Want to see Canada’s majestic mountains, heavenly lakes and city sights? Then look no further than this handy guide for planning your trip to one of the best spots on Earth.

Know before you go – how to plan the best trip to Canada

Canada is a country of incredible contrasts: a land that conjures up visions of rugged mountains, deep lakes, impressive waterfalls and vibrant cities. As the world’s second-largest country, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice of things to know and do before you go. But don’t worry, as here are some simple steps to follow.

Decide what kind of trip you want

It’s impossible to see the entire country in one short trip and there are so many different landscapes and cities across Canada that you will need to start by deciding what sort of trip you want. Most visitors will choose to be based on the East or the West Coast and explore each of those areas, depending on the length of time available. Do you want to immerse yourself in the city culture of Toronto with its shopping, dining, nightlife and real money casinos, perhaps mixing it up a little by admiring the stunning scenery of Lake Ontario or Niagara Falls? Or how about visiting the West Coast with its endless hiking trails, mountain climbing and skiing opportunities? Perhaps you are a nature-lover and would prefer to look for orcas and grizzly bears or admire the spectacular aurora borealis while you seek out polar bears above the arctic circle?

Plan ahead and don’t rush

Although Canada is a western country, all visitors experience some degree of culture shock when they first arrive in any location. Prepare by researching the type of trip you are going to make – particularly if you intend to be based outside of the cities. If you plan to embark on an adventure holiday, make sure your fitness levels are suitable and you invest in the appropriate clothing and equipment. For example, if you are going to watch the bears or orcas, then what sort of camera equipment will you need? If you plan on visiting Niagara Falls then ensure you have plenty of wet-weather gear with you. And pace yourself- the first day or two can be overwhelming, particularly with jet-lag. Don’t try to hire a car from the airport and start driving across the country. Find a hotel in the area and acclimatise for the first couple of days before you start filling your days with long trips. Plan your itinerary in advance and make sure you book tickets for popular attractions online in advance to avoid disappointment or long queues.

Book flights and accommodation

Finding accommodation in Canada is relatively easy with plenty of choice from basic city hostels all the way up to luxurious lakeside hotels. It is important to at least book your first hotel so that you have accommodation available for when you land – this ensures that you don’t have to stress about finding somewhere to stay at 2 am after a delayed flight and keeps the cost down. If you are planning to cross Canada using internal flights, consider using the same airline for your international flights as this can be considerably cheaper. But use a good flight comparison site to confirm as prices and promotions are changing all the time.

Visas and health requirements

Always check the latest situation regarding visas and health requirements on the Canadian government website as well as the government website for your own country. With the current pandemic, requirements are changing all the time. Don’t forget to make sure you have adequate travel insurance as well and check that it covers you for any adventure activities you are planning while you are in Canada. If you are exempt from requiring a visa to enter Canada, you will need an Electronic Travel Authorisation (or eTA) which lasts for five years and can be completed online. Don’t miss this step or you won’t be able to board your flight!

Getting ready to go

Nearly there! Make sure that you check the luggage allowance for your international and any onward flights. If you need to travel with expensive camera gear, then ensure it’s in a sturdy, waterproof case. If this is your first long-haul flight then wear comfortable clothing on the plane and take a sweater as it can get cold. You might also want to consider a neck pillow, flight socks and perhaps a leg support so you can be more comfortable. If you are particularly tall, try to pre-book an exit row. Take plenty to read, don’t forget any medication you might need on the journey, take some snacks and water with you and a good set of earphones. Settle back, relax and look forward to that adventure that awaits in Canada!

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash




I've been writing since 2008 about a wide range of topics. I also love making furniture in my spare time, and birdwatching with my wife near our home in southern England.

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