Canada is the second largest country in the world and it is known also as Great White North, and quite justly due to snowy landscapes passing well into Arctic Circle. It is stretched from Pacific Ocean in the west to Atlantic Ocean to the east, with United States in the south and to the Arctic in the north.
It is very diverse country both geographically and by population. It is a country of countless lakes, snowcapped mountains, prairies, vast coastline and modern cities. A country of many ethnicities living harmoniously in the nation of about 35 million people: English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Chinese and indigenous people of Inuit, Metis, and First Nations, to name just a few.
Canada is massive country and has many attractions, and this post will surely not be enough to cover most of them, so we will be publishing additional posts to cover this magnificent country in incoming weeks. We hope this will be helpful when you decide to visit Canada.
1. Quick facts
- Official name: Canada
- Capital: Ottawa
- Population: 35 million
- Area: 9.98 million sq km (3.85 million sq miles)
- Major languages: English, French
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 83 years (women)
- Currency: Canadian Dollar
2. Where is it?
Canada is large country in the North America, the second largest in the world by land area. It stretches from the US on the south to the Arctic Circle in the north. Due to its size and having only about 35 million inhabitants, it is very scarcely populated – only 4 persons per square kilometer.
3. Visa requirements
As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you complete visit to Canada, so please plan ahead. Unless your country has an agreement with Canada. In which case you can get online visa, or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), otherwise, you require visa. To apply for tourist visa you need to contact nearest Canadian embassy for details. More details about visa requirements can be found here.
For general details about visa requirements please click here.
4. Getting there
Getting to Canada, unless you want to drive or take a bus from the US, is the best via one of many international airports: Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ), Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Ottawa McDonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW), Calgary International Airport (YYC) and several more.
5. Where to stay in Canada?
Canada is very diverse in what is offered for accommodation, whether it is a hotel, motel, AirBnB or high end lodging. Options also include guesthouses, farmstays and camping.
Click here for more info about lodging in Canada.
For budget (and young) travelers, there are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from Hostel World.
For latest offers on hotels from our providers use search form below:
6. Moving around
Canada has very developed airline, bus and train network, which you can use to travel from city to city quickly and efficiently. There are more than 500 airports in Canada, from which 17 are international.
If you prefer ground transportation, taking train can be exciting as you will be able to enjoy spectacular scenery.
To move around coastlines, you can use existing ferry network that connects the main points on the east and west coast.
For inner city transport, you can use commuter trains or underground if available, taxi service or any online transport service such as Uber or Lyft (in most of Canada). Renting a bicycle is also very popular in larger cities.
More info about transport in Canada can be found here.
To move between cities you can also rent a car, which you can do online from our website or from many car rentals.
7. Food in Canada
Canada is a large country with incredible mixture of cultures and ethnicities and this surely reflects in its cuisine. But one thing is common to all dishes – they are hearty and filling as they need to give you energy for usually cold weather and long distances you need to cover! 🙂
Number one dish associated with Canada is certainly poutine, a French Canadian specialty – fries, cheese, meat and gravy, surely to fill you for long Canadian winter. Bannock is a bread, either classically baked or even fried, accompanied with bacon. Butter tarts are exactly what you expect, pastry filled with butte sugar and egg filling.
Canada also have massive coastlines, both east and west and fish and sea food is very common in these area. Salmon, arctic char and east coast lobster are the favorites.
Montreal has some great bagels to try, a bit different than the ones from the NYC, but definitely tasting great. Montreal is also famous for its take on smoked meat, kind of like some heavy fast food.
Canadians have their own way of preparing bacon – peameal bacon, which is cured bacon rolled in a cornmeal that gives it a yellow crust.
Quebec’s popular meal is split pea soup, which is more of a puree of peas, pork and herbs and very filling for a quick meal. Tourtière is a meat pie, savory meal eaten during holidays usually but it is great year around.
Canadians love Nutella and every possible combination of it, either on pancakes, in a cake or just as a standalone dessert, but Maple Syrup tops the list of sweet ingredients in Canada’s diet. They even make an instant sweet out of it by pouring it on ice and rolling it into a popsicle. It’s called Maple Taffy. Enjoy!
For more info about Canadian cuisine click here.
How safe is the Canada for tourists and to move around? Canada is very safe country in general, and you need to use general caution such as not leaving valuables in the open sight in the car, etc. Most risk is coming from natural hazards (heavy rain or snow) so please pay attention when you go for outdoors exploration.
More details about safety in Canada you can find here.
Canada is very affordable for tourists and the biggest expense would be a plane ticket if you are not coming from neighboring US, from which you can come by road from many major cities.
For detailed pricing information for various items, click here.
Prices throughout the Canada are almost the same for common items, with slight variation, but major cities naturally are more expensive, so Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City and Ottawa lead the list of most expensive places.
Canada is a large country and spreads from Pacific to Atlantic Ocean and from the US all the way deep into Arctic Circle, so weather and climate naturally vary depending on your location.
Northern parts have obviously cold Arctic climate, coastal areas have maritime climate and continental climate is in the middle and close to the border with the US.
The lowest temperatures are in December and January and they go easily below zero. More you move to the south, temperatures rise and climate is more moderate.
Summers in the south and along the coast can be nice and warm with temperatures not raising more than 25 C.
11. Best time to visit Canada
If you are going for skiing and other winter activities, winter is the best time to visit Canada. Best weather for traveling between cities and see most of the attractions is between June and August. This is the time when most tourists visit Canada so expect spike in accommodation, flights and attraction prices.
To avoid huge crowds and still enjoy pleasant weather you can visit during months of September and October.
12. Money matters
Canada’s currency is Canadian Dollar (CAD) so visitors should take a note of exchange rate. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip. It is always good to have some cash on you, especially when leaving a tip in the restaurant or for a taxi ride. There are ATMs and banks on every corner and cash withdrawals are in Canadian Dollars with a fee.
Major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners, but privately operated ATMs may sometimes charge high fees. However, machine should warn you about the charge so you have a choice to cancel the transaction before committing to it. If machine offers you to do conversion into local currency, you should decline it as you will be charged unfavorable rates.
13. What to see in Canada?
We are listing here around top fifty interesting attractions to see in Canada and this is just a small sample of what you can see and do there. We will be covering in details major cities where more attractions will be listed.
Algonquin Provincial Park. Large forested park with lakes west from Ottawa, offering camping, hiking and wildlife watching.
Banff National Park. Established all the way in 1885, this park is part of Rocky Mountains. Featuring turquoise glacial lakes, diverse wildlife and scenic drives and hikes. Located west of Calgary.
Jasper National Park. Further northwest from Banff, this vast national park offers spectacular views on landscapes, camping and hiking.
Yoho National Park. Located in the southwest of Alberta, on the border with British Columbia, this parks features mountains, waterfalls, hiking trails and wildlife watching. Famous for fossil deposits.
Waterton Lakes National Park. Located in South Alberta, Waterton National Park is right next to Montana Glacier National Park. Famous for prairie landscapes and chain of lakes with Rocky Mountains backdrop. Rich in wildlife and vegetation species.
Bruce Peninsula National Park. Seated on the Niagara Escarpment, a large forested ridge that runs through southern Ontario, north of Toronto, this park runs through cedar forests and rocky cliffs when you can find black bears roam and some rare reptile species.
Kootenay National Park. A national park is a part of Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site and it is located in the south east of British Columbia. It has a diverse landscape, from icy mountain rivers to steamy hot springs, canyons and mountains. Offers scenic views, hiking and camping opportunities.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Over 510 square kilometers of park area comprising of three different areas: set of 100 small islands, beach area and rainforest mountainous area. Occupying south west coastal area of British Columbia.
Gros Morne National Park. A world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland in east Canada. It is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada and famous for unique geology. Offering boat tours, hiking trails, camping and wildlife watching.
Moraine Lake. Set in the rugged Valley of the Ten Peaks, in Banff National Park, this lake is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles, and it has turquoise water color. Popular for hiking, canoeing and nature photography.
Maligne Lake. Located in Jasper National Park, this lake features Spirit Island and stunning views of mountains and glaciers. It is the largest lake in Canadian Rockies.
Lake Louise. Picturesque lake in Banff National Park in Alberta Province. It’s a glacier-fed lake surrounded by high peaks and with chateau on its shores. Popular for outdoor activities.
Peyto Lake. Another glacier formed lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, just 40 km north from Lake Louise. Accessible from Icefields Parkway. During summer months, glacier rock flour flows into the lake, and gives its waters a breathtaking color.
Bow Lake. Glacial lake located on Bow River in Banff National Park. It’s a small lake in the high attitude of 1920 m. Receives water from Bow Glacier. It has a lodge and it is popular for picnics.
Emerald Lake. The largest lake out of over 60 in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Populr tourist destination featuring high end lodge for accommodation.
Lake Minnewanka. Located just 5 km away from Banff town, this large lake offers many activities, such as: picnicking, hiking, biking and scuba diving.
Stanley Park. Sprawling urban park with scenic seawall in downtown Vancouver. Largest urban park in the city featuring beaches, trails, seawall and several family-friendly attractions.
CN Tower. A 553-metre high tower featuring a glass floor and a revolving eatery with panoramic 360 degree views. Located downtown Toronto and part of its iconic skyline.
Capilano Suspension Bridge. A landmark bridge, 140 meters long and 70 meters high, perched in the treetops. Built in 1889, offers scenic views of the forest and Capilano River. Located on outskirt of North Vancouver.
Athabasca Glacier. Majestic, receding glacier on Mount Athabasca, in Alberta. The most visited in North America, and it is popular with guided tours and hiking.
Butchart Gardens. Famous botanical garden, located in Victoria in south British Columbia. Over 22 hectares of manicured garden featuring eateries and guided tours with program.
Whistler Blackcomb. The largest ski resort in North America. Famous for year-round ski activities including skiing, snowboarding and biking. Offering high end accommodation, plus spas, shops and cafes.
Horseshoe Falls. Canadian side of America’s famous, towering Niagara Falls on Niagara River. Offering viewing platform and boat tours to the waterfall.
Lake Louise Ski Resort. Year around activities, both for winter and summer time. One of major ski resorts in Banff National Park.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. Luxury castle hotel with posh dining, a spa, wine bar and river views. Located in Old Town Quebec City.
Gastown. Original settlement that sprawled city of Vancouver, Gastown is now popular neighborhood for tourist looking for trendy eateries, souvenir shops, indie art galleries and decor stores. Also known for its whistling Steam Clock and Victorian buildings
Old Quebec. A historic neighborhood of Quebec City with many historical landmarks, some dating back to 17th century: Château Frontenac, Citadelle de Québec, Château Saint-Louis, Morrin Centre and many more.
Montmorency Falls. A two-step waterfall with total height of 87 meters, surrounded by parkland. Accessible via trails, steps, a suspension bridge or a cable car. Located immediately northwest from Quebec City.
Mount Royal. More of a large hill than mountain, this landmark is year around attraction with park and view of Montreal city and surroundings.
Granville Island. Actually a small peninsula with a market and important cultural districts with theaters, artisan workshops and craft studios. Located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver under the south end of the Granville Street
Fairmont Banff Springs. Luxurious hotel set in a Banff National park, just outside of Banff town. Built in a castle style, offering a golf course, several restaurants and a spa.
Skylon Tower. Landmark observation tower featuring stunning views of Niagara Falls and offering a revolving restaurant and an arcade.
Sulphur Mountain. Mountain in Banff National Park accessible via hike or gondola, with observation decks and eatery. Overlooking town of Banff.
Journey Behind the Falls. Unique, close up views of Niagara Falls, going below and behind the falls via tunnels and observation decks.
Casa Loma. Grand 18th century, stately castle with seasonal gardens opened seasonally and offering guided tours and visits. Located in Toronto.
Parliament Hill. Referred locally simply as The Hill, this is place of Canada’s legislature in downtown Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Large, gothic revival complex surrounded by gardens, featuring various artworks and offering guided tours.
Royal Ontario Museum. Large exhibition place ranging from art, world culture to natural history. Largest museum in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Located in Toronto.
Rideau Canal. A canal, also referred to as Rideau Waterway, is connecting Ottawa and Lake Ontario. During the summer offers boat rides and during the winter turns into skateway. It is more than 200 km long.
Distillery District. Pedestrian area in Toronto, set in the 19th century area buildings that hosted whiskey distillery and now popular place with restaurants, bars and theaters.
Athabasca Falls. A waterfall on the upper Athabasca River in Jasper National Park, known for its large volume of water and forest surroundings.
Sunshine Village. Now called Banff Sunshine, this attraction-filled ski resort is popular year around as it offers activities during the summer as well. Located southwest from town of Banff.
Canada Place. Located in the downtown harbor front in Vancouver, this iconic complex hosting convention center and ferry terminal is famous for being a shape of a ship and it is popular tourist destination.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Massive public aquarium in downtown Toronto. Contains more than 16,000 marine species. Offering events and classes.
English Bay. Ocean inlet in Vancouver with a recreational beach. Hosting annual fireworks competition.
Mount Robson. Iconic snowcapped peak with hiking paths, lakes and glaciers. The highest point in the Canadian Rockies, located on the borders of Alberta and British Columbia.
Toronto Islands. Set of small Islands across from mainland Toronto with various recreational activities, beaches and a theme park.
Maligne Canyon. A 50-meter high limestone canyon in Jasper National Park features waterfalls, underground streams, various vegetation and bird watching opportunities.
Banff Upper Hot Springs. Historic hot mineral springs near town of Banff. Canada’s highest thermal mineral springs, with views of Rockies panoramas.
Queen Elizabeth Park. Large urban park in Vancouver. Seasonal gardens on the hill overlooking the city. Featuring manicured gardens, a conservatory, sculptures and sports courts.
14. Interesting facts about Canada
- Canada has most educated population in the world.
- Canada has more lakes than rest of the world combined.
- Montreal is the second largest French speaking city, after Paris!
We hope you enjoyed reading about Canada!