10 Attractions That Make Canada Great
From the luminous waters of Lake Louise to Quebec’s Ice Hotel, we’re counting down the greatest attractions in Canada.
1. Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta
Situated at the foot of alpine peaks in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is easily one of the most beautiful attractions in Canada. It’s well worth dodging throngs of tourists to experience the crystal-blue waters and stunning vistas. There’s plenty to do at the lake, including booking a serene gondola ride in the summer and ice skating in the winter months. The nearby resort village of Lake Louise is the highest community in Canada at 1,540 metres (5,052 feet). While you’re there, check out the top seven things to do in Banff.
2. Hotel de Glace, Quebec City
Can you truly call yourself a Canadian if you haven’t slept on a bed made of ice? If your answer is a resounding no, it’s time to book a room in Quebec City‘s famed Hotel de Glace. Constructed every year from more than 15,000 tonnes of snow, the hotel features 36 rooms, a bar and an outdoor spa with saunas. The temperature in the hotel is between -3°C and -5°C, so guests bundle up in arctic sleeping bags through the night. While prices for overnight stays are steep, the hotel offers tours for visitors just passing through. Looking for even more luxury? Check out Canada’s greatest hotels.
3. Nahanni National Park Reserve, North West Territories
Nahanni was the first place in the world to be given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1978. It’s no wonder—this reserve in the southwest part of the North West Territories features 30,000 square kilometres of pristine northern wilderness. The park protects the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region and is home to the Nahanni River, which winds through mountain valleys and canyons. (Here are more must-visit parks across Canada.) The river’s breathtaking features include sulphur hot springs and Virginia Falls, a vertical drop twice as steep as Niagara Falls, and easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Canada. The park is also home to a large variety of wildlife, including wolves, woodland caribou, mountain goats and black bears.
4. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
The ROM is Canada’s largest museum and houses more than six million objects, including a 90-foot-long baurosaurus, a 900-carat cerussite gem and a rare bust of Cleopatra VII. But the building itself is just as fascinating as what’s inside it. In 2007, the ROM opened the Lee-Chin Crystal designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The unusual, crystal-like design is said to have been inspired by the museum’s rock and gem collection. It stands adjacent to the ROM’s original building—first opened in 1914—and its impressive exterior is made of 75 per cent glass and 25 per cent brushed aluminum. Here are more incredible things to do in Toronto.
5. Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada’s oldest ballet company and the longest continuously running ballet company in North America. It’s also one of the premiere dance companies in the world. Fortunately, you can catch a show for free during the RWB’s long-running Ballet in the Park. Every summer since 1970, the company performs for a weekend in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park. Don’t forget your lawn chairs and picnic baskets—the audience watches the show while seated on the grass. While you’re there, check out the top 50 things to do in Winnipeg.
Photo: World Heritage Routes Travel
6. SGang Gwaay, British Columbia
Located on the small island of SGang Gwaay off the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Island archipelago (Gwaii Hanaas), the village of Nan Sdins was once a thriving community of the indigenous Haida people. But by the 1880s, disease had completely destroyed the population. Today, the site is home to the remains of 10 original 19th-century Haida houses and 32 carved mortuary totem poles. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the village is a testament to the art, culture and history of the Haida First Nation. Check out more of British Columbia’s top attractions.
7. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Established in 1753 as the first British settlement in Nova Scotia outside of Halifax, Lunenburg is a town caught in time. The Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Canadian National Historic District for the very fact that it hasn’t changed much at all since it was first established—original buildings and public spaces from the 18th century are still in use today. This small coastal fishing town was also the launching spot of the famous Bluenose tall ship in 1921. Today, Luneburg is the home port of the modern-day replica, the Bluenose II. Check out more inspiring adventures across Canada.
8. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Dresden, Ontario
This Ontario Heritage site commemorates the life of Josiah Henson, a slave from Maryland, who escaped to Upper Canada through the Underground Railroad in 1830. He eventually purchased land in Dresden, Ontario, and established a settlement that served as refuge for former slaves. Today, the site aims to educate visitors about African Americans who escaped slavery to settle in the area. It features an interpretive centre with 19th-century artifacts from the abolitionist era, as well as the house where the Josiah Henson lived with his family, and the structure that housed fugitive slaves. The site bears the name of the famous novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe because Henson is believed to have inspired the story.
Don’t miss these stunning shots from a once-in-a-lifetime cross-Canada trek.
9. Stanley Park’s Totem Pole Display, Vancouver
It’s easy to see why this is the most-visited attraction in all of British Columbia—the nine poles, which stand among the trees in the park’s Brockton Point area, are impressive works of art. The park began collecting totem poles in 1920, but many of the original pieces were damaged by the elements and sent to museums for preservation. The most recent addition to the collection was carved by the Robert Yelton of the Sqwamish Nation as a tribute to his mother, one of the last native residents of the park. Check out this gorgeous gallery of images captured on the Vancouver Seawall.
10. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
You haven’t truly experienced Canada until you’ve seen some of its most important works of art. The National Gallery features a collection of 36,000 works of art by Canadian and international artists, including The Group of Seven, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse. Some noteworthy pieces include Emily Carr’s The Welcome Man (donated by singer Bryan Adams) and Andy Warhol’s Mao. The gallery also boasts a large collection of Indigenous works dating back to 1850, and 125,000 works showcased in the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The glass and granite building was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdi, and offers an impressive view of the Parliament Buildings. This is what it’s like skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.
Next, check out Canada’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.