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
Canada is more than its hulking-mountain, craggy-coast good looks: it also cooks extraordinary meals, rocks cool culture and unfurls wild, moose-spotting road trips.
Canada's wild side: the Great Bear Rainforest
For wildlife spotters, it's the score of a lifetime: a creamy white kermode bear roaming its home in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia...
Canada's best national parks
Canada's natural wonders
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.
Where to win your own Winter Olympics
Can’t make it to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi? Create your own competition by trying the coolest events in the world’s best spots...
Canada's best festivals
Canada - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Canada starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on travelling in Canada with your children.
Vancouver North Shore Day Trip with Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain
Experience Vancouver's beautiful surroundings on this 5- or 6-hour guided North Shore tour. After crossing Vancouver Harbor via the landmark Lions' Gate Bridge, you'll cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge -- the world's longest suspension footbridge -- and take a ride on the Grouse Mountain Skyride.
Vancouver Trolley Hop-on Hop-off Tour
See the best of Vancouver in a classic turn-of-the-century Vancouver Trolley. Your Trolley Ticket is your passport to fun and excitement while you're in Vancouver, and can be used over two consecutive days. Take the entire tour in one afternoon or hop-off the trolley at any of the stops or 3 flag stops, to visit Vancouver's major downtown attractions, go shopping, or dine out.
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 - Understand Canada & Survival Guide (Chapter)
All the info you need on everything from history, aboriginal cultures, local wildlife and outdoor activities to flights, public transport, climate, money, the internet... you name it. Get hints on the gay and lesbian scene and tips for women...
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.