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So you think you know Canada? With almost 10 million square kilometres to explore, Canada abounds with unique places and unusual experiences. Let's see how many of these surprising Canadian spaces and places you have yet to discover.
Where will you go first?
Looking for a change of scenery? Explore the Montréal Biodôme’s tropical forest for guaranteed warm weather, lush, diverse greenery and exotic animal sightings (think, piranhas, parrots and even marsupials). The Biodôme, situated in the heart of Montreal, is part of the Space For Life museum complex which hosts the city’s planetarium, insectarium and botanical garden.
In 2021, downtown Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Art Gallery welcomed Qaumajuq, an innovative museum that hosts the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. This immense cultural space bridges Canada’s North and South through art, research and education. After your visit, pursue your journey into Indigenous cultures with a meal at Feast Café Bistro.
Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Ottawa, Ontario
The Rideau Canal National Historic Site stretches 202 kilometres from Ottawa to Kingston. From May to October, the canal turns into a paddler’s paradise (boat cruises through Ottawa are a care-free way to take it all in from the water). In wintertime, this historic waterway turns into the world’s longest outdoor skating rink. If you prefer adventuring on land, hop on a bike to discover 800 kilometers of recreational pathways with easy access to parks, historic sites, breweries and wineries.
10th Street Wave, Calgary, Alberta
Thanks to the Bow River and the emergence of river surfing, land-locked Calgary has become a hot spot to hang ten. According to local surf shop Outlier Surf, “the 10th Street Wave is one of the world’s most beginner friendly river surfing waves.” Once you’ve acquired a taste for urban surfing, recharge your batteries by sampling signature Alberta food around the city.
A whale-watching adventure is in order when visiting Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The city’s neighbouring Pacific waters are home to the most fabulous wildlife, including resident orca pods (pictured above). Most marine wildlife tours take visitors through Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, British Columbia’s southernmost point. Cap off your Pacific Ocean exploration at oceanfront Oak Bay Beach Hotel and its spa’s rejuvenating seaside mineral pools.
A 10-minute ferry from downtown Toronto will transport you to the relaxing, car-free Toronto Islands. This natural archipelago is ideal for an urban day trip filled with beach time, water-based activities (try “paddlebirding” or a calm sunset paddle) and leisurely bicycle rides. Let your exploration guide you all the way to The Riviera - Ward’s Island Kitchen before making your way back to your city-bound ferry.
Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia
Art and architecture blend beautifully at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a 1906 neo-classical building in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The collection includes the works of Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists whose compelling paintings depict Indigenous villages and emerald rainforests of the west coast. After your visit, enjoy a meal at one of Vancouver’s top restaurants.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatchewan
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, just five kilometres from Saskatoon, is dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of the cultures of the Northern Plains Indigenous peoples. This interpretive site is Canada's longest-running archeological dig site. There, you can see bison, sample Indigenous culinary flavours during a Han Wi moon dinner, hike to cultural sites and acquire authentic First Nations traditional handmade artworks.
Overlooking Halifax and its harbour, you’ll find the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, which defended the region as a high point above the shores from 1749 to 1906. Today, this historic fortress provides visitors with an immersive overview of the life of Victorian era soldiers that called the citadel home. For a deeper dive into the region’s history, take a 15-minute walk east to reach the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic along the Halifax Waterfront.
Parc de la chute-Montmorency, Quebec City
A 15-minute drive along the St. Lawrence River takes you from historic Old Quebec City to the impressive Montmorency Falls. This 83-metres (25 storeys!) waterfall is part of an accessible park that offers scenic adventures for all ability levels: catch a ride on the panoramic cable car, zipline across the falls, feel their power from the suspension footbridge or hang out cliffside on the via ferrata course. Drive back via historical Route de la Nouvelle-France to sample local flavours from nearby Ferme Le Comte de Roussy.
Alberta Legislature Building, Edmonton, Alberta
A city tour of Edmonton would not be complete without capturing a snap of the Alberta Legislature Building’s Beaux-Arts architecture. The site’s illuminated water fountains and well-kept garden are perfect for a picnic bursting with local flavours. Since the building sits atop the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, you can also admire it from the water on a cruise or canoe excursion.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The iconic Hornblower Catamaran cruise takes visitors for an up-close view of the legendary Niagara Falls, Ontario. For a different perspective, take to the sky aboard the Niagara Skywheel or venture behind the falls. Stay until night time to see the falls colourfully lit up and continue your wonderful journey with a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a renowned wine region.
One of the best places to see the northern lights in the world is the Northwest Territories where they’re usually visible 240 nights a year. For an immersive Indigenous experience you’ll remember for your entire life, stay in a teepee at Aurora Village in Yellowknife. While winter and fall are the most popular aurora viewing seasons, you can also admire them in summertime.
Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland and Labrador
Iceberg Alley is a fitting appellation for the waters that welcome the 10,000-year-old ice giants that float down the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in the spring and summer time. While icebergs are visible from land, a boat or kayak tour is one of the best ways to get up close and grasp their immense beauty (expect whale and seabird sightings too). The best time to see icebergs is from April to August, although you can sample them year-round in picturesque St. John’s, thanks to the unique Iceberg beer from the Quidi Vidi Brewery.
West Point Lighthouse Inn and Museum, Prince Edward Island
Canada's first Inn in a lighthouse, the West Point Lighthouse Inn and Museum, offers intimate, four-star, accommodation on a beautiful red sand beach in Prince Edward Island. This working lighthouse is part of Cedar Dunes Provincial Park and hosts a museum that documents the history of the province’s lighthouses. To get there, follow the North Cape Coastal Drive, along which you’ll find the Bottle Houses, a must-see attraction in Prince Edward Island.
Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail, New Brunswick
The Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail, in New Brunswick, follows the Nepisiguit River which links the Appalachian Mountains in Mount Carleton Provincial Park to the Bay of Chaleur in Bathurst. This 140-kilometre trail with multiple access points is a moderate-to-difficult hike. One of the top ways to experience this historically significant route used by the Mi’gmaq people for thousands of years is to plan an overnight teepee stay. If visiting the area, make sure to sample some delicious seafood.
Baffin Island, Nunavut
The biggest island in Canada (the fifth largest in the world), Baffin Island, is the spectacular homeland of the Inuit and an incomparable playground for the adventurous. The island is rich in memorable travel experiences: see narwhal and polar bears on an arctic safari, experience the World's northernmost Heli-skiing operation, admire the northern lights and learn about Inuit culture.
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Once upon a time, dinosaurs roamed the Canadian Badlands. Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the biggest dinosaur graveyards in the world,is one of the best places to explore this remarkable landscape filled with fossils (real ones). To reach the park, drive about two hours east of Calgary. Once there, tour the fascinating interpretive trails with fossilised dinosaur skeletons on display. Camp onsite before making your way back to Calgary via Drumheller to continue your Jurassic journey at the Royal Tyrrell Museum (consult website reopening dates).
Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
On the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, towering sandstone formations nicknamed “Flowerpot Rocks” await at the Hopewell Rocks. This spectacular landscape shaped by the highest tides in the world can be explored by foot and kayak on the same day (check the tide table before you visit). Moncton, located a short 30-minute away is the perfect starting point of your Bay of Fundy Adventure.
Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park, Saskatchewan
The largest active sand surface in Canada can be found at Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park, Saskatchewan. The dunes here spread over 100 kilometres along the shores of Lake Athabasca, Canada’s eighth largest lake. The area is especially popular for hiking, fishing, paddling and, of course, photography.
Emerald Lake, Carcross, Yukon
To witness the splendour of Emerald Lake, also called Rainbow Lake by Carcross /Tagish First Nation, start your journey in Carcross, Yukon and drive 12 kilometers north along the South Klondike Highway. These stunning turquoise waters are the result of light reflecting off a white layer of marl (a type of clay) in the lake. Continue on your Yukon Southern Lake Loop road trip to learn about the local First Nations and discover more natural wonders.