When it comes to Canada, you have to think big. The world’s second largest country is an outsized, six-million-square-mile marvel, stretching gloriously from sea to sea. Yes, it is the soaring Rocky Mountains, glacier ice fields, polar bears in the far north, Mounties, hockey and all the images that spring to mind.
But it also boasts some of the world’s most livable, welcoming, multicultural and festival-filled cities in the world, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The beauties of Vancouver are easy to call up after they were put on display during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s a city that has it all, surrounded by both sea and mountains, and filled with population that aims to get the best out of both.
Stretching between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the magnificent Rocky Mountains are home to many national parks, such as Banff and Jasper, and the world’s best downhill and backcountry skiing (and hiking in warmer weather). From Whistler to Sunshine to helicopter skiing in Golden, alpine enthusiasts will find their heaven here. After a day of exertion, visitors can relax their muscles in a natural hot spring bath, or in the hot tub of their luxury private chalet.
Across the long, wheat-filled stretches of the prairies you finally get to central Canada and Ontario, the most populous province and the country’s economic engine. The city of Toronto has one of the most varied multicultural mosaics in the world, with the restaurants and entertainment festivals to prove it, including Caribana, North America’s largest Caribbean festival, the world-renowned Toronto International Film Festival. North of Toronto cottage country begins, with its many, many lakes, forests and lodges.
Next to Ontario is La Belle Province, Quebec, a francophone stronghold that is more like a window into Europe than North America. From old world charm of Quebec City to cosmopolitan buzz of Montreal, and from ski mountains to makers of fine gourmet cheese, the province’s unique culture and stunning geography are always asserting themselves.
Finally, you get to the Atlantic Provinces-Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island-with Canada’s friendliest and most welcoming people. Attractions range from North America’s oldest city, St. John’s to all-you-can-eat lobster dinners, to seaside homes where you can watch the fishing fleet come in, while sipping on a glass of Canadian wine or a handcrafted beer from a local microbrewery. It’s all good, eh?