I admit I’m biased, but Canada is a pretty awesome travel destination. There’s something for every traveller here, no matter where you’re from. The reasons below combined with the low Canadian dollar make Canada the perfect destination for 2016, for Canadians and foreigners alike. If you have friends or relatives coming to Canada (or if you’re thinking of staying in Canada for your 2016 travels), this post will help you get the most out of your visit to Canada!
Size does matter
Canada is a giant country: The world’s second largest, in fact! Northern lights, rainforests, urban centres, great lakes, prairies, mountains, sandy beaches… whatever your fancy, we’ve got it. If you’re a visitor to Canada you should spend time researching the distances between regions and the climates and methods of transportation to and from the sites you want to see most. You can’t visit Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains in a day (or maybe even in a week, for that matter), but you can certainly make the most of your trip by picking a region and doing it right.
Tips to plan around Canada’s geography:
- Plan to stay longer if you want to visit more than one province or region
- Calculate distances and the time it will take you to drive or fly between attractions or cities—look carefully at the scale on maps (especially if you’re used to smaller countries with fewer square kilometres!)
- Choose the most scenic routes for road trips to avoid getting stuck in urban and suburban traffic. (For example, if driving outside the Toronto area, build in more travel time, or avoid wasting time and choose train or plane instead.)
- Driving through the iconic Rocky Mountains is generally best and safest during Canadian summers. Time of year will greatly affect road conditions.
Get serious about the Canadian wild
To say that Canada is serious about the outdoors is an understatement. Mountains, untouched wilderness and beautiful backcountry explain why hikers, skiers and boarders love it here! For those animal lovers keen to sight our great Canadian furry friends: If you’ve never seen a moose or bear in the wild, it’s an unforgettable experience! Top that off with a porcupine hiding in the bush, a spawning salmon fighting upstream, or a deer mother with her fawn, and you’ll see why preserving Canada’s natural habitats mean the world to us.
With over 46 Canadian national parks and 168 national historic sites, you will have to make some important decisions. This might be why many travellers choose to rent an RV to drive across Canada (or some of it, at least, depending on how much time you have!)
Tips for outdoor lovers:
- There are many excellent animal sightseeing tours to choose from, but you might have a better chance of seeing wildlife on your own, in a quiet setting.
- For a more intimate but equally spectacular wildlife sighting, do as the locals do: get up early, take a quiet hike, keep your eyes open when driving on Canadian backroads or highways.
- Always follow these Canadian golden rules: Never feed or approach wild animals, and leave no trace.
- Never stop in the middle of the highway or a road to watch wildlife. Pull off safely to the side, but don’t get out. Enjoy the animals from the safety of your car.
Discover Canada’s seasons
It’s a myth that Canada is full of snow and ice. Sure, some parts are, but most major cities are located near the 49th parallel, so temperatures vary widely from latitude to longitude. A common sense approach and a bit of research will ensure a great Canadian travel experience.
Many traditionally Canadian activities and the lore that goes with them (“Canadiana”) are closely tied to the seasons too. You can still mush a dogsled in Canada, pan for gold, portage in a canoe, and observe whales and other animals in their natural habitat. Visit a sugar shack in Quebec and take home our famous maple syrup, an iconic Hudson’s Bay Blanket, or drive for miles without seeing any sign of ”civilization”, but you can also visit some of the most advanced and within the top 5 livable cities to live in the world.
Tips to plan for Canadian seasons:
- For spectacular autumn colours, visit Quebec in the fall.
- If you want to see the Northern Lights, make sure you’re in the Yukon in the winter, and not in the summer when it’s daylight for 22 hours.
- If your dream is to ice skate along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, plan to go in the winter, of course.
- Be sure to look up weather forecasts and pack the right clothes. You can never go wrong with technical or wool layers and waterproof gear. Plan your luggage, itinerary, and footwear accordingly.
Make good friends
Although it’s a generalization, Canadians are pretty friendly folk. You’ll meet all types of people, no matter where you travel, so come visit Canada and find out for yourself why Canadians are known to be polite, considerate, and unassuming. Maybe you’re one of many travellers with family or friends living in Canada. Come pay them a visit. Be forewarned: many visitors end up staying here indefinitely!
When you’re here, you’ll notice that Canada is made up of many cultures. Canada has a complex aboriginal history and extremely diverse immigration stories. Make a point to learn about some of the 634 recognized First Nations peoples, including the Inuit or the Métis. Multiculturalism, diversity, and celebrations of culture are important to us Canadians.
Tips to meet Canadians:
- Don’t skip the guided tours if you visit one of the many excellent museums across the country. A guide can answer questions and help you delve deeper into understanding Canada’s peoples.
- My personal favourites to explore the complex histories, art and cultures that make up Canada are the Canadian Museum of History in in Gatineau, Quebec (just across the bridge from Ottawa), and the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA for short).
Canada hearts foodies
There are as many cuisines and foods in Canada as there are cultures, and Canadians love their many food choices! Many travellers come here just to check out new restaurants in hot travel foodie cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.
Try some locally sourced ingredients in the many new farm-to-table restaurants, or sample some simple comfort food close to the Canadian heart. If you’re game to try some traditional Canadian game, you might sample reindeer, buffalo or venison (deer) in a variety of traditionally rustic dishes. Vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans, gluten abstainers, and celiacs will find many options in most major cities to suit their tastes too.
A good rule of thumb is that different urban centres are known for different cuisines. Quebec for its Montreal smoked meat, maple syrup infused dishes and sugar shack lore, Atlantic Canada for its lobster, British Columbia for its sockeye salmon, and major cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver for their variety of restaurants and bars. For every Canadian region, there’s a yum!
With growing microbreweries in major Canadian cities, and award-wining wine regions like BC’s Okanagan Valley or the Niagara Escarpment ice wines near Toronto, oenophiles and beer lovers can also find something for their palates (just remember to consume alcohol in moderation! Your travel insurance won’t cover alcohol-related injuries or accidents.)
Travel insurance to visit Canada:
Canada has an internationally renowned health care system, but if you’re not a resident, you won’t be covered—and medical costs including dental care can be expensive. In fact, the Canadian government recommends all visitors buy health coverage before exploring Canada.
No worries, TuGo’s Visitor to Canada Emergency Medical is ideal for tourists coming to Canada, immigrants or returning Canadians without provincial health care.
The Visitor to Canada Emergency Medical plan covers the cost of emergency hospital stays or emergency medical treatment for those without provincial or territorial medical coverage.
- Single Trip
- As part of the Visitor to Canada Holiday Package
Which Canadian sights are on the top of your must-see list? Have any questions about travel insurance to visit Canada? Leave a comment or question below!
Happy travels, and enjoy discovering Canada!