7 great Canadian escapes
Spectacular from coast to coast, Canada isn’t lacking in attractions. Here are seven incredible destinations you definitely need to visit for a change of scenery without changing countries.
1. The greater Vancouver area
Whether for its temperate year-round climate, festive atmosphere or beauty of its skylines, Vancouver is a Canadian must-see. Located between the ocean and the mountains, the city abounds with activities for all, especially outdoorsy types.
If you’re more of an inveterate city-goer, the downtown area is equally not to be missed. Enjoy Gastown, Vancouver’s historic district, which features the city’s most beautiful Victorian buildings. Or stroll along in Yaletown, a hip and lively neighbourhood. Once a manufacturing center, the area is now home to a host of sustainable shops and some of the best restaurants in town.
2. Banff National Park
The true jewel of the Canadian panorama, Banff National Park is nestled in the heart of the Rockies. It’s a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s in this park that you’ll find the two most-photographed lakes in the entire world: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Thanks to rock flour that has gradually been carried into the water from nearby glaciers, the colour of these lakes can only be described as a striking and unreal turquoise blue.
If you’re someone who answers the call of adventure, Yukon is your dream destination. Less touristy than British Columbia or Alberta, it’s the perfect place to get away from civilization. The territory encompasses wild landscapes of unparalleled beauty. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the far end of the earth. Visiting the Yukon is also an opportunity to discover the rich and varied culture and traditions of the region’s many First Nations.
Among the can’t-miss spots to visit, Kluane National Park and Reserve is the pinnacle. It’s where you’ll find majestic Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. You’ll also enjoy a stop in Whitehorse, capital of the Northwest Territories. And if you need a relaxing break after all that, the thermal pools at Takhini Hot Springs are beyond compare. The temperature of this naturally mineral-rich water remains at about 40ºC all year long.
4. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Dreaming of crystal-clear turquoise waters, soft, sandy beaches and secluded little islands? Bruce Peninsula National Park will bring you to the edge of the world without even having to leave Ontario. Located on Georgian Bay to the north-east of Lake Huron, the park boasts enchantments that will make you swear you’re in the Caribbean.
The star attraction sits at the very tip of the Bruce peninsula: Flowerpot Island. Famed for its two towering rock pillars that are detached from the island, the island attracts visitors who come to swim in the blue-green water that surrounds it. The splendours of the park don’t end there. Its spectacular cliffs, dense forests, rocky expanses and lush landscapes will remain forever in your memory.
5. Cape Breton Highlands National Park
To the far east of the country, Nova Scotia entrances all who visit. Located in the northeast of the province, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is among the country’s most majestic destinations. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Breton’s mountainous plateau, the park overflows with flourishing forests, canyons, rivers and marine landscapes. The site can be accessed via the famous Cabot Trail, a panoramic route nearly 300 km long which forms a ring around Cape Breton Island. It’s widely regarded as one of the most scenic roads in the world.
Once there, you’ll have a chance to fish for Atlantic salmon, admire moose as you make your way along one of the many picturesque walking trails and even camp on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence near Fishing Cove. Keep your eyes open while you’re there! Small baleen whales are known to salute visitors to the park.
6. Touring Gaspésie
Want a road trip that combines beautiful landscapes, local gastronomy and unforgettable encounters? The tour of the Gaspésie is an 885-kilometre coastal circuit considered one of the most beautiful in the world, featuring beaches, mountains and cliffs that coexist harmoniously along the St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Ocean. A major highlight: Percé Rock. This glorious attraction can be admired from the coast, during a boat trip or even aboard a kayak.
When you’ve had your fill of the water, deep dive into the forest at Forillon Park or the Chic-Chocs wildlife reserve, where unforgettable hikes await. There’s also a beautiful mountain inn that comes highly recommended.
In the kitchen, seafood takes centre stage with lobster, shrimp and plenty of delicious crab. You’ll find them featured in such mouth-watering typical regional dishes as chiard, pot-en-pot, cambuse, quiaude and poutine (careful, it’s not the version you're thinking of!). You’ll adore all these dishes as much as the legendary kindness of Gaspesians you’ll meet during your travels.
7. Quebec City and surroundings
This historic city vibrates with an eclectic modernity that features artistic events, delicious gastronomy, trendy boutiques, museums and pedestrian streets designed for fun. Of course, there’s also Old Quebec, a veritable open-air museum. With so many things to do, you can spend day after day in Quebec City without getting bored!
After spending time in the bustling city, the tranquillity of the nearby countryside will absolutely entrance you! Take a tour of Île d’Orléans and discover its most prized spots, treasures and gourmet circuit. As famous musical resident Félix Leclerc used to sing, Île d’Orléans is “42 miles of quiet things.”
Located just 15 minutes from Old Quebec, Montmorency Falls will treat you to spectacular and impressive views. Measuring 83 metres in height, they are bigger than Niagara Falls! There are several ways to approach the falls to feel their full power. A panoramic circuit, via Ferreta, offers an amazing view, or follow the path at the foot of the falls. This jaw-dropping sight will leave you speechless (just be careful not to swallow too much water!).