Make the most of the Great White North with this list of things to do in Canada! The country has no shortage of amazing landscapes and sights to explore, from the incredible Rocky Mountains to the majestic Niagara Falls. We know it’s hard to visit them all with endless possibilities to explore. Nonetheless, here are our top picks of Canadian experiences and things to do in Canada!
1. Wander Old Quebec
Canada is many things – craggy mountains, wide open prairies, bustling metropolis and of course, French! French language, French architecture and French cuisine! French is one of the two official languages of Canada and the only official language of Quebec. You can experience all of this in UNESCO-listed Old Quebec, one of the oldest European settlements in North America, where rustic cobblestone streets draw curious flannels back in time. Brave the colder months, and you can also curl up in the city’s famous ice hotel!
2. Skate Rideau Canal in Ottawa
Within Canada, the nation’s capital Ottawa has a reputation for being… Well, boring. But it’s not so when you know where and when to go! Ottawa hosts a range of music and theater festivals, and the raucous festivities on July 1st for Canada Day attract thousands of patriotic revelers. But for a truly unique experience, join hundreds of other skaters gliding down frozen Rideau Canal in the winter months, which becomes the world’s largest skating rink! Cap your visit with Parliament Hill and stand in awe of the magnificent Gothic revival architecture.
3. Go whale watching on the East Coast
Canada is famous for big open spaces, big mountains and big wildlife, both on land and at sea! In summer, a dozen whale species congregate in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and over 20 around Newfoundland, including the world’s largest population of humpbacks! There’s also Tadoussac in Quebec, where krill that thrive in the confluence of warm and frigid waters attract hungry humpbacks, belugas, minke and the mighty blue whale. If you’re traveling West Coast instead, British Columbia is a great place to spot orcas with many excursions leaving from Vancouver Island.
4. See polar bears in Churchill
The polar bear – fierce predator, white wanderer of the frozen north, and just so cuddly-looking! While putting your arms around one of these carnivorous beasts would be a grave mistake, admiring their magnificence from afar is a rare and wonderful experience. Known as the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill in Manitoba is right on the migration route of these beautiful creatures, who in October and November move from the inland tundra to frozen Hudson Bay for seal hunting season. Churchill is also the perfect place to see belugas, and to experience another classic Canadian experience: husky-sledding through the winter wilderness!
5. Get festive in Montreal
You do not know spring fever until you’ve hunkered down for months with temperatures that can drop down to -35C! With the sunshine comes an explosion of festivals in Quebec’s Montreal, also known as Sin City for its Bacchanalia nightlife, and home of the legendary Montreal Canadiens. Montreal Jazz Fest boasts over 650 concerts, most of which are free! It’s followed up by the comedy festival, Just For Laughs, and indie music festival Osheaga for smooth beats all summer long. Coming to Montreal in winter? No problem! IglooFest is the coldest music festival in the world, bringing together electronic music and winter enthusiasts.
6. Explore a sugar shack in Eastern Canada
If there’s one thing maple syrup goes well on? It’s everything! Maple powerhouses Quebec and Ontario produce most of the world supply. And cabins called sugar shacks, or cabane a sucre, where the sap is turned into taste magic are scattered throughout Eastern Canada, particularly New Brunswick. Many also run activities that are popular in spring when the trees thaw. You can watch how the trees are tapped, stuff your face with maple toffee and best of all, inhale a hearty meal doused in the sweet sticky syrup all without feeling guilty.
7. Stand in the spray of Niagara Falls
Now here’s a legendary attraction. You’ll hear the falls’ thunderous roar first and see the shroud of mist billowing overhead from the roiling plunge pool. Niagara’s main shoot, Horseshoe Falls is a magnificent unbroken curtain of surging whitewater. Just around the bend on the American side are Niagara smaller shoots, Bridal Veil and American Falls, spectacular enough in their own right. The town itself is a pretty tacky tourist trap of gift shops and casinos, but the trip is worth it for the falls alone, be it in summer or winter!
8. Ski Whistler BC
Pick up your jaw before you push off! We know Whistler is more than just good-looking. The largest ski resort in North America just a few hours from the gorgeous Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb is a snow sports wonderland with over 200 runs spread out over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain from smooth beginner slopes to steep chutes and powder filled bowls. In summer, the resort also hosts Crankworx, described by bike magazines as the Super Bowl of freeride mountain biking. Wind down in picturesque Whistler Village packed full of chic boutiques, spas, bars and restaurants
9. Camp in the Rocky Mountains
It’s a land of grizzlies, colossal glaciers and towering peaks. Just a minute in the Rockies will make you feel small, gazing around in wide-eyed wonder. Created by tectonic collisions, the windswept mountains tower over glistening glacial lakes and lush green forests. It’s a stunning world of incredible natural beauty, ideal for campers, hikers and even for just standing around and taking it all in! Take a road trip up the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper for glimpses of the monumental Columbia Icefield. And keep an eye out for bears, elk and moose!
10. Watch a hockey game in Toronto
You know Canadians love their hockey! In fact, during the playoffs Canadians have rioted in response to both losses and victories. You can experience the intensity of this fast, graceful and highly skilled spectacle for yourself all over Canada, but Toronto is a great place to start. It’s home to the loved and loathed Maple Leafs, one of the most storied franchises in hockey history and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Round out your sporting experience with a Blue Jays game and soak in the panoramic views from Toronto CN Tower!