Canada, the world’s second-largest country, has many beautiful landscapes and interesting places for visitors to visit. From coast to coast, the country is home to dynamic and culturally rich cities as well as breathtaking natural beauty.
The Rocky Mountains, the Okanagan Valley, and the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary are among the best places to visit in Western Canada, and they consistently rank at the top of itineraries. The most popular tourist destinations in Central Canada are Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.
The beauty of Gros Morne National Park, as well as the cities of Halifax and St. John’s, give visitors to Canada’s East Atlantic provinces a distinct and distinct personality.
Although remote in northern Canada, it is equally impressive, with major rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean creating incredible canoe territory and wild polar bears. You can travel to faraway places like Nahanni National Park, Great Slave Lake, Churchill, Whitehorse, and Yellowknife.
When planning your trip, keep our list of Canada’s top attractions in mind.
1. Niagara Falls
The most well-known natural wonder in Canada, Niagara Falls, attracts millions of visitors each year. These massive falls, located just over an hour’s drive from Toronto along the American border, drop approximately 57 meters. The falls can be seen from a number of key locations at an astonishingly close distance.
Tourists and daredevils have been drawn to Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge for well over a century. There were numerous attempts between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries to plunge over the falls in various types of homemade boats and barrels. This, along with tightrope walkers and other attractions, resulted in the adjacent town of Niagara Falls developing a carnival-like atmosphere that is still present today.
Families will enjoy a stroll down Niagara’s infamous Clifton Hill, which leads to the gorge and falls. A cruise to the base of the falls, a trip up the Skylon Tower for a fantastic aerial view, and a look from the bottom of the falls on the Journey Behind the Falls experience are all popular things to do here.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Niagara Falls: Best Areas & Hotels
2. Banff National Park & the Rocky Mountains
Banff National Park is located in the heart of Alberta’s majestic Rocky Mountains and features some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. The park’s turquoise lakes, snowcapped peaks, and glaciers are all easily accessible. Take a scenic drive or go on one of Banff’s best hikes.
The park’s crown jewel is Lake Louise, whose green waters reflect the surrounding mountains and glaciers and where visitors can easily stroll around the shores. Moraine Lake, another impressive alpine lake with an even more dramatic setting, is only a short distance away.
The Icefields Parkway, which runs from Lake Louise to Jasper, is an unforgettable drive and another major attraction in Banff. At the south end of the park is the lovely little town of Banff, providing all kinds of options for accommodation, shopping, dining, and nightlife.
Banff is also a major winter sports area and home to Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village, two of Canada’s best ski destinations.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Banff National Park
3. Toronto’s CN Tower
On the shores of Lake Ontario in Canada’s biggest city is the iconic CN Tower, one of Canada’s most famous landmarks. The tower stands an impressive 553 meters high and dominates the skyline.
At the top, you can find fine dining in the revolving 360 restaurant, and enjoy a meal while looking out over the city and lake. The LookOut and the Glass Floor offer beautiful views out over the entire area. For an added thrill, consider stepping outside of the enclosed area onto the metal walkway for the CN Tower Edgewalk. You’ll be harnessed in and then be able to walk around the building, 116 stories or 356 meters (1,168 feet) above the ground below.
But even those who choose not to go up the tower will find themselves stopping to stare at the structure, which is visible from almost everywhere in the city. At night, the tower is lit in different colors.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Toronto: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Toronto
4. Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec)
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Canada’s historic gems. Spread across the Upper and Lower Town of Quebec, this area contains the city’s most historic buildings. The Lower Town, along the St. Lawrence River, is the site of the original settlement and home to the outstanding Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, as well as numerous other treasures. The Upper Town rests on 100-meter-high cliffs and is home to the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, Place d’Armes, and the Parque Historique de l’Artillerie.
Old Quebec is one of Canada’s most popular historical areas and is well developed for tourism. In addition to the historical sites, other highlights include artists displaying their works on Rue du Trésor; interesting museums, like the Musée de la Civilisation; and unique shops and restaurants.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Quebec City: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Québec City
Just a two-hour drive from Vancouver is the famous ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb and the year-round resort destination of Whistler. While Whistler has always been an important winter sports area, it has also developed into a popular summer destination, with golf, mountain biking, and a lively town atmosphere no matter when you visit.
The village gained international attention in 2010 when it became one of the locations for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The area offers world class skiing, hotels, and dining, as well as a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities and beautiful mountain scenery.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Whistler: Best Areas & Hotels
6. Ottawa’s Parliament Hill
Ottawa’s Parliament Hill stands high above the Ottawa River and is graced by the Neo-Gothic-style Parliament buildings built in the last half of the 19th century. The most prominent feature is the Peace Tower, which divides the House of Commons and the Senate on either side. In front of the Parliament buildings is the Centennial Flame, lit in 1966 to commemorate the centenary of the Canadian Confederation, and behind the buildings is a sculpture garden.
In the summer, the Changing of the Guard takes place on the front lawn of the Houses of Parliament, weather permitting. Below Parliament Hill, a lovely walk runs alongside the Ottawa River.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ottawa: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ottawa
7. St. John’s Signal Hill National Historic Site
At the entrance to St. John’s harbor, overlooking the city and sea, is Signal Hill National Historic Site. It was here, in 1901, that the first wireless transatlantic signal was received. It also played a strategic role in the Seven Years war with France, although the current fortifications were built during the hostilities of 1812.
The Cabot Tower is one of the key sites of Signal Hill. It was built in 1897 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Newfoundland. It also now commemorates Guglielmo Marconi’s reception here in 1901 of the first transatlantic radio telegraphy signal, transmitted over a distance of 2,700 kilometers from Poldhu in England.
In the tower are exhibitions on the history of Signal Hill and the history of communications (with a special section on Marconi). From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the coast as far as Cape Spear – the most easterly point of North America.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in St. John’s
8. Old Montreal
Old Montreal, lined with lovely historic buildings, is a place to go for great shopping and fine dining. While Montreal itself is a vibrant modern city, Old Montreal, down by the waterfront, is where you’ll want to go to soak up the atmosphere.
Some of the must-see places in Old Montreal include Rue Bonsecours and the landmark Marché Bonsecours in the old town hall building, the interior of the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica, the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, and the 1870s City Hall.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Montréal: Best Areas & Hotels
9. Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
One of Canada’s most unique attractions is the polar bear migration that sees these beautiful creatures make their way from land out onto the ice in Hudson Bay, near the town of Churchill in Northern Manitoba.
This small community opens itself up to tourists each fall. Tours take visitors out in tundra buggies with caged windows for close encounters with the polar bears. The prime viewing time occurs in October or November while the bears are waiting for the water to freeze before heading out onto the ice.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Churchill
10. Vancouver Island
Although it is less than a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland, Vancouver Island can seem a world away. Most people head to Victoria, BC’s capital city, for sightseeing and culture, but if you head north into the wild and remote landscapes, the island holds some unexpected and unforgettable experiences.
Nature lovers can hit the best hiking trails on Vancouver Island and set themselves up at some beautiful camping locations. Those looking for more comfort can always turn to one of the island’s lodges or resorts.
One of the island’s most incredible sights are the old-growth forests of giant trees, some more than 1,000 years old. Within day-tripping distance of Victoria are the ancient trees of Eden Grove, near the town of Port Renfrew. If you are heading up island, you can also wander through Cathedral Grove, not far from the town of Port Alberni, or go all the way out to Tofino to see even more huge trees.
On the rugged west coast, a magnificent scene of sandy coves and dramatic rocky shores reveals itself as you drive up to Tofino. Around this tiny but incredibly popular off-the-beaten-path tourist town, in nearby Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, you can find incredible hiking trails, some of the largest trees in Canada, endless beaches, great surfing spots, camping, and places where you can simply soak up nature in peace.
Tofino is a year-round destination, although in the storm season from November to March, many visitors come to appreciate the huge waves rolling ashore; some come to surf, and others come simply to cozy up next to a fire in one of Tofino’s lovely resorts looking out over the Pacific Ocean.
Other destinations around the Island, include Nanaimo, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach, all on the eastern shore, looking out onto the Salish Sea. If you really want to get away from it all, head up to the far north of the island and explore Cape Scott Provincial Park.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts on Vancouver Island
11. Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy, located in Eastern Canada in between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is known for its amazing tides. The variation between high and low is the largest in the world, measuring up to a maximum of 19 meters (10 fathoms).
While there are many ways to appreciate this natural wonder, some of the most popular locations and sights along the Bay of Fundy are the cliffs and rock formations at Hopewell Cape, Fundy National Park, the Fundy Trail Parkway, and Grand Manan Island.
Accommodation: Where to Stay on the Bay of Fundy
12. Victoria’s Inner Harbour
Few Canadian cities have done such a beautiful job of developing their waterfront area as Victoria and its Inner Harbour. This is a great place for strolling, relaxing, shopping, dining, and watching street performers all against the backdrop of the harbor.
The centerpiece of this area is the historic Empress Hotel, one of the city’s most lovely buildings. Over the years, the Empress has welcomed kings and queens and, today, features a traditional high tea, which is one of the highlights for many visitors coming to Victoria. While the harbor area is popular year-round, it is particularly lively during the summer months.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Victoria
13. Gros Morne National Park
Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park is more remote than many of Canada’s most popular national parks, but worth the effort to discover this beautiful landscape of mountains and fjords. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring steep cliff walls, waterfalls, and interesting rock formations carved by the glacier-fed waters.
Most visitors take a boat tour to appreciate the scenery, but there are also hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking. In winter, the park receives far fewer visitors, but is open for ski touring, complete with backcountry ski huts.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Gros Morne National Park
14. Vancouver’s Stanley Park
One of Vancouver’s greatest treasures is the 405-hectare Stanley Park, conveniently located on the west side of the downtown area. Situated on a peninsula, the park is surrounded by the ocean and home to huge red cedar and Douglas fir trees. The seawall, which rings the park, has an extensive walking, jogging, and biking path with designated lanes for walkers and bikers. From the seawall are some lovely views of the city and mountains. A scenic drive also winds through Stanley Park with numerous pullouts.
Within the park are the Vancouver Aquarium, scenic Beaver Lake, and the Stanley Park Pavilion and Rose Garden. Also of special interest are numerous totem poles, some of which were erected more than 100 years ago. In the spring, the cherry trees burst into bloom in an amazing display.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Vancouver: Best Areas & Hotels
15. Calgary Stampede
This 10-day affair is one of the most widely anticipated events in Western Canada, with many locals and summertime travelers planning their holidays around the Calgary Stampede. For this week in July, the city of Calgary turns into a true western town, where people who might otherwise be wearing suits to work instead don jeans and cowboy boots.
At the Stampede Grounds are daily rodeo events drawing participants from across North America, thrill rides, games, food, and the nightly Grandstand Show. Around town, free “Stampede Breakfasts” are hosted by numerous establishments either at indoor or outdoor locations and usually consist of pancakes. Many big name country music performers also typically come to the city for this event.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Calgary: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Calgary
16. Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Winnipeg’s newest major attraction, which has drawn both national and international attention, is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opening in 2014 near The Forks, the building displays a unique design that is eye-catching to say the least, with geometry and colors based on images of the Canadian landscape.
Also unique is the concept behind the museum, which proved controversial when deciding which histories would be featured here. The museum highlights personal stories, capturing different perspectives, and focuses on a range of themes.
Official site: https://humanrights.ca/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Winnipeg
17. The Okanagan Valley
Locals who live in Penticton and Kelowna like to say that the Okanagan Valley is located on the warm side of the mountains from neighboring Alberta. This statement rings true – this long valley is truly a summer playground for Western Canadians.
Huge lakes dominate the valley floor, and some of British Columbia’s best beaches can be found here. Offshore from the lively cities, canoeing, pleasure boating, and sailing are all popular activities, and every sunny summer day, the lakes are filled with smiling, laughing people having fun.
Along the gentle inclines leading up from the lakes, you’ll find farms growing some of Canada’s best fruit, including cherries, peaches, pears, and plums among many others. Places to stay are numerous; quality accommodation can be found in both Penticton and Kelowna.
In the winter, the Okanagan quiets down somewhat, but when the snow flies, locals head to Big White, Apex, Silver Star, or Sun Peaks, some of British Columbia’s best ski resorts.
- 1. Niagara Falls
- 2. Banff National Park & the Rocky Mountains
- 3. Toronto’s CN Tower
- 4. Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec)
- 5. Whistler
- 6. Ottawa’s Parliament Hill
- 7. St. John’s Signal Hill National Historic Site
- 8. Old Montreal
- 9. Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
- 10. Vancouver Island
- 11. Bay of Fundy
- 12. Victoria’s Inner Harbour
- 13. Gros Morne National Park
- 14. Vancouver’s Stanley Park
- 15. Calgary Stampede
- 16. Canadian Museum for Human Rights
- 17. The Okanagan Valley