Thinking about exploring Canada? From coast to coast, you’ll find tons of ways to discover the best this amazing country has to offer. From the great outdoors to local adventures and touristy destination spots, here are 30 of the coolest things to do in Canada (even if you’re Canadian).
Explore the Banff National Park
With the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the background, it’s no wonder why international travellers and Canadians from across the country flock to Banff National Park! There are tons of things to do in Banff during the summer. From hiking the mountains and kayaking in Lake Louise, this spot is truly one of a kind. Take it from a local, because the turquoise blue waters in Banff National Park are quite amazing! And during the winter, this spot turns into a winter sports destination. With over 3 ski resorts and fresh snow, Banff is the ideal Canadian winter destination with fresh powder.
Experience the CN Tower
Looking to experience Toronto from new heights? The CN Tower is an experience you won’t want to miss! Take the glass-floor elevator up to the viewing deck and enjoy a meal in their rotating 360 Restaurant for some of the best views of the city. If you’re seeking adventure, book ahead to walk along the outside of the CN Tower on their EdgeWalk for extra thrills.
Explore beautiful Victoria
Just a short ferry away from the city of Vancouver, you’ll find Vancouver Island. It’s home to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, and some amazing Canadian culture. Wander throughout the streets to see beautiful Victorian architecture and small alleyways like Fan Tan Alley. There are also some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean at the Fisherman’s Wharf Park and Ogden Point.
Catch waves in Tofino
If you’re over on Vancouver Island, try something slow-paced. Head up to Tofino for some surfing. Here you’ll find lots of sandy beaches, year-round surf shops and some of the most beautiful nature in Canada. Once you’re done with the beach, opt for a change of scenery and hike through Rainforest trail in Pacific Rim National Park for some stunning thick foliage.
Go Whale Watching in PEI
With oceans on both sides of Canada, one of the best things to do in Canada is to go whale watching. PEI is the perfect spot as it has opportunities to see multiple species of whales all at once. Seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a must for anyone travelling throughout Canada.
Kayak in the Bay of Fundy
One of the best things to do in Canada is visit the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy. Located along the border of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, these eroded flowerpots are quite a sight to see! Depending on the time of day you visit, you could have a completely different experience. Walk along the ocean floor during the low tide or get up close and kayak through the rocks at high tide. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience!
See the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
Experiencing polar bears in their natural habitat in Canada is absolutely magical! It’s one of the things to do in Canada that even Canadians should put on their bucket list. Head off-the-beaten path on a winter safari in Churchill, Manitoba. This spot in Canada is one of the best places to experience polar bears in their natural environment. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that every Canadian would love.
Hike along Cape Breton Island
Home to the 298km-long Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island is the perfect spot in Nova Scotia to take in some coastal views. Here you’ll find stunning landscapes, seaside cliffs and small fishing towns, making it something you won’t want to miss if you’re heading to the East Coast of Canada.
Skate along the Rideau Canal
In the winter, one of the best things to do in Canada in the winter is skate. What better place is there to do this than on the Rideau Canal in the nation’s capital of Ottawa. The Rideau Canal Skateway is over 7.8 KM long and a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s truly a Canadian experience that any traveller (or Canadian) won’t want to miss! So, grab or rent a pair of skates, your scarf and warmest wooly mittens, and get ready to hit the ice.
Hike through Algonquin Provincial Park
There’s no better place to experience the great outdoors of Canada than in Algonquin Provincial Park. With tons of hiking trails and camping grounds, what better way is there for you to connect with nature in Ontario? You may even spot a moose or beaver while you’re there!
Hit the slopes in Whistler
Experience Niagara Falls
Attracting millions of travellers each year, Niagara Falls is something you want to put on your list! Get up close to the falls by going the Maid of the Mist boat tour or Journey behind the Falls. Once you’ve experienced the falls, walk over to Clifton Hills. Here you’ll find tons of things to do like the Niagara Skywheel, indoor waterparks and real-life Mario karts on the Niagara Speedway. If that’s too much excitement, slow things down a bit on Niagara-On-The-Lake. Rent some bikes or join one of their wine tours to enjoy some delicious Ontario wine.
Wander through Old Quebec City
Visiting the only walled city in North America will give you MAJOR Game of Thrones vibes. Old Quebec City is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historic European architecture and cobblestone streets. Here you’ll find the iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, Place d’Armes, and the Parque Historique de l’Artillerie.
Experience the Northern Lights in Whitehorse
Head up north to Whitehorse, Yukon and experience the northern lights. Aurora borealis are best enjoyed in clear dark night skies, so it makes sense that Whitehorse would be the perfect spot! While you’re up there, experience everything Whitehorse has to offer like the geothermal pools at the Takhini hot springs and the hiking trails around Miles Canyon.
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Visit Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Of course the nation’s capital is on the list. If you visit Parliament Hill during the summer, watch the changing of the guard on the front lawn at the House of Commons. It’s a must-do activity for any traveller, including Canadians, as it’s truly patriotic to Canada. Or grab free yoga sessions on the lawn in front of Parliament Hill, which are the perfect travel memory to capture for your Instagram.
Take in the views at Signal Hill
Located in St. John’s harbour, Signal Hill is worth the trip to Newfoundland. Head up to Cabot Tower, which was built in 1897. With great panoramic views that overlook the city and Atlantic Ocean, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, or at least at the most easternly point of North America.
Soak in the history of Old Montreal
Wander the cobblestone streets around Old Montreal and see amazing architecture like the Notre-Dame Basilica and Place Jacques-Cartier. There are tons of things to do (and eat) in this area that you won’t want to miss, ranging from poutine to French cuisine. But the best part is the Old Port of Montreal. Combine the waters from the St. Lawrence River with the historic buildings and waterfront strolls for a match made in heaven!
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Experience the fjords in Newfoundland
You don’t need to go to Finland for fjords because you can experience them here in Canada! Head over to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland for some of the most beautiful landscapes, mountains and fjords in Canada. The steep cliffs and waterfalls make this place one worth exploring. Hit up the hiking trails or go kayaking for the full experience. Absolutely dreamy.
Cycle across the seawall in Stanley Park
Ready to head to the West Coast of Canada? Just outside of downtown Vancouver, you’ll find Stanley Park with over 27km of forest trails and an 8.8km Seawall. This famous Seawall is perfect for cycling, made with walking and biking lanes. Grab your bike and pass through totem poles, harbours, Vancouver Aquarium and Lion’s Gate Bridge. We recommend spending a day (or two) exploring if you want to see it all.
Shop through West Edmonton Mall
This mall is HUGE! Shopping in West Edmonton Mall is unlike no other. After all, it is the largest mall in North America. With over 800 stores, you’re bound to find something you want. If shopping isn’t your thing, we promise that you won’t run out of things to do here. There’s an amusement park, water park, ice rink, roller coaster and so much more to keep you busy.
Attend the Calgary Stampede
What started as a rodeo has turned into a western 10-day event in Calgary! Expect endless food trucks, thrill rides, games and nightly live music at the Grandstand Show. Some big names have performed including Blake Shelton, Usher, Alessia Cara and more. Best part? Everyone gets in the spirit and dresses up like cowboys. Hee-haw!
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View the cherry blossoms in High Park
One of the best things to do in Canada during the spring is watch the cherry blossoms bloom. Our favourite spot? High Park in Toronto. Every year thousands of Canadians will gather to witness the sakura blossoms. Home to over 2 thousand sakura trees, viewing the cherry blossoms has turned into somewhat of a spring tradition among locals. It will give you a little taste of Japan in Canada.
Hike the trails near Bruce Peninsula
In Northern Ontario, Bruce Peninsula has turned into a destination among locals. With plenty of hiking trails, you’ll be able to easily connect with nature. See the flowerpots rock formations and scenic caves like The Grotto in Tobermory. And get ready to jump in because these picturesque turquoise waters are the perfect to relax and swim in the summer heat.
Stay in Jasper National Park
Camping in Jasper National Park is a MUST! From turquoise waters of Maligne Lake and Athabasca Glacier to waterfalls and canyons, you’ll find mother nature at her finest! The area is a protected dark sky preserve, limiting light pollution. So, the inky black skies you’ll find here are perfect to see all of the stars. If you’re lucky, you may even see the northern lights too!
Drive through Dinosaur Provincial Park
The 2-hour drive east of Calgary, Alberta is worth a day trip! If the name didn’t give it away, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has lots of dinosaur fossils. It’s known as one of the world’s richest areas to find dinosaurs in the world with over 58 fossils being discovered here alone. You can easily spend the day driving through the trails. The striking badlands are quite a sight to see! The multi-hued canyons and amazing rock formation are just beautiful…
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Hike the trails around Squamish
Located in British Columbia, Squamish is a great area to find hiking trails for all skill levels. With a good pair of shoes, we promise you’ll be seeing some great views in no time. Popular trails include Stawamus Chief and the Cheakamus Canyon Trail. And end your trip by taking the Sea to Sky Gondola for some breathtaking coastal views of the area.
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Bike the Confederation Trail in PEI
This 449km trail runs throughout Prince Edward Island. What was once the CN railway system has been turned into recreational trails used for walking, biking and hiking. Spend the day exploring the scenic landscape and waters around the island of PEI.
Skate in Nathan Phillips Square
One of the most wintery things to do is skate in downtown Toronto. Located in the heart of the city, Nathan Phillips Square becomes lit up with lights at night. The square turns into an outdoor ice rink during the winter months. Put the Toronto sign in the background and call it the perfect way to enjoy the chilly weather!
Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Located in Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is 140 metres long and 70 metres above the river. It’s something that you’ve got to do at least once. Bounce across the bridge and after you’re done explore the Cliffwalk to see the rainforest from new heights.
Go chasing waterfalls at Montmorency Falls
Located outside of Old Quebec City, this waterfall taller than Niagara Falls. Lucky for us, there are tons of places to see the falls. From viewing decks to ziplines and suspension bridges, Montmornecy Falls is a vertical drop down into the Saint Lawrence River.
From coast to coast, there are plenty of things to do in Canada to have the trip of a lifetime! Ready to plan your trip? Check out Contiki’s Canadian trips for the latest experiences you won’t want to miss!