Oh, Canada. A country that has so much room for activities. And yes, we’re Will Ferrell in Step Brothers excited about this one, because we’re talking big time here. ‘Big’ being the operative word. The mountains? Big. Glaciers? Big. Lakes? Big. Forests? Big. Bears? Big. Beaches? Wild. And it doesn’t stop there. This is the world’s second largest country and one that’s home to a whopping 47 national parks. Here, mile upon mile of unspoilt wilderness means one thing and one thing only: Canada is the earth’s natural playground and boy, are there adventures to be had. Sometimes good things don’t come in small packages.
With its endlessly epic landscapes, this is a country that was made for sing-your-heart-out road trips and sumptuously slow railway sojourns. Imagine traversing the glacier, mountain and forest flanked Icefields Parkway – the world’s most jaw dropping thoroughfare – on a self-drive that you will never forget, or taking to the tracks to admire the dramatic crags of the Canadian Rockies through the glass-domed luxury of the world-class Rocky Mountaineer. Travel just doesn’t get better than this.
And along the way, there’s a whole lot to see. Bears – both grizzly and black – bed down through winter, but come summer can be spotted swiping salmon from swollen rivers. Moose roam the enchanting forests and grey wolves can be heard howling from deep within. Head to the ruggedly handsome coastline and every which way you look people will be on the hunt for Free Willy. Erm. Hello. We’re not sure where your mind wandered to, but we’re talking Killer – and Grey, and Humpback – whales over here.
But there’s so much more to Canada than the diverse beauty of its wilds. With its skyscraper cities reaching out from dense, old-growth forests, rich indigenous culture, hip neighbourhoods spilling out into seal ridden harbours and a cowboy culture that refuses to be quashed, Canada is dazzlingly difficult to define.
And really, as the country that gave us Ryan Gosling (no explanation is needed), the BlackBerry that made us look and feel so professional for all those years and the pancake game-changer that is Maple Syrup – what’s not to love?
Gazing at gobsmacking glaciers in Banff, soaking in the city cool of Vancouver, spotting grizzlies in the wilds of Vancouver Island, or indulging in a High Tea in Victoria – Canada has it all. And if it’s even more jaw-dropping scenery that you’re after, Alaska is only a hop, skip and a cruise away. With so many bucket-list opportunities all in the same part of the world, picking an itinerary can be hard. That’s why we’ve hand selected Canada’s best bits for you.
Framed by the dramatic vistas of the North Shore Mountains and Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is one of Canada’s most scenic cities. A hub of cultural, culinary and creative action, with the chance to hike, bike and watch wildlife in the surrounding nature, it’s a place where urban exploration and outdoor adventures come hand in hand.Discover More
A trip dedicated to seeing bears in their natural habitat just about screams adventure, are we right? Well in these remote wilds we are at least. Three lodges, three equally secluded locations off of the northwest coast of Vancouver Island and a whole lot of bears. Go on the hunt for black and grizzly bears before bedding down every night in a floating wilderness lodge – wildlife retreats don’t get much better than this.Discover More
Jaw-dropping mountain scenery and adrenaline-pumping activities make Banff a veritable paradise for nature-lovers and thrill-seekers. Soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Canada's highest town, marvel at the striking beauty of the glacier-fed Lake Louise and explore the scenic trails that weave through the picture-perfect landscapes.Discover More
Manicured gardens and mishmashed architecture meets the whale ridden waters of the Pacific on one side and a dense old-growth forests on the other – Vancouver Island’s Victoria presents quaint city living at its best. Head here to pair all the outdoor attractions of Canada’s enchanting wilderness coast with the timeless charms and hip downtown streets of British Columbia’s provincial capital.Discover More
Get back to nature and explore the vast, unspoilt wilderness of Jasper National Park. Whether you’re following the scenic lakeside trails, spotting bears in the rolling valleys or scaling the majestic peaks of the UNESCO-listed Rocky Mountains, this is a place where dramatic views and action-packed adventures come hand in hand and memorable moments are abound.Discover More
Both a mountain and a village, British Columbia’s Whistler provides postcard-perfect winter scenes and some of the world’s most spectacular skiing to boot. But not one to be limited to one season, this resort offers up year-round delights. In winter, skiing and snowboarding may steal the limelight, but it’s in summer that the resort really comes into its own. From May to October, it’s all about soaking up the picturesque scene of this verdant valley with some hiking, biking or serene gondola riding.Discover More
Canada is a country that knows how to wow. From the shocking cyan of Lake Louise – Banff National Park’s glacier-fed, glittering jewel – to the towering drama of the craggy Canadian Rockies, this is natural world wonder at its very best and there’s no better way of seeing it than by taking to the tracks on the Rocky Mountaineer. Then there’s the manicured beauty of Victoria’s Butchart Gardens, or the urban cool of Vancouver’s Gastown – one thing’s for sure, you won’t be short on things to do and see in this destination.
In the midst of Vancouver’s urban sprawl, Stanley Park is an oasis of natural wonder and exciting attractions. Spread across 400-hectares of ancient rainforest, wildlife-rich lakes, seaside pathways and sandy beaches, this beloved park is a playground for walking, cycling and sightseeing. Stroll along the scenic seawall, count the historic totem poles and marvel at the mountain-and-sea views.Discover more
A favourite hangout for both locals and visitors alike, Granville Island is a celebration of Vancouver’s culinary, creative and cultural prowess. Just south of the Downtown peninsula tucked under the Grenville Bridge, this vibrant neighbourhood is famous for its food markets, theatres and artisan workshops. Don’t miss the chance to visit one of Vancouver’s coolest communities - we promise you won’t regret it.Discover more
With its spacious beaches, laid-back atmosphere and picture-perfect views, it’s easy to see why English Bay is one of the most popular hangouts in Downtown Vancouver. Find a sandy spot to flop down on, take a dip in the water or enjoy a scenic stroll along the Seawall. End your day watching the sunset across the glittering ocean.Discover more
With its independent galleries, boutique shops and fashionable food and drink scene, Gastown is the place to see and be seen in Vancouver. Hangout in the cool coffee shops, dine in stylish eateries and soak up the bustling atmosphere. Though the neighbourhood has had a modern makeover in recent years, it still has an old-world look and feel with its Victorian architecture and famous steaming clock.Discover more
The jewel in Vancouver’s crown, Grouse Mountain stands out as one of the city’s most spectacular attractions. A natural playground for outdoor activities, from scenic hiking trails to heart-stopping zip lines, this majestic peak lures locals and visitors from the city with its awesome alpine scenery. Relax and enjoy the views or unleash your wild side with action-packed adventures - the choice is yours.Discover more
Spanning across Burrard Inlet with the picturesque backdrop of the Coast Mountains, Lions Gate Bridge is one of Vancouver’s most iconic - and most photographed - landmarks. Admire the huge structure from the leafy walkways of Stanley Park or meander along the deck for panoramic views of the city and sea.Discover more
No visas are currently required for British passport holders to travel to Canada, however you will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authroity (ETA) in advance of travel and if you’re adding an Alaskan cruise onto your trip you’ll need to apply for an ESTA permit well in advance of your departure (it can sometimes be a lengthy process so be sure to keep on top of it). For up to date information on Canada and Alaska visa requirements, it’s recommended that you check the gov.uk website before you travel.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. However, it’s best to see your GP 6-8 weeks before you travel to check whether they recommend anything different.
There’s no such thing as summertime sadness in Canada. The bears have awoken from their winter slumber, the snow has melted to reveal a rolling topography of wildflower smattered wilderness and the incredible national parks parade their majesty in the light of the summer sun – plus, visiting between May and October means that it will actually be warm enough to explore. It’s a no brainer, surely?
The currency that you’ll be using on this holiday is the Canadian Dollar (usually denoted as $, but will sometimes be more specifically defined with the use of C$ or Can$). Unlike back in blighty where tipping is a courtesy gesture, gratuity is generally expected in Canada. Leaving 15-20% of the pre-tax cost of a drinks, meal or cab fare bill is the done thing to make up for the low wages that people who work in the service industry get paid. It’s also worth noting that when purchasing anything in Canada you’ll be presented with the pre-tax cost, sales tax means that prices will be higher by about 5-15% when you go to pay a bill. You’ll be good at mental maths by the end of this holiday, that’s for sure.
Canadians are much like us when it comes to etiquette – so yes, a middle finger is still rude here. When it comes to what to wear, you can never go wrong with layers, layers and more layers. We wouldn’t quite go as far as a Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes vibe, but you get the gist. Think hiking boots and your best outdoors-y wear on hand at all times.
Canada is largely a Christian country – with 67.3% of the population being either catholic or protestant – but religion isn’t a particularly evident part of life here. The rest of the country is divided into atheists, agnostics and numerous other religions. All are welcome here.
Our tailor-made itineraries will have you swept away by Canada’s unbounded natural beauty. From the urban cool and historical sites of cities that grow out of its thick forests and mountainous lands to the drama of the glacier-fed lakes that punctuate its world-renowned national parks, this wild sprawl of a country is one that will manage to take your breath away at every turn. Canada is off the grid living – with trusty wifi on hand to keep you in touch with the modern world.
With 60% of the world’s entire bear population calling western Canada home, a trip here wouldn’t be complete without ticking a meet-and-greet off your bucket list.
Buckle up and discover the best of what Canada has to offer with a self-drive holiday.
From the flexibility of self-drive to scenic train journeys, we’ll be giving you the low-down on the best ways to see the breath-taking Rocky Mountains.
Handy tips to help you keep healthy on your travels.
To celebrate Shrove Tuesday, we’ve done a round-up of Vancouver’s best pancake joints. Because where would be better than Canada to enjoy this staple North American breakfast treat?
We make planning and customising your holiday simple.
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