Things to do in Canada: The Ultimate Bucket List
Canada’s Top AttractionsThe second largest country in the world sure fills your travel bucket list fast. We’re talking unbelievable scenery teeming with wildlife, unique twists on cuisine from around the world and cities bursting with innovative creativity. Here’s the ultimate breakdown of what to see and do in Canada.
Admire the architecture
- Vikings, forts & walls: Go way (way) back at the 1,000-year old Norse settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, around Nova Scotia’s 17th-century Fort Anne or Toronto’s 18th-century Fort York and atop the fortified city walls of Quebec City.
- Make it official: Gothic and grand, Ottawa’s Parliament Building is the current seat of Canadian power, while PEI’s Roman-inspired Province House witnessed the birth of the Canadian Confederation.
- Castle vibes: Built by Canadian railway companies in opulent château style during late 19th and early 20th century, the Banff Springs Hotel, Quebec City’s Château Frontenac, Saskatoon’s Bessborough and Edmonton’s Hotel MacDonald are a few of Canada’s so-called grand railway hotels.
- Go big or go home: Stop for Canada’s biggest mall (the West Edmonton Mall), its biggest church (Montreal’s Saint Joseph Oratory), its tallest totem pole (in Alert Bay, British Colombia) and its tallest tower (Toronto’s CN Tower).
- Canadian quirks: The stacked oddity that is Montreal’s Habitat 67, the futuristic domes of the same city’s Biosphere and Vancouver’s Science World or the candy colours of St. John’s Jellybean Row houses show our stranger side.
- First Nations experiences: Attend Winnipeg’s Manito Ahbee Festival or the Northwest Territories’ Great Northern Arts Festival, visit Haida Gwaii in British Columbia or celebrate National Aboriginal Day (June 21) with events in every Canadian city.
- Canadian traditions: Indulge in Quebec’s sugar shacks, get Screeched in Newfoundland, giddy up at the Calgary Stampede, go dogsledding in the Yukon and experience the Celtic influence of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
- Face the music: Catch local or international bands at Montreal’s International Jazz or Osheaga festivals, Ottawa’s Bluesfest, the Halifax Pop Explosion or Quebec City’s Summer Festival and stop by iconic venues like Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall and Calgary’s Palomino Smokehouse.
- Paint the town: Master the arts at the can’t-miss National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa or Toronto’s incomparable Art Gallery of Ontario. Edmonton’s Art Gallery of Alberta and The Rooms museum in St. John’s are also worth a trip, while the Mural festivals in Vancouver and Montreal take amazing art to the streets.
- Hockey Night in Canada: We can’t cover Canadian culture and ignore our icy obsession. From the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames, you gotta cross a game off your bucket list!
Eat (+drink!) your heart out
- Canadian classics: Gravy-slathered poutine, maple syrup-slathered anything (bacon!), tourtière, Nanaimo bars, bannock, butter tarts, Timbits or BeaverTails (they can’t be ignored) and a Bloody Caesar (almost a meal).
- From sea to sea: With the longest coastline in the world, Canada serves up sublime seafood, from lobster in the Maritimes (preferably freshly caught or in a roll!) to Pacific salmon over on the west coast and Arctic char up north.
- Go global: Haligonians swear by their version of a Turkish donair, Vancouver guarantees delicious Chinese dishes (dumplings!), Toronto mixes up cuisines from all over (tacos AND jerk chicken?), Edmonton’s Ukrainians makes specialties like pierogis a must-try and Montreal’s Jewish heritage leads to legendary bagels and smoked meat sandwiches.
- Play the market: Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Calgary’s Crossroads Market, Fredericton Boyce Farmers’ Market and Saskatoon Farmers’ Market are just some of the gourmet hotspots Canadian foodies flock to for locally sourced treats.
- Craft beers & wineries: Forget Molson Canadian and try craft creations from Yukon Brewing, Vancouver’s 33 Acres, Winnipeg’s Barn Hammer, Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery, Quebec’s Brasserie Mille-Îles and so many more across Canada. For wine, opt for Nova Scotia’s Tidal Bay, Ontario’s Jackson-Triggs from the Niagara region or one of the countless kinds produced in BC’s Okanagan Valley.
Answer nature’s call
- Peak Canada: Reach new heights atop the legendary Canadian Rockies straddling British Columbia and Alberta, Quebec’s verdant Laurentian Mountains or Yukon’s towering Saint Elias Mountains, a range that include the country’s highest summit, Mount Logan.
- Water works: Dip into Canada’s best bodies of water: three oceans (Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic), millions of lakes (Alberta’s teal-tinged Lake Louise, BC’s Emerald Lake and Ontario’s Lake Superior), long, winding rivers (the Yukon, Saint Lawrence and Nelson rivers) and a couple very iconic waterfalls (Niagara Falls, of course).
- Wild side: Spot belugas and polar bears in Churchill (the Polar Bear Capital of the World), go whale-watching in Tadoussac or off the coast of the Maritime provinces, follow the bison and elk grazing around the Prairies and keep an eye out for black or grizzly bears in the Yukon or British Columbia.
- Winter wonderlands: Skate the length of Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, drive up the ice roads of the Northwest Territories and hit the slopes of top Canadian ski resorts like Whistler Blackcomb, Big White or Sun Peaks.
- Park life: Pick a park for you: Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park for epic seaside cliffs, New Brunswick’s Fundy National Park for the highest tides in the world, Banff and Jasper for the most picture-perfect scenery, Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National park for sweeping prairie views, British Columbia’s Pacific Rim National Park for wild surf beaches and Quebec’s La Mauricie National Park for dense, evergreen forests.
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