With its numerous national parks and pristine landscapes, Canada is the perfect destination for nature lovers, but also for travellers who like to visit large cities. Hire a motorhome or take a scenic train ride through the mountains with Rocky Mountaineer. Travelling to Canada requires an eTA (electronic travel authorisation) or visa. Remember to apply for an eTA Canada or a visa during the travel preparations.
Highlights for a holiday in Canada
Since Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, it is usually not possible to make a tour of the whole country in a single holiday, and most travellers have to limit themselves to a part of Canada. This article describes two popular routes: a tour of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in the east of Canada and a tour of British Columbia and Alberta in the west. For a holiday in Canada, an eTA must be applied for, except if you arrive in Canada by boat or by land (from the United States).
Bustling metropolises and cascading waterfalls in eastern Canada
Many travellers begin their tour of eastern Canada in Toronto, Canada's largest city. Although Ottawa - the capital of Canada - is the most important city administratively, Toronto is the economic centre of the country. Here, one of the tallest buildings in the world can be found: the Canadian National Tower (also called CN Tower). From the viewing platform at an altitude of 447 metres, you have a beautiful view over the city, and on a clear day even the Niagara Falls can be seen. Travellers who are not afraid of heights can look down below on the Glass Floor, which is 342 metres high.
Toronto is the starting point for a trip to the Niagara Falls, three waterfalls that can be admired from both Canada and the US. The waterfall on the Canadian side - the largest of the three - is also called Horseshoe, because it has the shape of a horseshoe. The American Falls can also be seen from Canada. In addition to the Niagara Falls, there is more natural beauty to discover in the east of Canada. North of Toronto lies the Algonquin Provincial Park, where one can canoe, hike and spot moose and bears.
From Algonquin, most travellers continue in the direction of Ottawa and Montreal in the province of Quebec. Along the way you will find extensive forests and clear blue lakes. Highlights of Montreal include the park Mont-Royal, which is situated on a hill and offers fantastic views of the city, and Vieux-Montréal, the historic district of the city with the Notre Dame basilica. In this district, you almost feel like you are in France. Most travellers return from Montreal along Lake Ontario and end their tour in Toronto.
West Canada: Rocky Mountains and Vancouver Island
The western part of the country is just as popular with tourist as east Canada. Hiking enthousiasts will especially feel at home in British Columbia and Alberta, in the west of Canada. The most famous national parks in these provinces are Jasper and Banff, both part of the Rocky Mountains. In these parks, you can spot wild animals such as moose and reindeers. The area is also inhabited by black bears and grizzly bears, but the chances you encounter those are slim. Both parks are characterised by spectacular hills, glaciers, waterfalls and beautiful lakes, of which Lake Louise is the most famous. The parks can be explored during a multi-day hike, but also from the lake during a boat ride.
Jasper and Banff are relatively close to each other and are connected by the Icefields parkway, a highway which runs through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Most travellers therefore choose to visit both national parks. Banff National Park is about 130 kilometres from Calgary, making this city a great starting point for a journey through western Canada. From Calgary, you can travel to Banff, Jasper and Vancouver. Calgary, the third-largest city of Canada, is especially popular among winter athletes, in part because of the Olympic Winter Games which were held there in 1988.
Vancouver is a city with a bustling centre with various parks and beaches. From Vancouver, it is a few hours on the ferry to get to Vancouver Island, the largest island on North America’s west coast. From the island, you can spot orcas and whales. It is also worth it to visit the capital of Vancouver Island, Victoria. Highlights of Victoria include the parliament building and Fisherman’s wharf, a colourful harbour with numerous fish restaurants.
eTA or Canada visa application
An eTA or a visa is required for a journey to Canada. The eTA is easier and faster to apply for compared to the visa. That is why it is generally recommended applying for an eTA rather than a visa. The eTA Canada is valid for five years. An eTA allows you to travel to Canada an unlimited number of times during this validity period. If you plan to visit both the east and west parts of Canada, a single eTA will suffice. It can be used for both trips to the country, without needing to pass on any changes regarding travel dates. An important requirement is that you use the passport which was used during the original eTA application. As soon as a traveller’s passport expires and they get a new one, the eTA’s validity expires as well. In that case, a new eTA Canada has to be applied for with the new passport.