Canada is a land filled with fascinating places and amazing adventures. The only problem: Narrowing down your choice of destination. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Canada for any traveler determined to discover the true north strong and free.
1. Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta
Set inside the borders of the vast Banff National Park, the area that surrounds the towns of Banff and Lake Louise is one of the best places to visit in Canada. Here you’ll find a Rocky Mountain wonderland; a place of electric blue glacial lakes, waterfalls, abundant wildlife (from elk to bighorn sheep to grizzly bears) and breathtaking grandeur. Stay either in Banff, the busy hub of the area and home to classic hotels like the Fairmont Banff Springs (one of Canada’s greatest hotels), or pursue some solitude up at Lake Louise, where hiking trails up into the mountains—and unparalleled silence—are just steps away.
2. Kluane National Park, Yukon
Home to Canada’s tallest peak (Mount Logan, altitude 19,551 feet), this giant national park in the western Yukon—22,000 square kilometers of blue glaciers, lush valleys and untamed territory—can be seen from the sky, aboard a helicopter or an airplane equipped with skis (which allow high-altitude snow landings). Or, even better, hike it using the park’s vast network of trails—you could walk for days without seeing another person.
3. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Sitting on the coast of western Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is unquestionably one of the best places to visit in Canada. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a truly unique park, a place that packs an astounding amount of geological diversity (coastal lowland, soaring peaks, precipitous cliffs, untouched lakes, waterfalls and even a former fjord, now cut off from the ocean) into a place that you can visit in just a couple days. Gros Morne is also a geological wonder, an area where the earth’s mantle is exposed, clearly displaying the process of continental drift.
4. Long Beach, Tofino, British Columbia
Named “the best surf town in North America” by Outside magazine, Tofino, a beautiful beach town clinging to the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, has, despite its relatively remote location, been drawing surfers, nature-lovers and those with wandering souls for years. Located just south of town, Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and (you guessed it) long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty.
5. Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island
A spread of reddish sand skirting cool Atlantic waters, backed by dunes and green rolling hills, there are few better places to visit in Canada than Cavendish. But while the temptation to linger on the beach may be strong, a trip to this beach would not be complete without exploring the historic sites nearby, including the Green Gables Heritage Place—the muse of Lucy Maude Montgomery and home to the Island’s most famous fictional resident.
6. Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Recently shortlisted in a massive international competition to name a new seven wonders of the natural world, the tides on this big bay, which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia, make it truly one of the best places to visit in Canada. The most extreme tides on earth, they rise and fall more than 50 feet in some places. (Here are more mind-boggling facts about Canada.) These can be seen most dramatically at a place like Hopewell Rocks, unique stone formations that, at low tide, form towers on dry land but become bona fide islands as the water rises. Witnessing the deluge first-hand is nothing short of a Canadian rite of passage.
7. Churchill, Manitoba
Set on the shores of Hudson Bay, this subarctic town has earned international fame as the polar bear capital of the world, and is rightfully renowned as one of the best places to visit in Canada. So plentiful are the bears that the town actually has a “polar bear jail,” which holds wayward bears that wander into town until they can be released back into the wild. Seen on foot, from the air or from a boat (local tour companies venture into the mouth of the Churchill River in Zodiacs), encountering a polar bear in the wild is an unforgettable experience.
8. The Muskoka Lakes, Ontario
Once named one of National Geographic’s “Best Trips,” the Muskoka Lakes—Toronto’s cottage country—have long been a destination for weary weekend warriors from the city. And while in the past, the option to spend more than just a day here was limited to those who had a place on the lake, the fairly recent addition of some great luxury accommodations—including a lovely JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau—has opened up the area to non-cottagers. Shop and eat in the charming villages that dot the region, then log some serious time on Joseph, Rosseau, Muskoka or any of the other, smaller lakes in the area.
9. CN Tower, Toronto
Although its luster has faded somewhat as the records it once held have tumbled at the feet of taller towers in the Middle East, this essential Toronto attraction (formerly the tallest freestanding structure on Earth) is, at 1,815 feet, still one of the best places to visit in Canada. In fact, the allure of a visit here is perhaps greater than ever, especially if you’ve yet to brave the vertigo-inducing glass floor and the installation of extra entertainment features, such as the EdgeWalk, which dares people to walk along the abyss on a five-foot wide span atop the tower’s main observation deck, 116 stories above the ground.
10. Quebec City
The oldest walled city in North America, Quebec City holds both European charm and sophistication alongside its unmistakable French-Canadian character. It also bears the distinction of being the place where, as every good Canadian history student knows, Wolfe defeated Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham, securing Canada for the British Empire. Home to the iconic Chateau Frontenac (a hotel that’s hosted several royal guests), poutine (the definitive Canadian dish), and, of course, a world-famous winter carnival, there’s always plenty to do, see and eat in the capital of La Belle Province.
Source: Reader’s Digest Canada
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