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Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
2 February, 20233 minute read

Canada - What to know before you go

Canada is the second largest country on the planet. Its six time zones span a spectacular array of landscapes, from cloud-piercing mountains to sky-scraping cities, and jaw-dropping sights like the Canadian Rockies and Niagara Falls. For a country so large Canada has a surprisingly small population – less than that of California – though perhaps better known are the wild populations of bear, eagle, moose and wolf that live in its wide-open spaces and rugged, untamed terrain.

Canada’s ethnic diversity is reflected in proudly displayed heritage and tasty cuisine. Expect everything from Pacific salmon and prized Alberta beef to sweet Maple syrup and Canadian poutine – a concoction of French fries, cheese curds and gravy which tastes better than it sounds!

Why visit Canada?

It’s the perfect travel destination. Everyone finds something to love in Canada. And with travel restrictions now a thing of the past, lots of us are ready to get out and see the world. Whether you’re a family wanting to go on holiday together or you’re searching for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Canada has everything you could wish for.

Where to go?

That depends on the type of traveller you are, because holidays to Canada come in all shapes and sizes. If you love nature and wild open spaces, head to the Canadian Rockies which you can explore by road or by rail. If you’re a city lover there’s lots to get excited about in Eastern Canada. Or why not see it all on a coast-to-coast tour or epic rail trip?

And why take a tour?

Quite simply, a tour gives you more. Visiting the second largest country in the world and only seeing one place is a bit of a waste, not just of the flight but also of the opportunity. Canada has landscapes that range from vast untamed wilderness to cool, cultured cities, so why not take a look around while you’re there?

Cultural Canada

Although Canada is big on wildlife and the outdoors, it has more than its fair share of art, music and architecture. Eastern Canada offers cosmopolitan cities like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec - if you’re looking for culture you won’t find bigger hitters than these. Montreal hosts the biggest Jazz Festival in the world, Toronto its largest public film festival. Ottawa is all about dynamic architecture and museums while genteel Quebec is North America’s oldest French-speaking city. Its crowning glory – Le Château Frontenac – is the most photographed hotel in the world.

Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada

The great outdoors

Canada’s west coast has different appeal. Vibrant Vancouver looks across Pacific wild-orca-stocked waters to lovely, leafy Vancouver Island. Head inland and the Rocky Mountains offers jagged mountains, rugged canyons and those famously turquoise lakes. Exploring places like Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake reveals why the Canadian Rockies is one of Canada’s must-see sights. Travel further east and you leave the Rockies and cross the wide Alberta prairies towards Calgary, home to the famous Calgary Stampede.

Tourists at Jasper National Park, Canada

Rail holidays in Canada

Its sheer size means Canada is perfect to explore by rail. You can cover long distances quickly, enjoying cinematic scenery from the comfort of your seat and being able to get up and stretch your legs when you wish. One of North America’s most famous trains is Rocky Mountaineer. With its glass-domed carriages and outside viewing platform, it’s the ultimate way to see this unspoiled part of Canada, and experience evocatively named places like Spiral Tunnels and Kicking Horse Canyon.

Rocky Mountaineer train

When is the best time to visit?

Travel to Canada in winter and you can expect it to be cold – sub-zero in places like the Canadian Rockies. But there are upsides too, such as superb winter sports and perhaps even an appearance of the spectacular northern lights. Spring brings warmer temperatures and longer days, as well as flourishing forests and wildflowers fed by the gradually melting snow.

Summer days are warm and long, perfect for hiking, boating and wildlife watching. It’s the time for many festivals too such as the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Calgary Stampede. The annual salmon run extends from late August to November, attracting bears and other predators to rivers up and down the west coast. In autumn the biggest draw is the fall foliage, cloaking landscapes in shades of red, orange, russet and gold. It’s also one of the best times to visit Niagara Falls, with fewer crowds and spectacular colours along the Niagara Gorge.

Grizzly bear and her cub in Jasper national park, Canada

Oh, and don’t forget…

Canadians are notoriously polite and although tipping isn’t mandatory, leaving a 15-20% tip is the norm. The legal drinking age is 18 or 19 depending on the province, and you’ll need a travel adaptor if you want to take anything electrical (chargers, hairdryer etc.) with you. English is the most commonly spoken language, but 20% of Canadians have French as their mother-tongue. Lastly - and most importantly - unless you’re a US citizen you’ll need either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter Canada, depending on the type of passport you have. So remember to check this long before your travel date.

Ready to choose your Canada tour? Take a look at Titan’s full range today.

Sophie Hamilton

Although Sophie’s most memorable travel experiences include swimming with horses in the sea off Cape Tribulation, nearly driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon and bungee jumping out of a helicopter over Queenstown, her holidays are a little less adrenalin-fuelled now, often revolving around dog walks and surfing with her family and two dachshunds in Cornwall.

Sophie | About the author

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