Pop Quiz: Where are the Best Places to Go in Canada?

By Jamie Edwards

In what country can you: see the Northern Lights, observe polar bears, stand alongside 12,000-year-old waterfalls, hike glaciers, visit over 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stay in world-class hotels, and try poutine?

If you guessed Canada (and yes, the title was a dead giveaway), give yourself a pat on the back. But did you know just how much our beautiful neighbor to the north has to offer visitors? Do you know what poutine is? If not, the best places to go in Canada follow. We’ve taken the second-largest country in the world and broken it down into bite-sized pieces.

Whether you’re keen to stay in some of Canada’s best hotels or explore vibrant cities, islands, coastlines, and National Parks, Canada has you covered. Wondering exactly where to go in Canada? Read on.

Best places to go in Canada: Cities

Montreal: Montreal is often called the ‘Paris of North America’ due to its European feel and the multitude of bridges that surround it—nine in all. Its 17th-century architecture boldly contrasts those with ultra-modern design. Don’t miss exploring the historic heart of the city, Vieux-Montreal, with its cobblestoned streets and iconic landmarks like Notre Dame Basilica and Place Jacques-Cartier.

Summit Mount Royal for panoramic views of the skyline. Walk among Picassos, Van Goghs, and Rembrandts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Between its museums, markets, famous bagels, and a plethora of jazz and film festivals, Montreal is a cultural hot spot for all seasons.

Is Montreal on your radar now? Try one of these luxury Montreal hotels:

Le Mount Stephen
The Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Quebec City: Canadians treasure the Francophone culture of Quebec City. Old Quebec is considered the cradle of French America with its vibrant culture, bistro, and café life. With both emerging and established chefs, the restaurant scene celebrates styles that span French, British, North American, and Indigenous influences.

Quebec is the best place to try Canada’s national dish, poutine. Poutine is a combination of crispy fries, melty cheese curds, and savory gravy and can be found in restaurants across Canada. Some interesting variations on Canada’s favorite meal include toppings like pulled pork, bacon, mushrooms, or caramelized onions.

Is Quebec City on your radar now? Try one of these luxury Quebec City hotels:

Auberge Saint-Antoine, Relais & Châteaux
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Toronto: Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world with nearly 180 languages spoken within the city limits. No wonder it’s always listed as one of the best places to go in Canada. A cultural melting pot, visitors can bounce between a variety of neighborhoods from Koreatown to Little Tibet, all the while trying unique dishes like pork bone soup or (momos) dumplings stuffed with chicken.

As a whole, Canadians are known to be welcoming. But Torontonians may just be the friendliest Canadians of all! So, if you’re ever in need of directions to one of Toronto’s many museums or architectural marvels, don’t be shy. Go ahead and ask. A bonus, Toronto is only 90 minutes from Niagara Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Is Toronto on your radar now? Try one of these luxury Toronto hotels:

The St. Regis Toronto
1 Hotel Toronto
Shangri-La Toronto

Vancouver: Vancouver’s proximity to both beaches and mountains makes it one of Canada’s most visually interesting cities. It has attractions and activities to please all types of travelers. Discover Granville Island—a vibrant arts and culture hub located in the heart of the city. Browse through the Granville Island Public Market to sample fresh local produce, gourmet foods, and artisanal goods.

Bike around elevated downtown Queen Elizabeth Park for mountain views. Or, head to Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. Dive into the wonders of science and technology at Science World, an interactive science center located in the iconic geodesic dome near False Creek. With summer festivals and funky, industrial neighborhoods, night markets, and flea markets, Vancouver is an edgy and cool Canadian city destination year-round.

Is Vancouver on your radar now? Try one of these luxury Vancouver hotels:

Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Shangri-La Vancouver
The DOUGLAS, an Autograph Collection Hotel

Best places to go in Canada: National Parks

Banff National Park: Banff National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies and is known for its awe-inspiring landscapes, including mountain peaks, clear lakes, and cascading waterfalls. The park offers a wide range of outdoor activities, making it an ideal destination for adventure seekers.

Visitors can hike glaciers, mountain bike, rock climb, or watch wildlife. Banff National Park is home to an impressive range of species, like grizzly bears, black bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and wolves.

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba: Wapusk National Park is one of the best places in the world to observe polar bears in their natural habitat. The park is home to one of the largest known polar bear maternity denning areas, where female bears give birth to their cubs in the winter. Guided tours take guests across the snowy landscape in specialized tundra vehicles.

Wapusk National Park also offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the cultural and historical significance of Manitoba. The park is home to the traditional lands of the Cree and Inuit peoples, who’ve lived there for thousands of years. Visitors can participate in programs led by Indigenous guides to gain insights into the relationship between the people and the land.

Jasper National Park, Alberta: Also a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s recognized for its exceptional natural beauty, geological significance, and biodiversity. Landmarks such as Mount Edith Cavell, Athabasca Falls, and Spirit Island on Maligne Lake showcase the park’s gorgeous terrain and provide endless opportunities for outdoor exploration and photography.

Jasper is especially interesting in that it’s a designated Dark Sky Preserve. This means it’s a perfect destination for stargazing and astrophotography. Because of its minimal light pollution, astro-tourists can embrace the brilliance of the Milky Way, witness meteor showers, and observe celestial phenomena from within the park.

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland: Gros Morne National Park resides in Newfoundland and Labrador and is renowned for its unique geological features, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park showcases a rare example of continental drift, with exposed rock formations that illustrate tectonic plate movements created over millions of years.

Explore the park’s diverse geological features, including the towering cliffs of Gros Morne Mountain, or the deep fjords of Western Brook Pond. In addition to its natural wonders, Gros Morne National Park has a rich cultural past shaped by Indigenous peoples, European settlers, and traditional Newfoundland communities.

Best places to go in Canada: Islands and Coast

Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia’s blend of inherent beauty, culinary delights, and outdoor adventures makes it one of the best places to go in Canada for families. It has over 4,600 miles of coastline, with rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, picturesque fishing villages, and scenic coastal drives. It has historic towns, vibrant arts and music scenes, and UNESCO-listed sites such as Old Town Lunenburg and Grand Pré. A National Historic Site commemorating the Acadian people, Grand Pré is well worth adding to any Canadian itinerary.

Nova Scotia’s coastal location produces a bounty of fresh seafood, including lobster, scallops, oysters, and Atlantic salmon. The province is also known for specialties such as Digby scallops and Cape Breton fiddleheads. Whether exploring its coastal landscapes, experiencing its rich, historical culture, or indulging in its culinary delights, Nova Scotia is sure to impress visitors.

Prince Edward Island (PEI): Prince Edward Island is on the eastern coast of Canada—an ever-charming and picturesque destination. Prince Edward Island has some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in Canada, with sandy beaches, red sandstone cliffs, and rolling green hillsides.

PEI is known the world over for its seafood, including Malpeque oysters, fresh lobster, and mussels. Lesser-known perhaps, PEI is famous for its potatoes, which are celebrated each year at the Prince Edward Island Potato Blossom Festival. Explore the island’s history at local museums and historic sites. Or, take part in cultural festivals such as the Acadian Festival or the Highland Games.

Clayoquot Sound: Overflowing with natural beauty, Clayoquot Sound is located on the western coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. A pristine and ecologically diverse region, Clayoquot offers visitors outdoor activities for both adventure seekers and nature lovers. From surfing and whale watching in the Pacific Ocean to bear watching along salmon streams, there’s something for everyone in this rugged, majestic part of Canada. The region’s multi-layered ecosystems provide habitats for a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, sea otters, black bears, and gray whales.

Clayoquot Sound is committed to environmental conservation and sustainable development. The region has many protected areas, including the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and Meares Island Tribal Park.

Bay of Fundy: Canada’s Bay of Fundy lies between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A natural wonder—people travel far and wide for its dramatic tides and magnificent coastal landscapes. The Bay of Fundy is famous for having the highest tides in the world—some of which reach up to a whopping 52 feet. These extreme tides create a dynamic coastal environment. Vast expanses of mudflats are exposed at low tide, revealing unique geological formations, tidal pools, and marine life.

The Bay of Fundy also has some of the prettiest scenery in the country, with towering sea cliffs, jagged headlands, and picturesque fishing villages. But most of all, the Bay of Fundy is the place to go for incredible marine life. Its nutrient-rich waters support a diverse array of species, like whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds, and migratory shorebirds. The bay is particularly popular for its whale-watching opportunities, with sightings of humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, and North Atlantic right whales which can be seen regularly during the summer months.


Canada is a vast and diverse country spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. While many of the places noted here are known around the world, there are still a few places tourists can get off Canada’s beaten path. Adventurous travelers might consider a few of the following hidden gems on their next visit to Canada:

Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: Situated off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island is as remote as it gets. Visitors can hike along scenic trails, see historic lighthouses, and explore quaint fishing villages. They can visit traditional fishing communities, watch artists-in-residence, and experience local culture through music, storytelling, and crafts.

Fogo Island Inn sits on an island at one of the Earth’s four corners and has endless opportunities for adventure. But travelers be warned, getting to Fogo is no easy feat! Remember that the journey is always a part of the adventure.

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan: Grasslands National Park is another one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Its vast prairie landscapes, unique geological formations, and rich Indigenous history are only a part of its appeal. Visitors can explore countless hiking trails or go on wildlife safaris to see bison, pronghorn, and prairie dogs—all under Grassland’s vast starry skies.

Churchill, Manitoba: Churchill is a small Canadian town on the shores of Hudson Bay. It’s often referred to as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” and is one of the best places in Canada to see the Northern Lights. Take a guided polar bear tour, go beluga whale watching, and experience the thrill of dog sledding and snowmobiling. Churchill is indeed the coolest Canadian hot spot for adventure seekers.

Canada is Calling

In short, our northern neighbor has much to offer tourists. Whether searching for polar bears in Manitoba, black bears in Clayoquot Sound, or grizzly bears in British Columbia, you’re bound to have some outstanding wildlife sightings. Perhaps you’re keen to try new foods at one of the many cities’ street markets. Or possibly stargazing under dark skies at a National Park is more your speed. Maybe you’d like to sink into a luxury suite with a city view. Canada is calling. The team at CIRE can help you answer.

Do you remember what the national food of Canada is? Time to head north and give poutine a try.

Jamie headshot

Jamie Edwards is an avid traveler, travel writer, and photographer. She launched I am Lost and Found, her adventure/luxury travel website after 25 years of living and traveling around the globe. Jamie’s goal is simple, to inspire travel.

CIRE Travel is a full-service travel agency headquartered in New York, NY.  Our expert corporate travel planners, honeymoon travel agents, and luxury travel planners support clients across the country and around the world.

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