Did you know that 77% of the world’s maple syrup is also being produced in Canada, particularly Quebec? That’s why this place will seem like a haven for maple syrup lovers. You bet they have a wide variety of maple syrup-flavoured treats.
Aside from that, they have around 2,000,000 lakes, which is why this country is perfect for people fond of bodies of water. So, what else could we see in Canada? It has rainforests, rocky mountains, fjords, crystalline glaciers and sweeping prairies.
Some exceptional sceneries in Canada include Cavendish Beach, which is well-known because of Anne of Green Gables. In these Queen Charlotte islands, travellers can experience summer festivals from June to August. You will also find totem poles and argillite carvings here.
Banff National park also has glacier-fed waters that sparkle and an alpine backdrop. This place looks so picture-perfect that it is a shot straight out of a movie. These are only the tip of the iceberg in the areas you could visit in Canada. That’s why we created a list of places to visit and things you could do for 3 weeks in Canada.
ALTERNATIVE: 3 weeks in USA Itineraries
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO CANADA
Canada is the second-largest country in the world by area, second to Russia. That’s why it would take a lot of time to visit and experience everything the country has to offer. If you stay for three weeks in Canada, make sure that you choose the places you want to see the most and do the things you want to do to make the most out of your 3 weeks in Canada. It would also be helpful if the places are near each other.
Book your flight and accommodation early if you want to spend less. Here are other things you need to know before going to Canada.
Best time to go to Canada
Naturally, summer is the best time to go to Canada because you can go hiking, swim in glaciers and lakes, see fjords, lounge around on beaches, and have road trips. This season is also better for people who aren’t used to the cold because it would hinder your travelling if you are sensitive to cold temperatures.
However, many activities could be done during the winter, including dog sledging, sleigh rides, skiing, ice hiking, ice hockey, fat biking, curling, and ice skating. Who would forget hot springs, of course? This feels very relaxing and rewarding after being out in the cold for a long time.
Are 3 weeks enough for Canada
Canada is a massive country. Although there is a good railway system in most parts of the country, it’s not good enough to travel across different provinces in just 20 days. However, if you have three weeks to spend in Canada, with good planning, you will be able to visit 3-4 cities in 2-3 different provinces.
If you like it, then you have more reasons to come back next time. Perhaps a winter trip or a stunning spring adventure.
Planning places to see in Canada
Make sure that you have already created a checklist of things you want to do and places you want to visit before going to Canada because it’s better to have peace of mind during travel rather than stressing out about where you will go or what you will do next.
It would also be beneficial to book accommodation in advance, and if you could book the activities in advance, that would be better.
Best way to get around in Canada
Buses are the main option if you plan to visit places a little bit far from each other because they are cheaper than train rides. They are also safe and comfortable, and most of the less densely populated areas only have buses.
On the other hand, renting a car is your most superb option if you plan to visit places close to each other. You can also rent a Van/RV if you are thinking of going on a trip across the country.
Canada on a budget
Before going to Canada, do a little research about the prices of various activities, necessary miscellaneous, and if there are some items or food, you are interested in buying. It would be great to know how much you are willing to spend during your 3-week trip to Canada.
Compare various accommodations near the main sights and see which ones are cheaper but still have good reviews. Once already in Canada, use public transportation or rent a bicycle to get around the city. If you don’t want to spend your money on accommodation, couch surfing is also possible, but do it with caution.
Canada has one of the strictest visa policies. The government offers free visas to limited nationalities. This included anyone from North America, some parts of Latin America (Brazil, Chile, French Guiana), most parts of Europe, Japan, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand.
The visa is valid for up to 180 days. Visitors must get an eTA (electronic travel authorization)
Avoid the hassle of planning transportation and booking hotels and tours by opting for a package tour. The tour company will handle everything for you. All you need to do is pack your luggage, book your flight to Canada, and show up.
In this way, you can actually focus on exploring Canada, soaking up the beauty, and relaxing. Take a look at each itinerary and see if it’s something that suits you.
Other basic travel tips
Just a quick blurb of tools I usually use when travelling anywhere in the world; car rentals, sites for hotels and accommodations, travel insurance (which is now required by many countries where COVID-19 should be covered), and tour booking sites.
PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE SPOTS IN CANADA
You may click the top-right icon to enlarge the map. Credit: map data: Google
3 WEEKS IN CANADA ITINERARY
The first portion that we would tackle in this itinerary for 3 weeks in Canada is the Western part. Since Canada is so big, we divided the areas into east and west. We even have a bonus portion wherein we discuss where you could go during the fall and winter.
Itinerary #1: West Canada
Western Canada has four provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba. British Columbia is the most distinct in cultural, economic, and political matters among the four. Some of the things you could do or places you could visit during your 3 weeks in western Canada include visiting the following:
- Summit of Mount Norquay
- Banff Gondola and National Park
- River rafting at Thompson River
- Vancouver Island
- Soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs
- camp or hike at Glacier National Park
- Camp at stunning Lake Louise or stay in a houseboat – here are the best things to do in Lake Louise
- Fairview Lookout
- Devil’s Thumb
If you want to have a road trip in Canada, you can drive through the Trans-Canada highway because you can pass by most of the places indicated here.
Vancouver for 4 days (BC)
You seriously wouldn’t run out of things to do in your 3 weeks in Canada because there’s just so much to explore. In Vancouver, for instance, you could visit the following:
- Join Gastown food tour
- Anthropology Museum
- Vancouver FlyOver
- Hike around the Grouse Grind
- City and Seal Boat tour
- Cycle around Stanley Park
- Grouse Mountain & Capilano Bridge
- Kayak in Deep Cove
- Book a Panorama Tour by Seaplane
If you want to slow down and truly feel like you’re having a vacation, you can have dim sum and find your zen in Chinatown. They have tons of Chinese gardens which incorporate Confucian and Buddhist traditions.
You can also visit Granville island via aqua buses. You can sip on premium teas, sample fine chocolates, hear buskers, and shop for organic produce on this peninsula.
- Budget to Mid-range Accommodation: Samesun Vancouver or YMCA Hotel
- Luxury: Paradox Hotel or Wedgewood Hotel & Spa
Glacier National Park for 3 days (BC)
Speaking of parks, another park you could visit is Glacier National Park. You could avail of guided tours in this place. Aside from that, you could also participate in ranger-led programs, backcountry camping, hiking, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing and boating. Make sure to not miss to experience Ice Explorer and Skywalk.
Banff National Park & Canadian Rockies for 4 days (CB/Alberta)
There are tons of things to do in Banff National Park. It is the oldest national park in Canada, and you would see diverse species there, including lynx, moose, bighorn sheep, cougar, grizzly, and black bear.
You can also do horseback riding, hiking, climbing and skiing, and for those who like to wind down a bit, you can watch wildlife. Make sure to get your ticket and ride the Gondola and sleigh rides during winter.
Lake Louise is the most popular body of water in this area. However, there are so many other lakes in Banff to explore and offer amazing scenery and fun activities. Banff National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies. They were declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1984, along with three British Columbia provincial parks.
Still, there are other parks, including Kootenay, Jasper, Yoho and Waterton, which is not adjacent to the other parks.
- Affordable Accommodation: Banff International Hostel or Rundle Mountain Lodge or HI Castle Mountain Hostel
- Mid-range: Tamarack Lodge or Pocaterra Inn & Waterslide
- Luxury: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or Blackstone Mountain Lodge
Calgary for 4 days (Alberta)
Calgary is only a 2-hour train ride or a 1.5-hour drive from Banff. It easily should be the next stop on your itinerary for Canada. Four days in this city is plenty. It’s an ideal spot to take a break from heavy sightseeing, reflect on the places you just saw, and take it a little bit on the down low.
While in Calgary, you can still visit ample places and things to do, such as visiting the Calgary Zoo, getting on top of the Calgary Tower, going on a picnic at Prince’s Island Park if it’s warm enough, and exploring the Heritage Park Historical Village.
A few places to eat that are worth a visit are Cage Beano, Weeds Cafe, Holy Grill, NOtaBLE Restaurant, and Bridgette Bar for some drinks.
Winnipeg or Churchill for 4 days (Manitoba)
If you are visiting during winter, you have to go to Churchill. It is the world’s polar bear capital; more than 1,200 polar bears migrate through the area each year. This period only lasts from October to November, but aside from that, you could do many other things here.
During the winter season, you could avail yourself of dog sledge tours and chase for the Northern lights, while during autumn, you can enjoy the Beluga Whaleboat tours and bird watching.
On the other hand, Winnipeg is a good-sized city known as the “cultural cradle of Canada”, this is a fantastic spot to visit for people who love history and want to get to know the country more.
A few places you might want to check out:
- Canadian Museum of Human Rights
- Manitoba Museum
- Manitoba Legislative Building
- Royal Canadian Mint
- The Forks National Historic Site
For other fun things:
- Children’s Museum
- Assiniboine Park Zoo
- The Forks Market
- Winnipeg Art Gallery
- Journey to Churchill
- Where to stay in Winnipeg: The Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel or Humphry Inn and Suites or Queen Bee Hotel
Winnipeg’s international airport makes it a perfect place to finish your trip. However, if you are heading to a less prominent city or country, there might be a connection in Toronto or even Vancouver, depending on where you are going.
Itinerary #2: East Canada
If you tell people that you’re going to visit Canada, they’ll most likely assume that you will see the West Coast because the scenery and landmarks are more well-known there. However, the East Coast also has its own charms.
It has twinkly lakes, thick forests, log cabins, and the essential factor is there are way fewer people than on the West Coast. You can also find Niagra Falls and Quebec, the well-known city for producing maple syrup. For a more detailed description, here is a list of what you could do if you spend 3 weeks in eastern Canada.
Toronto for 4 days
If you aren’t afraid of heights, you could try climbing up Toronto’s CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere:
- Try out EdgeWalk, an activity in which you’ll circle the CN tower while in a harness
- Visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which is located at the base level of CN Tower
- Royal Ontario Museum
- AGO – an art gallery in Ontario for museum and art enthusiasts
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Shopping at St Lawrence Market consists of numerous flea and street markets
- Toronto Railway Museum
- Harbourfront Centre
- Queen’s Quay Terminal
- Affordable Accommodation: Samesun Toronto or The Clarence Park
- Mid-range: The Rex Hotel Jazz or Home in Downtown
- Luxury: Hampton Inn by Hilton or One King West Hotel & Residence
Niagara Falls for 2 days
There are also a lot of things to do in Niagra Falls aside from appreciating the majestic view:
- Book a day trip to Niagara Falls
- Enjoy a helicopter tour over Niagara Falls
- Have a class C V-rapids
- Zipline to The Falls
- Visit their fashion outlet and even get a history lesson
- Near Niagra falls, you can visit Becker farms and Vizcarra vineyards, as well as Black Willow Vineyard and A Gust of Sun Winery and Vineyard
- Buy a hop-on hop-off Toronto bus
- Affordable Accommodation: Kings Inn or Glengate Hotel
- Mid-range: Vittoria Hotel and Suites or A Moment in Time B&B
- Luxury: Hilton Niagra/Fallsview or Sheraton Fallsview Hotel
Ottawa for 4 days
Calling all ice skaters out there, you might want to consider going to Ottawa because it has the world’s largest skating rink, stretching for nearly eight kilometres – Canada’s Rideau Canal. They have a famous delicacy there called Beaver Tail, a deep-fried dough sold at kiosks along with the ice rink. Don’t forget to visit Petrie Island Beach if it’s warm enough.
It is a must-try for travellers. You can visit their numerous museums, watch sports matches and even visit the residence of the Canadian monarch. Rideau Hall is basically the equivalent of Buckingham Palace and is open to the public throughout the year.
They conduct free tours, which last for 45 minutes. It’s easier to get around if you have a hop-on-hop-off Ottawa bus pass.
- Affordable Accommodation: Ottawa Backpackers Inn or ByWard Blue Inn
- Mid-range: The Business Inn or Cartier Place Suite Hotel
- Luxury: Alt Hotel or The Metcalfe Hotel
Old Montreal for 3 days
Old Montreal is a Parisian-style quarter that has been restored in recent decades. There are tons of narrow streets and winding alleyways where you can find interesting shops and lovely restaurants.
Some of their attractions include:
- Clock Tower reminiscent of Big Ben
- Montreal Science Centre
- La Grande Roue de Montréal or Giant Ferris Wheel
- Notre Dame Basilica and the gardens of Place Jaques-Cartier
- Montreal half-day bus tour
- Take a walk at Rue Saint Paul, which is their oldest street, completed in March 1672
- Don’t miss out on the Traditional Ghost Walk
- Ride the MTL zipline
Quebec City (Vieux-Quebec) for 2
Quebec City is a super vibrant place. However, Old Quebec is quite charming. Old Quebec is interesting in its own right. With 400 years of history, you can walk through many exciting sites in the birthplace of French North America. One of which is Chateau Frontenac, which is the world’s most photographed hotel in person. The best way to explore this area is through a 2-hour grand walking tour with a local guide.
You can also visit Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis, the governors’ residence from 1620 to 1834. Walk along the street of Petit-Champlain, filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques, Quebec City artists and artisans. Last but not least is Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral, which is the continent’s first catholic parish church.
While exploring Quebec City, visit Montmorency Falls with ride the Cable Car. There is also a famous Ice Hotel which you can visit without staying there. And, of course, visit Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
Nova Scotia for 2 days
One of the smallest provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia has a lot to offer. If you have a few days left before leaving Canada, visiting this area will be worth visiting. So far, there haven’t been big “outdoor activities” listed on this itinerary, and Nova Scotia will amend that.
The name of it literally means “New Scotland”. Compared to many parts of East Canada, people in Nova Scotia mostly speak English. The province is filled with national parks that are worth a visit. If it’s warm enough (and you are brave enough), you might try dipping in the lake and the ocean (no one will blame you if you don’t though).
A few places to explore:
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park
- Kejimkujik National Park
- Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
- Explore Halifax through a segway tour
- Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
- Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – go on a guided tour
- Point Pleasant Park
- Peggy’s Cove – you can join a tour that includes a city tour of Halifax
BONUS: Fall and Winter in Canada in British Columbia
Fall is an excellent time to visit Canada because the pleasant weather and miscellaneous prices are cheaper than in summer. The fall foliage in Canada is also quite spectacular. Aside from that, you can do tons of activities such as:
- whale watching
- hiking and camping
However, that doesn’t mean winter isn’t a good time to visit. 3 weeks in Canada during winter are perfect for those fond of various ice sports such as skiing, sleighs and sledging. Some plan on spending their winter holiday in Canada. Without further ado, here are some things that you could do during fall and winter in Canada.
During the fall season, you can enjoy the:
- Various colours of leaves at VanDusen botanical garden,
- Immerse yourself in art at the Vancouver art gallery
- Ride the ghost train or attend fright nights at the Pacific National Exhibition
- Festivals such as Vancouver international film festival and the Vancouver fringe festival
- Watch a Canucks game
- Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
- Ski and snowboard
- Ride the Bright Nights Christmas train located at Stanley Park
- Walk the seawall
- Shop at Riley Park winter farmer’s markets
British Columbia is quite different during the winter from summer. While in general, it is more laidback, British Columbia is filled with activities that would surely give you an adrenaline rush. Some of these include:
- Winter ziplining
- Sky Gandola
- Snowmobiling and snowshoeing
There are tons of things to do in British Columbia during the fall season. These include visiting their waterfalls, hiking, buying seasonal vegetables at their farmer’s market, taking a tour of their rainforests, and bald eagle-watching, among others. You could ride the 2-peak gondola if you prefer a less active activity.
SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN CANADA
Whether you want to see natural sceneries and historical sites, try out different foods, cross out a bunch of activities on your bucket list or learn more about their culture – there will always be a place in Canada that would excellently match your preferences. It is a vast country with tons of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
I hope that you found this guide on how to spend 3 weeks in Canada helpful.