If you’re a nature lover then you’ll love Canada, with its beautiful landscapes, glaciers, lakes and national parks. Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, so it can be difficult to know where to visit as a first-timer. Of course you’ll want to try the typical Canadian foods such as poutine and Canadian bacon, and you’ll definitely want to get out into nature and see the wildlife such as moose and bison. But where should you go? In the article below we’ll list some of the best places to visit in Canada for first-timers. Don’t forget if you’re flying into Canada by air then you’ll probably need an eTA Canada (unless you have a Canadian or US passport). You can apply online for one before you go, but more on that later…
Banff National Park
Located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Banff National Park is the country’s oldest and arguably most beautiful national park. Boasting postcard-perfect mountain ranges and turquoise blue lakes, it’s a breathtaking place to visit. For outdoor enthusiasts there are so many activities to enjoy here, including camping, biking, hiking and skiing.
Toronto & Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls needs no introduction – it’s one of the world’s most photographed natural wonders. Consisting of three waterfalls, Niagara Falls was formed when glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age. Six million cubic feet of water thunders down over the edge every minute, so it’s an incredibly impressive sight to behold. If you’re visiting Toronto then definitely pay a visit, since the falls are just 75 miles southeast of the city.
People often mistakenly think that Toronto is the capital of Canada (it’s actually Ottawa) because it’s Canada’s main international airport hub and most cosmopolitan city. During your visit, make sure you check out the CN Tower, stroll through Kensington Market and watch the world go by at a cafe in Yorkville. For more ideas, you can check out my list of totally awesome things to do in Toronto.
To experience French Canada, head to the city of Montreal, which boasts a beautiful old town that makes you feel like you’ve woken up in Europe. Here you’ll find cobbled streets, grand plazas, art galleries, museums, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. Montreal is an artsy city, so the best times to visit are during the Montreal International Jazz Festival or Just For Laughs Festival. Or if you’re into racing, you can visit during the Formula One Grand Prix.
All the way out on the West Coast, Vancouver is a beautiful seaport city surrounded by mountains, which are only a 30 minute drive away. You could easily spend your morning snowboarding or hiking in the mountains, then relax with a beer in downtown Vancouver in the afternoon, they’re that close. In addition to downtown, don’t forget to explore the city’s other districts, such as Gastown or the beachfront town of Kitsilano.
Getting an eTA visa for Canada
If you’re traveling to Canada for a holiday, business trip, or to visit friends and family then you will probably need to apply for an eTA. This is a mandatory travel authorization that you will need to enter by plane without a visa. If you hold a US or Canadian passport, or a Canadian visa, you won’t need one, but otherwise you’ll need to apply and pay online before you travel. The eTA costs £19.95. Your eTA is valid for a maximum of five years and permits you to enter for periods of up to six months. Alternatively, if you are planning to travel to Canada for more than six consecutive months, you will probably need to apply for a Canada visa – check what visa you’ll need before you go.
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