Must see attractions in Canada

  • Top ChoiceSights in Jasper Town & Around

    Jasper National Park

    Jasper is a rugged beauty; it's more raw and less tourist-pampering than its southern cousin Banff, and hence host to a more ambitious, adventurous visitor. Its tour de force is its extensive multipurpose trail network, much of it instantly accessible from the park’s compact townsite. Backing it up is abundant wildlife, colossal icefields and–for the brave–the kind of desolate backcountry that makes you feel as though you’re a good few miles (and centuries) from anything resembling civilization. Unlike Banff, most of Jasper’s trails are multiuse, open to hikers, horseback riders and cyclists. Thanks to this liberal sharing policy, the park is able to offer the best network of off-road cycling trails in Canada–and they’re not just for daredevils. Rated green (easy), blue (moderate) or black (difficult), they cater to pretty much everyone, including kids or parents with trailers in tow. An added bonus is that many of Jasper’s trails start directly from the townsite, meaning you don’t need to lug your bike around by car or bus. Using a special cycling trail map (free from the info office), numerous loops can be plotted from your hotel or campground, with time to incorporate hiking, swimming, canoeing or grabbing a cup of coffee along the way. Some of the most popular natural wonders, like Miette Hot Springs and Maligne Canyon, are easily accessible, and many more attractions are just a short hike away. Keep a little spare time in your itinerary to take advantage of the many diversions you stumble upon–a sparkling lake to admire, a snowshoe tour to explore or a moose to watch ambling by. As the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain parks, Jasper will quickly captivate you with its beauty and serenity. Admission fees and other practicalities Jasper National Park and Banff National Park are connected by the Icefields Parkway –one of Canada’s most famous road trips. There are three main road entrances to Jasper National Park. The East Park Entrance is on Hwy 16 between Jasper and Hinton, just east of Pocahontas. The West Park Entrance is on the same highway, 24km (15 miles) west of Jasper Town, near Yellowhead Pass and the border with British Columbia and Mt Robson Provincial Park. The Icefields Parkway Entrance is 6km south of Jasper Town on Hwy 93, on the way to Lake Louise. You must either buy or show a park pass at all entry gates. Park admission is C$10 for adults, C$8.70 for seniors, C$20 for families and free for kids under 17. There are additional fees for campground use, backcountry camping and fire permits. See the latest fees on the Jasper National Park website. Camping in Jasper National Park Three of Jasper's 10 campgrounds currently accept advance reservations: Wapiti, Wabasso and Pocahontas. Jasper's largest campground, Whistlers, is currently closed for renovation but will resume accepting reservations when it reopens in summer 2021. All other campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are also recommended for backcountry camping, as Parks Canada limits the number of hikers on each trail. Both frontcountry and backcountry sites can be reserved via the Parks Canada website starting in late January each year. Jasper offers a handful of huts and lodges modeled on the European alpine tradition. All situated a good day’s hike from the nearest road, these venerable backcountry retreats offer a unique wilderness experience without the hassle of setting up your tent or listening to things that go bump in the night. Hotels in Jasper National Park Aside from its venerable historic lodge, Jasper has a varied stash of hotels, motels, hostels, cabins, B&Bs and bungalows. Notwithstanding, in July and August you’d be wise to make reservations way in advance. Jasper gets seriously busy in July and August, and finding a room on the spur of the moment can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, aside from the standard clutch of hotels, motels and campgrounds, Jasper Town–which has a permanent population of 4500–has more than 100 B&Bs in private houses. The Jasper Home Accommodations Association maintains an excellent website of inspected B&Bs inside the park, complete with descriptions, contact details and web links. Prices range from C$75 to C$275 in high season and facilities often include kitchenettes, private entrances and cable TV. HI Jasper Patricia Lake Bungalows Mt Edith Cavell Wilderness Hostel Alpine Village Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge

  • Top ChoiceSights in Banff & Jasper National Parks

    Banff National Park

    Why you should go Of all Canada ’s top sights, Banff National Park justifiably ranks as many people’s number one. As much a piece of history as a natural wonder, Canada’s oldest national park, founded in 1885, is what Canada is all about. It’s a feral, but largely accessible, wilderness that attempts to cater for everyone – and largely succeeds – from bus-tour visitors to hard-core mountaineers. The towering mountains of Banff provide endless opportunities for wildlife-watching, hiking, boating, climbing, mountain biking, or skiing. But you don’t have to be a seasoned outdoor-enthusiast to enjoy Banff–its natural beauty will astound even those who just want to soak up the sights. Rugged canyons compete for your attention with fields of alpine wildflowers, turquoise lakes–like the famed Lake Louise and Moraine Lake –and dense emerald forests. One of the great beauties of Banff is its juxtaposition of the untamed and the civilized. Grizzly bears roam within growling distance of diners drinking cocktails at the romantic Banff Springs Hotel, while hikers fresh from summit attempts queue up for ice cream with golfers clutching nine irons. History Banff is a piece of history in itself. The region was home to First Nations peoples for 10,000 years before the creation of the park in 1885. Banff National Park is the world's third-oldest national park (and Canada's oldest). Cataloguing past triumphs and tribulations, Banff Town supports a healthy cache of four museums, virtually unparalleled for a 'natural' national park. Tickets and other practicalities Park admission is C$10 for adults, C$8.70 for seniors, C$20 for families and free for kids under 17. There are additional fees for campground use, backcountry camping, fire permits and fishing permits. See the latest fees on the Banff National Park website. Camping in Banff National Park Banff has 14 frontcountry campgrounds catering for tents, recreational vehicles (RVs) and camper vans. Most are open from around June to mid-September, although Tunnel Mountain Village Two and Lake Louise Trailer campgrounds are open year-round. Advance reservations are available for Tunnel Mountain, Two Jack, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise and some sites at Rampart Creek. The Parks Canada website starts taking reservations in January each year for a fee of C$11 in addition to regular camping fees. Book as far ahead as possible, as sites fill up fast. Sites at all other campgrounds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so the best way to claim a spot is to turn up early (around the official 11am checkout time is best) or check with parks staff about which campgrounds currently have availability. Banff Park Radio (101.1FM) also releases regular bulletins on campgrounds with available sites. It’s a good idea to stay in one place over weekends; sites are generally easier to come by midweek. There’s a maximum stay of 14 nights and a maximum occupancy of six people per site. At larger campgrounds you can pay fees at the entry kiosk, but at smaller campgrounds, you’ll have to self-register: find a vacant site first, then go to the self-registration shelter, remembering to enter your name, site number, license plate and duration of stay on the envelope along with the relevant fees. If it’s late when you arrive, you can do this in the morning, or sometimes staff will come around and collect your fees in person in the morning. Fires are usually allowed at campsites where there’s a fire pit – you’ll need to buy a fire permit (C$8.80, including wood) from the campground entrance. Watch for fire restrictions during dry periods. Hotels in Banff National Park Despite having enough hotel rooms to rival a town three times its size, finding a place to sleep in Banff Town can be tricky. Demand is huge, and rates are notoriously expensive, especially in peak season. Many visitors choose to cut costs by camping, hosteling, hiring recreation vehicles or staying in nearby Canmore. Regardless of where you stay, book well ahead, especially if you're coming in June, July or August. Skoki Lodge Fairmont Banff Springs Buffaloberry Paradise Lodge & Bungalows Banff Log Cabin B&B

  • Top ChoiceSights in Downtown & West End

    Stanley Park

    One of North America’s largest urban green spaces, Stanley Park is revered for its dramatic forest-and-mountain oceanfront views. But there’s more to this 400-hectare woodland than looks. The park is studded with nature-hugging trails, family-friendly attractions, sunset-loving beaches and tasty places to eat. Why you should go Built in stages between 1917 and 1980, the park's 8.8km seawall trail is Vancouver 's favorite outdoor hangout. Encircling the park, it offers spectacular waterfront vistas on one side and dense forest on the other. You can walk the whole thing in roughly three hours or rent a bike to cover the route far faster. Keep in mind: cyclists and in-line skaters must travel counterclockwise on the seawall, so there's no going back once you start (unless you walk). Also consider following the 25km of trails that crisscross the park's interior, including Siwash Rock Trail, Rawlings Trail and the popular Beaver Lake Trail (some routes are for pedestrians only). The Beaver Lake route is especially recommended; a family of beavers resides there and you'll likely spot them swimming around their large den. The seawall also delivers you to some of the park's top highlights. About 1.5km from the W Georgia St entrance, you'll come to the ever-popular totem poles. Remnants of an abandoned 1930s plan to create a First Nations 'theme village,' the bright-painted poles were joined by some exquisitely carved Coast Salish welcome arches a few years back. For the full First Nations story, consider a fascinating guided park walk with Talaysay Tours. Continue on to the nearby Nine O’Clock Gun (it fires at 9pm nightly) and Lumberman's Arch, which is a good spot to see Alaska cruise ships sliding past. From here, you can cut into the park to the popular Vancouver Aquarium or continue around the seawall; it gets wilder and more scenic as you pass under the Lions Gate Bridge and face down the Pacific Ocean. Wildlife in Stanley Park Stanley Park is studded with appeal for wildlife fans. Neat the W Georgia St entrance lies Lost Lagoon, which is a bird-beloved nature sanctuary – keep your eyes peeled for blue herons. Its perimeter pathway is also a favored stroll for wildlife nuts. Plunging deeper into the park's more secluded trails, you'll also likely spot wrens, hummingbirds and chittering little Douglas squirrels. For an introduction to the area's flora and fauna, start at the Stanley Park Nature House. You'll find friendly volunteers and exhibits on wildlife, history and ecology – ask about their well-priced guided walks. While they mostly give humans a wide berth, you might also come across a coyote or two; aggressive incidents with coyotes are rare. However, be cautious and treat them with respect and give them a wide berth as well. Beaches in Stanley Park Second Beach is a family-friendly area on the park's western side, with a grassy playground, an ice-cream-serving concession and a huge outdoor swimming pool. It's also close to Ceperley Meadows, where Fresh Air Cinema offers popular free outdoor movie screenings in summer. For a little more tranquility, try Third Beach. A sandy expanse with plenty of logs to sit against, this is a favored summer-evening destination for Vancouverites. Opening hours and other practicalities The park is free to enter and open 24 hours a day. The park can be reached by taking bus 19 from downtown. There are additional fees for bike rentals and attractions in the park, like the Vancouver Aquarium. In summer, the seawall is packed with visitors; arrive early morning or early evening if tranquil nature-communing is your bag. There are often summertime queues to enter the aquarium; try to make it one of your first stops when you arrive at the park. Hotels near Stanley Park Buchan Hotel Times Square Suites Hotel Sylvia Hotel

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lake Louise

    Lake Louise

    Why you should go Considered by many to be the crown jewel of Banff National Park, Lake Louise is nearly impossible to describe without resorting to clichés. This implausibly turquoise lake is ringed by chiseled mountains capped by Victoria Glacier. Roughly 2km (1.2 miles) end to end and 70m (230ft) deep, the lake is famous for its stunning blue water, caused by light reflecting off tiny particles of ‘rock flour’ (glacial silt) carried down from the mountain glaciers. The lake has become one of Banff National Park’s most famous (and busiest) attractions, and the lakeshore inevitably gets crowded on summer days. Visit as early as possible to avoid the squash, and spend the rest of the day exploring the nearby attractions of Moraine Lake and the Lake Louise Gondola. You can usually escape the coachloads of sightseers milling around in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise by following the lakeshore trail, which tracks through forest along the northern side of the lake, offering fabulous vistas of Fairview Mountain and the Victoria Glacier. A spur trail leads steeply up the mountainside to the famous Lake Agnes Teahouse and the Big Beehive lookout, but it’s a long slog, so you’ll need good shoes and plenty of water. Further along the lakeshore trail, you can continue up the valley on the Plain of Six Glaciers walk. There are several more classic hikes leading off around Lake Louise, including the steep climbs up Saddleback (2330m/7644ft) and Fairview Mountain (2744m/9003ft), which both brood along the lake’s southern shore. For something more sedentary, you can hire canoes from the Lake Louise Boathouse. Once you've got over the shock of the price, you’ll be rewarded with a sense of the silence and natural majesty. Tickets and other practicalities Banff National Park admission is C$10 for adults, C$8.70 for seniors, C$20 for families and free for kids under 17. There are additional fees for campground use, backcountry camping, fire permits and fishing permits. See the latest fees on the Banff National Park website. There is a C$11.70 fee per vehicle for parking at the Lake Louise lakeshore. Lake Louise is best seen early or late in the day, when the vibrant colors of the lake are strongest. In winter the scene is transformed into a wonderland of powder-white ice. As it freezes over its signature blue waters won’t be visible–but it does become an epic skating rink. Lake Louise 'village,' just off Trans-Canada Hwy/Hwy 1, is little more than an outdoor shopping mall, a gas station and a handful of hotels. Hotels near Lake Louise Other than a very popular hostel and a fantastic riverside campground, Lake Louise doesn't have much in the way of budget accommodations. At the pricier end of the spectrum you'll find some truly splurge-worthy properties, including cabins, historic lodges and one of the Canadian Rockies' most iconic lakeside hotels, the opulent Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lake Louise

    Moraine Lake

    Why you should go The spectacular, deep teal waters of Moraine Lake are one of Banff National Park’s most iconic sights. The lake’s rugged and remote setting in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, accessed via a narrow winding road, only add to its allure, Many visitors actually prefer Moraine Lake to the more famous Lake Louise –so many, in fact, that you'll have to be lucky or an early riser to get a parking spot here; the lot often fills up by 5:30am in peak season. At the eastern end of the lake is the Moraine Lake Rockpile, a massive heap of boulders of somewhat uncertain origin: some geologists think it was created by an ancient avalanche, while others believe it was formed by the long-gone glacier that carved out the rest of the valley. A paved trail leads up to a series of viewpoints at the top of the rockpile, offering a panoramic vista across the lake and the Wenkchemna Peaks beyond. A part-paved trail leads off around the lake’s northern shore, linking up with the branch trail to Larch Valley and Eiffel Lake. Another trail leads southeast from the rockpile to Consolation Lakes. Alternatively, you can explore the lake in the manner of the old voyageurs by hiring a canoe from the boathouse next to Moraine Lake Lodge. Tickets and other practicalities Banff National Park admission is C$10 for adults, C$8.70 for seniors, C$20 for families and free for kids under 17. There are additional fees for campground use, backcountry camping, fire permits and fishing permits. See the latest fees on the Banff National Park website. The Moraine Lake Road closes seasonally–from about October to May–due to the avalanche risk.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Banff & Jasper National Parks

    Jasper National Park

    Encompassing 11,228 sq km of Rocky Mountains wilderness, including jagged peaks, vast forests, glacial lakes and the magnificent Columbia Icefield, Jasper shelters some of the most pristine natural features on the North American continent. Jasper receives over two million visitors annually, making it Canada's second most popular national park.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Old Town, Corktown & Distillery District

    Distillery District

    Centered on the 1832 Gooderham and Worts distillery – once the largest distillery in the British Empire – the 5-hectare Distillery District is one of Toronto's best downtown attractions. Its Victorian industrial warehouses have been converted into soaring galleries, artists studios, design boutiques, cafes and eateries. On weekends newlyweds pose before a backdrop of red brick and cobblestone, young families walk their dogs and the fashionable shop for art beneath charmingly decrepit gables and gantries. Year-round the place is buzzing. In summer, live music and pop-up events fill the air. In winter, a festival of lights and a Christmas market lure people out from the warmth. History The setting is a beautifully preserved Victorian industrial complex – red brick, cobblestone walkways and imposing buildings. Though it now consists of 30 buildings, brothers-in-law James Worts and William Gooderham started out with the construction of a single 70-ft brick windmill in 1832 with an eye on creating an industrial empire in what was then the British-controlled town of York, soon to be renamed Toronto. Worts had recently moved there from England, bringing his 20 years of experience as a miller with him and seeking a new life for his young family. Though the mill prospered quickly, tragedy struck just two years later when James Worts' wife died during childbirth. The grief was too much for Worts who died shortly afterwards. Gooderham continued alone and established the distillery a few years later, which prospered immediately. He then brought James Worts' orphaned son in as a full partner once he was old enough and the two made a huge success of the family business. It survived prohibition and two world wars by ceasing production of alcohol and creating explosives for the government when required. The last drop of alcohol was produced on the site in 1990 and over 158 years after Gooderham and Worts started their industrial activity there. It lay dormant and decrepit for many years, with locals worried about the ultimate fate of this heritage site. The current owners moved ahead with plans to convert it into an arts and cultural center in 2001 and the result is the vibrant and beautiful Distillery District beloved by Torontonians today. Shopping and dining There are over 40 boutiques selling high-end and unique fashion, accessories, beauty treatments, and small-batch food-and-wine gifts. The emphasis is very deliberately on locally owned stores and products – the owners refuse to allow large corporations and franchises to let units in the district. This provides a lovely local feel to the area and supports small businesses who would otherwise struggle for retail space in a major city. There are a wealth of options available when it comes to culinary delights after some retail therapy. Several high-end restaurants are on offer if you fancy something a little more special. If casual and easy-going is more your thing, there are also charming pubs and pizza parlors offering delicious food made from locally sourced ingredients. Artisanal cafes are ready and waiting to whip up your preferred blend of coffee when you start to flag after a day of sight seeing. Events and nightlife The $14-million Young Centre for Performing Arts houses four performance spaces, used by theatrical tenants including Soulpepper and George Brown Theatre Co. There's an on-site bookstore and bar, too. Make some time to visit the various galleries showcasing the work of incredible artists – the best time to speak with them is in the early afternoon, when many will have their doors open or signs inviting visitors in. With 13 specialty beers made on-site, Mill Street Brewery are a leading light in local microbrewing. Order a sample platter so you can taste all the award-winning brews, including the Tankhouse Pale Ale, Stock Ale and Organic Lager. On a sunny afternoon the courtyard is the place to be. The beer-friendly food includes burgers and wraps. The Distillery District is at its festive best from mid-November to Christmas Eve during its European-style Christmas Market, showcasing hundreds of local handcrafted products, a carousel and photo ops with Santa.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yorkville & the Annex

    Royal Ontario Museum

    Opened in 1914, the multidisciplinary ROM is Canada's biggest natural-history museum and one of the largest museums in North America. You'll either love or loathe the synergy between the original heritage buildings at the main entrance on Bloor St and the 2007 addition of 'the Crystal,' which appears to pierce the original structure and juts out into the street like a massive shard. Though filled with a dizzying number of artifacts and art, the ROM’s interior architecture itself is also notable. Look up as you enter the main hall: the ceiling is a dazzling mosaic dome made up of over a million Venetian tiles. Commissioned in 1933 by the museum’s first director, the mosaic has myriad patterns and symbols representing the breadth of the museum's collection. Look for the Mayan temple, the Egyptian falcon, the three-clawed Chinese dragon, the bison and more. Galleries and exhibits The permanent collection features more than six million specimens and artifacts, divided between two main galleries: the Natural History Galleries (all on the 2nd floor) and the World Culture Galleries (on the 1st, 3rd and 4th floors). The Chinese temple sculptures, Gallery of Korean Art, and costumes and textile collections are some of the best in the world. Expect to learn about everything from ice-age mammals and hardwood forests to religious masks. The remarkable First Peoples Art and Culture  gallery provides insight into the works of art and cultural heritage of Canada’s indigenous people from precolonial times to the present. The 1000-piece collection includes ceremonial clothing, birch-bark canoes, fine art and more. A small theater screens documentaries and hosts live performances, adding a layer of depth and present-day perspective to the collection. Knowledgeable staffers are available on weekdays to answer questions. Special exhibitions Each year the ROM hosts a variety of big temporary exhibits from around the world (special exhibit surcharges apply). Keep an eye out for the Friday Night Live programs, when the museum opens its doors, stocks its bars and calls in the DJs for a makeshift dance party. Activities for kids This is a remarkable place that keeps all visitors engaged. Younger visitors (and their parents) will appreciate the two interactive galleries at the ROM: the Discovery Gallery and the Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity. Kids can touch shark skulls and beaver pelts, dig for dinosaur bones and walk through bat caves. The cedar crest totem poles carved by Indigenous tribes in British Columbia are also wonderful. Imaginative play has children hiding in foxholes and dressing up in clothing from other eras that has been sourced from across the globe. Facilitators are on hand to introduce youngsters to what's on offer and answer the many questions they’re sure to have. Tickets and information An adult ticket costs $23 and it's $14 for a child. Entrance to the museum is free on the third Monday of each month. The free docent-led tours are worth joining to help unpack the place. Whether you come for a day or spend a week here, there will always be something new to discover. The nearest subway stop is Museum station. Top tips Admission is free the third Monday evening of the month – arrive after 6pm to avoid the rush. Audio tours to select galleries can be downloaded from the website. Docent-led tours are offered daily in English and French. Strollers are available for rent at the coat check. Special exhibits are often excellent but cost extra; check the website to decide if you’re interested enough to commit the additional time and cash.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Plateau Mont-Royal & the Northeast

    Parc du Mont-Royal

    The charming, leafy expanse of Parc du Mont-Royal is charged for a wide range of outdoor activities. The wooded slopes and grassy meadows have stunning views that make it all the more popular for jogging, picnicking, horseback riding, cycling and throwing Frisbees. Winter brings skating, tobogganing and cross-country skiing. History Montréalers are proud of their "mountain," so don’t call it a hill as Oscar Wilde did when he visited the city in the 1880s. The park was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York’s Central Park. The idea came from bourgeois residents in the adjacent Golden Square Mile who fretted about vanishing greenery. Contrary to what people may try to tell you, this place is not an extinct volcano. Rather, Parc du Mont-Royal is a hangover from when magma penetrated the earth’s crust millions of years ago. This formed a sort of erosion-proof rock, so while time and the elements were wearing down the ground around it, the 761ft-high (232m) hunk of rock stood firm. Bird-watching Parc du Mont-Royal has some fantastic bird-watching opportunities, particularly in spring. A great number of migratory birds use the area as a passage on their way to breeding grounds. In both the park and in nearby Cimetière Mont-Royal, look out for screech owls, red-shouldered hawks, northern orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, bluebirds, olive-sided flycatchers, indigo buntings and many more species. In winter hardy bird-lovers come out for walks along the bird-feeder circuit that goes around the Summit Loop (the park places feeders out from November to April).  Contact Les Amis de la Montagne, located at Maison Smith, for information on guided walks. Lookouts Head to Belvédère Kondiaronk at Chalet du Mont-Royal and Belvédère Camillien-Houde lookout for astonishing views of Montréal and surrounding landscapes. Cemeteries On the north side of the park lie two enormous cemeteries: Cimetière Mont-Royal is Protestant and nondenominational, while Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is Catholic. The latter has several interesting mausoleums. The Pietà Mausoleum contains a full-scale marble replica of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Other mausoleums in the cemetery emit solemn music, including that of Marguerite Bourgeoys, a nun and teacher who was beatified in 1982 – for more details on her life, visit the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours. Built in 2007, the Esther Blondin Mausoleum is a modern facility housing 6000 crypts and niches, reflecting the increasing popularity of communal memorial spaces. Top tips for visiting Parc du Mont-Royal There's much to experience on Mont-Royal, but it's wise to have a plan before you go. There are park info centers at Chalet du Mont-Royal and Maison Smith. You'll also find loads of info online (including a handy map). Head to Lac aux Castors for winter sports and summer boating. Binoculars are a good idea for the bird feeders set up along some walking trails. Note that walking in the park after sunset isn’t a safe idea. How to get there Walkers will find main entry points on Rue Drummond and Peel in downtown and Rue Rachel in the Plateau. Alternatively, take bus 11 from Mont-Royal metro. There are two parking lots in the park.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Downtown

    Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal

    Montréal’s Museum of Fine Arts is an accessible and beautifully updated oasis of art housed in architecturally striking buildings. A visit here is a must for art-lovers, with centuries' worth of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, furniture, prints, drawings and photographs on display. European heavyweights include Rembrandt, Picasso and Monet, but the museum really shines when it comes to Canadian art. Highlights include works by Prudence Heward and Paul Kane, landscapes by the Group of Seven and abstractions by Martha Townsend and Jean-Paul Riopelle. Temporary exhibits are often exceptional and have included a showcase on French fashion designer Thierry Mugler. There is also a fair amount of Inuit and indigenous artifacts and lots of fancy decorative knickknacks, including Japanese incense boxes and Victorian chests. The Pavilions The collection is housed in five pavilions. The beaux-arts, marble-covered Michal & Renata Hornstein Pavilion presents World Cultures – everything from ancient African to modern Japanese art. Behind this building is the Liliane & David M Stewart Pavilion, where you'll find an eye-catching decorative-arts collection. Glass, ceramics, textiles, furniture and industrial-design pieces from around the globe have been assembled. Adjacent to this building on Rue Bishop is the Michal & Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace (not to be confused with the similarly named pavilion mentioned above), which opened in 2017 and features 750 works from Old Masters to contemporary artists, and the new Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy. Across Ave du Musée, the Claire & Marc Bourgie Pavilion is situated in a renovated 1894 church and displays some magnificent works of Canadian and Québécois art. Head to the top floor to delve into Inuit art and its cultural legacy. The church’s Bourgie Concert Hall features gorgeous Tiffany stained-glass windows and live shows. The modern Moshe Safdie–designed annex across Sherbrooke is the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, home to the Old and Modern Masters, with paintings from the Middle Ages stretching through the Renaissance and classical eras up to contemporary works. It can be reached via an underground passage from the Hornstein Pavilion. Underground tunnels connect different pavilions so there's no need to brave the elements between exhibitions. Individual Pavilions may be closed for reinstallation, so be sure to check in advance of your visit. Tickets and other practicalities Timed-tickets must be bought online in advance of your visit. These admit you to the Major Exhibition, Discovery Exhibitions, and the museum's collections. Outdoors guided tours on architecture and sculpture are available for an additional fee. Tickets are half price on Wednesdays after 5pm. Admission is cheaper for people under 30 and free for those under 20. Plan in lots of breaks or multiple visits. There is lots of walking to be done so trying to see it all in one day can be tiring.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Old Montréal

    Basilique Notre-Dame

    Montréal's famous landmark, Notre Dame Basilica, is a 19th-century Gothic Revival masterpiece with spectacular craftsmanship – a visually pleasing, if slightly gaudy, symphony of carved wood, paintings, gilded sculptures and stained-glass windows. History Originally it was a humble building dating from 1683; The Sulpicians commissioned architect James O’Donnell to design what would be the largest church north of Mexico. It opened in 1829. He converted to Catholicism from Protestantism so he could have his funeral in the basilica, and is buried in the crypt. Everything, from the great bell in the western tower to the 1891 organ with its 7000 pipes and the stained-glass windows depicting the city’s history, speaks of the strong faith of the congregations of yesteryear. The basilica made headlines in 1994 when singer Céline Dion was married under its soaring midnight-blue ceiling, and again in 2000 when Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro shared pall-bearing honors at the state funeral of former Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau. Statues While decoration is fairly minimal on the stone facade, you'll note three prominent statues: the Virgin Mary in the center (patron saint of Montréal), St John the Baptist (representing Québec) to the right, and St Joseph (for Canada) to the left. The interior The basilica has a spectacular interior with a forest of ornate wood pillars and carvings made entirely by hand (and constructed without the aid of a single nail). Gilt stars shine from the ceiling vaults and the altar is backlit in evening-sky blues. The stained-glass windows are conspicuous for their depiction of events in Montréal's history rather than the usual biblical scenes. The organ The basilica is home to a famous 7000-pipe Casavant Frères organ, which you can hear played at festivals and concerts throughout the year. Check if the Take a Seat at the Organ tour is running, as it allows you to get up close. The bell The bell in the West Tower, known as Jean-Baptiste, weighs nearly 12 tons (10,900 kg). It's said to be the biggest bell in North America. Chapelle du Sacré Cœur A popular place for regular Montréalers to tie the knot is the much smaller Chapelle du Sacré Cœur behind the main altar. Rebuilt in a hodgepodge of historic and contemporary styles after a 1978 fire, its most eye-catching element is the floor-to-ceiling bronze altarpiece. Aura light show The spectacular orchestral light show Aura Basilica is currently not running, but when it resumes, expect a dazzling performance that celebrates the beauty of the basilica. Tickets and tours Guided tours (20 minutes) are part of the entry fee, but at this time, the basilica is not open for any tourist activities. Once the site reopens to tourists, you can pay an additional fee to have an hour-long guided tour, giving you access to the 2nd balcony and parts of the crypt. Check the basilica's website for the latest information.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lachine Canal, Little Burgundy & the Southwest

    Oratoire St-Joseph

    The stunning Oratoire St-Joseph church built on the flanks of Mont-Royal commands grand views of the the Côte-des-Neiges area and northwest Montréal. The majestic basilica is a tribute to mid-20th-century design as well as an intimate shrine to Brother André, a local saint said to have healed countless people. The largest shrine ever built in honor of St Joseph, this Renaissance-style building was completed in 1960 and commands fine views of the northern slope of Mont-Royal. The oratory dome is visible from anywhere in this part of town. Brother André The oratory is also a tribute to the work of Brother André (1845–1937), the determined monk who first built a little chapel here in 1904. Brother André was said to have healing powers – as word spread, a larger shrine was needed, so the church began gathering funds to build one. Rows of discarded crutches and walking sticks in the basement Votive Chapel testify to this belief and the shrine is warmed by hundreds of candles. When Brother André died at age 91, a million devotees filed past his coffin over the course of six days. His black granite tomb in the Votive Chapel was donated by Québec premier Maurice Duplessis. Brother André was beatified in 1982 and finally canonized in 2010. His heart is on display too, in an upstairs museum dedicated to him. The stolen heart How much is a holy man’s heart worth? Fifty-thousand dollars, according to thieves who broke into a locked room in the Oratoire St-Joseph in March 1973. They made off with Brother André’s heart sealed in a vial and demanded the sum in a ransom note that scandalized Montréal. The purloined organ was the subject of tabloid articles, musical compositions and even an art exhibition. Church officials reportedly refused the ransom demand, and nothing more was seen of the heart until December 1974 when Montréal lawyer to the underworld, Frank Shoofey, received a mysterious phone call asking him if he wanted to know its whereabouts. Shoofey was directed to an apartment building storage locker that contained a box, and inside was the vial housing Brother André’s heart. The thieves were never found, and today the heart is secure in the Oratoire behind a metal grille and a sturdy transparent display case. But some believe the Church actually did pay the ransom to get it back. Was Shoofey, who was shot dead in 1985 in a still-unsolved murder, a go-between? Whatever the case, Montréal’s great heart heist has continued to inspire artists long after the saint himself died. Visiting the Oratoire Tours are currently suspended and the Oratory Museum remains closed until further notice. The Oratoire is served by bus route 51, and Snowdon and Côte-des-Neiges Stations. Religious pilgrims might climb the 300 wooden steps to the oratory on their knees, praying at every step; other visitors take the stone stairs or one of the free shuttle buses from the base parking lot.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Entertainment & Financial Districts

    CN Tower

    Dominating Toronto's skyline, the CN Tower is a marvel. At a height of 553 metres, the communications spire stands over the city like a beacon. Queues can be long and tickets are expensive, but the wait and the cost are worth it. Three observation levels reveal unforgettable views – even Niagara Falls can be seen on a clear day. There are floor-to-ceiling windows, glass floors, and an 'EdgeWalk' for those with the backbone to walk around the perimeter of the main pod, with no fence and no windows, just you, tethered to a track. Riding one of the glass elevators up what was once the world's highest freestanding structure (553m) is one of those things you just have to do in Toronto. Even if you don't, you're bound to catch a glimpse of the tower at night: the entire structure puts on a brilliant (free) light show year-round. It’s worth noting that on a clear day the vista from the top is astounding – a bird's-eye view of the city and lake, the falls in the distance, even helicopters flying below you; if it's hazy you won't see a thing. If you’d prefer to just check it out from the ground, the best street-level vantage point for the tower is at the intersection of McCaul St and Queen St W, due north. CN Tower Edgewalk Daredevils aged 13 and up can do the EdgeWalk ($195), a 20-minute outdoor walk around the unbounded perimeter of the main pod (356m). It's not for the fainthearted. Tickets include a keepsake video and printed photos. Participants also get a Tower Experience Ticket which grants access to the LookOut, Glass Floor, and SkyPod levels. The tickets can be used once for up to two days after the Edgewalk. Tickets and other practicalities Queues for the elevator can be up to two hours long in each direction. Tickets start at $38 CAD for an adult. During summer, you can pay an additional $7 for a timed ride to the top…though not back down. Buying tickets online, or using the CN Tower app, saves 15%. There's the obligatory revolving restaurant (called 360°): it's expensive, but the elevator price is waived for diners. Opt for the SkyPod (447m; an extra $15) – though you may not notice much difference to the regular view.

  • Sights in Revelstoke to Golden

    Glacier National Park

    To be accurate, this 1350-sq-km park should be called '430 Glaciers National Park'. The annual snowfall can be as much as 23m, and due to the sheer mountain slopes, this is one of the world's most active avalanche areas. For this reason, skiing, caving and mountaineering are regulated; you must register with park wardens before venturing into the backcountry. Check the weather and get an avalanche report. Rogers Pass ranks as one of the world's most beautiful mountain passes. Be sure to pause at the Hemlock Grove Trail, 54km east of Revelstoke, where a 400m boardwalk winds through an ancient hemlock rainforest.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Plateau Mont-Royal & the Northeast

    Jardin Botanique

    Montréal’s Jardin Botanique is the third-largest botanical garden in the world, after London’s Kew Gardens and Berlin’s Botanischer Garten. Since its 1931 opening, the 75-hectare garden has grown to include tens of thousands of species in more than 20 thematic gardens, and its wealth of flowering plants is carefully managed to bloom in stages. The rose beds are a sight to behold in summertime. Climate-controlled greenhouses house cacti, banana trees and 1500 species of orchid. Here are some of the garden's highlights. Chinese Garden The twinning of Montréal with Shanghai gave impetus to plant a Chinese Garden. The ornamental penjing trees from Hong Kong are up to 100 years old. A Ming-dynasty garden is the feature around Lac de Rêve (Dream Lake). In fall (mid-September to early November), the Chinese Garden dons its most exquisite garb for the popular Magic of Lanterns, when hundreds of handmade silk lanterns sparkle at dusk. Montréalers are devoted to this event and it can feel like it’s standing-room only even though it’s held in a huge garden. Japanese Garden A popular draw is the landscaped Japanese Garden with traditional pavilions, tearoom and art gallery; the bonsai ‘forest’ is the largest outside Asia. Frédérick Back Tree Pavilion In the northern part of the Jardin Botanique you’ll find the Frédérick Back Tree Pavilion, a permanent exhibit on life in the 40-hectare arboretum. Displays include the yellow birch, part of Québec’s official emblem. First Nations Garden The First Nations Garden reveals the bonds between 11 Amerindian and Inuit nations and indigenous plants such as silver birches, maples, Labrador and tea. Birdwatching This is a prime spot for birdwatching, so be sure to bring your binoculars. Look out for nuthatches, woodpeckers and goldfinches (among many others), who visit the feeding stations. Tickets and other practicalities Buying timed-tickets online in advance is highly recommended, which includes access to the gardens. There is restricted entry to the greenhouses and pavilions to control the numbers of guests. If you also plan to visit the Biodôme and Planetarium, buying a combined ticket may save you money. The Insectarium is currently closed for renovations and should reopen towards the end of 2021. Facilities are accessible, and wheelchairs are available for loan free of charge.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Entertainment & Financial Districts

    Hockey Hall of Fame

    The mecca of Canada's national sport, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a Canadian institution. Even those unfamiliar with the rough, super-fast sport are likely to be impressed by this, the world's largest collection of hockey memorabilia. Check out the Texas Chainsaw Massacre –esque goalkeeping masks or go head to head with the great Wayne Gretzky, virtual-reality style. History This spectacular labyrinthine museum is located inside the rococo gray-stone Bank of Montreal building (c 1885) in the Financial District. Considered one of the most spectacular bank buildings ever constructed in Toronto, it was designed by architects Frank Darling and S. G. Curry. The extravagant and ornate Beaux Arts style was used to communicate a prosperous and successful image after a period of economic depression. Though the Hockey Hall of Fame was first created in 1945, it only took up residence in its current grand home in 1993 after the building had ceased trading as a bank for a few years. The sense of grandeur created by the imposing style gives visitors an idea of how seriously Canadians take their beloved hockey. Things to see and do With over 65,000 sq ft of space covered in hockey artefacts, there's something here for every fan. Inside, multimedia exhibits showcase the greats – icons and players of the game. Visitors can walk through a recreated Montréal Canadiens' locker room, watch documentaries and movies, and even shoot pucks at video-projected NHL goalies. And, of course, be sure to take a pic with the beloved Stanley Cup, located upstairs. The official store, Spirit of Hockey, is located at street level. It has a huge collection of fully licensed NHL and Hockey Canada apparel, merchandise and memorabilia for every budget. A highlight is the huge sculpture of Ken Danby's iconic painting, At the Crease, which is a perfect backdrop for a souvenir photo. How do I get there? The entrance is inside Brookfield Place, a massive office and shopping complex with a soaring glass thoroughfare called the Crystal Cathedral; look for the museum entrance in the basement level, just past the food court. The closest train stations are Union Station and the King subway stop.

  • Top ChoiceSights in West End

    High Park

    Toronto's favorite green space is a wonderful spot to unfurl a picnic blanket, swim, play tennis, bike around, skate on 14-hectare Grenadier Pond or – in spring – meander through the groves of cherry blossoms donated by the Japanese ambassador in 1959. Several nature walks, workshops and talks are organized by the Nature Centre and led by rangers. Shakespeare in High Park Shakespeare in High Park is one of Canada's longest-running outdoor theater events, having started in 1982. Guests sit on grassy levels by the amphitheater or – if they pay a little extra and in advance – on a cushion in a premium area near the stage. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner to enjoy the show like a local. Performances are staged Tuesday to Sunday at 8pm, between July and September. Payment is on a donation basis, with $20 suggested for adults. Activities for kids If you have small kids, check out the children's zoo (free admission) or take a train ride through the park (adult/child $5/4, 30 minutes, April to October). And be sure to peek into Colborne Lodge, built in 1836 by the Howard family, who donated much of High Park to the city in 1873. How do I get there? On weekends and holidays from mid-June to early September, bus 30B picks up at High Park subway station and then loops through the park. Otherwise it's a 200m walk from the subway station to the north gates. The 506 High Park streetcar drops off on the eastern side of the park. If you exit the park by Colborne Lodge at the south gates, walk down to Lake Shore Blvd W and catch any eastbound streetcar to downtown. The park is closed to vehicle traffic on weekends.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Haida Gwaii

    Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve & Haida Heritage Site

    This huge Unesco World Heritage site encompasses Moresby and 137 smaller islands at its southern end. It combines a time-capsule look at abandoned Haida villages with hot springs, amazing natural beauty and some of the continents best kayaking. A visit demands advance planning as the number of visitors entering the park each day is limited. The easiest way is to take a guided trip with a licensed operator; access to the park is by boat or floatplane only.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Icefields Parkway

    Athabasca Glacier

    The tongue of the Athabasca Glacier runs from the Columbia Icefield to within walking distance of the road opposite the Icefield Centre. It can be visited on foot or in an Ice Explorer all-terrain vehicle. It has retreated about 2km since 1844, when it reached the rock moraine on the north side of the road. To reach its toe (bottom edge), walk from the Icefield Centre along the 1.8km Forefield Trail, then join the 1km Toe of the Glacier Trail.

  • Sights in Outside Old Québec

    Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec

    Spare at least a half-day to visit this extraordinary art museum, one of the province's best. Permanent exhibitions range from art in the early French colonies to Québec’s contemporary artists, with individual halls devoted entirely to 20th-century artistic giants such as Jean-Paul Lemieux, Fernand Leduc and Jean-Paul Riopelle. Arguably the museum's highlight is the Brousseau Collection of Inuit Art, a selection of 100 pieces by 60 artists located at the top of the Pavillon Pierre Lassonde.