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Canada is a country known for its unparalleled scenery, multicultural society, and some of the friendliest people on the planet. Its diverse topography varies from vast forests and mountain ranges to clear blue lakes, making it a popular destination for outdoor adventurers. Whether you’re looking to go on road trips with friends through stunning landscapes, taste a variety of sweet and savory treats made with maple syrup, attend an ice hockey game as you puzzle how they move so fast on such a slippery surface, or enjoy winter activities like snowboarding and skiing, then Canada should be on your bucket list. You can book your Canada car rental in advance with Enjoy Travel.
Guide to Canada
The second-largest country in the world, Canada covers an impressive 3.85 million square miles of area. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean on the east, west and north, respectively. It has numerous freshwater lakes in the country, the largest of which is Lake Superior. The landscapes vary from vast stretches of the Boreal forest - considered to be the largest undisturbed woodland in the world - to the Rocky Mountains and the Prairie Provinces. In fact, forests cover over 42% of the land area of the country. You’ll also find freshwater glaciers and active volcanoes in the northern regions of the country, as it’s closest to the Arctic circle.
Climate in Canada
As a large country, Canada’s climate varies from region to region. Coastal British Columbia experiences a temperate climate with mild and rainy winters, while places like Quebec experience freezing temperatures for most of the year due to the influence of the Arctic air masses. Due to Canada’s location high up in the northern hemisphere, non-coastal regions can remain snow-covered for nearly six months out of the year while certain parts remain glacial year-round. The Prairie regions experience harsh winters along with extreme wind chill. Most of the northernmost parts - like Yukon and Nunavut - are almost permanently covered with ice and permafrost. The bottom line is - it’s cold!
As a nation that welcomes immigrants from all over the world, Canada is a very diverse and multicultural society. The national languages are English and French and all legislation is passed bilingually. Around 5% of the population is composed of First Nations, Inuits and Métis. The 600+ First Nations governments have their own culture, traditions, and ways of life, and National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated every year to recognize the achievements and contributions made by indigenous people to the nation.
Natural phenomena in Canada
You don’t have to travel all the way to Scandinavia to see the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights fill the sky with mystical lights and the best place to witness this surreal phenomenon in Canada is from Yukon, the smallest and westernmost of all the Canadian territories. Yukon experiences mild summers but extremely cold winters as it’s located in a subarctic region. Although the lights are visible from August to April, the best time to see them would be between November and March. Pick a dark night with clear skies, and a time between 10pm and 3am for the most ideal viewing conditions.
What to do in Canada?
Go see Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls needs no introduction. It stands proud at the border between the United States and Canada, and it is an absolutely breathtaking sight to see the millions of gallons of water plunging 175 feet into a gorge, creating a formidable white churn. If you visit during the winter, you might get a rare view of the frozen falls, a truly bizarre sight. Although it may not be evident at first sight, Niagara falls is, in fact, made up of three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Most people choose to take in the sights from the viewing platforms located at the top of the falls, but if you’re an adrenaline junkie, then you may want to hop aboard one of the boats that will take you close to the bottom of the waterfalls where you’ll be able to witness the thundering down of the water from above up close. For a fancy but pricey experience, you can also experience the falls from a hovering helicopter.
Hike or bike in Banff National Park
A paradise for adventurers, the Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park with picturesque blue lakes, rich wildlife, and Rocky Mountain peaks. The park receives over 3 million visitors in a year seeking to indulge in various outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and skiing. For a next-level experience, book a private canoe ride for an almost secluded tryst with the turquoise lake and surrounding mountain ranges. Alternatively, go on a hike and witness the breathtaking sunset views, or head to the cycling trails for a challenging but memorable biking experience along with the beautiful natural landscapes.
Hover over the rainforest on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Located in British Columbia, the Capilano Suspension Bridge formidably stands 460 ft long and 230 ft high above the Capilano River. Once you reach the other side, channel your inner Mowgli as you trudge through the thickets of the dense rainforest. Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure are some exciting recent additions. While Cliffwalk takes you along narrow bridges, platforms, and stairs, Treetops Adventure consists of seven suspension bridges that hover about 110 feet into mid-air. The visitor’s center also gives a deep insight into the park's history, ecosystem and climate.
Go ice skating at the largest skating rink in the world
Ottawa has the largest skating rink in the world, named Rideau Canal Skateway. If you are visiting during the winter (January - March), it is free and is accessible 24/7. The area covers 4.8 miles and guess what? Some people even use it to commute to work! You can rent skates at both ends of the canal. If you’re decidedly a non-skater, you can still take a walk along the edge of the lake and enjoy some hot chocolate and pastry available at every mile. The skateway has its name in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest naturally frozen ice rink in the world.
Eating out in Canada
Regional cuisine in Canada
Eating out is a big part of Canadian culture so you will find a variety of restaurants and street eats in the larger cities. One of the advantages to being such a multicultural country is that, whether you’re craving burgers or baklava, you’re going to be able to find it. Different regions, of course, have their own specialties. When you’re in Alberta, you need to try the beef, while Ontario is more famous for the fish. Vancouver boasts some of the best Chinese and Japanese restaurants while Nova Scotia is well known for its blueberries.
Where to eat in Toronto
When you’re inToronto, check out Alo Restaurant for contemporary French cuisine. It’s on the third floor of a heritage building and offers a menu that changes with the season. They also have an exclusive collection of wine. One of the most popular Italian joints in Toronto is Giulietta, known for their handcrafted pasta and wood-fired pizzas. We cannot recommend their thin crust pizza topped with cream, lardo, and pistachios enough. It’s absolutely divine.
Restaurants in Ottawa
The capital city, Ottawa, offers the best of both worlds: world-class fine dining restaurants as well as street food that can provide some serious competition when it comes to flavour and taste. The best place for a Lebanese feast is Shawarma Palace. The spiced chicken and beef live up to the hype, and there are branches located all around town. For great seafood, Whalesbone is the undisputed champion in the culinary scene. Their crispy salmon skin is the stuff of legends.
Vancouver’s food scene
Another city that stands out for its culinary scene is Vancouver. Indulge your inner epicurean at the Botanist Bar. Most famous for its creations of exclusive and inspired cocktails, the restaurant also prepares flavorful dishes using local ingredients. Of course, the fact that they are visually pleasing and very ‘gram friendly doesn’t hurt. To enjoy French Canadian cuisine, head over to St. Lawrence Restaurant. For a classic, can’t-go-wrong meal, try their grilled steak with bone marrow and frites, paired with a glass of French wine. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for something new, we recommend their fried pork rinds with maple syrup and spice (we told you maple syrup goes on both sweet and savoury dishes!).
Where to try poutine
Last but not least, you can’t leave Canada without having tried poutine, a delectable marriage between crispy french fries and tangy cheese curds, smothered in flavourful gravy. It originated in the province of Quebec but is today considered the national dish of Canada. Universally hailed as a comfort dish for Canadians, you can find the best poutine at Fritz European Fry House if you’re in Vancouver, Au Pied de Cochon in Montréal, the Whistle Stop Café in Ontario or at Nom Nom Nom in Toronto.
Airports in Canada
Canada has 13 International airports. The Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) is the largest and busiest airport in Canada but Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL) serves a higher percentage of international passengers.
The major cities such as Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal provide efficient public transport systems that include buses, light rail and underground train systems, and trams.
Driving in Canada
If you want to visit other parts of the country and explore, renting a car will be convenient. Some car rental companies serving Canada are Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty.
If driving through a national park or nature reserve (which covers more of Canada than you might think!), keep an eye out for animals that tend to cross the roads, especially at night. If you’re visiting Canada during the winter season, make sure that your car is fitted with sturdy winter tires to avoid the risk of skidding.