Canada is one of the most exciting countries our planet has to offer. There are only a few countries in the world that have such a diverse landscape. Here, forests, lakes and prairie landscapes alternate, while Canada’s fantastic metropolises provide cultural variety. Toronto is said to have the most beautiful skyline, next to New York City. Vancouver is no less spectacular with its combination of water and mountains. Here’s our list of the 21 best cities to visit in Canada.
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and as such has more than 800,000 inhabitants. Thus, it is not only the second largest city in this province, but also the fifth largest in Canada at all.
Another superlative is the size, with an area of 683 km ² it is also the largest city in North America and as a counterpart to the lowest population density. The city itself goes back to a fort that was built here in 1795. It has been the capital since 1905, and until about 60 years ago was dominated by agriculture. War production and available mineral resources triggered an industrial boom. The city center of Edmonton is also the commercial center.
It is divided into various districts called the Arts District, Rice Howard Way Pedestrian Mall, MacKay Avenue, Jasper-West, Warehouse District and the Government District. Around this core, other districts have been settled over time, some of which are located in the Saskatchewan River valley. Edmonton is also known for this river valley, it consists of the longest and most cohesive parkland in North America and is called the River Valley Parks System.
Among the architectural sights are Fort Edmonton, the Parliament Building, the bridges over the river and the Stantec Tower. The image of the city is characterized by other skyscrapers, but the Stantec Tower is at the moment the tallest with 250 meters. Museums and galleries not only show the history of the city and the province. Since Edmonton is annually the center of attention as a venue for festivals, it has also received the name “The Festival City”.
The metropolis of Winnipeg in southern Manitoba delights with its lively charm and the open nature of its approximately 700,000 inhabitants. More than fifty ethnic groups are at home here and ensure a varied program all year round. Numerous festivals, pow wows, art exhibitions and music events offer countless opportunities for urban explorers.
One of the city’s hottest gathering spots is The Forks National Historic Site. The site at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers is populated by in-line skaters and skateboarders. Sidewalk cafes and restaurants line the square. The smell of cinnamon buns wafts from the market building next door, and it’s only a few steps to the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights or the French-speaking Saint-Boniface neighborhood. In general, the city can be easily conquered on foot.
Vancouver is also often called one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world. Not entirely without reason, the metropolis on the west coast of Canada has established itself as one of the most important tourist destinations in North America. One finds oneself in a large city that exudes an almost rural flair. The city is multicultural, and Vancouver’s residents stand out for their friendliness and helpfulness. The magnificent skyline is extremely impressive, it comes into its own on a boat trip. Quality of life is written in capital letters in Vancouver, here you will find a big city atmosphere and scenic idyll in equal measure.
Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada in the province of British Columbia. The metropolis rests directly on the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver Island is directly opposite. Inland, the city is bordered by mountains, the North Shore Mountains towering over the destination at nearly 1,500 meters.
During a stay, the mighty skyline is truly in the foreground. Visitors can get a first overview from the observation deck of the Vancouver Lookout. The 177-meter-high structure is located at the city’s harbor. The glass facades of the two tallest buildings are visible everywhere from here.
On a tour of the city, visitors will notice the Marine Building, whose design parallels that of the Empire State Building in New York City. Not far away, visitors encounter the Sun Tower with its imposing green dome. For a change of pace, take a walk in Stanley Park or visit Canada’s largest aquarium, where whales, seals, birds and many other animals can be admired in an area of around 9,000 square meters.
One of the most interesting cities in North America is the Canadian metropolis of Québec in the province of the same name. The special French flair and the old town with the best-preserved fortification in the country as a World Heritage Site make Québec unique. The Gibraltar of North America, as paraphrased by the English writer Charles Dickens, is a colorful and lively metropolis with about half a million inhabitants. No other city in Canada is so marked by French colonial history in its everyday culture. The metropolis in the valley of the St. Lawrence River is one of the most beautiful cities in the north of the continent and is known beyond the borders of the region for its carnival. A cable car connects the lower and upper city, where the dreamlike Château Frontenac, a luxury hotel, is one of the city’s landmarks.
The movie “I confess” by Hitchcock made the magnificent building of the former Prince of Frontenac and Palluau world famous. Outside the preserved city walls is the lower town with the central Place Royale. It is the oldest settlement built by the French and offers many historical monuments. Spanning the magnificent Saint Lawrence River is the mighty Pont Pierre-Laporte, inaugurated in the 1970s and connecting Québec with Lévis City. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the Québec Bridge connected the cities. Tourist destination is mainly the old town with the old city wall. The old town area in both parts of the city, situated on Cape Diamond, is one of the most beautiful places in the metropolis.
In the east of the Canadian province of Ontario lies the federal capital Ottawa as one of the charming multicultural metropolises of the country. A minority here still speaks French and lives the typical French lifestyle. Ottawa is the city with the highest number of academics in Canada and also lives mainly from the federal authorities and government institutions. The metropolis is located on the southern bank of the Ottawa River. Between the Rideau Canal and the Rideau River lies the historic center of the city. This charming neighborhood is called Lower Town. Across the river on the waterfront is Downtown Ottawa with its financial center and commercial establishments.
The government district lies between the Ottawa River and downtown. Only a few tall buildings dominate Ottawa’s cityscape, adding to the city’s architectural charm. The government quarter offers some sights and is preserved in the style of the British neo-Gothic. Worth seeing is, among other things, the parliament building or the magnificent parliament library. Ottawa offers many interesting cultural institutions, such as the renowned National Gallery of Canada with works by Andy Warhol or Picasso. For fans of photography, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is a must. Here the most famous Canadian photographers exhibit their pictures. Classical concerts and theater performances are celebrated at the National Arts Centre, among others.
Calgary, is the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta. With its approximately 1.4 million inhabitants, Calgary is the 4th largest city in Canada. While Calgary is still in the lowlands, the Rocky Mountains rise impressively only 1.5 hours away to the west.
Calgary serves many tourists as a starting point for a road trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains with the cities of Banff, Jasper and a trip over the legendary Icefields Parkway. No matter if in summer or winter. Calgary is also ideally situated for travel to the Yukon or the Northwest Territories due to its International Airport.
Calgary is a multi-cultural city with over 120 languages spoken. In addition, there are great shopping districts, top restaurants, nature with rivers and hiking trails already in the center and enough sights to make a stay not seem long enough.
By the way, Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada with 2400 hours of sunshine per year.
Halifax is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The city is located on the south coast of the Nova Scotia peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean.
It was founded by the English in 1749. Today, Halifax has just under 400,000 inhabitants. This makes it the largest city in the region in the area east of Quebec and north of Boston. Halifax is also an important economic and cultural center for the entire region.
Today, people from over 30 different nations live in Halifax. This creates a colorful mix of cultures, which is especially noticeable in the food on offer.
Halifax harbor is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. It is also free of ice year-round. It serves as a base station for the Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard. Especially in the summer months, the port is often visited by large cruise ships as a stopover.
Since Halifax is already a relatively old city by Canadian standards, there are also some sights from the varied history of the city in eastern Canada.
The star-shaped Citadel is one of the most visited sights in Canada. The present Citadel, built in 1856, is the fourth version of a fort whose construction began in 1749. The Citadel is a perfect example of 19th century military construction. Even though the citadel was never attacked, it was in use as a military base by the Canadians during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
The clock tower of Halifax is the landmark of the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. It is located at the Citadel on the hill above the city. It was commissioned in 1800 by Edward, Earl of Kent and inaugurated in 1803. Today, the clock is still operated by the movement from that time.
Since the 1960s, Toronto has become one of the most attractive North American cities, with its redeveloped shoreline of Lake Ontario, many modern skyscrapers and world-class museums. Toronto has become the economic and cultural center of English-speaking Canada during this time. In addition to diverse shopping opportunities, interesting restaurants and an attractive nightlife, attractions such as the CN Tower or the Art Gallery of Ontario make Toronto a city that deserves a longer visit.
Toronto is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario and is also crossed by three rivers, of which the Humber River is the largest. Especially near the harbor, neighborhoods stand on man-made land wrested from the lake in the 19th century. Some islands in Lake Ontario also belong to the largest Canadian city. The nearest major cities are Ottawa in the northeast, Detroit in the southwest, and Buffalo in the south of Toronto.
Toronto’s landmark is the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding building in North America at over 500 meters. The television tower has two viewing platforms. Just riding the elevator on the outside to the top is an experience. The city has several major museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario offers a cross-section of Canadian art history, while the Royal Ontario Museum features exhibits from the rest of the world. Casa Loma, modeled after a castle, is also worth seeing.
Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and has its origins in a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post built in 1843. The name goes back to the British Queen Victoria. The surrounding hilly landscape protects the urban area from the rainfall that is otherwise frequent and persistent on the west coast of the island. At the same time, the location is so favorable that it is rarely reached by storms.
The capital of the province of British Columbia lives up to the “British” in its name: Victorian architecture and red double-decker buses bring the colonial era of the British Empire back to life. At the same time, the totem poles so typical of Western Canada provide defining elements of the New World in the cityscape.
The picturesque harbor is a meeting place for young and old and an ideal starting point for initial exploratory tours. On a trip from the Inner Harbour along the coast, the traveler is offered fantastic views of picturesque bays.
The downtown area with pedestrian zone, pubs and stores is located east of the Upper Harbour and the Inner Harbour and is largely under monument protection, especially the buildings constructed before 1945. The former warehouses, offices, bars, brothels, hotels and shantytowns of the early days have long since become restaurants, stores, pubs and art galleries. Special attractions include the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Other highlights of the city include the former commercial center of Market Square, now a two-story walkway framed by stores and restaurants. Also ideal for shopping: Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown. Victoria’s narrowest alley is lined on both sides with small Chinese shops. Don’t miss a shopping spree on Antique Row, a collection of very interesting antique stores.
Charlottetown is the capital of the province of Prince Edward Island. The city was named after the British Queen Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was in office at the time of its founding in 1764. Meanwhile, the city has about 35,000 inhabitants. Due to its location between the three rivers Hillsborough, Yorke and Eliot, Charlottetown lies as if on an island or in a natural harbor.
The history of Charlottetown dates back to the 17th century, when the first European settlers arrived. French soldiers built the fortress of Port-la-Joye opposite the present city center, and British troops, who arrived later, conquered the rest of the island. Charlottetown continued to be a place steeped in history during the warring conflicts that followed.
In 1995, the suburban communities were placed under the administration of the city. The people living here today make their living primarily from government administration. The provincial, federal and city authorities are the most important employers, as are the health and education sectors. Tourism is also becoming increasingly important, the reason for which are, among other things, several buildings worth seeing from the 19th century.
The Charlottetown Festival is one of the most important events of the year. It is not only an attraction for the inhabitants of the city and the region, but also an important tourist attraction. Arrival can be by scheduled flights, via Route 2, the main highway, or by train.
Saskatchewan consists not only of endless wheat fields, but also enchants with over 100,000 lakes, the Canadian Shield and many forests. Thus, the province is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! Long warm summer days with over 30 degrees and over 2500 hours of sunshine a year make Saskatchewan the sunniest province in Canada.
Although Saskatoon is not the capital of Saskatchewan, it is still the largest with about 250,000 inhabitants. Saskatoon is also called the “City of Bridges” because several picturesque bridges cross the South Saskatchewan River. Residents and visitors of the green city on the water appreciate the idyllic location and the culinary variety on offer. Saskatoon also boasts a vibrant art and music scene. The Remai Modern Art Gallery has more than 7700 exhibits and also houses the world’s most extensive collection of linocuts and ceramic objects by Pablo Picasso.
10. St. John’s
The lively, historic and colorful capital of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador in eastern Canada is already over 500 years old. Here you will find the combination of big city luxury and small town charm. St. John’s is the easternmost city in North America! The distinctive colorful house facades that strongly characterize the cityscape were designed to allow ships to see the coast through the fog.
Walking through downtown, you’ll see many historic buildings, including many colorful apartment buildings that are considered works of art and referred to as “Jellybean Row.” St. John’s is home to nearly 110,000 residents, giving this city a modern charismatic character. Here in St. John’s begins the well-known Trans-Canada Highway, which runs across the country to the west coast of the country.
Founded in 1882, Regina, also known as “The Queen City,” is now the second largest city in the Prairie Province of Saskatchewan and its capital, with a population of about 230,000.
Originally, the settlement was called “Pile of Bones” before it was officially founded, because there were huge amounts of bison bones in and around the town. In 1882, the town was renamed Regina, meaning Queen, in honor of Queen Victoria.
A year after its founding, Regina became the new capital of the Northwest Territories in 1883. The city retained this status until the creation of the province of Saskatchewan in 1905. In 1903, Regina officially became a city (City of Regina).
Regina’s economy is largely dominated by resource extraction and processing. Another strong economic pillar is agriculture and the service sector, as well as the steel industry and manufacturing. Regina is also home to a production studio for motion pictures, TV shows and series.
Regina is also world famous as the site of the Mounted Police. From 1892 to 1920, the headquarters of the North West Mounted Police was established here. Since then, Regina has been home to the western headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the site of the RCMP’s training academy.
A major event and long-standing tradition of the RCMP in Regina is the Musical Ride, held annually in the summer before large crowds, where horse and rider members of the mounted police show off their skills.
The city of Hamilton is located about 70 km west of Toronto in Canada in the province of Ontario. It is about 70 kilometers to Toronto, and the western end of Lake Ontario, which is more than 19,000 km² in size, is in the immediate vicinity. Around 520,000 people live in Hamilton.
Where the city is located today, the first inhabitants were the Mohawk Indians. South of Hamilton there is still the largest Canadian Indian reservation, called Six Nations of the Grand River. Étienne Brûlé was the first European in town in 1616, and citizens loyal to Great Britain arrived after American independence. In the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, Hamilton was also called the Steel City. Two large steel mills still exist today. Jobs are provided by the medical industry, science, government, service and technology sectors.
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is located on the grounds of the Hamilton City Airport. It features an exhibition of historic military aircraft. In addition, Hamilton is home to McMaster University and the city area borders one of the largest wine growing regions in the country. Other attractions include Dundurn Castle, the Industrial Museum of 19th Century Technology, a Royal Botanical Garden, the McMaster Museum of Art, the museum ship HMCS Haida, and the Municipal Art Museum.
West of Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario lies the city of Mississauga, which has a population of about 713,450. The name comes from a subgroup of the Anishinabe Indians, the land was bought from them at the beginning of the 19th century.
Mississauga is still a young city, it was settled already from 1805, but it received the city charter only in 1974. The historic buildings are located in Streetville, an area of the city named after Timothy Street. He was thus honored for his services by the British government. Mississauga is not far from Toronto and this is a reason for many large companies to locate their corporate headquarters or main office in the city.
The main employer is the major Toronto airport and its associated companies. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, banking and financial service providers or electronics and IT companies provide the economic impetus. Of course, this is also why there are particularly nice shopping opportunities in the city center. The large Square One Shopping Centre, with more than 360 stores, restaurants and cafés, is a particular crowd puller.
Vacationers and tourists coming to Mississauga will find a variety of recreational facilities. Not only Lake Ontario awaits in the region, but also Niagara Falls or Blackcreek Pioneer Village. For cultural entertainment, the cinema center or the concert hall are just right and those who want to visit an amusement park will find Canadas Wonderland or Ontario Place.
Kelowna, a city idyllically situated on Okanagan Lake in Canada’s west, attracts not only water sports and golf enthusiasts but also wine lovers. Local wineries invite you on trunky excursions, and the climate, which is dry compared to the coast, usually promises sunshine.
Here, in inland British Columbia, temperatures are always slightly higher than in the province’s coastal region. Summers are hot and dry, with the most sunshine and least precipitation. The average temperature in July and August is around 27 degrees.
Kelowna is the largest city in the Central Okanagan and is located on Okanagan Lake. A manageable city of about 100,000 people and about as many boats. Supposedly, the sunny city is a favorite place to live for the particularly wealthy Canadians. The climate in the Okanagan Valley is drier than on the Pacific coast. Summers are hot and dry, winters cold but relatively short.
Downtown offers a wide range of art and culture: museums, galleries, theaters, a casino, and plenty of restaurants. Nightlife is also thriving. From April to October, appetites for fresh fruit and other local treats can be satisfied at the Farmers Market.
In May, Kelowna and its orchards are in full bloom, a colorful spectacle and the start of the new season. Furthermore, the wine festivals in spring, summer and fall are a fun program and a great way to get to know regionally typical food and people.
When talking about a big city with millions of inhabitants, its French-speaking flair, its melting pot of cultures, its gastronomic diversity and its romantic old town, many quickly think it is Paris. However, this is not true in this case, as other cities can also boast these characteristics and offer their visitors an unforgettable city break. In fact, the city we are looking for is Montréal, the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec. This city offers tons of attractions for the curious eyes of all its visitors and knows how to entertain with numerous cultural offers and events.
Montréal was built on an island, the Île de Montréal. The city center is still located there today. The island belongs to the Hochelaga archipelago, which is located on the Saint Lawrence River. This current flows in a northeasterly direction directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Montréal now has more than 1.8 million inhabitants, and almost 4 million in the metropolitan area. This makes the city the second largest in Canada. Montréal is located only about 50 kilometers north of the border with the USA. More than half of the population here speaks French, which is the official language.
Montréal should especially make the hearts of lovers of exciting architecture beat faster: A large part of the sights are made up of the various districts with their architecture. For example, there is Old Montréal, the historic center with stone house facades from the 18th and 19th centuries. As if in counterpoint, the city also offers futuristic architecture, such as Habitat 67, whose cube-like buildings leave a very daring and experimental impression. In addition, Montréal has three dozen museums, the largest of which is the city’s art museum.
In the west of Toronto lies the city of Guelph, nicknamed “The Royal City”. The nickname is explained by the city’s name, which refers to the noble family of the Guelphs. The Guelphs were the family from which the English King George IV came. The city is characterized by Victorian architecture and many 19th century houses are preserved in the old town. Guelph exudes European flair.
Among the sights is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, built in the neo-Gothic style. City regulations previously prohibited any building from towering over the church or obscuring the line of sight. Thus, its twin towers are the highest elevation and dominate the panorama.
Kingston is picturesquely situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The city is known as the former capital of the British colonies. The most impressive sight dates from this time: the City Hall from the middle of the 19th century. The building originally served as the site for Parliament and is correspondingly huge. The Victorian, pompous style can be seen in the copper dome and the classicist columns.
In addition to City Hall, other well-preserved 19th century limestone buildings line the cityscape. Another architectural attraction of the city is the Cathedral of St. George. Bellevue House is an open-air museum. It provides information about the history of this city and one of Canada’s most important historical politicians, Sir John A. Macdonald. Many tours depart from Kingston by boat through the Thousand Islands National Park.
Windsor, the “City of Roses,” is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Ontario on the Detroit River, which forms the natural border with the United States. Before settlement by predominantly European emigrants beginning in 1749, the region was inhabited by First Nations and American Indians. It is considered the oldest European settlement in Canada west of Montreal.
Across the river is Detroit, which means Windsor has also been heavily influenced by the automotive industry. Nevertheless, the city is very green: parks and gardens with numerous hiking and biking trails extend along the river. In the surrounding area there are forests and farmland. Worth seeing are the Odette Sculpture Park, the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Point Pelee National Park. Each summer, the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival is held.
1. Niagara Falls
At the center of the world-famous Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is the most famous city on the Niagara River. Across the river is the sister city of Niagara Falls in the U.S. state of New York. Niagara Falls on the Canadian shore is the larger city of the sister cities and a center of tourism in Ontario. From the Canadian side, it is easier to see Niagara Falls at Niagara Falls, so many more guests come to the city than to Niagara Falls on the U.S. shore. In the 1990s, the Ontario provincial government legalized gambling, which led to an increase in hotels and entertainment in Niagara Falls.
The city offers many attractions with ferry services to the falls. Modernization projects, for example on central Queen Street, have made the city more attractive in recent years. In the historic downtown district you will find many cafes, restaurants and stores or cultural institutions such as the renovated Seneca Theatre. Many attractions are located along the Niagara River, including the Niagara Falls Botanical Garden or the Whirlpool Aero Car aerial streetcar.
A great view of the entire Niagara Falls can be seen from the Skylon Tower. It stands on a hill in downtown and was opened in 1965. The revolving restaurant is one of the attractions of the tower. Also from the largest hotel casino with the observation tower you have a great view of the falls.