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Discover Canada: Powerful Reasons to Plan a Visit

Will this be the year you join a polar bear tour, or yodel in the Canadian Rockies? Will it be the year you finally visit Fogo Island, or witness the Northern Lights and their stardust dance? If you choose to visit Canada as a tourist, the answer could be, “Yes!”  To provide some inspiration, here are some compelling reasons why you should visit Canada.

Woman with Canada flag wrapped around her overlooking Moraine Lake

There are so many reasons to visit Canada — and the travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations know them all. Since 1996, we have been using our local knowledge to create personalized train trips for visitors to Canada. So, after reading this list, reach out to one of our Vacation Advisors and start planning your dream vacation.

1. Vibrant Cities   

So why should you visit Canada? Well, let’s start with the cities. Canadian cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Quebec City offer vibrant cultural scenes, diverse dining options, and exciting urban experiences for travelers.  

1.1 Vancouver

Aerial view of Vancouver city with mountains behind and boats on the water

Vancouver sits on the west coast of Canada and has a beautiful backdrop of mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver is a fantastic destination year-round. 

[ Read: Best Attractions in Vancouver ] 

1.2 Toronto

View of downtown Toronto, including CN Tower and other tall buildings

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, boasts iconic landmarks like the CN Tower and a thriving arts and music scene. Visit Toronto between April and May, or September and October, for the best experience.

[ Read: Best Things to do in Toronto

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Keep reading or discover more travel inspiration in our brochure. This guide showcases our world-famous train journeys, with ideas for personalizing your Canadian vacation.

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1.3 Quebec City

Two women hanging out on a cobblestone street in old Quebec City

Quebec City is still encircled by a stone wall, which is what makes it feel more like Europe than North America. It is the only fortified city north of Mexico. Explore cobblestone streets and centuries-old buildings. Explore Quebec City in the summer or the winter so you can attend some festivals.

[ Read: Quebec City Winter Carnival Guide ]

1.4 Ottawa

Parliament building in Ottawa with fall foliage in front

Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, has a parliament building that looks like Hogwarts. The Gothic Revival-style architecture of Ottawa’s 150-year-old government buildings resembles a famous fantasy franchise. 

#1 Travel Tip: Travel by train

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See more of Canada on a train trip across the country. Combine the Rocky Mountaineer daylight train with VIA Rail’s sleeper train for the ultimate travel experience with spectacular views.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

2. Natural Wonders 

Canada has all the best natural wonders. If you can’t cross an ocean to visit Norway’s fjords or Victoria Falls, that’s okay because we have Gros Morne National Park, Niagara Falls, and more. These beautiful natural attractions are a reason to visit Canada.  

2.1 Niagara Falls

Aerial view of Niagara Falls in summer

Niagara Falls attracts millions of visitors each year. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the United States. Enjoy boat tours and scenic viewpoints for a close encounter with this powerful phenomenon. The best time to visit Niagara Falls is between May and September. 

[ Read: How to plan a trip to Niagara Falls ]

2.2 Gros Morne National Park

View of fjord and coastal cliffs in Gros Morne National Park

Located in Newfoundland and Labrador, Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning fjords, dramatic coastal cliffs, and unique geological formations. Visit the park during the fall months to see the landscape decorated in hues of red, yellow, and orange.

2.3 Northern Lights

Green Northern Lights ripple above a snowy mountain in the Yukon

We have the best seats for viewing the Northern Lights! Long, dark winter nights are the best conditions for seeing the aurora borealis, particularly in far north destinations like the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Churchill, Manitoba. The Northern Lights are most visible in remote areas during the fall and winter months. 

[ Explore: Best Places in Canada to See Northern Lights ]

3. Exciting Festivals

Canada hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and art to food and culture. The Calgary Stampede and the Montreal Jazz Festival are some of the biggest, most popular events. 

3.1 Calgary Stampede

Crowd watching chuckwagon racers competing at the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede, often called "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," is a world-renowned event celebrating Western culture and rodeo traditions. The stampede takes place in July each year. 

3.2 Montreal Jazz Festival

People watching musicians perform on a stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival at night

The Montreal Jazz Festival is one of the largest jazz festivals in the world, attracting top musicians from around the globe. The festival takes place during the summer, in June or July.

4. Canadian Cuisine

Canadian cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavours, drawing inspiration from the country’s diverse landscapes and cultures. You’ll find different food in each region and in each season.  

4.1 Canadian Food

Close up of poutine in a takeaway box

You can't go to Canada without trying poutine. This drool-worthy Quebecois dish of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds is reason enough to visit Canada; specifically, Montreal or Quebec City. If you like sweet treats, then make sure you try butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, and Saskatoon berry pie. On the coasts, you can savour fresh seafood, including Atlantic lobster and Pacific salmon. And, of course, Canada is famous for maple syrup production!

4.2 Canadian Wine

Person holds a wine glass in the middle of a vineyard in the Niagara region

Canada has emerging wine regions. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia are becoming renowned for their unique terroir and award-winning vintages.  Ice wine, a Canadian specialty, is made from grapes naturally frozen on the vine, resulting in a sweet and flavourful wine that’s unique to the country.

5. All Types of Adventure

Canada offers a wide range of adventures that cater to every type of adventurer. From thrilling outdoor activities like whitewater rafting in the wild rivers of British Columbia or dog sledding in the snowy expanses of the Yukon, to urban explorations in vibrant cities like Toronto, Canada has something to offer everyone seeking an unforgettable experience. 

5.1 Winter Sports

Person skiing down Cypress Mountain in Vancouver with views of the ocean 

From skiing and snowboarding to ice skating and dog sledding, Canada is a winter wonderland for sports enthusiasts, with top-notch facilities and breathtaking mountain scenery. The country is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, hosting events like the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.  

There are 296 ski resorts across the country. If schussing in Banff or at Whistler isn’t your thing, try cat skiing or heli-skiing in Canada’s vast virgin backcountry. 

5.2 Water Activities

Three people holding surfboards walk on the beach In Tofino

With its extensive coastline, Canada is a haven for water lovers. Enjoy kayaking along the rugged coastlines of Newfoundland, go whale watching off the coasts of British Columbia, or sail on the Great Lakes, which make up the world's largest group of freshwater lakes. 

You can also learn to surf in Canada! Tofino, B.C. has an incredible break for newbie surfers, plus it’s an all-around awesome town for nature lovers thanks to surrounding old-growth rainforest and opportunities for whale and bear watching. July and August are the best months to go to Tofino.

6. Canadian Rockies 

The Canadian Rockies stretch across the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and are famous for the incredible alpine scenery. The area includes four of Canada’s national parks: Yoho, Jasper, Kootenay, and Banff.  

6.1 The lakes look fake

Person sitting on a rock overlooking Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

Canada has more lakes than any other country in the world, and in the Canadian Rockies, glacial silt suspended in the water turns it an unreal turquoise colour. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Emerald Lake are some of the most picture-perfect in the region. In the summer months, canoeing on these lakes is a popular activity.

[ Explore: Best Canadian Rockies Train Trips ]

7. Wildlife

If you are still thinking, “why should I go to Canada?” here’s another reason: the wildlife. Canada’s vast and diverse landscapes are home to a stunning array of wildlife, including whales, bears, deer, and eagles.  

7.1 Polar bears

Three polar bears walking in the snow near Churchill

We've got polar bears! Did you know over two-thirds of the planet’s polar bears call Canada home, and that Churchill, Manitoba is the best place to see them? Join a polar bear safari during their annual fall migration. 

7.2 Big 5 wild animals

Two moose walk across a road with mountains behind

Africa has lions and rhinos; Canada has polar bears and moose. In fact, a northern wildlife safari will let you experience more than massive land mammals — you can see orcas, beluga whales and narwhals, too. May to October is prime whale watching season.

[ Read: Canada's Big 5 Animals ]

7.3 Birds

Common loon with two chicks sitting on her back

Canada is known for its bird species, such as the bald eagle, the great blue heron, and the common loon. Every province across Canada is home to a variety of beautiful birds and there is no shortage of places to go birdwatching.

8. Great Outdoors

Canada is known for its majestic mountain ranges, tranquil lakes, and old-growth forests.  Whether it's hiking in the Rockies, canoeing in Ontario's lakes, or biking along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures in stunning natural settings.  

8.1 Our air is some of the cleanest in the world

Clear sky above Spirit Island on Maligne Lake

In addition to plenty of wide-open spaces, Canada’s is also one of the planet’s least-polluted countries. Remember to breathe deep while fly fishing at Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rockies.

8.2 Hotels surrounded by nature

Edge of Fogo Island Inn on rocky terrain near the water

Voted the third best hotel in the world as part of the 2020 World’s Best Awards, Fogo Island Inn is an architectural marvel — perched on the rocks of remote Fogo Island, Newfoundland — is worth every kilometre of the long journey to get there. 

9. Arts and Culture

Canada has a lively arts and culture scene, with many world-class museums, art galleries, and entertainment venues. Top locations include the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Winnipeg), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), or the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver).  

9.1 Hollywood North

Woman standing with hiking poles looks out over a lake and mountains

Canada is a popular filming location for Hollywood productions, and film buffs can visit locations where their favorite movies and TV shows were shot. Those sweeping vistas from Brokeback Mountain? Alberta. The rugged wilderness pictured in The Revenant? Also Kananaskis Country, Alberta. 

Vancouver is often referred to as "Hollywood North" due to its role as a backdrop for numerous films and TV series. 

9.2 Comedy

The cast of Schitt’s Creek stand in front of the Rosebud Motel

We have a great sense of humour, as shown in CBC’s award-winning comedy Schitt's Creek (filmed in Canada with a Canadian cast). Not only are Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara Canucks, all those other comedians are, too: Mike Myers, Samantha Bee, and Seth Rogen. During your Canadian vacation, you can attend stand-up shows and comedy festivals that will have you laughing out loud.

10. Friendly Locals 

Canadians are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. Travelers often find themselves charmed by the friendly locals who are eager to share their culture and stories. Canadians' politeness and friendliness are a hallmark of their national identity, making any visit a heartwarming experience. 

10.1 We’re nice to a fault and say sorry a lot

Family sit by a campfire with warm drinks and candy apples

Life in Canada isn’t always campfires and candy apples, but we’re a welcoming bunch and we like to have fun (and make sure you do, too!). 

10.2 Learn what a toque is

Canadians have unique words for everything from a dollar coin (loonie) to a case of beer (two-four), which makes a visit here very endearing. By the way, a toque is a knit cap you can wear while dog sledding! 

[ Read: Top 10 Canadian Slang Terms ]

10.3 One of the World’s Safest Countries

Family having fun in the snow in front of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

What is good about Canada is that it is one of the safest countries in the world. Canada ranks second for safety, according to the 2020 Best Countries report, which means it makes an ideal destination for travellers seeking peace of mind and all types of travellers, including families.  

11. Rocky Mountaineer

Scenic train journeys in Canada, like the Rocky Mountaineer, offer travelers a chance to witness the country's beauty while enjoying luxury service.  

The Rocky Mountaineer operates between April and October and takes passengers through the stunning landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. It provides a comfortable way to experience the natural wonders of the region. You can enjoy farm-to-table dining on the train, like wild-caught salmon and foraged berries paired with B.C. wine.  

Man leans out of the Rocky Mountaineer train to take a photo of the mountains

#2 Travel Tip: Choose one province or region

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If you’re short on time, pick one part of Canada to explore rather than trying to do it all. The country is so big that it’s impossible to see everything on a tight timeline.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

12. National Parks

There are 37 national parks, and 10 national park reserves in Canada. Canada's national parks, including Banff, Jasper, and Algonquin, are natural treasures filled with pristine landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.  

12.1 Banff National Park

People canoeing on Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Banff National Park, established in 1885, is not only Canada's first national park but also one of the world's oldest. You can visit Banff all year round. In winter, enjoy a range of snow sports; in summer, go canoeing and hiking. 

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Banff ]

12.2 Jasper National Park

Close up of a man looking through a large telescope with starry sky above in Jasper

Spanning over 11,000 square kilometers, it's not just Canada's largest national park, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Dark Sky Preserve, making it a paradise for both nature lovers and stargazers alike. Attend the Dark Sky Festival in October if you like stargazing. 

[ Read: Jasper National Park Fun Facts ]

13. French Heritage

Canada's French heritage is an important aspect of the country's cultural tapestry, primarily rooted in the province of Quebec but also extending to various regions across the country. 

13.1 Historic Sites

Historic architecture in Quebec City at night

Canada's French heritage is well-preserved in historic sites and architecture, notably in Old Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Plains of Abraham, a historic battlefield in Quebec City, is a site of great historical significance.

13.2 Cuisine

Slice of tourtiere (meat pie) on a plate next to a small bowl of chutney

French culinary influence is prevalent in Canada, particularly in Quebec. Canadian cuisine features dishes like tourtière (a savory meat pie), and cretons (a spread made from minced pork). Montreal is renowned for its bagels and smoked meat sandwiches.

Final Thoughts

From wildlife to national parks to cities, we hope that we’ve given you enough reasons to go to Canada! Now that your 2024 destination is decided, the only challenge will be figuring out your itinerary. Contact one of the travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations and start planning your dream Canadian vacation today. 

About the author: Hannah Poaros-McDermott is the Senior Content Coordinator at Fresh Tracks Canada. She has previously written for and shared her local knowledge in Where Vancouver, Where Whistler, and Essential Vancouver magazines. Originally from the UK, Hannah travelled... Read more

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