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What happens when a "gassy" Englishman rows into town feeling thirsty? A pub is born. And from that a city—in this case Vancouver. Though the pubs are plentiful, food and drink aren’t the only things to take in during your trip. In its 150 years, Vancouver has grown into a cosmopolitan city nestled in the great outdoors. Enjoy the snow-capped mountains, waterfront forests, cityside beaches, Olympic history and the world’s highest suspension bridge. Hipsters welcome. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite.)
We've heard Toronto described as "New York City run by the Swiss," and it's true—you can find world-class theatre, shopping and restaurants here, but the sidewalks are clean and the people are friendly. The best place to start is literally at the top—the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere.
Montreal, c’est si bon! This French-speaking city is considered the cultural capital of Canada, and is a cosmopolitan celebration of Québécois style. A horse-drawn carriage ride around the cobblestone streets and grand buildings of Vieux-Montréal will give you a taste of European flavour. The Basilique Notre-Dame is a confection of stained glass, and the Plateau Mont-Royal district will delight you with its quaint boutiques and cafés. Dig in to a massive plate of poutine to fuel up for a tour of the epic Olympic Park.
Quebec City may be the only fortified city north of Mexico, but it welcomes visitors with open arms. Explore the Citadel, where you might catch Canadian troops staging a military ceremony. As for food, you could splurge on afternoon tea at the Chateau Frontenac, or do as the locals do and snack on poutine—french fries with gravy and cheese curds.
We won't lie: Niagara Falls is uber-touristy. There are wax museums and a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and if it's a fast-food chain, you can probably find it here. But even the most jaded hipster shouldn't pass up a chance to visit this town, because the Falls themselves are spectacular.
Ottawa is a compact, clean, cleverly planned centre of culture and politics. And it's an ideal choice for a weekend getaway. Start downtown at the architecturally stunning National Gallery of Canada, and don't miss the Canadian Nature Museum and the National Aviation Museum. Rideau Canal offers boating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. Gatineau Park attracts cyclists and walkers, while Byward Market blends old and new Ottawa.
It's still one of the most British cities in North America, but there's more to Victoria than tearooms, antique shops and galleries (though there are plenty of those). Driven by the younger generation, the city has sprouted a collection of cool shops, authentic coffee bars and unique restaurants. It also has more cycling routes than any other Canadian city, providing a great way to explore the picturesque location (and avoid an afternoon of antique shopping).
The sophisticated city that grew out of the Canadian West, Calgary balances the modern and the traditional with pioneer charm. For the full western experience, show up in time for the annual Calgary Stampede, complete with rodeos. Year-round you'll find abundant shopping, dining and nightlife; a short drive away are some of Canada's finest national parks.
Whistler, British Columbia, is a short trip from Vancouver by road or air. The stunning landscape, pedestrian-only Village and genuine, down-to-earth mountain culture make Whistler an unforgettable year-round destination. Winters provide reliable snow for skiing, snowboarding and Nordic sports while golf, mountain biking and hiking fill the warmer months. Festivals, spas, restaurants and bars combine with endless outdoor activities to make Whistler the ultimate place to escape and unwind.
Flanked on all sides by the Rockies, Alberta's favourite mountain town offers an irresistible combination of luxury lodges, perfect powder, renowned restaurants and energetic nightlife. With both summer and winter appeal, Banff lures visitors to its stores, spas and slopes year-round. A thriving arts scene, and proximity to Lake Louise and Kananaskis County, add to its allure. Don't miss the hoodoos, intriguing rock spires, in Banff National Park, Canada's first and the world's third - National Park.