Whether you’re a hardcore adrenaline junkie, a wildlife enthusiast or a city slicker looking for cutting-edge culture, Canada ticks all the boxes. The world’s second largest country racks up an astonishing diversity of landscapes; vast prairies rise abruptly to glacier-topped mountains; rugged, unspoiled coastlines give way to immense forests and emerald lakes; and Arctic waters lap upon frozen tundra. Incredibly, this wilderness is also home to cosmopolitan cities, quirky towns and remote indigenous settlements.
Canada’s people are as varied as the landscapes; from the Arctic Inuit and the Francophone Quebeckers to the British expatriates and burgeoning Asian community, this is a multicultural land where around 20% of the population are foreign-born.
Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant and regularly feature on lists of “best places to live." Toronto, a veritable patchwork of charming neighbourhoods, has an idyllic beachside location on the shore of Lake Ontario, while Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of fantastic museums and the pretty Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal’s skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer and you can stumble upon historic, cobbled streets and centuries-old customs.
A stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary flashes its oil wealth and flaunts its cowboy traditions during the annual boot-stomping Stampede. Chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an incredible downtown park and a cosmopolitan dining scene. And across the Georgia Strait, Vancouver Island is just the tonic if the city life gets too tough. Not that it ever does here.
For something wilder, ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays with whales in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. Capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast, or soar over Niagara Falls by helicopter. Tour vineyards, dig for clams or feel giddy gazing at the Northern Lights. In Canada, it seems, the options are endless.
9,984,670 sq km (3,855,102 sq miles).
36,428,310 (UN estimate 2016).
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented by Governor General David Johnston since 2010.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since 2015.
120 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style flat two-pin (with or without round grounding pin) plugs are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Don’t leave your handbag or luggage unattended. Thieves often target tourist hotels. Keep valuables including your passport in a hotel safe. Leave copies of important documents with family and friends in the UK. Carry a photocopy of your passport for ID. Keep luggage out of sight in cars.
If you need the police, call 911 or 0 and ask the operator to connect you. There is no charge for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone. If you lose your passport, contact the British High Commission or Consulate immediately.
Each province and territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws.
Seat belts are compulsory. Right turns on red lights are generally allowed, but at some junctions in towns and cities, you can only turn right on a green light. In some parts of Quebec, right turns on red lights are not allowed.
You can hire and drive a car in Canada using a full UK driving licence. You don’t need an International Driving Permit. Carry your licence with you at all times.
Take out full insurance cover if you hire a vehicle.
Obey speed limits and take extra care when travelling on country roads. Watch out for wild animals.
Winter driving conditions can be extreme. Monitor local news and weather broadcasts and take advice before driving in winter. Snow tyres are required in some provinces.
For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada and safety tips, see the Government of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Travel Canada websites.
Check with your airline and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for information on screening procedures and prohibited/restricted items on board an aircraft.
If you are hiking or camping, be considerate and cautious of local wildlife. Take all rubbish with you, and treat any food items with great care to avoid attracting animals to your site. Animals with nearby young or nests will be particularly aggressive when protecting their territory. Research the region and learn how best to deal with the local wildlife you might encounter. Take particular care if you’re touring an area where bears have been sighted. Keep a safe and legal distance from any wildlife including marine animals and birds and closely follow park regulations.