No travel bucket list would be complete without a trip to Canada. As the second-largest country in the world, Canada has an abundance of exciting destinations and stunning landscapes. Canada is a traveler’s paradise, from vibrant cities, unspoiled boreal forests, pristine beaches, to awe-inspiring outdoors.
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Canada’s massive natural space makes it an ideal destination for outdoor activities. Various sporting activities can be enjoyed on land, sea, or air. Major metropolitan cities in Canada are bustling with activities.
With a diverse, multicultural population, every city has something unique to offer. With carnivals, concerts, film festivals, parades, and events happening, there’s always something to experience and discover.
But before you go on your great Canadian adventure, there are things you need to know that will help you prepare for your trip without a hitch.
- 1 Things everyone should know before visiting Canada for the very first time
- 2 Top 5 Canada Attractions
Things everyone should know before visiting Canada for the very first time
- Visitors from visa-exempt countries can enter Canada with an eTA
Canada makes it easy for travelers to visit its territory. In place of the traditional visa, citizens from over 50 visa-exempt countries and territories can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) online.
eTA is a multiple entry visa which travelers to stay in Canada for up to 6 months at a time for the purpose of tourism, business, family visits, or transit. It has a validity of five years from the date of issue.
The application can be made entirely online on https://visa-canada.info/. It’s fast and convenient as it only requires a valid passport, an e-mail, and any working device with an internet connection!
eTA significantly reduces the processing time from weeks to a maximum of 72 hours. Typically, most eTA applications are approved in minutes!
Canada has 6 different time zones
In terms of land size, Canada is the second-largest country in the world, right after Russia. The country is so big that it spans 6 time zones. Cities and provinces are spread so far apart that it would be impossible to cover the major cities in just a few days or weeks.
Whether you drive or fly from one city to the next, keep in mind that you will be traveling long distances. This can affect some aspects of your travel. Before booking a hotel, make sure to check the distances to train stations, bus stops, and points of interest. Include those distances in your itinerary.
Canada has two official languages
English and French are two of Canada’s official languages. A majority of Canadians speak English, and about 20% consider French as their native tongue.
But Canada is a diverse, multicultural country, so dozens of other languages are spoken throughout its land.
Canadian weather can be blistering cold
The weather in Canada varies from place to place, but it’s safe to say that it can be freezing in certain areas. The weather can be harsh, with daily temperatures averaging at -15C (5F), which can drop to -40C (-40F) in the Winter.
Milder temperatures can be experienced in British Columbia. Travelers must prepare for the weather, no matter the season.
It would be wise to bring layers of clothing during the winter months from December to February. Winter can start as early as November and extends through early April, especially in the Eastern part of Canada.
Tipping is customary in Canada
While tipping is not mandatory in Canada, it’s a common practice among Canadians. Tips can range from 5% to 20%, depending on the type of service provided. When you’re booked in a hotel, it’s customary to tip the doorman, the bellman, and the chambermaid.
Failing to tip the maid correctly is considered a big faux pas. When you’ve had your hair and nails done, a 15%-20% tip to the beautician or hairstylist is proper tipping etiquette.
In restaurants, it’s typical to tip the server at least 15% of the price paid. More than that is generous, but not uncommon. Anything less is frowned upon.
Top 5 Canada Attractions
Canada has no shortage of tourist attractions. There are plenty of places to explore and new things to discover.
Whether you want to experience the vibrant lifestyle of metropolitan cities or traverse the off-the-beaten paths, Canada has got it covered.
Here are the top 5 Canadian attractions that you should be included in your travel itinerary.
This majestic natural wonder is, by far, the most famous attraction in Canada, drawing millions of visitors every year. Located in a strait between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, Niagara Falls is just over an hour’s drive from Toronto.
Niagara Falls is breathtakingly massive. The powerful raging water of the Niagara drops about 57 meters down and is visible all year round from various observation points.
If you want to tour Niagara Falls at a relaxed and leisurely pace, the best time to visit is during Spring or Fall. During the Summer months, visitors can watch a dazzling display of light shows and fireworks, which make for a festive mood all around.
The busiest time is in June until Labor Day. Expect big crowds during long weekends and holidays.
Banff National Park
Easily one of the most popular parks in Western Canada, Banff National Park is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta.
It’s home to the stunning turquoise-colored Lake Louise, surrounded by glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains. Just nearby is the gorgeous Moraine Lake.
Banff National Park has several hiking trails where visitors can have spectacular views of the lakes and the equally stunning surrounding areas.
Another major attraction in Banff is the Icefields Parkway, where every stop is an opportunity to enjoy some of nature’s great creations, including waterfalls, ski mountains, glaciers, mountain ranges, and icefields.
Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec)
This historic neighborhood in Quebec City is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is spread across the upper and lower town of Quebec, where most historic buildings and architecture are found.
Today, Old Quebec is transformed into a historic tourist district with charming shops, boutiques, restaurants, and other attractions.
One of the main attractions in Old Quebec is the Citadel, which is a military fort and installation overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It’s also the official secondary residence of the Canadian monarch and the governor-general of Canada.
The small Canadian town of Churchill in Manitoba province is known as the polar bear capital of the World. Located at the mouth of the Churchill River, the town is surrounded by boreal forests and Arctic tundra. Churchill attracts huge crowds to see the town’s most famous inhabitants, the polar bears.
Because of Churchill’s diverse ecosystems, it’s not uncommon to see beluga whales, birds, and other fantastic wildlife. It’s also a great place to marvel at the bright dancing lights of the Aurora, also known as the Northern Lights.
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
With over six million artifacts and objects of historical significance, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is the largest in Canada.
It houses the massive 90-foot-long rare skeleton of Barosaurus “Gordo,” which also serves as the centerpiece of the museum’s Age of Dinosaurs gallery. The installation never fails to fascinate the kids and adults alike.
The Royal Ontario Museum is also home to the 900-carat faceted cerussite gem called the Light of the Desert. A rare granite bust of Cleopatra VII can also be viewed in the Gallery of Ancient Egypt.
A tour of the museum is like traveling around the world because of the fascinating history that the artifacts tell. Moreover, experienced and knowledgeable educators and historians lead guided tours.
Canada has no shortage of places to visit. No matter where you end up in the country, you will undoubtedly find exciting things to do and fascinating places to visit.
What’s great is that getting an eTA is quick and easy, even for first-time visitors. To make your first visit to Canada much more enjoyable and stress-free, make sure to do your research beforehand!
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