Romantik Destinations
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Canada

Whether you’re a hardcore adrenaline junkie, a wildlife enthusiast or a city slicker looking for cutting-edge culture, Canada ticks all the boxes. The world’s second largest country racks up an astonishing diversity of landscapes; vast prairies rise abruptly to glacier-topped mountains; rugged, unspoiled coastlines give way to immense forests and emerald lakes; and Arctic waters lap upon frozen tundra. Incredibly, this wilderness is also home to cosmopolitan cities, quirky towns and remote indigenous settlements.

Canada’s people are as varied as the landscapes; from the Arctic Inuit and the Francophone Quebeckers to the British expatriates and burgeoning Asian community, this is a multicultural land where around 20% of the population are foreign-born.

Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant and regularly feature on lists of “best places to live." Toronto, a veritable patchwork of charming neighbourhoods, has an idyllic beachside location on the shore of Lake Ontario, while Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of fantastic museums and the pretty Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal’s skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer and you can stumble upon historic, cobbled streets and centuries-old customs.

A stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary flashes its oil wealth and flaunts its cowboy traditions during the annual boot-stomping Stampede. Chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an incredible downtown park and a cosmopolitan dining scene. And across the Georgia Strait, Vancouver Island is just the tonic if the city life gets too tough. Not that it ever does here.

For something wilder, ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays with whales in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. Capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast, or soar over Niagara Falls by helicopter. Tour vineyards, dig for clams or feel giddy gazing at the Northern Lights. In Canada, it seems, the options are endless.

Geography  

Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, covering an area of 9,984,670 sq km (3,855,103 sq miles). It is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the northeast by Greenland (across the Nares Strait), and to the south by the 'Lower 48' states of the USA. The polar ice cap lies to the north.

Canada stretches 4,634km (2,879 miles) from its northernmost point on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut to its southernmost point on Middle Island, Lake Erie, Ontario. The longest distance east to west is 5,514km (3,426 miles) from Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon-Alaska border. Canada also has the world’s longest coastline at 202,080km (125,566 miles). The country’s highest mountain, with a peak at 5,959m (19,550ft), is Mt Logan in the Yukon Territory.

The landscape is diverse, ranging from the Arctic tundra of the north to the great prairies of the central area. Westward are the Rocky Mountains, and in the southeast are the Great Lakes, the St Lawrence River and Niagara Falls. The country is divided into 10 provinces and three territories.

Canada weather, climate and geography

Climate

Best Time To Visit

If you’re planning on skiing or enjoying winter sports, the best time to visit Canada is between December and April, though some resorts open as early as November and extend their seasons as late as June (or even July on Whistler’s glacier). If you want to enjoy the great outdoors without the snow, travel between May and September. Be aware however, that if there’s been heavy snowfall during the winter, some high-altitude hiking trails may be closed well into July. May, June and September are typically cheaper than July and August, but you’ll get the best of the weather in the latter two months.

Summer thunderstorms are common throughout Canada. Occasionally, these may become severe. Tornados also occur throughout Canada, with May to September being prime months. The peak season is June and early July in southern Ontario, Alberta, southeastern Quebec, and a band stretching from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, through to Thunder Bay. The interior of British Columbia and western New Brunswick are also tornado zones. Earth tremors occur in the western mountains. Forest fires can occur at at any time, regardless of the season, particularly in the grasslands and forests of western Canada.

Alberta

Hulking great mountains, sprawling ice fields and emerald lakes are Alberta's star attractions, but equally thrilling are its dinosaur-strewn Badlands and cowboy heritage.

You'd swear they've added a drop of dye to the lakes in the Rocky Mountains. Could they really be such a startling colour? Yes they could, and you need to supercharge your camera battery if you're going to capture every snap-worthy scene that comes your way.

Whether you're spotting grizzlies and elk alongside the Icefields Parkway, soaking in Banff's hot springs, hiking around Maligne Lake or skiing fresh powder at Lake Louise, you'd have to be a Martian not to be bowled over.

This pristine nature sits uneasily next to the controversial oil sands of Alberta's north, whose modern-day gold rush has fuelled the province's booming economy. This wealth is evident in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, home to shiny new skyscrapers, flashy restaurants and ever-expanding suburbs.

 

British Columbia

One colossal mountain range after another, gigantic fjords biting chunks out of a wild coastline, and temperate old-growth rainforests hiding cougars, bears and wolves: British Columbia is nature at its best. That said the cities are pretty special too. Clutching onto the edge of the Coast Mountains and Pacific Ocean, Vancouver may lack world-class museums, but who needs those when you've got beaches to flop on, food trucks to munch at and Canada's biggest city park to play in? Not to mention an elaborate web of hiking and ski trails in the city's backyard.

And forget what you've heard about Victoria replicating ye olde England. BC's bijou capital buzzes with floatplanes, kayakers, one of the finest gardens in the nation and a resident orca population offshore. Take a road trip past mineral hot springs and glacial lakes in the Kootenay Rockies or peach trees and vineyards in the Okanagan. Venture into Canada's only desert at Osoyoos, home to rattlesnakes, scorpions and prickly pear cacti. Spot grizzlies in Northern BC, whose sprawling wilderness is twice the size of the UK.

The opportunity for adventure in this province is unremitting. Get out and surf Pacific swells at Tofino or ski fathomless powder in Whistler. Explore the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii archipelagos by kayak or paddle the Kicking Horse River by raft. Hike up and down ladders on Vancouver Island's West Coast Trail or follow the wagon wheels of pioneers and bike the Gold Rush Trail north from Lillooet.

Wherever you go, unspoiled beauty will be just around the corner.

Ontario 

Energetic cities, sprawling forests and more than half a million lakes are just some of the reasons why Ontario pulls in the crowds. Most start their Ontario adventure in buzzing Toronto, a jewel in the province's crown, whose multicultural inhabitants lend the city a genuinely cosmopolitan edge. You can cheer on the Maple Leafs in their quest for the Stanley Cup, glug the latest craft brew in historic pubs and stuff your face with mini doughnuts from a foodtruck. And what's the point looking out the windows of the CN Tower when you can skirt its roof on the vertigo-inducing EdgeWalk?

In Canada's capital city, Ottawa, knowing whether to say "bonjour" or "hello" is always a quandary, so just say both. Skate the world's largest ice rink, the Rideau Canal, or gen up on all things Canadian in the city's fabulous museums. You don't have to travel far to find nature. Equidistant from both cities, Algonquin Provincial Park is a quintessentially Canadian landscape of maple-blanketed hills splashed with thousands of lakes. It dishes up quintessentially Canadian experiences, too: wilderness hiking, 2,100km (1,300 miles) of canoeing routes, and the chance to land the biggest trout of your life. Also a short drive from Toronto are the booming Niagara Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world.

And then there are the lakes. Ontario borders four of the five Great Lakes, most notably Lake Huron, home to Fathom Five National Marine Park and its extraordinary shipwrecks. Elsewhere there are lakes for fishing, lakes for canoeing, lakes for swimming and lakes for diving. Come on in, the water's lovely.

Quebec

Chic cities, eye-catching landscapes and welcoming people, passionate about their heritage: Québec has created a French-North American cocktail, and it tastes good. Canada's largest province encompasses vast tracts of barren mountains, 13,323km (8,279 miles) of coastline, looming canyons and craggy fjords. Thrilling sights grab you at every turn as you explore this mainly French-speaking region, where you can swim with beluga whales in Saguenay Fjord, visit 400-year-old clifftop houses on the Chemin du Roy and spot herds of caribou roaming the Parc National des Grands-Jardins.

Alternatively, you could don the Lycra and pedal around La Route Verte, an immense 5,000km (3,100 miles) network of cycle trails, which take riders through the pretty villages of the Eastern Townships, along the stunning coast of Lac Saint-Jean and down the disused Laurentides railway. Québec is a giant water park: there are countless sandy beaches, lakes and rivers for swimming; the St Lawrence River is a magnet for kayakers, who also have a phenomenal number of inland waterways to choose from, such as the Bonaventure River in the Gaspé Peninsula.

Hikers can enjoy 100km (62 miles) of mountainous trails on the Traversée de Charlevoix or trek Québec's portion of the International Appalachian Trail. In winter, skiers rip up the slopes at Mont Tremblant. 

Craving city action? Hip and happening Montreal is an alluring blend of glitzy skyscrapers and historic cobblestone quarters, with cosmopolitan neighbourhoods and a buzzing cultural scene. As for UNESCO-listed Québec City, you can have a ball diving in and out of tiny eateries and bijou boutiques tucked among the fortified city's 17th-century alleyways.

Top 12 Canadian Vacations

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