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Canada Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Canada in 2023

Canada Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Canada in 2023

Welcome to Canada

As Earth's second-biggest country it is not surprising that Canada has so much to offer. There's absolutely everything here. Tall mountains, lush rainforests, remote beaches, teeming cities, and a multitude of cultural activities.

Travel to Canada and get lost in one of its incredible national parks or any of its bustling cities. Explore the large valleys and sparkling glaciers or taste the local world-class cuisine. Find peace in the solitude of Canada's remote landscapes or surround yourself with tourists from every corner of the world at Toronto's Film Festival. In general, Canada has something to offer everybody, and in this ultimate Canada travel guide we'll help you plan the perfect trip.

Travel requirements checklist for Canada

Travelers entering Canada might need:

  • A valid visa or ETA

  • Valid passport (for at least 6 months beyond the length of stay)

  • Sufficient funds

  • Return or onward airline ticket

Before you go

  • Currency - Canadian Dollar (CAD). 1 USD equals CAD 1.38 CAD.
  • Daily budget for 1 person - It would depend on how frugal or luxurious you want your trip to be. A mid-range traveler would spend around CAD 160 per day.
  • Languages - Canada’s official languages are English and French. Depending on the area of Canada you visit, you might find more or fewer speakers of each language.
  • Top 3 cities to visit - Toronto, Vancouver, and Quebec.
  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Jasper National Park, the Distillery District in Toronto, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Socket Types - The socket types in Canada are types A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
  • Time zones - Canada expands across 6 time zones, with their corresponding daylight times: Pacific Time (PT), Atlantic Time (AT), Mountain Time (MT), Central Time (CT), Eastern Time (ET), and Newfoundland Standard Time (NST).

Visa Information for Canada

Although we’re not the Canada Border Services Agency, we can still help you get the required documents to travel to Canada easily. You can complete your application process fully online and from any device. We also have an outstanding customer service team available 24/7 to assist you at every step of the process.

Most visitors, including citizens from the US and the EU, will need a Canada ETA to visit Canada.

ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization)

The Canada Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is a travel document required for visa-exempt visitors to Canada. Citizens coming from countries in the European Union can apply for a Canada ETA. This travel authorization is valid for up to 5 years or until the passport expires, whichever occurs first and it grants a maximum stay of 180 days. To apply for this visa all you need is your valid passport and to fill out an application form. For further details on this document and eligibility, check out our product page.

Lawful permanent residents or Canadian citizens that have a valid Canadian passport or visa won’t need an ETA to enter Canada.

Typical Costs and Budget to Travel to Canada

Are you looking to do some backpacking or to travel in total luxury? The answer to that question will impact how much you’ll need to budget for your next trip to Canada. In this section, we’ll tell you how much you’ll spend as a mid-range traveler as well as some tips on where you can save (or splurge, if that’s your wish) when you travel to Canada.

Daily spending per person - A mid-range traveler will spend around CAD 160 per day.

  • Meals - CAD 40.

  • Transport - CAD 20.

  • Hotel - CAD 75.

These are daily averages for regular travelers. They include staying at a private AirBnB or hotel room, having most of your meals outside, moving around using public transportation, and enjoying some paid attractions.

If you wish to save some money, you could try sharing a room at a hostel and finding free activities to do in Canada. Hiking and camping at one of Canada’s National Parks is always a good idea, especially if traveling during the summer. But if you prefer the city, there are plenty of parks, museums, and other attractions that cost nothing or close to nothing. You’ll just have to make a bigger effort to plan ahead.

If you wish to travel in luxury, Canada also offers plenty of options. You can find all kinds of luxurious accommodations in AirBnB and many high-end restaurants in Canada’s largest cities.

Transport and Ways to Travel around Canada

There are many ways to travel around Canada for all types of travelers. Here we’ll try to cover them all, so you can choose the right one for you.

If in a rush, travel by plane

Canada is huge, which means that if you want to see as most as possible on your next trip, you’ll have to travel around Canada by air to move around as quickly as possible.

Luckily, there are many local and international airlines that offer flights within Canada. Take advantage of low-cost airlines like Swoop or Air Rouge Canada to move quickly and affordably across the country. Or use the long-standing Air Canada, if you prefer a more traditional airline.

For a comfortable experience, hop on a train

Canada has an extensive railway system that connects most major cities. VIA Rail offers plenty of trips that double as sightseeing tours across Canada. Go coast-to-coast by booking a trip on the Canadian Trip from Toronto to Vancouver or travel along the coast from Montreal to Halifax.

Though traveling by train is slower and can be expensive, it is definitely more fun than traveling by plane and more comfortable than doing it by bus.

Travel at your own pace with a car

Yes, there are many scenic routes when traveling by train, but nothing beats departing whenever you want and stopping at any viewpoint whenever you wish to. If you want to travel at your own pace and make your own itinerary, then we recommend that you travel by car.

There are many car rental options in Canada for international travelers. Just make sure you bring your international driver’s license.

For an amazing adventure, ride your bike

In case you didn’t know, there is a big community of bike travelers in Canada, and for a good reason. You travel all across Canada on quiet back roads and designated bike routes. It would take a cyclist three months to go from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. And you don’t have to do it alone. There’s a long-distance cycling community if you are looking to join a cycling group, get some tips, or find a cycling buddy.

Save money by using the bus

If going on a budget-friendly trip is your goal, then traveling by bus is your best bet. It might not be as comfortable as traveling by train or as fast as hopping on a plane but it’s definitely affordable.

We recommend that you search for trips with the many regional bus lines. The trips usually include free Wi-Fi, onboard movies, and toilets. On long-distance trips, there are scheduled stops to eat and stretch your legs every few hours.

Experience Canada’s coastline by boat

If you’re looking to do some island hopping in Canada, then you’ll definitely catch a boat or ferry.

It is not the most efficient way to travel but in some cases, like when you travel to Victoria, BC, or St John’s, Newfoundland (in Atlantic Canada), it’s the only way to get there. Pedestrians and cyclists can, most of the time, get a ticket right before boarding, but if you’re bringing a vehicle it’s best to make a reservation or get your ticket in advance.

Safety in Canada

Canada is a pretty safe country. They have a low crime rate and a quiet lifestyle. But international travel always entails some risks. So make sure to exercise normal precautions to keep your belongings safe, like not leaving them unattended when moving around town and making sure your door is closed when you leave your hotel room or Airbnb. Also, make sure you have the emergency assistance number handy: In Canada, it’s 911.

On the other hand, nature in Canada can be deadly. If traveling during winter, make sure to bring warm clothes. Freezing temperatures and snowstorms are common occurrences. If traveling during the summer, temperatures can also rise to very hot levels and allow the perfect conditions for forest fires. So make sure to stay updated with any potential fires in your area.

Weather in Canada

Temperatures in Canada vary widely over the seasons. Despite Canada being so large, temperatures are mostly similar across the country. Summer is very popular among tourists, especially those looking to enjoy the great outdoors. The northern parts of the country, which were inaccessible to travelers during winter, are cleared of snow uncovering valleys, peaks, lakes, and forests. During the summer months, temperatures range between 14°C/57°F and 27°/81°F. It gets chilly on the coast, so if you’re planning to visit Canada’s beaches, make sure to bring a sweater and a light windbreaker. Autumn is the perfect season for those looking to capture the most beautiful colors. Travelers can enjoy all the same activities as in the summer, but with cooler temperatures. They range between 6°C/42°F and 26°C/79°F. This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy Niagara Falls because there are fewer tourists and you can take advantage of the leaves changing color to snap the best photos.

Winters can get really cold in Canada. The northern areas of the country are frequently inaccessible due to strong snowstorms. Temperatures range between -6°C/21°F and 9°C/48°F. If you choose to travel at this time of the year make sure to bring the right winter clothing to keep warm. The world's largest winter festival, Québec Winter Festival, happens in Canada on the last weekend of January. It lasts 14 nights and it’s a great opportunity to explore Quebec. Spring is the best season to go skiing in Canada, especially in early April with its clear sunny days. At this time of the year, temperatures range between -1°C/30°F and 19°C/66°F. The west coast is particularly nice. During spring, take the time to explore Vancouver and take long walks on the beach.

Popular Cities and Towns in Canada

There’s no shortage of beautiful towns and cities in Canada, which makes it hard to choose only a few to recommend. Below are some of the most popular cities to visit next time you travel to Canada.

Quebec City, Quebec

Located in the eastern Canadian province of Quebec, Quebec city is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada. Locals are most proud of their French heritage and the wealth of attractions all visitors can find in the city. If you are looking to go on a romantic vacation and only have a couple of days to visit Canada, we recommend choosing Quebec. You’ll find that the beautiful streets and top-notch dining will make a wonderful holiday.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada thanks to its stunning landscapes full of majestic mountains, mesmerizing ocean, and lush rainforests. The city is beautiful in all four seasons and the perfect place to enjoy Canadian hospitality. The streets are safe and open day and night throughout the year. Here visitors can access world-class shopping, fine dining, amazing live entertainment, outdoor adventure, and breathtaking vistas and activities all year long.

Toronto, Ontario

There are so many reasons to visit Toronto, and that is why after your first visit, you’ll find excuses to go back again and again. Toronto is a large metropolis that was planned for a human scale, which makes it very walkable. You can explore the rich cultural diversity and history of Toronto completely on foot. Enjoy the beautiful architecture, fun attractions, and wonderful museums; lush greenery and vibrant nightlife; amazing food and activities for families and children, because Toronto does have it all.

Montreal, Quebec

Nearly 2 million people call Montreal home. This vibrant metropolis is one of the most fascinating towns to visit in the nation. Montreal is brimming with a variety of activities and sights like the public historic markets. Here you can immerse yourself in Montreal's multiculturality, and taste a wide array of fruit, baked products, seafood, meat, and some of the best home-cooked dishes. At night you can enjoy one of the many events and festivals that take place in this city or visit any of the establishments that make Montreal one of the liveliest cities in North America.

Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria is known for its natural beauty, gardens, and privileged location. This city enjoys a middle climate perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, golfing, cycling and kayaking. Its privileged location on the Pacific coast makes it a popular holiday location for foreigners and Canadians alike. At Victoria, you can enjoy colonial European architecture in a small urban city. It’s also home to a rich cultural scene comprised of museums, festivals, performing arts, local authors, and artisans.

Must Do and See in Canada

Walk around the Old City in Quebec

If this is your first trip to Quebec, then there are a few things you must see. A good place to start is with a walking tour around the Old City. Learn the story of this amazing city by visiting the Château Frontenac, the Dufferin Terrace, the fortifications, the Parliament building, and the Petit-Champlain. A walking tour is also a great opportunity to take some amazing photos and go shopping and taste regional delicacies in the local markets.

Enjoy Granville Island in Vancouver

A top attraction in Vancouver is Granville Island. Formerly an industrial site full of factories is nowadays a trendy neighborhood full of restaurants, galleries, and theaters. Granville Island also has a public market, considered the best open market in North America. This is the perfect place to try out local and ethnic cuisine, find fresh products to cook at home, and find the perfect souvenir in one of the crafts stalls.

Explore the Distillery District in Toronto

Go back in time by visiting the Distillery District in downtown Toronto. It was once the largest distillery in the British Empire and today it’s one of the most popular attractions in Toronto. There you can find eateries, galleries, boutiques, and cafes. If visiting during the summer, you’ll be able to enjoy open-air concerts and festivals here. If visiting during the winter, don’t miss out on the European-style Christmas Market, which happens between mid-November and Christmas Eve.

Spend time outdoors in Parc du Mont-Royal in Montreal

Parc du Mont-Royal is a mandatory stop when visiting Montreal. There is a lot to do here, so make sure to have a plan before you go. During the summer, this is the perfect location for picnicking, horseback riding, and cycling. During the winter, you can go skating, tobogganing, and cross-country skiing. But the absolute best time to visit is during spring and autumn when the colors of nature will make your visit even more memorable. Make sure to bring your binoculars and camera, as Parc du Mont-Royal is a great place to go birdwatching and enjoy the best views of the city.

Go whale watching in Victoria

Victoria is known as a great spot for a wildlife adventure. Take the opportunity to book a whale-watching tour. You can spot killer whales or humpback whales on any of the tours. They last around 4 hours and you have a friendly guide and crew with you at all times. You’ll learn so much about whales from the boat’s naturalist and observe these majestic mammals in their natural habitat.

Typical Canadian Food to Try

  • Montreal Smoked Tart - This typical Quebecoise dish consists of cured meat, marinated in a spice blend for over a week, and then hot smoked. The flavor is similar to pastrami, but at the same time to nothing you’ve ever tasted before.

  • Nanaimo bars - They’re dessert squares filled with a yellow custard center. The base is made of a coconut and nut wafer mix and the top layer is made of chocolate ganache. It’s finger-licking good.

  • Poutine - This traditional Quebecoise dish is made of fresh-cut fries, piping hot gravy, and melty cheese curds. My mouth is not watering, yours is!

  • Tourtiere - This holiday Canadian dish is a meat pie with a double crust made of a savory, flaky pastry.

  • Beaver tail - This traditional Canadian dish got its name because it resembles a beaver tail. They’re fried pastry pockets, usually served with maple syrup or powdered sugar.

Vaccine Information

Federal travel health measures related to COVID-19, like the vaccine certificate, arrival pre-boarding tests, or entry and arrival tests are not currently required. Medical insurance is also not mandatory. For up-to-date safety and health requirements and vaccines to enter Canada, check out other internet sites like the CDC's official website.

Canada is Huge!

One of the most interesting facts about Canada is that it’s a very large country. It’s actually the second-largest country in the world, only behind Russia. But at the same time, it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with only four residents per square km.

So, if you’re looking for some solitude, Canada is the place to be!

Fun Facts about Canada

Here are some interesting facts about Canada:

Santa Claus is Canadian - In 2012, the Canadian Immigration Minister declared that Santa Claus is Canadian. The following year, they even issued his passport (and his partner’s, Mrs. Claus). They live in the North Pole, as we all know, and if you wish to write them, their zip code is H0H 0H0. Not joking! Walking along the coast of Canada will take you 4.5 years - That is without considering time to sleep or rest. The Canadian coastline is one of the longest in the world, so if you’re planning to explore it on foot, make sure you have plenty of time!

Maple Syrup is Quebecoise - Canada is known for its love of this sweet liquid gold. But did you know that 70% of its production comes from the Quebec province only?

The Loonie Toons are Canadians - And we’re not talking about the cartoons, but the nicknames for the Canadian currency. One dollar coin is known as a loonie, because there’s a loon, a type of bird, on the back of the coin. A two-dollar coin is known as a toonie because it’s worth two loonies, a twonie. Funny, right?

In Hudson bay, you can lose weight immediately - In the 1960s, scientists discovered that gravity in Hudson Bay is the lowest on Earth. It took them decades to understand the reasons behind this anomaly. But even though you won’t go floating around the bay as if on the moon, you will definitely feel lighter.

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