Canada beckons with its diverse and awe-inspiring wonders, offering a tapestry of experiences. From its majestic mountains to cosmopolitan cities, from charming small mountain towns to pristine lakes, and from French-speaking cities to a wealth of wildlife that includes grizzlies, White Kermode Spirit bears, moose, elk, polar bears, whales, and much more, the list of marvels is seemingly endless. You might find yourself lodged in a splendid wilderness retreat just a short floatplane flight away from Vancouver, embarking on a journey through the Rockies aboard the breathtaking Rocky Mountaineer, or indulging in an ice hotel experience or the rustic charm of a ranch stay. In Canada, there's something for every traveler and even more to discover.
Banff National Park, including Lake Louise: Whether you choose to explore by road or train, Banff National Park, Canada's oldest national park, will leave you in awe. Its alpine landscapes are a feast for the eyes, featuring towering mountain peaks, turquoise glacier-fed lakes, and vast ice fields at every turn. Lake Louise, nestled within the national park, is renowned for its stunning chateau that graces its shores. During the summer months, the lakes take on a mesmerizing turquoise hue, while the winter transforms the area into a snowy wonderland.
Calgary Stampede: Affectionately known as the "greatest outdoor show on earth," the Calgary Stampede is a 10-day extravaganza held annually in July. This event combines rodeo, exhibitions, and festivals in the heart of Calgary. The entire city embraces a jubilant party atmosphere, with office buildings and storefronts adorned in cowboy themes, residents donning western attire, and events like pancake breakfasts and barbecues happening all over the city.
Quebec City: Positioned at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Charles Rivers, Quebec City is the heart of French Canada. It stands as the only walled city north of Mexico, boasting 4.6 kilometers of historic fortifications. The city exudes a distinctly European ambiance, which is why the entire old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Vancouver & Whistler: Vancouver is a city that deserves at least three days of your time, offering a multitude of captivating activities. You can explore the expansive 1,000 Acre Stanley Park by foot, bicycle, or a charming horse-drawn carriage. Dive into a culinary adventure as you navigate the diverse food markets of Granville Island, or wander through the vibrant streets of Chinatown and the historic district of Gastown. Departing from Vancouver, embark on an awe-inspiring journey along the Sea to Sky Highway to reach Whistler, home to the world's longest and highest lift. From this vantage point, you'll enjoy an unmatched perspective of British Columbia's natural wonders, from the towering volcanic peaks to the lush coastal rainforests.
Vancouver Island: Hop aboard a ferry or floatplane to reach the provincial capital, Victoria, where English charm abounds, including the enchanting Butchart Gardens, spread over 55 acres within a 130-acre estate. If time allows, venture further into the island to explore bear lodges and the wild, rugged west coast.
When to go / useful information
When to go
Canada's vast expanse extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, encompassing a wide range of latitudes, from southern regions akin to Rome's latitude to the far reaches of the Arctic. Such diversity in geography results in dramatic variations in temperature and climate. In May alone, you can enjoy world-class skiing on the west coast's Olympic-caliber mountain slopes or partake in the largest tulip festival in central Canada.
For skiing enthusiasts, the best time to visit the ski slopes of Whistler, Banff, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Fernie, Marmot, Sun Peaks, and more is from November to April.
The majority of visitors flock to Canada during the spring and summer seasons, spanning from May to mid-September. Late September through October, particularly on the East Coast, offers the spectacle of breathtaking fall foliage, making it an ideal time to explore the vibrant autumn colors.
Currency: Canadian Dollar
Language: English is the primary language spoken throughout Canada, but it's important to note that French is also an official language. French is particularly prevalent in the province of Quebec, where it is not only an official language but also the predominant one. In Quebec, you may encounter a distinct local accent and vocabulary that adds to the linguistic diversity of the region.
What makes it special: Canada is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, boasting the iconic Canadian Rockies, vast plains where buffalo roam, numerous lakes, rivers, fjords, and abundant glaciers. Even the Canadian people exude the wholesome charm that their natural surroundings produce. They are known for being friendly and relaxed, fostering a natural connection with Kiwis and making it a great place to immerse oneself in the local culture. The local inhabitants include not only the friendly locals but also majestic creatures like moose and grizzlies, which are truly incredible to observe in their natural habitats. A highly recommended experience is venturing into the remote wilderness to witness bears in their element. Notably, the Great Bear Rainforest on the Pacific Coast is home to grizzlies, wolves, humpback whales, and the elusive all-white Spirit Bear.
Canada offers more than just whales and wilderness; its cities are cosmopolitan and vibrant, with thriving arts scenes. In the East, you'll find a captivating French influence. Each region has a unique character, from the outdoor adventures in alpine-style towns of the Rockies to the rustic fishing villages of Nova Scotia and the vast ranches of the Yukon. Additionally, you'll discover increasing opportunities to immerse yourself in the cultures of the First Nations people who have inhabited the region for thousands of years. Learning about their traditions and heritage can add a profound dimension to your Canadian journey. For a refreshing and rejuvenating escape from the rigors of travel, consider a stay at one of the delightful spa resorts that have sprung up in Canada's wilderness areas. These serene getaways provide a restorative break from the hustle and bustle of your journey.
Weather: Canada's spring, summer, and autumn (generally from May to October) are all excellent times for travel, while skiing enthusiasts should plan their visit between November and April. The further north you venture, the cooler the temperatures become, so it's best to explore these areas in July and August when it's warmer. Peak tourist season occurs between Victoria Day (late May) and Labour Day (early September). Spring and autumn bring fewer crowds, lower prices, and a more relaxed pace than the summer months, but it's important to note that some attractions and facilities may be closed during these shoulder seasons.
Social customs: Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation. Shake hands with everyone at the meeting upon arrival and departure. Maintain eye contact while shaking hands. Men may offer their hand to a woman without waiting for her to extend hers first. In Canada, it is considered very bad manners to put your elbows on the table and to speak with your mouth full. It is also not polite to make a lot of noise when you eat; chewing noisily and slurping are bad manners in Canada.