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The 24 Most Beautiful Places in Canada

SmarterTravel

The Great White North is blessed with endless beauty. It comes in many varieties, from unspoiled wilderness to urban splendor. But the following 24 places take the prize for being the most beautiful places in Canada, with at least one stunning destination in each province and territory.

Alberta

Banff National Park

 

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Perhaps the most obvious place to start when discussing the most beautiful places in Canada is Banff National Park and its magnificent Lake Louise. Take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain for an incredible view of some of the world’s most dramatic mountain scenery, then explore the park’s stunning waterfalls, forests, and glacier lakes, including vibrant Lake Louise, an unlike-anywhere-else oasis in the Canadian Rockies.

Where to stay: Elegant Mount Royal Hotel has a Banff-themed library, rooftop hot tubs, a lobby museum, and modern decor that echoes the destination.

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Jasper National Park

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Jasper is the Canadian Rockies’ biggest national park, and it’s packed with snow-covered peaks, translucent lakes, roaring waterfalls, inspiring highways, and large populations of wildlife including moose, caribou, wolves, and grizzlies. Step out onto the kilometer-long, 918-foot-high, glass-floored Columbia Icefield Skywalk—if you dare.

Where to stay: Airy Glacier View Lodge opened in summer 2019 and offers tours of the Athabasca Glacier, tall windows with views of icefields and steep mountains, gourmet dinners, and live musical performances every evening.

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Abraham Lake

Abraham lake clearwater county alberta canada.
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When considering beautiful places to visit in Canada, don’t overlook Abraham Lake, on the Kootenay Plains’ North Saskatchewan River. Peer into its crystalline surface to see eerie methane bubble formations trapped in frozen bright blue water. These underwater oval towers of gas turn the manmade reservoir into a bucket-list destination for any Instagrammer worth his or her salt.

Where to stay: It may be about 80 miles from Abraham Lake, but the epic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is worth the drive. This gilded resort showcases one of the prettiest places in Canada by way of lovely accommodations right on Lake Louise. Guests get to borrow bikes and canoes for free.

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British Columbia

Victoria

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Victoria is British Columbia’s fairy tale-like capital—easily one of the most beautiful cities in Canada—and Butchart Gardens is the jewel in its flowery crown. Besides touring these enchanting gardens, things to do in Victoria include visiting the expansive Royal BC Museum, strolling salty Fisherman’s Wharf, and exploring idyllic Beacon Hill Park.

Where to stay: Victoria’s stately Fairmont Empress is famous for many things, its classic afternoon tea chief among them. Service and accommodations are as regal as you’d expect.

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Vancouver Seawall

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The 17-mile Vancouver Seawall allows for one of the most exhilarating bike rides you’ll ever take. Ride (or walk) the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path for wide, glittering views of the Pacific and plenty of entry points into dynamic Stanley Park. Stop to enjoy the beaches and other fun surprises along the way. While in Vancouver, you may as well visit a couple more of the prettiest places in Canada: the immersive Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and 4,100-foot-high Grouse Mountain.

Where to stay: At the impressive Fairmont Waterfront, service is so bespoke that even your shampoo bottle is personalized with your name on it.

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Whistler

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If you’re aiming to see the most beautiful places in Canada, you could do far worse than Whistler in winter. It’s got sheer white mountain peaks, world-class skiing and snowboarding, an inviting apres-ski village, zip-lines through snow-covered trees, and fantastic places to eat and sleep.

Where to stay: For magical views, book Nita Lake Lodge, which has luxurious guest rooms, a spa, three restaurants, and a shuttle that takes you to the base of Whistler Mountain.

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Glacier National Park

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Amid the massive Canadian Rockies is Canada’s own Glacier National Park and its jaw-dropping beauty. The namesake geographical features take the form of icefields, waterfalls, and brightly hued lakes, making for some of the most resplendent natural scenery on Earth.

Where to stay: In the park, you can camp, use an RV, or book a hut or cabin. There are no hotels in Canada’s Glacier National Park, although the town of Revelstoke is nearby, and its Poppi’s Guesthouse hostel gets high marks for coziness, friendliness, and affordability.

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Great Bear Rainforest

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Into wildlife adventures? The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the best places in Canada to see grizzly bears catching salmon in wild rivers, whales breaching, eagles soaring, and wolves roaming. In Klemtu on the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, you’ll find mossy forests, untamed fjords, and natural hot springs. As the name implies, ursines frolic everywhere, including the rare white “spirit bear.”

Where to stay: The indigenous-owned Spirit Bear Lodge offers exclusive access to wildlife-viewing areas and cultural sites within the Kitasoo Xai’xais territory. Accommodations are homey and dinners communal.

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Yoho National Park

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The Kootenay Rockies’ Yoho National Park is named for the Cree word meaning “awe,” and it’s easy to see why—its imagery seems out of a movie. You’ll see intense blues and greens, dramatic peaks, the immense Takakkaw Falls, and gem-colored Emerald Lake, making this park one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Hiking trails and scenic drives let you take in the full force of this stunning wilderness. Don’t miss Yoho’s Burgess Shale, a paleontological jackpot containing 500-million-year-old fossils of more than 120 types of marine animals.

Where to stay: The historic, cabin-style Emerald Lake Lodge has balconies and wood-burning fireplaces right on the shores of the famous lake, amid towering mountains.

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Manitoba

Cape Churchill

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Cape Churchill, Manitoba, is the polar bear capital of the world. If your idea of impressive scenery involves endless stretches of ice and dozens of polar bears striding across it, head up to the Arctic to experience one of the most beautiful places in Canada. In October and November, Hudson Bay freezes over and thousands of polar bears migrate to its ice, although climate change is already taking effect. Local tour guides in tundra rovers get you up close to see the endangered white creatures.

Where to stay: At Churchill’s Lazy Bear Lodge, accommodations are simple but comfortable. It’s a rustic log cabin with a huge stone fireplace and a location that’s walking distance from town. The lodge’s beluga whale tour is highly recommended.

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New Brunswick

Fundy National Park

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Fundy National Park, on the Bay of Fundy, has the world’s highest and lowest tides. This means that you can walk out onto the ocean floor during low tide, then kayak alongside landforms like the must-see Hopewell Rocks when the Atlantic refloods the bay. Elsewhere in the park, hike through the Acadian Forest to see dozens of lovely waterfalls, explore sea caves, attend festivals and outdoor concerts, or drive Fundy Trail Parkway to see some of the prettiest places in Canada.

Where to stay: Fundy National Park has three hip campgrounds, as well as Fundy Highlands Motel, which offers simple, comfortable, dog-friendly chalets right on the bay.

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Gros Morne National Park

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The iconic image of Gros Morne National Park is Western Brook Pond, whose name makes it sound small. It’s actually a massive freshwater fjord around which dramatic cliffs plunge into a glacier-formed gorge. Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also home to the Tablelands, a geological rarity where earthquakes have forced the earth’s mantle up for all to see. There’s also Green Point—sheer cliffs full of ancient sea fossils—as well as waterfalls, dwarf forests, moose and caribou, and Gros Morne Mountain, which is among the planet’s oldest peaks.

Where to stay: Neddies Harbour Inn, a boutique property in the national park, provides unbeatable views over the Bonne Bay fjord, as well as a peaceful atmosphere and an excellent restaurant.

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Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail

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Nova Scotia’s 185-mile Cabot Trail loops around Cape Breton Island, making for one of North America’s most memorable drives. In addition to providing gorgeous coastal views, the highway takes you to small fishing villages, the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, golf courses, museums, galleries, and artisan boutiques. It also passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where moose, bears, and eagles roam, and where autumn’s vivid colors secure Cabot Trail’s spot among the prettiest places in Canada.

Where to stay: Keltic Lodge is a historic, well-appointed resort right on the Atlantic in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Amenities include in-room fireplaces, verandahs, a golf course, a heated swimming pool, and a satisfying restaurant.

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Ontario

Niagara Falls

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Niagara Falls isn’t just one of the most beautiful places in Canada—it’s one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. And though Americans tend to think of it as a U.S. attraction (of course), the Canadian view of the famous falls is actually even better. Come in summer to be treated to nightly fireworks over the mist.

Where to stay: The city around Niagara Falls is pretty touristy, so it’s worth the effort to drive about 13 miles north to a charming little town called Niagara-on-the-Lake and its elegant Charles Hotel, where guest rooms have fireplaces, private verandahs gaze over Lake Ontario, gardens bloom with flowers, and service is superlative.

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CN Tower

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Those in search of Canadian urban wonders can look no further than the CN Tower, the defining feature of Toronto‘s skyline, punctuating postcards all over Ontario. The tower’s observation deck has glass floors, its 360 Restaurant rotates, and its heart-pounding EdgeWalk lets you strap in and hang off a five-foot-wide ledge more than 1,000 feet high. This iconic structure is prettiest when it illuminates after dark.

Where to stay: The Shangri-La Hotel, set in in a 66-floor glass-encased skyscraper, epitomizes modern luxury with its artistic decor, high-tech amenities, and hammam-inspired spa. And it’s within easy distance of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada.

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Prince Edward County

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Prince Edward County, a detached peninsula on Lake Ontario’s north shore, is ideal for both beach lovers and oenophiles. The region’s limestone bedrock makes for great wine grapes, which is why there are more than 40 vineyards here. There are also expansive fields of sunflowers and lavender, more than a dozen breweries, some 450 farms, and plenty of talented chefs who put all this local bounty to good use. PEC was relatively unknown until recently, when it gained something of a buzz among urbanites, artists, gourmands, and hipsters.

Where to stay: The colorful Drake Motor Inn opened in spring 2019, full of whimsy and modernized nostalgia. Its 12 rooms are all retro-chic, and the entire property pays playful tribute to the bygone days of road travel.

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Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island National Park

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Prince Edward Island National Park is easily one of the most beautiful places in Canada, especially its windswept Greenwich section. Visitors can explore red sand beaches, wavy dunes, mystical forests, boardwalk trails, and the idyllic places that formed the setting for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

Where to stay: Dalvay by the Sea, a national historic site on the north shore, was built in 1895 in Queen Anne Revival style. Its 25 rooms—each one unique—remain furnished in antiques from that ornate era.

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Victoria-by-the-Sea

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Victoria-by-the-Sea is a storybook village full of small-town seaside charm, including a photogenic lighthouse, red sand beaches, and artisan shops and galleries. Historically known for its fishermen, it’s now more populated by artists and creatives who leave an inspired mark on their lovely municipality.

Where to stay: The historic Orient Hotel is an inviting bed and breakfast that provides wonderful views of the water from almost every guest room.

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Quebec

Old Montreal

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Montreal is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada—and one of the most interesting, too, what with its amalgam of European and North American culture and engaging attractions like Olympic Park’s Biodome and Botanical Garden. The prettiest part of the city, however, is Old Montreal, founded as a French colony in 1642, with intricate architecture to match. If you ever feel like going to Europe without crossing the Atlantic, visit Old Montreal’s resplendent Notre-Dame Basilica, browse its stately Bonsecours Market, gawk at its colonial-era mansions, and watch the St. Lawrence River’s dynamic Old Port at work.

Where to stay: The newish Four Seasons Montreal puts forth its brand’s usual level of service and comfort—which is to say, it’s an excellent place to stay. Adding to the appeal is its central location in the Golden Square Mile, its fine cuisine, and its proximity to high-end shopping at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.

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Quebec City

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Ask Canadians which is the most beautiful city in Canada, and most will respond the same way: Quebec City. It’s hard to overstate how magical this French-speaking town is—its fairy-tale charm pervades every cobblestone street. Quebec City, the only fortified city north of Mexico, is also blessed with colonial-era architecture, the bustling St. Lawrence River, and a rich, palpable history. It boasts four distinct seasons, each more beautiful than the next. Just outside of town, Montmorency Falls is almost 100 feet taller than any of Niagara’s three falls, making for a truly underrated natural wonder.

Where to stay: The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is the world’s most photographed hotel for good reason: Its legendary castle-on-a-hill look makes it an icon of Old Quebec. The elegance continues inside, in terms of both decor and hospitality par excellence.

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Saskatchewan

Grasslands National Park

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Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada, but in a bit of an unexpected sense: The grandness here isn’t so much village charm or even distinctive nature attractions. It’s more the vast golden prairies, the open country, the huge skies, and the roaming herds of bison that provide their own type of wild gorgeousness. One great way to take it all in is via a brand-new scenic road called the Badlands Parkway. Perk up your Instagram feed with photos of the park’s iconic red Adirondack chairs, or scour the hoodoo spires for dinosaur fossils.

Where to stay: Sky Story Bed & Breakfast in nearby Val Marie earns high marks for its warm hospitality, delicious breakfasts, and friendly cats.

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Northwest Territories

Great Slave Lake

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If seeing the northern lights is on your bucket list, plan to visit Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake, in the Northwest Territories. In winter, this remote Arctic region transforms into one of the most beautiful places in Canada, thanks to its position north of the 60th parallel, placing it firmly inside the aurora oval. This, plus a flat landscape far from the ocean, makes Yellowknife one of the world’s best places to see nature’s most spectacular light show. Prepare to see deep, glowing greens and purples dominating the skies over North America’s deepest lake.

Where to stay: Blachford Lake Lodge is an eco-conscious wilderness resort where you can see the auroras from your bed, the hot tub, or the dining room. You can also take igloo-building workshops.

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Nunavut

Baffin Island

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Baffin Island, above the Arctic Circle, is Canada’s largest island—it’s bigger than Great Britain. But it’s among the prettiest places in Canada because of Auyuittuq National Park, where icy fjords and glaciers dominate the landscape with their intense blues and bright whites. This surreal expanse of tundra is home to wildlife like you’ve never seen: narwhal, ringed seals, snow geese, Arctic foxes, caribou, and, yes, polar bears.

Where to stay: The Discovery Hotel is a boutique property with modern rooms and refined Arctic cuisine.

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Yukon

Whitehorse Region

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The Yukon is full of beautiful places to visit in Canada, and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad is a thrilling way to take them in. This scenic narrow-gauge railway was built in the late 1800s for the Klondike Gold Rush. Today, it still connects Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital city. The memorable ride takes passengers, many of them on shore excursions from Alaska cruises, into wide expanses of rugged scenery, over and through impossible bridges and tunnels, and past wildflower-packed meadows, waterfalls, and glaciers at a speed that allows appreciation for the sheer magnitude of it all.

Where to stay: Northern Lights Resort & Spa, true to its name, is well positioned to see the winter aurora borealis. Book a glass chalet or a log cabin and enjoy this much-loved B&B’s saunas, warm hospitality, and highly personalized service.

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What to Wear on Your Canadian Adventure

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Follow Avital Andrews on Twitter @avitalb or on Facebook.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Abraham Lake was 50 miles from Lake Louise, rather than 80 miles. It has been corrected.

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