8 Amazing Canadian Cities Beyond the Big Three

Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver - these are certainly world class cities with lots of attractions and sites to see. What you might not know is that there are many other amazing places to visit in Canada.

Although Canada is all too often perceived as a land of snow and ice, it actually has several gorgeous cities you should visit along with tremendous natural resources and historical places. Visitors to Canada tend to concentrate on visiting the three biggest cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

The majority of the country’s relatively small population (35th largest in the world) can be found in these cities however, the second largest country in terms of area in the world has many other wonderful places to see.

If you plan on visiting Canada, I would definitely visit the big three but I would also make time to visit many of the smaller places I list here. I admit to bias.

I have lived in Canada my entire life and, despite travelling to many different countries, there is no place else I would rather call home. I am currently about an hour outside of Toronto and have lived within an hour of both Montreal and Vancouver as well.

Of the places discussed here, there are only two that I haven’t visited in person and they are on my bucket list of places to see before I die. The list goes from east to west.

1. Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick


This is one of the two places I haven’t visited. My journeys to the east coast have not been as plentiful as I would like. The Bay of Fundy made the short list when they were deciding on the modern world’s Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

The bay separates the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is home to the world’s highest tides. They can reach up to 50 feet in some places along the 170 mile stretch of beach. As a result, erosion has created rocky towers when the tide is out that turn into islands when it comes in.

Over 100 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the bay during a single tide cycle. The Canadian east coast is also home to some of the best seafood you will ever eat, so make time to do some fine dining when you visit.

2. Quebec City, Quebec

This is the only walled city in North America north of Mexico and one if the most beautiful cities in Canada. This is the capital of Quebec, not Montreal.

It is exquisitely French Canadian and full of European charm. This is where Generals Wolfe and Montcalm fought on the Plains of Abraham and Wolfe wrestled control of Canada from the French for the British Empire.

You can still visit the historic Plains as well as indulge in the many little stores filled with local art and history. There’s the Chateau Frontenac, considered one of the world’s most photographed hotels, the St Lawrence River, poutine and some great cuisine as well as a world class winter festival.

Try the crepes and get your picture taken on the wall.

3. Ottawa, Ontario


Ottawa is the nation’s capital. It’s a big city that doesn’t feel big. It is a combination of historical buildings like the Parliament buildings and Chateau Laurier as well as brand new architecture and museums.

As can be expected of any national capital, it has a ton of museums including a fabulous war museum. There’s lots of green space to walk and explore as well as many sporting activities. It’s a great city to explore on foot.

The Byward Market is worth devoting an afternoon to exploring. In the winter, you’ll want to skate on the Rideau Canal. Make time to indulge your sweet tooth with a beaver tail pastry.

4. Niagara Falls, Ontario

The falls are another natural wonder. Horseshoe falls is one of three sets of falls at this border between Canada and the United States. They are an amazing sight from the edges and there are many other ways to explore them including an exploration underneath the falls and the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Look for rainbows over the falls.

For a long time, Niagara Falls was mainly known as a honeymoon destination. Now, it has a number of other great attractions including the casino and spa. It’s located in the heart of Niagara wine country and vineyard tours are plentiful.

There is also the Shaw festival of plays that are well known and worth seeing. All of this is less than two hours from Toronto.

5. Churchill, Manitoba


Churchill is a remote town in northern Manitoba. There is one big reason to go to Churchill and it has made the place extremely famous and on many nature lovers bucket lists. You go to Africa to see elephants but you go to Churchill to see polar bears.

Located on the Hudson Bay, it has a large population of North America’s largest land mammal. There are multiple tours that will take you out on a northern safari to see arctic fox, seals, and polar bears.

The bears are so used to visitors that they have been known to stand on their hind legs and put their paws on windows (which don’t open and are very sturdy) to peer in at their visitors. This is a trip I am longing to make.

6. Calgary, Alberta

Calgary hosted the winter Olympics in 1988. There are some great sporting sites still there. It’s also home to the Calgary Stampede, a world famous rodeo, and Spruce Meadows, which is one of Canada’s premiere equestrian sites.

This is a place for active people who want to enjoy an old west feel. Calgary cultivates it and you’ll see lots of cowboys hats, boots, and line dancing.

7. Banff, Alberta

This is a national park region that packs some of the most beautiful scenery in a country famous for its natural resources and parks. It’s become a well-known international destination and famous for its cuisine and atmosphere but the real reason to go is the scenery.

It is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and has some gorgeous lakes like Lake Louise nearby. You can ski to your hearts content but if you intend to camp, make sure you familiarize yourself with safety rules.

There is a lot of wildlife and, while the elk on your hotel lawn are cute, the bears, cougars, and moose are significantly less cute and cuddly up close. By all means, hike the park but be sensible.

8. Victoria, British Columbia


Victoria is at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The city of Vancouver isn’t on the island at all, and no, I cannot explain to you why that is. It is a short ferry ride from Vancouver though.

Victoria is known for its refined British atmosphere that is full of tea shops and antique places. It’s cultured and beautiful. There are great gardens to see as well as museums to explore. It is very cycling friendly and there are many great trails to explore throughout the city and beyond it.

If you choose to keep exploring the island, make sure you check out the many great trails including the Malahat and the North Coast Trail. Wildlife lovers will want to watch for bears, cougars, and a variety of other animals.

There are ferries to smaller nearby islands, like Salt Spring. This is also a great location for whale watching with lots of grey whales and orcas as well as a variety of birds and other animals.

Regardless of where you go, you’ll find Canada is a pretty welcoming place. There’s lots to see and do and the people are generally pretty easy going. If you’ve never been here, it’s time for a visit.

Cover photo: thebesttourism.com


About the author

Heather B

Heather is an avid traveller, lover of dogs, and baker supreme. She lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada where she raises German Shorthaired Pointers with her family. An explorer at heart, she travels whenever she can, wherever she can.

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