Guide to visiting Canada
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Canada is often on the list of fellow travellers must visit countries, and this guide to visiting Canada guest post contributed by Cal Bailey, will help you plan your next visit. To see more of Cal’s work, visit his official website at Mountain Leon Travel Blog.
If you’re looking for somewhere to travel to for an unforgettable time, you could do a lot worse than Canada. This amazing country has an expanse of natural beauty; you can find everything from glaciers and mountain ranges to national parks, forests, lakes and the ocean. There is even some desert here! Pretty much everything is breathtaking – there is really nowhere quite like Canada.
Canada’s great outdoors is one thing, but it also has some very cool cosmopolitan cities you can visit while you’re here. Most are multicultural hotspots; part of the reason for this is that Canadians are incredibly friendly, and the cities are safe, clean and easy to navigate.
Guide to visiting Canada activities during your stay
Due to the allure of the great outdoors here, there are plenty of activities geared toward explorers. You can do kayaking, whitewater rafting or canoeing; there are also plenty of snowboarding and skiing opportunities. There are countless trails you can walk, and scenic drives to take.
Inner-city activities include tours, on-foot exploration of architecture, museums and exhibitions, festivals, picnics, shopping and sporting activities. The truth is, it doesn’t matter where (or when) you are in Canada – you’ll never run out of activities.
Depending on the time of year you arrive, you might be able to attend a festival. For example, there is the Celebration of Light in Vancouver, the Calgary Stampede, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. There is also the Quebec Winter Carnival and the Celtic Colours International Festival in Nova Scotia.
Places to visit in Canada
Montréal is Quebec’s largest city, located on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. At the centre you can find the famous triple-peaked hill. Montréal contains many boroughs that used to be independent cities. Within them you can find cobblestoned and French colonial neighbourhoods that are well worth a visit.
The old town in Quebec City is also dotted with cobblestone walkways and stunning 17th-century architecture close to its original state. Quebec City boasts the only North American fortress in existence today. There’s a big café culture here for when you want to relax and watch the world go by.
Just across the Ottawa River from Quebec, you can find the capital city of Ottawa. This city is a great choice for those who love walking. It’s easy enough to get around the city on foot, and you can stop at art galleries and museums, or shop to your heart’s content. Here you can find National Gallery of Canada, which exhibits collections of indigenous Canadian art.
You might also want to visit Parliament Hill to see the historical buildings that house the Canadian government. There is the pretty Rideau Canal, which is lined with beautiful parks. The canal itself is quite a sight all year round, with its summertime boats and wintertime ice skaters.
Toronto has been dubbed ‘the world’s most multicultural city’ because more than half of its population are foreigners. That should give you an indication of how visit-worthy it is!
This is especially the case for those who are into art and museums – there is no shortage here. It’s known as a trendy, arty city, showcasing some of the country’s finest exhibits. You can also sample some seriously tasty Asian food here.
Calgary is a smart choice for those on a budget. It’s a truly lively city with lots to do. Here there are plenty of cheap (or even free) activities. For instance, there are some awesome mountain peaks you can hike your way up to, or if you’re feeling lazy, you can just chill out in one of the parks with a picnic.
Camping is popular if you want to avoid hotel costs or just immerse yourself in the great outdoors, and when you’re hungry, you can go out and sample some of Kensington’s finest cuisine.
Vancouver is a massively popular choice with travelers, as it offers the best of both worlds. It’s right there between the mountains and the ocean – something a lot of travelers are torn between! As Western Canada’s biggest city, it is revered for its natural beauty and has plenty of allure.
Vancouver offers quick and easy getaways to city inhabitants who don’t have the time or inclination to go further away. Here you can spend a couple of days hiking the mountains before heading to the beach, in no time at all. You might also pop over to Vancouver Island for some whale spotting, tasty seafood, and just general relaxation!
Niagara Falls in Ontario is one of Canada’s most famous destinations, linked to the States via the Rainbow Bridge. It seems a shame to go to Canada and not visit it. The city itself doesn’t offer much in the way of attractions, so you’ll probably only go to visit the falls. The falls are phenomenally huge and misty – a truly unforgettable sight – and all those healthy negative ions in the atmosphere will make you feel alive!
Other tips for your time in Canada
The cost of accommodation varies in each city, but you can get hostel dorms for around 30CAD, or a budget hotel for around 65CAD. Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa may cost you significantly more, so be prepared for this. If you don’t want to stay in hostels or hotels, there are plenty of options on Airbnb these days. While exploring the great outdoors, camping is a good option. Just remember that advanced booking is necessary between June and August – these places fill up fast!
In terms of getting around, Canada is massive. Flying is expensive as there are only two national airlines, so it helps to hire a car, if you can. If not, you can use the inner-city transport networks, which are well developed; you’ll find a cheap metro system, and a pricier train service. If you’re on a budget, consider taking a Megabus between cities. Other bus companies include Red Arrow, Greyhound and Coach Canada.
Wherever you decide to go, and however you decide to get there, one thing is almost guaranteed: Canada won’t disappoint. Don’t forget to bring your best camera and a range of clothing for all the environments you might encounter. Have fun!
Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his adventures, make sure you are reading his blog.
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