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A guide to visiting Canada

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Our guide to the Great White North: its highlights, languages, the perfect season to travel, and the best way to travel.

O Canada! The fair, dear land. The True North. It’s a country that goes by many different names and is beloved for many different reasons. For us, Canada holds a special place in our hearts with its stunning scenery and warm, friendly locals.

City-lovers and nature-seekers will feel right at home, but also inspired, by their new Canadian surroundings. A holiday in Canada is a unique opportunity to take in the fresh mountain air of the Rockies, to sit down to a satisfying plate of poutine, and to climb high above the city of Toronto in the sky-piercing CN tower. 

 

A guide to Canada holidays

 

The country offers a range of holidays catered to different tastes. Perhaps you have long been drawn to the allure of the cities and fancy a city stay on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto. Or you have been tempted to witness the country’s natural beauty, weaving through the country’s dramatic peaks and glacial valleys on the Rocky Mountaineer. Or perhaps you would like a combination of the two and see yourself sailing into Vancouver's waterfront on an Alaskan cruise. And if you are not quite sure where you will end up in this magnificent country, and you need some expert Canada travel advice, you are in the right place.

 

How to travel to Canada

 

The best way to travel to Canada is by plane. While the Great White North might look like worlds away, travelling to Canada from the UK only takes about eight hours on the plane. So, while it might not be as efficient as flying to Rome or Paris for a weekend city escape, it's only a day or night of travel to reach a variety of natural landscapes and vibrant cities.

If you are wondering about over 50s travel in Canada, we offer escorted tours that will take the stress and planning out of your journey. Our holidays are comfortable and expertly curated. Your tour guide will even be there to greet you when you land!

Perhaps there is one important question on your mind: can I travel to Canada from the UK? The answer is: yes! As of early September 2021, Canada has opened its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers.

 

Best time to visit Canada

 

Now here’s one area that might divide some people. Canada is famed as a top winter destination, with its glacial lakes, ski resorts, and snow-covered mountains coming alive between mid-December and March. But for some travellers, the Canadian winter might be bordering on the extreme. In Banff, a popular base for exploring the mountains, the temperatures can hover around -8°C to -14°C during winter.

Spring in Canada is still quite chilly, but summer offers long, sun-filled days that give you plenty of time to get out and about in the outdoors. And everybody knows it! From June to August, local and international tourists busy themselves with rafting, hiking, and attending festivals, so it can be a hectic time of year to visit. So, that leaves us with autumn, which is in our opinion, the best time of year to travel to Canada. From September to November, the scenery is transformed with the full spectrum of fall colours.

An autumn must-do is travelling along the vibrant Maple Leaf Trail, heading east to Ottawa, Canada’s walking-friendly capital. Stroll past the stunning Victorian houses, Parliament Buildings, and even the Rideau Canal set against a lush backdrop of the Gatineau Hills.

 

Best places to visit in Canada

 

No Canada travel guide would be worth its salt without including a visit to one of the most popular sights in Canada: Niagara Falls. Yes, the Canadian side is the best! Ride the Hornblower Niagara Cruise for a thrilling passage near the foot of the raging falls. You might even like to spoil yourself with a helicopter ride above the falls! 

With one in three of Canada's large cities clocking a metre or more of rain and snow each year, it’s no surprise that many of the best places to go in Canada involve a touch of moisture. Lake Louise is one of the country’s most stunning lakes with its unique turquoise colouring, idyllic alpine setting, and blooms fringing the shores. But you could visit any of the Great White North’s top lakes, including Lake Maligne, Garibaldi Lake, and Peyto Lake, and still be in complete awe.

If you are looking to break up the scenery with some inner-city exploration, consider beginning your Canada holiday in one of its major cities. If you only have time for one city, make it Montreal. The city’s striking architecture reflects its French and British influence. Pay a visit to the Notre-Dame Basilica, the first neo-Gothic church in the country. Fill your Montreal nights with an energetic jazz gig, or time your trip with the world’s largest jazz festival, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

 

Languages spoken in Canada

 

Canada is a diverse country, home to a range of international languages. The country's two official languages are English and French, with the bulk of Canadians speaking English. Most Canadians who are native French speakers reside in Québec. With 95% of its residents being of French background, Québec City has a long, detailed history of French influence. The city’s Old Town is even UNESCO-listed, making it perfectly-suited to history-lovers and walkers.

 

Things to do in Canada

 

If there’s one thing you do in Canada, make it a scenic rail journey. If you have the time, and the budget, consider riding the beloved Rocky Mountaineer. Established in 1990, the luxury train service runs four main routes into the centre of the Rockies. Sit back and marvel at the ever-changing surroundings as you snake past the North Thompson River past Mount Robson, the cascading Pyramid Falls, and the cinematic Yellowhead Pass.

Another exciting thing to do in Canada is to seize any opportunity for a good view! Trust us, the country is full of them. If it’s the city lights you are looking for, book a spot on Toronto’s CN Tower, which is 553-metre high. If you want something equally magnificent, only on the natural side, get yourself to Sulphur Mountain. The mountain, named after the hot springs on its lower slopes, is a staggering 2,451 metres high. Take a memorable eight-minute gondola ride to the summit, gliding over Banff National Park, six mountain ranges, ski slopes, lakes, rivers, valleys, and towns. At the peak, wander around the Banff Summit Walk, restaurants, viewing platforms, and boardwalks. 

At the end of every beautiful day in Canada, treat yourself to the local cuisine - it's one of the best reasons to travel to Canada! If you have a hunger for comfort food, tuck into a rich plate of french fries with cheese curds and brown gravy - aka poutine. The classic dish was invented in central Québec in the late 1950s. For the carnivores, there’s Montreal smoked meat. Comparable to pastrami and corned beef, this salted beef brisket is delicious in a delightfully messy sandwich.

Of course, a trip to Canada is not complete without sampling some delicious maple syrup. Whether you pour a generous helping over your pancakes or indulge in some sticky maple candy, make sure it’s authentic!

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