3 of the best road trips to take in Canada

Vast terrains of untouched wilderness, secluded silver lakes, glacier-tipped mountains and coastal perfection – Canada’s rugged and diverse landscapes are every road tripper’s wildest fantasy. Driving along these scenic roads allows you the opportunity to discover Canada’s hidden beauty at your own pace – to stop and soak in gorgeous scenery or ramp up the excitement with hiking or kayaking. And with so much uninhabited country to explore, you’re sure to wander countless times off the beaten track, which is exactly what fantastic journeys on the road are all about.

The sheer expanse of Canada’s natural sights is unbelievable and nearly unparalleled, and there’s no better way to see it all than on a road trip. But driving on Canada’s icy roads during their extreme winters can be challenging if not done slowly and with care. Make sure you research Canadian driving laws before you go, too, so you’re as prepared as you can be. They’re not as wacky as some country’s laws – in Cyprus, for example, it’s illegal to drink even non-alcoholic drinks when driving – but it’s still worth doing some research.

From mesmerizing snow-capped peaks in the west to glittering eastern shores, here are the finest road trips you can enjoy in picture-perfect Canada:

  1. The Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s most infamously picturesque roads. You’ll find this 300 km long highway on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The trail curves around the north of the island alongside the coastline for the most part, affording breathtaking views over the sapphire waters of the North Atlantic. The island also sports a number of excellent hiking trails such as the Skyline Trail, which promises unforgettable sights around every corner. Autumn is the best time to be here, but the road offers heavenly views of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park throughout the year. Here you’ll find plenty of walking trails where you can rub shoulders with wildlife and appreciate the clean ocean air.

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Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/UVyOfX3v0Ls

  1. The Sea to Sky Highway

This road links Vancouver and Whistler and is the perfect journey for travelers looking to be inspired by the unique and dramatic views of Canada’s West Coast. You’ll find a handful of great places to stop on the way including the Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver and Shannon Falls, the third largest waterfall in British Columbia. The Britannia Mine Museum is another curious attraction close by, packed with engaging sights for the whole family. You’ll also find the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way, a truly unmissable stop offering delightful views and an amazing suspension bridge. The best months to visit are from July to September, when Vancouver’s dry season creates ideal hiking and road tripping conditions.

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Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/xOigCUcFdA8

  1. Icefields Parkway

With 232 km of blissful and ravishing natural landscapes, the Icefields Parkway is a highway serenaded by magnificent woodlands, roaring waterfalls and rugged mountains on either side. This road takes you through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and affords bewitching views of both the Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. These beautiful reserves play home to the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field found on the Rocky Mountains. Here you can go on guided hikes to visit the Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers and learn more about the area’s unique geological composition. You can also camp out at Jasper National Park and seize the opportunity to gaze at constellations in one of the best dark sky reserves on the planet.

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Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/aCWbZNTkDtw

 

Vancouver: Spiritual Home Of The Adrenaline Junkie

Vancouver was once considered the best city to live in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The city itself is beautiful and wealthy.

But that’s not all the city has to offer. The furnished apartments in Vancouver central and the outer suburbs provide a great base for the surrounding countryside – an epic adventure land for adrenaline junkies.

Epic Hike Up Blackcomb Mountain

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To the East of Vancouver are thousands of miles of mountainous terrain including, of course, the Blackcomb Mountain. The mountain itself is more than 6000 feet tall, making it one of the highest in the area. Not only that, but it’s also home to one of Canada’s highest restaurants, the Crystal Hut which serves up baked dinners to tired hikers near the summit. The views from the top of the mountain are pretty spectacular, and if you do make the climb, you’ll be treated to a panoramic backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty.

Kitesurfing Paradise At The Spit In Squamish

Another favorite spot in the backcountry beyond Vancouver is the kitesurfing destination at The Spit in Squamish. To get to the Spit, you’ll have to take on some of Canada’s most rugged dirt and gravel roads, but once you get there, it’s totally worth it. Although it’s inland, the lake has a sort of beach vibe: it’s laid back, and it’s all about people letting their hair down and having fun. It’s arguable a better experience than going to the beach, however, thanks to the stunning views and the tranquil waters of the lake. If you go along at the right time, you can catch a glimpse of surfing competitions and watch the pros compete to be the best kite surfers in all of North America.

Hiking Trails In Squamish

Squamish is home to a beautiful lake, but it’s also surrounded by mountains, making it a great place to go hiking too. There are dozens of trails which lead off in all directions from the lake and take you right out into the Canadian wilderness. The area is one of outstanding natural beauty, and there is little evidence of human impact on the land. As a result, you get to experience nature in its raw beauty. For animal lovers, it’s a great opportunity to go animal spotting. Here you’re likely to see deer, otters, beavers, all sorts of different kinds of fish as well as the odd bird of prey.

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The most adventurous hikers will want to heave to the summit of Stawamus Chief. This climb is a lot harder than the climb to the top of Squamish.

Lynn Canyon Park

Another beauty spot outside of the city is Lynn Canyon Park. Thanks to the geological features of the park, it’s home to some stunning lakes and pools. One of them, the 30 Foot Pool, is a great place to take a plunge and cool off on a hot summer’s day. The waters are as clear as they could possibly be, and when the sun reflects off the rock underneath, they take on an azure blue-green tinge that feels oh so tropical.

Fantastic Travel Destinations You Probably Haven’t Considered

When looking for your next holiday destination, don’t just go where everyone else goes. Cities like Paris, New York City and Rome are often hyped up, but looking further afield can find you some hidden gems. Here are some underrated cities that are great for tourists.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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When thinking of a holiday in Asia, most people will think of Bangkok or Tokyo before anywhere in Malaysia comes to mind. However, Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur is known for a mix of cultures and brilliant sights.

Kuala Lumpur’s range of shopping malls and markets mean tourists can find pretty much anything they want. Its main shopping district, Bukit Bintang, is well worth checking out. It offers trendy restaurants, cocktail bars and food stalls with all kinds of Asian food on offer.

Kuala Lumpur is growing in popularity as a tourist destination, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a good flight deal or a KL hotel promotion. This is one of the most interesting locations in Asia, definitely a good place to consider for travelling.

Reykjavik, Iceland

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Iceland’s capital city is a fascinating place to travel. Its stunning natural landscapes make it a common spot for filming movies and TV shows. In fact, there’s even a Game of Thrones tour available so you can walk the same land as Jon Snow.

Iceland is beautiful in the summer, as the sun often rises as early as 3am and sets at midnight. It’s also a perfect location to see the northern lights in winter. With festivals and events happening all year round in this busy city, it’s a great tourist location for any season.

You can also hike on volcanoes and bathe in hot springs, so it definitely makes for a unique holiday!

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom

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Located in the North of England, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (commonly referred to as Newcastle) is a great spot to travel. The range of clubs, pubs and cheap bars make it one of the best party cities in the world. It’s a common spot for birthday parties and stag-dos, especially on the weekend.

But for those looking for something more relaxing, there’s still plenty to do. A range of restaurants, museums and sights such as the millennium bridge mean a walk around the city can be great fun. The intu Metrocentre in nearby Gateshead is also the largest shopping centre in the United Kingdom.

People generally consider London as a top UK holiday destination. However, Newcastle is much cheaper for transport, accommodation and entertainment. Its great nightlife and shopping makes it widely considered one of UK’s best cities.

Montreal, Canada

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Most people thinking of travelling to North America would probably go for somewhere in the United States. However, going a bit further north to the Quebecoise city of Montreal would be a great choice.

Montreal is known as one of the world’s best cities for nightlife. The mixture of North American and French culture also births some exquisite cuisine and fine museums.

It is one of the most vibrant and lively cities you could visit. There’s plenty of things to see and do in Montreal, so consider this city for your next vacation destination.

Canada: A Historical Treasure Trove That Rewards The Traveler

Traveling the world is often tiring but always rewarding. This planet we inhabit is full of variety, and each country has its own ways. What separates France from Germany from Holland, and Europe from Asia, among others, is those differences. In no small part, those differences have come from the identity that history has forged. For example, visiting London gives you the chance to see its landmarks, testament to its history of monarchy and democracy.

Seeing a country in all its glory comes down to two major markers. History, as mentioned above, and geography. While the latter gives each country its shape and its contours, history gives countries their character. This is why Canada, for example, is very different from its neighbor, the USA. They may be similar in climate and terrain, in large part, but their histories, though overlapping, are different.

Historical Locations of Canada: What To See

Montreal and Quebec City

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Quebec as a province is simultaneously Canadian and French. Montreal is the largest French-speaking city outside of Paris, and the French influence is clear here. You could never, however, mistake it for France. It is Quebec, and has its own identity.

See Montreal City Hall, where then French President Charles de Gaulle gave a speech in 1967. During that speech, he made a statement advocating independence from Canada for Quebec. See also Quebec City, which has historical tours tracing the French influence in Quebec through centuries.

Toronto

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Although Canada’s largest city, and most modern from an architectural point of view, Toronto is also a historic city. As a front of the Anglo-American war of 1812, Fort York is a location worth seeing. Visit in summer, and you can watch re-enactments of the battles that took place here. Dotted around the city are museums for the city’s – and country’s – political and cultural history.

Ottawa

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Worth the Canadian via application all on its own, Canada’s capital city is often ignored for the quirks of Montreal or the lights of Toronto. The Museum of Canadian history and Canadian War Museum are both reason enough to visit. The historic town of Ottawa is best represented by the preserved Byward Market. Shops and restaurants offer the chance to drink in the charm of old Ottawa while enjoying the sophistication of the new.

Vancouver

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One thing that bestows history upon a city is its significance as a port for travelers. Hence why London is so important in the UK, Calais to the French, and so forth. As Vancouver provided a landing point for the early visitors to Canada, it developed a strong multicultural identity. That is still in place today, along with museums such as the Museum of Anthropology. A particular attraction for those with an interest in First Nations, it will inspire and educate in equal measure.

With all of the influences that have been felt in Canada, there is never going to be a shortage of historical locations. One of the most beguiling things about the cities of this nation is that they may be looking to the future, but they showcase the past perfectly.

Vancouver, British Columbia and Its Surroundings

VANCOUVER, B.C.: Vancouver is considered as one of the top destinations in Canada for its variations of activities for its guests, climate, food, shopping, culture, and thriving city life. While Vancouver Downtown has a vibrant and energetic vibe, its green spaces and big parks within the city are place to enjoy quiet city view from afar. Only couple hours from downtown, you can enjoy snow-capped mountains, ocean sides, and some outdoor adventurous destinations. This is where local Canadians go to play and enjoy during the winter months.

TIME of TRAVEL: It was our second time in Vancouver. This time we were there with another family during the Memorial Day weekend in May, 2015. Though it was closer to summer, we had sweaters and jackets for our trips to mountains. It gets very cold and windy up there, therefore, always wise to be prepare with coats and boots, especially for the kids.

EATING and SHOPPING: Vancouver is known to be very diverse when it comes to food. Downtown Vancouver and its surroundings are packed with tons of international and local cuisines. We had Middle Eastern, Indian, Bangladeshi, and fast food (Nandos) during our visit. You may find one whole street is known for one type of food and the next block has another type of restaurants. For shopping, downtown Vancouver is an ultimate paradise with lots of brand name stores and local boutique shops.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We had 2 full days to enjoy Vancouver. We started early and stayed out late. Especially, if you are planning to go to the mountains, plan ahead and start driving before the traffic starts or wait until late morning.

1) GROUSE MOUNTAIN: We visited Grouse Mountain and Stanley Park on our first day in Vancouver. Also known as the Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a perfect getaway from the chaos of city life. Grouse Mountain gives a beautiful view of whole Vancouver, Stanley Park, and English Bay.

 

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On top of Grouse Mountain on a foggy day near Vancouver, Canada

It was very foggy the day we were there which made it even more exciting. We saw the Lumberjack Show, Birds in Motion, and electric chair ride that took us 1100 meter high to Peak Chalet. Some other activities visitors can do up in the Grouse Mountain are Skyride, Mountain Disc Golf, Mountain Ziplines, Helicopter Tours, Theater in the Sky, Grizzly Bear Cave, and lots more. Usually the shows go on for the whole day with multiple show times but check the time table for each show to manage your time wisely here.

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“Birds in Motion” show on top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, Canada

We took a family package called, “Peak Experience” for 2 adults and 2 kids for $122 but there were other bundles to choose from depending on which mood you are in. “Peak Experience” included Alpine Experience and Peak Chair ride. You can find snack bars and restaurants up in the Grouse Mountain.

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Skyride on top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, Canada

2) STANLEY PARK: By the time we came back to city and drove to Stanley Park, it was already dark. Stanley Park is another getaway within the city. Lush gardens, beautiful English Bay, strolling paths, and green meadows are here to welcome anyone year round. We stopped at a place where we could get a view of the famous Lion Gate Bridge, beautifully lit at night. Lastly, stopped by one side English Bay from where you can see the dazzling lights of the Vancouver on the other side of the water.

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View of Lion Gate Bridge from Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada

Stanley Bay has an aquarium, few restaurants, old totem poles here and there. You can easily spend half a day or more in this park.

 

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Vancouver skyline on the other side of English Bay as seen from Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada

3) WHISTLER VILLAGE CENTER: Our second day started by another mountain area of Vancouver. Whistler Village Center reminded me of Chamonix in Mont Blanc, France. This is a very European style pedestrian only village center with shops, live music, pubs, galleries, gelato bars, and outdoor/indoor restaurants surrounded by mountains. Many tourists come here for winter sports or summer hiking in nearby mountains.

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Whistler Village Center near Vancouver, Canada…loved this place for its European touch and look

Village Square and the Mountain Square are some of the pretty places to stop by. Mountain Square is where you can get cable car to go to top. Again, beautiful and artistic buildings here gave me the feeling of Europe. Town Plaza is another fantastic place to shop for winter gears or just to chill.

4) RAINBOW PARK: From the Whistler Village Center, we drove about 45 minutes or an hour to come to this park. There is a beautiful big lake and small mountain/hill on the other side of the lake. With some public facilities, this is a pretty family-oriented park for strolling, jogging, picnic, or just chilling.

 

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Rainbow Park near Whistler Village Center in Vancouver, Canada

5) QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK: This was our last spot in Vancouver during this trip and we made it to this park on the 3rd day, before our drive towards Portland. This looked more like a beautifully decorated garden to me. Many different species of trees and flowers adorn this place. Visit the Japanese Garden and Rose Garden while here. It is a big park and very nicely maintained. We spent couple hours here but you would probably need half a day to explore every corner of this garden.

 

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Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, Canada

It is free to enter the park and has a parking lot near the entrance. Bloede Conservatory inside the park requires a ticket to enter. The conservatory houses a typical rainforest, tropical birds, and plants inside a big white dome.

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