23 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Canada

Written by Lana Law and Michael Law
Updated Mar 29, 2024
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The second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of beautiful landscapes and interesting sights for travelers to explore. From coast to coast to coast, the country is home to vibrant and culturally rich cities, along with incredible natural wonders.

Waterfowl Lake in Banff National Park
Waterfowl Lake in Banff National Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

In Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains; the Okanagan Valley; and the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary are some of the best places to visit and frequently dominate itineraries. In Central Canada, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City are some of the most popular tourist destinations.

For those who venture out to Canada's Atlantic Provinces in the east, the beauty of Gros Morne National Park, along with the cities of Halifax and St. John's, provide their own unique character.

Off the beaten path, but equally impressive, is Canada's North, where great rivers flow out to the Arctic Ocean, creating some incredible territory for canoeists, and where polar bears can be seen in the wild. Travelers can explore the remote beauty of places like Nahanni National Park; Great Slave Lake; and the towns and cities of Churchill, Whitehorse, and Yellowknife.

For ideas to help plan your travels, see our list of top tourist attractions in Canada.

1. Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls
Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Niagara Falls is Canada's most famous natural attraction, bringing in millions of visitors each year. Located just over an hour's drive from Toronto, along the American border, these massive falls drop approximately 57 meters. You can see the falls at an astoundingly close distance from several key points.

Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge have been attracting tourists and daredevils for well over a century. Between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, there were numerous attempts to plunge over the falls in various types of homemade boats and barrels. This, along with tightrope walkers and other spectacles, led to the adjacent town of Niagara Falls developing a carnival-type atmosphere that still persists today.

Families will enjoy a walk down Niagara's outrageous Clifton Hill leading to the gorge and falls. Other popular things to do here include a cruise to the base of the falls, a trip up the Skylon Tower for a fantastic aerial view, and a look from the bottom of the falls on the Journey Behind the Falls experience.

2. Banff National Park & the Rocky Mountains

Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier
Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Banff National Park lies in the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta and showcases some of Canada's most beautiful scenery. Turquoise-colored lakes, snowcapped peaks, and glaciers are all easily accessible in this stunning park. Take a scenic drive or head off on one of the best hikes in Banff.

The jewel of the park is Lake Louise, where green waters reflect the surrounding mountains and glaciers, and visitors can stroll easily around the shores. Just a short distance is Moraine Lake, another impressive alpine lake with an even slightly more dramatic surrounding.

Bow Lake in Banff National Park
Bow Lake in Banff National Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The Icefields Parkway, which runs from Lake Louise to Jasper, is an unforgettable drive and another major attraction in Banff. At the south end of the park is the lovely little town of Banff, providing all kinds of options for accommodation, shopping, dining, and nightlife.

Banff is also a major winter sports area and home to Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village, two of Canada's best ski destinations.

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3. Toronto's CN Tower

Toronto skyline with the CN Tower
Toronto skyline with the CN Tower | Photo Copyright: Michael Law

On the shores of Lake Ontario in Canada's biggest city is the iconic CN Tower, one of Canada's most famous landmarks. The tower stands an impressive 553 meters high and dominates the skyline.

At the top, you can find fine dining in the revolving 360 restaurant, and enjoy a meal while looking out over the city and lake. The LookOut and the Glass Floor offer beautiful views out over the entire area. For an added thrill, consider stepping outside of the enclosed area onto the metal walkway for the CN Tower Edgewalk. You'll be harnessed in and then be able to walk around the building, 116 stories or 356 meters (1,168 feet) above the ground below.

But even those who choose not to go up the tower will find themselves stopping to stare at the structure, which is visible from almost everywhere in the city. At night, the tower is lit in different colors.

4. Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec)

Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Canada's historic gems. Spread across the Upper and Lower Town of Quebec, this area contains the city's most historic buildings. The Lower Town, along the St. Lawrence River, is the site of the original settlement and home to the outstanding Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, as well as numerous other treasures. The Upper Town rests on 100-meter-high cliffs and is home to the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, Place d'Armes, and the Parque Historique de l'Artillerie.

Old Quebec is one of Canada's most popular historical areas and is well developed for tourism. In addition to the historical sites, other highlights include artists displaying their works on Rue du Trésor; interesting museums, like the Musée de la Civilisation; and unique shops and restaurants.

5. Whistler

Whistler Mountain
Whistler Mountain | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Just a two-hour drive from Vancouver is the famous ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb and the year-round resort destination of Whistler. While Whistler has always been an important winter sports area, it has also developed into a popular summer destination, with golf, mountain biking, and a lively town atmosphere no matter when you visit.

The village gained international attention in 2010 when it became one of the locations for the Winter Olympic Games. The area offers world-class skiing, hotels, and dining, as well as a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities and beautiful mountain scenery.

6. Ottawa's Parliament Hill

Ottawa's Parliament Hill
Ottawa's Parliament Hill

Ottawa's Parliament Hill stands high above the Ottawa River and is graced by the Neo-Gothic-style Parliament buildings built in the last half of the 19th century. The most prominent feature is the Peace Tower, which divides the House of Commons and the Senate on either side. In front of the Parliament buildings is the Centennial Flame, lit in 1966 to commemorate the centenary of the Canadian Confederation, and behind the buildings is a sculpture garden.

In the summer, the Changing of the Guard takes place on the front lawn of the Houses of Parliament, weather permitting. Below Parliament Hill, a lovely walk runs alongside the Ottawa River.

Note that the Parliament Buildings will be undergoing significant renovations until 2030.

7. St. John's Signal Hill National Historic Site

View of St. John's from Signal Hill
View of St. John's from Signal Hill

At the entrance to St. John's harbor, overlooking the city and sea, is Signal Hill National Historic Site. It was here, in 1901, that the first wireless transatlantic signal was received. It also played a strategic role in the Seven Years' War with France, although the current fortifications were built during the hostilities of 1812.

The Cabot Tower is one of the key sites of Signal Hill. It was built in 1897 to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Newfoundland. It also now commemorates Guglielmo Marconi's reception here in 1901 of the first transatlantic radio telegraphy signal, transmitted over a distance of 2,700 kilometers from Poldhu in England.

In the tower are exhibitions on the history of Signal Hill and the history of communications (with a special section on Marconi). From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the coast as far as Cape Spear - the most easterly point of North America.

8. Old Montreal

Rue St. Paul in Old Montreal
Rue St. Paul in Old Montreal | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Old Montreal, lined with lovely historic buildings, is a place to go for great shopping and fine dining. While Montreal itself is a vibrant modern city, Old Montreal, down by the waterfront, is where you'll want to go to soak up the atmosphere.

Some of the must-see places in Old Montreal include Rue Bonsecours and the landmark Marché Bonsecours in the old town hall building, the interior of the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica, the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, and the 1870s City Hall.

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9. Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba

Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba

One of Canada's most unique attractions is the polar bear migration which sees these beautiful creatures make their way from land out onto the ice in Hudson Bay, near the town of Churchill in Northern Manitoba.

This small community opens itself up to tourists each fall. Tours take visitors out in tundra buggies with caged windows for close encounters with the polar bears. The prime viewing time occurs in October or November while the bears are waiting for the water to freeze before heading out onto the ice.

10. Vancouver Island

Eden Grove near Port Renfrew
Eden Grove near Port Renfrew | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Although it is less than a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland, Vancouver Island can seem a world away. Most people head to Victoria, BC's capital city, for sightseeing and culture, but if you head north into the wild and remote landscapes, the island holds some unexpected and unforgettable experiences.

Nature lovers can hit the best hiking trails on Vancouver Island and set themselves up at some beautiful camping locations. Those looking for more comfort can always turn to one of the island's lodges or resorts.

One of the island's most incredible sights is the old-growth forests of giant trees, some more than 1,000 years old. Within day-tripping distance of Victoria are the ancient trees of Eden Grove, near the town of Port Renfrew. If you are heading up island, you can also wander through Cathedral Grove, not far from the town of Port Alberni, or go all the way out to Tofino to see even more huge trees.

Tofino, BC
Tofino, BC | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

On the rugged west coast, a magnificent scene of sandy coves and dramatic rocky shores reveals itself as you drive up to Tofino. Around this tiny but incredibly popular off-the-beaten-path tourist town, in nearby Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, you can find incredible hiking trails, some of the largest trees in Canada, endless beaches, great surfing spots, camping, and places where you can simply soak up nature in peace.

Tofino is a year-round destination, although, in the storm season from November to March, many visitors come to appreciate the huge waves rolling ashore; some come to surf, and others come simply to cozy up next to a fire in one of Tofino's lovely resorts looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Other destinations around the Island, include Nanaimo, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach, all on the eastern shore, looking out onto the Salish Sea. If you really want to get away from it all, head up to the far north of the island and explore Cape Scott Provincial Park.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions on Vancouver Island

11. Bay of Fundy

Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy, located in Eastern Canada between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is known for its amazing tides. The variation between high and low is the largest in the world, measuring up to a maximum of 19 meters (10 fathoms).

While there are many ways to appreciate this natural wonder, some of the most popular locations and sights along the Bay of Fundy are the cliffs and rock formations at Hopewell Cape, Fundy National Park, the Fundy Trail Parkway, and Grand Manan Island.

12. Victoria's Inner Harbour

Victoria's Inner Harbour
Victoria's Inner Harbour | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Few Canadian cities have done such a beautiful job of developing their waterfront area as Victoria and its Inner Harbour. This is a great place for strolling, relaxing, shopping, dining, and watching street performers all against the backdrop of the harbor.

The centerpiece of this area is the historic Empress Hotel, one of the city's most lovely buildings. Over the years, the Empress has welcomed kings and queens and, today, features a traditional high tea, which is one of the highlights for many visitors coming to Victoria. While the harbor area is popular year-round, it is particularly lively during the summer months.

The Inner Harbour is also where you'll find the British Columbia Legislative Buildings constructed in 1893. Visitors can take advantage of free tours offered daily and immerse themselves in the grandeur of the historic landmark.

13. Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park

Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park is more remote than many of Canada's most popular national parks, but worth the effort to discover this beautiful landscape of mountains and fjords. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring steep cliff walls, waterfalls, and interesting rock formations carved by the glacier-fed waters.

Most visitors take a boat tour to appreciate the scenery, but there are also hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking. In winter, the park receives far fewer visitors but is open for ski touring, complete with backcountry ski huts.

14. Vancouver's Stanley Park

Vancouver's Stanley Park
Vancouver's Stanley Park

One of Vancouver's greatest treasures is the 405-hectare Stanley Park, conveniently located on the west side of the downtown area. Situated on a peninsula, the park is surrounded by the ocean and home to huge red cedar and Douglas fir trees. The seawall, which rings the park, has an extensive walking, jogging, and biking path with designated lanes for walkers and bikers. From the seawall are some lovely views of the city and mountains. A scenic drive also winds through Stanley Park with numerous pullouts.

Within the park are the Vancouver Aquarium, scenic Beaver Lake, and the Stanley Park Pavilion and Rose Garden. Also of special interest are numerous totem poles, some of which were erected more than 100 years ago. In the spring, the cherry trees burst into bloom in an amazing display.

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15. Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede

This 10-day affair is one of the most widely anticipated events in Western Canada, with many locals and summertime travelers planning their holidays around the Calgary Stampede. For this week in July, the city of Calgary turns into a true western town, where people who might otherwise be wearing suits to work instead don jeans and cowboy boots.

At the Stampede Grounds are daily rodeo events drawing participants from across North America, thrill rides, games, food, and the nightly Grandstand Show. Around town, free "Stampede Breakfasts" are hosted by numerous establishments either at indoor or outdoor locations and usually consist of pancakes. Many big-name country music performers also typically come to the city for this event.

16. Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg

Winnipeg's newest major attraction, which has drawn both national and international attention, is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opened in 2014 near The Forks, the building displays a unique design that is eye-catching to say the least, with geometry and colors based on images of the Canadian landscape.

Also unique is the concept behind the museum, which proved controversial when deciding which histories would be featured here. The museum highlights personal stories, capturing different perspectives, and focuses on a range of themes.

Official site: https://humanrights.ca/

17. The Okanagan Valley

View of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley
View of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley

Locals who live in Penticton and Kelowna like to say that the Okanagan Valley is located on the warm side of the mountains from neighboring Alberta. This statement rings true - this long valley is truly a summer playground for Western Canadians.

Huge lakes dominate the valley floor, and some of British Columbia's best beaches can be found here. Offshore from the lively cities, canoeing, pleasure boating, and sailing are all popular activities, and every sunny summer day, the lakes are filled with smiling, laughing people having fun.

Along the gentle inclines leading up from the lakes, you'll find farms growing some of Canada's best fruit, including cherries, peaches, pears, and plums among many others. Places to stay are numerous; quality accommodation can be found in both Penticton and Kelowna.

In the winter, the Okanagan quiets down somewhat, but when the snow flies, locals head to Big White, Apex, Silver Star, or Sun Peaks, some of British Columbia's best ski resorts.

18. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

Aerial view of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Aerial view of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

The province of Saskatchewan and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, in particular, are often overlooked as places to visit in Canada. A bit out of the way, they attract fewer tourists but those who do make the effort to get here are amply rewarded.

Wide-open spaces, huge skies, and abundant (and rare) wildlife are the norm out here, as is a feeling of peace and quiet. Rent a canoe and paddle one of the many lakes, go for a long hike in the grasslands, or if you find yourself here in winter, strap on your downhill skis and take a few runs.

For a bit of frontier history, swing by Fort Walsh National Historic Site and learn what life was like here in the late 19th century.

19. Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller

Entrance to the Royal Tyrrel Museum
Entrance to the Royal Tyrrel Museum | Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com

One of the world's premier dinosaur museums, the Royal Tyrrel is not to be missed. Incredible displays of dinosaurs found nearby are impressively showcased in a world-class setting. As you wander through the 13 galleries, you'll be transported back 3.9 billion years to the time that dinosaurs roamed the world. Standing next to these giants will truly make you feel rather insignificant.

A visit here isn't all indoors. Be sure to take time to explore the interpretive hiking trails located on the museum property.

20. Dawson City

Paddlewheeler near Dawson City
Paddlewheeler near Dawson City

Home of the 19th-century gold rush, Dawson City today finds its gold in the pockets of the happy visitors who come to see what life was like back in those crazy days. The town has done an excellent job of preserving the historical architecture of the time. In fact, the downtown core, called the Dawson Historical Complex, is a National Historic Site.

The Yukon River runs right by the city, and for a true historical experience, be sure to take a ride on a river paddlewheeler.

21. Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal in Ottawa on a beautiful summer day
Rideau Canal in Ottawa on a beautiful summer day

The historic Rideau Canal is a beloved four-season playground for the residents and visitors to Eastern Ontario. Extending from Kingston, on Lake Ontario, for 202 kilometers to Ottawa, this National Historic Site has been in operation since 1832.

In the summer, pleasure boats filled with families enjoying the summer sun transit the locks and make their way slowly along the route, stopping for ice cream and snacks at small towns along the way.

A portion of the canal in Ottawa transforms into a 7.8-kilometer-long ice skating rink in winter. All along the route are warming huts, pastry shops (be sure to try a Beaver Tail), coffee and hot chocolate vendors, changerooms, and washrooms. The skating season usually runs from January to early March, depending on the weather, and admission is free.

Read More: Explore the Historic Rideau Canal in Ottawa

22. Algonquin Provincial Park

Centennial Ridges Hiking Trail
Centennial Ridges Hiking Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Algonquin Provincial Park has been a beloved spot for nature lovers since 1893, when it was established as Canada's first provincial park. During the summer, numerous canoeists, campers, hikers, and mountain bikers visit this vast forest playground. This beautiful location is only three hours away from the urban cityscape of Toronto.

Home to over 1,500 lakes, this watery wonderland is a perfect place to explore in a canoe. Every day in summer, hundreds of paddlers set off on routes that take them from one spectacular location to the next.

Many others choose to just set up camp at one of the eight car-accessible campgrounds and enjoy the outdoor experience that typically involves long days at the beach, BBQs, and evening campfires. In fact, many families make a summer vacation at Algonquin a multigenerational event that takes place year after year.

Experience the magic of fall in the park as the leaves transform into a vibrant display of orange, red, and yellow. Take a hike on one of the trails and ascend to a lookout point for a breathtaking panoramic view.

23. Nahanni National Park Reserve

Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park Reserve
Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park Reserve

Those with an inner desire to get off the beaten track and see some of Canada's most raw and incredible scenery should point their compass toward Nahanni National Park. In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the massive South Nahanni River slices its way through the Selwyn, Mackenzie, and Franklin Mountains.

Along the way, it creates several incredible canyons (some over 1,000 meters deep), passes by hot springs, and tumbles over Virginia Falls, an awe-inspiring sight that is twice as high as Niagara Falls.

One of the most popular things to do in the park is river rafting or whitewater canoeing from Virginia Falls downriver to Nahanni Butte, a distance of nearly 220 kilometers. You'll camp along the way and trips usually take about 12 days.

Other pursuits in the park include mountain climbing in the rather ominously named Cirque of the Unclimbables, fishing for arctic grayling or bull trout, and hiking up Sheaf Creek to the spectacular Tl'ogotsho Plateau.

If all that physical activity sounds a bit much, just take a two or three-hour flightseeing trip over the area and get a bird's eye view.

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Planning Your Trip to Canada: Get more details on where to go and what to see with our detailed list of possible itineraries for exploring Canada. This is a guide to exploring each region, with links to things to do in each location. If you are coming for a winter holiday, be sure to have a look at our list of top ski resorts in Canada.