In a vast and diverse country like Canada, it is challenging to narrow down a list of the nation’s absolute best destinations. With 10 provinces and three territories spread across 9,985,000 square kilometers, there are countless places to explore, each offering unique attractions, stunning landscapes, and welcoming communities. It’s safe to say that there are no undesirable cities in Canada.
It is claimed that some cities truly shine. The cities on this list have been thoughtfully chosen because each one boasts something extraordinary that you won’t easily find elsewhere in the country, and perhaps not even in the world.
From the country’s most populous city to the largest national park in Canada to the capital city, we firmly believe that each of the cities featured here merits a spot on your travel bucket list, and we’re eager to share the reasons why.
Discover the top destinations for your next journey with our compilation of the best cities in Canada.
Situated in British Columbia, Vancouver stands out as one of the most culturally diverse cities in Canada. This rich tapestry of cultures has transformed Vancouver into a culinary paradise, and the city’s microbrewery scene is rapidly gaining prominence. Vancouver is also home to an outstanding aquarium and several beautiful parks, including Queen Elizabeth Park and Stanley Park.
The New York Times once aptly described this vibrant city as “Manhattan with mountains.” While this depiction is enchanting, it overlooks the fact that Vancouver is a thriving seaport graced with eight public beaches along the oceanfront and one nestled by a lake.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Vancouver, BC
2. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, the city, is more than just a convenient base for exploring one of North America’s most stunning waterfalls. It is also a vibrant destination in itself. Visitors will discover a wide range of attractions for adults, such as casinos and wineries, as well as ample entertainment options for children, including an indoor waterpark, the Guinness World Records Museum, and numerous mini-golf courses. And, of course, there are the breathtaking falls themselves, which can be experienced from a boat tour or admired from a helicopter.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Niagara Falls
Montreal, situated in Quebec, is a Canadian city that seamlessly blends the old with the new and the French with the English. In its charming Old Montreal district, you’ll find cobblestone streets and historic buildings dating back to the 17th century, making it one of the oldest urban neighborhoods in North America.
However, Montreal is not just defined by its history. It’s a city of modern skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife, and the unique Underground City. This underground network connects office buildings, hotels, residential complexes, and commercial establishments through a series of tunnels, providing a convenient escape from Montreal’s often harsh winter weather.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Montreal
Much like its English namesake, London, Ontario, is situated on the Thames River. Exploring London’s attractions is easy with a double-decker bus tour that offers a comprehensive two-hour journey through the city’s historical sites and museums.
While you are in London, be sure to visit Fanshawe Pioneer Village, an open-air museum that offers a glimpse into life in the region between 1820 and 1920. It also sheds light on the development of the City of London, which was founded in 1826.
Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, is a highly multicultural city where over 100 different languages are spoken. It is also the largest city in the province and is known for its thriving arts scene, often referred to as the “cultural cradle of Canada.”
The city is home to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and hosts various festivals, including Folklorama, a two-week celebration of different cultures. During your visit to Winnipeg, be sure to explore The Forks, a popular shopping and entertainment district in the city.
Read More: Best Things to Do in Winnipeg
If you are looking for a city that knows how to have fun, then a visit to Halifax in Nova Scotia is a must. Halifax boasts more pubs and clubs per capita than almost any other city in Canada.
However, this city offers more than just nightlife. You can explore several fascinating attractions, such as Fisherman’s Cove, a beautifully restored 200-year-old fishing village, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Additionally, Halifax is conveniently located near the Bay of Fundy, recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of North America, famous for having the highest tides on Earth.
7. Quebec City
Founded in 1608 and serving as the capital of Quebec, this city is a delightful and picturesque destination. It is renowned for its charming Old Town, known as Old Quebec, where you can wander along cobblestone streets, passing by remarkably preserved 17th- and 18th-century structures. Notably, Old Quebec is the sole walled city north of Mexico.
Among its many attractions, Quebec City is home to the Citadel of Quebec, an operational fort and museum. This historic site also holds the distinction of being the largest British fortress ever constructed in North America.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Québec
Saskatoon has much to offer outdoor enthusiasts with its numerous provincial parks and the Beaver Creek Conservation area, one of the few remaining short grass prairie sites in the province. For both visitors and residents, a beloved activity is taking a riverboat ride down the South Saskatchewan River as it winds through the picturesque Meewasin Valley.
Art lovers can explore the Mendel Art Gallery, which boasts a significant collection of artworks and ranks as the 16th largest public art gallery in Canada. Additionally, Saskatoon is home to the University of Saskatchewan and stands as the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Québec
Ottawa, situated in Ontario, holds the distinction of being the capital of Canada and, accordingly, offers a wealth of attractions, such as the Parliament buildings and numerous world-class museums.
Among the city’s top tourist draws is the Rideau Canal. During the summer, the canal is a magnet for boaters, and in the winter, it transforms into one of the world’s largest outdoor skating rinks. Ottawa also embraces outdoor activities, with hiking and white-water rafting on the Ottawa River being highly favored in this city.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Ottawa
10. St. John’s
St. John’s lays claim to two notable distinctions: it is not only the oldest city in North America but also the continent’s easternmost point. Situated in Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s offers many compelling reasons to visit. For instance, the waters off its coast host a significant population of whales, including minke, humpbacks, and blue whales.
During your visit to St. John’s, be sure to explore its picturesque Quidi Vidi neighborhood, which has a rich history as a former fishing village.
The capital of British Columbia is one of Canada’s most picturesque cities, offering mountain and ocean vistas in many of its neighborhoods. Located on Vancouver Island, it retains a wild side, with elephant seals and whales frequently spotted in the surrounding waters.
When visiting Victoria, be sure to explore its charming Inner Harbour. This area provides numerous dining options and is an ideal spot for a traditional afternoon tea, a nod to Victoria’s British heritage. Double-decker buses and horse-drawn carriages further contribute to the city’s distinctly British atmosphere.
If you’re a fan of vibrant and dynamic cities, you will be captivated by Toronto, which is not only Canada’s largest city but also the capital of Ontario. Toronto is highly cosmopolitan, with over 140 languages spoken, making it one of the most culturally diverse cities globally.
Currently, Toronto is experiencing an urban revitalization, with new developments emerging from former industrial areas. The city is a hub for major events, including the renowned Toronto International Film Festival. During your visit to Toronto, be sure to explore one of Canada’s most iconic landmarks, the CN Tower, which currently ranks as the third tallest tower in the world.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Toronto
The capital of Alberta is situated far to the north, granting it extended daylight hours during the summer. Edmonton is known for its unique charm and quirks, such as being the home of the world’s first UFO landing strip. Alongside these peculiarities, Edmonton offers more traditional attractions, including Fort Edmonton Park, a living history museum that delves into the region’s history from 1759 to the 1920s.
For those who appreciate wildlife, Elk Island National Park is a must-visit. This park serves as a sanctuary for bison and elk and is conveniently located within a short drive from Edmonton.
Situated in Alberta, this city is renowned for its distinctive western ambiance and, most notably, for hosting the world-famous Calgary Stampede, a massive ten-day rodeo that proudly claims the title of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, is also regarded as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains and frequently serves as the starting point for adventures to two of Canada’s most renowned parks, Banff and Jasper.
While in Calgary, make sure to explore the Heritage Park Historical Village, Canada’s largest living history museum, offering a glimpse into life in the region from the 1860s to the 1950s. Another intriguing site, located approximately 90 minutes south of Calgary, is the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, an archaeological location where Native Americans historically hunted buffalo by stampeding them over a cliff.
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Calgary
This compact city serves as the capital of the Yukon, and it is the territory’s sole city. Nestled on the shores of the Yukon River, Whitehorse is an excellent starting point for those eager to venture into Canada’s expansive wilderness, given that the two primary highways in the territory—the Alaska and the Klondike—converge in this petite urban center.
During your visit to Whitehorse, be sure to explore the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where you can observe various indigenous creatures, including caribou and Dall’s sheep.
If you are planning a trip to Prince Edward Island, chances are you will commence your journey in Charlottetown, the provincial capital. Make sure to allocate some time for exploring this charming yet compact city, renowned as the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation.
To experience PEI’s cultural essence, be sure to visit the Confederation Centre of the Arts. This national arts hub spans an entire city block in the downtown area and houses a spacious theater, an art gallery, a gift shop, an outdoor amphitheater, and even a restaurant. Check the center’s schedule to see which performances are in town, ranging from live concerts and musical shows to comedy acts and more.
For a literal taste of Charlottetown, explore the local restaurants and savor regional delicacies. Nothing captures the essence of PEI quite like the combination of fresh seafood and locally grown potatoes. You will find numerous eateries in the heart of Charlottetown serving the province’s finest dishes.
Read More: Best Places to Visit in Charlottetown
Q: What’s the best time to visit Canada?
A: The best time to visit Canada depends on your preferences. Summer is great for outdoor activities, while winter is perfect for snow sports. Spring and fall offer milder weather and fewer crowds.
Q: Are these cities suitable for family vacations?
A: Yes, many of these cities are family-friendly with a range of activities and attractions for all ages.
Q: Is it easy to travel between these cities within Canada?
A: Yes, Canada has an extensive transportation network, making it relatively easy to travel between cities by road, rail, or air.
Q: Do I need a visa to visit Canada?
A: It depends on your nationality. Check the Canadian government’s official website for visa requirements and application procedures.
Q: What’s the currency used in Canada?
A: The currency used in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD).