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Canada Travel Guide

The vast country of Canada is a land of windswept prairies, towering mountains, fields of glaciers, pristine lakes, and rocky coastlines. Filled with diverse wildlife and equally diverse landscapes, the Canadian great outdoors is its greatest draw card as a travel destination. Canada's wild allure is magnetic for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts, with ample opportunity for activities like hiking, canoeing, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding.

While the image of Canada in most people's minds is one of untouched wilderness, Canada's cities are also extremely worthwhile and the country's urban destinations are attracting ever more attention. Whether you'd like to attend a rodeo in Calgary, marvel at the museums in Ottawa, browse the restaurants and art galleries of Toronto's Distillery District, or have a picnic in Vancouver's Stanley Park, the cosmopolitan cities spread across Canada offer a high quality of life and a range of sightseeing attractions that will please any traveller.

Much like the US, Canada is vast and each province or territory has developed a distinct cultural character. Some travellers will be enthralled by the French charm and historic fortifications of Quebec, while others will rave about the Scottish flavour and rich seafaring history of Nova Scotia. Canada could fill a lifetime of holidays.

Best time to visit Canada

The weather in Canada is extreme, ranging from frigidly cold in winter to uncomfortably hot in the peak of summer. The size of the country and the vast variability of terrain also means that the climate ranges quite drastically between regions. Canada is a year-round destination, attracting winter sports enthusiasts in the snowy months, and nature lovers in autumn with glorious fall foliage. However, the best time to visit Canada is generally summer (June to August), when it is hot and lush. May and September are the best times to go for smaller crowds, as few American and Canadian families travel at these times.

What to see in Canada

- Stroll the cobblestone streets of Vancouver's historic Gastown district.

- Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

- See the enormous collections at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

- Take in the panoramic view of Toronto from the top of the CN Tower.

What to do in Canada

- Ride the Maid of the Mist to get a close view of the famous Niagara Falls.

- Get a taste of French-Canadian culture in Winnipeg's St. Boniface district.

- Hike on the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park.

- Go skiing at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.

Getting to Canada

There are dozens of direct cheap flights to Canada from the US and the UK, mostly to major hubs like Toronto Airport and Montreal Trudeau. As most cities in Canada are close to the US border, driving to Canada is a popular way to get there as well.


Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, In The Skin of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje, Klee Wyck by Emily Carr, and Consolation by Michael Redhill


Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Celine Dion, and Alanis Morissette


Brokeback Mountain (2005), Taking Lives (2004), One Week (2008), The Grey (2011) and Toronto Stories (2008)


Ice wine or ice cider from Ontario and British Columbia.


Pancakes with maple syrup and fresh British Columbia salmon.

What to Buy

Hockey memorabilia and Native American art.

What to Pack

The warmest clothes possible (when travelling in winter).

What's on in Canada

The biggest rodeo in the world takes place each summer when Calgary hosts the famous Calgary Stampede.

Did you know?

Ninety percent of Canada's population lives within 100 miles (160km) of the US border.

A final word

An untamed wilderness dotted with cosmopolitan cities, a holiday in Canada really is the best of both worlds.


The official languages are English and French (spoken predominantly in Quebec).


The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Banks and bureaux de change will change cash, as will some hotels. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are widespread. US Dollars are widely accepted.


Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.


There is no service charge added to restaurant bills in Canada and staff expect a tip of around 15 percent. Hairdressers and taxi drivers are also usually tipped at the same rate, while bellhops, doormen, porters, and similar service providers at hotels, airports, and stations are generally paid at the customer's discretion. It has become more common for places with counter service to display tip jars, but in such cases tipping is not necessary.


Most visits to Canada are trouble-free. The country is politically stable but does share the common international risk of terrorism. The crime rate is low but travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings, as they would anywhere. Canada is prone to tornadoes between May and September.


The international access code for Canada is +1. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code. The outgoing code is not necessary for calls to the US and the Caribbean. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.


No vaccinations are necessary for travel to Canada. Medical care is excellent but expensive, so medical insurance is advised.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Good Friday10 Apr2 Apr
Victoria Day18 May24 May
Canada Day1 Jul1 Jul
Labour Day7 Sep6 Sep
Thanksgiving Day12 Oct11 Oct
Remembrance Day11 Nov11 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
Boxing Day (Ontario only)26 Dec26 Dec


Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal are the main business centres. English is the language of business except in French-speaking Quebec, where all written material and business cards should be in French. Business cards are not traditionally exchanged during an initial meeting, but at some appropriate time thereafter; it is best to wait for the host to offer theirs first.

A firm handshake is used by way of greeting, and meetings tend to begin on time so punctuality should be taken seriously, as should appearance. Canadians dress conservatively and smartly for business meetings and suits are the norm. Gifts can be given in conclusion to celebrate a deal, but should be understated; taking someone out for a meal is a popular way to conclude business dealings.

Canadians are reserved and frown on emotional outbursts. Business is based on facts and figures rather than relationships, so it is best to be as prepared as possible for meetings. Hours of business are usually 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Passport & Visa

All visitors must hold a valid passport. We recommend that passports always be valid for six months after intended period of travel. Visitors are required to hold onward or return tickets, all documents needed for the next destination and sufficient funds to cover the period of intended stay.

Travellers from most visa-exempt countries arriving in Canada by air need to fill in an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) form online prior to travel to Canada. This is a new requirement implemented on 28 September 2016 and is applicable to all but U.S citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel documents to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities.


Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada in enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars, and shopping malls.

Duty Free

Travellers to Canada are allowed to enter the country with the following items without incurring custom duties: gifts to the value of C$60 per recipient (excluding advertising material, tobacco and alcoholic beverages); 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos and 200g of tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks; 1.14 litres of liquor or wine or 24 x 355ml bottles or cans of beer or ale. There are strict regulations governing the import of the following: explosives, endangered animal and plant species, items of heritage, fresh foodstuffs and weapons. The plant Qhat (Khat) is illegal in Canada and prison sentences are heavy.


Canadian Tourism Commission, Vancouver: +1 604 638 8300 or

911 (all emergencies)

Entry Requirements

US travellers should have a valid passport if departing from the USA, otherwise other proof of citizenship is accepted in the form of a birth certificate, a US certificate of citizenship, or US certificate of naturalisation. More suggestions would include a NEXUS card. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.

UK nationals must have a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months. However, the individual must have Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

South African nationals must be in possession of a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is required. South African temporary passports are not recognised. Passports, identity or travel documents of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda are not accepted.

Irish nationals must hold a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to six months. However, the individual must have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

New Zealanders require a passport valid for the period of the intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 6 months. However, the traveller requires an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Embassy Consulates

United States Embassy, Ottawa: +1 613 688 5335.

British High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 237 1530.

South African High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 744 0330.

Irish Embassy, Ottawa: +1 613 233 6281.

New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 238 5991.

Embassy Consulates

Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 682 1740.

Canadian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7258 6600.

Canadian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 422 3000.

Canadian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 234 4000.

Canadian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 9577.


Canada has an abundance of things to see and do within its vast borders. After all, few countries are blessed with such a rich endowment of natural beauty and astounding physical attractions. Complementing these are world-class cities such as the west coast gem of Vancouver, the vibrant metropolis of Toronto, and elegant Montreal. Alberta and British Columbia attract the most tourists, and the majority of travellers choose to develop their itineraries around one of the major cities.

Canada is certainly a year-round destination: the warm summer months (June to August) are perfect for sightseeing and overland travel, while the admittedly icy winters (December to February) provide for some incredible skiing and beautiful snow-covered vistas. Visitors to Canada generally choose to focus on one particular region, as there are major distances to travel if you want to see everything. Canada is vast enough to fill a lifetime of holidays.

Canada's attractions are as diverse as the travellers they appeal to. Sporting enthusiasts flock here for the skiing and back-country hiking, while families arrive for the laidback charm and warm welcome of the urban centres.


Being such a large country, Canada's climate varies substantially depending on which area one visits. The whole country, however, has very distinct seasons. The warmest months are June, July, and August, and in winter (December, January, and February) it is very cold, with heavy snowfalls in most provinces. Autumn is a beautiful season with crisp air and brilliant fall foliage, while in some areas spring brings the emergence of carpets of wild flowers.

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