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Best Places to Visit in Canada

It’s pretty clear why Canada, the second largest country by land area, should top your travel bucket list in 2024. This expansive country offers vibrant cities, spectacular nature preserves, diverse cultures, and unforgettable culinary delights. It's not just a destination — it's a playground for every type of traveler.

Lake Garibaldi, near Whistler in British Columbia, one of the best places to visit in Canada

The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations help visitors to Canada plan their trips, making recommendations, and taking care of all the arrangements. This is our comprehensive guide to the best places in Canada to visit. There are attractions and experiences to cater to different preferences and interests.  

Get ready to uncover the wonders of travelling in Canada!  

Top 17 Must-Visit Destinations in Canada

1. Banff National Park, Alberta

Beautiful Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada at sunrise.

Banff National Park, nestled within the heart of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, serves up some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in Canada. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a haven for nature and adventure lovers alike. Top sights include its turquoise-blue glacier-lakes, the towering mountain peaks, lush boreal forests, and a range of magnificent wildlife, from grizzly bears to elk.

Best Time to Visit:  Banff National Park is a year-round destination. 

  • Summer (June to August): Ideal for hiking, canoeing on Lake Louise, and exploring the Icefields Parkway. 
  • Winter (December to February): A snowy wonderland for skiing, snowboarding, and Banff Gondola views. 

Must-See Attractions: 

  • Lake Louise 
  • Banff Gondola 
  • Moraine Lake 
  • Wildlife Spotting 

[ Read: Ultimate Tourist Guide to Banff National Park ]

2. Vancouver, British Columbia

Aerial view of Vancouver in summer with mountains and ocean

Vancouver, a gem on Canada's West Coast, blends urban energy with natural wonders. Surrounded by the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver’s unique city vibe embraces an active outdoor lifestyle. Well-connected and accessible public transport and walkable neighborhoods enhance the visitor experience. 

Must-see sights and activities: 

  • Stanley Park: A lush urban oasis offering scenic walks and bike rides, with stunning ocean and mountain views. 
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: Suspend reality and venture across this iconic bridge, suspended high above the Capilano River. 
  • Granville Island: A vibrant public market and cultural district, perfect for eclectic shopping and tempting meals. 
  • Gastown: Vancouver's historic heart, with cobblestone streets, unique shops, and the famous Gastown Steam Clock. 
  • North Shore: Gateway to outdoor adventures, featuring Grouse Mountain for skiing and hiking, and the stunning Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. 

Ideal travel season: 

  • Summer: Bask in mild temperatures, explore outdoor attractions, and enjoy festivals. 
  • Winter: Hit the slopes in nearby mountains, experience festive city lights, and enjoy a milder winter climate. 

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Vancouver ]

3. Quebec City, Quebec

Frontenac Castle in Old Quebec City in the autumn season

Quebec City, a treasure trove of French influence and old-world charm, invites you to wander its cobbled streets and immerse yourself in a distinctly European atmosphere. 

Must-visit historical sites: 

  • Old Quebec 
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac 
  • Petit Champlain 
  • Carnaval de Québec 
  • Terrasse Dufferin 

Best times for festivals and events: 

  • Summer: Immerse yourself in the sounds of music and the energy of the Summer Festival, as the city streets come alive. 
  • Winter: Embrace the magical ambiance of the world famous Winter Carnival, North America’s oldest winter festival. The city becomes a winter playground, alive with joy and traditions. 

[ Read: Best Summer Festivals in Quebec ]

4. Niagara Falls, Ontario

Boat cruise in Canadian Horseshoe Falls water roars down as mist sprays in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Iconic and majestic, Niagara Falls in Ontario is a magnet for tourists, featuring thunderous waterfalls that form a spectacle that's nothing short of awe-inspiring. As one of the most famed natural wonders, the Falls offer a treat for the senses and a multitude of recreational activities to indulge in. 

Must-do experiences: 

  • Boat Tours: Get up close and personal with the falls on a thrilling boat tour, such as the famous Maid of the Mist. 
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake: Explore the charming town known for its wineries, historic sites, and scenic beauty. 
  • Niagara Winter Festival of Lights: Witness the falls adorned with enchanting lights during the winter festival. 

Best time to visit: 

  • Summer: Ideal for vibrant views, boat tours, and various outdoor activities, but be prepared for crowds. 
  • Winter: Embrace the winter magic with festivals and fewer crowds. 

[ Explore: Popular Train Trips to Niagara Falls ]

5. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

A view of Franey Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Located on the northeastern end of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island is a hidden gem filled with diverse cultures, historical richness, and natural beauty like no other. Displaying luscious landscapes, breathtaking ocean views, and a unique blend of charm and warmth, the island is undoubtedly a place like nowhere else. 

Must-do experiences: 

  • Cabot Trail: Navigate winding roads offering cliff-side views, serene localities, and fascinating pit stops. 
  • Celtic Colours International Festival: Immerse yourself in the island's cultural diversity and richness during this vibrant festival. 
  • Outdoors: Embrace the island's outdoor wonders with activities like hiking, kayaking, fishing, bird-watching, and whale-watching. 

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Nova Scotia ]

6. Churchill, Manitoba

Close up view of a polar bear walking on snow

Known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World," Churchill offers a rare chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. 

As night falls, Churchill becomes a front-row seat to the mesmerizing Northern Lights. The dancing colors in the Arctic sky create an awe-inspiring display, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for aurora borealis enthusiasts. 

Unique experiences: 

  • Polar bear encounters 
  • Dog sledding 
  • Tundra buggy tours 
  • Safety tips: 
  • Dress in layers 
  • Stay updated on weather conditions 
  • Respect wildlife 

[ Experience: Churchill Manitoba Polar Bear Tours ]  

7. Old Montreal, Quebec

Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal

When you step into Old Montreal, Quebec, it feels like you're entering a charming European town. The streets are made of cobblestone and the lanes are narrow. The architecture is full of history. 

Places to visit: 

  • Notre-Dame Basilica 
  • Old Port 
  • Place Jacques-Cartier 

Immersive experiences: 

  • Walking tours: Join a guided walking tour to unravel the rich history and stories hidden within Old Montreal's streets. 
  • Visit art galleries such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There, you can see a wide range of art, from classic to modern.

Culinary delights: 

  • Local cafes and bakeries 
  • Culinary scene at fine dining 

[ Read: Hidden Gems in Montreal

8. Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia

Aerial view of ocean, beaches and mountains in Pacific Rim National Park

Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia is a paradise for nature lovers. It is famous for its beautiful views, thick forests, and stunning coastlines. Covering over 511 km², it offers a variety of attractions and outdoor activities suitable for all types of travelers. 

Hidden gems: 

  • Comber’s Beach Trail in Pacific Rim National Park 
  • Sunset at Cox Bay 


  • Family-Friendly Trails 
  • Accessible beaches  

9. Tofino, British Columbia

A surfer is walks along the beach at sunset in Tofino with surfboard under their arm

Tofino, nestled on the western edge of Vancouver Island within Pacific Rim National Park, is a paradise for water lovers. The relaxed atmosphere and amazing outdoor experiences make it a haven for people who want both relaxation and adventure. 

Must-do activities: 

  • Whale watching 
  • Surfing 
  • Beachcombing 

#1 Travel Tip: Know your time zones

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If you’re trip is taking you across Canada, you could potentially travel through six time zones. Your phone should update automatically but service may be unavailable on trains. Just be aware on travel days.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

10. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

St. John's cityscape including Jellybean row

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, is not just a city; it's an artistic haven with its vibrant cultural scene. Amidst the coastal scenery, the city's iconic colorful row houses demonstrate its lively spirit and artistic soul. 

Must-visit sites and artistic attractions: 

  • The Rooms: The Rooms bring together an art gallery, museum, and archives under one roof. 
  • Signal Hill National Historic Site: This iconic site offers sweeping views of the city and the harbor. 
  • George Street: Hosts some of the biggest local festivals, including the annual George Street Festival. 

Local festivals: 

  • St. John's International Women's Film Festival 
  • Folk Festival 
  • Sound Symposium 

11. Toronto, Ontario

People having fun by the colourful Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto, Ontario, is a tapestry of multicultural experiences across diverse neighborhoods. Its famous landmarks include the CN Tower and its sport’s dome. It also hosts the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Cuisine and Art Scene 

  • Toronto's food and art scene is as diverse as its people. There are many places to eat that offer a variety of food to choose from. 
  • Toronto is a great destination for art lovers. The city has a vibrant art scene with amazing galleries and museums, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario. It also hosts Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, an annual all-night arts festival. 

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Toronto ]

12. Whistler, British Columbia

Whisterl Peak 2 Peak Gondola with a snowy mountain behind

Located in the heart of the Coast Mountains, Whistler offers the perfect fusion of adventure and relaxation. This resort town is charming and has an alpine atmosphere. It attracts visitors all year with outdoor adventures and beautiful landscapes. 

Must-do activities by season: 


  • Mountain biking 
  • Ziplining 
  • Hiking 


  • Skiing and snowboarding 
  • Snowshoeing 
  • Peak 2 Peak Gondola 

[ Explore: Best Western Canada Train Trips ]

13. Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Person standing by Peggy's Cove lighthouse at sunset

Peggy's Cove, hidden along the Nova Scotia coastline, is a tranquil escape where land and sea meet in a mesmerizing dance. This coastal haven captivates visitors with its rugged charm and maritime allure. 

Must-do activities: 

  • Peggy's Point Lighthouse 
  • Hiking trails 
  • Local cuisine 

14. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

A boat cruises across Western Brook Pond Fjord in Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park is a wonder of geological diversity and scenic grandeur. The UNESCO World Heritage site is captivating. It has dramatic landscapes like towering cliffs and serene fjords.

Must-do activities 

  • Hiking adventures 
  • Boat tours 

Best time to visit: 

  • The best time to visit is during the summer months, from June to August when the weather is conducive to outdoor activities. 

15. Ottawa, Ontario

View of old building and fall foliage from across the river in Ottawa

As the heart of Canada's political and cultural identity, Ottawa stands proudly as the nation's capital. Nestled on the banks of the mighty Ottawa River, the city personifies the country's bilingual heritage and dynamic history. Ottawa has many political landmarks, historic sites, annual events, and world-class museums. It lets travelers experience the essence of Canada. 

Must visit: 

  • Museums: Explore national treasures like the Canadian Museum of History and the National Gallery of Canada. 
  • Take a trip to Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal, both important historic sites. 
  • Annual Events: Witness the vibrant Winterlude festival and be part of Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. 

16. Yoho National Park

A canoe on the clear waters of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is a sanctuary of stunning landscapes, pristine lakes, and thriving wildlife. This haven of awe-inspiring beauty is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts looking to revel in nature.  

Must-see attractions: 

  • Emerald Lake 
  • Spiral Tunnels Viewpoint 
  • Takakkaw Falls 

Best time to visit: 

  • Summer: Explore vibrant alpine trails amid blooming flora. 
  • Winter:  A snowy wonderland, perfect for skiing and snowshoeing adventures.

17. Prince Edward Island

Red sandy beach and sand dunes at Prince Edward Island National Park with blue sky above

Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island (PEI), is a gem that packs a punch. Visit Charlottetown, the capital, to experience history and vibrant culture. Then, head to the red-sand beaches with charming lighthouses. Hike the scenic trails and indulge in local cuisine that takes advantage of the area’s fertile soil and rich coastal waters.  

Must-see attractions

  • Green Gables 
  • Cavendish Beach 

#2 Travel Tip: Be prepared for the weather

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Canada’s weather varies wildly depending on the region and the season — from scorching heat waves in summer to deep freezes in winter. Your packing list will depend on when and where you’re going.

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

Practical Travel Tips for Visiting Canada

All visitors to Canada require a valid passport, including U.S. citizens. Other nationalities also require a tourist visa.  

Visa Requirements 

  • Canada's visa requirements vary based on your nationality. Here is a brief guide to the key requirements: 
  • Visa-exempt countries: Citizens of the U.S. do not require a tourist visa. Citizens of other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and most European Union countries, also don't need a tourist visa to visit Canada, but they must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). 
  • Temporary resident visa (TRV): Many foreign nationals who aren't from visa-exempt countries need a TRV to visit Canada for a period of up to six months. This visa allows travel all around the country and varies in validity duration.

Currency and Money 

Canada's currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), available in both banknotes and coins. The country has a robust banking system with numerous local and international banks. 

For money management while traveling: 

  • Currency exchange: Convert your cash to banks or currency exchange outlets for the best rates. 
  • ATMs: Canadian ATMs accept cards linked to the PLUS or Cirrus network; watch out for fees. 
  • Cards: Most places accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. 
  • Prepaid travel cards: These can be a cost-effective and secure solution.

Transportation in Canada 

Traveling across Canada is easy. Transportation is efficient for both long and short distances. 

  • Domestic flights: Ideal for long-distance travel across the vast country. 
  • Trains: Connect major cities with scenic routes. 
  • Buses: Budget-friendly intercity and local services. 
  • Rental cars: Great for flexibility and traveling at your own pace. 

In cities, think about using public transportation like subways, buses, and trams. It's cheaper and more convenient. For shorter distances, try ride-sharing (like Uber) or bike rentals for an eco-friendly alternative.

Must-Try Canadian Dishes

Canadian cuisine reflects the country's diverse cultural heritage. Here are a few must-try dishes and their origins: 

  • Poutine: Originated in Quebec, made of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Best tried in Montreal.
  • Butter tarts: Sweet pastries, best found at a farmer’s market in Ontario.  
  • Tourtière: A French-Canadian meat pie, try it at Aux Anciens Canadiens in Quebec City. 
  • Nanaimo bars: No-bake dessert bars from Nanaimo, British Columbia best tried at at Vancouver Island bakery.  
  • Caesar: Classic Canadian cocktail created in Calgary, savoured at any local pub or restaurant.

Official Languages 

Canada has two official languages, English and French. English is the most widely spoken language. However, French is the dominant language in Quebec and is widely spoken in New Brunswick and parts of Manitoba and Ontario. Quebec and New Brunswick are notably bilingual regions. 

Unique Experiences in Canada 

Canada is a land of stunning natural beauty and diverse urban settings offering many unique experiences: 

  • Viewing the Northern Lights 
  • Seeing Polar Bears in the Wild 
  • Exploring the Rocky Mountains 
  • Taking the Icefields Parkway 
  • Paddling the South Nahanni River 
  • Visiting Quebec City 
  • Discovering the Canadian Arctic 

Safety Tips 

For safety in Canada, note the following: 

Outdoor activities

  • Stay informed about weather conditions. 
  • Inform someone about your plans before hiking or camping. 
  • Carry essentials like water, maps, and first aid. 

Wildlife encounters: 

  • Admire wildlife from a safe distance. 
  • Avoid approaching or feeding animals. 
  • Be bear-aware in regions with bear populations. 

Travel insurance: 

  • Ensure comprehensive travel insurance coverage. 
  • Include medical emergencies and trip cancellations. 

Emergency help: 

  • Save emergency contact numbers. 
  • Contact 911 for immediate help in emergencies.

Festivals and Events 

Canada hosts a vibrant assortment of yearly festivals and events: 

  • The Calgary Stampede happens in July. It's known as the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth." The event has rodeos, exhibitions, and concerts. It takes place in Calgary, Alberta. 
  • In February, the Winterlude is held in Ottawa. It celebrates winter with ice sculpture contests, snow playgrounds, and skating on the Rideau Canal. 
  • The Toronto International Film Festival is held in September. It is one of the top film festivals in the world and takes place in Toronto, Ontario. 

Other festivals 

  • Just for Laughs festival (July) 
  • Celebration of light (end of July to early August) 
  • Canada Day (July 1) 

Aligning trips with these cultural events can enhance your Canadian experience. 

Final Thoughts  

Canada's vast landscapes and unique experiences make it a must-visit destination. From witnessing the Northern Lights to immersing in cultural events, every traveler will find something special. 

Enjoy a personalized journey with Canadian Train Vacations. We create custom travel plans with a personal touch and inside knowledge of Canada. We consider your interests, optimal visit times, and the uniqueness of each location. No matter where you go, we promise an exciting and unforgettable trip for everyone. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the prettiest place in Canada?

Canada is known for its stunning beauty but one standout place is Banff National Park in Alberta. It has breathtaking landscapes and vibrant turquoise lakes. Additionally, the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is renowned for its coastal views and natural splendor.

Which part of Canada is popular?

Canada has popular regions like the Canadian Rockies in Alberta with majestic mountains. Vancouver in British Columbia is known for its natural beauty. Quebec City and Montreal in Quebec are historic and culturally rich cities.

What is the nicest city in Canada to visit?

Determining the nicest city is subjective, but Vancouver is often regarded for its stunning blend of urban sophistication and natural wonders. Toronto, with its multicultural vibrancy, and Quebec City, with its old-world charm, are also frequently praised. The choice depends on personal preferences and interests.

About the author: Louise Weiss is Director of Legendary Hospitality with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for more than 25 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in North Vancouver and has spent time... Read more

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