Hi Megan, tell us a little about yourself, what you do at Barrhead Travel and your trip to Vancouver & Whistler?
I work within the Business Development Team here at Barrhead Travel and recently enjoyed a trip to Vancouver & Whistler. I love Canada and have visited Toronto, Calgary and the Rocky Mountains before, but this was my first time in British Columbia. We flew direct from Glasgow and spent 4 nights in Vancouver, and then on to Whistler for a further 2 nights.
What did you get up to while you were there? What attractions did you see?
There is so much to do in Vancouver and it is an amazing city to explore on foot. We spent loads of time walking around the different neighbourhoods and never once had to use a taxi or bus! My favourite part of Vancouver was Granville Island which you can access by Aqua Boat and it hosts an incredible food market and multiple breweries. The market is the ideal place to try poutine, the popular and delicious French-Canadian dish. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants to relax in and take in the city views. A must do for any foodie!
We did lots of activities while we were in Vancouver. A highlight for me was the Sea Vancouver tour that took us around the city on a zodiac boat and was lovely in the sunshine. I also recommend a trip to Grouse Mountain, which is located just 20 minutes outside the city. Visitors take a gondola to the top of the mountain for breath taking 360 views of Vancouver from above. The mountain is also home to two grizzly bears that you can visit and learn all about.
Anyone visiting Vancouver has to head to Stanley Park. Bigger than New York’s Central Park there is so much to do here and there are amazing views of the city’s skyline. We hired some bikes and cycled the 10k Sea Wall that wraps around the park and I would recommend this to everyone. You can enjoy it at a leisurely pace and there are endless photo opportunities and pit stops to enjoy along the way.
Famed for its adventure sports (namely skiing and mountain biking), Whistler is a dream for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. We opted to take the shuttle bus from Vancouver, which takes approximately 2 hours. The drive itself is stunning as you travel along the famous Sea to Sky Highway, so the 2 hours pass in no time. Whistler itself is fairly compact and has a pedestrianised village, so it is an ideal place for families.
After all our activities in Vancouver, Whistler was definitely more relaxing. We took the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that connects the two mountains in Whistler. It is the world’s highest and longest lift, so as you can imagine the views are spectacular! In the summer this is used purposely as a viewing platform, and in winter it has a more functional use for skiers. Bear viewing is also a major draw for a lot of visitors during the summer months. You can take a guided tour or if you are lucky enough you can see them as you come down the mountain from the gondola – unfortunately we didn’t spot any despite our efforts!
We took a leap of faith and soared the longest tandem zip line in Canada. A truly exhilarating experience and I would recommend this to everyone! As well as the adrenaline rush, you can see Whistler from a totally different perspective and the views are second to none.
We also took some time to relax in Whistler and made use of the hotel swimming pool and hot tubs. There are lots of great shops, bars and restaurants in Whistler with a truly chilled out atmosphere, so it was the perfect place to end our time in Canada.
What would you recommend someone packs when visiting Vancouver & Whistler?
It depends on what time of year you visit as the seasons vary dramatically. If you visit in summer like us, I recommend taking your usual summer clothes as well as some layers and a light jacket just in case. Although we didn’t experience any rain, Vancouver is known to be quite unpredictable and experiences showers quite often. Be sure to pack flat, comfortable shoes as you will walk for miles in Vancouver!
What are your top tips for someone visiting Vancouver & Whistler?
My top tips are:
Plan which activities you would like to do before you go. As well as this, make sure to include some down time. Vancouver is the perfect city to explore at leisure and enjoy some time by the water front, browsing the shops or relaxing in Stanley Park.
Vancouver is a popular back drop for movie and TV filming so be sure to keep an eye out for any celebrities! We were lucky enough to see Deadpool 2 filming.
If you are visiting Whistler, I recommend pre-booking your activities and accommodation in advance. It is a popular hot spot for Canadians and Americans alike, so it can be extremely busy.
Lastly, don’t under estimate the weather. Canada is not always cold and it was a sizzling 34 Degrees °C whilst we were there!
The famous Niagara Falls are a quintessential Canadian landmark and a must visit attraction. Straddling the American and Canadian border, the natural falls are a unique and magical sight, bound to awe all visitors. The incredible roar of the waterfalls can be heard from dusk until dawn and there are plenty of ways to experience them up close. We have put together our five favourite ways to view Niagara Falls from water, land and air.
Probably the most popular way to view Niagara Falls, the legendary Hornblower runs seasonally and takes you as close as possible to the spectacular falls. Feel the spray and mist as you embark on this 30 minute journey into the heart of the Horseshoe Falls. With 360 degree unobstructed views, prepare to get wet and remember your poncho!
Recently introduced is the new evening illumination cruise, offering majestic views of the Niagara skyline and the colourful illuminated falls. Described as a ‘light mist’ experience cruisers shouldn’t expect to get too wet and can enjoy an on-board bar, music and food during the 40 minute journey.
Journey Behind the Falls
Located behind the Horseshoe Falls, this excursion offers a unique vantage point from the tunnels behind and below the falls. This is the only place that you will hear the roar and feel the vibration of the falls long before you actually see them. Here you can experience the outdoor viewing platform for a close up, which makes for an amazing photo opportunity.
For the more adventurous traveller, take a helicopter flight and discover Niagara from above by taking in one of the best views of both the American and Canadian Falls. You will also fly over Niagara’s other famous sites such as Clifton Hill, the Rapids and the Rainbow Bridge. This tour also has the added bonus of keeping you nice and dry.
Travel through the canyon that was created by the falls on an exhilarating jet boat ride. You will learn about the history and geology of Niagara Falls before heading upstream on the Niagara River. Get ready for a bumpy ride swirling through the Whirlpool and riding the Devils Hole Rapids. A change of clothes is compulsory for anyone daring enough to take on the jet boat – it is guaranteed you won’t stay dry.
Every night Niagara Falls are illuminated with lights and offers a totally different experience in comparison to day time viewing. Throughout the summer, there is a spectacular firework display above the falls most nights. You can get unrivalled views of the fireworks from the Niagara Falls Casino and many of the hotels and restaurants located in the area. Remember to book a table in advance to guarantee you get a window seat.
Everyone should take the time to explore Atlantic Canada’s most visited province, Nova Scotia. Home to unique landscapes and a breath-taking coastline, you are set for an unforgettable trip. Spend your days learning about the maritime history of Nova Scotia, the influences of Scottish heritage and its strong links to the Titanic. Here’s just a quick snapshot of what to expect.
Where to Go
It is highly recommended that visitors hire a car or motor home to explore Nova Scotia. Most visitors start their journey in Nova Scotia’s capital city of Halifax, which is also the main transport hub. Halifax is a port city, full of maritime history and a thriving culinary scene that serves up the Atlantic Ocean’s incredible seafood.
Continue west to picturesque fishing village Peggy’s Cove where you can visit Canada’s most photographed lighthouse. The village is just one hour from Halifax.
The most famous driving route in Nova Scotia is the Cabot Trail, it will guide you on a spectacular coastal drive of Cape Breton Island. Follow the coastline and end at the island’s most Northern point, Cape Breton, which is part of the Highland National Park.
What to do
Nova Scotia’s coastline has a wealth of outdoor activities to offer. Make use of the impressive scenery and take a walk through the Cape Breton Highlands or one of the many peaceful beaches on the peninsula. For those seeking the perfect walking holiday, take to the hiking trails in the Bay of Fundy and Cape Breton’s Skyline Trail. Kayak through the tranquil Kejimkujik National Park or ease along the coastline of historic fishing towns like Yarmouth.
Wildlife lovers can experience seeing seals, dolphins and whales around the coastline. Take a whale watching trip from the Bay of Fundy for your best chance of spotting whales.
Nova Scotia has historical monuments spread all over the province. Whilst we couldn’t possibly cover them all, we have included a few of our top recommendations. At the end of the Cabot Trail sits the town of Baddeck that is home to the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site. Visitors can learn all about the inventor and his innovations here, as well as visiting his burial site.
The Maritime Museum of Atlantic Canada is located at Halifax’s waterfront and boasts the largest display of Titanic artefacts in the world. Halifax has played a specific role in the story of the Titanic and here you can learn about its connection. There are many other Titanic points of interest to visit throughout the city.
Pier 21 in Halifax is the Ellis Island of Canada, where over one million immigrants entered the country over a 20 year time frame. The Canadian Museum of Immigration here is well worth a visit.
Food & drink
Nova Scotia is renowned for offering some of the freshest sea food in the world, so be sure to feast on local lobster, scallops and mussels. Farmers markets can be found in most towns, providing delicious fresh and local produce.
Indulge yourself in some traditional Canadian Ice Wine, or sample the unique wines that are produced here. There are various wineries Nova Scotia with optional guided tours to try.
Halifax is only a 6 hour flight from the UK and direct flights are offered from Glasgow and London Gatwick. Many airlines offer a connecting service via Toronto from airports throughout the UK.
When to visit
Nova Scotia has a moderate climate in summer and autumn, with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in the summer months. In September and October there is a cooler average temperature of a manageable 15 degrees Celsius. While both seasons are popular for visiting, the autumn months give a stunning burst of colour to the already magical scenery.
Canada Day 2017 has been long awaited, with a huge line up of events in the run up to the big day. This year, Canada Day also marks the countries 150th anniversary and the celebrations are set to be bigger than ever.
Every year millions of Canadians celebrate Canada Day on the 1st July. It is traditionally a day to get together with your family and friends, celebrated with festivals, food, drinks and music. Conveniently, Canada Day falls on a Saturday this year, meaning events will be taking place over the country all weekend long.
Here is a quick guide to the celebrations in ten of Canada’s most popular destinations.
Canada’s capital Ottawa will be hosting a mega party in the heart of the city. Parliament Hill will take centre stage to an assortment of live music and performers, including the renowned Cirque Du Soleil. In the evening, prepare for a spectacular firework show which is rumoured to be the largest display in Canada Day history.
Canada Place will be the forefront of all celebrations in Vancouver, with a jam-packed live music line up and a dedicated children’s zone there is fun for the whole family. Keeping the party alive, head downtown on July 2nd for a traditional pancake breakfast and enjoy the parade as members of the local community march through the city.
Proving that it’s not only the major cities that know how to throw a party, Banff has a full itinerary of celebrations in place on the 1st July. The Rocky Mountains are a spectacular backdrop for the festivity. Visitors can expect a fun filled day complete with a parade, dancers and live music, ending with a magical firework display.
Toronto is putting on a wealth of events all over the city to celebrate. Visitors can enjoy a varied line up of entertainment and indulge in the many food stalls on offer. Families should head to Queens Park for a memorable day of family friendly activities. Of course, the CN tower will play a key role in Toronto’s celebrations. The country’s tallest freestanding tower will boast a magnificent firework display and the whole spectacle will be accompanied by Canadian music whilst being broadcast on live radio.
Like all cities in Canada, 1st July in Montreal will be full of events and a vibrant atmosphere. Montreal’s parade is one of the most significant, as it recognises the different cultures that help shape the city. Best of all, free cake is on offer at the end of the parade! The Montreal Jazz Festival also coincides with Canada Day, making it a double celebration with what is bound to be an electrifying concert.
Calgary’s Olympic Plaza is just one area of the city hosting memorable events all weekend. Enjoy the story telling of Canada’s history over the last 150 years, let loose with some country line dancing or simply sit back and enjoy the show. Not to forget the firework display which will be the finale to the day’s events.
Niagara is no stranger to a party and Canada Day is no exception. What better way to celebrate than alongside one of Canada’s most famous landmarks: Niagara Falls. Start the day off healthy with the Canada Day 5k run, before getting comfy to watch the 150th anniversary parade. Afterwards, join the local community for a huge street party and soak up the electric atmosphere.
With too much to pack into one day, Whistler has a week long string of events to celebrate Canada Day. Like most towns, Whistler is hosting a parade and the unique theme is “Strong, Proud & Free”. As a pedestrianised village, Whistler is the perfect place for plenty of street food and entertainment. Whistler Olympic Plaza will be the setting for the Canada Day wine & beer garden, where you can sip on a locally brewed craft beer or a glass of British Columbia wine.
9. Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is known for its top notch fresh cuisine, so it is only fitting that Canada Day is celebrated with a Kitchen Party at Halifax’s Farmers Market. Not forgetting its strong Celtic links, visitors will be treated to an Irish dancing display and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Parade in the downtown area. Halifax Common will host a live music event, including a performance from international electronic musician and fellow Canadian, DeadMau5.
Victoria’s inner harbour will be the setting for many of the Canada Day festivities. Local and national performers will grace the stage with an array of entertainment and family focused activities. Bring a blanket and get nestled in the wonderland that is Butchart Gardens for an evening of live music and an alluring firework display choreographed to music.
Vancouver is one of those cities that is large enough to offer an endless list of activities for families, but is also laidback enough that your little ones won’t get rushed off their feet. Whether it’s a theme park or just a nice stretch of green to have a relaxing picnic on, you’ll find you and your family’s favourite holiday activities within this western Canadian city. Here are just ten landmarks and activities to get you started.
Granville Island is abuzz with activity for all the family. Only about 10 minutes from most Downtown hotels, there is free live entertainment, freshly made doughnuts in the Public Market, and houseboats.
Telus World of Science
There are very few places in Canada better suited to helping children explore the wonder that is science. Here you’ll find interactive displays, inspirational feature exhibitions, jaw-dropping live science demonstrations and larger-than-life films in the OMNIMAX® Theatre.
Only 10 minutes from the heart of Downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano is a multi-purpose beach with loads of activities. Choose between a playground, 10 sports courts or simply choose to relax on the sand!
Stanley Park is sometimes referred to as Vancouver’s Green Heart. Within it, families will find the Vancouver Aquarium, an outdoor swimming pool, three dining options and the Vancouver Seawall.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park
If you’ve got children with a sense of adventure, we recommend taking them here. Suspended 70 metres in the air, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is equal parts scary as it is fun. In the wider park you will find an unspoiled rainforest, totem poles, and the thrilling Cliffwalk, jutting out from a granite cliff face high above the canyon below.
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
Here, space-obsessed children will be able to see J-2 rocket engine up close, watch astronomy shows under the domed Planetarium Star Theatre, and take advantage of the half-metre Cassegrain telescope on its observatory. The steel crab structure at its entrance is also one of the city’s most photographed landmarks.
Richmond Nature Park
Get back to nature along the well-pathed trails in the Richmond Nature Park. Look out for animals, birds and butterflies among the trees and turtles and ducks by the pond. The Nature House is also home to live frogs and snakes, as well as displays and games.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
Take a time machine back to the 1800s and explore Fort Langley, the place where British Columbia was born. Here families can get their hands dirty and test their skills in blacksmithing, barrel-making and gold panning, or they can listen to engaging stories from costumed storytellers.
Playland National Exhibition runs from May 7th to September 18th and features over 30 rides and attractions including the historic Wooden Roller Coaster, the thrilling swing ride Atmosfear, and Canada’s most extreme pendulum ride, The Beast! It sets up shop every year beside the historic PNE fairgrounds and will also feature live entertainment and drool-worthy dining options.
Hop-on, Hop-off Sightseeing
The smallest members of the family will love these old-fashioned trolleys that run through Vancouver. They provide a great overview of the city and passengers are treated to a fully narrated journey along the way!
Canada loves a festival. So it’s no surprise that Canada is using its 150th anniversary as an excuse to have one massive year-long celebration across its 10 territories. While the peak of the celebrations will be on 1st July, there are plenty of events happening every other month even in some of the smaller cities and towns. So no matter where you’re travelling or what time of year you’ll be visiting – there will be equal chance to join in the party. Here are our top 10 pick of events.
1. Visit the birthplace in Charlottetown
If you’re looking for a historical celebration, Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of the Confederation. Some history textbooks suggest that the Founding Father even had a multi-island multi-day party when the Confederation was first signed.
Naturally there will be a big shin-dig on the 1st of July, however there’s plenty of events throughout 2017. Some of the most spectacular are the RDC 2017 Tall Ships Festival, May Run Music Festival, The Festival of Wines and the Prince Edward Island Marathon. The local Confederation Centre Art Gallery will be housing the commemorative exhibition RE:collection, which will include the commissioned ‘Confederation Murals including Jack Shadbolt’s Flag Mural and Wanda Koop’s Native Fires.
2. Explore the national parks for free
If Canada is on your travel list due to its breath-taking natural scenery, 2017 is definitely the year to tick it off. To celebrate 150 years Parks Canada is offering free Discovery Passes that will allow access to national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites for no cost.
3. A yearlong first nation’s festival
British Columbia is taking visitors on a historical adventure that pre-dates 1867 with a string of events that explore the nation’s history before the Confederation. The year-long celebrations will be hosted by the local Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh tribes and will feature the cultural traditions, art and music of their indigenous communities.
The main event will be in the run-up to 1st July, with the nine-day The Drum is Calling Festival. During these days live music, entertainment, and life-size aboriginal housing structures will be taking over the 2.7-acre Larwill Park. Other events also include The Gathering of Canoes and a Walk for Reconciliation.
4. Admire the sparkling lights in Montreal
The Jacques Cartier Bridge is a notable landmark in Montreal and has become a bit of an icon. So for their 150th birthday bash, the city has decided to illuminate the bridge to highlight its unique history, architecture and how much it is loved by local residents.
Canada’s 150th birthday isn’t the only celebration happening this year. Montreal is celebrating its very own 375th Anniversary and has plenty of dual-celebratory events that will blend into one big soiree.
5. Party with the cowboys in Calgary
Calgary never turns down a chance to party and has a stomper of a year planned. On July the 1st celebrations will begin in Fort Calgary with a day of family fun including a free pancake breakfast, petting zoo, food trucks, and indigenous culture. Other lively events include the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon, Circle the Wagons Festival, Opera in the Village and Chinatown Street Festival.
6. Be the first to celebrate on the east coast
Newfoundland and Labrador always get to celebrate everything first – from sunrise, to New Year’s Eve, to Canada’s birthday. The capital of St. John’s will host a Canada Day Sunrise Event at 6am on the Signal Hill National Historic Site, where early-risers will get to celebrate the very first few minutes of Canada’s 150th birthday.
7. Feel the music in Toronto
The Ontario capital is turning to the power of music for their 150 year celebration, with the help of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In what is a Canada 150 Signature Project, Canada Mosaic is a celebration of the country’s musical landscape. The organisers have partnered with 38 orchestras (with at least one from every single province), and each have been commissioned to create a two-minute orchestral piece to be played in Toronto and their local community.
8. A year of celebrations in Halifax
The capital of Atlantic Canada has plenty of reason to celebrate in 2017. Aside from the 150th birthday bash on July the 1st, they will also be cutting the red ribbon on their new Discovery Centre and hosting a string of annual events. Included is the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, TD Halifax Jazz Festival, and the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.
9. Catch the roaming SESQUI
Step inside this travelling dome and immerse yourself in a 360-degree view of Canada. It’s an all-in experience that will take you on a virtual ride across the planes of this stunning country – from the icy Northern Territories to the cosmopolitan streets of Toronto. Neighbouring domes will feature live performers demonstrating what it means to be Canadian.
10. The biggest birthday bash of all
While the whole of Canada is putting on its dancing shoes, the biggest party of all will be in the capital of Ottawa. There will public acrobatics, educational events at the national archives, intricate and specially-designed horticultural structures as well as the concluding firework display on Parliament Hill.
If you’ve ever experienced déjà vu while flicking through photos of Vancouver, it might be because you’ve seen the city in your favourite film.
Vancouver has earned the nickname Hollywood North thanks to its status as the third largest centre for the film industry in North America. Part of this is accredited to how scenically versatile Vancouver is – if a location scout is looking for modern sky-scrapers, Victorian architecture, beautiful mountains or a scenic waterfront, Vancouver can deliver.
Here are some well-known movies that have been filmed within the city's boundaries (remember to keep an eye out on future filming schedules – Vancouver is rich with celeb-spotting opportunities).
The born-and-raised Vancouverite Ryan Reynolds returned to his hometown for this 2016 superhero blockbuster. While several Vancouver sights are visible in the background, the most notable is The Georgia Street Viaduct, where Deadpool first encountered Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Countless Marvel fans have visited this now-famous road to get a glimpse of the real life location.
2. 50 Shades of Grey
While you won’t actually find Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. in Vancouver, you will find the Bentall 5 building that was used as a stand in. You also won’t find Washington State University anywhere nearby but if you walk around The University of British Columbia, you might find it looks very familiar.
3. X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand
While these two X-Men films are based around a group of mutants in America caught in a war with Washing DC officials, a lot of the filming takes place in western Canada. The Hatley Park National Historic Site on Vancouver Island acts as the exterior for Xavier’s Mansion and the estate is proud of their silver-screen contributions. Guided tours are available with all individual ticket prices under $20.
4. Twilight: New Moon
While Bella’s home town of Forks is an actual place not far south of the Canadian border; Vancouver was chosen as the filming location for the second film in this vampire franchise. The scene with Jacob and his friends cliff-jumping was Parthenon Park, a tiny beachfront park in West Vancouver. While Stanley Park and Kitsilano can also be seen in the background of some scenes.
The 2009 neo-noir superhero film Watchmen was filmed in around Vancouver, with some added technological touches. The military base where Dr Manhattan emerges after his accident is the Crease Clinic (part of the Riverview Hospital) while the mansion where Laurie Jupiter watches Nite Owl's airship take off is the Shannon Mews.
Vancouver’s backdrop is so versatile it feels as though it can step in for any USA state. In the case of Juno, it stepped in for Minnesota. Most of the film is set in and around a school, and Juno’s home so fans of the film will need to leave the centre of the city if they want to find the filming locations.
With the strikingly similar Victorian architecture, Vancouver has stood in for San Francisco on multiple occasions. But in 2014’s Godzilla re-make, it wasn’t just the Californian city it pulled together for – it was also the backdrop for what was meant to be Tokyo and the Philippines.
8. Fantastic Four
Deadpool wasn’t the only Marvel superhero to make his way to Vancouver. 2005’s Fantastic Four used the Marine Building in Downtown Vancouver as a stand-in for the Baxter Building in New York City. If the building looks familiar, it might be because you also spotted it in Blade: Trinity, Timecop and Smallville (where it was used as Clark Kent’s workplace, Daily Planet).
9. Mission Impossible 4
In 2011 fans of Tom Cruise and his Mission Impossible franchise were treated to appearances of the actor. Standing in for Seattle was Granville Island where the final scenes at the pier were filmed, while the exterior of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre stood in for the Mumbai street scene!
10. Tron: Legacy
Vancouver was the principle location for this 2010 science fiction movie. The interior shots were filmed at the Canadian Motion Picture Park Studios on the banks of the Fraser River. While many of the exterior shots were filmed out and about with the Vancouver skyline visible in several scenes. On top of that, Propaganda Games who created the Tron: Evolution, is based in Vancouver.
If you’re planning a holiday to Canada and are seeking some cosmopolitan charm: Toronto is the city of choice. The largest city in all of Canada, it is a diverse metropolis with a thriving arts scene, multi-cultural dining and plenty of things for visitors to see and do. Writing a personal checklist for Toronto is some feat (especially when you might only be in the city for a few days) so we’ve rounded up our own suggestions.
1. Dip your toes into one of the city’s roof top pools
2. Hike the Scarborough Bluffs
3. Stand at the top of the C.N. Tower
4. Brave the Edge Walk
5. Attend a Blue Jays Game
6. Cruise across Lake Ontario
7. Pay a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum and explore the 29 galleries
8. See the animals at Toronto Zoo
9. Dine out one night at a restaurant in The Distillery District
10. Learn about the world at the Ontario Science Centre
11. Attend a show at one of Ontario’s first-class theatres
12. Take a day trip to Niagara Falls
13. Have a picnic in High Park
14. Choose a favourite art piece from the 80,000 on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario
15. Shop indie at Kensington Market
16. Spend an evening eating and drinking in King West Village
17. Catch a ferry over to Toronto Island
18. Sip on wine from one of the world-class wineries in Niagara
19. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and learn more about Canada’s national pastime.
20. Wander the gardens of Casa Loma
21. Ride the rollercoasters at Canada's Wonderland
22. Get wet at Splash Works water park
23. Shop ‘till you drop in the 1,722,000 sq. ft CF Toronto Eaton Shopping Centre
24. Explore the military fortifications at Fort York
25. Retreat back to nature in Rouge Park
26. Learn more about life in the 1920s and 30s at Spadina House
27. Experience the bustling atmosphere of Yonge-Dundas Square
28. Get up close to sea creatures at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
29. Feel goose pimples on a ghost tour of the city
30. Take a leisurely stroll down the Toronto waterfront and admire this beautiful city
Earlier this year, Barrhead Travel ran a competition to win a holiday with Scottish Wedding and Honeymoons. The lucky winner was Rob Mackie and he was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime trip that would include Victoria, Vancouver, and travelling the Rocky Mountains on board VIA Rail. Rob thoroughly enjoyed his experience and kept a journal, which he has kindly agreed to share.
Maggie and I tied the knot in early April, and after a couple of weeks of recovery, we set of for the holiday of our dreams, our honeymoon travelling across Western Canada.
Our two week trip was a wonderful way to sample the best that Canada can provide. We started off in Vancouver, a beautiful city with skyscrapers towered over by the mountainous backdrop. Vancouver was a great place to wander round – seemed almost every block brought a new part of town. A cycle round Stanley Park is a must, and brought our first meeting with wildlife, watching Canada Geese in their home environment! From Vancouver, we took a ferry across to Victoria, which provided ample opportunities to wander, and to visit the local Orca pods.
We had two quite different aspects to the trip. Vancouver, and to a lesser extent Victoria were bustling metropolises, whereas the next week was spent at a far slower pace. No-one ever seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere, taking your time seemed to be a local mantra, and this suited us just fine. The second part of our holiday was all about scenery and wildlife. Over the week we saw long-horned sheep, elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, a cougar, a bald eagle, black bears and more grizzly bears at close quarters than I usually would have chosen.
Our next stop was an overnight train to Jasper. Quite an experience, we fell asleep in the relatively low-lying Vancouver suburbs and woke up to snow-capped mountains and sensational scenery.
Staying in Jasper was something else. The lodge was right on the lake, and the glacial water was so clear you could make out the outline of every single stone. We could have spent days lounging in a canoe. We were lucky to have a personal guided tour of Jasper National Park by a very well informed tour guide who was the reason we saw so much wildlife. Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake added to the beautiful sights.
Next stop was Lake Louise. The trip was a guided bus tour down from Jasper. The tour took in a couple of different experiences, including the Jasper Park Walkway and the Glacial Icefields, both well worth a stop before a holiday highlight: we found ourselves within 5metres of a fully grown grizzly bear. Entirely unfazed by a busload of camera-happy tourists, the bear sat for a while before casually sauntering off. For those interested in wildlife, Canada is a must: the opportunity to observe a variety of animals from such close quarters is awe-inspiring.
So we made it to Lake Louise. We only spent 14 hours in Lake Louise and this was by far my biggest regret. Lake Louise is a phenomenal sight, a luxury hotel on the banks of the clearest Lake I have ever seen. With an early morning start, sitting on the banks of the lake without the slightest noise was a sensational to behold.
Our final stop was Banff, and it was a lovely way to end the trip. Slightly larger than the last few places, it had a lot to see and do, with walks in every direction out the tow. Another highlight was lying in the heated pool, watching the darkening clouds rapidly coming in over the mountains, and not feeling the need to care one little bit.
Our trip was a fitting way to round off our wedding experience – there was enough to see and do that my wife was not bored, but there were enough time to spend lounging in pools to keep me happy. Canada was a fantastic place, where the portions are huge and the people are friendly. We stayed almost exclusively in Fairmont hotels, and the staff were universally polite and would go out of their way to help you with anything. Each hotel had a view of wonderful scenery – I never tired from waking up to the view of a mountain towering above. There was a lot of travelling between different towns and cities, but this was compensated by the different scenery and places we got to see. It was an experience which I hope will not be once in a lifetime, and I look forward to one day sitting in a canoe on Lake Louise, watching the world go incredibly slowly by.
On the border of America and Canada lies one of the world's most mesmerising waterfalls. Located on the Niagara River, it is the reason this is one of the world's most visited borders. While holidaying in the province of Ontario or the state of New York, visiting the Niagara Falls is a must.
About the falls
There are actually three waterfalls that straddle the American/Canadian border: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The first one is the semi-circular fall that is the most powerful waterfall in North America and is part of Canada, while the other two belong to America. Two islands are can be seen at the top of the falls – these are Goat Island and Luna Island, which separate the waterfalls.
Which country to view it from
While it might be the same cluster of waterfalls, the two countries provide a very different experience of the Niagra Falls. The American side is contained within a state park and has many scenic walks where the areas natural beauty has been preserved. The Canadian side is within the built-up city of Niagara Falls with neon-lit streets, restaurants, street performers and shopping.
It's been argued that the Canadian side offers the best views. From Ontario you can view all three of the waterfalls, but from the American side - while you'll get a clearer view of the American falls - the Canadian falls will be slightly camouflaged.
To see the falls up close the best option is to take a boat tour along the lower river. From the American side you can board the renowned Maid of the Mist and from Canada you can book a trip on the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. Both companies offer tours starting in April right through to October, and provide spectacular views of all three waterfalls. Just remember to buy a poncho for the mist.
In the warmer months both the USA and Canada schedule the world-famous Niagra Falls Fireworks Display. The illumination of the falls happens after the sun goes down throughout the year but on certain days during the spring and summer a fireworks display is a regular sight (usually at 10pm).
Cities near the falls
Both sides are home to cities that share the name Niagara Falls but are quite different from one another: the Canadian city is bustling and tourist-centric while the American equivalent is much smaller and is more suited to those wanting a calmer trip. The Ontario capital Toronto is an hour and a half drive away and the Canadian capital Ottawa is five hours by car. In New York State, the city of Buffalo is a half hour drive and Rochester an hour and a half in the opposite direction. If you want to work NYC into your trip, you'll be looking at a six hour drive (which includes cutting through Pennsylvania).
Crossing the border
You can stand and wave at the neighbouring country, or you can cross the border and tick off two countries in one trip – provided you have a passport, another form of ID, a car that is allowed in the other county (some rental agreements don't allow this) and spare change for the toll fee.
Us Brits sure do moan about the winter, and many of us rush to book ourselves a December break in the sun. While a week in the Canaries may feel like the automatic answer to escaping the cold, some northern destinations offer an exciting winter alternative.
Canada is a country that never hibernates, and the scenes on the Canadian winter streets are Christmas card perfect. Instead of flying south for the sun, consider staying in the north and heading west to Canada. Where else could you find professional pond hockey, polar bears and ice wine?
1. Skating on frozen ponds
When the atmosphere gets so cold that water freezes over, Canadians grab their ice skates. Some of the most well-known lakes and canals become outdoor ice-rinks. Stop by The Rideau Canal in Ottawa for a skate and experience the National Pond Hockey Championships in Huntsville, Ontario.
2. The chance to see a polar bear
Churchill in Manitoba is the polar bear capital of the world and during the winter they wander further into Canada. But, erm, stay back if you do see one.
3. Visit the winter festivals
Whichever part of Canada you visit you won't be far from one of the country's famed winter festivals. Ice sculptures, ice hockey and snow volleyball are just some of the activities you'll witness at a winter festival. In Ontario visit the Winter Festival of Lights, in British Columbia the Rossland Winter Carnival, and in Alberta the Ice on Whyte Festival.
4. Spend the new year at Niagara Falls
Every January 31st, Canadians are out on the street bringing in the new year with style. Each city has its own New Year's Eve celebration. For something special head to Ontario and see in the New Year watching fireworks at the Niagara Falls.
5. Party to techno in the snow
If there's anything that proves Canadians don't shy away from snow, it's that they party in it. IglooFest is a month-long club night in January held in Montreal and attracts internationally respected techno DJs - and, yes, it's held outside.
6. Pretend you're in the Winter Olympics
Canada is home to some of the best ski-slopes in the world. While Canada has ski resorts all over the country, some of the best are in Banff and Jasper. There's also Whistler – the co-host of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
7. The whole country is a magical winter wonderland
The Canadian Rockies, the Niagra Falls, and the long winding roads turn into something beautiful that even a beautiful summer's day in Canada can't compete with. It's time to put a winter trip to Canada on your bucket list!
Are you an avid lover of all things wildlife? Then Canada is most certainly the place to be! There are amazing excursions, exclusive bear watching holidays and day trips to get involved in - so where do you start?! We have a few key bits of information and top tips to help you start planning your trip to see Canada Wildlife!
There is nowhere better to go bear watching than in the vibrant landscape country of Canada. Brimming with amazing wildlife spots from coast to coast, there is no species of bear that you cannot see here in this neck of the woods.
The most common of all bears spotted in Canada is the infamous Black Bear. Found amongst woodland and thick vegetation, an adult male can weigh up to an excess of 250kg and grow up to a staggering 2 metres in height! However, even though they are known as the Black Bear, this only reflects 70% of the species with other colours including dark or light brown, cinnamon or even blonde in colour!
The chances of seeing this amazing creature out in the wild or even crossing a road in front of you are extremely common so make sure to pack all of your essential kit and sprays in case of emergencies. However, there are numerous bear watching trips available where expert guides take you to the best known places to spot these bears in their natural habitat.
The Grizzly Bear is also a bear known to be seen in the wild in certain areas of Canada. The best way to distinguish between the Grizzly and Black species is from the pronounced ***** on the shoulders of the Grizzly and their extra 100kg of weight they carry! Mostly found in Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon or Nunavut, the Grizzly is a solitary creature unlike its counterpart. However, if you are lucky you may be able to spot this beautiful creature on its search for food during the annual salmon run where they lurk around rivers and streams waiting to catch some fish for tea!
For a more guaranteed chance of getting up and close to this Canada wildlife, Bear Cave Mountain up in the Yukon offers a unique grizzly viewing experience from mid September until the end of October, when about 50 bears gather to feast on the salmon they have previously caught.
What about polar bears?
The least likely of all the bears you are likely to see is the Polar Bear. Churchill in Manitoba is known by all as the 'Polar Bear capital of the world' and the best place to spot this amazing creature in their natural habitat. There is primarily two bear spotting seasons, with one happening between the months of July and August known as the 'Arctic Summer' as well as October and November when the ice starts to return.
If you are not lucky enough to spot some bears during your trip, then there are plenty other species of wildlife and sea life that lurk around Canada.
Oh, and wolves.
I bet you never thought you may get the chance to spot wolves during a visit to the friendly, landscape loving country of Canada. In Quebec, at The Auberge Refuge du Trappeur in Saint Mathieu du Parc on the outskirts of La Mauricie National Park, there is the opportunity to participate in a 90 minute black bears and wolves viewing experience. You may also be able to spot the odd beaver or moose too!
Off the land and into the water - what sea creatures can I spot?
Salmon are seen in the summer months in Canada and there is plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with them. If you venture down to Campbell River during your visit, then why not spend your time snorkelling with this amazing fish! Guests take a boat to the slow-moving pools to swim alongside thousands of Salmon and you might even get to spot eagles and harbour seals during your time there too!
The rivers and waters in Canada are second to none so there is no shock that they are home to some amazing sea life. Summer visitors can have the opportunity to book a kayak session and head out into the waters of the Churchill River at the mouth of Hudson Bay and paddle alongside the amazing beluga whale. There is no better place than this to capture this amazing creature than here where at this time of the year, a massive 3500 curious, snow-white belugas gather in the world's largest concentration of super-pods to feed, mate and give birth throughout July and August. There is truly nowhere else in the world that you will be able to experience something so magical!
So, if wildlife and nature holidays are your cup of tea then why not make your next big adventure a Canada one! There is no better place in the entire world better to spot Bears, Whales, Wolves and swim with Salmon than here! Book with Barrhead Travel today and discover the amazing Canada wildlife!
Ever wanted to try walking the ocean floor ?
Come witness the hypnotic flow as the Bay of Fundy fills and empties, replacing billions of tonnes of water, creating the highest tides in the world. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come from around the world travel to the Bay of Fundy, a UNESCO Biosphere, to watch and walk the ocean floor at low tide. For an introduction to the tides, the geology - including the stunning 'flowerpot' formations - the shorebird migration, the whales, and the local culture of Fundy, come and try Walking the Ocean Floor.
You’ll want to grab some good rubber boots and venture out onto the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks to really see the bottom of the sea at low tide - it’s a pretty muddy activity so good rubber boots are a necessity.
During the summer months of July and August, you’ll be completely swept away by the sight of millions of shore birds congregating in the upper reaches of the Bay – a well-earned rest stop on their 4,000 km migration to South America.
If you're feeling a little adventurous whilst visiting the Bay, why not take the chance to hop in a kayak at high tide to explore slightly further afield? Who knows what you might see…!
Travellers around the world are telling us they want to explore and live a life less ordinary, and that’s what we’re giving them.
The Canadian Tourism Commission’s Canadian Signature Experiences collection shows the world what Canada has to offer and the experiences waiting for you. Walk the Ocean Floor is just one of many activities to take part in on your once in a lifetime trip to Canada.
Once you connect with Canada and start exploring, you may never want to stop! Contact our Canada experts on 0141 250 7888.
From ice-capped mountain peaks to vast glacier-formed valleys, the Glacier Skywalk is your front row seat to nature's grand performance! And Barrhead Travel's Canada Travel Specialists are delighted to offer FREE admission to this amazing experience when booked as part of a Canadian Rockies itinerary.
Designed as an extension of the surrounding landscape, the Glacier Skywalk is entwined in a rock-solid relationship with the natural environment. Having opened in May 2014, the province of Alberta's newest attraction consists of a 500 meter interpretive cliff edge walkway and a glass-floored observation platform extending 30 meters from the cliff face, over the Sunwapta Valley. Glacier Skywalk offers spectacular scenery and a rare view of nature. Anyone of any age and any activity level can immerse themselves in nature in a way that makes them feel truly overwhelmed by their surroundings and their unique vantage point!
From its inception, the Glacier Skywalk experience was designed to integrate visitors with the wilderness. The Canadian Tourism Commission commended the project for the opportunity it provides visitors to engage with the dramatic Alberta Landscape in a way that was not previously possible.
Located in the Canadian Rockies, the Glacier Skywalk is just minutes from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre on the world famous Icefields Parkway, which stretches 232km and winds through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It's difficult to pull your gaze away from the pristine mountain lakes, rushing waterfalls and snow-capped peaks along the way. It's just an hour from Jasper and 2 ½ hours from Banff, and has been recognised as one of the top ten drives in the world, with over one hundred visible glaciers and scenic mountain vistas around every corner. For those visiting Jasper National Park or Banff National Park, the Glacier Discover Centre is a destination in itself.
Speak to Barrhead Travel's Canadian Specialists about your perfect Canadian itinerary, incorporating the Glacier Skywalk, and they'll use their expertise and knowledge of Canada to put together a trip to remember.
Whether you'd like to take to the highways and byways of Canada on your own by taking a self-drive trip, or whether an escorted tour that leaves all the hassles of travel organisation to someone else, they'll find something to suit and to make your Canadian travel dreams a reality.
For more information on visiting the Glacier Skywalk or any other experiences in Canada, please call our Canada specialists on 0141 250 7888.