Canada Travel 1 - No. 1 for Travel in Canada
Stop Press: With the Winter Olympics over, Canada is still celebrating in the aftermath of one of the best Olympics' ever. In British Columbia, particularly at Whistler, the snow keeps on coming. The season at this premier North American resort is shaping up as the second best ever, so much so that Whistler Blackcomb has extended the season to April 25 2010.
There is so much to see and do in this sprawling wide open country of Canada. This site has attempted to provide a guide to Canda's major cities, as well as information about travelling to this beautiful country, information about the local cultures and food, domestic travel, and advice on what to see and do, and where to go. If you are not from the northern hemisphere, or if you live in a predominantly tropical or moderate area, it would be wise to pay patricular attention to the climate section, as Canada's weather can be harsh during the winter months of the year.
From the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the dynamic cities of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City, and others, to the excitement of Niagara Falls - Canada is immense and diverse, and visitors from all over Canada, the United States, and indeed many other countries are looking to vacation in Canada. World class ski resorts, a huge range of hotels, and other forms of accommodation, many hotel chains operated by major national and international operators such as Fairmont, Canadian Pacific, Delta Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Sheraton, Sofitel, Westin, Accor, Marriott, Hyatt, and others, are located all over Canada. The weaker Canadian dollar is making Canada a popular place to travel to, aside from its natural beauty, friendly canadians, its great destinations, hotels, and opportunities for adventure. Some of the best ski resorts in North America are found in Canada. Fishing, golf, crossing the 'Rockies by train, or just sight seeing, Canada caters for everybody, yopung and old, from all walks of life, and on any budget.
Following is an overview of some of the most popular destination cities in the country:
Banff, now housed by the Banff National Park was inhabited by the Stony Indians thousands of years before the white man arrived. The area has its roots in the days the transcontinental railway was being built in the 1880s. The first Banff Springs Hotel was built in 1888, while the first highway through the park was finshed in 1923. Today Banff is populated with hotels, lodges, camp sites, and visitors from all over the world. The ski resorts at Lake Louise, Sunshine and Mount Norquay provide top skiing and snowboarding, while the hot springs, beautiful scenery, and the day and nightlife of the village cater for all. Other activities include golf, fishing, and trekking.
Touring the Canadian Rockies is an unforgettable experience. The spectacular mountain landscapes carry the call of the wild. In summer, there's hiking, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking and tourist excursions; in winter, dog-sledding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.
There's something for everyone. Vast forested valleys, snow-capped peaks, rugged escarpments, glaciers, pine forests, lakes with cleared shorelines - the diversity of scenery and colours will dazzle you, move you. So deep is the atmosphere of peace that herds of deer and elk will cross your path, unflustered.
Thanks to the wapiti, bison, bighorn, mountain goat and caribou that populate Jasper National Park, numerous paths criss-cross the mountain. The starting point of many Canadian Rockies vacations, Jasper is a charming village surrounded by impressive rocky crests. Its main street, Connaught Drive, is lined with old-fashioned stores and restaurants.
Falls, canyons, gleaming glaciers and emerald lakes - the region's attractions are so plentiful you'll have a hard time deciding what to explore. And your tour of the Canadian Rockies would not be complete without a stop in one of the three parks that contain hot springs.
Edmonton, capital of Alberta, beckons you to explore the mammoth West Edmonton Mall, the world's biggest shopping centre and a major tourist attraction. Check out the very trendy Old Strathcona Historic Area or stroll along banks of the Saskatchewan river, a green ribbon of parkland twenty times the size of New York City's Central Park ! For golfers, another temptation comes in the shape of some 70 golf courses in the greater Edmonton area.
Every year, Calgary hosts 10 days of madness during the famous Calgary Stampede, the biggest rodeo in Canada. Everyone dons cowboy garb and the atmosphere is wild! From Calgary Tower you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city and of the Canadian Rockies.
Farther west in your Canadian vacation, you’ll encounter Vancouver and surroundings, which offer hiking trails that are just as spectacular up the coast or in the Rocky Mountains. Downhill ski and snowboard enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. Yoho and Kootenay National Parks overwhelm you with their sheer vastness.
Edmonton, capital of Alberta, has successfully combined the pace of a modern city with the soothing tones of wide green spaces. It has more kilometres of greenery per inhabitant than any other city in Canada, including the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America, the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Explore it by bike, on foot, or even on skis (in winter, snow conditions make for excellent cross-country skiing throughout the Edmonton region).
Evidence of a penchant for doing things in a big way can also be seen at the West Edmonton Mall, the world's biggest shopping centre : 800 stores, 110 food-service establishments and seven world-renowned attractions, including a water park, reproductions of undersea caves, and a life-size replica of Christopher Columbus' ship.
Let yourself be carried away by the many art and music festivals. Over 13 weeks of summer, the city hosts nine festivals, not only the celebration of the visual arts and the International Jazz Festival, but also the fringe theatre festival, the biggest and most exciting alternative theatre festival in North America.
Museum fans are well catered to as well. The Edmonton Space and Science Centre houses an IMAX movie theatre and a planetarium which has the biggest dome in Canada. At Fort Edmonton Park, Canada's biggest living history museum, visitors can ride in a sleigh, tram or steam train through four periods of the city between 1855 and 1920.
Lastly, the Muttart Conservatory has four botanical gardens, each under a glass pyramid. Visit flora from four climates: jungle, desert, cold temperate and humid temperate.
Nicknamed "the city of trees," Halifax is a cosmopolitan city of sophisticated charm. As Nova Scotia's capital, it is elegant, lively and romantic. In addition to all the stores, theatres and art galleries you would expect, the city has managed to retain much of the special ambience of a coastal village.
Architecture fans will love the way Halifax has boldly combined different styles. The stark lines of modern buildings and the tall lines of sailboat masts successfully blend with the heavier cast of 18th and 19th-century buildings.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia boasts impressive regional, national and international collections, while contemporary trends among the province's artists are exhibited at the Mary E. Black gallery in the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design. Glass in all its forms can be seen at the cottage glassblowing industry of Nova Scotian Crystal, the only one of its kind in Canada.
Discover history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and see the magnificent period ships moored along the quay. Explore former privateers' warehouses that today house shops and restaurants. Lastly, the casino, in a prime waterfront location, exerts its pull on those who like to tempt fate. Also, if you prefer a more marine adventure, the oldest seagoing ferry (in service since 1752!) will take you to Dartmouth, where you can stroll along the peaceful, sunny paths of the Shubenacadie canal.
At the heart of any trip through the Canadian Rockies is a visit to Jasper. This small resort town in the Rockies has kept its simplicity despite the enthusiasts that flock there to tour the parks, hot springs and legendary ski hills of Alberta. An even bigger draw is Jasper National Park, which was founded in 1907, and stretches over many kilometres, offering memorable walks with spectacular scenery!
Kayaking and rafting fans will take to the turbulent rivers in the surrounding area, while mountain bikers will find the terrain very much to their taste. The aerial tramway (2,469 metres) takes you to the Whistlers Summit, where you'll find the panorama of the Canadian Rockies intoxicating.
A walk along Maligne Canyon takes you to a 23-metre waterfall that thunders down into a rocky passage. Rent a boat and relax on the waters of dazzling Maligne Lake, surrounded by mountains covered with perpetual snow.
Your Rocky Mountain vacation could also take you close to Mount Edith Cavell, where the splendid beauty of the Angel Glacier will send shivers down your spine.
Farther south, the Athabasca Glacier is also impressive. The Sulphur Skyline trail takes you to a summit from which the view is spectacular. You can see the winding gravel valley of the Fiddle River, Mount Utopia and the many limestone peaks of the Miette Range. For a little relaxation, Miette hot springs await you in magical surroundings!
The flora and fauna of the Canadian Rockies is diverse and breathtaking. Your trip will take you into the wilds of Alberta to potentially cross paths with birds, squirrels, deer, wapitis, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bears, and even coyotes.
Take advantage of your walks to admire sub-alpine clearings, scattered with wildflowers and frequented by small animals such as grey pikas or the golden-mantled ground squirrel. Jasper National Park wardens organize regular theme walks, an excellent way to learn about the region's fauna and flora.
And skiers with a lust for freedom, don’t forget to pack some gear for your trip, because this region is a ski paradise.
Located where Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands meet, historic Kingston exquisitely combines the allure of a small town with all the amenities and sophistication of an urban centre.
Your best introduction to the charms of Kingston is the famed " Confederation Tour Trolley ". However, you can also discover the city's dazzling 19th century limestone architecture by strolling along the waterfront. Look out for major historic sites such as Fort Henry and Bellevue House. In warm weather, the splendid sight of sailboats and windsurfers bobbing on the waves is worth a few moments of contemplation and admiration.
Then meander your way back up to Princess Street in the heart of Kingston and pop into a lovely bistro... or go all out and reward yourself with a dinner cruise in the Islands!
Renowned for being the fresh-water sailing capital of North America, Kingston is also one of the most popular scuba diving sites in the country. Over 200 shipwrecks lie dormant at the bottom of Lake Ontario.
Kingston is located just a short distance from Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto, but its proximity to the picturesque Thousand Islands makes it an even greater tourist draw.
Québec's largest city, Montréal is an outstanding cultural centre and vacation destination. Tourist attractions such as museums, concert halls, movie theatres, department stores and specialized shops justify the city's international reputation. Bilingual Montréal is the jewel of Québec tourism and the world's second-largest French-speaking city after Paris.
The train station is located minutes from the Old Montréal district, so begin your visit with a stroll along the shores of the majestic St. Lawrence river, where you will find architecture dating back to the era when Canada was known as New France. The downtown area, a few steps away, is home to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Place des Arts (a concert-hall and art gallery complex), and a host of other attractions to spice up your vacation package. Mount Royal, the wooded hill that dominates the city, is a park that is a pleasure to relax in.
Before taking the train trip home, don't forget to visit the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Olympic Park and the Biodôme (where complete natural ecosystems are reproduced). Try your luck at the Casino de Montréal. Celebrate music in the downtown streets together with tens and tens of thousands of others during the Festival International de Jazz. A trip to Montréal may also include other festivities such as the international fireworks competition, the "Just for Laughs" festival, the World Film Festival and much more! Other reasons to visit Montréal are sporting events such as the Grand Prix of Canada and great soccer games with the Impact.
Shaped like a gigantic, 675-metre-long horseshoe and 54 metres high, the incredible power of up to 6 millions cubic feet per minute of water make Niagara Falls one of the most popular vacation destinations in Canada.
Easily accessible by train, Niagara Falls is without question a highly developed tourist centre. With boat cruises to the foot of the falls, helicopter flights, underground tunnels, and dinner overlooking the top, visitors can put together a vacation package to see the falls from every angle. Illuminated by night, they’re magical, and when crowned with fireworks, the show is awesome.
Niagara is much more than the falls though, with tours and side trips to enchant the senses of every traveller! Take the time to travel the picturesque wine route to discover different grape varieties and the celebrated "ice wine", such as Inniskillin. Above all, don't miss the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, one of the year's main cultural events in Ontario. For a blaze of colour, the Butterfly Conservatory in the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens houses more than 2,000 free-flying butterflies.
While on your Niagara vacation, don’t miss the many fascinating museums and historical sites, including the Brock Monument, the Laura Secord House and Fort George. And you'll have plenty to do in the evenings with the casino, cinemas, IMAX theatre or simply watching boats plying the Welland canal.
Sports fans will also find their heart's content visiting the region's many golf courses or fishing on Lakes Ontario and Erie. With 121 km of coast, the region is a paradise for anglers.
A bilingual city with a rich historical and cultural heritage, Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is full of elegant homes and superb English-style gardens eagerly waiting for Canadian tourists. The Rideau Canal, which winds through the centre of the city is a highly prized leisure spot.
During your Ottawa visit, a stop at the Parliament Building is essential. Visit its many galleries and the magnificent circular library, watch the changing of the guard, or attend the House of Commons' famous Question Period.
Check out the stalls at Ottawa’s Byward market, look around antiques markets or stroll through the gardens and public rooms of Rideau Hall, residence of the Governor General. In the evening, be daring and visit the Casino du Lac Leamy, located in Gatineau.
Home to no fewer than 29 museums, Ottawa and adjoining Hull are hotbeds of cultural activity. With its strikingly original architecture, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has an impressive collection of totems standing in its famous historical gallery. The Canada Science and Technology Museum overflows with ingenuity and fascinates young and old. The superb National Gallery of Canada features art from home and abroad with its permanent collection as well as its special exhibits.
More than 30 festivals are held every year in and around the capital, so no matter what time of year you visit Ottawa, there is always something captivating going on.
This pretty port city is surrounded by beautiful, still intact wilderness. Architectural styles blend harmoniously and the picturesque streets are adorned with reproductions of totem poles.
The region is marked by a rich First Nations culture and history. The Northern British Columbia Museum has an impressive collection of craft pieces by tribes of the northwest.
At the First Nation Carving Shed you will meet fine sculptors who handle such varied materials as copper, silver, gold, cedar and argilite. The Kwinitsa Railway Museum is remarkable for the way it tells the city's history in the golden age of railways. The North Pacific Historic Fishing Village is a picturesque spot with many buildings on stilts, and home to the oldest surviving salmon cannery. On Skeena River cruises you can learn the history of this once-thriving industry.
For adventure lovers, there are plenty of opportunities here! The Pacific coast is popular with kayakers for its host of site. You can paddle in the company of whales, observe bears and eagles in their natural environments, scuba dive all year round, and hike right into the wilderness.
For a romantic or solo weekend, a seaplane will leave you in a remote spot or on a deserted beach for a few nights of wilderness camping. For those who like to relax in other ways, the natural hot springs of the Skeena River are strongly recommended!
Once you have explored the area, ferries can take you to Alaska or to the Queen Charlotte Islands.
As you stroll through the streets and alleys of this walled city - the only one in North America - you will feel as if you’ve taken a trip back in time.
Poised on a headland below which the St. Lawrence narrows, Québec City – or the "Old Capital" – was first a fur-trading post, and then became a major fort in New France. Close by, on the Plains of Abraham, the English and French fought one of the most important battles in the history of the Americas. As a result, control over the colony passed to the British, who laid the political foundations of the Canada we know today.
When you vacation in Québec City, you will soon understand why its historic district appears on Unesco's world heritage list !
In Québec City, take the time to visit the attractions and museums, enjoy a drink in a sidewalk café, and take a short river cruise. And if you're visiting during the winter, don't miss the city's famous Winter Carnival.
Travel in Canada must include at least one visit to Toronto, a multicultural, bustling and dynamic city that rightly deserves to be called a metropolis. Easily accessed by train from anywhere in Canada, Toronto will dazzle you with its pace, its stark lines, its high-class stores and bustling streets.
Let your Toronto vacation take you through Chinatown, Koreatown, Queen Street, Cabbage Town, Kensington Market, Little Italy and the Danforth - each offers you a unique cultural and culinary journey.
Toronto is also sought after for its luxury stores. The world's great designers each have a storefront here. In all, the city has close to 20,000 boutiques ready to satisfy every fashion taste.
The Entertainment District is home to an incredible selection of theatres and concert halls, making Toronto a centre for English-language theatre. In fact, many Toronto travel packages include show tickets, as well as admission to other attractions.
If you enjoy museums, art centres and art galleries, you'll find plenty to delight you in this effervescent city. Noteworthy destinations include, among others, the famous Royal Ontario Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of Ontario, and the Ontario Science Centre.
Trips to Toronto should also include a visit to Ontario Place or the Skydome, and a chance to admire the sunset from the top of the CN tower, the world's tallest free-standing structure. A number of festivals and exhibitions are held there, including the famous Canadian National Exhibition.
You also won’t want to miss the Toronto Zoo, Paramount Canada's Wonderland. the Toronto Winterfest in early Feb, and the Toronto international film festival.
This is a vibrant city combing the new and the old. The Gastown district, a historical part of the city is a must to see. The old hotels like the Fairmont Vancouver, a relic of a bygone era is another. Then there are the modern skyscrapers, the conventioncentre on the waterfront incorporated by the Pan Pacific Hotel. A blend of the sea and the mountains, snow-topped in the Winter.
A cosmpolitan population where Canadians mix with people from all walks of life, particularly Asia from where migration is strong.
Robson Square is a magnet for tourists to Canada. Popular with yuppies, features old, rustic buildings as well modern skyscrapers.
The city's restaurants, taverns, pubs, are a delight. Located all over the city, but most prominent in Robson Square and Gastown.
On Granville Island, you can see artist workshops, boutiques and markets.
Chinatown, with the large Asian population in Vancouver, is a popular destination.
The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia features a study of the seven cultural groups that inhabit the West Coast.
Stanley Park, overlooking the sea is used regularly by runners and walkers, cyclers and skaters. This is an oasis in the city.
Whistler is a world famous ski resort 115 kilometres, or 72 miles north of Vancouver, in British Columbia. It is regarded in some quarters as the best ski resort in North America. The city itself only has a population of just over 10,000, but year-round there are visitors form all over Canada, the U.S. and other parts of the world. Nestled at the foot of Whistler Mountain, which itself is adjacent to Blackcomb Mountain, the city is on the doorstep of 8,000 acres of natural landscapes suitable for skiing, snowboarding, and and a host of Winter and Summer leaisure and adventure travel activities. There is skiing all year round on various parts of the mountains, and the for the rest the scene and the things to do are just as plentiful in the Summer as in the Winter. Whistker is also known for its nightlife which scores of restaurants, bars, and cafes, some located in the many top class hotels there, and others owner-operated, as well as professionally-managed establishments.
Right at the heart of Canada, Winnipeg lies in southern Manitoba as the largest city in the Prairies. As the "port" of entry to western Canada from the east, Winnipeg is home to incredible cultural events and attractions, as well as a number of historic sites.
Begin in the largest French community west of Québec in the French quarter of the city, Saint Boniface, including the Cathedral of the same name. The neighbourhood marks the birthplace of Louis Riel, a man who changed both the cultural and the political face of Canada by fighting for human rights and being the father of the province of Manitoba. The Cathedral - the oldest in western Canada and a provincial heritage site - also marks his burial site. You can learn all about the area's history at the Le Musée de Saint-Boniface - the oldest building in Winnipeg.
A short walk away from the station, you can head down to the Forks, where the Red and the Assiniboine rivers meet. A junction where people have gathered for centuries, this downtown riverside area offers shopping, green space, and attractions for everyone. Don't forget to check out the Forks market, where you can browse kiosks offering everything from fresh foods and local artwork to souvenirs.
You can also venture through the galleries and the science centre of the Manitoba Museum, where you can look at historical exhibits and amazing pieces from all over Manitoba. It also boasts one of the only major planetariums in the country.
While there, grab a chance to see some spectacular shows that make Winnipeg one of the most culturally enriching places in the country. Listen to a performance of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, or take in a show of the internationally renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet company, which is the oldest one in North America. Maybe even catch some French theatre by Le Cercle Molière (French web site) - one of the oldest theatrical companies in Canada!
You can also see some great performances during the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival - the second largest of its kind in the country, or the internationally acclaimed Winnipeg Folk Festival, featuring famous artists every year.
(Most of the information on destinations in Canada, with the exception of Banff, Vancouver and Whistler obtained from VIA Rail Canada - www.viarail.ca ).
Places to See
Museums and Art Galleries
Statues of steel, bronze and concrete bloom in sculpture gardens. Works by Canadian masters and innovators like Carr, Colville, Riopelle and The Group of Seven adorn the salons of more traditional galleries. International artists are celebrated alongside both historic and contemporary pieces of Aboriginal and Inuit art. Cultural treasures from civilizations past illuminate the path of human history. Varied collections of art and artifacts flourish in the galleries and museums of Canada. The rush of inspiration is well worth the price of admission.
Following is a list of the major buildings in the country:
Art Gallery of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
The Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Alberta
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, British Columbia
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Rooms Gallery, Museum & Archives, St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa,
Ontario Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario
Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown
Prince Edward Island
Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec
The Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec
MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan
For descriptions and addresses of the major museums in Canada see the nation's Virtual Museum which provides online exhibits, games, and images, which you can use to experience and explore art, culture, and heritage from Canada's museums.
Climate in Canada
Trying to distill the climate of Canada into an easy-to-understand statement is impossible, given the vast area that this country occupies. Much of southern Ontario has a climate similar to the northeastern United States. On the other hand, Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is just south of the Arctic Circle and remains very cold for most of the year.
However, as most of the Canadian population resides within a few hundred kilometers of Canada's border with the United States (Edmonton and Calgary being the only major cities that aren't), visitors to most cities will most likely not have to endure the weather that accompanies a trip to the northern territories. In fact, summers can be hot in parts of Canada. Summer temperatures over 35°C (95°F) are not unusual in extreme Southern Ontario and the southern Interior of British Columbia, with Osoyoos being the hot spot of Canada. Toronto's climate is only slightly cooler than many cities in the northeastern United States, and summers in the southern parts of Ontario and Quebec are often hot and humid. In the BC (British Columbian) Interior, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the humidity is often low during the summer, even during hot weather. In the winter, Southern Ontario is only slightly cooler than the northeastern United States, but temperatures under -20°C (14°F) are not uncommon.
The climate in Canada also depends on how close to the coast you travel. Many inland cities, especially those in the Prairies, experience extreme changes in weather. Winnipeg, Manitoba (also colloquially known as 'Winterpeg') has hot summers that can easily exceed 35°C (95°F), yet experiences very cold winters where temperatures around -40°C (-40°F) are not uncommon. The hottest temperature in Canadian ever recorded was in southern Saskatchewan, at 45°C (113°F). Conversely, southern coastal cities in British Columbia are generally milder year-round and get little snow. The Atlantic Provinces are usually not as mild as the Prairies and the Territories although they constantly experience temperatures below zero in the winter. The Atlantic Provinces are also well known to experience many blizzards during the winter season. In British Columbia, Vancouver and Victoria are temperate and get very little snow, and seldom experience temperatures below 0°C or above 27°C (32-80°F).
Apart from having usually milder temperatures year-round than the interior areas of Canada, coastal areas can have very high rainfall. Areas such as coastal British Columbia get some of the highest rainfall in Canada, but it can be very dry in the southern BC Interior due to the Coastal Mountains acting as a rain shadow. It is also popular with the highest tourists. The wind can be a big factor on the Canadian Prairies because there are wide open areas not unlike those in the Midwest states of the US, and makes for unpleasant windchills during cold weather in the winter. The average temperature is typically colder in Canada than in the US and Western Europe as a whole, so bring your jacket if visiting between October and May, and early and later than this if visiting areas further north. The rest of the year, in most of the country, daytime highs are generally above 15°C (60°F).
(Courtesy of Wikitravel).
How to get to Canada
Although the citizens of many countries are exempt (see below) you may need a Temporary Resident Visa to enter the country. If you plan to visit the United States and do not travel outside the borders of the US, you can use your single entry visa to re-enter as long as the visa has not passed its expiry date. Working while in the country is forbidden without a work permit, although Canada does have several temporary work permits for youth from specific countries. If you have a recent criminal conviction (within 5 years) you may be inadmissible to Canada, and should make enquiries prior to your trip. If you have a conviction over 5 years old then you can apply for 'rehabilitation' approval in advance. The government of Canada maintains an informative website for non-Canadians wishing to travel to Canada: CanadaInternational.gc.ca.
Citizens of following countries do not need a visa to visit Canada: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
If you are travelling to Canada from the United States and you are not a citizen of either country, you need to be careful to satisfy the US on any subsequent trip that you have not exceeded their limits on stays in North America. Your time in Canada counts towards your maximum allowed United States stay, (as does time elsewhere in North America including Mexico).
If you are returning to the US in this trip, keep your visa documents. Do not hand over your US visa or visa waiver card (I-94 or I-94W) to border control. You can enter the US multiple times during the time allocated to your visa (for Western tourists, normally 90 days), but you need to have the immigration document as well to validate the visa. If you come back from the US without that document, you will not only have to apply again for a new visa but also will also be asked severe questions by US immigration.
If your default US time is going to run out while you are in Canada, and you want to return to the US direct from Canada, you need to apply for a US visa with a longer time period (eg B-1/B-2, or a C-1 transit visa) before your first trip through the US. For example, if you are going to stay in Canada for six months, and you transit through the US on a visa waiver, then the US will regard your six months in Canada as not allowing you to return to the US without leaving North America first, as you have stayed more than 90 days in North America in total. Note that in this scenario, you have not done anything wrong by visiting the US and then staying in Canada for a long time, simply that the US will not allow you to return directly from Canada, you have to reset their clock by leaving North America.
If you are intending to leave North America entirely without returning to the United States on this trip, return any visa documents at the time of leaving the US for Canada. If you do not, you will need to prove to the United States that you didn't overstay in order to be admitted on future trips.
Getting to Canada by plane
You are likely to arrive to Canada by air, most likely into Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver (the 3 largest cities, from East to West). But other airports in Canada also have international flights as well, particularly Halifax, Gander, Moncton, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Cranbrook, Kelowna and Victoria.
Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat are the country's only national air carriers, covering the entire country and international destinations. There are a few discount domestic companies, which offer flights to all major cities, with connections to smaller ones. As with most airlines, it's cheaper if you book your flight ahead of time, but bookings can be made right up to the last minute if you've got money to spare.
As a rule of thumb, all Canadian three-letter IATA airport codes start with a "Y".
Getting to Canada by car
You might also enter the country by road from the United States through one of the (literally) hundreds of border crossing points. Obviously, the same rules will apply here, but if your case is not straightforward, expect to be delayed, as the officials here (especially in more rural areas) see fewer international travellers than at the airports. Also expect delays during holiday periods, as border crossings can become clogged with traffic.
Drivers of American cars will need a certificate confirming that they carry enough public liability insurance (generally $200,000) to meet the requirements of all Canadian provinces and territories. Since many US states permit limits below this threshold, American visitors bringing their own automobiles should check with their automobile insurers and obtain the required certificate.
When driving within Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto keep in mind that these cities are densely populated and parking can be difficult to find and/or expensive. All three cities provide extensive public transit, so it is easy to park in a central location, or at your hotel or lodging, and still travel in the metropolitan area.
Getting to Canada by train
Via Rail is Canada's national passenger rail service. Amtrak provides connecting rail service to Toronto from New York via. Niagara Falls, Montreal from New York and Vancouver from Seattle via. Bellingham. The train is an inexpensive way to get into Canada, with tickets starting from as low as US$43 return to Vancouver. There is also thruway service between Seattle and Vancouver.
Be wary though: Not many private citizens in Canada take the train as a regular means of transportation. Most citizens simply drive to where they want to go if the distance is short (which in Canada can still mean hundreds of kilometres!), or fly if the distance is long.
Getting to Canada by bus
Greyhound Canada serves many destinations in Canada, with connecting service to regional lines and U.S. Greyhound coaches. Be sure to inquire about discounts and travel packages that allow for frequent stops as you travel across Canada. Many routes connect major Canadian and American cities including Montreal - New York City which is operated by New York Trailways , Vancouver - Seattle operated by Greyhound and Toronto - New York City via Buffalo, this route in particular is operated by a number of bus companies: Greyhound, Coach Canada , New York Trailways and two new discount services: Megabus  and Ne-On .
Getting to Canada by sea
In British Columbia you can enter Canada by ferry from Alaska and Washington. Alaska Marine Highway serves Prince Rupert, whereas Washington State Ferries serves Sidney (near Victoria) through the San Juan islands. There is a car ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles run by Black Ball; there are also tourist-oriented passenger-only ferries running from Victoria to points in Washington.
There is a car ferry from Nova Scotia to Maine run by Bay Ferries (Yarmouth-Bar Harbor).
There is a passenger ferry running from Fortune in Newfoundland to Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
A small car ferry operates between Wolfe Island, Ontario (near Kingston) and Cape Vincent, NY.
The CAT car ferry between Rochester, NY and Toronto, Ontario was discontinued in January 2006.
Several cruise lines run cruises between the eastern United States and Halifax. Most freight routes run to Montreal on the east coast and Vancouver on the west coast. International passengers will be required to pass through customs in their port of arrival. (Courtesy of Wikitravel).
For the official Travel guide to Canada, operated by the Canadian Tourism Commission see Canada Travel.