Canada's cities and towns offer travelers a diverse choice of experiences, from chic, cosmopolitan centers to mountain resorts and maritime cities.
British Columbia's beautiful capital city has a quaint, small-town atmosphere, perhaps due to its island location. Set at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the city has a mild year-round climate, with wet mild winters and warm, glorious summers. Views are stunning in every direction, looking out over the harbor, south over the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Washington State, or across to the mountains on mainland British Columbia. Most of the tourist activity is focused around Victoria's Inner Harbour, where the Parliament Buildings and the historic Empress Hotel are located. A stroll along the waterfront on a sunny day is gorgeous. Just outside the city center are beaches and lovely coastal areas, as well as parks and hiking areas.
Halifax is a great city for anyone looking for an introduction to Canada's Maritime Provinces. The Halifax waterfront is the main tourist hub in the city, particularly during the summer months, with a few historic buildings and plenty of activity. Overlooking the city is the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, one of the city's main attractions. Outside the city are a number of small coastal villages that offer a good glimpse of life in the Maritimes. One of the most famous villages is Peggy's Cove, home to the most photographed lighthouse in the Maritimes. A little further afield are Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, also well worth a visit. Taking a day trip from Halifax is highly recommended.
Like Montreal, Québec City is loaded with history and located in the French-speaking province of Québec. This is the provincial capital and a city with a history dating back to the early 1600s. The old buildings and curving cobbled streets make this one of Canada's most charming capital cities. One-third the size of Montreal, Québec City is also relatively small and easy to navigate. While summer is the busy season, the famous winter carnival, the Carnaval de Québec, attracts huge crowds and is the city's most well-known event.
A visit to Whitehorse offers a chance to see life in Canada's far north. This is the capital of the Yukon and also a gateway to areas further north, including Alaska and the beautiful Nahanni National Park. The city's history dates back to the Klondike gold-rush, when prospectors made their way through here on their route to Dawson City. Many of the city's attractions offer insight into the gold-rush days, and beyond the city limits are some beautiful natural areas to explore. If you are lucky, the night sky will come to life with a display of northern lights.
Whistler has long been known as a world-class ski destination and was the site of many of the skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics hosted by Vancouver. Despite this reputation, Whistler is an equally impressive and popular summer destination, with hiking, biking, golfing, and many other activities on offer. The village has grown over the years and is now a vibrant, high-end resort town with all kinds of hotels, restaurants, and shops. The Whistler-Blackcomb ski hills are famous for their incredible terrain and bring in skiers from around the world. The Peak-2-Peak Gondola, which joins the two hills, is an 11-minute, 4.4-kilometer-long ride, with spectacular views, and is open to skiers or non-skiers year-round.
Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island
If you are going to visit Charlottetown, you might as well take the time to explore the whole province of Prince Edward Island. PEI is a summertime playground, with beautiful beaches and interesting historic sites, including the fictional home of Anne of Green Gables in PEI National Park. Charlottetown is the capital and main city but has an almost small-town feel, with numerous Victorian-style heritage buildings. PEI is small enough that you can see the whole island on even a short vacation. Many visitors, particularly families, rent beach houses or cottages on PEI during the summer months.
In the interior of British Columbia is the lovely city of Kelowna. This city is a favorite spot for Canadians but less well known internationally. Picturesquely set on the shore of Lake Okanagan and surrounded by rolling mountains, Kelowna draws tourists during the summer months, when it's possible to hike, golf, or enjoy the lake. Renting a houseboat to explore the surrounding waters is a popular summer vacation in this area. In winter, the surrounding mountains are a playground for skiers, with the popular nearby ski resorts of Big White and Silver Star within easy reach.