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Refer to Vancouver Island as Victoria Island and risk a chorus of eye-rolls from the otherwise-friendly locals. Yes, Victoria is the main city on the island, but there are many distinct flavours to its logging and fishing settlements. Food and wine enthusiasts flock to the Comox Valley farm region, while the more outdoorsy types get their fix along the remote, forested beaches of North Vancouver Island. Visit the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Clayoquot Sound and you’ll return full of cocktail-party factoids.
It's true: you can surf in Canada. And Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is where you'll find exceptional surfing, Canadian-style. Busiest in summer, Tofino also fills up in winter when storm watchers descend upon this tiny town. Stay at an upscale inn and enjoy the town that affectionately calls itself The Tree Loving Capital of the World.
What happens when a "gassy" Englishman rows into town feeling thirsty? A pub is born. And from that a city—in this case Vancouver. Though the pubs are plentiful, food and drink aren’t the only things to take in during your trip. In its 150 years, Vancouver has grown into a cosmopolitan city nestled in the great outdoors. Enjoy the snow-capped mountains, waterfront forests, cityside beaches, Olympic history and the world’s highest suspension bridge. Hipsters welcome. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite.)
It's still one of the most British cities in North America, but there's more to Victoria than tearooms, antique shops and galleries (though there are plenty of those). Driven by the younger generation, the city has sprouted a collection of cool shops, authentic coffee bars and unique restaurants. It also has more cycling routes than any other Canadian city, providing a great way to explore the picturesque location (and avoid an afternoon of antique shopping).
Soaring mountains, jewel-coloured lakes and pristine wilderness await you in Canada’s first National Park. The irresistible beauty of the landscape invites travellers to immerse themselves in the outdoors all year round — whether hiking through untouched forests and paddling the turquoise lakes in summertime, or skiing the slopes and soaking in the steamy hot springs during the winter. Travellers also enjoy the warm hospitality of Banff or Lake Louise, the region’s charming mountain townships.
The sophisticated city that grew out of the Canadian West, Calgary balances the modern and the traditional with pioneer charm. For the full western experience, show up in time for the annual Calgary Stampede, complete with rodeos. Year-round you'll find abundant shopping, dining and nightlife; a short drive away are some of Canada's finest national parks.
As North America’s northernmost large metropolis, Edmonton is a fascinating study in contrasts — a vibrant urban centre in the heart of the wilderness. It’s a city that’s never been afraid to do things a little differently, as visitors discover through close encounters with free-roaming bison, a shopping mall that spans more than 48 city blocks, and a dynamic arts and culture scene that embraces more than 40 annual festivals, including the continent’s biggest and wildest Fringe Theatre Festival.
We've heard Toronto described as "New York City run by the Swiss," and it's true—you can find world-class theatre, shopping and restaurants here, but the sidewalks are clean and the people are friendly. The best place to start is literally at the top—the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere.
We won't lie: Niagara Falls is uber-touristy. There are wax museums and a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and if it's a fast-food chain, you can probably find it here. But even the most jaded hipster shouldn't pass up a chance to visit this town, because the Falls themselves are spectacular.
Ottawa is a compact, clean, cleverly planned centre of culture and politics. And it's an ideal choice for a weekend getaway. Start downtown at the architecturally stunning National Gallery of Canada, and don't miss the Canadian Nature Museum and the National Aviation Museum. Rideau Canal offers boating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. Gatineau Park attracts cyclists and walkers, while Byward Market blends old and new Ottawa.
Montreal, c’est si bon! This French-speaking city is considered the cultural capital of Canada, and is a cosmopolitan celebration of Québécois style. A horse-drawn carriage ride around the cobblestone streets and grand buildings of Vieux-Montréal will give you a taste of European flavour. The Basilique Notre-Dame is a confection of stained glass, and the Plateau Mont-Royal district will delight you with its quaint boutiques and cafés. Dig in to a massive plate of poutine to fuel up for a tour of the epic Olympic Park.