explore canada

Regions and cities of Canada

Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)

This region is known for its history, particularly during the formation of Canada as a sovereign state. Atlantic Canada is well-known for unique accents, the origin of Acadian culture, natural beauty (particularly around coastal areas), the historic beauty of Halifax, and a huge fishing and shipping industry. It is also home to the distinctive culture of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was simultaneously the first part of what is now Canada to be explored by Europeans and the last part to join the confederation.

Quebec

Quebec is one of the most unique regions in Canada, and for that matter, North America. Originally settled as part of New France, Quebec is culturally distinct from the rest of Canada. French is the dominant language, unlike the rest of the country, and the province is known for great cultural sites like Quebec City’s Winter Festival, Montreal’s classic architecture, and maple syrup and poutine (two staples of Canadian cuisine). Montreal is also the second largest French-speaking city in the world, though through centuries of influence from both the British and the French, its inhabitants have developed a distinct sense of identity.

Ontario

Canada’s most populous province is also quite geographically vast, allowing for endless activities to partake in. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is eclectic and vibrant, and prides itself on its multiculturalism. The province is also home to Ottawa, Canada’s charming, bilingual capital, as well as Niagara Falls, and the untapped natural beauty of the Muskoka and beyond. All these things and more make Ontario showcase a lot of what is considered quintessentially Canadian by outsiders.

Prairies (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan)

Known for their vast open spaces and plentiful resources, the Canadian Prairies are a dynamic set of provinces with some of the most stunning natural beauty in the world. On the western edge of the Prairies, in Alberta lie the mountainous national parks of Banff and Jasper, and on the eastern edge in Manitoba, lies the beginning of the Canadian Shield, which contains some of the oldest rock on the surface of the earth. The major cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are modern cities with everything from massive rodeos to high-class museums.

British Columbia

Colloquially known as “B.C.”, this province prides itself on being beautiful. From cultured Vancouver, to charming Victoria, to the iconic ski slopes in Whistler, to the wineries of the Okanagan, B.C. is filled with wonder, both natural and man-made. The province also has the mildest winters in Canada on average (though often cloudy), especially in coastal regions, making it popular with Canadians who are less enthusiastic about winter.

The North (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon)

The Territories are some of the most remote regions on Earth and constitute most of Canada’s landmass. Though more known for their unique fauna and landscapes, the Territories also have some interesting human settlements, including Dawson City, a city that looks nearly untouched from the gold rush of 1898, and Iqaluit, Canada’s newest territorial capital, which is home to some interestingly adaptive architecture to the harsh climate of the North.

Cities

Ottawa – Sitting in Eastern Ontario with a view of Quebec across the river, Ottawa is the national capital of Canada. Its home to Parliament Hill, many national museums, the ByWard Market, and the best Canada Day celebrations.

Calgary – Confident and modern, Calgary is booming like nowhere else in Canada currently. Every summer, it plays host to the Calgary Stampede, a near city-wide celebration of Calgary’s ranching heritage. The city is also home to the Calgary Tower, Calgary Zoo, and Canada Olympic Park (the city hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics). Calgary is a stepping off point for visitors to Banff and the Canadian Rockies, 1 hour away.

Halifax – home to the second largest natural harbor in the world, Halifax is rich in history with architecture dating back to colonial times. The city is very compact and walk able, meaning most amenities are just a short walk away (if you’re downtown), such as the Citadel Hill, Canadian Museum of the Atlantic, the Public Gardens (oldest park in Canada), and Pier 21.

Montreal – Once Canada’s largest metropolis, Montreal can still pack a serious punch as one of the most unique cities in North America. It is the cultural heart of Canada’s francophone culture, and the city’s multilingualism is one of its defining aspects. Have a Montreal-styled bagel in Mile End, stroll the streets of Old Montreal, take the metro to Olympic Park, visit one of the city’s innumerous festivals, and take in the views atop Mont-Royal.

Quebec City – Quebec’s capital city, which is well known for its quaint Old City, its grand winter festival, and gorgeous architecture, such as the Chateau Frontenac. Visitors and locals alike boast about Quebec City’s charming European feel.

Toronto – As the largest city in Canada, Toronto is economic and cultural capital of Canada (particularly Anglophone Canada). Toronto prides itself on its diversity and is famous for landmarks like the CN Tower. But Toronto is also a very eclectic city, home to endless neighborhoods that offer quality shopping, cuisine, and cultural amenities. The city is also home to the third largest live theatre scene in the world (after New York and London).

Vancouver – A city unto urbanism itself, Vancouver is clean, modern, and efficient. Owing in part to its mild climate (that never gets too cold or too hot), the city has a strong outdoorsy streak in it. Vancouver is a city where you can hit the beach and the ski slopes in the same day. The city was also host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Whitehorse – Midpoint of the Alaska Highway, gateway to the outdoor activities of Canada‘s far north.

Winnipeg – Formerly known as the “Bulls Eye of the Dominion”, this city has a rich mixture of culture, including Metis and French-Canadian. Winnipeg also contains the Royal Canadian Mint, the old skyscrapers of the Exchange District, and the vibrant Forks.

Other destinations

Algonquin Park

Banff National Park

Cape Breton Island

The Interlake Area

Jasper National Park

Niagara Falls

Saint John River Valley

Terra Nova National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

Brampton Jain Temple