An Insider’s Guide to Canada

Riding on a boat on a lake in Canada

Canada is a big country, and you will find a ton of information on it in blogs and articles, but sometimes you need a quick rundown of the best bits to give you a rough idea of where to go and what to do. That’s the intention of this Insider’s guide to Canada. Since the summer is fast approaching and folks are starting to make their vacation plans, an insider’s guide can give you a reliable overview of the highlights to help your planning along. Here goes:

Niagara Falls

Most people have heard of Niagara Falls; they are regularly classed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And sometimes they are included in the official eight wonders of the world. That’s not surprising; they are the largest waterfalls in North America.

If you decide to visit this iconic natural wonder, fly into Toronto and take the 90 minute drive down the highway. Watch this wonder before you, or get closer with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. In addition to the falls, there’s lots to see and do in the Niagara Falls area.

Whistler Mountain

Canada is known for its Rocky Mountains, and no wonder, with such a special landscape spanning much of Western Canada. But perhaps, one of the more famous mountains is Whistler. Whistler Mountain is located 125km north of Vancouver and is well known for its winter skiing and outdoor activities.

But Whistler Mountain has much to offer in the summer months as well. The mountain is 2,182 meters high, and there is almost always snow at the higher elevations, even in the summer sun. You don’t have to hike the whole way to have an incredible experience; just do what feels comfortable.

Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of French-speaking Canada. It was established in 1608, making it one of the oldest cities in Canada and North America. The original Old Quebec City is a walled city and is home to some amazing historical architecture.

If you decide to travel here this summer with your partner or your family, you are in for a magical experience. The city offers a wealth of culture and cuisine you won’t find anywhere else. If you are visiting Canada, this is what happens after an eta application.

St. John’s

If historical cities are your thing, then take a visit to St. John’s in the northeast. St. John’s pre-dates Quebec City by around 100 years. It was established in 1497. It doesn’t have the same medieval feel as Quebec City; in fact, as a coastal city it has a distinct Maritime feel.

St. John’s is known as the San Francisco of the north because of its pastel-colored houses and artistic sensibility, but it has more to offer besides. Off the coast of St. John’s, there are Atlantic waters perfect for whale-watching, and you can take a trip to see icebergs as well.

Tofino

People don’t always realize how much Canada has to offer. It has the Rockies, of course, the wildlife, the cities, and the great lakes, but it also has something more exotic – an island paradise. Yes indeed.

Where is this island paradise then, you ask? The answer is Tofino on Vancouver Island off the west coast. Tofino is primarily a beach location that looks onto the pacific. It offers some incredible sunsets, excellent surfing, and much more besides.

Looking over the water in Tofino, British Columbia

Churchill

Canada is home to many famous places and landmarks that you could spend a lifetime visiting and getting value from, but it’s also how to some lesser-known places that can offer big wins in terms of value-adding, life-enhancing experiences.

Churchill is one of those places. It sounds a bit stuffy, like the top-hat wearing Prime Minister from the 1940s, but it’s way more interesting than that. This is polar bear country, and if you visit, there will definitely be a chance to see one of these towering giants – eat your heart out Churchill.

Old Montreal

If you love Quebec City, then you will also love Old Montreal. It dates back to around the same time as Quebec City, established in 1642. And like Quebec City, it can be found in the heart of the city. Montreal is a very culture rich and authentic place to visit.

Travel to Montreal if you want a continental experience within the Canadian borders. You will find plenty of historic buildings, nightlife, and seasonal events to keep you and your family entertained. This is the cosmopolitan Canada that will appeal to everyone.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a gateway to the Rockies and perfect if you have all the gear but lack some experience of hiking. Banff National Park is located around some natural hot springs and gives you the best of both worlds.

Spend some time hiking in the surrounding wilderness, following the well-trodden paths to low summits where you get the best view of the landscape. Absorb it all, then return to the springs for a well-earned relaxer.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park in Vancouver is a bit like Central Park in New York. It’s an extensive city park that is in all seasons and is famous for all the right reasons. Stanley Park is where many of the romantic fall walks in TV shows and the movies are filmed, even ones set in NYC.

Stanley Park is a big place, and there are tons of things to keep you occupied and entertained. You can spend all day at the park and take a leisurely walk, going hiking, lay on the beach, visit native totem poles, and drop by the lively aquarium.

Okanagan Valley

If you’re in Western Canada, and you’re in Vancouver, then you are a short flight or 4-hour drive to the Okanagan. Take full advantage of this and head northeast to the Okanagan Valley. Here you will find the Okanagan Lake and plenty of sunshine and native wine.

Okanagan Valley has it all. Food highlights include chef prepared outdoor farm to table dining experiences for small groups. The lake is clear and sparkling, the sunshine is pretty much continuous, and you can visit many orchards and vineyards.

The mountains of British Columbia

Things To See and Do in Ottawa

Ottawa panorama

Canada’s capital city is beautiful and dynamic, which makes it very interesting to explore. It’s also one of the most multicultural cities in the country. If you like discovering magnificent architecture, world-class museums, and strolling through quiet parks, you’ll love this place. This charming city is located along the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, right across from Quebec. Its downtown is lively and inviting, and it’s great for walking or riding a bike. Here’s our list of the most interesting things to see and do in Ottawa.

Explore the Rideau Canal

While walking through the center of Ottawa, you can’t miss the Rideau Canal. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

During the summer, Rideau Canal is filled with boats. The pathways surrounding it are crowded with walkers, cyclists, and runners. You can tour the canal by boat, and cruising is one of the best ways to experience it. There are more than 30 notable sights along the canal. For those who like to stay fit while traveling, there’s the option of canoeing and kayaking as well.

If you happen to visit Ottawa in the winter, you can still get out on the Canal. Your experience will be totally different but not less impressive, as this canal transforms into the world’s largest skating rink. In case you need a break from the cold, visit the nearby heated huts and stands selling hot chocolate and other beverages.

Visit Parliament Hill

The magnificent Parliament building is an architectural masterpiece, built in Gothic style. It’s located right in the heart of the city center, overlooking the Ottawa River. A gorgeous garden surrounds the structure and attracts many tourists.

The complex and its surroundings are the sites of various national celebrations and shows throughout the year. Guided tours are available in English and French, and they last from 30 to 60 minutes. The highlights of this place are:

  • The observation deck of the Peace Tower offering the best view of the city
  • Changing of the Guard ceremony which happens every summer day at 10 AM (June to August)
  • Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (during the summer months)
Canada's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa
Parliament hill is one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Head to the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market in Ottawa is one of the oldest and biggest markets in the country. It’s also conveniently located in the city center. There are main buildings surrounded by open-air stalls offering a wide choice of goods. This colorful, charming place is where you’ll find the most beautiful flowers, the best maple syrup, and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other grocery items. There are plenty of restaurants, fast food kiosks, coffee shops, galleries, and boutiques in the ByWard neighborhood. All of this makes it a great place to discover more about the local culture, tradition, and culinary scene.

Learn about Canada by visiting museums and galleries

Ottawa is home to many national museums and galleries worth visiting, where you can experience the true spirit of Canada, such as:

  • Museum of History
  • War Museum
  • Museum of Nature
  • Science and Technology Museum
  • Agriculture Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Photograph
  • The National Gallery of Canada
  • The Portrait Gallery of Canada

As you can see, there’s something for everyone’s age and interest, from those who like history, science, and technology to those who admire art in all its forms.

Ottawa architecture panorama
Ottawa has plenty of national museums and galleries worth visiting.

Book a biplane flightseeing tour 

Did you know that you could fly in a World War II Biplane? Yes, you can! It’s one of the best things to see and do in Ottawa. You can experience it if you visit the Canada Air and Space Museum in the summer months. During an approximately 25-minute flight, you’ll pass over the Ottawa river, the Gatineau Hills, the downtown, and the Parliament. It’s an incredible experience, and what’s most amazing is that you’ll sit in an outdoor cockpit in front of the pilot because he is in the back.

Relax in Gatineau Park

For a little break from the city and its highlights, head to Gatineau Park – a peaceful oasis and a national treasure. It offers a variety of activities for all seasons. You can enjoy comfortable Ottawa and go hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing, or swimming. There are also various heritage sites and beautiful nature everywhere around.

While here, don’t miss scenic Champlain Lookout for the best view from the Gatineau Hills over the Ottawa Valley. One more attraction that shouldn’t be overlooked in Gatineau Park is the Mackenzie King Estate. You can explore the paths surrounding it and peek into its restored cottages which feature various interactive exhibits.

Couple sitting on a bench during Fall in the park in Ottawa, Canada
When in search of relaxing things to see and do in Ottawa, head to one of many peaceful parks.

Watch a sports match

Ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, and lacrosse is its lesser known national summer sport. Ottawa has several professional sports teams, and if you’re passionate about sports, you should complete your visit by watching at least one match.

Canadian Tire Centre is a multi-purpose indoor arena that hosts various sports matches and a must-see for sports lovers. One more place worth visiting is the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, located in the Heritage Building of Ottawa City Hall.

TD Place Stadium is the place where you can see Canadian football. Baseball fans can head to the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park to watch a match.

Moving to Ottawa can be an excellent choice

There are many reasons why one should decide to move to Ottawa, and there are many possibilities once you do it. Apart from unique things to see and do in Ottawa, keep in mind that you’ll be living in a city with great job opportunities, excellent healthcare, great schools, and various cultural activities year-round, as well as great entertainment for all generations.

If you decided to move to Canada’s capital, be sure to leave enough time for a stress-free preparation. To save time and make the process more effective, you should consider hiring a reliable moving company that has all you need for your Ottawa-based relocation. Then you can choose from a wide selection of moving services, such as packing services, storage solutions, and much more. When you finally settle in, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city and discover many of its gems by yourself.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re planning to visit Ottawa only for a short time as a tourist or you plan to relocate to the city permanently, you’ll be delighted by its charm. The number of things to see and do in Ottawa is almost limitless, so there’s guaranteed fun for every season and each person. Good luck with exploring, and good luck to those who come to stay!

6 Reasons why Road Trips are Better than Flying

People on a road trip relaxing in nature

According to statistics, flying might be the safest mode of travel, and there are some destinations that a car can’t reach. However, traveling by car is usually more affordable and allows you to create your itinerary – that’s just the beginning of its benefits. In this article, we’ll uncover 6 reasons why road trips are better than flying.

#1 You are in control

When it comes to traveling by plane, there are many procedures that you must follow. First, you need to get to the airport 2-3 hours before the departure time. Then, you get processed through security, board a crowded plane, and sit for a few hours in a cramped space. Depending on the airline and destination, food choices may be poor. As a result, people often arrive at the final destination feeling groggy. Some experience headaches or nausea due to turbulence and changes in air pressure. Not to mention the stress caused by delayed flights, long layovers, and missed connections.

If you’re lucky enough, you might fall asleep during your flight (in case there is no crying baby near you). If you happen to have a window seat and if you’re flying during the day, you can watch the clouds. And, that’s probably the only thing you’ll see, except the landscape before landing. All in all, traveling by plane is not very eventful.

On the other hand, when you travel by car, you can have an enriching experience and flexible schedule. When driving, you have many options available. You make the rules of your trip. You can stop and take a break whenever you want, whether to marvel at a lookout point, take photos, or eat something.

#2 It’s safer than you think

Many people are simply afraid of flying. On the other hand, do you know anyone afraid of traveling by car? Plane crashes are statistically more deadly than car crashes, even though they happen much less frequently. However, you’re much more likely to survive and avoid severe injuries if you happen to have a car accident.

Keep in mind that cars are safer now than ever before. You can rely on a car with GPS, automatic braking, anti-lock brakes, lane assist, parking sensors, camera, etc., and have a safe road trip.

However, if you still feel a little worried, you can always look for less busy routes for your road trip. Additionally, you can decide to pull over during bad weather and keep your phone in silent mode for better focus.

Woman driving a car
Whenever you’re driving, safety should be your top priority.

#3 Driving is less expensive than flying

Even though gas can be expensive, plane tickets are much more so. There are many extra fees you’ll need to pay as well. Low-cost airlines charge a fee for checked bags, preferred seats, airport check-in, in-flight entertainment, etc. Prices of food and drinks at the airport are usually outrageous as well.

Traveling by car is an adventure that is even more affordable when traveling with others. Road trips are better than flying because you can split gas money with your travel companions. In case you’re traveling with family, it’s easy to calculate the difference between multiple airplane tickets and the cost of gas.

#4 You can bring more stuff

Another reason why road trips are great is that you have more flexibility when packing your bags, and you don’t have to pay expensive fees for them. You don’t have to follow strict airline rules, and there is no specific weight limit. If you have a spacious car, you can bring almost anything you want. Some of those things can be:

  • Various games
  • Sports equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Camping gear

You can also take your dog with you without worrying about the airline’s pet policy or the pet fee.

A man and a child near white SUV during sunset
Road trips are better than flying because they allow you flexibility in so many ways.

#5 Endless discoveries

You should go on an adventurous road trip at least once in your life. The fun is almost guaranteed, along with the opportunity to experience many different things. There’s so much to see and do on the road that you’d miss if you traveled by plane. There are numerous roadside attractions which you can plan to visit. Whenever you drive through a quaint little town, you can make a stop and wander through its streets. Moreover, you can stop to explore anything that seems interesting and worth your time, such as small museums, historical sites, famous statues, geological wonders, etc.

#6 Planning a nationwide road trip is so much fun

Everything mentioned above contributes to the idea that your vacation is not only your final destination – planning a nationwide road trip is much more than that. To plan this adventure, get creative and make a list of all the places you want to visit and see how you can connect them on a map. Then, create your itinerary, set a road trip budget, and decide where you’ll spend your nights. Be sure to download offline maps (just in case) and leave at least a little bit of flexibility for unplanned adventures.

Aside from being fun, road trips can also strengthen your relationships – whether that’s with your partner, family members, or friends. When traveling by road, you get to know your companions more intimately by having deep, meaningful talks with them.

Couple sitting in the back of a car
Going on a road trip with a companion will strengthen your relationship.

Final thoughts

Even though road trips are better than flying in many ways, every form of travel has its pros and cons. If you’re going on a business trip, it’s probably best to go by plane. When you need to travel to a remote location, the same logic applies. But, when you do have the option to drive, go for it. You’ll have more quality time, more flexibility, you’ll see things you would have never seen by plane, you’ll learn some history, and you’ll even save money. However, remember it’s essential to be cautious and drive safely. Being on the road promises thrilling experiences which you can remember for the rest of your life.