8 Reasons to Visit Canada This Year

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Late in 2016, Lonely Planet released its “Best in Travel” lists for 2017. And at the top of its Top 10 Countries list – claiming the coveted #1 spot as the top country to visit in the new year – was Canada.

At first, some people were like “… Canada? Really?” But I understand Lonely Planet's pick.

Not only is Canada kind of, well, awesome, but 2017 also marks Canada's 150th birthday. And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Great White North?

Dogsledding with Wapusk Adventures in Churchill, Manitoba
Dogsledding in Manitoba
Niagara Falls from above
Niagara Falls from above

If you still need some convincing, though, I've put together a list of all the great reasons why you should definitely visit Canada this year.

Reasons to plan a trip to Canada

1. It's NOT the same as the US

For anyone who tries to use the argument that Canada is basically just the-US-but-colder (or USA Lite or America's Hat or any of those other silly things), let me point out that these are two very distinct countries with different histories, cultures, and traditions.

Yes, many of us speak the same language, and yes, our border is an incredibly peaceful one. But Canada is not the USA, and visiting or living in one country definitely doesn't mean you've experienced the other.

Banff, Alberta
Banff, Alberta

2. It has its own history

Even though Canada has only been a nation for 150 years, people have been living there for thousands of years. Just like different regions of the US have ties to different Native American tribes, so too are Canada's provinces connected to its First Nations people.

Most major museums in Canada explore this history, which is really fascinating considering the harsh conditions experienced in most parts of Canada for a majority of the year.

Totem poles in Stanley Park
Totem poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Add to this native history strong French and British influences, and Canada's cities and provinces all have their own distinct atmospheres. Canada also remains part of the British Commonwealth, with ties to the United Kingdom.

Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Parliament Hill in Ottawa

3. Canadians are SO nice

Like, seriously, the nicest. If you bump into one of them in a crowded space, THEY will probably apologize to YOU. It's just how they are.

Two years ago, I took a train trip across western Canada and ended up with one free day in Alberta, and one of my Canadian friends drove more than four hours (one way) just so she could take me to some of her favorite lakes in Banff. I can sometimes barely convince my American friends to drive an hour to come see me near Cleveland!

The stereotype of Canadians being incredibly kind is totally true.

Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake, one of the lakes my friend took me to!

4. It's extremely safe

There's a reason why I included Canada on my list of great places for solo female travelers: it's an incredibly safe country.

While the United States has some scary issues with gun violence among its citizens, our northern neighbor by contrast is much more peaceful. (Maybe it goes back to the ridiculously nice people?)

Wildflowers in Canada
Wildflowers in Kelowna, BC

5. The nature is incredible

From the temperate rainforests on the west coast to the soaring Canadian Rockies to the vast prairies to the striking Atlantic coast in the east, Canada really does have some damn impressive scenery.

And the scenery *feels* bigger, too – probably because even though Canada covers 3.85 million square miles, it only has a population of just a little over 35 million.

Moraine Lake in the morning
Moraine Lake in Alberta
Peggys Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia, Canada
Peggys Cove in Nova Scotia
Sea caves in St. Martins, New Brunswick
Sea caves in St. Martins, New Brunswick

It has some really impressive wildlife, like moose and polar bears, and is also a great place to glimpse the Northern Lights in the winter months.

The Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba
The Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba

Don't skip a visit to one of Canada's excellent national parks – there are nearly 50 of them to choose from.

6. Cool, diverse cities

On top of Canada's amazing nature, it also has really cool cities. From Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto to Montreal, Canadian cities are just as visit-worthy as its national parks.

And, while cities like Vancouver aren't necessarily the most affordable places to call home, Canada's major cities always make it onto top 10 lists of “most livable cities in the world” each year.

Toronto, Ontario
Toronto, Ontario
Rideau Canal locks in Ottawa
Rideau Canal locks in Ottawa

So, along with simply saying that Canada has cool cities, you can also say that the people who live in them enjoy a pretty high quality of life. (Maybe that's what makes them so nice!)

Granville Island, Vancouver
Granville Island, Vancouver

7. Fun annual festivals

Speaking of Canada's cities, many of them host some pretty cool (and unique) festivals each year. Some of my favorites include:

  • The Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City (January/February)
  • Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg (February)
  • The International Tulip Festival in Ottawa (May)
  • Montreal Jazz Fest (June/July)
  • The Calgary Stampede (July)
  • The Toronto International Film Festival (September)
  • The Celtic Colours International Festival on Cape Breton Island (October)
International Tulip Festival in Ottawa
International Tulip Festival in Ottawa

In short, Canadians love any excuse to come together and celebrate.

8. It's pretty affordable

Lastly, taking current exchange rates into account, Canada is really affordable right now for Americans, Europeans, and even Australians (right now $1 USD is equivalent to about $1.40 CAD).

This hasn't always been the case, so if you've been considering a trip to Canada, now is definitely the time to go!

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver

Need even MORE inspiration? Here are some of my favorite posts about Canada that you should probably check out:

And find even more Canada posts here.

Who's planning a trip to Canada this year?

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Reasons to visit Canada this year

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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47 Comments on “8 Reasons to Visit Canada This Year

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  1. Canada is amazing really. Thank you for that beautiful photos. Niagara falls is magnificent from that view. I’ll plan a vacation to Canada a couple of times this year.

    Moraine Lake is on my list! Thanks for sharing those photos. Also, your friend is crazy nice to drive 4 hours to come see you! I once met a friend about two-hours away but never 4. What a beautiful lake too!

      Yes, she’s pretty awesome! I wouldn’t have been able to see nearly as much without her. 🙂 Moraine Lake is amazing, but if you want to see it like it is in these photos, you’ll have to visit between June and early October – the road to the lake closes completely in the winter and doesn’t usually re-open until late May!

    I lived in Canada all my life and this country is really amazing and it has so much to offer. From nightlife of Montreal to the great outdoors of BC.

    thanks for sharing with the whole world!!!

      You really can find everything you could want in Canada!

    I might also add something else: it’s huge! So you kind of need a lot of time to discover Canada.

    I have a trip planned for 2018 and if it all goes well, I’m going to spend two months there.

      So true, Amelie! (I mean, there’s a whole song about how big it is!) Most of my trips to Canada have been shorter, but I’ve only explored one region on each trip.

        Well, since I am around 3000 miles away from Canada, I’ll like to do it in one go, since I don’t know when I’ll get the time and money to see it again 🙂

          That makes sense! Just make sure to plan a long trip so you can fit it all in. 😉

    Canada is such a great and beautiful country, in fact, my first visit was in Quebec and I never had a bad time. This is worth to visit.

      I need to spend more time in Quebec!

    Yes, great reasons to visit Canada, especially as you mentioned with the exchange rate hovering around .75¢, its a great time for Americans to head north of the 49th parallel. And unfortunately or fortunately, depends on your outlook, for Canadians to stay home and discover their country because the exchange rate is making it tough to justify travel to the US right now. Thanks for this post!

      I know the exchange rate is definitely best for everyone except Canadians! 😉 But yes, what a great excuse to stick closer to home and explore more of your own country if you’re Canadian!

    I’m heading to Alberta this summer. (My first trip outside the US, too!) I’ve always loved staring at your pictures of Banff and all those beautiful lakes; can’t wait to see them in person! Also, super excited about the free parks pass. I’ll definitely be making use of that. Much thanks for all the Canada travel inspiration!

    (And belated congrats on your engagement, yay!)

      You’re going to love Alberta in the summer! I do think parks like Banff are going to be really crowded this summer because of the free parks deal, but hopefully the extra people won’t take away from the beauty of the lakes and mountains!

    You put forward a good case! I would really like to visit Canada, especially Vancouver

      Vancouver is a really cool city – definitely worth a visit!

    I have never had a bad time in Canada…always a fun place to visit!

      Other than the trouble I always have to have at the border (Canadian immigration officers really don’t seem to like me!), I’ve also never had a bad time in Canada.

        You can solve much of that border problem with a $50 NEXUS card. And you’ll get US Global Entry as a bonus. Since getting my NEXUS card in 2008(!) I have only ever spoken to a Canadian (or American) border guard for about 10 seconds when driving across the border.

        Pro tip: even the small border crossings without NEXUS lanes often have NEXUS *readers* and while the car in front of you is getting the 3rd degree you can wave your card at the reader and vastly reduce the amount of time you spend talking to a human. And the fact that you *have* a NEXUS card means they don’t bother you so much anyway.

        And, of course, at airports you just stick your card into the kiosk and hand your receipt to the border dude, much like global entry coming into the US. No interrorgation!

          Hmmm that is definitely a good idea! I’ll have to look into it before my next trip to Canada.

    I’m going on a Road Trip through Canada this year! After finishing my studies i will take this break as a reward <3
    22.000 Kilometers from Toronto passing Prince-Edward-Island, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Vancouver Island and up to Alaska with Anchorage and Fairbanks… and a lot of other stops 😀 O_O
    We are also visiting Churchill to snorkel with belugas and hopefully see some polar bears.
    I'm SO excited, can't wait to go 🙂

      Wow, what an epic trip that’s going to be!!

    Amazing pictures! The free parks pass for 2017 is an awesome incentive. So many from coast to coast.

      It’s a great incentive, for sure!

    Gorgeous photography as always, Amanda! Canada is on my list, but the country is so big I don’t know where to start. I bought a Lonely Planet once with the intention of going, but I never actually booked. I’m sure I’ll make my way there a couple of times of the next years! Unfortunately not 2017 though, even though free National Parks do sound great!

      I think with Canada (as with any huge country), you need to tackle it in pieces. Visit one region or province at a time. A good place to start is in the west, I think – you could go to Vancouver and maybe Whistler, and then make your way into the Rockies and Alberta! That would be a great first trip, as you’d experience cities AND some of that incredible nature.

    Yeah most times I bring up maybe traveling to Canada everyone is always like “but you could go somewhere further away and more exotic!” But the scenery is a big one for me, I love love love cool nature stuff and Canada just has tons of that. So I definitely want to make it there soon!

      Don’t listen to those people! Canada is awesome, and the scenery really is incredible – you’d be hard-pressed to find better!

      Yup, I mentioned the free national parks in the post! That’s so awesome.

        Why is this even updated? You do realized that travel to Canada is restricted and that you’d have to quarantine once you arrive.

          It wasn’t updated to encourage travel (in technical terms, I updated categories on my site, and those sorts of changes are also reflected as “updates” sometimes). Yes, I’m aware that most countries have travel restrictions right now, which is why every single post on this site has a disclaimer at the top stating that anything you find here is for inspiration purposes only right now. It’s impossible to put country-specific notes on 800+ blog posts when restrictions are changing all the time. I’m doing my best here to keep my business afloat when international travel has been halted for months, but I’m only one person.

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