From northern lights to red sandy beaches and giant skating rinks, Canada’s geographic diversity provides incredible must-do adventures from coast to coast. Find out what to add to your Canadian travel bucket list for your next trip.
Travel bucket list for Canada
- Hike the West Coast Trail, BC
- See the northern lights in Yukon
- Cabot Trail road trip, Nova Scotia
- Sleep in an ice hotel, Quebec
- Float in Canada’s ‘Dead Sea’, Saskatchewan
- Tides at Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
- Drive on an ice road in Northwest Territories
- Skate along the Rideau Canal, Ottawa
- Experience the Red Sand in Prince Edward Island
- Cruise the Northwest Passage in Nunavut
- Canoe along Lake Louise, Alberta
- Wildlife spotting, Manitoba
- Watch the first sunrise in North America, Newfoundland and Labrador
Hike the West Coast Trail in British Columbia
While this trail is recommended for experienced hikers, this 75-kilometre hiking trail should definitely be added to your travel bucket list for Canada. The average completion time for the trail varies between five to 10 days, although shorter routes have been made available. The West Coast Trail is located on Vancouver Island and is part of the former paths and paddling routes used by First Nations. The trail is open from May to September, and requires a reservation.
Want more hiking recommendations? Here are the best spots for hiking in Vancouver.
Watch the northern lights in Yukon
Seeing the aurora borealis is one of the best adventures you can have in Canada. For the ultimate northern lights experience, head to Whitehorse in Yukon Territory to view one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. You can watch them from an outdoor hot tub, a cozy cabin, a glass chalet, and more. The best time to see the northern lights is from mid-August all the way to mid-April.
Looking for other great places to see the aurora borealis in Canada? Check out Churchill, Manitoba and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Take a road trip through the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia
A visit to the Cabot Trail can be done on a multi-day trip to Atlantic Canada. The Cabot Trail is a 300-kilometre roadway in Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and the trail forms a loop around the northern tip of the island. Driving clockwise or counter-clockwise both offer spectacular views, considering the Cabot Trail has been deemed one of Canada’s most scenic highways. You don’t just have to drive – you can complete the trail by bike or join a tour!
Sleep in an ice hotel in Quebec
Ready for unique hotel stay for your Canadian bucket list? The Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City is made from over 30, 000 tons of snow. It takes approximately 50 people a total of six weeks to build this ice hotel every year! And this Quebec destination is the only hotel in North America that’s made entirely out of ice and snow. It has 44 hotel rooms, an ice bar, an ice chapel, a giant ice slide, and an area with hot tubs and saunas. If you can’t stay overnight, you can also just head over there for a tour of the hotel.
Float in Canada’s ‘Dead Sea’ in Saskatchewan
Did you know that Canada has its own version of the dead sea? Who knew, right?! This Canadian lake is called Little Manitou and it has three times more salt than the ocean, which means it has about half the salinity as the famous Dead Sea. Little Manitou is located about 120 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon and is filled with sodium, potassium, and magnesium salts. Little Manitou Lake ranks number seven on a list of the world’s most saline bodies of water (right below the Dead Sea).
Watch the tides at the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick
Another Canadian bucket list item in Atlantic Canada is at the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world! At high tide, you can kayak around the rock formations, and at low tide, you can walk along the ocean floor! About 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy twice every day. Don’t miss out on the Hopewell Rocks, a natural wonder of these extreme tides – they measure 40-70 feet high.
Drive on an ice road in the Northwest Territories
It’s no surprise that lots of bucket list trips in Canada involve ice, eh? Fun Canadian fact: it gets so cold in the Northwest Territories that new highways are created from the layers of ice. The cold weather causes rivers and lakes to freeze over – to the point where it can support 18-wheelers! These ice roads are essential for local communities, as they increase access to remote destinations otherwise only accessible by plane. If you want to drive along them, there are tours organized with expert drivers.
Skate along the Rideau Canal in Ontario
The Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa is one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in the world, making this destination a must-do on any Canadian travel bucket list. The canal measures a total of 202 kilometres, and it has become a symbol of Canada’s capital city.
During the summer months, you can walk along the canal or take a boat ride down while enjoying views of downtown Ottawa. The winter months are typically the best time to go, as travellers can join everyone skating along this ginormous outdoor rink. You don’t even need to bring your own skates – there are plenty of rental locations near the Skateway.
Experience the Red Sand in Prince Edward Island
Sure, white sandy beaches are gorgeous, but have you ever experienced a red sandy beach? When visiting Canada’s Prince Edward Island, a trip to the Red Sands Shore needs to go on your bucket list. Take one of the longest bridges in the world (the Confederation Bridge) and end up right in the heart of the Red Sands Shore. You can go for a swim, or just enjoy the vibrant red colour of the sand.
Explore the Northwest Passage Trail in Nunavut
The Northwest Passage Trail is a sea route that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean. Adding this to your Canadian travel bucket list will have you following in the steps of Arctic explorers. The route passes around Baffin Island (the largest island in Canada) and many, many icebergs.
Canoe on Lake Louise in Alberta
You’ve seen it on Instagram, so why not do it yourself? Imagine being surrounded by nature, floating along emerald-green waters while taking in the epic views of Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
One of the top bucket list destinations in Canada is Lake Louise, a dramatically beautiful lake with its unique colours and view of glacier peaks in the distance. In the winter, you can skate along the frozen lake but the real bucket list item is canoeing (or stand-up paddle boarding) along Lake Louise during the summer months. For an added bonus, experience the Banff hot springs and other Banff activities nearby.
Witness wonderful wildlife in Manitoba
Churchill, Manitoba has become a well known Canadian destination for its natural beauties like the northern lights and its proximity to beluga whales and polar bears. If you’re going to trek up to Churchill, you need to hire a local guide to ensure that the surrounding nature and wildlife are respected. These very Canadian activities are perfect for your travel bucket list as long as you’re enjoying them as a responsible tourist. Remember that you are entering the homes of these remarkable creatures!
Watch the first North American sunrise in Newfoundland and Labrador
Cape Spear in Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula the most easterly point of North America, which makes it the very first place in North America to watch the sunrise every morning! For this bucket list adventure, head to the Cape Spear Lighthouse, which is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the province. Even if you can’t make it for the sunrise, you should still stand with your back facing Canada and your front facing Ireland (or vice-versa).
Once you’re done adding all of these destinations to your Canada bucket list, check out the Skyscanner search features to find out which one you can cross off your list first. Enjoy exploring!
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