Backpacking Canada is an amazing experience.
Canada is a country filled with wonderfully friendly people, classy, diverse cities, and a diverse landscape that includes tundras, rainforest, deserts, and huge mountains.
From the icy tundra of the Yukon to rocky beaches of the east coast, the mountains of Calgary to the rainforests of Vancouver, Canada is a country that is often skipped over on many world trips. That’s such a shame. Canada is so big and makes for a wonderful road trip country!
You can spend a few months traveling around Canada from end to end.
I love my friendly neighbor to the north and believe Canada is a really underrated destination. There’s a reason everyone around the world loves Canadians. They rock. Visit their homeland and find out why.
Added bonus: It’s easy to get a working holiday visa to this country so you can stay, work, and make money here for the long term!
This Canadian travel guide will help you plan a trip to the Great White North.
1. Celebrate the Calgary Stampede
During July, thousands of people descend to Calgary for this multi-day rodeo, drinking event, and carnival. It’s where everyone pretends to be a cowboy for a few days. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll meet tons of people from around the world. Wear cowboy boots and a hat if you want to fit in! Save some money to sample the unique festival food, and line up for the popular tents well in advance. It’s one of Canada’s premier events.
2. Hit the slopes
The mountains in Canada offer great skiing and snowboarding during the winter. Banff is a popular mountain town known for its excellent trails. It’s quite busy during the winter months as locals and visitors alike hit the slopes. While Banff is just the most popular place to go but there are tons of other good skiing destinations in the country. Sunshine Village, Whistler Blackcomb, Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, and Mont Tremblant are just a few you should check out (they stretch from British Columbia to Quebec).
3. Visit Vancouver Island
Take a few days off from the city to explore this western island. Try the delicious seafood, go for a hike, spot some whales, shop, and lounge on the beach. This a place to just sit and relax. Since it is so close to Vancouver, it’s a popular getaway with the locals during the summer. Victoria is a quiet but gorgeous little city, and it’s actually the capital of British Columbia. From here you can also visit places like Tofino, where the bustling surf community has evolved into a fun hippie town.
4. Hike the rainforest
Hike the Pacific Rim National Park for a wonderful look at some temperate rain forests on Vancouver Island. It’s one of the most popular parks in Canada, home to Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, and Pacific Silver Fir (among others). The Long Beach area is one of the most accessible places for hiking, but the sand dunes behind Wickanninish Beach on the south Beach Trail are also worth the trek.
5. Go to Calgary
Calgary offers a selection of free and low-cost activities for the budget traveler. Have a picnic in one of its many parks, go rollerblading, dine in Kensington, or head up to the top of the surrounding peaks. There’s great hiking, kayaking, skiing, water rafting, and camping here. Rent a bike and exploring the city via its many bike paths comes highly recommended. Although it’s been long dismissed as an oil town, it’s one of the liveliest cities in Canada with a large youth population.
6. Visit the Galleries of Toronto
Toronto has some of the best exhibits in the country, so take a day or two just to admire the art of the city. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario are the two most famous art museums, but there are a plethora of smaller, speciality galleries too – like the Textiles Museum of Canada, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. On Wednesdays, galleries will often give a discount.
7. Take a road trip
This huge country is best explored by car. It’s the best way to find yourself in tiny little towns, majestic mountains, amazing countryside, and plenty of off-the-beaten-track places. If you have a lot of time, this is your best and cheapest option to see the country. Keep in mind, however, that weather can be unpredictable in Canada (especially in the winter months), you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, and you’ll want to be prepared for long stretches of driving without any rest stops or gas stations. It’s worth it!
8. Stroll the nation’s capital
Ottawa is a very easy city to explore on foot. Home to museums, art galleries, and plenty of shops, it’s a charming city worth a visit. You can take a tour of Parliament Hill, the historic buildings where the Canadian government operates, or cross the Ottawa River and visit Quebec. The Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Canada are two must-visit museums during your stay. Otherwise, simply roam around the busy Byward Market area or check out the craft breweries in Westboro. Be sure to try a beaver tail (a flaky, sweet pastry) when you’re there!
9. Get off the beaten path in Nova Scotia
The locals boast that Nova Scotia is home to the friendliest, sweetest people in Canada. They might be right. People in this province are overly nice. Nice like “we still don’t lock our doors when we go out” nice. That, combined with over 100 beaches, picturesque lighthouses, great sailing, mouth-watering seafood (this area of Canada is the main fishing region), and a marvelous coastline, makes Nova Scotia an amazing place to visit in Canada and this travel guide can help you get there. Plus, Nova Scotia doesn’t see lots of tourists.
10. Tour around Toronto
Toronto is often considered the most multicultural city in the world, as over half of the city’s population is foreign-born. While this isn’t my favorite spot in Canada, it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area to hit the many museums and enjoy delicious Asian food. It’s no Vancouver but it’s a pretty awesome, hip, and artsy city!
Go where the Canadians spend their vacation. Warm in the summer and mild in the winter, this glacial valley has some of the best weather in the entire country. There’s a marina and few golf courses, and the Okanagan Valley is home to Canada’s best vineyards and wineries. In the summer months, Canadians rent fancy houseboats complete with waterslides to vacation on the nearby Okanagan Lake. Befriend a local and convince them to take you with them!
12. Churchill, Manitoba
This might be a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it also happens to be the Polar Bear Capital of the World, the Beluga Whale Capital of the World, and one of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis. You can ride in a tundra buggy (a special bus raised on giant wheels to keep you out of reach from polar bears) and head out on the open plains to watch polar bears in their natural habitats. Mother nature is alive and thriving here.
13. Niagara Falls
This is one of the most highly visited attractions in the entire continent. You never imagine how big it is until you see it up close and you never envision so much mist either. I really enjoyed seeing it. You can hop on a boat tour and head out into the waterfalls, but be prepared to get soaked! The town is a touristy, cheesy dump, though.
14. The Yukon
The Yukon is the perfect place to get your nature fix. The chances of seeing a bear, elk, or deer are incredibly high (or you can tour the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where you’re guaranteed to see them). Go hiking in Tombstone Territorial Park, soak in a mineral hot pool at the Takhini Hot Springs, or swing by the Sign Post Forest wit its unique collection of over 77,000 signposts. Hardly anyone ever visits the Yukon as visitors tend to stick to the major cities in the south of the country. But definitely consider visiting because you’ll find yourself and nature in perfect harmony.