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Best Places to Visit in Canada: 17 Must-See Sites for First-Time Visitors

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Looking for a perfect place for your next vacation? What about Canada? As the second largest country in the world, it’s packed with scenic landscapes and unique spots. This vibrant destination boasts heritage-rich cities surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The list of best places to visit in Canada is robust, offering something for everyone, from awe-inspiring natural wonders to bustling metropolitan delights.

View of Niagara Falls

In western Canada, the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary are the most popular travel destinations. In the central part of the country, the most striking highlights are Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec. Those who are crazy about the maritime provinces in the east will enjoy the beauty of the Gros Morne Reserve and cruise cities like Halifax and St. John’s.

Wherever you go in Canada, you will get a unique experience by exploring the local sights. And if you are thinking about which transport to choose for your trip, a rental car will be the best solution. The minimum car rental age in Canada is 18-21 depending on the location. This means even young drivers can hit the road. So, book the best car rental for those under 25 and get ready for a mind-blowing adventure.

Here’s a look at some of the best places to visit in Canada – especially for first-time visitors!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is Canada’s most famous natural sight, attracting millions of visitors every year. Located only an hour’s drive from Toronto, along the border with the United States, this waterfall is colossal – its height reaches about 187 feet. Visitors have the opportunity to see the waterfall at a strikingly close distance from the edge of the upper bank.

The waterfall has been attracting tourists and daredevils for more than 100 years. From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, numerous attempts were made to descend the falls in various makeshift boats and barrels. This state of affairs, along with tightrope walkers and other entertainers, led the nearby city of Niagara Falls to develop carnivals that continue to this day.

Banff National Park

Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is a top-class natural gem in Alberta. It presents the most attractive landscapes that showcase the beauty of Canadian nature. Turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountain peaks, and glaciers – you can easily get to all this splendor if you rent a car in Canada.

The main highlight of this well of North American nature is Lake Louise, whose greenish water reflects the surrounding mountains. The Icefields Trail, which runs from Louise to the neighboring Jasper Wildlife Refuge, is another must on the list of local attractions, and you should definitely try it.

In the southern part of the reserve, you will find the small town of Banff, offering hotels, shops, and eateries for visitors. During the winter, Banff is also a popular, lively area for winter sports. It hosts Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village, two of Canada’s most famous ski resorts.

Looking back at the view of the CN Tower in Toronto from the water. Its one of the best places to visit in Canada.

CN Tower in Toronto

The list of the best places to visit in Canada would be incomplete without this eclectic structure. The CN Tower is an iconic landmark located in the heart of Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario. With a height of about 1,800 feet, it’s one of the tallest structures in the world.

In addition, the CN Tower hosts a revolving restaurant inside. Therefore, it would be a great idea to admire the beautiful views of the city and the lake while tasting delicious dishes from the local menu.

Even those who are afraid of heights will stop to stare at this structure. At night, millions of colorful lights cover the tower and thus make it even more fantastic.

Old Quebec

If exploring historical highlights is your passion, head over to Old Quebec, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of preserved historical architectural structures. One of them is the Château Frontenac, a grand hotel in the style of a medieval French castle. You will find it, along with other valuable examples of old architecture, in the Lower Town area, which lies on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

The Upper Town area is also worth your attention. Perched on 330-foot-high cliffs, it offers sites of interest such as the Fields of Abraham, the Quebec Fortress, and much more heritage that reflects the city’s past. In addition to the historical sites, you can admire the artworks displayed in the famous local museums.

Whistler Blackcomb

Just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, you will find Whistler Blackcomb – a famous Canadian ski resort. Although it’s mainly popular due to winter sports taking place on its territory, over time the facility has provided opportunities for recreation during the warmer months.

So, now you can play golf, go mountain biking, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a vibrant mountain town. By the way, in 2010 this resort gained worldwide fame due to the Winter Olympic Games. All in all, Whistler offers world-class ski slopes, hotels, numerous restaurants and cafes, and many other outdoor sports, all accompanied by breathtaking mountain views.

Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Although this site is not among the obvious Canadian places to go, you should visit it for cultural and architectural enlightenment. Parliament Hill rises above the Ottawa River and opens up before your eyes an architectural ensemble of neo-Gothic buildings erected in the second half of the 19th century.

The most prominent structure is the Peace Tower, which separates the House of Commons from the Senate. In front of the parliament buildings is the Centennial Flame, lit in 1966 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Also, you will see the sculpture garden behind the buildings.

For a unique spectacle, come see the Changing of the Guard on the porch in front of the Houses of Parliament. At the same time, the path that runs along the river below Parliament Hill provides excellent conditions for a leisurely summer walk.

Inner Harbor in Victoria

Few Canadian cities have established waterfronts, such as Inner Harbor in Victoria. One of our favorites on this list of the best places to visit in Canada, the Inner Harbor is great for relaxing walks, shopping, and entertainment with the backdrop of the bay.

The main architectural figure in the area is the Empress Hotel, which stands out from the crowd. Over the years, this hotel has hosted even kings and queens. Today, every visitor has the opportunity to enjoy a traditional high tea, which, by the way, is among the items on the to-do lists of multiple travelers to Victoria.

Boats moored in the Inner Harbor in Victoria

Signal Hill in St. John’s

At the entrance to St. John’s harbor, you will see the famous Signal Hill, which overlooks the city and the sea. In 1901, a signal sent from across the ocean was first received at this place. Also, Signal Hill played a strategic role in the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763), although the fortifications that now stand there were erected during the hostilities of 1812.

The Cabot Tower is the key building on Signal Hill. Inside, you will find exhibits reflecting the history of the building and its rich past. If you go upstairs, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the coastline all the way to Cape Spier – the easternmost point of North America.

Old Montreal

History buffs will find many spectacular points in Old Montreal. The area welcomes visitors with multiple shops and charming eateries. Here you can ride on horse-drawn carts through stone-paved streets along open squares.

While Montreal as a whole is a modern and lively city, its old neighborhood is a source of inspiration and a place to soak up the unique atmosphere. Some of the most prominent local attractions include the Basilica Notre-Dame de Montreal, the Bonsecour Market, Place Jacques Cathier, and the old city hall.

Polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba

If you like wildlife, Canada has a lot to offer. One of the best places to visit in Canada for wildlife lovers is northern Manitoba where you can see polar bears in their natural habitat. Watching them move from land to ice floes in Hudson Bay near the city of Churchill is a very unique and tempting experience.

Every autumn this town opens its doors to tourists. You can take a tour in special buggies with windows covered with metal screens for closer contact with the bears. The most suitable time (peak migration season) for observation is in October and November when the bears are waiting for the water to freeze.

Bay of Fundy

Located in eastern Canada between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, this bay is famous for its spectacular waves. The difference between low and high waves here is the largest in the world. The maximum wave height reaches approximately 64 feet.

There are many ways to enjoy this natural wonder, but you get the most impressive views from the reefs and rock formations at Hopewell Point. Alternatively, the Fundy Reserve and the Grand Manan Island also provide breathtaking panoramas of the raging abyss.

Gros Morne National Park

Another of the best places to visit in Canada, this wildlife reserve is much more remote from settlements than most other famous national parks in Canada. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a ride here to get acquainted with the beautiful landscapes, consisting of mountains and fjords.

Located in Newfoundland, the park features steep cliffs, waterfalls, and intricate rock formations. Most visitors prefer to take a river tour to appreciate the local beauty, but walking along several trails is also a great way to enjoy the surrounding views. What’s more, you can go kayaking for even more fun.

The Totem Poles in Stanley Park another of the best places to visit in Canada

Stanley Park in Vancouver

One of Vancouver’s greatest treasures is the 405-hectare Stanley Central Park, conveniently located on the west side of downtown. The park is a peninsula surrounded by the open sea on one side and the harbor on the other. The promenade, which runs along almost the entire park’s coastline, offers an excellent path for jogging, walking, cycling, rollerblading, or skateboarding.

As for the view from the banks of the park, it consists of either mountains or city buildings – it all depends on the point where you are. On the territory of the park, you can visit the aquarium, the picturesque Beaver Lake, and other local highlights.

Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg

As the world’s first museum dedicated to the history and understanding of human rights, this place has been the subject of many discussions. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights awakens a sense of justice in even the most indifferent visitor. All thanks to the original idea, where human destinies play the role of artifacts, and real events in live scenery and films replace information from textbooks.

So, be prepared for the whole gamut of emotions, and not the most positive ones. The Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg makes you look at humanity from a different angle. As for the appearance of the building, it features a unique design that attracts the attention of many passers-by. Visiting this place will give you both aesthetic and emotional pleasure!

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Next on our list of the best places to visit in Canada is the Pacific Rim National Park Reservation. The Reservation sits on Vancouver Island and consists of 3 parts. The first is the 4-mile-long Long Beach on Wickaninnish Bay.

The second includes more than a hundred islands and rocks of the Broken Group Islands archipelago in the Barkley Sound. And finally, the third is a 64-mile-long West Coast Trail passing through the rainforests, sandy beaches, caves, and waterfalls.

Looks unique, doesn’t it? By the way, in the spring about 10,000 whales migrate through these waters, and you can see them right from the shore!

Athabasca Falls

While in Jasper National Park, Alberta, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Athabasca Falls, famous for its power and large amount of falling water. Surrounded by scenic countryside, it lies about 20 miles from the city of Jasper. Although the height of the waterfall is small – 75 feet, the 60-foot width of the waterfall creates an impressive sight. Even when the water level in the river is low, copious amounts of water fall into the gorge.

A man standing on a peak overlooking the mountains and a lake in the Canadian Rockies, one of the best places to visit in Canada

The Canadian Rockies

When thinking about these mountains, travelers imagine a landscape of towering snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, waterfalls, and dense evergreen forests. Yes, the nature of British Columbia is simply breathtaking, and you can be sure that the impression of admiring these places will remain with you for a long time. You can head to Horseshoe Lake or Columbia Icefield, or cruise along the Icefields Parkway to enjoy the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Canada

We can go on and on with the list of the best places to visit in Canada because this large country offers hundreds of amazing destinations all around. From Vancouver in the west to Halifax in the east, and covering the Northern Territories, you’ll find where to spend your vacation or weekend.

The only obligatory thing on your trip is a car that makes it possible to get to the desired point quickly and comfortably. So, install the Rental24h app on your smartphone to book a set of wheels and use our guide for your upcoming road adventure!

About the author

John Potocki is an avid traveler and photographer who cruises the roads of the US and Canada on the hunt for the perfect landscapes. His main priority is a comfortable and fun-filled journey. Also, he wants to bring more value to beginners and experienced adventurers. Thus, by planning convenient routes and sharing travel tips, he makes the perfect trip a reality for everyone!

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