Montreal – being one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas – is encumbered by those who much prefer an urban backdrop. There’s nothing wrong with that. Canada is home to some of the nicest cities in the world. However, most people will largely associate that statement with Montreal’s sister cities: Toronto and Vancouver. What many Canadians don’t know is that Canada has an abundance of hidden treasures; some of the most beautiful destinations in the world are just a stone’s throw away from our nation’s big cities.
Here are the 10 Canadian cities that need to be on your bucket list:
1. Whistler, BC
Host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler – situated 125 kilometers north of Vancouver – is often associated with the adjectives “magnificent” and “picturesque.” As a ski resort village, Whistler attracts approximately 2 million visitors each year, which isn’t a fluke – it’s a spectacular city. What’s interesting about Whistler is that it holds world records for the highest and longest unsupported cable car span with the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. On this gondola ride, you travel from Whistler Mountain’s peak to the Blackcomb Mountain’s peak. As a Canadian, having this experience is not only a must but also a civic duty.
2. Banff National Park, AB
Located within Alberta’s rockies, Banff National Park is one of the most remarkable destinations in the world. The city of Banff, being the National Park’s main commercial area, is filled with tourists yearly because of the ski resorts, the view of the surrounding mountains, and the hot springs flowing from Sulphur Mountain. The village of Banff is cozy and complete with the nicest Canadians you’ll ever encounter – definitely a redundant statement, as “nice” and “Canadian” are essentially one. Within the Icefields Parkway (yes, there are glaciers everywhere) is another town by the name of Lake Louise. Wait for it – that mesmerizing image that comes to mind when thinking of Lake Louise: the blanket of snow over the colossal Rocky Mountains and the Fairmont Chateau towering over the emerald colored lake. That is what perfection looks like. There’s nothing more to say on the topic – you’re already sold.
3. Victoria, BC
“Beautiful British Columbia,” as proclaimed on the province’s license plates, has a quaint yet strikingly beautiful capital: Victoria. South of Vancouver Island, Victoria boasts a charming attitude, with all of its art and culture. There’s the Christ Church Cathedral to see; the Royal British Columbia Museum, which exhibits modern history, natural history, and local aboriginal history; and the Emily Carr house is right in the heart of downtown. Not to mention, the Fairmont Empress Hotel – another must-see and an exquisite place for afternoon tea – beautifully complements the inner harbour of Victoria.
Photo cred - travelinfool55
4. Kelowna, BC
Is it fair to conclude that BC is arguably the nicest province of our country? Maybe. Kelowna is found in the interior of the Okanagan Valley on the Okanagan Lake (try saying that five times). Kelowna is wine country and is known for producing some of Canada’s best wines. The climate of the valley is extremely ideal for winemaking, and ideal for tourists – the summers are always beautiful. In addition, the grounds of the wineries are absolutely breathtaking. Mission Hill Winery is a definite must-see. What we can conclude from this is that we basically have a Napa Valley of our own. Put it on your bucket list.
5. Tadoussac, QC
Tadoussac is a small village about six hours away from Montreal. What’s so special about it, you ask? It was France’s first trading post in New France, and it has the oldest wooden church in both Canada and the U.S. It’s loaded with history, but most people just go there for the whale watching. Super fun and super choppy, a zodiac boat will take you where the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers meet, in order to get a glimpse of a beluga or two in their natural habitat. It’s worth the trip.
6. Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
Where the Nigara River meets Lake Ontario, that’s where you’ll find Niagara-on-the-Lake. The city holds a Shaw Festival, an annual festival that displays the works of George Bernard Shaw, several months out of the year. The city, however, mostly attracts tourists because of its wineries, particularly those that are known for the production of ice wines. Niagara-on-the-Lake is said to make the world’s largest volumes of ice wines. Yes, we have wine country nearby, too, so there’s no excuse as to why it isn’t on your bucket list. It’s only about a six-hour drive from Montreal – you can do it.
7. Gaspé, QC
650 kilometers northeast of Quebec City is the city of Gaspé, located at the tip of the Gaspé peninsula. Those who love the great outdoors will love Gaspé. There’s an abundance of things to do in the region. You can take a hike in the Forillon National Park, you can take a sea kayak to see the Pierced Rock, and you can even, like Tadoussac, get on a cruise that will take you to see whales. In Gaspé, the possibilities are endless. It is definitely worthy of your bucket list.
8. Stratford, ON
More than just the hometown of Justin Bieber, Stratford is built on the arts and embedded with culture. Holding its Shakespeare Festival every year since 1953, it is renowned for bringing in flocks of tourists for the performing arts. If you’re a theatre buff, then it is absolutely vital that you witness a live performance of one of many Stratford productions. It’s definitely the perfect get-away for those looking to indulge in the various arts featured in the city.