest and fastest way to travel around Nunavut, with most communities having a local airport.