Canada is no doubt an amazing country that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Being such a large place, there is so much diversity and so many unique landscapes and cities to explore. From the stunning mountain ranges of the west coast to the maritime vibes and stunning coastal views of the east coast, there is truly no place that is like the other. Sounds like a great spot to visit, eh?
The people of Canada are very patriotic human beings, and if you ever come across one I’m sure they will shamelessly plug how amazing their country is. I mean, they kind of do have a reason to brag. They have Justin Trudeau. And fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Need I say more?
Don’t you want to come and see what all of the fuss is about with living in igloos and having a polar bear as a pet? Just kidding, but I can promise you that you will be fed maple syrup upon arrival and will need to get your snowshoes ready for a stroll down the streets. I’m only half kidding with that one.
From the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between, you will surely be wowed by all of the amazing destinations that Canada has to offer. While I think once you visit Canada you will want to stay forever, here is a 20-day itinerary for you to get started. Get ready for three weeks filled with bear sightings, epic road trips, and maple syrup with every meal.
21 Day 1: explore the bustling city of Vancouver
Being described as ‘Manhattan with mountains’, Vancouver is a bustling city with so much to offer. Even though it is a city and let’s face it, you didn’t come to Canada to see high rise buildings, it should definitely not be overlooked. Situated right on the ocean, in the summer you can enjoy sunny days on the beach with views of the mountain ranges in the distance.
The city also provides amazing cuisine options (especially seafood) and awesome hikes right outside the city centre. Capilano Suspension Bridge is a thrilling cliff walk surrounded by lush greenery, and Grouse Mountain (just 20 minutes from downtown) boasts amazing views of the city. Be sure to also check out the Vancouver Aquarium, the famous Stanley Park, and the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.
20 Day 2: take a ferry over to Vancouver Island
A short ferry ride from the city, Vancouver Island is a spot that is a must see while on this side of the country. On the southern tip lies the capital city of Victoria, which boasts stunning gardens and parliament buildings. While on the island, be sure to stop by Nanaimo (yes, named after Nanaimo bars) and Ucluelet for some whale watching.
A spot that can’t be missed while on the island is without a doubt Tofino, with stunning natural rainforest scenery and year-round surfing facilities. Who would have guessed you can surf in Canada? Looks like we truly have it all (sorry to brag).
19 Day 3: the Sea to Sky Highway
For the first leg of the road trip, you will head north on the famous Sea to Sky Highway in order to make your way to the resort town of Whistler. The trip will only take a couple of hours, however I guarantee it will take twice as long because there are so many amazing places to stop along the way. This is without a doubt one of the most stunning drives in the world (in my humble opinion) and you will constantly be stopping to take photos of the amazing mountainous scenery. Some notable stops include Squamish and Garibaldi Provincial Park, which are definitely worth a wander.
18 Day 4: explore the magic of Whistler
I have been to Whistler in both the winter and summer months, and both provided a very different yet equally amazing experience. Whistler in the winter is nothing short of magical—with the snow sparkling, the outside fireplaces in full force, and the atmosphere buzzing with winter-sports enthusiasts. It’s one of the best places in Canada to hit the slopes, with the fun not ending at night (the nightlife is next level!). In the summer, expect sunny days on the patio followed by a hike up the mountain. The gondola to the top of the summit also runs year round, so you can witness the seemingly fake views of the area during every season.
17 Day 5: hit up the wineries in Kelowna
Next on the list is to drive to the stunning Okanagan Valley, home to over 20 local vineyards, provincial parks, and scenic views for miles. This is the perfect place to take advantage of all of the wine tours and tastings in the area, all in close proximity to each other. There are a ton of great hikes in the area, a golf course, as well as a ski resort in the winter months. It’s the ideal place to take a day to relax on your journey across the country, with a popular summer activity being to hang by the lake and enjoy the laidback vibes.
16 Day 6: It’s time to get your hiking shoes on with a trip to BC’s provincial parks
The next 6-hour leg of the journey will take you through British Columbia’s picturesque provincial parks. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park offers stunning views of the Matier Glacier, with one of the top hikes in the province being the 3.5 hour hike to Upper Joffre Lakes. Wells Gray Provincial Park is known for its spectacular waterfalls, Spahat Falls and Maul Falls (which are both easily accessed in under a 30 minute walk).
The last park you will hit is Mount Robson Provincial Park, with one of the tallest mountains in the Rockies known as Mount Robson. This is the perfect spot to find a campsite for the night before heading to Jasper the next morning.
15 Day 7: Explore the stunning Jasper National Park
Welcome to Alberta! Get your eyes ready, because you are about to witness Canada’s most beautiful province (at least I think so), home to some pretty epic scenery. Just an hour from Mount Robson, you will be greeted with snow-capped mountains with every turn and endless crystal turquoise lakes. Maligne Lake is a popular spot with 90-minute cruises leaving hourly to Spirit Island where the photo-op opportunities are epic.
The hikes in the area are endless, and you can take the gondola up to the peak of Whistler Mountain. The Miette Hot Springs are also an opportunity to sit back and relax for only a few bucks (hey, you’re on holiday after all).
14 Day 8: Drive the scenic route of the Icefields Parkway
One of the most scenic drives in the Canadian Rockies is without a doubt the Icefields Parkway. This is where you will be leaving Jasper National Park and entering Banff National Park. The 232 km stretch of road includes some pretty epic spots that you could definitely spend a whole day exploring. Some stops worth mentioning include Athabasca Falls, Athabasca Glacier, Cirrus Mountain Viewpoint, Chephren Lake, and Bow Lake. One of my favourites is Peyto Lake, which is a lake shaped like a wolf that is surrounded by endless amounts of pine trees and mountain ranges. The water is so blue it looks like Kool-Aid (maybe it is, who knows).
13 Day 9: Catch a glimpse of the famous Lake Louise
At the end of the Icefields Parkway you will hit the famous Lake Louise, which is probably one of the more popular tourist stops. It can get extremely crowded, so try to hit this spot in the early morning or on a weekday rather than a weekend. The business is especially true during the summer months, as the little town becomes a beehive of activity. There are a ton of great hikes around Lake Louise for every difficulty level, so it’s worth staying a night here to make the most of your time.
There isn’t much in the village (it’s literally just a corner with a few stores), but the surroundings have endless spots to explore!
12 Day 10: Get a photo at Moraine Lake
Lake Louise is also home to possibly the most famous lake in the world—Moraine Lake. It’s a glacially fed lake that is only open in the summer months due to the harsh road conditions to get there in the winter months. The lake is so blue that it almost seems fake, so it’s become an obvious tourist favourite.
You can rent canoes and paddle around the lake, and there are a ton of trails surrounding the lake as well. If you’re not feeling adventurous, you can simply just have a photo op with the stunning scenery, which is sure to be a favourite on the gram.
11 Day 11: snow globe living at Yoho National Park
Just 30 minutes from Lake Louise, Yoho National Park is another amazing spot that is quite underrated and not as busy as Banff National Park. But in my eyes, I have no idea why! It’s home to Canada’s 3rd highest waterfall—Takakkaw Falls. Emerald Lake is a must do while in the park, where you will be welcomed with the most amazing winter wonderland scene you have ever witnessed.
If you have a chance, stay for a night in Emerald Lake Lodge, a little log cabin with amazing views of the lake and surrounding areas. In the winter months, you will truly feel like you are living in a snow globe!
10 Day 12: Explore the town of Banff
The quaint town of Banff, nestled directly in the middle of the Rockies, is a favourite by so many travelling throughout the country. The streets are full of delicious restaurants, local shops, and touristy stores where you can pick out the perfect souvenir to bring home. There are a ton of rooftop patios where you can enjoy a beverage while overlooking the stunning scenery, and an endless amount of outdoor activities to fill your day with.
Lake Minnewanka and Johnston Canyon are two fan favourites. Take a tour through the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and take in the amazing architecture, followed by a stroll down the Bow River that flows directly through town. You also can’t leave without taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain!
9 Day 13: Take the Drive to Calgary
On the way to Calgary from Banff, stop by the quaint mountain town of Canmore for a quick lunch break (Rocky Mountain Bagel Co is a must). Canmore can be described as a much less touristy version of Banff, and the gateway to Kananaskis country—one of the best area for hiking in the Rockies. Two spots to check out in this region are Grassi Lakes and braving the summit of Ha Ling Peak. You can also visit the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary and get up close in person with these amazing creatures.
Once you arrive in Calgary, enjoy a night of relaxation before catching a flight to the east coast. The Calgary Tower is a great spot to grab a bite to eat in their revolving restaurant while admiring the city views.
8 Day 14: time for the east coast… Toronto bound!
While it’s unfortunate that your west coast adventure is now complete, you’ll be happy to know that the east coast has a few things up its sleeve. Your first stop will be the bustling district of Toronto (or the 6ix), a city that you will surely never be bored in.
The CN Tower, Toronto’s tallest attraction, is a great place to start during a day exploring the city. You can even live on the edge (literally and figuratively) and brave the tower’s edge walk.
Next, a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game is a must-do while in the summer months, or a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game in the winter months. However, there is much more beyond the obvious tourist attractions, so get to know some of the locals in order to get an inside scoop on some of the best spots in town.
7 Day 15: It’s time for some poutine… off to Montreal!
After a busy day in Toronto, it’s time to head to the French-speaking, poutine-loving province of Quebec. The historic and vibrant city of Montreal has locals from all over Canada flocking to it every year due to its electrifying atmosphere. The nightlife is next level and the festival-filled summers make the city truly come alive.
It has been said that there are more restaurants than housing units, boasting a culture where meals are taken very seriously. Rumour has it than Montrealers are also the best-dressed folk in North America, making the shopping options a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, Montreal is not a city to be overlooked while visiting Canada, as you wouldn't want to miss out on the colourful atmosphere it showcases to all visitors.
6 Day 16: Explore the cobblestone streets of Quebec City
Quebec City is one of the most historical spots in Canada, with stone buildings lined with cobblestone streets dating back to the early 1600s. The city is full of museums, parliament buildings, amazing hotels, French bistros, and quirky boutiques.
The area of Old Quebec is known for its abundance of historical landmarks, beautiful stone churches, and a wide boardwalk overlooking the city with views of the Saint Lawrence River. If you want to go back in time, this spot has been seemingly unchanged since the 17th century (give or take a few things). Be sure to take a stroll through the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac to take in all of the fancy furnishings and stunning architecture.
5 Day 17: Time to jet off to the Maritimes! First stop: Halifax
The capital of Nova Scotia, Halifax (also known as ‘Halifornia’), is a city that has it all and then some. Not only are the people here some of the nicest you will ever come across, it’s got a lot of heart and soul to it that you will only understand if you visit. The downtown bar scene is a ton of fun, and the live music is taken very seriously (it’s literally everywhere). The waterfront boardwalk is full of restaurants and a game-changing indoor market. Some other spots worth visiting include the botanical gardens, Point Pleasant Park, and Citadel Hill.
4 Day 18: Take the drive down to Peggy’s Cove
This might be the most classic tourist spot in the province, but I promise that it is still worth visiting. Peggy’s Cove is not only stunningly beautiful, it also has such a quaint charm to it that will keep you exploring the whole day. It’s a quick trip from the city, so it’s worth seeing if you only have a short amount of time.
The colourful houses surrounding the cove are all so unique and the seafood restaurants here are something to write home about. Grab a lobster roll, take a photo at the famous lighthouse, and stroll around the cove to discover all of its surrounding areas.
3 Day 19: Relax on the beach of Crystal Crescent Provincial Park
With white sand beaches and bright blue waters, you will think you are stepping into a tropical destination when you visit Crystal Crescent Beach (although the water will not be as tropical in temperature).
Only 40 minutes outside of Halifax, this spot is an awesome day trip to take for a balance of relaxation and adventure. The park features 3 different beaches, boardwalks along the water, as well as hiking and bird-watching trails.
Spend the first half of the day lounging by the water and then spend the second half checking out the surrounding trails along the coast. I guarantee you’ll be questioning if you’re even in Canada.
2 Day 20: head over to Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers some seriously stunning coastal views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the series of hiking trails in the area. The Cabot Trail and Skyline Trail are two of the main spots to hike, with hikes at all different difficulty levels. Louisbourg Lighthouse—an active lighthouse that was the first lighthouse in Canada—is a great place for a photo op.
At certain times of the year, you can even spot migrating whales in the distance, as well as a moose or two if you are lucky enough! It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.