Canada’s largest island is a pristine wilderness of fjords, mountains, glaciers and tundra. Sledge across frozen Frobisher Bay, spot whales, seals and polar bear cubs from the floe edge, gawp at colossal icebergs, encounter caribou, musk-ox and migrating birds, kayak amid jaw-dropping scenery, and discover Inuit traditions.
Banff National Park
Picture Canada and you might imagine dramatic, jagged mountains criss-crossed by glacier-fed rivers and peppered with vivid, emerald lakes. Look no further than Banff National Park. Canada’s oldest national park sits at the heart of the Canadian Rockies; highlights include stunning cerulean Lake Louise and the striking peaks and shimmering glaciers of the Icefields Parkway.
Bay of Fundy
This 270km-long (170 miles) bay stretches between the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and possesses the world’s highest tidal range – sometimes 15m (49ft) or more. Witness the inter-tidal zone’s incredible changes, go whale watching, then take an exhilarating rafting trip on the Shubenacadie River tidal bore or a thrilling jetboat ride on Saint John’s Reversing Falls.
One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Cabot Trail loops 300km (186 miles) round Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, hugging the coastline and traversing Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Take in pretty fishing villages and picturesque beaches, enjoy spectacular hiking and horse-riding trails, paddle hidden coves and revel in the region’s Celtic musical heritage.
Kluane National Park and Reserve
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, Kluane National Park in the Yukon is a vast expanse of vertiginous mountains, gigantic glaciers and extraordinary wildlife. At its heart is Canada’s highest peak, 5,959m (19,550ft) Mt Logan. Raft, hike or canoe through this exceptionally beautiful backcountry, home to eagles, grizzlies, wolves and moose.
Romantic yet cutting edge, North American with a distinctly French flair, the nation’s second biggest city dazzles and enchants. Wander the elegant, cobbled streets of Old Montreal, potter among the quirky stores, funky cafés and colourful houses of bohemian neighbourhood Le Plateau, or soak up some serious tunes during the world’s largest jazz festival in June and July.
Thunderous, mighty and mesmerising: the spectacle of up to 170,000 cubic m (6 million cubic ft) of water roaring down the equivalent of a 13-storey building is truly awesome. Sail to the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls aboard the classic Maid of the Mist tour, soar overhead on a helicopter or crank up the adrenaline on a nail-biting jetboat trip through Niagara Gorge.
The ethereal lights of the Aurora Borealis are frequently visible in the Northwest Territories. To observe this magical, kaleidoscopic phenomenon, join a tour from Yellowknife and travel by dogsled across a frozen lake or splash out on a trip to a fly-in lodge where you could also try snowshoeing, ice fishing or snowmobiling.
Prince Edward Island beaches
PEI’s shoreline encompasses over 800km (500 miles) of gloriously sandy beaches with enormous mobile dunes, distinctive red sandstone cliffs and surprisingly warm water for its latitude. Listen out for the ‘singing sands’ at Basin Head, dig for clams at Teahill or stargaze at Cavendish in PEI National Park.
UNESCO-listed Old Quebec is North America’s only remaining walled city, its charming 17th- and 18th-century houses a world away from the glitzy skyscrapers elsewhere. Gaze up at the impressive Château Frontenac, explore the star-shaped citadel, or track down local arts and crafts and pause at tantalising bistros in the Petit-Champlain district.
The Prairie provinces
Comprising Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Prairies’ expansive grasslands in the south give way to parkland and coniferous forests further north. Swim, sail or waterski in one of Saskatchewan’s 100,000 lakes, spy polar bears and beluga whales in Churchill, Manitoba or hunt for fossils in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Canada’s largest metropolis curls along the rim of Lake Ontario. Steel your nerves and gaze through glass floors from 342m (1,122ft) up on the CN Tower, explore the vibrant cafés, boutiques and galleries of the Distillery District’s beautifully restored Victorian industrial architecture, or grab an ice-cream and some rays on the beach.
Newfoundland’s Twillingate Islands are considered the best place in the world to see icebergs. Hop aboard an ocean cruise between May and August to glimpse hunks of ice the size of a five-storey house as well as humpback whales, dolphins and an astonishing array of seabirds.
Nestled beneath the towering Coast Mountains on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s gorgeous west coast city exudes an easygoing, cosmopolitan vibe. Ski or hike Grouse Mountain, cross the dizzying Capilano Suspension Bridge, bike or blade round the Stanley Park seawall, or hit Chinatown for some top-notch dim sum.
Two mountains, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, 1,609m (5,280ft) of vertical and over 10m (33ft) of annual snowfall: Whistler beats its rivals hands down. This is the place to ski or snowboard in North America, thanks to an abundance of powder-filled bowls, magical gladed runs, gnarly chutes and cruisy slopes, alongside a lively pedestrianised village.