Canada, North & Central America
Browse things to do in Canada
Canada is the second largest country in the world and the largest in North America. Renowned worldwide for its vast, untouched landscape and its unique culture, Canada is a major tourist destination and one of the world's wealthiest countries.
Visiting Canada all in one trip is a massive undertaking. Over 5000 Kilometres separate St. John's, Newfoundland from Victoria, British Columbia (about the same distance separates London and Riyadh, or Tokyo and Calcutta). To drive from one end of the country could take 7-10 days or more (and that assumes you're not stopping to sight see on the way). A flight from Toronto to Vancouver takes over 4 hours. When speaking of specific destinations within Canada, it is better to consider its distinct regions.
Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) maritime culture, small fishing villages, rich folk traditions
Quebec French-speaking province, stylish and romantic Montreal, historic and European Quebec City, lush farmland, quaint villages
Ontario multicultural and vibrant Toronto, the Niagara wine region, the immense Boreal and Taiga forests, Ottawa—the capital, the Great Lakes coastal areas, small rural towns
Prairies (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) vast open and flat spaces, rocky mountains, forests, sleepy farm towns; Calgary is a foothill metropolis, Edmonton is a shopping capital, and Winnipeg a historic city are the main areas.
British Columbia cosmopolitan Vancouver city, the Rocky Mountains, ancient temperate rainforest, pristine wilderness, skiing and hiking opportunities abound
The North (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon) subarctic and arctic wilderness, mountains, glaciers and lakes and home to vibrant native cultures
There are many cities in Canada, all of which are distinctive, welcoming to tourists, and well worth visiting. Here are the nine most popular cities:
- Ottawa - Canada's capital; a major business, government, high tech, and tourist location. Often referred to as "Silicon Valley North", much of Canada's telecommunication, software and computer technology firms are headquartered in Ottawa. Some of the key attractions in Ottawa include Parliament Hill (home of Canada's federal parliament), the National Gallery of Canada (a world class institution that is home to works by Bernini and Warhol), the National War Museum (a repository for Canadian war artifacts and is home to numerous hands on galleries pretaining to Canada and its military history) and Rideau Hall (home to Canada's head of state, the Governor General). The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canada's museum of national history, is located just across the river from the Parliament Buildings in Gatineau, Quebec.
- Calgary - Home to the national oil industry and the Calgary Stampede. In close proximity to the mountains, and was the host of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Calgary is one of North America's fastest growing cities. The largest city in Alberta, Calgary is home to the Glenbow Museum (a museum featuring Canadian aboriginal history), the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum and the Calgary Stampede, the "greatest outdoor show on Earth".
- Edmonton - Dubbed "Canada's Festival City" due to the endless amounts of festivals. As the capital of Alberta, it is home to the provincial legislature, as well as to North America's largest network of urban parks and Canada's most expansive historic park. In addition to this, it is home to the largest mall on the continent, the West Edmonton Mall, which entertains over 800 stores/services, a theme park, a skate park, a reconstruction of Christopher Columbus' "Santa Maria" and three radio stations.
- Halifax - Capital of Nova Scotia as well as cultural and economic hub of Canada's maritime region. Halifax plays host to numerous festivals, including the Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Multicultural Festival, Tall Ship events and Shakespeare by the Sea.
- Hamilton - Canada's industrial centre. Located on the south-western tip of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is home to Stelco and Defasco, two of the nation's largest steel producers. Downtown Hamilton, though in dire need of a revitalization scheme, is quite lovely: Whitehern, an historic house museum, has one of the city's most attractive walled gardens. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is the third largest public gallery in Ontario, and one of the oldest, as it was founded in 1914.
- Montreal - Quebec's largest city. It has a beautiful city park called Mount-Royal; the population is dominantly Francophone but has a sizable Anglophone community as well as numerous other ethnic communities; multicultural and multilinguistic downtown area; internationally acclaimed restaurants; fabulous old-world architecture; home of the 1976 Summer Olympics and 1967 World's Fair. Some of Canada's most stunning and luxurious churches are located in Montreal, the first among which is Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral), a scale replica of St. Peter's Basilica. The enclave of Westmount is a notable attraction in its own rite, as it is one of Canada's wealthiest municipalities and plays host to stunning architecture.
- Quebec City - Capital of Quebec, home to the historic Chateau Frontenac (a Grand Railway Hotel), the Parliament Building of Quebec and the Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec). Old Quebec transports you back in time to 17th and 18th Century Quebec, with an overwhelming European feeling to it. The cobblestone streets and buildings date back hundreds of years to the very founding of the nation. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also of interest is La Citadelle, or the Citadel, residence of the Governor General of Canada in Quebec. The fortress is imposing as well as stunning, and has superior views of the Saint Lawrence River and surrounding countryside.
- Toronto - Canada's largest city and major economic and cultural centre. Toronto is known for its multiculturalism (more than 80 ethnicities are represented in Toronto), arts, nightlife, festivals and ethnic neighbourhoods. There are countless tourist attractions in the city, many of which are listed in the Toronto article. Main attractions include CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Bata Shoe Museum, the Eaton Centre, Yorkville, the Toronto Zoo and the Hockey Hall of Fame though Toronto has so many eclectic neighborhoods that a random walk is fascinating in its own right.
- Vancouver - Beautiful and busy west coast city sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains; largest city in western Canada; home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver is widely regarded as Canada's most beautiful city. It is completely pristine: Stanley Park at the West End is a stunning and vast urban park. No highway runs into the city, keeping much of it quiet and pollution free. Home to the Hotel Vancouver, exterior shots of which were used in "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody" as the Tipton Hotel.
- Whitehorse - Capital of the Yukon Territory and the largest city in Canada's North. Home to the Yukon Transportation Museum, Old Log Church Museum, Beringia Centre and the Takhini Hot Springs. It is also the birthplace of the "Log Skyscraper", an architectural design that utilizes logs to construct three or four story "skyscrapers".
- Winnipeg - Capital of Manitoba, transportation hub of Canada and Gateway to the West. Winnipeg is the largest city between Toronto and Calgary, making it a major stop for anyone traversing the country via car or train. Winnipeg is home to the minting branch of the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada's federal monetary printer, and will eventually become the home of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. This museum will be the first national museum located outside of the Ottawa metropolitain area.
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