Canada

Special thanks to Meghan MacDonald, Kier Fortier, Malakouza, and Elaine Han for the recommendations, and Hope Sams for the pictures.

The unassuming Great White North is picturesque in its beauty. With diverse landscapes ranging from booming metropolitan cities to serene wooded forests, Canada is ideal for any traveler looking for a breath of fresh air. Head north, get outside, and get lost in its stunning serenity.

Skyline Trail, Cape Breton

Northside East Bay

Jump to:

BANFF

Things to Do

Banff Gondola: This is an absolute must! The views from the top are breathtaking, and photos are unreal. There's even fire pits! If you book online here in advance you can get 10% off.

 

Banff Avenue: Restaurants, cafes, desert shops, and an overall places to explore, people watch, and take pictures. 

 

Banff Hot Springs: Relax and soak in a beautiful view of the mountains.

 

Fairview Mountain: Don't let the modest 9.2km RT distance fool you -- summitting Fairview Mountain requires a challenging, steep climb at the end. It's totally worth it! From the top, you can peek over and see Lake Louise.

 

Grassi Lakes: An easier hike that also has some climbing options.

 

Lake Cruise: Hop on a boat at Lake Mineewanka to take in fresh air, learn some history, and see some amazing views.

 

Lake Louise: Rent a canoe and head out on the lake to get the Instagram photo you've been dreaming about since you've booked your flight. Come in the summertime when the ice is melted to catch the turquoise blue color.

 

Lake Minnewanka: Rent a little motorboat and explore.

 

Lake Moraine: So calming and beautiful. You can also rent boats for canoeing here. The lodge nearby has souvenirs and snacks. Talk about calming, this lake was of course also scenic and just beautiful.

 

Tunnel Mountain: Definitely not an easy hike, so make sure you pack water, snacks, and wear appropriate shoes. The views at the top sure are rewarding!

 

Skiing: Mt Norquay is a stunning places to ski or snowboard. Ski season typically runs from December to April!

 

SUP the Bow River in Banff!

 

Via Ferrata: For all you thrill seekers out there, climb up cliffs and across suspension bridges, all while clipped into cables and led by a guide, for stunning views over the Banff ski area.

 

Other Hikes: Download the All Trails app for the best hikes in the area. They'll be rated by level of difficulty, have reviews you can read, and tell you the length. Johnson Canyon Mt Jimmy Simpson, Mt Jimmy Simpson Junior are all recommended!

Places to Eat

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: You don't need reservations here, but just know that those who are staying in the hotel get first dibs on seats! If you go for lunch or dinner when it's still light out, try and grab a window seat for fantastic views of Lake Louise. Their salmon is A+.

 

The Elk and Oarsman: Great places to eat with rooftop views!

 

514 Poutine in Canmore for some hipster, warehouse style cheese curd goodness.

Places to Drink

Grizzly Paw Brewing

 

Banff Ave Brewing

Places to Stay

Camping: If you want to camp, make sure you reserve a spot early online.

 

On a budget? Banff International Hostel is highly recommended, or try Canmore - it's not as busy but still close to the park.

 

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: They've got exceptional service, beautiful views, and many other luxuries on site.

Transportation

Camping: If you want to camp, make sure you reserve a spot early online.

 

On a budget? Banff International Hostel is highly recommended, or try Canmore - it's not as busy but still close to the park.

 

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: They've got exceptional service, beautiful views, and many other luxuries on site.

General Tips

You are in the Rocky Mountains, so dress accordingly! Sunshine can change to rain or snow very quickly, so wear layers and a rain coat.

 

A lot of cell phone plans actually work in Canada and Mexico, so check before you go.

 

Skip the Starbucks and get some Tim Hortons coffee and timbits. You are in Canada after all.

 

Lake Louise

Moraine Lake

Lake Louise in the winter

Top of Fairview

 
 

Nova Scotia

Musquodobit Harbour, Nova Scotia

 

CAPE BRETON

Things to Do

Beaches: Cool off in the North Atlantic Ocean on Black Brook, Port Hood Beach, Inverness Beach, or Ingonish Beach through late June to early September.

 

Cabot Trail: Considered one of the world's most scenic destinations because of its stunning ocean vistas, old-growth forests, prehistoric rock scarred by glaciers, and the mysterious Cape Breton Highlands. A visit to the Cabot Trail is a multi-day (3-5 days) experience. Enjoy the culture, music, and countless outdoor activities like local festivals, musical events, and kitchen parties.

 

Ceilidh: Also known as a square dance, its a traditional Scottish social gathering and popular in the summer time, especially on the West Coast of the island around Mabou and Inverness. You’ll find people of all ages, and it’s a great way for tourists to interact with locals, hear some Scottish tunes, and learn a quick jig.

 

Celtic Colors: A world-renowned Celtic music festival celebrating the heritage of Cape Breton’s Scottish ancestry and the incredible fall colors of the island.

 

Golf: Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs are newer courses but are already critically-acclaimed due, in part, to their incredible views of the ocean.

 

Hiking: MacKinnon’s Brook, Ferny Mountain, and the Skyline Trail.

 

Sailing: Visit the picturesque town of Baddeck and sail on the Bras d’Or Lake, the largest salt-water lake in the world. Amoeba Sailing Tours offers day tours.


Whale Watching: Easily accessible along the Cabot Trail.

Places to Eat

Cabot Links (Inverness): Enjoy dinner and experience the unforgettable sunset view across the Northumberland Strait.

 

The Dancing Goat (Margaree Valley): Stop in for a lunch and baked goods.

 

The Bite House (Baddeck): A twelve seat farm-to-table restaurant. Book in advance.


The Red Shoe Pub (Mabou): Owned by locally famous musicians, the Rankin Family. Typical pub fare with an east-coast twist. Enjoy lobster with a local lager and expect typical Cape Breton tunes in the evenings.

Places to Stay

Cabot Shores (Englishtown): Try out some glamping (glamorous camping!) in Mongolian-style yurts in Englishtown on your way to or from Ingonish.

Cabot Links (Inverness): If you are looking for something on the luxurious side, the Cabot Links has incredible accommodations and villas available with seaside views.


Camping: Pay cheap prices for campsites located around the island that are operated as part of Park’s Canada (tents not included). Best if you want to truly embody the feeling of outdoorsmen.

HALIFAX

Things to Do

Annapolis Valley Wine Tours: Take a day and road trip to the beautiful Annapolis Valley about an hour’s drive from downtown. Check out the vineyards Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyard  and Luckett.

 

Be sure to talk a walk down Main Street in picturesque Wolfville, home of Acadia University.

 

Beaches: Enjoy local beaches Crystal Crescent, Queensland, and Martinique Beach in July and August.

 

Explore the waterfront & downtown: Restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, and history can be explored on the Halifax Waterfront and downtown area.

 

Hiking: Enjoy Nova Scotia shorelines with beautiful hikes that can be explored in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Some local favourites close to downtown include Duncan’s Cove (30 minutes), Crystal Crescent (30 minutes), Long Lake (10 minutes), and Cape Split (2 hours).

 

Halifax Farmers Market: Check out the Saturday morning Halifax Farmers Market on the waterfront. Shop for delicious grub, baked goods, and local art.

Surf: Lawrencetown is famous for its year-round surf. Easily rent boards and wetsuits or get lessons from local instructors right on the beach.

Places to Eat

Amano: A local favourite for Italian.

 

Antojo: Get your Mexican food and tequila here.

 

Bar Kismet: Located on trendy Agricola Street in the North End, this is a great place for intimate cocktails and small plates.

 

Bicycle Thief: Upscale restaurant on the beautiful Halifax Waterfront. Sit waterside in the summer time or enjoy their ice bar in the winter.

EDNA: Known as Halifax’s best brunch, but their dinner menu is incredible as well.


The Canteen: Cross the MacDonald Bridge to downtown Dartmouth for everyone’s favourite lunch spot. Explore King’s Wharf while you’re at it.

Places to Drink

Dirty Nelly’s: Located on the busiest bar-street in Halifax, head to Nelly’s for a pint and expect to hear some live music. It may seem like everyone in the place knows each other, but we can guarantee that by the end of the night you will too.

 

Lot Six: Cocktail bar with the best drinks, cheese boards, and ambiance you’ll find East of Montreal.

 

The Seahorse/The Local: A Halifax staple and institution located on Gottingen Street in the North End. Depending on the night, you may hear 90s music, R&B, or local bands if you’re lucky.

 Inverness Beach, Cape Breton

 

Duncan's Cove, Halifax

Lawrencetown Beach, Halifax

MONTREAL

Things to Do

Bota Bota: Spa in a refurbished and repurposed ferry boat, really interesting space.

Boutiques on Rue Laurier Ouest: Diverse shops with clothing and specialty items.

Musee des Beaux Arts: Museum of fine arts, has a beautiful design pavilion.

Parc du Mont-Royal: Hilltop park, great view and outdoor activities (skating, cross-country skis, inner tubes)

 

Parc La Fontaine: Beautiful park, also has ice skating.

 

Place Jacques Cartier: Touristy, but gorgeous architecture.

Place Royale: Small square next to the Pointe-à-Callière museum. History shows its role as a community center in the 1700s.

 

Saint Claude Street: Bonsecours Market, worth a visit.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier/Arts Plaza: Cultural hub, check online for different events and shows.

 

Walk: Head west on Rue Saint-Urbain toward Rue Saint Viateur Ouest or Rue Bernard Ouest, which are lined with the best vintage boutiques in town.

 

Walk along Saint Paul Street (Old Montreal): With restaurants, shops and galleries this is a great area to explore. One block is the port.

 

Places to Eat

Fairmount Bagel Bakery: Wonderful bakery with variety of bagels plus other small bites.

 

La Banquise: Open 24 hours a day, this is the perfect late night poutine spot after a big night out on the town.

 

Patrice - Pâtissier: Should be destination dining for anyone who has a sweet tooth, delicious french bakery.

 

Restaurant Chez Lévêque: Quaint bistro offering classic French cuisine with a spacious terrace.

 

Schwartz's: A famous canadian deli, it is one of the oldest in Canada. This shop boasts large sandwiches, a variety of smoked meats, and other great snacks.

 

Dinner

 

BOUILLON BILK: Modern French cuisine in a chic space.

 

Chez BOSS & fils: The Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad and Duck Ramen Noodle from the regular menu are unlike anywhere else. Great for sharing and socializing, should be on every visitor’s list.

 

Hvor: Upscale restaurant with farm-to-table menu.

 

Le Mousso: A high-end Canadian restaurant with an elaborate tasting menu. Pricey, but worth the experience.

 

Montréal Plaza: The food is original and perfect for sharing. Plaza’s escargots and other eclectic dishes are something you won’t soon forget.

 

Restaurants Europea: French plates diverse tasting menus in an interesting urban setting.

 

Restaurant Wellington: Bring your own wine! A perfect spot for a large group with market-fresh selections.

Places to Stay

Hostels

 

M Montreal: Dorm and private rooms available, vibrant space with many young travelers.

 

Hotels

 

Delta Hotel by Marriott Montreal: Pool, gym, spa, restaurant and bar in an ideal location.

 

Airbnb is a great option especially if you can find a spot near Park La Fontaine. This is a wonderful part of town.

Halifax

 Halifax

Cabot Links, Cape Breton

Whistler, British Columbia

Peggy's Cove, Halifax

Cape Breton

CALGARY

Things to Do

Go to the top of Samis Road for sunset - great view of the city.

 

Calgary Tower for a nice view. A bit cliche, but Calgary is a good looking city during the day or at night.

 

Running or biking along the Bow River.

Places to Eat

Village Ice cream: This place is a must. Prepare for long lines if it's a hot day on the weekend. Enjoy it once, then go back for more.

 

Anju: Asian fusion with lots of shareable plates and they are all SO good. Good cocktails as well.

 

Shiki Menya: Get the ramen.

 

Keg: Great steaks.

 

Native Tongues: Mexican food in Canada.

 

Joyce's on 4th: 19 cent wings on Mondays!

Places to Drink

Hudson's on 5th: A super Canadian place to drink.

 

1410: Massive craft beer selection.

 

Craft Beer Market: Another huge craft beer selection.

 

National on 10th Avenue

Places to Stay

Beltline, 17th Ave, Eau Claire, Crescent Heights are all great areas around the city centre.

Transportation

There is a bus that takes you straight from the airport to downtown, then the CTrain should get you pretty much anywhere you need to go in that area. The immediate downtown area is fare free on the CTrain!

 

Uber works, too. 

Minnewanka

Banff

Calgary

Cap-Pelé, New Brunswick

Toronto

 

TORONTO

Places to Eat

Rasa Bar: Located in Little Italy near University of Toronto, a neighborhood with lots of character. Incredible sharing plates and a cozy atmosphere.

Bar Isabel: Amazing cocktails and Spanish-influenced tapas style. Intimate and cozy, located in the gem of a neighborhood that is College/Ossington.

Bar Raval: Owned by the same group as Bar Isabel, Bar Raval is well known for the Gaudi-esque wood panels that make up the interior, and the distinct Barcelona feel. 

 

Pho Tien Thanh: Toronto is known for it's diverse population, and you'd be missing out if you didn't try out one of the many local spots that offer Vietnamese Pho. Enjoy some in the Ossington neighborhood at this true hole-in-the-wall. Don't expect fancy decor but do expect some extremely flavorful broth. 

Pai: Thai food located in the heart of King West. Try out the Grabong sweet potato fritters as a sharing plate.

Bang Bang Ice CreamAmazing ice cream wedged in a home made cookie sandwich. May all your Instagram foodie dreams come true.

Gutso 101: Some have claimed it's the best pasta you can get in Toronto. $1/ounce wine deals don't hurt either! 

Byblos: High end Middle Eastern Cuisine. 

Lee: High end Asian fusion. Named after the owner and chef, Michelin starred Susur Lee. The coleslaw is a must.

Piano Piano: Amazing venue with great eats located in charming Harbord Village. 

Mildred's Temple Kitchen: Fantastic brunch spot.

Things to Do

 

Distillery District: Everyone’s favourite Instagram spot. Repurposed warehouses now home to chic restaurants, craft breweries and boutiques. Walk around and enjoy day or night, and at Christmas time the market is a must.

This city is diehard about it’s sporting teams. Having the sole MLB and NBA teams in Canada, people travel from across the country to cheer on the Blue Jays and Raptors. When it comes to NHL hockey, there’s Toronto Maple Leafs, but expect there to be Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadian fans present in the city. The spirit and energy you’ll experience at an NHL game is undeniable.


Queen Street West: A popular shopping area with boutiques and chain stores. Restaurants and bars are also a dime a dozen.

Halifax Waterfront

VANCOUVER

Things to Do

Capilano Suspension Bridge: Suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River, absolutely worth a visit.

 

False Creek Community Centre: Rent a kayak and trek around False Creek.

 

Grouse Mountain: Winter time: outdoor ice-skating, snowboarding, skiing, with a cute lodge at the top. Summer/Spring/Etc: hike up and down (or hike up then ride the cable car down). Check to make sure hike is open when you want to go.

 

Kitsilano Beach Park: Busy beach with lots of young people (and drinking). Fun spot to hang out on a hot day.

 

Quarry Rock: Hike here, great overview of northern Vancouver.

 

Richmond Night Market: Check if you're here at the right time, it’s only open a few months out of the year. Amazing night market, bustling crowds, all the asian food/desserts you can imagine. Short walk from Bridgeport Station.


Vancouver Art Gallery: Great iconic art gallery in the middle of town. Check online for donation days! Go early because it gets busy.

Places to Eat

Ask for Luigi Restaurant: Brilliant Italian food, great pastas, anchovies etc.

 

Ba Le Sandwich Shop: Little Vietnamese shop with awesome authentic desserts and sandwiches.

 

Dubh Linn Gate:Good brunch and great beers.

 

Forage: Neat little drink spot to start at before hitting Koreatown.

 

Fritz European Fry House: Best poutine in Vancouver, hands down. Come here for some great eats after dancing/drinking the night away on Davie Street.

 

Guu Garden: Amazing Guu spot. Japanese food, fresh seafood, and neat take on drinks.

 

Honey’s Doughnuts: Great spot to get donuts after a hike up Quarry Rock.

 

Norboo Korean Restaurant: Stellar Korean food in general, get their bulgogi or bimbimbaps.

 

Purebread: Coffee shop + bakery.

 

The Templeton: Cute diner with a jukebox that does a great brunch! Go early to get a booth or put your name on the list.

Places to Drink

CRAFT: A fantastic beer place right next to Tap and Barrel. Great food, tuna tacos, beers, etc.

 

Granville Island Brewing: Vancouver's most famous brewery, go early and sign up to see how they make the beer and experience tastings!

 

Guilt & Co: Cool bar, live music, chill ambiance, and great cucumber cocktail.

 

LOCAL Public Eatery: One of the best patios in Vancouver. Go early because it does get ridiculously busy, but a great place to hang on a hot day.

 

Juniper: Gin bar, countless creative concoctions.

 

Salt Tasting Room: Wine tasting and pairings with meats, cheeses, olives, etc.

 

Storm Crow Tavern: SO MANY BOARD GAMES and SHOTS and DRINKS and bar food. They do a fun thing with a 20 sided dice, where you roll and get a surprise shot - super fun place.

 

Steel Toad Brewing Co. Ltd.: Awesome beers on tap, love their Yorkshire beers. Unique flights and food too!

 

The Diamond: Specialty cocktails, highly recommend their regular Old Fashioned or Paper Plane.

 

Tap & Barrel: Bar with an outdoor deck that overlooks Olympic Village, mountains etc. Delectable beers and burgers.


The Yale Saloon: If you want to see what a country bar in Canada is like... this is your spot. Yes, they have an electric bull.

Places to Stay

HI Vancouver Central: Right in the middle of Granville Street's pub and club district, one of Vancouver newest hostels.

 

St. Clair Hotel-Hostel: Easy access to restaurants and hotels, quiet corner of Vancouver.

Halifax

Peggy's Cove, Halifax

Lake Louise

Grassi Lake

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