The Most Incredible Places to Visit in Canada
As much as we Jetsetters love far-flung escapes, there’s something to be said about staying closer to home. So, we’re looking to our friendly neighbor to the north for its pristine national parks, cosmopolitan cities, and rugged coasts. Here, the absolute best places to visit in Canada.
Hipster cafés, indie boutiques, and charming historic streets make Montreal Canada’s culture capital. Start by crossing off some of the main sites: The Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Mount Royal Park offers some of the best skyline views, and the trendy rooftop bar Terrasse Nelligan overlooks Old Town, Notre Dame Basilica, and the St. Lawrence River. While you’re here, make sure to try the braised pork poutine, a Québécois classic. Then, head to Saint-Laurent Boulevard to browse the chic shops and eclectic art galleries. Hit Citizen Vintage for unique upcycled clothing and local handicrafts, Freitag Concept for silver and semi-precious stone jewelry, and Big in Japan Bar—a sultry, candlelit speakeasy—for creative cocktails.
Banff National Park
As the oldest and most famous national park, Banff is not to be missed on your tour through Canada. In the summer, the lush landscape is a postcard of wildflower meadows, crystalline glacial lakes, and grazing elk while in the winter the region looks like the inside of a snowglobe with windswept ice fields and towering, snow-capped peaks. Drop your bags at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which has hosted everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Marilyn Monroe in its Swiss-style suites. For vertigo-inducing hikes, try the cliffside catwalk in Johnston Canyon, which winds around thundering waterfalls and steep gorges. Cap off the day with a glass of vodka, gin, or rye whiskey at Park Distillery, the world’s only distillery located in a national park. Using glacier water, foraged spruce tips, and wheat from local Albert farms, these small-batch spirits are a true taste of the region.
Vancouver often steals the spotlight from Victoria, but the bayside city is more than worthy of a stop. Manicured gardens, Victorian-style homes, and brightly-colored boutiques are just some of its charms, after all. Architecture buffs should make a beeline for Craigdarroch Castle followed by afternoon tea at the Abkhazi Garden, a botanical oasis opened by Russian royalty in 1959. Still hungry? Head to Red Fish Blue Fish for harborfront views and casual seafood bites like crispy tempura-battered Pacific cod with coleslaw and hand cut Kennebec chips. Or, reserve a table at Aura to tuck into freshly-shucked B.C. oysters, and seared wild salmon with Israeli couscous and asparagus.
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Ottawa, the nation’s capital, has come into its own thanks to a string of boutique hotels, buzzy restaurants, and stylish shops. The Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market turns heads with its swanky 16th-floor lounge—the tallest rooftop bar in the city—and its 200 Mason Studio-designed guest rooms. ByWard, the oldest and largest farmers’ market in Canada, is right outside your front door, and the picturesque neighborhood is home to cobblestoned courtyards, al fresco cafés, and quirky stores. Pick up some boho-chic threads at Milk and leather items at Roots Canada. Riviera is the hottest restaurant on the block; the former bank has been reimagined as an open-kitchen concept serving cheeky cocktails (Grapefruits of Wrath is a favorite) and elevated Italian dishes, such as rabbit pappardelle with pancetta and cremini mushrooms.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The country’s easternmost province has all the trappings of a maritime wonderland. Sleepy fishing villages with colorful clapboard houses are set against a stunning backdrop of the North Atlantic Ocean. In the city of St. John’s, swing by Rocket Bakery for roasted red pepper quiches or partridgeberry muffins, a local specialty. For those who prefer to go off the map, Fogo Island Inn is ideal. With only 29 rooms, this design-forward stay by Newfoundland-born architect Todd Saunders hovers along the isle’s untouched surf and features an art gallery, a cinema, outdoor hot tubs, and a library with a cozy fireplace. To take in more of Newfie’s nature, road trip out to Gros Morne National Park, where you can explore freshwater fjords, dense forests, and towering sea stacks.
Surrounded by prairie grasslands, Saskatoon is bringing arts and culture to central Canada. The John G. Diefenbaker International Airport—fresh off a $53 million expansion—welcomes visitors in style, as does the River Landing, a massive new waterfront development in the heart of the city. When completed, the three-acre area will have a luxury condo building, two office towers, and the 15-story Alt Hotel. Across the street is the 125,000-square-foot Remai Modern museum, where you can browse 8,000 pieces of art, plus an impressive collection of works by Pablo Picasso. In the summertime, swing by Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, which has been performing outdoor theater for more than 30 years.
RELATED: 7 Gorgeous Hotels in Alberta, Canada
Digital detox vacations have become the next trend for tech-obsessed travelers—and there’s no better place to go off-the-grid than in the arctic Northwest Territories. A quick 30-minute ski plane ride will get you from Yellowknife, the only city in the province, to the remote Blachford Lake Lodge. Consider this retreat a sleepaway camp for adults: Private rustic cabins are stocked with wood stoves, outdoor hot tubs, and plaid blankets while daily activities include stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking, and fishing in the warmer months or snowmobiling, igloo building, and cross-country skiing come winter. But the best part is the prime lakeside spot to watch the northern lights paint the sky—no Instagram needed.
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