Sighs alternate with gawps at the white-dipped mountains, mist-cloaked seascapes and epic northern roadways. And with more festivals than you can swing a moose at, you'll even forget it's cold.
The globe's second-biggest country has an endless variety of landscapes. Spiky mountains, glinting glaciers, spectral rainforests, wheat-waving prairies – they're all here, spread across six time zones. Expect wave-bashed beaches, too. With the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans gnashing on three sides, Canada has a coastline that'd reach halfway to the moon, if stretched out.
It's the backdrop for plenty of 'ah'-inspiring moments – and the playground for a big provincial menagerie. We mean big as in polar bears, grizzly bears, whales and everyone's favorite, the ballerina-legged moose. You're pretty much guaranteed to see one of these behemoths when you leave the city behind.
Winter or summer, grand adventures lurk throughout Canada. Whether it's snowboarding Whistler's mountains, surfing Nova Scotia's swell, hiking Newfoundland's Appalachian Trail or kayaking the Northwest Territories' white-frothed South Nahanni River, outfitters will help you gear up for it. Gentler adventures abound, too, like strolling Vancouver's Stanley Park seawall, swimming off Prince Edward Island's (PEI) pink-sand beaches, or ice skating Ottawa's Rideau Canal. Before you know it, you'll be zipping up the fleece and heeding the call to action (and maybe having a go at dog-sledding, walleye fishing, snow-kiting…).
Cuisine (& Poutine)
Rarely do you hear people sigh over Canadian food the way they do, say, over Italian or French fare. So let's just call the distinctive seafood, piquant cheeses and off-the-vine fruits and veggies our little secret. Ditto for the bold reds and crisp whites the country's vine-striped valleys grow.
Canada is a local food smorgasbord. If you grazed from east to west across the country, you'd fill your plate like this: lobster with a dab of melted butter in the Atlantic provinces, poutine (golden fries soaked in gravy and cheese curds) in Québec, a bulging slice of berry pie in the Prairies and wild salmon and velvety scallops in British Columbia (BC).
It's best to leave the belt at home.
Let's see: Okanagan's icewine festival in January, Quebec City's winter carnival in February, Regina's powwow in March, Whistler's ski and snowboard fest in April, Ottawa's tulip fest in May, Montréal's jazz fest in June, Calgary's stampede in July, New Brunwick's Acadian fest in August, Toronto's film fest in September, Kitchner's Oktoberfest in October, Hamilton's Aboriginal Fest in November, Niagara's winter festival in December – yep, Canada parties all year long. Even places you might not automatically think of – say Edmonton, Winnipeg and St John's – rock with fringe festivals, live music clubs and shiny new art museums.
Best places to stay in Canada
Canada travel guide
Welcome to Canada, where sighs alternate with gawps at the whitedipped mountains, mistcloaked seascapes and epic northern roadways. And with more festivals than you can swing a moose at, you’ll even forget it’s cold.
Cheese travel: tips from a cheesemonger
Gordon Edgar is the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s famous Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (rainbow.coop), a store that is well-known by Bay Area food-lovers for having an amazingly well-stocked and diverse cheese selection.
Canada's natural wonders
Canada's best national parks
Discover Canada travel guide
Vancouver, the Canadian Rockies, roaring Niagara Falls – we’ve selected the most iconic sights and incredible places so you can enjoy the real Canada with the minimum of fuss.
Canada’s third-largest province; bigger than any US state except Alaska; more than four times the area of the UK: it’s not hard to find superlatives about the vastness of British Columbia).
Best beginners' climbs
Lace up your boots and slip on a harness as we bring you 10 beginners’ climbs to blow your mind. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Imja Tse (Island Peak), Nepal Trekkers on Island Peak. Image by Christian Kober / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images.
Canada's best festivals
Canada - Planning your trip (Chapter)
This chapter contains the Top Experiences, Welcome to Canada, What's New, Need to Know, If You Like, Month by Month, Itineraries, Travel with Children, Regions at a Glance and National Parks chapters from Lonely Planet's Canada guidebook. Coverage includes: Top 25 Experiences, Welcome to Canada, What's New, Need to Know, If You Like, Month by Month, Itineraries, Travel with Children, National Parks and Regions at a Glance.
Niagara Falls Day Trip from New York by Air
Discover the beauty and awesome power of Niagara Falls on a day trip from New York. You'll fly to Upstate New York, tour the falls on both the US and Canadian sides (don't forget your passport!), see all the sights, including a ride on the historic "Maid of the Mist" boat or the Journey Behind the Falls.
6-Day Ultimate East Coast Tour by Private Plane: New York City, Washington DC, Niagara Falls, Toronto & Pennsylvania Amish Country
Looking to explore the best of the East Coast in affordable luxury? Fly on a private plane? Stay in four-star hotels? There’s no cheaper or more convenient way to tour America's East Coast highlights than on this six-day, five-night small-group tour by private plane.
Ten of the world's best city hikes
Stretch your legs over hours or days, without leaving some of the world’s biggest cities. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro Aerial shot of Rio de Janeiro surrounded by the Tijuca Forest. Image by Paddy Eckersley / Digital Vision / Getty Images.
Canada - Understanding Canada & Survival Guide (Chapter)
This chapter contains the Canada Today, History, Outdoor Activities, Aboriginal Cultures, Wine Regions, Cuisines of Canada, Wildlife, Directory and Transport chapters from Lonely Planet's Canada guidebook. Coverage includes: Canada Today, History, Outdoor Activities, Aboriginal Cultures, Wine Regions, Cuisines of Canada, Wildlife, Directory and Transport.
Sights in Canada
Activities in Canada
Tours in Canada
Restaurants in Canada
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Québec is truly the dutiful daughter of its European motherland: a pristine green of pasture and towering forest, sprinkled with bronze church spires and picture perfect sidewalk cafés.