Voted as number the one destination in Lonely Planet's top countries, Canada is a great travel destination in 2017 for a reason. Dynamic and modern cities, the welcoming Canadian mentality and both vast and epic landscapes will await you. Big plus: every overseas visitor will save some money due to the currently weak Canadian dollar. Let's take a closer look and find out what to explore in the Great White North.
Best travel time
In order to find the perfect time for a journey across the big pond, you should be aware of what kind of climate you're seeking for. There are pleasant temperatures between June and October in entire Canada. The thermometer rises up to 15°C – 22°C / 59°F – 72°F in western Canada, temperatures are even a little higher in the East. Besides, the sun sets later which provides more time for outdoor exercises or simply enjoying the nature. However, during winter the weather becomes freezing cold. And if you want to travel up to the North or into the heartland of British Columbia, you can't forgo snow chains. Snow is falling metres high and you may envisage with more than -30° / -22°F. Even the toughest ones among yourselves should think of long underwear.
Best time of the year to travel to Canada should be the so-called Indian Summer. High season during July/August is already over and during September/October the colorful diversity autumn scenery comes to light.
Where to go
Banff National Park, Alberta
Canada has 46 national parks and preserves and the oldest one, that should definitely be on top of your list, is the Banff national park in Alberta. Best time to enjoy Banff to the fullest is between April and October. I'd highly recommend to visit Moraine lake, the prettiest lake in the park. One or two have probably already seen pictures of Peyto lake as well since it's a popular photo motif with it's unnaturally blue water and the shape of a wolf's head. But be aware, there are tons of tourists around Peyto lake. If you want to escape from the masses for a bit, you should hike along the Parker Ridge trail with a gorgeous view on the Saskatchewan glacier. But don't forget your sturdy shoes and enough provisions.
Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
A dark rainforest, with up to 95 metres / 312 ft tall Sitka spruces, has formed in this area due to the rather damp climate. Between March and October is the best time for grey whale sightings. The Pacific Rim is also said to possess the toughest hiking trail around Canada. The west coast trail. The 77 kilometres / 49 miles long route is only suitable for experienced hikers and is open from May first until September 30 for only 52 wanderers per day.
St. Lawrence Island National Park, Ontario
Close to the United States border, you'll find St. Lawrence Island National Park. It's the smallest national park around Canada, consisting of 21 islands. Of course, you'll get the best view on the park from the water. Boats or water taxis can be rented there and will show you around the area. Some of the islands are uninhabited but some even have cabins built on them. Best place to stay: one of the 55 campsites of the national park.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
After the oldest national park, the smallest one and the one, with the toughest trail, there is only one missing, namely the biggest one. And the winner is Jasper national park in Alberta which is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
Jasper offers everything from glaciers, impressive waterfalls, dense fir forests up to tall, edgy mountain peaks. The glacier skywalk qualifies for the ones among yourselves who are free from giddiness.
The 4.700 citizen community Jasper is a great gateway for all excursions into the park and the picturesque landscape is perfect for a relaxing evening after a long hike. The best place to enjoy the Indian summer during September/October. January qualifies best for the ones among yourselves that want to enjoy the Canadian winter. It's the coldest month of the year indeed, but its also said to be the driest one.
You'll find another UNESCO world heritage in Ottawa. The Rideau-Canal. A 202 kilometres / 125 miles long river that is pouring right through Ottawa. During winter the river freezes over and the whole city is ice skating on top of it. Ottawa is known for it's short walking routes and I, personally, think a city is best to discover by walking. In the district ByWard, you'll find the identically named ByWard market. The oldest and biggest farmer's market around Canada and once you're on site, you can't miss out the capital city's national dish. BeaverTail Pastries. But don't worry, it's not an actual beavertail, it's only a sweet pastry which got its name by its look and has been in invented on the ByWard market.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, the large city provides a rather relaxed life. Hipsters and hippy-lifestyle collide on commercial drive. The district, that is characterized by Italian and Portuguese immigrants, has a lot to offer for eyes and stomach. A interesting blend of vintage stores and modern vegan restaurants and if you want to enjoy Cuban food with a cozy atmosphere, you should stop by Havana (1212 commercial drive). Main Street, also at the east end, is great for shopping. Best is to start main street at the corner of east broadway, walking down south. And if you ever wanted to have breakfast in a typical fifties diner, you should try Slickity Jim's (3475 main street).
Montreal is part of the French-Canadian area and influenced by its European atmosphere and the artists. Walk through downtown along the Saint Lawrence river, followed by Quatir Latin, Chinatown afterwards and last but not least, the old harbor with the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours church. If the weather isn't playing along, you're in good hands in Montreal since you'll find the biggest underground city in the world there. Shops, cinemas and restaurants are distributed across a 32 kilometres / 20 miles long tunnel system. The underground is also connected with the underground city and there are several entrances like on Rue Ste Catherine for example. You shouldn't deny yourself the dish Poutine as well. At first, you need to get used to fries topped with cheese and gravy but it's said to taste really good and Montreal is the birthplace of Poutine.
Finest bar in the city is Apt. 200 (3643 Boulevard, Saint-Laurent), which is furnished like a flat. Best patisserie is Kougun Amann, 322 Mont-Royal East Ave. Start your day with a croissant, by the way, those croissants are said to be the best ones beyond Paris, or with a pains au chocolate, or quiche, or, or, or…
As you can see, Canada has it both. The breathtaking and extensive nature, where you can watch grizzly bears, where mountains reach for the skies and lakes so blue, you'll start to think someone dyed them and also the metropolises, inviting for a stroll, entertaining with a vivid night life or festivals. So, what are you waiting for? Let's conquer the North.
Until then, happy traveling.