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Canada is just a series of National Parks, right? Wrong. Well also kind of right, but this wild, sprawling country has oh so much more than its natural world wonders to offer – although they are up there among the best, obviously. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Canada, we’re here to give you a helping hand. Think glittering, glacier-fed lakes that just call out to be pictured, stately homes that are so elegant, you’ll be needing a high tea after your visit to feed that need for indulgence and capital cities that you can’t access by car. Holidaying in North America is nothing short of epic.
When you think Canada, it’s likely that an image of rippled cyan waters backdropped by dramatic, snow-capped crags of the Canadian Rockies and skirted by dense old-growth forests springs to mind. This is a bucket-list picture. This is Lake Louise. And when it comes to instagram-worthy stops, it’s an attraction that is pretty hard to beat. Nestled in the wild heart of Banff National Park, where grizzly bears roam the lands, this lake clinches the crown when it comes to Western Canada’s most sought-after spots.
But if it’s the mountains that you’ve come for, it doesn’t get much more renowned than Whistler’s year-round powdery peaks. Known for being one of the best ski resorts in the world, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain also make for a pretty spectacular summer retreat too. Think wildflower peppered slopes and verdant valleys that call out to be hiked. And, in the shoulder seasons, you may just be able to ski on the snow that basks in the sunshine right at their very tops too.
Move into the cities and Mother Nature will still find a way to wow. Take Vancouver’s skyscraper skyline for example, just steps away from the hustle and bustle of downtown you’ll come across the city’s very own green gem. Stanley Park. With its lily-pad lakes and unruly flora, a stroll here feels like a million miles away from your usual urban park – especially when wandering the Seawall trail.
But Vancouver’s urban jungle is far from defined by just its green spaces. With its trendy food and drink scene and stylish boutiques, Gastown makes for a hip alternative to downtown. Then there’s the theatres, food markets and artisan workshops of Granville Island a.k.a a hipster’s haven, which proves Vancouver’s cultural worth as a city stop too.
Over on Vancouver Island, British Columbia’s state capital, Victoria, can be summed up by its quaint offerings. Butchart Gardens are a stunning example of manicured floral perfection whilst the opulence of Craigdarroch Castle will transport you back to the city’s mega-rich past.
Tack a cruise onto your trip and Alaska will be on the cards too. Journeying the wild meanders of the Inside Passage is an attraction in itself but stops at the State’s capital – Juneau – that’s so remote it can only be accessed by boat, and the salmon capital of the world – Ketchikan – mean that you won’t be short on things to do on this trip.
But this handful of attractions doesn’t even make a dent in all that Canada has to offer. Take a look below to see what else you could be getting up to on your tailor-made adventure.
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In the midst of Vancouver’s urban sprawl, Stanley Park is an oasis of natural wonder and exciting attractions. Spread across 400-hectares of ancient rainforest, wildlife-rich lakes, seaside pathways and sandy beaches, this beloved park is a playground for walking, cycling and sightseeing. Stroll along the scenic seawall, count the historic totem poles and marvel at the mountain-and-sea views.Discover more
A favourite hangout for both locals and visitors alike, Granville Island is a celebration of Vancouver’s culinary, creative and cultural prowess. Just south of the Downtown peninsula tucked under the Grenville Bridge, this vibrant neighbourhood is famous for its food markets, theatres and artisan workshops. Don’t miss the chance to visit one of Vancouver’s coolest communities - we promise you won’t regret it.Discover more
With its spacious beaches, laid-back atmosphere and picture-perfect views, it’s easy to see why English Bay is one of the most popular hangouts in Downtown Vancouver. Find a sandy spot to flop down on, take a dip in the water or enjoy a scenic stroll along the Seawall. End your day watching the sunset across the glittering ocean.Discover more
With its independent galleries, boutique shops and fashionable food and drink scene, Gastown is the place to see and be seen in Vancouver. Hangout in the cool coffee shops, dine in stylish eateries and soak up the bustling atmosphere. Though the neighbourhood has had a modern makeover in recent years, it still has an old-world look and feel with its Victorian architecture and famous steaming clock.Discover more
The jewel in Vancouver’s crown, Grouse Mountain stands out as one of the city’s most spectacular attractions. A natural playground for outdoor activities, from scenic hiking trails to heart-stopping zip lines, this majestic peak lures locals and visitors from the city with its awesome alpine scenery. Relax and enjoy the views or unleash your wild side with action-packed adventures - the choice is yours.Discover more
Spanning across Burrard Inlet with the picturesque backdrop of the Coast Mountains, Lions Gate Bridge is one of Vancouver’s most iconic - and most photographed - landmarks. Admire the huge structure from the leafy walkways of Stanley Park or meander along the deck for panoramic views of the city and sea.Discover more
With its artisan food markets, waterfront galleries and spectacular scenery, it’s easy to see why Salt Spring Island is considered the jewel of the Gulf Islands. Spend a relaxing couple of days tasting locally-produced food and drink, explore the pristine coastline, ramble in the rolling hills and soak up the bustling atmosphere of Ganges.Discover more
Combined with its neighbouring mountain – limelight stealing Whistler – Blackcomb makes up one half of the best ski resorts in the world. But, come summer, when the majority of its snow has melted away, this peaks sights are equally impressive. Think lush green forests, glittering cyan lakes and wildflower strewn slopes, all making for some pretty epic hiking opportunities.Discover more
Float over the treetops on an exhilarating eight-minute ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for a breathtaking alpine experience. On the way up, enjoy views of multiple mountain ranges and sweeping valleys. Once you reach the top, hop off to explore the walking trails, dine in mountain-top restaurants and admire the scenery from jaw-dropping viewing platforms.Discover more
Lake Louise is the epitome of postcard-worthy scenery. An emerald lake overlooked by a stately chateau, snow-capped mountains and majestic glaciers, it’s no wonder this scenic spot attracts flocks of visitors year upon year. Whatever way you choose to explore, be it on foot, bike, canoe or horseback, the sheer scale and natural beauty is bound to leave you awestruck.Discover more
Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s most scenic drives. Snaking through the heart of the Rocky Mountain national parks, this epic route takes you through jaw-dropping landscapes punctuated by glacier-fed lakes, soaring summits, crashing waterfalls and sweeping valleys. Explore the numerous hiking trails or take it all in from the numerous look-out points along the way.Discover more
Whether you’re marvelling at panoramic views from the summit or relaxing in hot springs in the foothills, a trip to Sulphur Mountain is full of memorable moments. Soak up the valley vistas, enjoy a slap-up meal in a mountaintop restaurant and take a scenic stroll along the boardwalk. Round off your alpine adventure with a long, hot soak in the mountain’s mineral-rich thermal waters.Discover more
Pretty as a picture and packed to the brim full of humble Canadian history, the beautiful Butchart Gardens aren’t just an attraction but a work of floral art. For over 100 years these gardens have been one of Vancouver Island’s most prized gems – a trip here will not disappoint. Think five themed gardens, weekly summer firework displays, tranquil boat trips and concerts on the manicured lawns.Discover more
This oceanfront, Victorian-era urban park charms locals and tourists alike with its manicured gardens, postcard-perfect lakes and interesting Native Canadian history. When you’re done exploring its plethora of pretty paths, visit the petting farm’s adorable animals, indulge in a horse and carriage tour and look out for the wild peacocks that roam the lawns.Discover more
A dash of rich – literally – history in the heart of Vancouver Island’s Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle tells the story of a bygone era. With its fairytale-like facade, opulent interiors and all-round restored splendour, this is one of Canada’s finest examples of a public stately home making it the perfect insight into how the mega-rich of Victoria lived in the late Victorian era.Discover more
Reaching up into the sky from the heart of downtown, Calgary Tower is the most iconic structure of the city’s skyline. Test your bravery and step out onto the glass-bottom floor for a heart-stopping view of the streets below or gaze in awe at the magnificent cityscape and Rocky Mountains beyond. This famous attraction is a must-visit on your Calgary itinerary.Discover more
Travelling otherwise unreachable terrain, the Rocky Mountaineer is the very definition of a rail journey to remember. Cutting through the legendary terrain of the Canadian Rockies and offering unprecedented viewing opportunities with its glass-domed carriages, this train is nothing short of iconic. Climb aboard to pair an epic, azure-lake-and-colossal-glacier-packed trip from Jasper to Vancouver with height of luxury comfort in the form of Michelin star dining and first-class service.Discover more
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