WWith some of the world’s most exciting cultural cities, great and small wildlife, and endless ways to explore the great outdoors, Canada is an epic country brimming over with adventure possibilities…
1: Meet polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
Polar Bears on the Ice – Image by Alexey Seafarer
The sub-Arctic town of Churchill is self-proclaimed as ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World’. Every October and November, 600 to 1,000 polar bears, the largest concentration on the planet, gather on a stretch of Hudson Bay shoreline, waiting for sea ice to form so they can head off to hunt seals.
Visit the Eskimo Museum and the Polar Bear Jail (where any animals that have strolled too close to town are held), then head out in an all-terrain tundra buggy for terrifyingly close but safe encounters with the mighty white bears.
2: Walk the walls of Québec City
Québec City Gate and Walls – Image by Thomas Rejzek
Cities don’t often come that old in North America, which makes Québec City a charismatic anomaly. Indeed, amble among its venerable mansions and higgledy-piggledy, cafe-lined alleys and you could almost be in Europe.
It’s also the only remaining fortified city on the continent (north of Mexico); in the 17th and 18th centuries, the French built almost three miles of ramparts around the old town, which still exist today. You can make a full loop, either walking beside the bastion or up on the canon-dotted ramparts, for views over the rooftops and mighty St Lawrence River.
3: Be blown away by the Rockies
Moraine Lake and the Rocky Mountains – Image by R.Classen
Alberta’s 232km Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise is one of the world’s top drives. The road squeezes through the Rockies, via swathes of pungent pine and spruce, sparkling rivers and waterfalls, brilliant-hued lakes, snow-capped mountains and more than 100 glaciers.
It also offers access to some of Canada’s best hiking country: the national parks of Banff and Jasper are riddled with everything from easy forest trails to wild, backcountry tramps. Try a day hike at Lake Louise, spend a few days probing the remote Tonquin Valley to be blown away by the Ramparts range, walk up onto the Athabasca Glacier or brave the Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored platform 280m above the Sunwapta River.
If you are curious about travel to Canada do contact us for more information.
4: Kayak with Orca in BC’s Johnstone Strait
Killer Whale (Orcinus Orca) – Image by Tori Kaliman
How’s this for odds? Orca are spotted on 95 per cent of tours into British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait during the peak time of mid-July to mid-September.
In summer, the sleek black-and-white whales (actually a type of dolphin) cluster in this small channel off the north of Vancouver Island to feast on a glut of salmon, joining a wealth of other wildlife, including humpbacks, dolphins, seals and bald eagles.
Spotting orca from a cruise boat is incredible but paddling among them in a kayak offers an even bigger thrill.
5: Eat your way around Toronto
Bars and Restaurants of Toronto’s Distillery District – Image by Kiev Victor
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the world’s most multicultural city; 51 per cent of its population is foreign born, spanning 230 different nationalities.
With such ethnic diversity comes culinary diversity. You can try anything, from Portuguese to Sri Lankan to Ethiopian to Jamaican. Visitors can travel the world via lively neighbourhoods such as Koreatown, Greektown, multiple Chinatowns, Little Iran or the Indo-Pakistani Bazaar.
The city has some of Canada’s finest restaurants, with modern French restaurant Alo (alorestaurant.com) topping the list of Canada’s 100 Best restaurants on multiple occasions. The city also has St Lawrence Market, a historic food hall packed with butchers, bakers, chocolatiers and cheesemakers, which is also home to the peameal bacon sandwich, a Torontonian favourite.
6: Cycle the Confederation Trail across Prince Edward Island
Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island – Image by V J Matthew
The railway network of Canada’s smallest province was abandoned in 1989, but fortunately, its tracks didn’t go to waste. Hard-packed with stone dust, they were repurposed into the Confederation Trail, 435km of gently graded paths that are open to cyclists, walkers and snowmobilers. It’s a wonderful way to see this bucolic island of rolling hills, corn and blueberry fields, lazy rivers, pretty clapboard villages, salty fishing harbours and sand dunes.
Try the main trans-island route, which runs for 273km between north-westerly Tignish, a tiny community with French/Irish heritage, to Elmira’s East Point Lighthouse.
If you are curious about travel to Canada – or other great cycle rides – do contact us for more information.
7: Sail into Newfoundland & Labrador’s Iceberg Alley
Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland – Image By Jarmo Piironen
Between April and June, hundreds of enormous hunks of Arctic ice, fresh from the glaciers of western Greenland, float right by the coast of Newfoundland, earning this stretch of ocean the nickname ‘Iceberg Alley’.
The ’bergs come in all shapes, shades and sizes. Some are big as houses, others are like intricate sculptures. Spot them on cliff walks from fishing villages, such as Twillingate and Bonavista, or head out in a boat or kayak for a closer look, keeping watch for puffins and humpbacks along the way, too.
8: Get sloshed in Niagara
Horseshoe Fall, Niagara Falls – Image by Igor Sh
It’s possible to get wet in a variety of wonderful ways in southern Ontario. This is where Niagara Falls thunderously announces the border between Canada and the US. Hop on a Hornblower cruise to sail right up to the famed cascades, then wet your whistle; this region, which is roughly the same latitude as northern Italy, is one of Canada’s premier wine-growing areas, with more than 85 vineyards amid the lakes, valleys and rocky escarpments.
Many vineyards offer tours. Some have restaurants and accommodation too. The charming, Victorian-era town of Niagara-on-the-Lake makes a good boozy base.
9: Ride a gold rush train in the Yukon
White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad – Image by Rocky Grimes
Following the 1896 Klondike gold rush, the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad (www.wpyr.com) was hastily built through the seemingly impenetrable Coastal Mountains to open up this remote wilderness. It still runs today, between the Alaskan port of Skagway and the Yukon town of Carcross, rumbling past waterfalls and creaking glaciers, winding around mountains, negotiating tunnels and trundling over trestles.
The line’s highest point is 873m White Pass, the US/Canada border, where your passport will be checked. The railway then rumbles down to Lake Bennett, now a quiet spot but once a heaving village of prospectors hoping to strike gold.
If you are curious about travel to Canada do contact us for more information.
10: Cruise the Northwest Passage – Nunavut & Northwest
Arctic sunset near Pond Inlet – Image by Exclusive Ariels
For centuries, no one knew if this passage even existed. Now, climate change is making it all too easy to pass. But that doesn’t diminish the experience of navigating the storied Northwest Passage, the sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific through the Arctic Ocean above Canada.
This is about as wild as cruising gets, a voyage amid pristine fjords, immense glaciers, building-sized icebergs and Inuit culture.
Scan around for polar bears, walrus and whales from the deck and head ashore in Zodiacs to explore bleak spots, such as abandoned whaling stations and ancient First Nations sites.
For more ideas on things to do in Canada contact us for further information and a free travel consultation.
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Sarah Baxter is a travel writer and editor, working for outlets such as The Telegraph, The Independent, Lonely Planet, Wanderlust and others. She is the author of several books, including A History of the World in 500 Walks and Spiritual Places (Both with Aurum).
Follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahbtravel.