Canada's natural landscape is one of the most beautiful in the world. As the second-largest country by area, Canada has a diverse mix of places experiences to explore. Each of the country's ten provinces has a distinct culture and exciting things to see. Canada is the perfect trip for anyone looking to traverse nature, take a peek into the past or explore a new city.
- Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)
- Must-See Landmark: Niagara Falls
- Must-Try Food: Poutine
- Most Common Language: English and French
- Emergency Services Telephone Number: 911
Similar to how the United States has fifty states with different customs and local governments, Canada has ten provinces and three northern territories. These provinces are, from west to east: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The three territories, also from west to east, are Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Both English and French are official languages of Canada. Many Canadians speak both languages, although percentages vary greatly by region. Quebec, however, is the only province where the majority of the population speaks French at home. You can find out more about the specific regions where you are planning to travel.
Travel Insurance Plans for Canada
With a wide range of plans on the market, it may be difficult to select a plan. To find the plan that's best for you, first assess the condition of your health then take a look at your travel plans. From there, you can compare plans side by side with our compare tool. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, senior travelers and those looking for more complete coverage, a comprehensive plan is the best option. If you are looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may be the way to go.
Visas and Documentation
Canadian and U.S. citizens only need their passports to enter Canada. All others entering Canada will fall into one of two groups, visa-exempt and visa-required depending on their country of citizenship. Here is the full list of visa-exempt countries.
If you are visa-exempt, you only need your passport to enter the country by land or sea (i.e. car, bus, cruise ship, sailboat, etc.). But you will also need an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if entering the country by air (i.e. plane, helicopter, etc.). There are some exceptions in very specific situations including transit through the country, however. Check out Canada's official website to see if you qualify for one of these exceptions.
If you fall into the visa-required category, you need a visa to enter Canada, no matter how you choose to enter the country.
Weather and What to Pack
In general, the farther north you go in North America, the colder it is going to get. This is true in Canada as well. Depending on what province you visit and how far north you are, it may be dramatically different temperatures throughout the year. No matter where in Canada you are headed, its a good idea to pack layers so you can adjust your wardrobe to the weather. If you are visiting between October and March, or traveling particularly far north, be sure to bring snow-ready attire.
If you forget any essentials, don't worry—you can always purchase them at your destination. However it is often more cost- and time-effective to simply bring your favorite supplies with you when you travel.
Common Words and Phrases in French
- Yes: Oui [wee]
- No: Non [noh]
- Please: S’il vous plaît [seel vooh pleh]
- Thank You: Merci [mehr-see]
- Cheers: À votre santé [a-vote-ruh-sahn-tay]
- Hello: Bonjour [bohn-shoohr]
- Goodbye: Au revoir [ohr-vwah]
Etiquette and Cultural Norms
Canadians are generally more reserved and polite than Americans and take etiquette and politeness more seriously. It is polite to greet someone with a firm handshake while making eye contact. Close friends may kiss each other's cheeks. This is especially common in Quebec. When speaking with someone, it is polite to take off hats and sunglasses, particularly inside. It is also considered bad form to chat while you have your hands in your pockets, particularly in Quebec.
Canadians are slightly more formal than their American counterparts in terms of titles. It is a good idea to use formal titles and last names until invited to do otherwise by the person in question. Like in the U.S., these rules are more relaxed in the western areas of the country than they are in the east. Punctuality is important in Canada. You are expected to arrive promptly to any business or social engagements. However, it is normal to be 10 to 15 minutes fashionably late to evening social engagements in Quebec.
- Montreal, Quebec: The heart of French-speaking Canada, Montreal's center is in the cobblestone streets and grand plazas of Old Montreal. Some of the city's finest dining, lodging and shopping options can be found here, where you can almost step back in time. Also, check out the Muse des Beaux-Arts de Montral, an art museum designed by art lovers for art lovers. With a great mix of old masterworks and modern exhibitions, this museum is a must-see for anyone with an interest in art.
- Vancouver, British Columbia: A city with astounding natural beauty, Vancouver is nestled between the mountains and the sea. Check out the Vancouver Aquarium, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Sea to Sky Gondola to experience every aspect of this beautiful area.
- Calgary, Alberta: This is a great place for history lovers to visit. Heritage Park is a 66-acre living history-village where staff reenacts Calgary's frontier past. Nearby, Glenbow Museum is another place to learn about the history of Western Canada.
- Toronto, Ontario: See Canada's largest city from above from the CN Tower or see it from afar by venturing out to one of Lake Ontario's small islands. Ontario also has the country's largest selection of shopping, theater and art destinations. Whatever your interests are, you are sure to find something to love in Toronto.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia: Halifax is full of natural beauty and maritime history. Consider spending a few hours in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic or take a stroll by the historic properties on the wharf.
Health & Safety Tips
Canada is a particularly safe country in which to travel. In big cities, it is still a good idea to lock your car or bike and to not leave valuables unattended. However, crime is quite low compared to other countries of similar size.
Most safety risks in Canada come from nature. It is important to pack seasonally-appropriate clothing. Conditions can be especially hazardous in winter, when temperatures routinely dip below 0℉(-20℃).
If you plan on exploring some of the many natural spaces in Canada, make sure that you are prepared. Bug spray, hiking boots, sunscreen, first-aid kits, weather-appropriate clothing and a knowledge of local wildlife are all important to take with you if you are wandering to places without a lot of people. If you do not spend a lot of time in the wilderness, it is also a good idea to hire a guide or explore as part of a tour group. Purchasing travel medical insurance with emergency evacuation coverage is also important, especially if you will be venturing far from large cities, where health care may be harder to find.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for Canada: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Rabies is also recommended if you are likely to come into contact with wild animals.