If there is a more visually stunning country on this planet, then I haven’t found it yet. Canada’s open landscape is simply breathtaking and with so many activities on offer, there is never a dull moment.
Whistle-stop tour East to West Coast:
Montreal – This French-Canadian city really does channel a French Colonial feel with its impressive architecture and square street layout. It’s very easy to get around the city by foot or on the local buses; hop on and get off at the bottom of Mount Royal to climb in shade to its peak and enjoy fabulous views out over the city. The climb is easy (can be done in sandals) and you can enjoy an ice-cream whilst strangers take turns to play a tune on the piano when you reach the top. Keep an eye out for pop-up movie screenings of your favourite films in the balmy summer nights and make sure that you take a walk along the harbour front.
Being a stand-up comedy fan, my visit to Canada wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival held in Montreal. Book in advance for the big name shows and check out a few unknown comedians who could very well be future stars. Definitely take a taste of the amazing street food on offer in the evenings – my first taste of putine with pulled pork was here, scrumptious! (3 night stay)
Calgary – A 4 hour flight from Montreal will descend into Calgary. Considering its size, I was surprised by how quiet the streets were. I spent the afternoon of my arrival exploring the city and enjoy a few cocktails next to the pool at the hotel. On a recommendation from the hotel reception staff, my partner and I took a tram and bus out to the Calgary Olympic Park. Yes, this is where they filmed 90s cult classic ‘Cool Runnings’ – very cool, indeed. I had booked us a bobsled ride the day before which was scheduled for the afternoon so we spent a good while being big kids on the Luge, which was actually great fun before our ride time. The bobsled was directed by an actual Danish Olympian and was over in a flash, but a great experience. (2 night stay).
Revelstoke – From Calgary I used the Greyhound Bus for the rest of the trip. On reflection, I would have rented a car to be able to stop off and really take in some of the fantastic views as I travelled through the Rockies (also the bus timetables aren’t great) but not being all that confident at driving on the right-hand side along mountain roads got the better of me. Revelstoke is a small town which I chose initially to break up the journey to Kamloops but it turned out being a pretty good stop. A trip to the Revelstoke Dam was an interesting afternoon and a way to test your vertigo tolerance! There are also some beautiful lakes nearby which you can reach by renting a bike. You can take a bus up to Revelstoke Mountain Resort which has a pipe ride which you can reach pretty fast speeds on. Top tip – when you arrive and pay for the pipe ride you will get given a number and the wait for your actual turn on the ride is usually about 3 hours later!! I did not know this at the time and so had to try to get a refund for my ticket as I had a bus to catch later that day. So, if you plan on going on the ride, get up to the resort early in the morning to get your ticket then go off for a hike and return later on. (2 night stay).
Kamloops – I arrived late into Kamloops and noticed the lights of a festival not far from the hotel. Turns out it was a summer concert so I headed down to check out the free music and stalls. There are loads of outdoor activities to take part in here which vary on the time of year that you go. (2 night stay).
Banff – Really is as beautiful as everyone says it is. The drive into Banff bursting through mountains on each side is phenomenal and the views from the hotels on the mountain sides are breathtaking. The town centre is busy but easily accommodates all of the tourists that visit here. Take a half-day trip to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine to see what the fuss is all about – you won’t be disappointed. Then stroll through Banff and relax by the stream of fresh mountain water. High on the fresh air, get on a bus to the hot springs a little out of the town centre. I wasn’t all that impressed when I arrived as the set up was more like an outdoor pool so didn’t go in, but if you haven’t visited a hot spring before then you may want to give it a try. Not far from the hot springs you come across the cable cars which go verrrryyy high up into the mountains to give you outrageous views out over the Rockies! Top tip – If you are going to go hiking in the area then obviously be wary of the wildlife and take the necessary precautions. You can get to Jasper from here but if you don’t have a car then the cost of transport will be very high! (2 night stay).
Whistler – This place is very cool. I got the bus to Vancouver and then a shuttle bus by a local company up to Whistler. On arrival, it has a very welcoming vibe and there are activities to get involved in everywhere you look. Again, depending on what time of year you go, the genre of activities available will change: In winter Whistler is a skiing/snowboarding mecca, whereas during summer the hills becoming adrenaline fuelled tracks for mountain bikers. I visited in the summer so hiking and white water rafting were on the agenda. Take a walk out of the centre along on of the mountain paths and spend a few hours lazing in the sun next to a lake or floating down-stream. Renting a bike and exploring the woodlands surrounding Whistler is a must. (3 night stay).
Vancouver – It is no surprise that this city keeps topping the most loved lists. Between the beaches, tree-lined parks, harbour, markets, restaurants, museums, galleries, theaters and nightlife there is something for everyone in this laid back metropolis. Top tip – Hire a bike to help get yourself around the city. (3 night stay).
Taken from the base of the cable car in Banff, mentioned above