Summer is the one of the best times to visit Canada. Enjoy long days with fifteen plus hours of daylight, lots of sunshine, warm – even hot temperatures, summer festivals galore, great eating especially with all the locally grown fruits and vegetables, mind boggling displays of wildflowers in the mountains, warm water for swimming and far fewer bugs than you might have been told about.
But where should you head for in Canada – the second largest country in the world spanning six time zones?
Here are 10 ideas of what to do in Canada in the summer – one for each province.
1. British Columbia
British Columbia is a huge province bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver and Victoria – the two largest cities in the province are both worth a visit. In Vancouver don’t miss an ocean side walk around Stanley Park. Catch the best view of the city by taking the tram up Grouse Mountain. And if you like local markets head for Granville Market. Don’t miss a meal of freshly caught wild Pacific salmon.
Victoria is accessible via floatplane from downtown Vancouver or a 90 minute scenic ferry ride through the Gulf Islands. In Victoria plan to visit the world famous Butchart Gardens and ogle their incredible flower displays. Raise your cups to the Brits and have a formal tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Walk the inner harbor keeping an eye out for seals.
If you’re in Calgary in July – and you like horses and chuck wagon races – then plan to attend the Calgary Stampede. If cities aren’t your thing head to Banff National Park, less than 90 minutes away. It’s the most popular National Park in Canada, renowned for its mountains, glaciers, high alpine turquoise coloured lakes, abundant flowers and incredible wildlife. You don’t have to be a hiker to get up close to the beauty in this park.
Saskatchewan is a prairie province – and one that’s underrated by many. Try a visit to Grasslands National Park in the southern part of the province – a place where you can appreciate big skies, bison, rare black tailed prairie dogs, an array of songbirds, beautiful drives and some truly lovely hikes.
For something wild and different head north – way north – to Churchill where daylights last for 17 hours in the summer. This is the town made famous for its population of polar bears in the fall. You may see them in summer too – but for something different try a swim with beluga whales.
photo credit: the telegraph
If you’ve never been to Ontario then you need to visit Niagara Falls – early in the day before the crowds arrive. The town itself – 90 minutes from Toronto – is tacky but the falls are breathtaking. Plan a trip on the Maid of the Mist so you can get really close to the falls. Then head for the nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake area and spend an afternoon wine tasting through some of Canada’s premier wine country. Finish the day with a play at the Shaw Festival Theater.
If you love history, great food and cobblestone roads reminiscent of Europe then head for Quebec City located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Practice your French before you arrive.
7. New Brunswick
If you want a touch of the laid back island life – with options to hike, bike or kayak – then head to Grand Manan, a 90 minute ferry ride away from the mainland. But most people visit New Brunswick to see the world’s highest tides. Make St. Andrews –by –the-Sea your headquarters, and then head out from there to see the ocean at low and high tide.
8. Nova Scotia
Drive or bike the famous Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. The route takes you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where you’ll have an excellent chance to spot a moose. Allow a minimum of two days even if you’re driving; there are loads of viewpoints and short hikes to do.
9. Prince Edward Island
Canada’s smallest province has its charms especially in the summer. Don’t miss a lobster dinner – often held as a church supper – and be sure to visit Anne of Green Gables House made famous by author Lucy Maud Montgomery. For a quieter beach experience that requires a walk along a boardwalk and rewards with miles of deserted beach, don’t miss a trip to the Greenwich section of PEI National Park.
This province nicknamed The Rock is on Canada’s east coast. The Newfoundland hospitality is legendary; they are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet on the planet. For the province itself you’ll find anywhere along the coast is beautiful. Go in late June and paddle among icebergs. Or head to Gros Morne National Park, boat up the fjord, and then hike some of its rocky trails.