Vancouver, Canada has likely never seen scrutiny as a travel destination like it has over the last couple of weeks. As I write this the 2010 Winter Olympics have just come to a close with a thrilling Ice Hockey final. This article is not about the Olympics though, exciting as they were, I want to share with you some of the other delights the country has to offer.
First, some fun Canada facts:
Growing up as a Canadian living in the UK, I have had to be prepared over the years with snappy answers to some common questions. Here are just a few ...
- Most of Canada is wild and untouched, with a population density of only 0.3 per km². By contrast, London, England has a population density of 4,851 per km²!
- Despite reputation, metropolitan Canada is not cold all year round. While even in the more populated parts the winters can get down to below -40c, the summers tend to be warm and sunny often reaching 30c.
- Canada is the second largest country after Russia, and has the longest coastline of any country in the world.
- There are just 34 million people living in Canada, spread over ten provinces and three territories (around the same population as California), with most of the population living in south of Canada in the cities hugging the USA border.
- Most Canadians do not live in igloos and have never seen a polar bear wandering the streets. Although, some in places like Churchill probably have.
- Canada claims 3 of the top 5 most livable cities in the world.
Here are my favourite Canada destinations:
We have to start with Vancouver as it will be top of many minds after all the publicity (richly deserved) of recent weeks.
Vancouver, and British Columbia as a whole, is chock full of fantastic travel destinations. This is one of those rare places where you can ski and be on the beach in the same hour. A beautiful combination of sea, mountains, lakes, trees, and a clean, safe downtown. In Winter there are world class ski opportunities, Cypress, Whistler, as demonstrated in the Olympics, and in summer Grouse Mountain is a firm favorite with outdoor types with the famous "Grouse Grind" hike, and for a more leisurely jog, the wonderful Stanley Park. A short ferry or flight away is Vancouver Island with even more to see.
Calgary, Alberta is the staging point to the beautiful Rocky Mountains resorts of Banff and Jasper, and also host to the world-famous Calgary Stampede. If you think shopping should be considered an olympic sport then travel a few hours further north and you can visit the gargantuan Edmonton Mall, which until recently was the largest indoor shopping mall in the world. Even though Vancouver can proudly take the Olympic crown right now, Calgary has also hosted the Winter Olympics and the facilities are still there, with Calgary Olympic park still routinely hosting events and liesure skiing. Most people will feel drawn to Calgary though by the awesome sights, outdoor pursuits, and prestine landscape, most famous would be Lake Louise. For animal fans who are not quite ready to visit the local beaver, bear, wolf and moose population in its natural habitat, Calgary has a great zoo.
As Canada's largest city, Toronto is known as a cultural melting pot and business center. Toronto has a milder climate than neighbouring areas because it is situated further south than other Canadian cities, and due to its close proximity to great lakes like Lake Ontario. As well as the famous tower, a stay in Toronto will usually include a trip out to Niagra Falls.
For more information about travel in Canada, check out the Simonseeks Canada destinations page
3rd Party Photo Attribution: 1. Whistler, BC : Vancouver Olympic Symbol, 2. Olympic Fire, 3. Sid the Kid, 4. Olympics rings Vancouver
Those are my thoughts and ideas about Canada but I would love to know what you think. Have you been to Canada? Would you like to go? Perhaps you live there and want to encourage people to visit?
What do you think about Canada as a travel destination? Please share your thoughts in the comments ...