150 Amazing Things to do in Canada
Wednesday, 12th April 2017
2017 saw Canada celebrate its 150th anniversary. The country’s stunning national parks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons to visit Canada – so here’s our not-so-quick guide of things to do… 150 things in fact.
We’ve split the list into 10 categories so you can easily find your favourites or take the challenge and read the entire list! Here goes…
Wildlife | National Parks | Places to Stay | Journeys | On Foot
UNESCO Sites | Culture | Food | Events | Only in Canada
Whales, Bears & Wild Things
Canada is home to abundant wildlife, from musk ox roaming the Arctic tundra, bald eagles circling overhead and the country’s national animal, the beaver. But the biggest draws are surely the mighty bear and the chance to see multiple species of whale.
1. Stay at a wilderness lodge in British Columbia for the best chance to see grizzly (brown) bears fishing for salmon.
2. Sail through the Great Bear Rainforest in search of the rare spirit bear – a white-coloured subspecies of black bear unique to British Columbia.
3. Black bears are North America’s smallest and most widely distributed, with more than 380,000 found across Canada.
4. Head to Churchill, Manitoba in October/November to witness the world’s largest gathering of polar bears.
5. The waters around Newfoundland play host to the most extensive variety of whales in the world – up to 22 different species!
6. From Newfoundland you can encounter the world’s largest population of humpback whales – you can even see them from the shore.
7. For the distinctive looking beluga, head to Québec’s Saguenay Fjord, Manitoba’s Hudson Bay or cruise the High Arctic.
8. The St Lawrence River plays host to 13 species of whale, including – occasionally – the mammoth blue whale.
9. On an Arctic cruise you may be lucky enough to spot the very rare bowhead whale or the iconic narwhal, with its unicorn-like tusk.
10. Experience the highest tides in the world at the Bay of Fundy, an area also rich in wildlife, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
11. Back on dry land, a trip to the Arctic may reveal prehistoric looking musk ox, Arctic fox and caribou.
12. Adopted as the country’s national animal, the beaver is a symbol of ingenuity and perseverance – evidence of which can be seen in its intricate dams.
13. Elk are regularly spotted throughout the Rockies, frequently found wandering down the middle of the road or through hotel grounds!
14. Few people visit the sand spit of Sable Island, one of Canada’s most remote national parks and best known for its pack of wild horses.
15. Wolves are hard to see but the evocative sound of howling is magical to hear in the wilderness – try the Chilcotin Mountains or Algonquin Provincial Park.
With 46 National Parks to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start! Here are a few of our favourites.
16. Banff: Canada’s first and best-known park is an ideal introduction to the stunning Rockies; combine with Jasper and Yoho for an in-depth exploration.
17. Pacific Rim: endless beaches, lush rainforest, and coastal mountains provide the backdrop to close encounters with marine wildlife off Vancouver Island’s west coast.
18. Gwaii Hanaas: the remote islands of Haida Gwaii are home to a rich rainforest which protects ancient First Nations villages, totem poles and over-sized black bears.
19. Kluane: the wilderness doesn’t get much wilder than this: Canada’s tallest mountain, epic icefields, ancient glaciers and deep valleys reveal grizzlies moose and more.
20. Wapusk: fringing the Hudson Bay and the edge of the Arctic tundra, Wapusk is a renowned polar bear denning area also home to wolves, caribou and Arctic foxes.
21. Cape Breton Highlands: the acclaimed Cabot Trail scenic drive weaves through the park, providing access to hiking trails, viewpoints, beaches and waterfalls.
22. Fundy: scenic valleys and lakes give way to a dramatic coastline, from where you can watch the rise and fall of the highest tides in the world.
23. Gros Morne: endlessly fascinating to geologists, hikers and wildlife lovers alike, this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s rugged landscapes are also a photographer’s dream.
24. Torngat Mountains: the wild and dramatic coastline of Labrador boasts Canada’s newest park, best accessed on an expedition voyage.
25. Bruce Peninsula: hiking trails thread through deep forests, leading to the sparkling turquoise waters of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.
26. Thousand Islands: enjoy a cruise amongst these picturesque granite mountain-tops that speckle the St Lawrence River.
27. Sable Island: this little-visited sand island is situated far out into the Atlantic, and is famed for its resident population of wild horses.
28. Forillon: Québec’s first national park covers the outer tip of the Gaspé Peninsula – a breathtaking array of forests, coastal cliffs and sand dunes.
29. Sirmilik: inhabited by Inuit for thousands of years, this Arctic wonderland of glaciers, valleys, cliffs and icebergs offers fantastic birdwatching and archaeological sites.
30. Prince Edward Island: red sand beaches, coastal trails and gentle woodlands offer the chance to kick back and relax on a family friendly escape.
Places to Stay
Canada offers a fantastic choice of places to stay – whether you’re looking for incredible views, the chance to spot wildlife, something historic, the height of luxury or something rustic and remote. There’s something for everyone, and all uniquely Canadian.
31. Fogo Island Inn: overlooking the Atlantic, a striking design reveals a fascinating story of community spirit, capturing the essence of Newfoundland in style and comfort.
32. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, BC: luxurious safari-style tents stand scattered amongst the forest, edged by a deep fjord and surrounded by wilderness and wildlife.
33. Bugaboo Lodge, Alberta: this charming mountain lodge is located in the heart of the Rockies, accessible only by helicopter and encircled by soaring peaks.
34. Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac: an instantly recognisable fairytale castle, this elegant icon of Québec City dates back to 1893 and is a National Historic Site.
35. Blachford Lake Lodge: take a skiplane flight from Yellowknife to this remote rustic lodge, where you can enjoy spectacular northern lights from the outdoor hot tub.
36. Klondike Kate’s, Yukon: named after a popular vaudeville dancer of the goldrush era, this charming wooden guesthouse offers a slice of Dawson City’s colourful past.
37. Quirpon Lighthouse Inn, Newfoundland: a former lighthouse keeper’s cottage now offers simple accommodation with unforgettable views of whales and icebergs.
38. Seal River Heritage Lodge, Manitoba: accessible only by air, this cosy lodge on the Arctic tundra lies in the very heart of polar bear country.
39. Killarney Lodge, Ontario: relax at a traditional log cabin surrounded by Algonquin Park’s pristine lakes, rivers and forests – a wilderness waiting to be explored!
40. Rosewood Hotel Georgia, BC: the glamour of the 1920s combines with contemporary design at this Vancouver hotel, known for its live music and famous guests.
41. Siwash Lake Ranch, BC: cowboy meets luxury at this family-run wilderness lodge. Enjoy horse-riding, fishing and lake trips, and sleep in a sumptuous safari-style tent.
42. The Great George, PEI: this historic hotel played its part in the birth of Canadian Confederation, and today consists of 17 heritage buildings across a whole city block.
43. Great Bear Lodge, BC: take a floatplane to this floating wildlife lodge, situated in the heart of grizzly bear country on the edge of a remote and beautiful fjord.
44. Moraine Lake Lodge, Alberta: this relaxing and romantic lodge offers spectacular views and provides a great base from which to explore the Rockies.
45. Arctic Watch, Nunavut: for something completely different, experience a remote yet surprisingly comfortable Base Camp on the very edge of the Northwest Passage.
With over a million kilometres of roads and 48,000 kilometres of rail tracks, not to mention the world’s longest coastline, Canada is an unbeatable destination for an epic journey – whether by car, boat, train or plane.
46. In 2017 the final sections of The Great Trail will be connected, creating 24,000kms of waterways, roads and hiking paths that stretch right across Canada.
47. Take Vancouver’s incredible Flyover Canada experience for an aerial introduction to the country’s breathtaking and varied landscapes.
48. Perhaps one of North America’s scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway runs through the heart of the Rockies, surrounded by soaring peaks and dazzling glaciers.
49. An ubiquitous mode of transport in many parts of Canada, don’t miss the opportunity to take a scenic flight over the wilderness in a floatplane.
50. All aboard for a Trans-Canada rail adventure with VIA Rail – cross the country from Atlantic Coast to Pacific Coast in just 6 days.
51. Long before rail and roads, the St Lawrence Seaway was the main thoroughfare into North America. Set sail on a river voyage to discover its history and marine wildlife.
52. An iconic tourist attraction, the Rocky Mountaineer train carries visitors from Vancouver to the majestic Rockies in luxurious comfort.
53. Enjoy a road trip around Cape Breton Island on the scenic Cabot Trail, a beautiful coastal drive via fishing villages, beaches and national park.
54. Retrace the routes of legendary explorers on an unforgettable Arctic voyage through the notorious Northwest Passage.
55. To truly appreciate Canada’s vast landscapes take to the skies – spot remote lakes, hidden glaciers and distant wildlife on a helicopter flight over the Rockies.
56. Experience the thrill of dog-sledding over snow-covered landscapes, the traditional Inuit mode of transport.
57. Set foot on an ancient river of ice on the Athabasca Glacier: a specially designed Ice Explorer will drive you right out onto the icefield.
58. Reach new heights the easy way with the scenic Sea to Sky Gondola – a 10 minute ride is rewarded with sweeping views over Howe Sound and the surrounding peaks.
59. Get paddling – the Canadian canoe is very stable and a great way for novices to explore Canada’s countless lakes and rivers.
60. Hit the back-country trails on a guided horse-riding excursion and imagine you’re an early pioneer or hardy cowboy!
Best Foot Foward
There’s no shortage of opportunities to explore on foot in Canada – from short strolls to multi-day hiking trails, walking is the best way to soak up the surrounding sights, sounds and smells of the Canadian landscape.
61. Canada’s first designated hiking path was the Bruce Trail, Ontario, completed in 1697. The scenic 770km route stretches from Niagara to the Bruce Peninsula.
62. For a truly off the beaten track adventure try heli-hiking in the Rockies – land in the midst of a pristine wilderness to hike over untouched alpine terrain.
63. Forming part of Canada’s Great Trail, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail (part of Great Trail) is a beautiful flat walk through the Okanagan high country.
64. The Lake Louise Tea House Trails are truly rewarding; wind your way amongst forests, glaciers and waterfalls for mountain views and nice cup of tea!
65. Stretch your legs with a gentle 45 minute stroll to the top of Mount Royal, taking in panoramic vistas over the city of Montréal below.
66. Step back in time on the Chilkoot Trail, once a harsh obstacle facing prospectors en route to the Klondike Goldfields, now a dramatic 33 mile trek.
67. Vancouver’s eternally popular Seawall encircles beautiful Stanley Park and offers the perfect escape from the bustle of the city.
68. Commemorating the national park’s 125th anniversary, the Banff Legacy Trail is great for families with plenty of picnic areas, interpretive panels and mountain views.
69. The Confederation Trail links all corners of Prince Edward Island, via rolling hills and secluded bays. It also boasts over 1600 geocache sites.
70. Connecting Ottawa and Kingston, the Rideau Trail network comprises 387kms of hiking routes across the Canadian Shield.
71. Allow plenty of time to explore the numerous hiking trails of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, discovering canyons, highlands and remarkable coastlines.
72. Take the easy 3kms boardwalk to Gros Morne’s Western Brook Pond, before joining a boat trip past the ancient cliffs and cascading waterfalls of this land-locked fjord.
73. Access the excellent High Note Trail by taking Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Marvel at glaciers, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains along the way.
74. You’ll need plenty of time to tackle the 3058kms International Appalachian Trail, running from Maine via New Brunswick and Québec to Newfoundland and Labrador.
75. It’s not well-marked, but the Great Divide Trail is an epic wilderness hike following the continental divide through the awe-inspiring scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Canada is home to no fewer than 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, recognised globally for having outstanding cultural or natural value. The newest site, Mistaken Point in Newfoundland, was designated just last year (2016) for its incredible fossil cliffs.
76. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump: deserving of recognition for its name alone, skeletons found here provided evidence of the traditional hunting technique of herding buffalo over a cliff.
77. Historic District of Old Québec: North America’s only remaining walled city was founded in the 17th century. Its charming cobbled streets and historic buildings are worth exploring.
78. L’Anse aux Meadows: uncover Norse legends at the site of an 11th-century Viking settlement, evidence of the first European presence in North America.
79. Old Town Lunenburg: a fine example of 18th century British town planning, picturesque Lunenburg retains its original grid layout and wooden architecture.
80. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station: this archaeological site bears witness to the 16th century whale hunting industry – a gruesome but revealing testimony.
81. Rideau Canal: built as part of a military strategy to defend the colony of Canada against the USA, the canal is now one of Ottawa’s favourite attractions.
82. SGang Gwaay: the remains of a traditional Haida village, including longhouses and totem poles, reveal much about this ancient culture’s way of life.
83. Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks: Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks, along with Mt Robson, Mt Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks, are recognised for their geological interest and breathtaking scenery.
84. Dinosaur Provincial Park: the Alberta Badlands are the site of some of the world’s most important fossil finds, including 35 species of dinosaur dating back over 75 million years.
85. Joggins Fossil Cliffs: acclaimed as holding the world’s best example of Coal Age fossils, these rich cliffs offer a comprehensive record of three ecosystems that were thriving 354 to 290 million years ago.
86. Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek: covering parts of the Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska, these four spectacular parks are home to the largest non-polar icefield in the world.
87. Miguasha National Park: located on the southern coast of the Gaspé Peninsula, Miguasha is recognised for its abundance of well-preserved fish fossils.
88. Nahanni National Park: the spectacular South Nahanni River cuts through deep canyons, limestone caves and thunderous waterfalls; geological features are explored by wolves and mountain goats.
89. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park: a unique landscape where mountain meets prairie, the Peace Park crosses borders to combine Alberta’s Waterton Lakes NP with Montana’s Glacier NP.
90. Wood Buffalo National Park: Canada’s largest national park is bigger than Switzerland and its vast plains are home to North America’s largest population of wild bison, as well as the endangered whooping crane.
History & Culture
Canada celebrated 150 years since confederation in 2017, but its human history dates back at least 12,000 years. Today Canada boasts a very multicultural society, built on a foundation of First Nations, explorers, pioneers and immigrants.
91. A hint of First Nations culture can be found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, where 9 totem poles stand proudly at Brockton Point.
92. The mist-shrouded islands of Haida Gwaii reveal ancient First Nations villages, crumbling totem poles and artists adding a modern twist to tradition.
93. Stay at Spirit Bear Lodge for the chance to view a unique species, and to learn how the local indigenous culture interpret the land and wildlife around them.
94. From 1758-67 Captain James Cook charted the rugged Newfoundland coast and the St Lawrence River – follow in his footsteps on an expedition voyage.
95. Cruise the elusive Northwest Passage, where the lost ships of Franklin’s 1845 expedition were finally found in 2014 and 2016.
96. Travel to Nunavik for the chance to stay amongst remote Inuit communities, who blend modern comforts with tradition in Canada’s most isolated villages.
97. Visit historic Québec City, the oldest walled city in North America, site of the decisive battle of the Plains of Abraham and highly photogenic to boot.
98. Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown will be leading the sesquicentennial celebrations this year; it’s often referred to as the ‘birthplace of confederation’.
99. Delve into the life, mind and memorabilia of an inventive genius at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
100. Hike to the top of Signal Hill for great views over St John’s, and uncover a history of military strategy, signalmen and Marconi’s first ever transatlantic wireless signal.
101. For a taste of early pioneering life visit the wild Yukon Territory – Dawson City’s colourful clapboard buildings stand testament to the Klondike Goldrush of 1896-99.
102. Pay tribute to the victims of the Titanic disaster and the equally tragic Halifax explosion at Nova Scotia’s fascinating Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
103. Québec’s Grosse Île was a quarantine station for immigrants 1832-1937. Today the island is a moving reminder of the hardships faced by those seeking a brighter future.
104. The ‘Group of Seven’ artists produced distinctive depictions of Canadian landscapes during the 1920s – well worth a visit at Ontario’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
105. Feeling homesick? Soak up some British ancestry in the city of Victoria, Vancouver Island; home to double decker buses, red pillar boxes and traditional tearooms.
Food & Wine
From award-winning wineries and gourmet dining, to a colourful array of street food inspired by a wealth of multicultural influences, one thing’s for sure – you won’t go hungry on a holiday to Canada!
106. Head to Atlantic Canada for a lively Kitchen Party – music, dancing and a mountain of fresh seafood for which the region is famed.
107. Québec’s Sugar Shacks celebrate all things maple! Watch sap become syrup, make taffy on snow, and try meat pies, pancakes and more, all drenched in maple syrup.
108. Explore the picturesque vineyards of British Columbia or Ontario, and sample the sweet sticky ice wine for which the Niagara region is renowned.
109. Vancouver’s vibrant and colourful Granville Island is well worth a visit for its fresh produce market, as well as cafes, theatres, artists’ studios and waterfront bars.
110. Don’t leave Québec without trying poutine – a winning combination of chips, cheese curds and gravy. Definitely much better than it sounds!
111. Enjoy a Beaver Tail – no, not actually a beaver’s tail, but a sugary treat that’s basically a flattened doughnut, often topped with even more sugary treats.
112. Take a tour of the world’s best food trucks in Vancouver, where a multicultural influence is evident in its variety and quality of street food.
113. Digby scallops are so widely renowned that this Nova Scotian town celebrates them with an annual festival. Look out for the scallop omelettes!
114. Popular throughout eastern Canada, a fiddlehead is the tasty shoot of the ostrich fern, a seasonal delicacy often to be found on menus during the spring.
115. Fancy a cocktail? Ask for a Caesar, a popular Canadian twist on a Bloody Mary which boasts the unusual added ingredient of clam broth.
116. Montréal is proud to rival New York City for the title of bagel capital of North America – get up early for a freshly baked breakfast treat.
117. You’ll need a sweet tooth for the Nanaimo bar, a rich triple-layered concoction of biscuit crumbs, butter icing and melted chocolate, originating from Vancouver Island.
118. Allow plenty of time to explore the farmers’ market, artisan stalls, museums, cafés, galleries and much more at the historic ByWard Markets, Ottawa.
119. Boundless prairies and ranch lands from Alberta to Manitoba ensure the steak is superb – but don’t forget to try elk, moose or bison for a real flavour of Canada.
120. Sup an Iceberg Beer from Newfoundland’s Quidi Vidi microbrewery – this refreshing lager is brewed with water taken from 25,000 year old icebergs.
While 2017 brought a year of celebrations on a national scale, every year in Canada brings an eclectic range of annual events and traditions.
121. Enjoy brunch crawls, cocktail masterclasses, street food and more at the Dine Out Vancouver Festival held in January.
122. Take part in one of the world’s largest Winter Carnivals in beautiful Québec City; a tradition held every Jan-Feb since 1894!
123. February heralds the epic Yukon Quest dog sled race; a 1,000 mile homage to gold prospectors and adventurers between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.
124. Celebrate the annual grey whale migration in March with music, art, games and events at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
125. The arrival of spring in April brings spectacular blooms; enjoy picnics and guided walks at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
126. Discover Newfoundland’s heart and soul at the brilliant Trails, Tales & Tunes festival held each May near Gros Morne.
127. Montréal plays host to numerous events throughout the year; June’s Fringe Festival and International Jazz Festival are both widely acclaimed.
128. 01 July marks Canada Day, celebrating the joining of the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada into 1 new country in 1867.
129. Declared the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, July’s Calgary Stampede festivities include rodeos, music events, free breakfasts and cowboys galore
130. Ottawa’s iconic Parliament Buildings are transformed throughout the summer months by a free evening Sound and Light Show.
131. Seafood lovers should head to Prince Edward Island in September for Atlantic Canada’s biggest kitchen party, the PEI International Shellfish Festival.
132. As the nights draw in turn your eyes skyward – the Jasper Dark Sky Festival shares a dazzling array of constellations and events each October.
133. Nova Scotia’s vibrant Celtic Colours festival in October boasts live music and cultural events, set against a backdrop of spectacular fall colours.
134. Join a public ‘Stomping of the Grapes’ and other culinary attractions at the long-running Ottawa Wine and Food Festival in November.
135. The bizarre tradition of mummering takes place before Christmas in Newfoundland & Labrador: calling on neighbours in heavy disguise and getting up to mischief in a bid to avoid being identified.
And finally… Only in Canada
From the amazing to the downright odd, Canada is certainly unique. Here are a few things that you simply can’t do anywhere else:
136. Take a selfie with a red-uniformed Mountie – but don’t misbehave, they always get their man!
137. Skate on the world’s largest ice-rink – every year Ottawa’s Rideau Canal freezes over, creating a 7.8 kms route through the heart of the Canadian capital.
138. Send a postcard from Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, the only city in the world that features two exclamation marks in its’ name.
139. Sit back and watch the remnants of ancient Greenlandic glaciers float by, drifting down Newfoundland and Labrador’s Iceberg Alley.
140. Save a few dollars to spend at the world’s first Biblio-Mat book vending machine in Toronto, or perhaps you’d prefer Québec’s wine vending machine?!
141. Get a glimpse of what lies beneath – all is revealed at the Tablelands in Newfoundland, where the earth’s mantle lies exposed.
142. Visit the Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks, where you can walk on the ocean floor after the world’s highest (four-storey) tides recede.
143. Marvel at the world’s longest beaver dam in northern Alberta – a sight to behold at a staggering 850 metres.
144. Look out for car license plates in the shape of polar bears – these are official in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
145. Spectate or take part in Québec’s annual Ice Canoe Race – a gruelling ‘paddle’ across the frozen St Lawrence River.
146. Enjoy a taste of Nordic hospitality in the heart of Canada – the Manitoban town of Gimli has the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland.
147. Kayak, sail, swim, fish, jet-ski… Canada has more lakes than all the other countries in the world combined, accounting for around 20% of the planet’s fresh water.
148. Explore the longest coastline in the world – sail the fjords of the west coast, voyage through Arctic archipelagos or watch for whales from Atlantic Canada’s clifftops.
149. Drive the longest national highway in the world – the 7699 kms Trans-Canada route. We recommend tackling it in bite-size chunks!
150. Keep your eyes peeled for intergalactic visitors – the world’s first UFO landing pad was built in St Paul, Alberta, in 1967.
For help in planning your Canada adventure, send us an enquiry or talk to a Travel Specialist.