Unspoiled nature and incredibly vibrant urban areas create the perfect mixture of reasons to travel to Canada.
“The Great White North,” as it’s commonly called, is a vast country that offers virtually unlimited opportunities for visitors of all kinds.
Whether searching for wildlife, landscapes, adventure activities or the culture of city life, travelling in Canada will give you a variety of travel experiences you are sure to remember.
As the second largest country in the world, Canada has much to offer by way of geographic diversity.
It stretches literally from sea to sea. Hemmed in by both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Canada also has access the Arctic Ocean to the north.
Because of its vastness and diversity Canada is one of the best places in the world for a cross-country road trip. In fact, this or a train ride across the country are the only ways to adequately traverse the country.
You can try to see it all in one extended trip. Or pick different regions to explore over the course of several holidays. Canada has much to offer.
Each one of its ten provinces and three territories has its unique charm and attractions.
For this reason, our Canada travel guide will provide you all of the information you need to plan your trip to the Land of Maple Syrup.
Canada Travel Guide
Have you ever wanted to see the Northern Lights? Or to explore the beautiful cities of Vancouver, Quebec or Calgary? What about venturing out into the world renown national parks of British Columbia?
There really is so much to do it can be overwhelming to plan to visit Canada. But getting started is not that difficult.
We’ve created a list of things you should do, visit, try and pack. Read on!
- Currency: Canadian dollar
- Capital: Ottawa
- Language: English and French
- Population: 37,067,011
- Area: 9,984,670 sq. km
- Electricity Voltage: In Canada, the standard voltage is 120 V, while the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
- Electricity Sockets: The power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The type B works with plug A as well.
Travelling to Canada
Since it is one of the most developed Western countries, there are multiple ways to travel to Canada.
The choice is yours depending on your needs and origins.
But you may want to consider comfort, prices, duration of trip and preferred method of travel as you plan how to get to Canada.
Canada has around 20 major international airports. This makes flying to Canada the quickest, most convenient way to enter the country.
The biggest and busiest airport is the Toronto Pearson International Airport. Direct flights to Toronto are available from a lot of cities across the world.
But you will also find international flights in and out of most major cities across the country.
It is best to buy tickets a couple of months in advance so you could find the cheapest options.
But regardless of whether you put a lot of time into planning your trip or make a last minute decision to visit Canada, there are almost always reasonable flight options available.
Try to buy your flight tickets in opposite seasons if you can. For your summer trip, book your flight during winter. And if you plan to enjoy Canada during winter, try ones for the winter holidays in July.
There’s a few low-cost airlines that offer cheap tickets to and from certain European destinations.
For example, a one-way ticket from London or Paris with WOW Air can cost as little as USD$170!
Sometimes it might also be cheaper to fly into the USA and then drive to Canada. So take that option into consideration.
Many people travel to Canada as part of a North American exploration. Or you may find a better flight deal into a major US city like Boston, New York City, Chicago or Seattle.
As such you may find yourself driving to Canada from the United States.
In many places it is very easy to pass between the Canadian/US border to visit nearby places in both countries.
Popular places include the Seattle/Vancouver area, Niagara Falls and Montreal/Vermont.
Roads between the US and Canada are generally in excellent condition. They are also marked well so navigation between the two should not be difficult.
Depending on your country of origin, time of stay and purpose for visit, passing through border security by vehicle is often less of a hassle than when arriving by plane.
If crossing into Canada from the United States, do check with your car rental company to make sure that you are able do so without violating the terms of your agreement.
You will also want to make sure that the vehicle is insured in both countries.
If you’re going to travel to Canada from the United States, you can also travel by bus. Certain cities, like Seattle, Boston, Albany, Detroit or New York, have direct routes.
Another great reason to travel to Canada by bus is that the bus fares are not very expensive.
For example, a Greyhound bus ticket from NYC to Montreal can cost around USD$80. You can expect to pay around USD$60 to take a bus from New York City to Toronto.
Some well-known bus companies that make trips between the US and Canada include Greyhound, Megabus and Quick Coach.
Tickets, routes and itineraries are all available online for each of these companies.
If you like to travel by train, then travelling to Canada from the US on a train is a great option. This combines relatively low costs, reasonable duration and incredible scenery.
In travelling from the US into Canada train you have two company options. VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak each have three routes that cross various borders between the US and Canada.
Further all routes both start and end in major cities so you can quickly orient yourself to other transportation options upon arrival.
The ride lasts from 4 hours (Seattle-Vancouver) up to 13 hours (New York-Toronto). Costs also vary between $50-$130.
This is a great way to enjoy the beautiful sights!
If you’d like to explore the western part of Canada by luxury train, then have a read of our detailed Rocky Mountaineer review.
Ferries can also be a unique way to see parts of both Canada and the US that are not usually explored by most travellers.
At the moment, there are five ferries that travel to Canada from the United States.
Two depart from Maine and go to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Deer Island, New Brunswick (Bay Ferries Limited, East Coast Ferries).
Another two travel from Alaska to Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, both in British Columbia (Alaska Marine Highway System, BC Ferries).
Finally, you can get to Victoria, British Columbia from Seattle (Victoria Clipper).
Canada is relatively accessible for travel. Passport holders in 54 countries can visit Canada without obtaining a visa. Canada will permit these travellers to stay in the country for up to six months.
Click here to see if your country is on that list. Others must obtain a temporary resident visa.
Everyone except two groups of people has to also have an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation).
Those exempt groups are US citizens and French citizens from Saint Pierre and Miquelon who enter Canada directly from the territory.
When applying for the eTA, visitors have to provide certain biographical details and passport information. Also, you’ll be asked about your employment information, available funds and your health and immigration history.
Click here to see all the application steps.
For those who do not qualify for a no-visa visit, the Visitor’s Visa costs USD$100.
5 Interesting Facts About Canada
- Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined! In total, there’s over 31,000 lakes larger than 3 sq. km and around 500 bigger than 100 sq. km!
- Montreal is the second-biggest French speaking city, right after Paris!
- Over half of Canadians have college degrees. This makes Canada the most educated country in the entire world!
- 30% of Canadian territory is covered in forests!
- The famous, authentically Canadian word ‘eh’ is actually in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary!
Best Time to Travel to Canada
Since the country is so vast and diverse, there really isn’t a time of year unsuitable for travel to Canada.
Depending on what you want to do, you should pick the month of your trip accordingly.
Summer Travel (June – August)
The warmer summer months, such as July and August, are the most common times to visit Canada.
As in many countries in the northern hemisphere, summer in Canada is an ideal time of travel and adventure for many tourists. Expect to come across more tourists and higher prices during this time.
But don’t worry about the crowds and expense. Canada is beautiful during the summer!
It’s summer temperatures tend to not be as extreme as other summer destinations. Some parts of the country, particularly those further north and at higher elevations, will still see snow melting well into June and July.
This is a great time to explore Canadian cities. But it is also the ideal time to visit any of the stunning national parks.
Winter Travel (December – February)
Winters in Canada can be very cold. But this is also a great time of year for for winter activities, such as dog sledding, snowboarding/skiing and ice climbing.
Canadian cities can also be quite beautiful during winter months.
But, keep in mind that some parts of the country deal with extremely uncomfortable temperatures.
For example, Winnipeg is Canada’s coldest city. Temperatures there can drop to -30°C at times!
Many of the places that are popular during the summer months are not as popular during the winter.
So if you would like to see parts of the country with fewer crowds than winter may be a great option for you.
The shoulder season in Canada is similar to other parts of the world. Spring and Fall tend to see less tourist traffic than summer and winter months.
The months that are not very popular are April and November. They are often neither cold nor hot enough to enjoy certain activities.
However, the prices are much lower during this part of the year. So if you factor this into your planning, maybe this isn’t such a bad time to travel to Canada.
Travel Itineraries Suggestions
As the second largest country in the world it is really difficult to pick between what you want to see and do in different parts of the country.
Eastern Canada has a pretty dense population compared to the rest of the country. There you will find cities like Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Niagara Falls is also located in eastern Canada.
Western Canada is less populated and more rugged when it comes to its geography. Most of the country’s most famous national parks are found in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.
And Vancouver dominates as the most popular city in western Canada.
Eastern Canada Itinerary
- Fly into Toronto (3 days)
- Day trip to Niagara Falls
- Go to Ottawa (2 days)
- Go to Montreal (2 days)
- Go to Quebec City (3 days)
- Return to Toronto
Western Canada Itinerary (Road Trip)
- Fly into Calgary (1-2 days)
- Drive through the national parks on your way to Vancouver
- Stop in Revelstoke (1-2 days)
- Drive to Vancouver (4 days)
- Day trip (ferry) to Victoria on Vancouver Island
- Fly out of Vancouver
Budget for Travelling Canada
Budgets for travelling in Canada can vary greatly. This depends on where you want to go, what you want to see and do, how you want to travel and the level of comfort you expect in your accommodations.
Canada is a highly developed country. As such many day-to-day expenses such as meals and accommodation can range in price greatly. Additionally fuel prices in Canada can be relatively expensive.
Here are a few ideas of what to expect in planning your budget to travel to Canada.
Backpacker: Up to USD$100 per day
The most affordable accommodation, besides Couchsurfing, are hostels and AirBnB.
Although the costs are different during the winter and summer, an average price can range between USD$15-$40.
The hostels are usually clean and decent. But check the reviews in advance.
If you’re on a tight budget then you probably won’t eat at restaurants on a regular basis.
Keep in mind that the price you see in the menu is the price without tax! A 10% to 15% tax will be added to your bill at the end of the meal.
Your best options might be fast food restaurants and buying your own groceries and cooking.
Canada has open-air markets and lots of chain grocery stores where you can buy groceries at affordable prices.
When it comes to public transportation, the prices are different in each area. But they’re not exactly cheap anywhere.
Daily city transportation can cost around USD$10 and single tickets are around USD$3.
Additionally you will need to budget separately for the various activities that you would like to do.
For example, ski passes in winter can be pricey. And daily entrance fees to national parks are reasonable, but will add up.
The best place to book budget accommodation in Canada is on Hostelworld.
Luxury: More than USD$250 per day
Those who would like to travel to Canada with a little more luxury will have many more options. The large cities, as well as certain vacation destinations, have top-notch hotels and resorts.
Rooms in four- and five-star hotels will cost upwards of USD$250 in and of themselves. The price of a meal in a luxurious restaurant is around USD$50, drinks not included.
If you’d like a once-in-a-lifetime hotel experience, there are a couple of great options for you to consider.
Sleeping in Hotel de Glace (The Ice Hotel) in Quebec costs USD$500 on average. The steep price includes a room at the Sheraton, in case it gets too cold for you.
The famous Fairmont Chateau on Lake Louise is located in the very heart of Banff National Park. The view does not get any better than staying here.
But the rooms cost from $450-$1500. And the price includes the usage of glass-bottomed canoes and horseback riding through the mountains.
One of the most lavish options is the King Pacific Lodge. You actually have to be flown into the resort.
The prices range from $4500-$12500 for three nights, but food, drinks and daily tours and activities are all included.
Aside from more luxurious meals and accommodations there are tons of things you can do when travelling in Canada.
From riding the Rocky Mountaineer train to helicopter rides through glacial ice fields, there is no shortage of experiences well worth the higher costs.
Top 5 Places To Visit In Canada
- Toronto: Toronto is not only the largest city in Canada, but also truly one of the most stunning cities in the world. It’s famous for its diversity and travelling here will be a great chance to learn about different cultures! The people are incredibly nice, the sights are beautiful. The only thing to watch out for is the weather!
- Montréal: Montréal is a fascinating mix of Europe and North America. It’s a definition of a vibrant city – full of festivals, museums and must-visit restaurants. Brush up on your French before your trip!
- Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls can be viewed from both the US and Canadian side of the border. And there is an ongoing debate over which side is best. The Niagara Falls are a great example of the incredible force and beauty of nature. If you’re adventurous and willing to get wet, take the Made of the Mist boat tour!
- Lake Louise: Lake Louise is one of Banff National Park’s most famous sights. The extraordinarily turquoise water is a real feast for the eyes. Plus there is spectacular hiking, biking and even kayaking that you can do to further enjoy the beauty of the nature around. You can visit during the summer or spend your winter vacation here!
- Vancouver: This city is always among the top five in the world when it comes to quality of life. It is basically Canada in a nutshell. It’s surrounded by beautiful nature, has a lively nightlife and is very culturally diverse! The city is a stepping stone to exploring British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
Top 5 Travel Experiences To Have In Canada
- The CN Tower Edge Walk: This will be a real treat is you consider yourself an adrenaline junky! The most famous building in Toronto can be admired not only from the ground, but also from the top as well. View the city from the top by either looking out or, if you are more daring, walk around the circumference of the roof!
- The Columbia Icefields Parkway: Some call it the most stunning journey in the entire world. It’s a great way to take in and admire the Canadian wilderness and nature. This route connects four national parks and three provincial parks, so you can only imagine the jaw-dropping scenery!
- The Whitehorse Northern lights: Witnessing northern lights is one of the most amazing natural phenomena. It seems to be on nearly everyone’s bucket list. The city of Whitehorse in the Yukon territory might be a perfect place for it! Your chances are highest between September and April, since the nights aren’t dark enough during the summer. This is a popular activity, so contact some of the tour companies if you don’t feel like organising everything yourself. View our article about going on a road trip around Yukon here.
- Polar Bears in Manitoba: An elusive and dangerous animal, the polar bear is a magnificent animal to observe in nature. And Canada boasts some of the best opportunities to see them in the wild. The town of Churchill is one of the best places to watch polar bears migrate from their summer homes on the tundra.
- Montréal International Jazz Festival: This is the world’s largest jazz festival! Every summer, over 2 million people gather to enjoy music and life in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities. Get your tickets in advance!
Transportation in Canada
It is pretty easy to get around when you are travelling in Canada. Expect to pay quite a bit more in Canada to travel between cities than in many less developed parts of the world.
And with higher costs, also expect longer durations in between destinations as distances in Canada can be great.
Travelling within Canada by air is the best way to cover ground quickly.
The county has many international and domestic airports. Sometimes, especially if you’re short on time, your best option is flying across the country.
In certain remote areas, there aren’t any other options besides air travel. When it comes to domestic flights, Air Canada has the best network of flights.
A few other companies include Air Creebec, Air St-Pierre, Pacific Coastal Airlines among others.
Rental Car / Vehicle
Rental cars are accessible and typically reasonably priced in more populated cities.
Much of Canada is best seen by rental car. There are many trips you can take to explore places considered off the beaten path for most.
Keep in mind that fuel prices can be high, particularly in less trafficked regions of the country.
But a rental car would be a great way to explore the various cities in eastern Canada. It would also be the best way to get around the various national parks and other natural beauty in western Canada.
Subway systems exist only in Toronto and Montréal. These systems cover the cities quite well. In Montréal, the subway network has 4 lines.
The daily tourist card costs USD$9 and a three-day pass costs USD$17. In Toronto, there are 3 subway lines available, and the daily pass costs USD$8.50.
In Vancouver they have the Skytrain network, which now connects the airport with downtown, making it very convenient to get around.
In most cities, buses are the main form of public transportation. Toronto has the largest system, with around 140 bus lines.
You can use the same tickets you buy for the subway in buses as well.
So, if you buy a day pass, you can use it in more than one type of public transportation.
Taxi / Ride Sharing
Taxis are available everywhere in Canada. However, they are a very expensive way to travel.
You should ask the driver in advance what the price is going to be.
The prices are based on mileage and can’t be negotiated and are usually around USD$2 per kilometre.
Keep in mind that taxi drivers usually expect a tip, but it’s your choice whether you’ll leave it or not. Additionally, most taxis accept cash only!
In many of the larger cities you can also find ride shares such as Uber and Lyft.
These are often substantially more affordable than taxi. But note they are not always available in areas outside of urban areas.
Accommodation in Canada
Canada is not exactly known for cheap accommodation. A highly developed country, rates can be relatively similar to those in Europe and the United States.
However, the prices vary and you should be able to find a reasonably priced room with some research.
The cheapest options are hostels and campsites.
Even though it depends on the place and time of year, a night should cost USD$25-USD$40.
When it comes to mid-range and luxurious hotels, there is an abundance of options. If you have more to spend, you will have far more options for accommodations.
4-star and 5-star hotels are concentrated in bigger cities, such as Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. However mid-range hotels are located all across the country.
One night in a mid-range hotel costs anywhere from $80 to around $250 in big cities.
Booking in advance always helps, so try to plan ahead!
Food in Canada
Some Canadian specialties are worldwide famous. While some require some research to discover!
Here’s some of the most popular dishes in Canada:
- Poutine (French fries and cheese curds topped with light-brown gravy)
- Montréal bagels
- Nova Scotia lobster rolls (sandwich made with lobster meat, lemon, and seasoning)
- Butter tarts (crumbly crust filled with a butter, sugar and egg cream)
- Yellow split pea soup (soup made with dried peas, veggies and salt pork)
Safety in Canada
Canada is a very safe country to visit.
It has a very low crime rate and Canadian people seem to always be willing to help someone in need. Violent crime is basically non-existent in popular tourist spots.
Just like anywhere else in the world, there are some areas in big cities should be avoided. Ask the locals about those neighbourhoods so you can enjoy your trip in peace.
Also, take care of your personal belongings, since tourists are often victims of petty thefts.
Canada is one of the safest countries for female travellers.
You shouldn’t have any problems if you’re travelling solo. Just keep in mind the same general safety tips you would use anywhere else in the world.
If you’re visiting the Canadian wilderness, watch out for the wild animals.
Every year tourists are attacked by bears, moose and bison. But this is usually due to not respecting the space of the animals and approaching too close to them.
Please mind the wildlife when you see it!
Your best option is to explore and area with someone familiar with it. But if that’s not possible, just be careful and study your maps, have bear spray, whistles and bells and know any regional laws or warnings when it comes to wildlife.
Check out our best travel tips to help you navigate around safely.
Medical System in Canada
Even though healthcare is free for Canadian citizens, that is not the case with visitors.
It is actually very expensive to get sick or injured on your travel to Canada. One of the first things you will want to do once you determine your dates of travel is to but travel insurance!
But when it comes to the quality of healthcare, the Canadian system is one of the best in the world. So if you do experience an injury or emergency, you will be in good hands.
If you’re on any prescription medication, make sure you bring it with you in the original container.
Also, bring a signed letter from your physician which explains your medical condition.
You do not need any specific vaccines when travelling to Canada.
We highly recommend having travel insurance if you travel in Canada.
Packing List for Canada
Your packing list will vary depending on what time of year you travel to Canada, how long you plan to stay and what activities you plan to do.
However this is a pretty good foundation for your packing list.
Men / Women
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 winter jacket/coat
- 4 sweaters
- 3 long sleeved tops
- 2 t-shirts
- 1 pair of comfortable winter boots
- comfortable hiking shoes
- a scarf
- a winter hat
- electrical adapter
Travel Tips for Canada
- Make sure you write down the emergency phone numbers, just in case. Just like in the United States, the general emergency number is 911. For non-emergencies, in some areas you can call 311.
- Although Canada is fairly safe, always make sure you have copies of your important travel documents.
- A travel insurance policy is a must! If you injure yourself and you don’t have insurance, expect to pay a large sum of money.
- If you can, return to Canada at least once more. It’s impossible to see and explore everything in one trip. Even if you plan on staying for a really long period of time, there is always more to see and do!
- While hiking, never drink from the rivers, even if they seem crystal clear! The water is often infected with a type of bacteria called giardia, which can cause a really bad intestinal infection.
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