15 Best Cities to Visit in Canada and Things to Do

Last Updated on November 2, 2021 by Cody Livingston

The Great White North – Canada is the crown of the world that needs no introduction. It is a well-endowed destination with bewitching landscapes, glorious national parks, flourishing wine regions, outdoor activities that escalated the world’s second-largest country to stand out as the Destination of the Year 2018 – all the right reasons. Whether you are a chronic adventure enthusiast, a wildlife lover, looking for cutting-edge culture, a beach bum or more of a city slicker, Canada ticks all the boxes. But this striking nation is more than spellbinding vistas. Canadian cities are dynamic, pulsating and frequently featured as the ‘best places to live.’

Whether you wish to explore the museums of Ottawa, walk through the neighbourhood of Toronto, admire Montreal’s skyscrapers, soak up the Canadian Rockies, cherish beach dining at Vancouver, soar over Niagara Falls or gaze at the Northern Lights, the options for best cities to visit in Canada are endless. So, curious to see what other Canadian cities made the list? Get set go…

1 – Toronto


As one of the most popular cities of Canada and the capital of Ontario – Toronto offers an eclectic mix of history, sports, entertainment and dining. In a few words, Toronto is a friendly city with a lot of surprises and if you enjoy exploring vibrant and exciting cities, Toronto is a treat to the senses. To newcomers, Toronto may seem like a huge city bustling with skyscrapers, vibrant market places and a spellbinding skyline; but it’s much more. With districts such as Little Italy, Chinatown, Koreatown all easily accessible, tourists may feel as if they have seen half the world. The city is also home to the freestanding CN Tower and the largest underground shopping mall. However, experience Toronto by enjoying your favourite cocktail, relish coffee at a roadside cafe and shop hopping.

Best time to visit: The best time of the year to visit Toronto is from late April through May, and from mid-September through mid-October. During these times, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and fewer tourists. Sidewalks will come to life with eateries, traditional events, and pedestrian markets.

Things to do:     

  • See the city atop CN Tower
  • Explore Centre Island
  • Visit Distillery District
  • Shop at Toronto Eaton Centre
  • Meet furry friends at the Toronto Zoo

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2 – Ottawa


This sprawling political and cultural hub may seem an absurd choice for Canada’s capital in comparison to Montreal and Toronto, but it should not be ignored. It is a small city yet enlivening. Visit downtown and you’ll see why it lures visitors toward its cutting-edge architecture, avant-garde museums, stylish boutiques and enticing food joints. Adding to the dynamism of the city, there are endless festivals and events to keep Ottawa on its toes. If you visit Canada’s capital during winters, a few hours of ice-skating and sipping hot chocolate will give you a heart-warming experience.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Ottawa is between March and May when temperatures begin to increase and the city starts to blossom. This is also when some of the capital’s much-loved special events – counting the adored Tulip Festival – take place.

Things to do:

  • Admire Parliament Hill
  • Shop at ByWard Market
  • Ottawa River Adventure
  • Explore the National Arts Centre
  • Visit the trendy Wellington West

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3 – Vancouver


As the biggest city in Western Canada, Vancouver is considered one of the best places to visit in Canada. Renowned as the cultural and culinary capital encircled by spectacular natural beauty, it is a treat to the eye and soul. Its numerous parks, rolling mountains and waterfronts make the city a stunning playground for outdoor adventurers. What was once a barren land covered with epic wilderness and snow, offers thriving restaurants, exotic hotels with endless eating options, grand historic buildings, fashion boutiques and a stylish crowd. Walk into downtown and you’ll find several neighbourhoods worth exploring – Coal Harbour and English Bay are full of restaurants and famous shops; Yaletown oozes with a thriving nightlife and South Granville is dotted with the best galleries and appealing outdoor cafes.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Vancouver is during the warmer and drier months of April through October. But with their modest, sunshiny summers and trifling, rainy winters, both cities welcome visitors year-round, particularly Victoria, which receives about half as much rain as Vancouver.

Things to do:

  • Discover Stanley Park
  • Spend a day at Sea Wall
  • Eat at Royal Dinette
  • Explore Granville Island
  • Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge

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4 – Calgary


Out of the top three cities of Canada, Calgary is the quietest one. It is laid-back, friendly and welcoming offering some amazing food and limitless attractions. It’s easy to say that you’ll fall in love with this Canadian sweetheart. When summer comes, the city is filled with enjoyable activities and transforms into North America’s most famous skiing destinations. With a short drive towards the Rocky Mountains, you can test your skiing ability. Those with a craving for serenity, Calgary also offers idyllic picnic spots such as Prince’s Island and alpine escapes.

Best time to visit: The best time of year to visit Calgary is from late May to the end of September. The shoulder months of October and April display fine climate, but you also could have snow. In winter, Calgary is popular for having erratic weather.

Things to do:

  • Explore Prince’s Island Park
  • Visit Heritage Park
  • Take your kids to Calgary Zoo
  • Ski at Canada Olympic Park
  • Trace history at Fort Calgary Historic Park

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5 – Saskatoon


Imagine extensive wheat fields, vibrant culture and streets sizzling with restaurants and infused bars, that’s Saskatoon for you. This rambling city straddles the South Saskatchewan River, Canada and considered one of the fastest booming cities. Downtown has transformed from a secluded spot to a massive parking lot, where all the action takes place. The best part is – almost half of the city nestles on each side of the river, so if you wish to explore both sides, you’ve to do a lot of bridge crossing and strolling down the riverbank. The city can be explored easily by foot or bike. Shopping is fun in Saskatoon; visitors love to carry local products, candles, chocolates, books, soaps and salt back to their homeland and anticipate a comeback.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Saskatoon is in the early summer when temperatures are still warm but room tariffs are a lot cheaper. Tourism peaks in Saskatoon in the summer/early fall, which comes with advanced hotel and fees. When visiting Saskatoon in November – April get ready for some snow.

Things to do:

  • Explore Wanuskewin Heritage Park
  • Visit the Ukrainian Museum of Canada
  • Walk into Saskatoon Farmers Market
  • Discover Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo
  • Spend an evening at Meewasin Valley Trail

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6 – Edmonton


Alberta’s capital and the second-largest city, Edmonton is the gateway to adventure and also the sunniest destination in Canada. It is moreover a stopover en route Jasper National Park idyllic for explorations into the gigantic and empty landscape to the north. Apart from the vast snowy wilderness, there’s plenty to see, do and experience. The city centre conjures booming industries, towering skyscrapers, shopping opportunities, restaurants & cafes and the downtown hustle that visitors would enjoy. For those desiring the charm of nature around themselves are not far from it. Thanks to the proximity to Elk Island National Park and North Saskatchewan River Valley. Another major draw is food. Get ready to relish some of the city’s best and creative restaurants.

Best time to visit: We recommend travelling to Edmonton in the late spring – May to October when temperatures are trivial but lodgings are less costly. Tourism peaks in Edmonton during the summer, which comes with a higher hotel and rental rates. Be prepared for some snowfalls if you go to Edmonton from November to April.

Things to do:

  • Enjoy North Saskatchewan River Valley
  • Shop at West Edmonton Mall
  • Explore Elk Island National Park
  • Discover the past at the Royal Alberta Museum
  • Visit Fort Edmonton

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7 – Halifax


Encompassed by stunning treasures and beautiful seascapes, Nova Scotia’s capital Halifax is an appealing and energetic hub with noteworthy architecture, fabulous dining, shopping, nightlife and festivals. It’s a combination of the old and the new that exudes both historic and hip gracing the Atlantic province. But you need not cross boundaries to get the real taste, it’s all in Halifax. The Brits were first drawn here because of Halifax’s natural harbour and it continues to do so. One visit and you’ll come back for more.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Halifax is May through October. Summer and fall experience enjoyable weather and usher in abundant festivals. However, these months entice a lot of travellers, so be prepared for steep hotel rates. If you wish to avoid the crowds and the high prices, visit between November and February.

Things to do:

  • Walk along the waterfront in downtown Halifax
  • Eat at King of Donair
  • Enjoy the view from the Citadel
  • Visit the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market
  • Shop on Spring Garden Road

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8 – Montreal


There are many facets to Montreal – an enchanting fusion of modernism rub shoulders with traditional European charm with the best things to do in Canada. It’s a French heart with a diverse Canadian frame that offers a whirlwind of things to explore and experience. Newcomers and returning visitors will witness a city that’s in love with arts, festivals and good food. Speaking of food, Montreal offers one of the most invigorating food scenes in North America. If you’re a cultural buff, Montreal is your hotspot.

Best time to visit: April to September is the best time to visit Montreal. Slight chilly spring surprises you with its celebrated Montreal Nuit Blanche; the temperatures rise and the room rates drop. The tourist period kicks off in warm June and runs till August.

Things to do:

  • Ascend Mount Royal
  • Spend a day at Notre-Dame Basilica
  • Stroll at Old Montreal
  • Shop at Sainte Catherine Street
  • Explore The Underground City

9 – Winnipeg


Think lush national parks and the majestic polar bears, that’s Winnipeg for you! Famed for its wilderness activities, thriving art scene, eccentric attractions and culinary achievement, this modest city holds abundant surprises under the surface. Situated at the concourse of the Red Rivers and Assiniboine, Winnipeg is the hub of the prairies. Well, let not that scare you, though very much modern the city is deeply rooted in history, heritage and happenings.

Best time to visit: We recommend exploring Winnipeg during the month of June when temperatures are still warm but room rates are much more reasonable. The most common time to visit Winnipeg is during the summer, which comes with greater hotel rates. Be prepared for some snowfalls if you decide to travel to Winnipeg in November – April.

Things to do:

  • See The Polar Bears In Assiniboine Park Zoo
  • Walk Through The Forks National Historic Site
  • Experience Icelandic Culture
  • Witness The Wonder Of Canad Inns Winter Wonderland
  • Witness The Beauty Of The Northern Lights

10 – Victoria


With a 90-minute ferry ride from the charming Vancouver, British Colombia’s capital city may seem worlds apart but this tiny city is easily accessible for both beginners and returning visitors. You might find it nostalgic but this stunning city lures millions of travellers from all over the globe. Once you step into the city, you might be attracted to the Inner Harbour, but there’s more. The city is dotted with manicured gardens, flourishing wineries, expansive beaches, vine-laden rows and vistas to delight even the most jaded visitor.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Victoria Island is between March to May and September to November. The province sees some of the country’s warmest climate and the driest summers, so while you might experience a light shower here and there, consider relaxed temperatures in the spring and fall.

Things to do:

  • Visit Royal BC Museum
  • Spend a day at Victoria Inner Harbour
  • Take your family to Beacon Hill Park
  • Let’s your kids see Victoria Bug Zoo
  • Explore Craigdarroch Castle

11 – Windsor


Canada’s southernmost destination, Windsor delivers a staggering past with outdoor adventure, wineries, miles of waterfront and much more. One of the best gains of visiting Windsor are the duty-free shops – abundant perfumes, small electronic gadgets, discounted liquor and other products. Outdoor lovers will love the lush spots around the city especially Point Pelee National Park and the area around the southern shores of Lake Erie. The Windsor Sculptor is the second most stunning place in Windsor. It offers stunning views of the downtown and will surely make your day.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Windsor is between the months of February to May and September to November. If you don’t mind the dampness, then the months of June, July and August are perfect.

Things to do:

  • Explore Jackson Park
  • Visit Windsor Riverfront
  • Take your family to Adventure Bay Water Park
  • Discover Coventry Gardens
  • Dieppe Gardens

12 – Yellowknife


Situated on the northern shore of the Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the largest city with more than 200,000 inhabitants. It was a gold mining town that has evolved as a cultural, political and adventurous hub with fantastic access to boating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledging and more. Apart from outdoor activities, Yellowknife is home to thriving arts and culture scene, sophisticated culinary and the famous aurora borealis (sometimes referred to as polar lights or northern lights – a natural light spectacle in the Earth’s sky, primarily seen in the high-latitude regions). Shoppers will surely have a gala time in Yellowknife.  Head to Northern Images and Down to Earth Gallery for handmade items, jewellery, hats, mitts and other items. No wonder it is a great city for walking and soaking up the surrounding.

Best time to visit: Yellowknife allow you to witness the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. With long and clear winter nights, mid-November to the beginning of April tend to be the best times of the year to visit for good viewing.

Things to do:

  • View the aurora at Aurora Village
  • Explore Cameron Falls Trail
  • Walk into Old Town
  • Spend a day at Frame Lake Trail
  • Enjoy Northern Arts And Cultural Centre

13 – Fredericton


If you’re more of a countryside person and wish to explore Canadian villages, Fredericton is New Brunswick’s capital city and the perfect place that is considered a huge village. A large piece of land that projects into St. John River is a beautiful and sociable city that has an interesting history, an array of attractions, recreational opportunities and wondrous architectural amazement. The city road will lure you to travel long and far. Just twenty minutes from the city, travellers can explore the Kings Landing Historical Settlement and marvel at the design of a few private homes and discover the Legislative Assembly Building. For those looking for more off-beat attractions, the Haunted Hike by the Calithumpians will lead visitors through a different, supernatural aspect of Fredericton.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit is from late July until mid-August. With so much to see and do in and around Fredericton, you may decide to extend your visit!

Things to do:

  • Visit Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market
  • Walk into Fredericton Botanic Garden
  • Unwind at Odell Park
  • Explore Lighthouse on the Green
  • Learn about Fredericton’s history

14 – Kamloops


With the confluence of North and South Thompson rivers and inhabitants like bears and cougars, Kamloops is a Canadian city in British Columbia with hiking trails, biking park, several ski runs and a platform for discovering the nearby wilderness spots such as Wells Gray Park and Nicola Valley. The lush town is famous for rainbow, trout fishing, modern activities, famous ranches, forest trekking and meandering around recreational lakes.

Best time to visit: Based on the tourism, the best time of year to visit Kamloops for warm-weather happenings is from mid-July to mid-August.

Things to do:

  • Discover Kamloops Heritage Railway
  • Explore Paul Lake Provincial Park
  • Relish breakfast at Hello Toast Cafe
  • Visit Kamloops Wildlife Park
  • Taste wine at Monte Creek Ranch Winery

15 – Nanaimo


You’ve not done Canada until and unless you’ve been smitten by Nanaimo. This city is a ferry port that lies on the eastern side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. If you’re wondering about the name – Nanaimo, it means ‘people of many names’. You’ll easily fall in love with its flourishing parks, charming scenery, mouth-watering eateries and amiable locals. It’s a city that caters to outdoor enthusiasts and adventure fanatics as well. There’s everything from trekking, hiking, sailing, paddling to scuba diving and bird-watching. One of the first things you would wish to do upon your arrival into town is digging into Nanaimo Bar. You bet, this is heaven! That’s not all, there are several petite cafes and open-air restaurants with Canada’s best munchies. If you are planning to explore a new town or see a different world, make Nanaimo your base for excursions around the wine country. 

Best time to visit: Due to the rise in tourism, the best time of year to visit Nanaimo for warm-weather activities is from mid-July to late August.

Things to do:

  • Take a Whale Watching Tour
  • Stroll along the Harbourfront Walkway
  • Shop & Dine in Downtown Nanaimo
  • Snorkel with Seals
  • Snack along the Nanaimo Bar Trail

The most beautiful places in Canada are evidence that the country has a heart bigger than its size when it comes to appeasing the wanderlust of every traveller on the blue planet.

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