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Best Canadian Vacations by Region

Embarking on a bucket-list vacation in Canada means narrowing down the options. The allure of Canadian vacations is not only the sheer vastness of the country but the unique experiences that each different region offers to travelers. Each province and territory are distinct, with diverse landscapes and captivating attractions.

Best Canadian Vacations Blog

From the world-class wildlife viewing and Northern Lights viewing in Manitoba to the awe-inspiring mountain vistas of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada has stunning destinations for every type of adventurer. Families seeking the perfect getaway will find themselves enchanted by the European-style beauty of Ontario and Quebec, while those craving arctic-style adventures can venture into the territories. Meanwhile, for ocean lovers, both the Atlantic Provinces and the Pacific Coast are a paradise of coastal wonders. Whether you're strolling through the historic streets of Quebec City, immersing yourself in the vibrant multicultural scene of Toronto, or experiencing the indigenous traditions in the Northwest Territories, each corner of Canada holds a unique experience.  

The local travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations have travelled from coast to coast, looking for the best vacations to go on in Canada. In this guide, we’ll share our top picks, including vacations for couples and the best Canadian family vacations.  

Atlantic Provinces 

A trip to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada is an opportunity to explore its stunning rugged coast and maritime culture, including charming fishing villages and rich maritime traditions. It includes the provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI. From the iconic Peggy's Cove Lighthouse to the untamed wilderness of Gros Morne National Park, exploring the Atlantic Provinces offers both natural wonders and unique cultural gems, making Canadian East Coast vacations ideal for many travellers.

Top Nature Spots and Outdoor Activities in Atlantic Provinces

1. Cape Breton Highlands National Park:

Nestled on the northern tip of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. It has a spectacular blend of highlands and coastal cliffs, with hiking trails that reveal breathtaking vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. From the challenging Cabot Trail to easy paths to hidden waterfalls, the park offers something for adventurers of every skill level. Famous for its stunning fall colours, it’s perfect for October vacations in Canada.

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Nova Scotia ]

2. Whale Watching:

Whale watching in Atlantic Canada is an awe-inspiring experience. The best time for this marine adventure is typically from late spring to early fall. Visitors can encounter a variety of species, including humpback whales, minke whales, and the rare North Atlantic right whales, as these gentle giants navigate the rich waters, offering a glimpse into the captivating world beneath the Atlantic's surface.

[ Read: Best Whale Watching Spots in Canada ]

3. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland:

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland is a hiker’s paradise. The park's towering cliffs, freshwater fjords, and diverse plant life create a mesmerizing backdrop for outdoor exploration. Whether trekking through the Tablelands, a geologically unique area with exposed mantle rock, or conquering the challenging Gros Morne Mountain, the park ensures an immersive experience in the heart of Atlantic Canada's natural wonders.

#1 Travel Tip: Take the train

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There’s nothing like the train for seeing the country from coast to coast. The railroad travels through some of the most scenic areas in Canada and you get to watch the scenery — not the road.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

Must-See Attractions in Atlantic Provinces

1. Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia:

Perched on the rocky shores of St. Margaret's Bay, Peggy's Cove Lighthouse is an iconic maritime landmark. The picturesque setting, with the historic lighthouse, provides a postcard-perfect view. Visitors can explore the charming fishing village, wander along the granite shoreline, and marvel at the simplicity and beauty that define this quintessential Canadian destination.

[ Read: Best Things to do in Nova Scotia ]

2. Halifax Waterfront, Nova Scotia:

Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital, offers a vibrant waterfront that seamlessly blends history, culture, and entertainment. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, where you can see both historic ships and street performers. Explore the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, delve into local cuisine at the waterfront restaurants, and immerse yourself in its lively atmosphere. It is a must-see on East Coast Canada vacations. 

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Halifax ]

3. Fogo Island, Newfoundland:

For a truly unique and off-the-beaten-path experience, venture to Fogo Island off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland. This remote island captivates with its stark beauty and rich cultural heritage. Visit the striking Fogo Island Inn, an architectural masterpiece, and explore the rugged coastline, where vibrant communities coexist with the untamed wilderness. It is truly one of the most unique Canadian vacations.

#2 Travel Tip: Focus on one region

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Canada is a huge country and it can be tempting to try to cover too much in one visit, making for a rushed and shallow experience. Unless you have several weeks, focus on exploring one region and doing it well.

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

Central Canada

In Central Canada, you can experience both the vibrant energy of its big urban cities with the breathtaking beauty of its famous natural wonders. This region, encompassing Ontario and Quebec, offers a diverse range of experiences. 

Top Nature Spots and Outdoor Activities in Central Canada

1. Niagara Falls, Ontario:

Most visitors to Canada believe no trip is complete without witnessing the awe-inspiring grandeur of Niagara Falls. The iconic trio of waterfalls, straddling the border between Canada and the United States, captivates with its thundering cascades and mist. Whether viewed from the edge of the falls, aboard a boat tour, or the elevated vantage points of the surrounding parks, Niagara Falls is a must see.

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

2. St. Lawrence Montmorency Falls, Quebec:

Just outside Quebec City, the Montmorency Falls is emblematic of the region's natural splendor. Surpassing the height of Niagara Falls, these cascading waterfalls offer a picturesque setting surrounded by lush greenery. Adventure enthusiasts can take advantage of hiking trails and suspension bridges that provide breathtaking views of the falls.

[ Explore: Best Quebec Train Tours ]

3. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario:

For those yearning for a wilderness escape, Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario beckons with its pristine lakes, dense forests, and diverse wildlife. Spanning over 7,600 square kilometers, this natural haven offers a myriad of outdoor activities, including hiking, canoeing, and wildlife watching. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature, traversing the park's extensive trail network or paddling along its crystal-clear waters.

[ Read: Things to do on a Family Vacations in Ontario ]

Must-See Attractions in Central Canada

1. CN Tower, Ontario:

Toronto's iconic CN Tower offers panoramic views of the city and beyond, and its glass floor provide a thrilling experience for visitors. Adventure seekers can try the EdgeWalk, the world's highest full-circle hands-free walk around the tower on a 1.5 metre ledge, 116 stories in the air. 

2. Plains of Abraham, Quebec City:

Steeped in history, the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City is a vast urban park that witnessed a pivotal battle in Canadian history. Today, it serves as a serene oasis within the city, inviting locals and visitors alike to stroll through manicured gardens and contemplate the historical significance of this picturesque site. 

3. Ice Hotel, Quebec:

Located close to Quebec City, the Ice Hotel, or Hôtel de Glace, showcases the intersection of art and architecture. Each year, this ephemeral structure is meticulously crafted from ice and snow, offering a unique experience for those seeking a one-of-a-kind overnight stay or a day visit to marvel at the intricacies of its icy sculptures and ethereal ambiance. The Ice Hotel provides a truly immersive winter experience in the heart of Central Canada and its romantic setting is a must during Canada vacations for couples

[ Read: Romantic Vacations in Canada ]

Prairie Provinces: Vast Horizons and Natural Marvels

Stretching across the heart of Canada, the Prairie Provinces encompass Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. While "prairie" does mean grassland, this region also contains the stunning Rocky Mountains, glacial lakes and their shorelines, and several metropolitan cities.

Top Nature Spots and Outdoor Activities in Prairie Provinces

1. Banff National Park, Alberta:

Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most famous destinations and is considered one of the best vacations in Canada. Boasting turquoise lakes, towering mountain peaks, and abundant wildlife, this outdoor haven provides endless opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and soaking in the breathtaking alpine scenery. From the iconic Lake Louise to the picturesque Moraine Lake, Banff National Park is a nature lover's paradise. The winter months transform the park into a winter wonderland. The iconic Lake Louise area is perfect for holiday vacations in the Canadian Rockies.

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Banff National Park ]

2. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan:

For those seeking a different facet of prairie beauty, Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan offers an expanse of undulating grasslands, striking badlands — where glaciers and other natural forces have worn the soft rocks into unique shapes — and a unique ecosystem teeming with wildlife. Visitors can explore hiking trails, catch glimpses of prairie dogs and bison, and enjoy the serene beauty of the landscape. 

3. Churchill, Manitoba – Polar Bear Capital:

Churchill, often hailed as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World," is a remote town on the shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba. It serves as the ultimate destination for wildlife enthusiasts to witness polar bears in their natural habitat. Embark on specialized tours, including tundra buggy safaris, to observe these magnificent creatures as they gather along the icy terrain, creating a surreal and unforgettable Arctic experience. The best time of year for this unique Canadian vacation is October and November. 

[ Explore: Polar Bear Tours Chuchill ]

Must-See Attractions in Prairie Provinces

1. The Forks, Manitoba:

Situated at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg, The Forks is a historic site that seamlessly blends urban amenities with natural beauty. This vibrant meeting place offers a variety of attractions, including parks, markets, and cultural spaces. Whether enjoying a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks or exploring the diverse array of shops and eateries, The Forks provides a dynamic and engaging experience at the heart of the prairies.

[ Read: Best Lakes in Manitoba ]

2. Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Manitoba:

Also on the historic meeting place of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg, you’ll find the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This architectural offers a transformative journey through the history and ongoing struggles for human rights globally. With interactive exhibits and thought-provoking displays, this museum sparks conversations and reflections on the importance of fostering understanding and compassion in the pursuit of a more just and inclusive world.  

3. Columbia Icefield Adventure, Alberta:

While exploring the Canadian Rockies, visit the Columbia Icefield Adventure, along the scenic Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. Visitors can ride on the Athabasca Glacier aboard specially designed Ice Explorer vehicles, providing a unique opportunity to witness a glacier close. This glacial excursion not only offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountain landscapes but also imparts a profound understanding of the environmental significance of this frozen wonder. 

West Coast

The province of British Columbia is considered the West Coast of Canada, and offers the Rockies and other mountain ranges, lush temperate rainforest, diverse coastlines, and vibrant cities. Vacations in Western Canada offer lots of outdoor activities, in all seasons, as well as some of the most scenic train journeys.

Top Nature Spots and Outdoor Activities in West Coast

1. Stanley Park, British Columbia:

A famous urban park nestled in the heart of Vancouver, Stanley Park is a natural oasis. With scenic seawalls, lush forests, and picturesque views of the city skyline and mountains, this popular park provides an ideal setting for cycling and walking, as well as beach activities. The iconic Totem Poles, Seawall, and Beaver Lake make the park a must-visit destination for those visting the city. 

2. Haida Gwai, British Columbia:

Haida Gwai, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago off the northern coast of British Columbia, rich in Haida Indigenous culture in the pristine wilderness. Visitors can explore ancient totem poles in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, wander through lush rainforests, and experience the unique artistry of local artisans.

3. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia:

Stretching along the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With its temperate rainforests, sandy beaches, and dramatic seascapes, this park invites visitors to indulge in activities like surfing, kayaking, and hiking along the iconic West Coast Trail.  

Must-See Attractions in West Coast

1. Rocky Mountaineer, British Columbia and Alberta:

Embark on a luxurious rail journey with the Rocky Mountaineer, an iconic ride through the breathtaking landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. Offering panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and dense forests, this world-renowned train ride provides an unparalleled perspective of the West Coast's natural splendors.

2. Butchart Gardens, British Columbia:

Located near Victoria on Vancouver Island, Butchart Gardens is a horticultural masterpiece with stunning floral displays and meticulously landscaped grounds. From the vibrant colors of the Sunken Garden to the tranquility of the Japanese Garden, visitors can meander through a series of themed gardens that showcase the artistry of horticulture.  

3. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia:

For outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Whistler Blackcomb, in the majestic Coast Mountains, is the ultimate playground. Considered one of the premier ski resorts in North America, this year-round destination offers an array of activities, from world-class skiing and snowboarding in winter to mountain biking and hiking in the warmer months. The vibrant village atmosphere, coupled with breathtaking alpine vistas, makes Whistler Blackcomb a perfect getaway and the ideal spot for Canada family vacation.

Northern region of Canada

The Northern territories of Canada includes Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. For Northern Canada vacations, this remote region offers its rugged landscapes, expansive tundra, and unique cultural heritage.

Top Nature Spots and Outdoor Activities in Northern Canada

1. Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis):

Both Yukon and Northern Territories are considered to be one of the world's prime locations to witness the natural wonder of the Northern Lights. From dancing ribbons of green to vibrant hues of pink and purple, the auroras illuminate the Arctic night sky with an ethereal glow. A guided tour is the best way to experience this top Canadian vacation

[ Explore: Northern Lights Tour in Canada ]

2. Dogsledding Adventures:

Embrace the timeless tradition of dogsledding in Northern Canada, Territories, where vast expanses of snow-covered terrain provide the perfect backdrop for this quintessential Canadian activity. Dogsledding tours, available in various locations across the Northern region of Canada, offer a unique and exhilarating way to connect with the region's natural wonders. 

3. Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories:

Nahanni National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invites adventurers to explore a pristine wilderness. Hiking and paddling opportunities abound in this remote park, allowing visitors to witness the untamed beauty of the Nahanni River, limestone karst formations, and a diverse array of wildlife.

Must-See Attractions in Northern Canada

1. Ivvavik National Park, Yukon:

Ivvavik National Park, located in the northern reaches of Yukon, offers a glimpse into the Arctic's untouched wilderness. Accessible only by plane, this remote park features vast tundra expanses, towering peaks, and the stunning Firth River. Visitors can partake in guided expeditions to witness the park's diverse wildlife, including caribou, grizzlies, and arctic foxes, creating an immersive experience in one of Canada's least-explored national parks. 

2. Inuit Art in Nunavut:

Explore the rich cultural heritage of the Northern Territories through the vibrant art scene of Nunavut. Inuit art, ranging from intricate sculptures to colorful prints, reflects the deep connection between the Inuit people and their Arctic surroundings. Galleries and cultural centers in communities like Iqaluit showcase the talent and storytelling prowess of Inuit artists, providing a unique perspective on the region's cultural vibrancy. 

3. Yellowknife's Old Town, Northwest Territories:

Yellowknife's Old Town provides a cultural and historical focal point in the heart of the Arctic. Delve into the historic charm of its streets, where log cabins and historic structures line the shores of Great Slave Lake. The Old Town, with its iconic Bush Pilots' Monument and quirky shops, offers a glimpse into the region's frontier past. Stroll along the waterfront, visit the Wildcat Café, and soak in the unique blend of history and modernity that defines this captivating northern community.

Final Thoughts  

The best way to explore the diverse and expansive landscapes of Canada is by train travel. Journeying through the various regions allows travelers to take in the ever-changing scenery, from the coastal splendors of the West Coast to the mesmerizing expanse of the Prairies. The unique advantage of train travel lies in its ability to grant passengers access to viewpoints otherwise inaccessible, revealing hidden gems and panoramic vistas. 

Popular Canadian Train Vacations

About the author: Athena McKenzie is the Content Manager at Fresh Tracks Canada. An experienced lifestyle journalist, she has written about travel, design, arts and entertainment. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Zoomer Magazine, Elle Canada and... Read more

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