Best-kept travel secrets in Canada

Try as you might to trawl through countless travel brochures, some of the best travel experiences are known only to those who live there. Here to reveal Canada's best hidden gems, disclosed by locals and regular visitors. 
Connect with Nova Scotia’s historic Mi’kmaq culture
Step (or paddle) back into a time of Canadian legend, lore and foundation. According to Mi’kmaq legend, the hero Glooscap used his great powers to transform into a giant beaver and, by slapping his tail in the sea, created the peninsula now known as Nova Scotia.   For 10,000 years, these First Nation people have lived on this land, and you can visit the Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site to learn about this Indigenous culture through current generations of Mi’kmaq people. [caption id="attachment_21211" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A traditional Mi'kmaq boat- photo courtesy of Eric le Bel.[/caption] Hear stories from spiritual leaders at Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre, see ancient artefacts at the Museum of Natural History, take a tour of the largest collection of petroglyphs in North America – literally history carved in stone – documenting people, animals, hunting, fishing and, later, sailing ships, men with muskets and Christian symbols.   Join four days of family festivities at the Millbrook Pow Wow, and canoe the traditional Mi’kmaq waterway routes.   And, of course, visit Glooscap Cultural and Heritage Centre to learn about this mythical figure born from a bolt of lightning in the sand, whose name means “man from nothing”. Get going: For a Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site trip consult pc.gc.ca. [caption id="attachment_21212" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A traditional Mi'kmaq boat- photo courtesy of Eric le Bel.[/caption] Location: Kejimkujik is 197 kilometres from Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Ferries from St John in New Brunswick sail into Digby, which is 86 kilometres from Kejimkujik. “Another park that barely receives a single plaudit back home but in itself could be a fair reason to head to Canada's wild, woolly east coast.” – Craig Tansley   << Previous | Next >> Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');  Read more
Dust off your boots for Vancouver’s incredible West Coast Trail
Stroll along a hikers paradise in British Colombia's West Coast Trail. Originally established in 1907 along Vancouver Island’s wild south-western edge to serve as a means for shipwreck survivors to travel to safety, the Dominion Lifesaving Trail was incorporated into the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 1973, and re-dubbed the West Coast Trail. [caption id="attachment_21020" align="alignnone" width="667"] Hikers on the West Coast trail.[/caption] These days it’s more famous as one of the best hiking trails in the world, allowing you to walk the same paths once (and still) trodden by the First Nations’ groups of the Ditidaht, Pacheedaht and Huu-ay-aht.   Stretching for 75 kilometres, you have the option of spending anywhere from four to seven nights making this iconic journey – you’ll climb ladders, make your way through forests, pass waterfalls, ford rivers and carefully navigate slopes to reach your destination. [caption id="attachment_21021" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The West Coast trail ferry arrives.[/caption] It’s an ideal trip for those who like to challenge themselves.   Guided tours off the main path are also available, taking you into a variety of First Nations’ cultural sites. [caption id="attachment_21022" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A waterfall on the West Coast trail.[/caption] For experienced hikers, Canada doesn’t get any better than this. GET GOING: The West Coast Trail (westcoasttrail.com) is accessible year-round, but its “season” is May 1 to September 30. Hikers visiting outside this period must be aware that not all facilities, including search and rescue, may be available. LOCATION: The West Coast Trail is in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in Vancouver Island’s wild south-west, spanning 75 kilometres between Port Renfew at its southern end, and the fishing village of Bamfield to the north. The closest major cities are Port Alberni and Duncan, both of which are about two to three hours’ drive away. [caption id="attachment_21023" align="alignnone" width="1024"] One of the beautiful spots on the west Coast trail.[/caption] “Wild, pristine country – you'll feel you’re in the middle of nowhere. With beaches, lakes, rivers, tall mountains and wild rainforest, this is one of the best wilderness areas in North America.” – Craig Tansley   << Previous | Next >>  Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');  Read more
Migrate to the Arctic north with Canadian caribou
Get amidst a giant Canadian caribou herd in the frozen Nunavut territory.  Read more
Explore 400 years of history in Old Québec
Stroll back in time, treading the streets of a city that's more than 400 years old.  Read more
You’re guaranteed to be in awe of Canada’s mass reindeer migration
Watch a wildlife phenomenon like no other as the Canadian reindeer migrate. Read more
Ply the Inside Passage with British Columbia Ferries
Venture through the intricate waterways of British Colombia's Inside Passage. Read more
Conquer Canada’s Arctic on a wilderness adventure
Take all the polar you can bear in sub-Arctic Manitoba.  Read more
Crack the Hermetic Code in Manitoba
Do your own super-sleuthing in one of North America's most mysterious buildings.  Read more
Spend a storied evening in a First Nations longhouse
Go back in time with the First People in a traditional Canadian longhouse. Read more
Jam along to New Brunswick’s Jazz and Blues Festival
Tap your toes and feast your eyes at one of the world's most gorgeous music festivals.  Read more
Make merry with L’Acadie in Canada’s New Brunswick
Live, love and be merry in a festival about Acadian culture. Read more
Kiss the cod and become an honorary Canadian in Newfoundland
You made it! Now drink some grog, and kiss a fish to celebrate. Read more
Perch yourself on the edge of the world at Fogo Island Inn
Experience hospitality that is both rugged and luxurious at Canada's Fogo Island Inn. Read more
Why you need to catch a floatplane to Canada’s Virginia Falls
Soar your way to one of the world's great waterfalls.  Read more
Fill up the tank for an iconic Lake Superior road trip
Hit the road- and not just any road, but one of the most beautiful you'll find anywhere. Read more
Cruise among the Palaces and Palisades of Canada’s glorious Thousand Islands
Meander back in time aboard a classic Canadian day cruise.  Read more
Glide along the world’s largest skating rink in Ottawa
Get you skates on and glide along one Canada's prettiest canals. Read more
Wander among the vines of the Okanagan Valley
Enjoy and imbibe in the fertile and gorgeous Okanagan Valley. Read more
Tiptoeing across Canada’s ancient Columbian Icefields
Ice is nice on the wonderful journey onto a centuries-old glacier. Read more
Why you should make time for Banff’s Moraine Lake
Spend some time on a lake whose scenery is on the money.  Read more
Head to the roof of the world via a Canadian ice road
Drive carefully on one of the iciest (and most beautiful) roads on earth. Read more
Scale the Skyline Trail in Alberta’s Jasper National Park
Venture into Canada's gorgeous Jasper National Park, following the beautiful Skyline Trail.  Read more
Snorkel with Canada’s mystical beluga whales
Snorkel with Canada's wonderful beluga whales.  Read more
Glacier alley: Rafting down Canada’s wildest rivers
Get your heart pumping in the wilds of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. Read more
Witness the fury of a British Columbia winter from The Wick
Get in touch with Mother Nature's wild side at the windswept edge of Canada.  Read more
Fly in ultimate style to Canada’s famous Whistler
Fly over wonderful BC scenery (and many miles of traffic) as you travel from Vancouver to Whistler. Read more
Learn how to howl with wolves in Canadian wilderness
Get in touch with the dog in you while you howl at the moon.  Read more
Why you need to Hike Cape Breton’s skyline at sunset
Drink in all the natural beauty of the Cape Breton National Park.  Read more
Soothe your soul by paddling Ontario’s Great Spirit Circle Trail
Get in touch with the spirits of Canada in north-eastern Ontario.  Read more
Celebrate Celtic colour and culture in Cape Breton
Channel your inner William Wallace right in the middle of Canada. Read more
Tread the earth’s exposed mantle at Gros Morne
See the inner working's of this planet of ours at Gros Morne.  Read more
Discover the magic of the Magdalen Islands
Discover a hidden Canadian island chain that has much to offer.  Read more
Better than a doughnut, bite into a beavertail in Ottawa
Bite into a sweet, sticky piece of Canadian culture that you won't regret. The stunning scenery isn’t the only thing of beauty to be found in Canada.   The culinary delights on offer at Ottawa’s ByWard Market are national treasures in themselves. Located in bustling downtown Ottawa, ByWard is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada, cherished by locals and visitors alike. [caption id="attachment_21109" align="alignnone" width="1024"] ByWard Market, home of the legendary Beaver Tails.[/caption] It’s home to myriad iconic Canadian delicacies – with one of the standouts unquestionably a BeaverTails (no relation to the furry animal), a doughy, golden, flattish tail-shaped pastry that’s best served drenched in maple butter or covered in hazelnut Nutella. [caption id="attachment_21111" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A delicious pastry ready to be devoured- photo courtesy of Connor Turner.[/caption] Even sweeter than the pastry is the success story behind it: what began literally as a Mom-and-Pop operation at a community fair in 1978 is now an international franchise, with stores as far-flung as Japan and South Korea.   But the first bricks-and-mortar BeaverTails remains here at ByWard – a place that US President Obama made a point of visiting for a spot of takeaway on a Canadian visit in 2009.   If it’s good enough for Barack … GET GOING: Stock up on BeaverTails at Ottawa’s ByWard Market year round. Travel there on Trafalgar’s Best of Eastern Canada End Toronto. [caption id="attachment_21112" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The legendary Beaver Tails pastry show at ByWards Market.[/caption] LOCATION: ByWard Market is so big it is its own district in Lower Town, Central Ottawa. “A signature (and diet-busting) Canadian treat that will reveal your inner sweet-tooth.” – John Lee   << Previous | Next >> Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');  Read more
Get insight into Inuit life in the Torngat Mountains
Have a cultural experience at one of Canada's most remote, but also most beautiful locations. It's number #29 in the 100 things to do in Canada before you die. Read more
Kick up your heels and experience the magic of Carnaval de Québec
Revel at the wonderful Carnaval de Québec, one of the world's largest outdoor festivals. Read more
Experience majestic views atop Montréal’s pretty Mont Royal
Stretch your legs and feast your eyes with a walk to the top of Mont Royal.  Read more
Dig for giant clams on Canada’s Prince Edward Island
Dine on the freshest seafood while feasting on the most gorgeous views.  Read more
Live large on lobsters on Prince Edward Island
Dine on the freshest lobster in the world on Prince Edward Island. Lobster has been shorthand for culinary luxury worldwide for the best part of 150 years – ever since well-to-do Bostonians and New Yorkers developed a taste for the meat (before that it was considered a peasant’s meal).   But have you ever wondered what life is like for the people who catch the crustaceans? [caption id="attachment_20555" align="alignnone" width="667"] Delicious lobster from the waters of Prince Edward Island.[/caption] On a Prince Edward Island lobster tour aboard owner-operator Captain Mark Jenkins’ vessel Top Notch, you’ll experience a day in the life of a fourth-generation lobster fisherman – before dropping anchor in one of the most scenic coves for a fresh lobster meal. Get going: Top Notch Tours (markscharters.com) run three times a day during PEI’s lobster season of July and August. Travel there with the PEI Landscapes of the Canadian Maritimes tour (insightvacations.com). [caption id="attachment_20556" align="alignnone" width="667"] Lobsters are pulled in on a fishing trawler.[/caption] Location: Tours leave from Charlottetown, where you’ll find Top Notch Tours at No. 2 Prince Street, on the waterfront.  “An interactive 101 introduction to lobster catching. Get your apron and sip the juice from that claw!” – John Lee   <<Previous | Next >> Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown var axel = Math.random() + ""; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');  Read more
Forget vegemite, feast on a smoked meat sandwich in Montréal
Open wide and get ready for one of the world's greatest sandwiches. Talk about indulging the senses.   With a deceptively simple smoked meat sandwich that could take on (and beat!) many of New York City’s finest delis, Schwartz’s in Montréal has been a local institution for nearly 90 years. [caption id="attachment_21034" align="alignnone" width="667"] The wonderful smoked meat sandwich.[/caption] You’ll rarely approach without encountering a huge line of people craving the famed beef brisket that lies within, but for the true pilgrim patience is rewarded.   Sitting shoulder to shoulder in the packed surrounds is an unforgettable way to tackle your smoked meat sandwich on rye with just the right amount of tangy yellow mustard, and, of course, a cherry coke to cut through the fat and work its magic on the saltiness of the main event. [caption id="attachment_21035" align="alignnone" width="667"] The facade of Schwartz's in Montreal.[/caption] Nothing this delicious is ever easy to come by so do your time and get in line.   You won’t regret it.   But if you are time-poor, here’s a tip: the lengthy lines are for the full dine-in experience.   If you just want to be blown away by the sandwich, skip the queue and grab one from the take-out counter next door. It’ll still taste incredible on the street. GET GOING: Fill your belly at Schwartz’s Deli (schwartzsdeli.com) from 8 ’til late. [caption id="attachment_21036" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Diners enjoy the sandwiches at Schwartz's.[/caption] LOCATION: The oldest deli in Canada, Schwartz’s can be found at 3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montréal’s cultural and culinary artery known locally as “The Main”.   << Previous | Next >> Return to the ‘100 Things to do in Canada Before You Die’ countdown var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');  Read more