Canada is a huge country with some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the world, something that many people miss out on as they tend to fly from city to city rather than traveling over land.
Road Trip Through Canada
But crossing Canada by car is not only a way of getting from place to place, but also a journey of a life time – the freedom to hire a car and stopping over wherever you like really opens up for some awesome opportunities and experiences.
Here are 6 places to stop along the way on a road trip from coast to coast in Canada…
Nicknamed the “European capital of North America”, Montreal is a place unlike any other in the world with a mixture of North American and European influences.
With cobble stoned streets, European architecture dating back to the 1600’s, and a laid-back attitude with focus on good food and wine really makes it feel as though you’re in France – especially when you’re surrounded by French language and people doing two-cheek kisses!
Named the second best city to eat out in North America, Montreal is a foodie’s heaven, and whether you’re looking for street food or fine dining, there is plenty of great places to choose from.
Montreal is also known as a festival city, so make sure to check out which festivals are on during your visit.
Spend a day in Canada’s capital, watching the changing of the guards, hanging out in one of the many parks and wander the streets of the city – especially Sparks Street Mall, the Rideau Centre and Sussex Street.
And while you’re at it, get yourself some of that deep fried dough called Beaver trails, a local favorite snack!
One of the most popular and famous attraction in all of America, the spectacular Niagara Falls should definitely be on anyone’s itinerary when traveling through Canada.
One of the most popular ways to see the Niagara Falls and experience the powerful gushing falls is to get up close on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ cruise, where the cascades pound, churn and foam right before your eyes – prepare to get soaked!
The Great Lakes
Lake Huron and Lake Superior are two of five lakes that together are known as “The Great Lakes”, with the other three being Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Combined, they’re nearly as large as the whole of United Kingdom – in surface area, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world – rent a canoe and spend the day on one or two of the lakes, exploring the islands and enjoying the calm waters.
With some of North America’s best ski resorts in winter and the finest mountain scenery on Earth, the Canadian Rocky Mountains is a true winter wonderland during the winter months.
Summer is a perfect time for exploring the beautiful nature, whether you choose to do so on a horseback, bike or just your own manpower.
With five national parks that are all declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you can be guaranteed to see some of the most unspoiled nature in the country.
With its luxury lodges the Canadian Rockies aren’t exactly known to be cheap, but with a car rental you can easily bring down the costs, just go for a small camper van and stay in the many camping grounds instead!
The cosmopolitan city of Vancouver has so many and large green parks and areas that it has been nicknamed “the city within a park”, and for those looking for “the best of both worlds”, it’s the perfect end to a road trip through Canada.
With nature at its doorstep and activities such as kayaking, hiking and skiing, you can also enjoy the good nightlife, shopping and restaurants in the city at the same time.
The list of things to do in Vancouver is endless. Browsing online for tips you’ll find articles listing the 125 best things to do, which in my opinion are a bit overwhelming.
Usually when visiting a new city, you don’t have time to visit 125 places, and when there are so many different places to read about it’s hard to know which one of them is actually worth it.
So to make things a bit easier I’ll go straight to the point, narrow the list down to my favorite 3 things to do in Vancouver that you just can’t miss!
One of the most popular places in Vancouver is Granville Island, where you can shop at the local market, sit down at one of the many picnic spots or browse the art galleries and boutiques beyond the market.
Once a hippie hang-out, Kits now has some of the most expensive properties, and places like Kits Beach is the place to see and be seen.
Other things to do here is to visit the different museums, and eat at the many restaurants (this area has the highest density of restaurants in Vancouver!)
Ski or Snowshoe
For winter enthusiasts, Vancouver offers some great skiing and snow shoeing in the nearby mountains, making it possible to enjoy both the urban city as well as the nature on a visit.
Cypress, Grouse and Seymour are only half an hour out of town, and all provide terrain for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Thanks to the floodlights, the runs are open until as late as 10pm every day of the week during high season.
Another draw to these mountains are the spectacular views you get from the top.
The Chinatown in Vancouver is one of the biggest in North America, and offers some of the best Sushi in the country.
It is also one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and the old architecture which still largely remains gives the place a very unique and charming atmosphere compared to the glass and concrete buildings downtown.
During summer there is a lively night market, and there are plenty of beautiful Chinese gardens that are well worth a visit.
These are just a few of many more things to do in Vancouver, but this should be enough for a short weekend break, have fun!
Top Festivals in Toronto
There is so much to indulge yourself in while in Toronto. It’s the city where everything happens, where there is not one weekend without a fun event going on.
If you’re planning a trip to Toronto, it’s always fun to plan it around one of the city’s annual events. Here are three of the best…
The Beaches Festival
My most preferred event of the year is the Beaches Jazz Festivals that is held every summer, this year from July 20th – 29th.
The festival is huge and attracts a big crowd, with people from all over the world. What makes it exceptional is that the performing bands are exceptionally talented, hence the high quality performances.
Saturdays and Sundays are completely outstanding with lengthy music held at the gazebo. Bring a blanket, sit down and enjoy the show with some drinks and sandwiches.
The best part of this 10 day jazz, blues and Latin street festival is that it’s free!
Pride Week is Toronto’s premier gay and lesbian event, and everyone is welcome to join the party that lasts for 10 whole days.
The street festival, concerts and of course the famous parade are some of the highlights of the festival
This event takes place every year during Toronto’s Winter City Festival. The winter festival has heaps of concerts, theater, street performers, ice-skating parties with famous DJ’s and more, but the highlight of the festival is the culinary event called Winterlicious.
During this time, fancy restaurants offer discounted prix-fixe menus, themed tastings and cooking workshops.
The reservations spaces are limited and you must book early for a specific restaurant.
One of the most famous Shakespeare festivals in the world, including at least 5 Shakespeare plays as well as other traditional productions, where famous actors participate.
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare this is definitely something for you.
Banff in the Fall, a New Experience
Banff, in Alberta, Canada, is a fantastic place to see the Canadian Rockies and venture out into the Great Outdoors. The town is popular with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter, leaving autumn as one of the best times to visit the town.
The shoulder season offers the peace and quiet that comes with less crowds. From mountain biking to international film festivals, there is plenty to explore in Banff in the fall.
Banff National Park and many of the other parks that border the Rockies are designated UNESCO sites — with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, forests, canyons, and caves, it’s easy to see why.
The landscape here is stunning, and you don’t have to venture far out of the historic town to appreciate it.
Lake Louise is breathtaking any time of the year, as are the mountain peaks towering beyond.
If you’re looking for a quick day trip, you can hike or take a gondola up to aptly-named Sulfur Mountain, and relax in the Upper Hot Springs upon your return.
Visitors interested in the prehistoric history of the region can take a day trip out to the Burgess Shale Fossil Site until mid-to-late September.
Here you can see some of the amazingly preserved fossils from the Cambrian period, some are as old as 505 million years!
Mountain biking is popular and there are more than 118 miles (190 km) of trails in the national park alone.
If the weather cooperates, biking is a fantastic way to take in the scenery and see some wildlife.
An evening wildlife safari with a tour guide all but guarantees sightings.
You can also take a horseback ride along the surrounding rivers and valleys, which will transport you back to the early days of Banff. You can also opt for an overnight trip in the backcountry.
Back Up Plans
If the weather gets cold and damp, don’t despair!
In late October to early November, Banff hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival, featuring films from around the world that focus on the outdoors and mountaineering.
If you’re feeling particularly inspired, you can also take a trip to an indoor climbing gym.
The Banff Park Museum, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site are all great rainy day attractions and provide insight on the natural history of the area and its original inhabitants.