Canada is an enormous country and its climate ranges from long, cold winter nights in the Arctic Circle to the mild seasons of British Columbia. Both Montreal and Quebec City have warm summers that can become hot and humid. The cities’ winter season lasts from October to early May with cold and snow. You‘ll find the warmest summers in Toronto. The bitter winter cold has become part of the country’s culture. In Ottawa you can enjoy the warm summer days, but head inside to escape the chilly nights that can drop below 0 C. Snow starts to fall in October and temperatures can drop close to zero.
Getting around Canada
Air Canada flies nationally and internationally to more than 150 destinations. Other airlines offering domestic Canada flights include WestJet, Air Transat, Air North, First Air, Canadian North and Porter Airlines.
Via Rail, the national rail service, connects most cities. It also offers two kinds of national rail passes. The Canrailpass offers 12 days of unlimited rail travel. The North American Rail Pass covers travel for 30 days on any VIA train in Canada and almost any Amtrak train in the United States.
Greyhound's bus network covers more than 1,000 destinations in Canada and offers cross-border links to many cities in the U.S.
Public transit: several cities have subway, metro or light rapid transit service. In Vancouver it's the SkyTrain, in Calgary the CTrain, in Edmonton the LRT, in Toronto the subway, in Ottawa the O-Train and in Montréal the metro. Fares are cheap, about $2 per adult.
One of the neatest ways of getting around Canada is by ferry. Several provinces have seasonal and year-round services to nearby islands and coastal regions.
Canada insider information
- Downtown Ottawa has renovated Victorian houses serving as homes, restaurants, and shops. The architecture and historical significance of the Parliamentary buildings attract visitors, as does strolling along (or skating upon in winter) the Rideau Canal and watching boats go through its eight locks.
- Vancouver is known for its natural beauty and mild climate. As a year-round tourist destination, there is always something to do: water and land sports and film, jazz, folk, and theatre festivals. Vancouver also offers opera, ballet, symphony, and an exciting nightlife, and in 2010 will host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
- Parts of Canada are transformed into winter wonderlands by the snowy weather and several cities make the most of the big freeze including Quebec City (Winter Carnival and its ice hotel), Montreal (High Lights festival) and Ottawa (Winterlude, a winter carnival) to name just three.
- On Sundays, entire families do the Grouse Grind in Vancouver. An almost 3km-long trail that takes you up the face of Grouse Mountain, about 914 metres. If you are fit, it should take about 50 minutes. Hike up, but take the gondola down to protect your knees, of course.
- Visitors to Montreal should take note of the "Sunday Tam-Tams" in Mount Royal. Tam-tams are a type of hand drum, and hundreds of Montrealers and visitors turn up on summer Sundays to play around the monument to Sir George-Etienne Cartier.
- As well as nearby Niagara Falls, Toronto claims the world's tallest tower. The CN Tower stands at 553 metres. Once at the top - by elevator naturally - there is plenty to do including walking on a glass floor, eating at the revolving restaurant and enjoying the view.
- Bring your Stetson. The Calgary Stampede takes place in July, and is the city's most popular tourist attraction. It features a rodeo, chuckwagon races, concerts and an amusement park.