Have you ever seen a grizzly bear fish for salmon, or watched the dancing Northern Lights fill a starlit sky? Canada is simply epic. It’s a place fuelled by adventure; where hipster cities meet wild, mountainous landscapes and some of Earth’s most extraordinary wildlife. We explore 14 of Canada’s best things to do - the ultimate Canada bucket list!
Meet polar bears in Churchill
Jump onboard the bear-proof Tundra Buggy® for a spectacular polar bear-spotting adventure. This massive 4x4-style vehicle will take you across icy plains into the Churchill Wildlife Management Area – the hunting ground of these mighty white bears. Visit in autumn and you could experience some of the best wildlife encounters of your life. You might even get a snap of a nosy polar bear as its stands up and peers through your window, its paws resting on one of the buggy’s enormous wheels; and make sure you look out for other special wildlife, such as the snowy owl or Arctic fox. Having the chance to be so close to one of these powerful and majestic bears is such a thrill – and you could be one of the lucky few to experience it on the unforgettable Churchill and Polar Bear tour.
Soar over the Niagara Falls in a helicopter
Picture a gigantic sheet of roaring water and clouds of mist that float into the sky; the almighty Niagara Falls is nature at its most exciting. Its three waterfalls include the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Here, over two million litres of water cascade over the crest line every second. You can watch this natural phenomenon from above on a Niagara Falls helicopter flight. You’ll soar over the dramatic Whirlpool Rapids, legendary Rainbow Bridge, and will get an incredible birds-eye view of the America and Horseshoe Falls. You’ll even be given a keepsake certificate to remember your high-flying experience.
Join the cowboys and girls in Calgary
Pop on a cowboy hat, climb into a pair of denim jeans and brace yourself for the world’s largest outdoor rodeo show. Every July, thousands of people flock to Calgary for the city’s famous stampede – and not just for the free pancake breakfasts. This huge event is renowned for its rodeos and chuckwagon races. On the Calgary Stampede Extravaganza, you can watch cowboys and cowgirls competing in thrilling Saddle Bronco and Bareback rides, and most dramatic of all, a Bull Ride. For three nights, you’ll stay at the Delta Bow Valley in Downtown Calgary or the historic railway hotel, Fairmont Palliser. These hotels book up quickly at this time of year, so talk to us and we can help plan your trip well in advance.
Search for grizzly bears from a floating lodge
On our Farewell Harbour Lodge Wildlife Experience, you can seek out grizzlies in their natural habitat and search for leaping salmon and Pacific white-sided dolphins on a mammal-viewing boat trip. The Farewell Harbour Lodge has a beautiful setting in British Columbia's Broughton Archipelago, a region teeming with wildlife. Alternatively, the floating Knight Inlet Lodge, on northern Vancouver Island, is one of the finest spots in the world for grizzly bear viewing. You can only reach it by floatplane, so it’s a brilliant choice if you want to experience a remote and peaceful stay in the wild. The bear-viewing tours at both lodges are led by expert guides who know the area inside out and can help increase your chances of seeing a grizzly on its own turf.
Go whale watching in Tofino
For a whale-watching experience you’ll always treasure, it’s all about Tofino. This Vancouver Island resort town is paradise for outdoorsy types, with year-round surfing, beach biking and storm watching. But the highlight for us is the whales. Step onboard a Zodiac boat for a day trip around Clayoquot Sound’s awesome inlets and fjords. Carve ripples in the water as you follow the fin of an orca or catch the breach of a humpback whale as it bursts out of the ocean and crashes back down, leaving a frothy spray in its wake. For a better chance of seeing these magnificent creatures, visit between March and October. One of our favourite places to stay in Tofino is the outstanding Wickaninnish Inn, snuggled among the rocks on the deserted Chesterman Beach.
Explore Vancouver by floatplane
British Columbia’s diverse and trendy Vancouver is a real crowd pleaser. It’s got beaches, mountains, an eclectic nightlife and the country’s hottest foodie scene; you can try everything from Japanese hot dogs and fish tacos to Canada’s famous poutine – crispy French fries covered in cheese curds and lashings of gravy. One of the coolest ways to see Vancouver’s contrasting landscapes and sights such as Stanley Park and English Bay is by floatplane. Before an exhilarating water landing, you’ll fly beneath the clouds over tall mountains wrapped around golden beaches; past coastal forests and above the glittering city skyline.
Catch nature’s greatest light show
Imagine staring up at a sky of swirling greens, fuchsias and violets as the Northern Lights dance above you. We can take you on an aurora-chasing adventure in Canada's north-western Yukon territory, as part of our independent Aurora Klondike experience. Each night, your guide will take you away from the city lights to a remote part of Whitehorse or Dawson, where you’ll hopefully get to see this mesmerising Natural Wonder of the World. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse and want to get that Instagram-worthy shot, make sure you bring a good-quality camera and tripod, or download a long exposure app on your phone.
See the world’s highest tidal range at the Bay of Fundy
Atlantic Canada is a true charmer. Here, you’ll find candy cane-striped lighthouses towering over rocky coastlines and little fishing villages where houses are painted in primary colours and cling to rugged cliffsides. The Bay of Fundy has the world’s highest – and most impressive – tidal range. At low and high tide, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of the bay, and watching this flood of water transform the shoreline is a real spectacle. For the best view, head to the unique tide-worn formations of Hopewell Rocks. You can also book a whale-watching cruise here, and search for species such as the Atlantic right, finback and humpback whale.
Stay at one of Canada's most iconic hotels
It’s easy to see why Lake Louise is such a bucket list favourite. Fresh-scented pine trees climb up craggy mountainsides and, in summer, the water is a striking shade of turquoise. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one of Canada's most iconic hotels. It sits on the edge of the lake in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage site, Banff National Park. You can explore the area on a guided hike or hire a canoe and head out on the water. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has a collection of luxury retreats all over Canada and we can help you find the right match – from the five-star Queen Elizabeth in downtown Montréal, to The Fairmont Royal York in the heart of Toronto.
Walk on a glacier in the Canadian Rockies
Let’s talk about Highway 93. This awe-inspiring route, also known as the Icefields Parkway, connects Jasper National Park to Banff National Park and is one of the most astounding drives around. We can arrange a sightseeing tour for you, where you’ll travel along this ultra-scenic stretch of road, before taking a seat in the giant Ice Explorer snow coach to reach the Athabasca Glacier. Here, you’ll get to walk on and drink from the glacier and experience the architectural masterpiece of the Glacier Skywalk, which juts out over the edge of a cliff. Step out onto the glass floor and peer between your hiking boots at the plunging waterfalls of Sunwapta Canyon, a 280-metre drop below.
Watch the world unfurl by rail
Cut through deep green forests on a long and winding track, and gaze out of your window as snow-dusted mountains and bright blue lakes flash past your eyes... There’s something so enchanting and romantic about exploring a country by rail, and when it comes to picturesque train journeys, it doesn’t get much better than Canada. The award-winning Rocky Mountaineer is one of Canada’s top rail services, and we have four amazing Rocky Mountaineer routes which can easily be added to your Canada escape. Ask us about our overnight First Passage to the West Rail Journey, where you can stop at the glacier-fed Lake Louise, one of the jewels of the Canadian Rockies.
Experience life on a ‘dude ranch’
As part of our wildlife tracking itinerary in Vancouver, you can experience the freedom, quiet and sweeping open landscapes of Canada’s Wild West – and get to know what life’s really like on a ranch. You’ll spend two nights at one of British Columbia’s best dude ranches, the Chilcotin Guest Ranch, where you can enjoy evenings by the campfire and under the stars. In the day, you’ll be able to practice your horsemanship skills; ride through mountain trails; learn how to ride bareback; and track wildlife such as black and grizzly bears with an expert guide.
Sail the North West Passage
This once-in-a-lifetime cruise is the ultimate luxury travel adventure. It launches in 2019 and deserves a top spot on your Canada bucket list. On our North West Passage stay and cruise holiday, we can take you to a part of the world where icebergs pierce through deep blue waters and islands puncture the sky. This is a place not many people get to see and, here, adventure takes centre stage. Get your walking boots on and join a guided hike or navigate through the ocean on a kayak; and while on deck, keep your eyes peeled for the white tail of a beluga whale, the long tusks of a walrus or the pale coat of a polar bear as it rests on a slab of ice. The exclusive and luxurious Scenic Eclipse has the look and feel of a super yacht – it even has its own on-board helicopters and a submarine. And the all-inclusive offering is excellent. You’ll have all meals and drinks – even rare wines, Champagnes and spirits – included, as well as selected shore activities and butler service.
Sleep in a secluded log cabin
Get back to nature and fill your lungs with fresh air at the chic Hotel Sacacomie in rural Québec. This log-built lodge stands tall in the heart of the forest and overlooks a stunning private lake. It’s got so much character and the activities are fantastic. Join the bear and beavers tour and you’ll hopefully get to see black bears foraging or a beaver in the wild. You could try hiking, fishing, or head out on the water in a pedal boat, kayak or canoe. When you want to chill, the private beach is a beaut and the eco-spa is one of Canada’s largest. Have a go at ‘thermotherapy’, where the heat of the sauna will soothe any aching muscles after a hike, and a splash under the ice waterfall will leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed.