Canada is a country that’s best known for its stunning landscapes, polite people, and prosperous cities. The country rests in the very north of North America and is quite large. As the 2nd largest country when looking at the total area, Canada offers tourists endless options of attractions.
The area near Montreal is home to many ski resorts including quite a few not more than an hour away from Quebec’s largest city. The two primary areas for skiing are the Laurentian Mountains and the Monteregian Hills. Both have a variety of skiing options including touring, racing, glades, and moguls. The Laurentian Mountain ski …
With the majority of Canada being wilderness, campers from all over the world come to explore their national parks and take in the breathtaking views. For those looking for a more luxurious vacation, famous metropolitan areas like Toronto and Vancouver will give you all the pampering and amenities you could ask for.
Welcome to Canada, Eh!
There are ten provinces and three territories with borders along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans. For tourists, there are over 9.8 square kilometers to explore, which makes Canada the second largest country based on land area. Canada is also home to a population of 37.06 million people, many of which are described as “ridiculously nice” by nature.
Ottawa is the capital of the country and is located in southeastern Ontario on the Québec border. The city rests along the Ottawa River and is known for its grand Victorian architecture.
The diverse city is also where you will hear a blend of English and Canadian French spoken on the streets by the locals and tourists. With a rich culture, Ottawa is also alive with a modern cosmopolitan vibe.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
Canada has a unique blend of indigenous and European culture, as well as influence from immigrant populations. The indigenous people of Canada are called the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Their culture has existed for thousands of years and is deeply rooted in oral tradition.
But with colonization, the British and French also started to bring their own culture and influence to Canada.
British culture is dominant in Canadian society because the monarchy is officially the head of state. The Queen is also featured on Canadian money and they celebrate the Queen’s birthday. The more reserved, polite, and good-mannered culture of Britain has also made its way to Canada.
In the province of Québec, French culture dominates and the people from the area are called French Canadians (or French Fry Canadians). The Francophone culture is alive and well in Québec, where tourists can experience French architecture, cuisine, and lifestyles.
Having two official languages, English and French, Canada is quite unique. While 3 in every 10 Canadians speak french, a majority of which live in the province of Québec, the country predominantly speaks English.
Canada is also home to a diverse immigrant population and there are many different languages spoken throughout the country.
You may be daydreaming of your trip to Canada, but before you hit the road, it’s important to consider your spending budget for the trip. Canada is an absolutely massive country, which makes traveling around harder and more expensive. And to top it off, Canada has a sales tax, which will be added at the end of any of your purchases.
These two factors can make a trip to Canada quite expensive. There are two big portions of your budget that you’ll want to pay for first; your method of transportation to the country and accommodation.
For US tourists, traveling to Canada is easier because the countries are neighbors.
Airfare or Driving
Most people will choose to fly to Canada. Most plane tickets are relatively affordable, and you can purchase a flight from Los Angeles to Toronto for a few hundred dollars. If you’re looking to travel between Canadian cities, plane tickets are also reasonable as are buses or driving.
A few locations in Canada are not that far across the border, which means that some people will travel by car or bus. This is certainly an affordable way to see Canada but would likely only allow you to see one part of the country. Plus, you may want to go further into Canada and driving could take you days to reach your destination.
Greyhound is a well-known company that provides excellent rates for short journeys across the border, which is great for backpackers on a budget.
Once you’ve decided how to travel, you need to think about your accommodation. Most people will choose to travel on a moderate budget, but in Canada that still allows you to stay in nice hostels and hotels.
Hostels will be moderately priced per night, while a hotel can be double or triple the price. 3 or 4-star establishments that provide a higher quality of service will be the far most expensive, costing hundreds of dollars per night. And as with any country, luxury accommodations can easily go into the thousands.
A great way to keep accommodation costs down is to look into options like Airbnb. For people staying in a large group and who like their privacy, it can be more cost-effective to stay in an apartment or house.
For travelers who are looking to relax in nature, camping is an extremely affordable way to stay in Canada. And there are locations around Canada where you can camp for free too. This is pretty much a summer option though, so keep that in mind.
Another large portion of your budget will be food, drink, and entertainment. Canada has a diverse food culture, thanks to the indigenous, British, and French people. There are many tasty dishes that you can try, and you will find that the cuisine culture varies by region.
A few of the most famous Canadian dishes include poutine, bannock, Montreal-style bagels, and maple syrup (of course). Poutine is a popular dish made of crispy fries and cheese curds, all topped with a tasty gravy. The dish is internationally a symbol of Canada and can be upgraded with a few extras like pulled pork or bacon.
Bannock was a key part of the indigenous people’s diets. It’s a sweet bread that is constantly being reinvented and changed with a variety of toppings. If you love bagels, the Montreal-style bagels are denser, hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and baked in wood-fired ovens. The delicious bread is then topped with poppy or sesame seeds.
Finally, maple syrup is possibly Canada’s most famous food or condiment. Maple syrup is featured in cuisine throughout the country. One beloved dish is the tire d’érable sur la neige. The dish is made by pouring hot maple syrup over snow where it then hardens into a taffy-like texture and is then stuck on popsicle sticks.
As much as eating all day sounds nice, you may also be interested to experience the nightlife and go out for drinks. Canada is full of bars that all have their own unique vibe and scene. A few of the most popular bars include Bar Raval in Toronto, The Keefer Bar in Vancouver, and Coldroom in Montreal.
How to Get Around
To reiterate, Canada is big, and getting around the entire country can be challenging when you want to stay on a budget. If you’re looking to travel throughout the country, the best ways to go are by plane, bus, or even train.
As we said before, most plane tickets between Canadian cities are relatively affordable. While the cost of a plane might seem steep, you should remember that if you’re on a tight schedule and want to see as much as possible in the time frame that you have, taking the time to bus or go by train might be too restrictive for your taste.
If you’re not traveling around the country and staying in a specific city, the cost of travel will be significantly reduced. Many cities have reliable and affordable public transportation systems, which are a great way to get around.
If you’re willing to take the time to save on your budget, buses are relatively affordable methods of transportation. Those going a big distance, like from Vancouver to Toronto, should expect their bus ticket to cost more. A bus isn’t for everyone though and one of the most unique ways to travel to Canada is by train.
Canada has a decent train system that crosses the country and has become a popular way to travel throughout the provinces. The trains are more convenient, comfortable, relatively affordable, and provide a unique experience.
With the popularity of trains increasing, there are a variety of tours that can be booked for excursions that will take a week or more to complete.
The largest difference in price will be for how long you’re traveling on the train and whether you’re traveling with luxury or deluxe accommodations. There are also entire tours offered by specific businesses and you may find a complete tour package that suits your needs, though it may be very pricey.
Walking, Taxi and Uber
Walking is another option if you are staying in a concentrated area. However, there are taxi and Uber services available too. Taxis are fairly affordable for short distances. Uber might be the most affordable if you are taking a quick trip and can be accessed using the phone app.
Top Cities to Visit
With such an immense country, there are a lot of cities that tourists are eager to visit. Here, we will give you a brief overview of the most popular city destinations throughout Canada.
Ottawa is Canada’s capital city and a popular destination among tourists because of its blend of cultures. The city is located on the border with Québec, which means that English and French are spoken on the streets. Ottawa is also home to a variety of national sites and famous landmarks like the Rideau Canal.
Art culture is dominant here so there are many world-class galleries and museums. A few popular attractions include Parliament Hill, which has neo-gothic architecture and is the home of Canada’s legislature. The city is deeply ingrained in war history, as well, and many sites are open to visitors.
Toronto is the capital of the Ontario province and sits along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The city has an impressive skyline, which includes the CN Tower. Toronto is also a blend of urban and green space.
Queen’s Park and High Park are popular outdoor spaces that have sports facilities, trails, and a zoo. For the art inspired, there are also numerous museums and galleries to explore. Plus, Toronto is close to Niagara Falls so you can take a quick day trip to see the impressive cascades.
Montreal is the largest city in the Québec province. It has the banks of the Saint Lawrence River on its edges and Mt. Royal at its heart. The city is steeped in French culture and many of the neighborhoods have cobblestone streets.
The architecture is a beautiful reminder of old Europe with a mix of contemporary flair. The city also enjoys hosting festivals and events for art and culinary lovers. The city is most well-known for its diverse cuisine where guests can taste Kamouraska lamb, Arctic char, poutine, and delicious patisseries.
Vancouver sits on the West Coast of Canada and is a seaport city. The coastal location also makes this city one of the most diverse in all of Canada. With the influence of different cultures, Vancouver is a hub of diverse foods, entertainment, and neighborhoods.
Some of the best dine-out places are located in the city and have popular Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. The city has an easy layout for urban exploration including destinations like Main Street, Kitsilano, and Gastown.
Vancouver’s placement along the coast also means that you can ski in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon. The unique landscape is great for people who want to live an urban life but have incredible natural wonders just a short drive from the city.
This city is the heart of the Québec province, where French culture dominates. French is spoken widely throughout the city and is the dominant language. Aside from the language, Québec City also has impressive stone buildings and narrow streets.
The city is North America’s oldest French-speaking city and it’s often described as historical. The Saint Lawrence River frames the city, while the picturesque Old Town hosts the famous Château Frontenac (affiliate link). Entertainment is rich and the people eagerly welcome visitors with their Winter Carnival.
Nova Scotia is a unique place in Canada because it’s one of the country’s three maritime provinces. The province is mostly known for its beautiful oceanside landscapes and fresh seafood. Cape Breton is a famous destination in the province that is home to a national forest full of forests and rugged coastlines.
Points of Interest
Cities are often the most popular destinations in Canada, however, you may find that there’s a specific attraction that you want to see. Canada is full of natural landmarks and amazing landscapes.
Discover the best of Canada’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
Niagara Falls is arguably one of Canada’s most famous natural attractions for tourists to visit. There are several viewpoints along the falls, which borders America and visitors can awe at the 187-foot cascades.
The area has remained popular throughout the years with daredevil stunts taking place at the falls, but for the normal tourist, you can simply book a boat tour and get up close to the water.
Banff National Park
The Banff National Park is in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and it is home to an absolutely stunning landscape. The park is located in the Alberta province and is filled with snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, and grand glaciers.
Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed locations within the park because of its dramatic landscape views.
Toronto’s CN Tower
Located in Toronto, the CN Tower is perhaps, the most well-known building in all of Canada. The tower is extremely tall with a full stature of 1,814.3 feet. The tower is an icon in Toronto’s skyline and has become a popular attraction.
At the top of the tower, there is a 360-degree revolving restaurant and just below you can visit the LookOut and Glass Floor.
Whistler is located two hours outside of Vancouver and is a world-famous ski resort. In 2010, the resort hosted the Winter Olympic Games, and every season it provides tourists with adventurous skiing, world-class dining, and gorgeous mountain views.
Don’t let the melting snow get you down. Whistler is also open in the summer and has a variety of outdoor recreational activities like golf, mountain biking, and hiking.
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is unique to Canada and the world because it has the most extreme variation between high and low tide. The tides have been recorded to drastically change their depth from 0 to 62 feet deep. When the tides are low, the land is exposed and reveals stunning cliff and rock formations. It’s one of the 7 wonders of North America!
While the Yukon is remote, the year-round beauty of the landscape continually draws tourists in. The uncrowded areas are ideal for visitors who want to break away from the tourist groups and have the chance to experience mountains, glaciers, abundant wildlife, and even a chance to see the Northern Lights.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is an eastern maritime province in Canada that is popular for red sand beaches, rolling farmland, and historical lighthouses. The seaside villages are idyllic and a fun destination for families to visit in the summer.
The island boasts a variety of beaches, trails, and the Prince Edward Island National Park so that visitors can explore the natural landscape. What may inspire you to visit the island is its depiction in the book, Anne of Green Gables (affiliate link).
Explore Canada “From Sea to Sea”
While Canada is vast and there are thousands of places to visit and explore, it’s probably safe to say that there isn’t a bad destination. With such a diverse landscape, there is a trip for everyone. Urban explorers can navigate the cities and nature lovers can head out into the remote and stunning wilderness destinations.
The diversity of the country from the culture, people, and landscape is what makes Canada unique and ever so popular amongst tourists. With endless adventures to choose from, you can be certain that you’ll fall in love with Canada.
Latest in Canada
Due to its proximity to both the ocean and mountains, Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada, offers…
View more Canada articles