Canada’s best experiences

written by Julia Hammond

Canada’s vast size creates a diversity in landscape that most countries can’t rival. From the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the west to the glittering skyscrapers of Toronto in the east, there’s a place to suit everyone. Best of all, for those wishing to combine several of Canada’s highlights, the excellent transport infrastructure makes it easy to get around despite the long distances. If you need inspiration, here are some of Canada’s best experiences to tempt you.

Ascend the CN Tower in Toronto

For more than 30 years, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure. This iconic Toronto landmark not only adds drama to the city skyline, its observation deck also provides the best vantage point in the city. Test your nerve by stepping onto the glass floor inside or experience the adrenaline rush of a full circle, hands-free walk on a ledge 116 storeys above the ground.

Ride the Rocky Mountaineer train to Banff

The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the world’s great train journeys. Choose from several itineraries, one of which is the trip from Vancouver to Banff or Lake Louise via Kamloops. Alight to explore the breathtaking scenery of the Canadian Rockies, featuring snow-capped peaks, high altitude glacial lakes and woodland trails. Afterwards, relax in one of Canada’s luxury hotels, such as the Fairmont Banff Springs or Château Lake Louise.

Go whale watching in Newfoundland and Labrador

Whale watching is a thrill, and the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador are teeming with marine mammals. From its shores or out on the water, you might spot orca, minke, sperm, pothead, blue and humpback whales. The latter are an especially good bet – this area is home to the largest concentration on the planet. On land, grab the binoculars and head to Signal Hill, Cape Spear or Witless Bay near St. John’s. Alternatively, hop on a Zodiac out of pretty Trinity.

Explore Gold Rush history in the Klondike

At the end of the 19th century, more than 100,000 prospectors descended on the Klondike in the hope of finding gold. Dawson City’s heritage buildings provide the modern day setting to learn more about what drove these intrepid characters to find – and lose – a fortune. Learn how a single nugget find changed the course of history and try your hand at gold-panning. If the weather’s fine, try a canoe trip. Dawson City lies at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers.

Explore Quebec City’s ramparts

The only remaining fortified city walls in Canada are the ramparts of Quebec City. They surround the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec and were beefed up by the British after they kicked out the French in 1759. Within the walls there is an abundance of museums, churches and historic buildings to explore. Don’t miss the Dauphine Redoubt, the Citadel and Château Frontenac.

Book a polar bear safari in Nunavut

Autumn’s the perfect time to book a polar bear safari in Nunavut. That’s the time when the polar bears gather on the shore waiting for the sea ice to form. Try the communities of Arviat, Hall Beach, Pond Inlet, Naujaat, and Resolute Bay if you’re keen to spot them. After dark, look up – this place is far enough north to give you a chance to see the green lights of the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky.

Eat lobster in Nova Scotia

Fishermen land their catch of fresh lobster daily in Nova Scotia, making this the ideal foodie destination if you’re a lover of seafood. Try quaint Peggy’s Cove, less than an hour’s drive from the province’s capital Halifax. Work off the calories with a cycle ride along part of the iconic Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. If you prefer, how about a round of golf on the famous Highland Links course?

Understand what makes Vancouver such a great place to live

One of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities, Vancouver frequently scores well on liveability indices, thanks to its thriving arts, music and theatre scene. Visitors keen to appreciate the contribution of the city’s Chinese population should visit Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Millennium Gate. In Stanley Park, attention switches to the Coast Salish people, whose legacy is remembered in the colourful totem poles.

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