From amazing national parks to cities as attractive as Vancouver, a route through the American country that celebrates its 150th anniversary next year
Canada is one of the best destinations to travel to n 2017. There are many obvious reasons – amazing national parks, almost unspoiled landscapes, interesting cities on its East Coast – but, above all, it will be the Great year of Canada because it celebrates its 150 anniversary as a confederation and will do so with an ample program of commemorative acts concentrated, especially, around July 1, national day of Canada.
In the second largest country in the world (in extension) there are plenty of attractions for travelers, but we’ve narrowed it down to 11 of the most essential.
Adventure in the Rockies
The profile of these white mountains on both sides of the border between Alberta and British Columbia inspires respect and desire for adventure. In this vast mountain range there are up to four national parks – Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper – with many opportunities for hiking, kayaking and, above all, skiing. The train makes the journey easier. They are parks of spectacular beauty and almost intact landscapes: bright lakes, wildflowers and glaciers that are seen while the steel carriages rattling by the mountain passes and cross river valleys on the way to the most populated points of the east or the west of the country.
Vancouver, quality of life
This city of British Columbia, on the Pacific coast, is always ranked in the rankings of the best places to live on the planet. Vancouver is a lively fusion of cultures (and cuisines) in Asia, but it is also a city surrounded by magnificent seascape, mountains suitable for skiing, 11 beaches around its core and the thick Stanley Park rainforest just a few Apples of skyscrapers of the urban center. Altogether, a harmonious union of city and nature that mixes with something of the charm of Hollywood (many American films are filmed here), with a lively countercultural activity, and with the Bustling Asian neighborhoods.
Without fear of exaggeration, it can be said that nearby Vancouver Island has it all. The beautiful Victoria, of interesting cultural scene, is its heart, with bohemian shops, cafes with wooden floors and an English past of amateur tea. Pacific Rim’s bucolic Pacific National Reservation runs along the West Coast Trail, where a windswept ocean meets stunning, unspoiled nature and surfers queue up to enjoy the waves. Then there is the valley of the Cowichan River, dotted with small and cozy farms and wineries, much appreciated by the curious palates.
The Beautiful Niagara Falls
Fourteen million people visit Niagara Falls, day or night, at any time of the year. Even in winter, when the flow of water from the banks is partially hidden by ice, these powerful waterfalls are one of the most visited natural spectacles in the world. Crowded with tourists and over-marketed, Niagara Falls are, however, comes up relatively short: they are barely among the 500 largest falls in the world. But when you see those huge and powerful curtains of water curling over the cliff and falling with a deafening roar to the void, they impress.
The falls are the result of a natural tectonic fault between Ontario and the state of New York. On the Canadian side, the most spectacular waterfalls are the mighty Horseshoe Fall, which rush into the Maid of the Mist Pool. A few meters away, from Table Rock, you can see waterfalls spectacularly.
Celtic airs in Nova Scotia
On the famous Cabot Trail you will arrive in the surroundings of one of the most spectacular parks in Canada. The 300 kilometers of this trail wind and climb coastal mountains, with imposing sea views at every bend and the possibility of contemplating whales facing the coast, moose at the sides of the road and numerous alternative routes to detour and explore foot. The area is also dotted with Celtic and Akkadian communities, and local rhythmic violin music plays in local pubs.
A third of the Cabot Trail takes place inside the immense Cape Breton Highlands National Park, founded in 1920, the natural jewel of the islands of Nova Scotia.
Trans-Canada Highway, Infinite Road
It is the longest road in the world and the main artery of Canada, an asphalt belt more than 7,800 kilometers from St John’s in Newfoundland, the oldest city in Canada, to Victoria in British Columbia. In its route it crosses almost all the main places of interest of the country. For example, the Gros Morne National Park; Cape Breton Island, Quebec City, Banff and Yoho National Parks in the Rockies, as well as interesting Montreal and Vancouver cities. Most people traveling by road take more than a month to drive from coast to coast, so once the tank is filled and the radio is tuned, all you have to do is step on it.
The Canadian Walls
Quebec is the only walled city in America north of Mexico. The capital of the state of Quebec is more than four hundred years old and its stone walls, its cathedrals culminated by needles and its cafes with live jazz give a romantic, melancholy and suggestive atmosphere to this city, comparable to any European city. The best way to capture its spirit is to stroll through the labyrinthine streets of the old town and get lost among street artists, cafes au lait, puff pastry or a burst of poutine: french fries covered with cottage cheese and salsa.
In Quebec is the Château Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world, built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of its luxury chain. It was here where Mackenzie, Winston and Roosevelt began planning the key day of World War II, the landing of Normandy, and the visit can then be rounded off by tasting the products of the local farms in the Marché du Vieux-Port.
Montreal, cultural capital
It is the second largest city in Canada and its cultural capital; Also the only genuinely bilingual country in the entire North American continent. But if there is something that makes Montreal irresistible, it is its mix of vitality and cosmopolitan dynamism of French inspiration. It has an interesting art scene, an explosion of indie rock, as well as a combination of boutique hotels, elegant restaurants and Parisian atmosphere on the terraces of its Latin Quarter.
Old Montreal is the oldest part of the city and a labyrinth of sinuous cobbled streets that make us think we are in Europe: there is a basilica, Notre Dame, a square full of cafes and restaurants, Jacques Cartier’s, and An old port that has become a park and recreation area. B.B. King, the now-defunct Prince and Astor Piazzolla are some of the figures who have performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, held for 11 days at the end of June.
Solitary prairies in Manitoba
Solitude reigns in central Canada. If we cross the plains of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, we will find wheat, more wheat, and then wheat again, perhaps dotted with occasional grain silos rising against the horizon. We are in the great central prairies, covered by huge skies where the storms can be seen from miles away. An unpretentious landscape retaining unique experiences, such as reveling in polar bears, sturgeons and even an ancient fortress in the inaccessible suburban town of Churchill.
You can also walk (or row) to the best natural scenery in Manitoba, Riding Mountain National Park; Enjoy prairie-style urban recreation in the sophisticated and artistic Winnipeg -city where Winnie the Pooh’s children come from -wonder in Canada’s oldest country festival north of Riding Mountain.
The Viking Trail of Newfoundland
The Viking Trail, also called Route 430, connects two points declared world heritage in Newfoundland in the Northern Peninsula: Gros National Park and Leif Eriksson’s home. At one end, at the base, we find the Gros Morne, with its lakes similar to fjords and its geological extravagances, while at the tip of the peninsula the Viking memory of the house of Leif Eriksson appears in L’Anse aux Meadows , A thousand years old.
The road is an attraction in its own right, always glued to the sea as it progresses resolutely northwards past the former funerary grounds of Port au Choix and the pier of the ferry that leads to the Great Labrador. Many tourists focus their trip to Newfoundland on this peninsula, so book in advance during the summer months. It takes about five or six hours to complete this route. There are few towns or supply points along the way, so take that into account.
Europeans are very attracted by the remains of the Viking Coastal Colony, which was founded 500 years before the arrival of Columbus. Although there are only a few ruins, it is one of the great historical centers of the country.
If we add a few polar bears and a community of aborigines that have managed to dominate the territory that no foreigner could colonize, we will get Nunavut; part of the Northwest Territories, and the largest and least populated area in Canada. It’s not easy to get here and it’s even more difficult to reach the Baffin region, the constellation of islands located east of Nunavut and the Arctic.
The desolate and brutal home of the Inuit, the island of Baffin houses mountains that rub the clouds and half of the population of Nunavut. The jewel of the island is Auyuittuq national park, whose name means “land that never melts” and, in fact, glaciers, fjords and vertiginous cliffs dominate its eastern extension. It is one of the most incredible places in the world, with irregular peaks and tremendous cliffs that are an irresistible attraction for hikers, mountaineers and skiers, and for more than one polar bear. Baffin is also an Inuit art center. The studios where sizes, prints and high quality fabrics are produced proliferate in many small towns.
The territories of the Canadian Northwest are difficult to imagine: an extensive fringe of boreal forest and Arctic tundra almost three times bigger than Spain but with the population of a small city of provinces. Few visit the solitary Aulavik, one of the four national parks of the territory to photograph one of the largest waterfalls in the world, the deepest lake in North America and an expanse of wild nature that would satisfy any explorer.