When travelling in Canada, you can expect spectacular scenery, unique cultural experiences, and friendly locals. You might also be surprised by some things, from the weather to tipping practices. To make the most of your trip and avoid any disappointments, it’s best to be prepared!
Our local Canadian travel experts receive many inquiries from tourists visiting here for the first time. At Canadian Train Vacations, we specialized in creating unforgettable vacations personalized to your needs and interests.
We’ve compiled the answers to some of the most-frequently-asked questions for our special Canada travel guide: everything from top destinations, weather, time zones and geography — think big! — to Canada’s currency and tipping practices.
Keep reading our guide to travel in Canada for our top travel tips and advice.
Canadian Travel Requirements
Travelers to Canada must have a valid passport. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of departure.
Visa-Exempt vs. Visa-Required Countries for Canada
Canada maintains a list of visa-exempt and visa-required countries(1). This list is subject to change, and you should check the official website of the Government of Canada for the most up-to-date information. U.S citizens only require a valid passport.
- Visitors from visa-exempt countries do require an Electronic Travel Authorization(eTA). This includes citizens of the U.K., most European countries, Mexico, Australia, and Japan.
- Visa-required travellers should apply for a Temporary Resident Visa. This includes citizens of China, India, and Pakistan. A full list can be found here.
It's a great time to explore Canada. As of October 1, 2022, the Government of Canada removed of all COVID-19 entry restrictions, as well as testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada. Any updated details can be found on the Canadian government’s website here. You can also learn how we work with our partners to keep you safe while you’re on your trip on our Safe Travels page.
Top Destinations in Canada
Once you cross the Canadian border there are 3.855 million square miles to explore. There’s the wild rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, the dramatic rugged peaks of the Rockies, the hypnotic expanse of the prairies; and the jagged coastline of the Atlantic — and countless landscapes in between. Discover a diversity of experiences, including scenic train rides through spectacular landscapes, exploring national parks, observing wildlife in its natural habitat, road trips through charming coastal areas, and sophisticated urban weekends.
Your vacation advisor at Canadian Train Vacations can help you plan a trip to see many of these scenic locations.
1. Banff National Park, Alberta
- Key Features: Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies, is renowned for its majestic mountain landscapes, pristine glacial lakes, and abundant wildlife. As Canada's first national park, it showcases a blend of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history.
- Attractions: The park is home to iconic attractions such as Lake Louise, famous for its vivid turquoise waters and stunning mountain backdrop, and Moraine Lake, with its exquisite Valley of the Ten Peaks. The charming town of Banff offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural experiences. The Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, provides opportunities for glacier exploration. For history buffs, the Cave and Basin National Historic Site tells the story of the park's creation.
- Activities: Outdoor enthusiasts can partake in hiking, with trails for all skill levels, from leisurely walks to challenging alpine routes. The park also offers opportunities for biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing, with chances to spot grizzly bears, elk, and more. In the winter, Banff transforms into a world-class destination for skiing and snowboarding at resorts like Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.
[ Read: Best time to visit Banff ]
2. Jasper National Park, Alberta
- Key Features: Jasper National Park is part of the Canadian Rockies and stands out as one of the most pristine and unspoiled natural environments in the world. It offers a breathtaking mountain landscape, glacier-fed lakes, abundant wildlife, and clear night skies ideal for stargazing.
- Attractions: The park's notable attractions include the stunning Maligne Lake with its famous Spirit Island, the iconic Athabasca Glacier, the powerful Athabasca Falls, and the scenic Icefields Parkway, often considered one of the most beautiful drives globally. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot elk, bighorn sheep, and bears, while photographers appreciate the rugged mountain peaks and turquoise lakes.
- Activities: Jasper National Park caters to outdoor adventurers, with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. During the winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland with world-class skiing and snowshoeing. Staying in one of the park's campgrounds offers an authentic camping experience amidst the Rockies.
[ Read: Best time to visit Jasper National Park ]
3. Vancouver, British Columbia
- Key Features: Vancouver is a vibrant coastal city on the Pacific Ocean, nestled between the mountains and the sea. It boasts a moderate climate, stunning natural beauty, and a diverse cultural scene.
- Attractions: Vancouver offers an array of attractions, including Stanley Park, one of the world's most famous urban parks, Granville Island with its bustling public market, and the historic Gastown district with its iconic steam clock. The city is also known for its beautiful beaches, such as English Bay and Kitsilano Beach, and the stunning Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
- Activities: Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities like biking around the Seawall, hiking in the nearby North Shore Mountains, or exploring the Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The city is a food lover's paradise, with an eclectic culinary scene and fresh seafood. Don't miss the opportunity to take a day trip to Vancouver Island or the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, leading to the picturesque town of Whistler.
[ Explore: Vancouver to Toronto Train Trip ]
4. Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Key features: Vancouver Island is conveniently accessible from Vancouver, British Columbia, with frequent ferry services connecting the city to the island. The journey is not only a transportation experience but also a scenic delight, offering views of the Pacific Ocean and coastal landscapes. Vancouver Island is a beloved summer getaway for both locals and visitors from around the world. Its moderate climate, lush landscapes, and coastal beauty make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, beach lovers, and those seeking relaxation in a picturesque setting.
- Attractions: The capital city, Victoria, showcases historic architecture, beautiful gardens, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Tofino, a fun-loving hippie town on the island, is well-known for its surfing community and pristine beaches.
- Activities: The island is famous for its delicious seafood, with a thriving culinary scene that highlights fresh catches from the surrounding waters. Visitors can indulge in seafood feasts at charming coastal restaurants. Vancouver Island offers an array of hiking trails, from easy strolls to challenging hikes, with some of the most scenic routes located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Whale watching is a popular activity, with opportunities to spot orcas, humpback whales, and gray whales. The West Coast Trail is a renowned hiking route, offering challenging yet incredible opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the island's wild and rugged landscapes.
5. Pacific Coast, British Columbia
- Key Features: The Pacific Coast of British Columbia — the West Coast — stretches 25,000 kilometers. It's characterized by its rugged, untamed beauty, pristine waters, and lush rainforests, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Coast Mountains on the other.
- Attractions: The region is home to a plethora of natural attractions, including the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the planet's largest temperate rainforests, and Haida Gwaii, an archipelago with rich Indigenous culture and art. The coastline is dotted with charming coastal communities and fishing villages, each offering its unique charm. The Pacific Coast is also known for its abundant marine life, with opportunities for whale watching, bird watching, and even the chance to spot the elusive white Kermode bear, or "spirit bear."
- Activities: Adventurers can explore the region's diverse landscapes through activities like kayaking in the Inside Passage, surfing off Tofino's beaches, or hiking along the rugged West Coast Trail. The area also provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and wildlife photography. The Pacific Coast is an ideal destination for nature lovers and those who seek a deeper connection with the natural world.
6. Quebec City, Quebec
- Key Features: Quebec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, is renowned for its old-world charm and rich French heritage. Its historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is surrounded by stone walls and overlooks the mighty St. Lawrence River.
- Attractions: The Old Town of Quebec City is a treasure trove of cobblestone streets, 17th-century architecture, and inviting bistros. The iconic Château Frontenac, a grand hotel perched atop the city, is a must-see landmark. The Plains of Abraham, a historic battlefield, provides a picturesque setting for outdoor activities and festivals. Explore Place Royale, Montmorency Falls, and the Petit-Champlain District, all offering a glimpse into the city's storied past.
- Activities: Quebec City is known for its vibrant cultural scene, including festivals such as the Winter Carnival, the Summer Festival, and the New France Festival. Delight in French cuisine, savoring local specialties like poutine, tourtière, and croissants. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the city's fortifications or take a scenic ferry ride across the St. Lawrence River. Winters offer opportunities for snow sports, and a visit to the Ice Hotel (Hôtel de Glace) is a unique and unforgettable experience.
[ Read: Best Things to do in Quebec ]
7. Montreal, Quebec
- Key Features: Montreal is a vibrant and culturally rich city, often referred to as the "Paris of North America." It is the largest city in Quebec and a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, and artistic expressions.
- Attractions: The Old Montreal district, with its cobbled streets, historic architecture, and charming boutiques, offers a European ambiance. The city's iconic Notre-Dame Basilica is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Botanical Garden, and the Montreal Science Centre are just a few of the many cultural attractions. Don't miss the bustling Jean-Talon Market for a taste of local cuisine and fresh produce.
- Activities: Montreal is renowned for its festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, and Montreal World Film Festival. Explore Mount Royal Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, for scenic views and outdoor activities. The city is famous for its cuisine, with an emphasis on French-inspired dishes, poutine, and bagels. In winter, enjoy activities like ice skating at Parc Lafontaine or skiing in the nearby Laurentian Mountains.
8. Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Key Features: Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, is a coastal city with a rich maritime history. It's known for its picturesque waterfront, vibrant arts and culture scene, and welcoming atmosphere.
- Attractions: The Halifax waterfront is a central hub with its boardwalk, historic sites, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the historic Citadel Hill, a National Historic Site, to learn about Halifax's military past. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 provides insights into the country's immigration history. Nature enthusiasts can visit Point Pleasant Park or embark on a boat tour of the picturesque harbor.
- Activities: Halifax is a city of festivals and events, hosting various cultural celebrations and music festivals throughout the year. Seafood lovers will delight in the city's culinary scene, known for its fresh lobster and seafood. For a day trip, visit Peggy's Cove, famous for its iconic lighthouse and rugged coastal beauty. The Annapolis Valley, with its wineries and orchards, is within driving distance and offers scenic landscapes.
[Read: Best time to visit Nova Scotia ]
9. Churchill, Manitoba
- Key Features: Located on the edge of the Arctic, Churchill, Manitoba, is often referred to as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World." This remote town is known for its unique position, where the subarctic tundra meets the Hudson Bay, providing incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.
- Attractions: The most prominent attraction in Churchill is the opportunity to witness polar bears in their natural habitat. The annual polar bear migration, from July to November, is a spectacular event, and there are various tours and observation platforms for visitors to safely view these magnificent creatures. Additionally, Churchill is a prime location for Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) viewing, and the Churchill Northern Studies Centre provides educational insights into the Arctic.
- Activities: Visitors can enjoy wildlife tours that also offer encounters with beluga whales during the summer months. Churchill is rich in indigenous culture and history, providing opportunities to learn about the traditions of the local Inuit and First Nations communities. Outdoor activities such as dog sledding and snowshoeing are available during the winter months, and the town's remote location makes it a fascinating destination for adventure seekers.
Canada’s largest municipalities are Toronto, in the province of Ontario; Montréal, in the province of Québec; and Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia. Extend your trip by spending a few days exploring these urban centres.
- Discover why Vancouver is considered one of the world’s top culinary destinations.
- Walk through the different neighbourhoods of Toronto — known locally as The 6ix— which is celebrated for its diversity and rich cultural experiences.
- Or immerse yourself in the European sophistication of Old Montreal(2).
Weather in Canada
A common misconception is that Canada is the “Great White North.” Much of Canada’s weather is comparable to the U.S., with temperatures varying as you travel between seasons and across diverse regions. Bringing a selection of easily layered clothes and comfortable footwear will prepare you for all types of weather and temperature ranges.
#1 Travel Tip: Pack for the weather
If you’re travelling to Canada in winter, you’ll need to be prepared for the weather. Bring layers, including a warm coat, insulated boots, a hat that covers your ears, and gloves.
Climate and Seasons
The country experiences four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
- Spring (March to May): Spring varies by region. In the west, temperatures start to warm up, while in the east, it can still be quite chilly with the possibility of late snowfall.
- Summer (June to August): Summers are generally warm and pleasant. Coastal areas experience milder temperatures, while the interior can become quite hot.
- Autumn (September to November): Fall foliage is stunning, with vibrant colors. It starts to cool down, and the weather becomes more unpredictable. In some areas, snow can start to fall in late autumn.
- Winter (December to February): Winters in Canada can make for cold temperatures, often dropping well below freezing. Snowfall is common, and ice can be a hazard. Proper clothing and preparation are essential.
Extreme weather conditions can be found in different regions —especially in Northern areas in the winter, with snowfall and ice storms. Coastal areas in Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI) can be susceptible to hurricanes, with peak months being September and October. These storms can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storm surges, impacting travel. Visitors planning to travel to coastal areas during this period should stay updated on weather forecasts and be prepared for potential disruptions. Cancellation insurance is highly recommended.
Best time to travel in Canada
Summer and fall are the best times to explore Canada’s natural beauty, cultural festivals, and outdoor adventures. Whether you're after warm weather and outdoor activities or the picturesque landscapes of autumn, these seasons have much to offer for travelers.
That said, the ideal time for your trip largely depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Many visitors love exploring Canada in winter for its snowy landscapes and winter sports.
While it can get cold, Canada's cold winters offer a host of unique outdoor activities, such as:
- Skiing and Snowboarding: Popular destinations include Whistler in British Columbia, Banff and Jasper in Alberta, and Mont Tremblant in Quebec.
- Ice Skating: Many cities have outdoor rinks, with Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway being one of the most famous.
- Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Explore pristine winter landscapes in national parks like Gatineau Park (Quebec) or Algonquin Park (Ontario).
- Dog Sledding: Experience the thrill of mushing through the snow in regions like the Yukon or Quebec.
Top Winter Destinations
- Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta: A winter wonderland with opportunities for skiing, ice climbing, and scenic drives.
- Whistler, British Columbia: A world-renowned ski resort with excellent winter sports facilities.
- Quebec City, Quebec: The Winter Carnival, ice hotels, and European-style charm make it a must-visit.
- Mont Tremblant, Quebec: A picturesque ski village with a European flair.
- Ottawa, Ontario: The capital city offers ice skating on the Rideau Canal and Winterlude festivities.
Canadian travel in the winter requires visitors to be prepared for the weather. This includes wearing warm, layered clothing, insulated boots, gloves, and hats. It's also essential to have proper winter driving skills and equipment if you plan to explore snowy areas on your own. A guided tour will provide transportation, and in Northern regions will also supply clothing rentals.
Transportation in Canada
Travel Canada using a diverse range of transportation options, allowing you to explore the country's vast and varied landscapes.
1. Air Travel
Canada boasts a network of international and domestic airports, with Toronto Pearson International Airport as a major hub for international flights.
Air travel in Canada is characterized by relatively expensive domestic flights, dominated by major airlines like Air Canada and WestJet. The emergence of new discount airlines, such as Porter, Swoop and Flair, has introduced more competition, potentially making air travel more affordable. In addition to Air Canada and WestJet, several regional airlines like Air Creebec, Air St-Pierre, and Pacific Coastal Airlines connect various parts of the country.
2. Train Travel
VIA Rail Canada serves as the primary passenger train service, offering direct routes between major cities, including the iconic journey from Vancouver to Toronto. While trains may be slower than air travel, they provide a convenient mode of transportation for shorter distances.
That said, a train vacation is an epic way to immerse oneself in Canada’s landscapes and truly see the country, from coast to coast. Unlike the hustle required of air travel, a train trip is the ideal slow travel experience.
3. Road Trips and Car Rentals
Car travel is a popular way to explore the vast expanse of Canada, with the iconic Trans-Canada Highway connecting the country from coast to coast. Rental cars are readily available in most regions and reasonably priced in urban centers, making it an excellent choice for venturing off the beaten path. Car rentals can be added to many of our trips, after your time on the train, allowing you to explore hidden gems across the country.
#2 Travel Tip: Focus on one region
Canada is a huge country, covering 9,976,139 square kilometres (or 3.855 million square miles). If you only have one week or less, pick one region to visit or you’ll spend all your time on the road. A train vacation is a great way to see more of the country in a condensed time.
Accommodations in Canada
Canada offers a diverse range of accommodations, each with its own unique appeal and atmosphere to cater to different preferences and travel experiences.
Hotels & Resorts
From luxurious options like the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the heart of the Rockies to eco-lodges like the Sonora Resort, tucked away in pristine wilderness, and rustic mountain and lake lodges, there's something for everyone. Most luxury hotels and resorts feature spas, gourmet dining, and some provide spectacular views of nearby natural wonders. These types of accommodations are very popular, so it is important to book well in advance, especially for the summer. Here are some of Canada’s top hotels and resorts.
1. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Nestled in the heart of Banff National Park in Alberta, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is renowned for its breathtaking location on the shores of Lake Louise. It provides upscale accommodations, fine dining, a world-class spa, and numerous outdoor activities, making it a top choice for those seeking a quintessential mountain retreat. This luxury hotel offers guests unparalleled views of the emerald lake and surrounding snow-capped peaks. Available activities change with the seasons – from ice skating on the frozen lake in winter to hiking and canoeing in the summer.
2. Fairmont Banff Springs: The Banff Springs is a destination in itself, with a timeless charm that appeals to history and architecture enthusiasts. Known as the "Castle in the Rockies,"this iconic luxury resort is located in Banff National Park. It boasts a blend of Scottish baronial castle architecture and modern amenities. Its rich history and grandeur offer a sense of stepping back in time while enjoying contemporary comforts. Guests can explore the historic hallways, relax in the mineral-rich thermal springs, play a round of golf, and indulge in gourmet dining.
3. Sonora Resort: Situated on Sonora Island in British Columbia's Discovery Islands, Sonora Resort is an exclusive eco-lodge accessible only by boat or seaplane. Surrounded by pristine wilderness, it provides an immersive natural experience. Guests can engage in wildlife viewing, including grizzly bear tours, and enjoy outdoor adventures such as kayaking, hiking, and fishing. The resort's commitment to sustainability and the environment is evident throughout, making it an excellent choice for eco-conscious travelers seeking a remote yet luxurious retreat.
4. Hotel de Glace: Located in Quebec, Hotel de Glace is a one-of-a-kind ice hotel constructed entirely of snow and ice each winter season. The ephemeral nature of the accommodation — it is rebuilt from scratch annually — is truly unique. The hotel offers an unforgettable overnight experience in themed ice rooms with intricate ice sculptures and carvings. Guests can enjoy a winter wonderland atmosphere, complete with ice slides, an ice chapel for weddings, and a hot tub and sauna to keep warm. It's a bucket-list destination for those seeking a truly unique and memorable stay.
Hostels or Bed and Breakfasts
Looking for budget tips? In Canada, budget travelers can choose between hostels for an economical stay, while those with a mid-range budget may find B&Bs to be an excellent option for a balance of affordability and a personal touch.
Hostels are a popular choice for travellers hoping to save money. With over 100 hostels across the country, they provide affordable lodging options in cities, towns, and popular tourist destinations. These accommodations often feature dormitory-style rooms with shared facilities, making them ideal for solo travelers, backpackers, or those looking to save on lodging costs. Guests can expect basic amenities like communal kitchens, common areas, and free Wi-Fi. Prices are relatively low, making them an attractive option for those on a tight budget. However, it's essential to note that hostels may not offer the same level of privacy and comfort as hotels, making hotels a better choice for travelers with a mid-range budget.
Bed and Breakfasts offer a more intimate and personalized lodging experience. They are typically found in smaller towns, rural areas, or historic districts, and they emphasize warm hospitality and locally sourced breakfasts. B&Bs are known for their cozy rooms, often individually decorated, and the chance to interact with friendly hosts who can provide local insights. These accommodations are well-suited for travelers seeking a homely atmosphere and a chance to connect with the local culture. Prices can vary, but B&Bs are generally more affordable than hotels amd resorts, making them an attractive option for travelers who value comfort and local experiences.
Camping and RV Parks
Canada's camping and RV parks offer an opportunity to connect with the country's diverse natural landscapes. Whether you prefer coastal beachfront sites, mountainous terrain, or rugged wilderness, these parks cater to various outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails abound, offering adventures for all levels of hikers, from leisurely walks to demanding backcountry expeditions.
Campgrounds in Canada typically provide a range of amenities and facilities to enhance the camping experience. While the availability of amenities can vary from one campground to another, here are some common amenities you can expect to find:
- Campsite Pads: Most campgrounds offer designated campsite pads or tent areas where you can set up your tent or park your RV. These pads may be gravel, grass, or concrete.
- Picnic Tables: Campsites often include picnic tables, providing a convenient spot for outdoor meals and relaxation.
- Fire Pits or Rings: Many campgrounds provide fire pits or fire rings for cooking, roasting marshmallows, and enjoying a campfire in the evening.
- Washrooms and Showers: Campgrounds typically offer restroom facilities with toilets and sinks. Some campgrounds, especially in national parks, provide shower facilities as well.
- Water Stations: Access to clean drinking water is essential and is usually available at various locations throughout the campground.
- Dump Stations: RV campgrounds often have dump stations for sewage disposal, making it convenient for those traveling with recreational vehicles.
- Electrical Hookups: RV campgrounds may offer electrical hookups, ranging from basic (15-amp) to more powerful (30-amp or 50-amp) connections for electricity.
- Sewer Hookups: RV campgrounds with full hookups provide sewer connections for waste disposal.
- Playgrounds: Some campgrounds have playgrounds for children to enjoy.
- Camp Stores: Camp stores or general stores are available in some campgrounds, offering basic supplies, groceries, firewood, and camping gear.
- Laundry Facilities: Larger campgrounds, especially those in or near towns and cities, may offer laundry facilities for longer-term campers.
- Wi-Fi and Cell Service: While campgrounds in remote areas may lack internet connectivity, some campgrounds, particularly those near urban centers, may offer Wi-Fi access and reasonable cell phone reception.
- Visitor Centers: National and provincial park campgrounds often have visitor centers where you can obtain maps, information, and guidance about local attractions and activities.
- Recreation Areas: Many campgrounds have recreational areas for sports and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fishing.
- Dumpsters and Recycling Bins: Proper waste disposal is essential, and campgrounds usually provide dumpsters and recycling bins.
Keep in mind that the availability and quality of these amenities can vary widely, so it's advisable to check the specific campground's website or contact them directly to inquire about their facilities before planning your camping trip.
Many of Canada’s best campgrounds are situated within its stunning national and provincial parks, each with its unique features and outdoor experiences:
- Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia: Located on Vancouver Island's west coast, Pacific Rim National Park offers a unique camping experience with its proximity to the ocean. Visitors can camp on the beach, listening to the soothing sounds of the waves, and explore lush coastal rainforests. The park is also known for its excellent opportunities for storm watching during the winter months.
- Jasper National Park, Alberta: Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is renowned for its awe-inspiring mountain scenery and pristine wilderness. Campers can choose from a variety of campgrounds, including ones near glacier-fed turquoise lakes. Hiking trails offer a chance to explore the rugged terrain and encounter wildlife like elk, moose, and bears.
- Banff National Park, Alberta: Another gem in the Rockies, Banff National Park provides campers with breathtaking mountain vistas and pristine lakes. Campgrounds are spread throughout the park, allowing visitors to stay amidst the natural beauty. Hiking opportunities range from easy strolls to challenging backcountry trails, with popular routes like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake offering iconic views.
- Ontario's Provincial Parks: Ontario offers an array of provincial parks that provide camping experiences in various terrains, from serene forests to rugged Canadian Shield landscapes. The Bruce Peninsula National Park is known for its stunning cliffs and crystal-clear waters, while Algonquin Provincial Park offers a rich tapestry of lakes and forests, ideal for hiking and wildlife encounters.
- Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is celebrated for its dramatic fjords and stunning hikes, including some over challenging terrains. Camping in this park allows visitors to immerse themselves in the region's geological wonders and unique coastal landscapes.
Official Languages in Canada
When you get here, you may notice signage in both French and English. That’s because both are recognized official languages in Canada. But don’t worry about needing a translator. While French is dominant in Québec, many Québecois speak English, particularly in the service and tourist industry. Throughout the rest of Canada, English is the most common language.
Culture in Canada
Canada's culture is a rich tapestry woven from a diverse range of influences, reflecting the country's history of Indigenous heritage, European colonization, and immigration from around the world. Canadian culture celebrates multiculturalism and values inclusivity, making it a mosaic of traditions, languages, and art forms.
- Indigenous Culture: The country's Indigenous cultures, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, hold a significant place in Canadian culture, with their art, music, and storytelling contributing to the national identity.
- Holidays: Major holidays and celebrations in Canada include Canada Day on July 1st, celebrated with fireworks, parades, and cultural events, and Thanksgiving in October, when Canadians gather with family and friends to give thanks and enjoy a feast. Other significant celebrations include Christmas, New Year's Day, and Victoria Day, all marked by festive traditions and cultural festivities throughout the country.
- Food: Food in Canada is a delicious blend of flavors from around the world. Poutine, butter tarts, and Nanaimo bars as just a few examples of iconic Canadian dishes.
- Outdoor influence: Canada's culture is marked by its love for outdoor activities, from winter sports like hockey and skiing to the passion for hiking, kayaking, and camping in the country's stunning natural landscapes.
- Arts: The arts thrive in Canada, with world-class museums, theaters, and galleries across the country. Canadian literature, music, and film have made a global impact, producing celebrated artists like Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, and acclaimed filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve.
A common question is about Canadian currency, which some visitors refer to as “funny money.” In addition to nickels, dimes and quarters, Canadian coins come in $1, the “loonie” —which has nothing to do with being crazy about money— and $2, the “toonie.”
Some visitors are surprised to learn that Canada no longer has pennies. When paying in cash, items will be rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents.
Yes! We accept credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are the most popular, while American Express may not be as widely accepted, especially in more rural areas. Many cards charge a transaction fee for foreign currency transactions, so check with your financial institution prior to your trip to determine what is best for you.
Do note that while some businesses may accept payment in US dollars, change will always be provided in Canadian currency. The exchange rate can always be found here.
Taxes in Canada
Throughout Canada, there is a federal tax and/or a provincial tax applied to most purchases. The amount of the tax varies per province, anywhere from 5% to 15%. All provinces and some municipalities levy a supplemental hotel room or resort tax as well (your Vacation Advisor will make sure you have these details).
Tipping in Canada
As in the US, tips are often given in recognition of service excellence. In general, 15-20% of the pre-tax amount is recommended. It’s appropriate to tip servers and bar staff, taxi and limo drivers, and tour guides, as well as hotel staff and even your train crews.
Whether you travel on VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer, feel free to tip your server in the dining cars and/or team members responsible for your cabin or berth in the sleeping car (VIA Rail only) and other common areas. You can speak with the Service Manager on board your train for suggested gratuities too (and your Vacation Advisor will give you these details too!).
If you’re traveling across the country, you may gain or lose an hour, depending on which direction you’re headed. Canada has six time zones, with St. John’s, NL (Newfoundland Time) being four and half hours ahead of Vancouver, BC (Pacific Time).
Most areas also observe Daylight Savings Time. If you happen to be here on the second Sunday in March, clocks go forward by one hour (at 2:00 a.m.). After Daylight Savings, the clocks are turned back by one hour on the first Sunday in November (at 2:00 a.m.). Luckily, our phones now do this for us automatically.
Canada is One of the Safest Countries to Travel in the World
According to the Global Peace Index(3), the annual ranking done by The Institute for Economics and Peace, Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. It was also ranked as one of the safest countries during the pandemic too.
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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