Compared with its nearest neighbour, Canada has a tiny amount of major cities, which is perhaps not surprising given the huge differences in population size between it and the USA.
However, what few large cities it does have are really quite special, with Toronto, Montreal and Quebec all well worth a visit for anyone on a tour of Canada. Grand American Adventures runs a top trip taking in all three, as well as some of the USA’s most northerly cities such as Boston and New York.
So what can you expect to see and do in each of these world-class destinations?
Along with Montreal, Quebec City represents French-speaking Canada, and has a wonderfully European feel.
The only walled city in North America, Quebec’s narrow cobbled streets and pretty buildings belie its presence just a stone’s throw from the border with the heavily developed USA.
Quaint attractions include the Sainte Anne de Beaupre Basilica, the Morrin Centre – a jail-come-library – and the Observatory, which commands wonderful views of the city.
As mentioned, if you’re a Francophile you’ll also delight in a visit to Montreal, where French is the most widely spoken language.
A real melting pot of arts, music and culture, with boutique hotels, stylish eateries and patio cafes dotted around the Latin Quarter, Montreal can transport any visitor to buzzing Paris in an instant.
It too has its fair share of charming attractions, such as the Notre-Dame Basilica, beautiful Botanical Gardens and informative Canadian Railway Museum.
Toronto, on the other hand, is one of Canada’s most American cities – no great surprise considering its position so close to the border with New York State.
Experience the best of US culture at the Air Canada Centre, where you can catch the NBA’s Raptors and the NHL’s Maple Leafs in action or scale the heights of the CN Tower to look out over the cities skyscrapers, which wouldn’t look at all out of place in New York or Chicago.
Unlike Quebec and Montreal’s more sedate charms, the CN Tower features the vertigo-inducing 356m-high EdgeWalk on the roof of the famous rotating restaurant, which is enough to test even the calmest of souls.
Also well worth a mention is the westerly city of Vancouver, which is something of an outdoor pursuits mecca.
Surrounded by towering mountains, Vancouver is the ideal place to base yourself for hiking, biking and skiing, while its beaches and parks give you even more reason to get out and about.
And if Montreal and Quebec represent Canada’s French side, Vancouver represents its multicultural face, with more than half of the population speaking a tongue other than English as their first language. If you like Asian food, you’re in for a real treat – with 30 per cent of the city’s inhabitants having some kind of Chinese heritage, fabulous oriental eateries abound.
Canada really does have a fantastic set of cities, offering everything from old world charm to modern thrills, with flavours and influences from across the globe brought to the party by its multinational cast of citizens. They make a great contrast to the sprawling metropolises of the USA and can spice up any tour of North America, so make sure you include them on your itinerary.