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Amazing Hidden Gems in Canada

From secluded islands to offbeat cafes, Canada is home to some of the best-hidden gems in the world! You may know it for the stunning Rocky Mountains or the crystal clear waters of the Great Lakes — there's no shortage of famous places to explore. But there are also plenty of lesser-known spots that are also awe-inspiring.

Provincial campsite Johnson Lake, near Kamloops and Barriere, in British Columbia nestled in the mountains

The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations have explored this vast country, discovering its top spots. Here are 15 of the best-hidden gems in Canada that you need to visit!

1. Sambro  Island, situated in Nova Scotia

One of Canada's most scenic spots is Sambro Island, located in Nova Scotia. Situated off the coast of Halifax, the island appeals to tourists and locals, but doesn't see a lot of traffic. Visitors can enjoy stunning beaches, secluded coves, picturesque fishing villages, and a wide range of other attractions.

Numerous activities keep visitors entertained, including kayaking, hiking, swimming, sailing, and more. Sambro Island is also home to several historic sites, such as the historic Sambro Lighthouse, which was built in 1758. For those looking for a coastal getaway, Sambro Island is the perfect hidden gem.

[ Read: Best Time to Visit Nova Scotia ]

Woman walks towards island coast in Nova Scotian small fishing village, Sambro Island

#1 Travel tip: Beautiful British Columbia

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From remote wilderness lodges in the Great Bear Rainforest to boutique wineries in the Okanagan Valley, there are so many places you can explore in British Columbia.

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

2. Haida Gwaii in British Columbia

One of the most spectacular hidden gems of Canada is Haida Gwaii, a unique archipelago off the coast of British Columbia. It consists of two large islands and hundreds of smaller islands and islets. This natural sanctuary is an ideal destination for outdoor activities such as kayaking and wildlife watching. The scenery here is stunning, and you can get close to nature while exploring the many unspoiled beaches, forests, and ocean views.

The Haida Gwaii is also known as the "Galapagos Islands of the North" because of its abundant wildlife and rare species, including dolphins, eagles, sea lions, humpback whales, and bears. This beautiful area is home to a thriving community of First Nations people who are involved in preserving the region's environment and culture. The islands are home to the Haida Heritage Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects the remains of ancient villages and other significant archaeological sites.

When visiting the Haida Gwaii, check out the Haida Heritage Centre and Museum, where you can learn more about the area’s rich cultural history and people. You can also visit Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which is home to a variety of rare wildlife species.

[ More: Hidden Gems in Vancouver ]

Turquoise waters hug coast of remote tropical archipelago in Northern British Columbia

3. Dawson City, the Yukon

Dawson City is a great spot in Canada located off the beaten path in the Yukon Territory. Famous for its gold rush days, the city holds a special place in the country's history. Its unique location, right on the border of Alaska, makes it stand out amongst other hidden gems in Canada.

Dawson City is full of fun activities to do, from shopping in the local stores to panning for gold in one of the many gold fields. There are also plenty of events that you can attend, such as the Dawson City Music Festival, Dawson City International Short Film Festival, and Discovery Day.

Fun spots in Dawson include Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall, which offers games such as blackjack, roulette, and poker. Another is the Jack London Museum, where visitors can learn about the famed author's life and travels in the Yukon during the gold rush.

If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, there is no shortage of outdoor activities. You can go hiking along the Yukon River, experience a dog sled ride, or visit Midnight Dome viewpoint. All these activities make Dawson City an ideal destination for all adventurers.

Whether you're looking for an adventure or just want to take in the city's history and culture, Dawson City should be on your list of hidden gems of Canada.

Visitors look at turquoise river in Yukon near Whitehorse

4. Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Located in the Bay of Fundy, Hopewell Rocks is one of Canada's naturally occurring and most interesting hidden gems. This incredible natural formation is created by the world's highest tides – a phenomenon that can be experienced from both land and sea. The rocks, made up of sandstone and conglomerate, rise to a height of 40 feet and are surrounded by stunning red cliffs and dramatic coastal views.

Visitors can explore and admire the unique formations left behind by the mighty waves of the Bay of Fundy. From an array of mini-islands, sea caves, and arches to rock sculptures, there's plenty to explore at Hopewell Rocks.

Visitors also have the option to take guided tours that will help them understand the history and importance of this hidden gem of Canada. On top of that, Hopewell Rocks provides countless outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and beachcombing.

[ More: Hidden Gems in New Brunswick ]

Woman photographs Bay Fundy's massive sandstone formation in Hopewell Rocks by the sea

5. The Iceberg Nest on Quirpon Island

One of the best-hidden gems in Canada is The Iceberg Nest, located on Quirpon Island in Newfoundland and Labrador. This glass house hangs over the cliffs, giving a panoramic view of the icebergs that flow by.

The area is home to some of Canada's largest and most awe-inspiring icebergs. Along with admiring these incredible natural wonders, you can spot a variety of wildlife, including whales, seabirds, seals, and more! If you're looking for an unforgettable adventure, this is one of the Canadian hidden gems you won't want to miss.

Icebergs floating in the ocean situated in the Northern tip of Newfoundland

6. The Parc Omega in Quebec

Located just an hour away from Ottawa, Parc Omega is one of Canada's lesser known gems. This park offers a unique opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat, with guided day tours and night safaris available. Enjoy seeing bears, bison, wolves, deer, and many other species as they roam through the park’s 800 hectares of forests, meadows, and wetlands.

As you explore this beautiful area, be sure to keep your eyes open for the park’s other treasures, including rare birds and other animals, as well as several historic buildings.

Wide-eyed brown coated deer with velvety antlers stands in its natural habitat in Quebec, Omega Park

#2 Travel tip: Moncton's tidal bore

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Travelling through New Brunswick? Stop in Moncton to witness the tidal bore. The rising waters of the Bay of Fundy meet the Petiticodiac River and create a dramatic wave.

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

7. Inuvik, Northwest Territories

Inuvik, Northwest Territories, is a hidden gem of Canada. It offers incredible experiences for both first-time and seasoned travelers to the area. Since the town is 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, visitors can take a tour across Arctic tundra, discover Northern arts and culture, and view the Northern Lights (weather permitting). 

You may spot some of the unique wildlife that can be found in the region, including Arctic foxes, caribou, muskoxen, wolves, and even polar bears. You can visit various scenic sites in the area, such as remote villages and ancient archaeological sites. 

If you're looking for an adventure of a lifetime, Inuvik is definitely one of the hidden gems in Canada you need to visit.

Wild herd of reindeers gallops forward on snow in Northwest Territories

8. Sucrerie de La Montagne, Quebec

One of the unique hidden gems in Canada is the Sucrerie de La Montagne, located in the Montérégie region of Quebec. This sugar shack is a destination like no other – it offers visitors a chance to experience the authentic, traditional way of producing maple syrup and all its related products. As you explore the grounds, you'll find that you can take part in maple syrup production demonstrations, sample maple taffy, and learn more about the importance of maple syrup production in Canada.

Whether you're looking for a unique place to visit or just a fun day out in nature, Sucrerie de La Montagne is one of the hidden gems of Canada.

Couple smile and pose with maple sap lollipops outside of sugar shack, La Sucrerie de la Montagne, surrounded by maple trees after snow

9. Diefenbunker, Ottawa

Diefenbunker, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada's most quirky attractions. As one of the largest underground bunkers in the world, it stands as a reminder of the Cold War era. The bunker was built to house up to 535 people in the event of a nuclear attack. This four-story underground facility was constructed using reinforced concrete and steel to provide maximum protection.

Today, the bunker serves as a museum, showcasing the living quarters, communications systems, and security features used during the Cold War. Visitors can explore the various rooms and corridors while learning about this critical part of Canadian history.

Metal entrance way to and main tunnel in underground bunker of Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, in Ottawa

10. The Good Knights Medieval Encampment

Hidden in Three Hills, Alberta, the Good Knights Medieval Encampment is another offbeat spot in Canada that you need to visit. Established by a group of dedicated medieval re-enactors and historians, this encampment is where visitors can experience the thrill of a long-forgotten era. You can stay overnight here and witness exciting jousting tournaments, archery competitions, battle recreations, and even feast and dance like the noblemen and women of the past.

If you're looking for a unique experience, the Good Knights Medieval Encampment is a unique hidden gem of Canada. Here, you can transport yourself to the past and learn more about the fascinating history of the middle ages.

11. The Basin Head Provincial Park and Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is one of Canada's top tourist destinations, boasting stunning landscapes and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. From the charming lighthouses of North Cape to the cliffs of Green Gables, there's no shortage of beauty in this island province. It is home to an impressive hidden gem, Basin Head Provincial Park. Located on the island's eastern shore, this beautiful park is known for its unique sandbars and the warmest salt water north of the Carolinas.

At Basin Head, visitors can see an incredible diversity of wildlife, from herons and ospreys to seals and humpback whales. As you wander through the park, you can also witness the Bay of Fundy’s famous tidal flow as it changes the shoreline twice daily. And don't forget to experience the "singing sands" — a phenomenon that occurs when you walk along the beach and create a unique sound as a result of friction against the sand grains!

Basin Head Provincial Park is a true hidden gem in Canada with its unique combination of breathtaking scenery, fascinating wildlife, and unique attractions. Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or an exciting outdoor adventure, this park will indeed offer something unique.

Beach with eroded soft red sandstone cliffs near shore located in Basin Head Provincial Park

12. Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar, Ottawa

One of Canada's most unique hidden gems is Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar, located in Ottawa, Ontario. This is a small, cozy cafe with an incredible selection of books. In addition to offering delicious espresso drinks and pastries, the cafe also hosts events like live music, comedy nights, and book readings.

The atmosphere is incredibly cozy and welcoming, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon. Whether you're looking for something new to read or just want to relax in a comfortable cafe, Espresso Bar and Black Squirrel Books is a spot you'll want to check out.

13. Carters Point, Nova Scotia

Located in the province of Nova Scotia, Carters Point is one of the best hidden gems in Canada. This area is an excellent destination for both beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. The beach has a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and is an ideal spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. There are plenty of activities to do around Carters Point, such as bird watching, kayaking, hiking, and beachcombing.

The area itself is a great place to relax with its crystal clear waters and golden sand. This beach also offers some of the best surf in the region, with waves that can reach up to 12 feet. There is also a great selection of seafood restaurants nearby where you can enjoy delicious dishes and freshly caught seafood.

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14. Vulcan, Alberta

Located in Alberta, the town of Vulcan is a hidden gem in Canada that will surprise you with its plethora of activities. With abundant nature-based experiences, it's the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. It's home to some unique cultural attractions like the Star Trek-themed museum, a real-life bat cave, and other fun activities.

Vulcan’s main draw is its stunning scenery. The area has unique geological features such as hoodoos, coulees, and buttes.

Vulcan is known for its small-town charm. There are plenty of quaint cafes, cozy restaurants, and charming shops that all make for a fun day of exploration. For those looking for a bit of adventure, the area is also home to outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and hiking.

Locals dressed in uniforms participating in Star Trek themed parade event in southern Alberta town, Vulcan

15. Wynyard, Saskatchewan

Hidden away in Saskatchewan lies one of Canada’s most charming small towns: Wynyard. This is the perfect destination for those looking to explore the hidden gems of Canada and experience a unique culture and history.

Wynyard is a quiet, picturesque little town surrounded by beautiful nature.  It is a great place for birdwatching as it is a location on many bird's migratory paths. You can visit the Quill Lakes Interpretive Centre or the Wynyard and District Museum. 

Wynyard is also an excellent destination for outdoor activities. Its vast open spaces are perfect for exploring and offer an array of wildlife viewing, golfing, and camping opportunities. There are also a number of hiking trails to take advantage of, where you can enjoy the stunning views of the local scenery.

To learn more about the best hidden gems of Canada, book a tour with Canadian Train Vacations.

Visitors look at saline lake in wildlife viewing site, Quill Lakes International Bird Area, situated near Saskatoon

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the hidden gems in Canada?

There are many incredible hidden gems in Canada, including Quirpon Island’s Iceberg Nest, Parc Omega in Quebec, Sambro Island in Nova Scotia, Sucreie de La Montagne, Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, and Diefenbunker.

Where can I find more information about the hidden gems of Canada?

Plenty of information is available online about Canada's hidden gems. Websites like Canadian Train Vacations have great resources for discovering Canada's hidden gems. Additionally, local tourism offices are an excellent resource for finding out about lesser-known attractions and activities.

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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