From Banff to Baffin Island, from Tofino to Toronto, Canada is a exceptional country. Whether you're a hard-core adrenaline junkie looking for a backcountry adventure, an explorer heading out on a large road trip, a city-lover hunting for cutting-edge culture & fine cuisine or a mix of all the above, Canada ticks all the boxes.
Stretching five,500km (three,400 miles) from the Atlantic to the Yukon-Alaska border, the world's second largest country boasts an astonishing diversity of landscapes: rugged, unspoilt shoreline abuts immense forests & emerald lakes containing a startling array of wildlife; large, seemingly limitless prairies become jaw-droppingly stunning mountain ranges; laid-back, cosmopolitan cities are complemented by remote, quirky outposts.
Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant & regularly feature on ‘best places to live' lists – Vancouver, Ottawa & Montreal have all at some point featured on Mercer's Quality of Life Survey, usually scoring in the top 30. Toronto, a veritable patchwork of diverse neighbourhoods, sits in an enviable location on the shore of Lake Ontario whilst Canada's capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of great museums & the Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal's skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer & you'll stumble on historic, cobbled streets & centuries-old customs. A stone's throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary oozes oil wealth & flaunts its cowboy traditions; chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an amazing downtown park & terrific food.
Canada's people are enormously varied, from the indigenous Inuit in the Arctic to First Nations communities, 1960s & 70s British expats, fiercely proud Francophone peoples as well as a burgeoning Asian population. Their genuine friendliness & heat is immediately apparent to visitors.
Canada is a nation of immigrants and thus truly cosmopolitan – around 20% of the population are foreign-born (rising to 45% in Toronto). While other countries have eschewed immigration, Canada has recognised its importance to economic and social development, and continues to welcome large numbers of young, expert and highly educated workers from abroad each year. Indeed, in 2010, over 280,000 new permanent residents came to Canada, the largest number in over 50 years. And contrary to the waves of migration from europe in the first half of the 20th century, the large majority of recent immigrants come from asia. Thanks to its cautious fiscal policies, Canada's economy has remained buoyant in the work of the global financial crisis, and it remains of the world's wealthiest nations as well as a highly desirable place to work and do business.
Whilst you're out and about enjoying the cities, don't forget about the experiences Canada delivers. You can ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. You can capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch agape as mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast or listen in awe to the deafening roar of Niagara Falls. You can tour vineyards, dig for clams or slice through a succulent steak.
With its staggeringly pretty scenery, multitude of outdoor activities, forward-looking cities and large swathes of uninhabited wilderness, Canada offers limitless opportunities to travellers.
When To Go
The ideal times to visit are both the spring and summer seasons, with autumn a close third. Of course, if you are having your holiday to enjoy some fabulous skiing, you will have to come in winter or the early spring. If you choose to go camping in the far north, opt for July and August.
– Close friends will greet each other with kisses on the cheeks, especially in the French areas, but the general method of greeting is a handshake.
– Most public places have bans on smoking, but if they do permit it, they will have ‘no smoking' areas.
– Canada uses 110-volt electrical systems like the USA.
– If you are planning on doing a lot of walking, bring sturdy shoes.
– If you will visit the Rockies in the winter, ensure you have warm and wind/water repellent clothing.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Canada;
– L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
– Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
– SGang Gwaay
– Historic District of Old Québec
– Old Town Lunenburg
– Rideau Canal
– Landscape of Grand Pré
– Red Bay Basque Whaling Station
– Nahanni National Park
– Dinosaur Provincial Park
– Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek
– Wood Buffalo National Park
– Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks
– Gros Morne National Park
– Waterton Glacier International Peace Park
– Miguasha National Park
– Joggins Fossil Cliffs