After spending an afternoon in Vancouver this past winter, I finally caught the Canada travel bug. I’d never before been up north, and I’ll admit it wasn’t particularly high on my bucket list. (To be fair, it is a ridiculously long list!) But I finally had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in Vancouver, and it really clued me in on the fact that I’d been missing out. Now I’m constantly checking flights to Canada to plan my trip back so I can check out the cities below!
From the minute we crossed the border in our car from Washington state, USA to Vancouver, B.C., I fell in love. The city is the perfect combination of urban jungle and scenic lake retreat. I legitimately couldn’t decide whether I felt immersed in the bustle of a modern city or secluded in the serenity of a lake-side getaway. I suppose that’s really the best of both worlds. While the weather was a bit on the nippy side the day we were there, we didn’t let us stop us from enjoying the city. We bundled up, parked the car and walked everywhere. Along the pier was the absolute best view, and we even found a little restaurant to have some traditional putine and a beer. Just glad I remembered to exchange my dollars before we sat down!
So now that I’ve got the Canadian travel bug, where should I head next? Friends say Toronto. Since it’s the biggest city in the country, Toronto is a pretty obvious choice. But it’s also got some beneath-the-surface treasures to seek out as well. Once of its most popular attractions is the Toronto Zoo, which rivals some of the biggest and best in the world. There’s also the Royal Ontario museum (ROM, and the Gardiner Museum. But I’m planning my trip for the annual Canadian National Exhibition, held every year at the Don Valley Brick Works. It’s actually the oldest annual fair in the world!
Finally, a list of the best Canadian cities to visit wouldn’t be complete with a nod to French Canada via lovely Montreal. Honestly, visiting Montreal is unlike visiting any other city in the country. Over half of the city’s residents speak French primarily at home, and it’s the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after, of course, Paris. I absolutely recommend a walking tour about Old Montreal, which is the city’s most historic and impressive area. You’re apt to feel like you’ve wandered into a little corner of Europe with the zone’s old port, plazas and its very own Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica. Certainly worth at least a day to explore! And with so many flights to Montreal that are affordable, it’s a perfect city to start your Canadian adventure in.
So those are the three cities I’d definitely say are a good starter for getting to know Canada. Of course the country has many other cities and towns to explore. But a stop in each of these three will give a traveler ample experience in the great white north, and more than one reason to return!
Photo Credit: Smudge 9000