Charming cities, mesmerizing mountains and lucid lakes await in Canada.
Canada is the land of glacial-fed lakes, incredible coastlines, French-speaking cities and friendly locals. Nicknamed the Great White North, the world's second-largest country is full of colonial and indigenous history. Cruise to Canada to step into 17th-century Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal, and wander the European-styled Old Town in Quebec City. Venture out of the urban centers and explore the country's wild terrain: Traverse 80 miles of trails in St. John's, Newfoundland. Mountain-bike up Bear Mountain in Victoria, British Columbia. Or go zip-lining or bungee jumping in the Coast Mountains outside Vancouver.
Charming cities, mesmerizing mountains and lucid lakes await in Canada
Only 10 percent of Canada is urbanized, which means there are endless rural and remote escapes and travel adventures to experience across the country. Whether you're a winter sports enthusiast, an avid hiker or admirer of nature's beauty, you're sure to find an adventure fit for you.
On both Canada's east and west shores, the whale watching is world-class. Head to Nanaimo, British Columbia, and sight orcas and humpbacks off Vancouver Island. Or check out the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is Saguenay, Quebec, where belugas live year-round and other whales travel to come feed each season from May to October.
Canada is home to 40 national parks, as well as over 1,000 provincial and territorial parks. Head to La Mauricie National Park outside Quebec City to go kayaking on its forest-surrounded lakes, and hike past dunes and marshes in Prince Edward Island National Park. The fall foliage is especially spectacular in these places.
Besides being a haven for outdoor adventures and activities, there are many urban epicenters in Canada that will immediately captivate you. Transport yourself to French colonial times in Quebec's Old City, and feel the pulse of life in modern metropolises like Montreal and Vancouver during your vacation.
Test your high school French in Quebec, where you'll find European-inspired architecture and French treats galore. Visit Canada and soak in the fairytale vibe of Chateau Frontenac, or pick up a buttery, flaky almond croissant for fuel as you stroll past the Parliament Building and other sights on the oldest streets in North America.
Canada's West Coast urban center, Vancouver is full of unusual to-do's. Walk above the treetops on the thrilling Capilano Suspension Bridge. Marvel at the brightly painted totem poles in Stanley Park. See the Gastown Steam Clock, which puts on a show of steam and whistles chimes every quarter-hour.
Start in Seattle and visit Victoria, British Columbia's historic capital city. Alternatively, cruise from Vancouver up the Inside Passage to Alaska and extend your week-long cruise to see more of Vancouver.
Northeast cruises in Canada usually include New England adventures as well. See the quiet maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and explore their windswept coastlines. Cruise from New York to explore the Northeast landscape.
There's never a bad time to cruise to Canada. Autumn is highly regarded as one of the best times to visit Canada's eastern coastline, when fall foliage transforms the maritimes and New England. Summertime in Canada also brings the best weather to the Pacific Northwest, where the temperatures stay much cooler than they do further south.
Although both French and English are the official languages of Canada, French is the dominant language in Quebec Province. However, most Quebec locals know English and are happy to communicate in the language, especially in tourist areas.
Like its southern neighbor, tipping is customary in Canada, and a 15 to 20 percent tip is expected at restaurants.
Canada uses both metric and imperial systems, but the weather is in Celsius, and speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour.
You'll find that some establishments across the country accept the United States dollar as well.
With both British and French influences, Canadian cuisine is known for its heartiness and generous portions. You'll also find an emphasis on top-notch ingredients, from the cold-water salmon of Vancouver to the wild berries and oysters of the East Coast.
Canadians love their sweets. Try the no-bake Nanaimo Bar, which originated in Vancouver Island's Nanaimo. Don't miss the butter tarts, small pie-shaped pastries topped with raisins and walnuts or pecans. Or go in for a BeaverTail, a deep-fried, hand-stretched dough often topped with sugar and cinnamon or lemon.