TPG’s guide to Canada’s provinces and territories: Where to visit, how to get there and where to stay
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Now that Canada has finally reopened its border and Americans can visit, you may be planning a trip to our neighbor in the north. Canada is a spectacular place to visit and it’s a whole lot more than Mounties and poutine. (Although it’s that, too). With 10 provinces and three territories, Canada is the world’s second-largest country. So it’s no surprise that it’s full of activities for every type of traveler, from adventure seekers and nature lovers to culture junkies and history buffs.
A short drive or flight from the continental U.S., Canada encompasses everything from up-close encounters with polar bears to world-class museums. And as of Aug. 9, 2021, Canada opened to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens.
Here’s how to decide where you should go first, what you need to know to get there and where to stay.
Canada’s very own “Wild West,” Alberta is home to The Calgary Stampede, an annual 10-day celebration of cowboy culture and rodeos. The province’s natural beauty shouldn’t be missed, either. Check out Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, and Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the richest locations for fossil hunting on earth, for a glimpse of Alberta’s past. Located on the border of the Canadian Rocky Mountains with two stunning national parks, Banff and Jasper, Alberta is also an outstanding spot for skiing and hiking enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the province’s capital, Edmonton, is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, thanks in part to a 2018 renovation of the Royal Alberta Museum, the largest museum in Western Canada.
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How to get to Alberta
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Edmonton International Airport (YEG) on Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Swoop, United and WestJet. Into Calgary International Airport (YYC), Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United and WestJet fly direct from the U.S. If your ultimate destination is Banff, the closest airport is Calgary. If you’re heading to Jasper, fly into Edmonton.
Where to stay in Alberta
There are a number of points hotels to choose from in Calgary:
- Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- Courtyard Calgary South (Marriott Category 2, 12,500 points/standard dates)
- Delta Hotels Calgary Downtown (Marriott Category 4, 25,000 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Calgary (dynamic pricing, around 14,000 points)
- Hyatt Regency Calgary (from 12,000 World of Hyatt points)
- Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- The Westin Calgary (Marriott Category 4, 25,000 points/standard dates)
- The Westley Calgary Downtown, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (33,000–40,000 Hilton Honors points)
Top points hotels in Edmonton include:
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton (from 25,000 Hilton Honors points)
- Hyatt Place Edmonton-West (from 5,000 World of Hyatt Points)
- JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points per night/standard dates)
- Radisson Hotel & Convention Center Edmonton (20,000 Radisson Rewards points)
- The Westin Edmonton (Marriott Category 3, 17,500 points per night/standard dates)
You’ll also find elegant Fairmont properties in both Banff and Jasper.
British Columbia has something for every type of traveler, whether you’re trailing an orca pod at the edges of the Inside Passage or enjoying a snow day in Whistler, one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Vancouver is the province’s most cosmopolitan city, but don’t overlook idyllic Victoria with its charming, colonial architecture and colorful gardens. If you’re looking to go wine tasting in the celebrated Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is the perfect jumping-off point. Those searching for something more adventurous should consider flying over to the remote Haida Gwaii islands, nicknamed the Canadian Galápagos for their plentiful wildlife.
How to get to British Columbia
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, and United. Alaska Airlines flies into Victoria International Airport (YYJ) from Seattle; Alaska Airlines and WestJet fly to Kelowna International Airport (YLW). If you’re heading to Whistler, fly into Vancouver.
Where to stay in British Columbia
You’ll be spoilt for choice in Vancouver, where there are numerous highly-rated points hotels, including:
- Best Western Premier Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites (36,000 Best Western Premier points)
- Element Vancouver Metrotown (Marriott Category 5, 40,000 points/standard dates)
- Hilton Vancouver Downtown (50,000 Hilton Honors points)
- Hyatt Regency Vancouver (from 12,000 Hyatt points)
- JW Marriot Parq Vancouver (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
- Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
- The Douglas, Autograph Collection (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
The Fairmont Pacific Rim and Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver are stand-out properties to consider as well.
In laidback Victoria, there’s…
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Victoria (60,000 Hilton Honors points)
- Hotel Grand Pacific (30,000 iPrefer Points)
- The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa (Marriott Category 5, 40,000 points/standard dates)
- Victoria Marriott Inner Harbor (Marriott Category 5, 40,000 points/standard dates)
For those spending time in Whistler, try:
- Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa (52,000 Hilton Honors points)
- The Westin Resort & Spa Whistler (Marriott Category 7, 60,000 points/standard dates)
There are grand Four Seasons and Fairmont properties in Whistler, as well as a popular Fairmont located in Victoria.
The best points hotels in Kelowna include:
- Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites (36,000 Best Western Premier points)
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort (Marriott Bonvoy Category 6, 60,000 points/standard dates)
- Hyatt Place Kelowna (from 8,000 World of Hyatt points)
Most people head to Manitoba for two reasons: the aurora borealis and polar bears. Churchill, in particular, is one of the top three places in the world to view the famous dancing lights and is known as the “polar bear capital of the world.” There, tourists embark on “safaris” in specially designed, elevated vehicles that explore the arctic tundra. Manitoba’s capital, Winnipeg, is much less isolated and hosts Canada’s largest winter festival, Le Festival du Voyageur.
How to get to Manitoba
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Winnipeg International Airport (YWG) on United, Delta, and WestJet. To get into Churchill Airport (YYQ), you’ll need to connect via a domestic flight on Canadian North or Calm Air International.
Where to stay in Manitoba
In Winnipeg, travelers have a few options for points hotels, including:
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Winnipeg (Marriott Category 3, 16,000 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn & Suites Winnipeg-Downtown (16,000 IHG points)
- Hyatt House Winnipeg-South (from 5,000 World of Hyatt points)
- Residence Inn Winnipeg (Marriott Category 2, 12,000 points/standard dates)
Manitoba is also home to a swanky Fairmont Hotel.
If you’re visiting Churchill, chances are you’ll be on an all-inclusive tour. The town itself doesn’t have any hotels — just small inns.
Perfect if you’re looking for a maritime vacation, New Brunswick has a winding, scenic coastline to explore, dotted with a slew of quaint lighthouses and port towns. A highlight, the Bay of Fundy, which separates New Brunswick from eastern Canada, has the world’s highest tides, creating remarkable rock formations. Here, tourists can wander sea caves, view as many as 12 different whale species, kayak around towering rock pillars and walk along the Joggins Fossil Cliffs whose layers reveal the most complete known fossil record of terrestrial life from the Carboniferous period (354 to 290 million years ago). Moncton is the closest major city to the Bay of Fundy.
How to get to New Brunswick
Travelers coming from the U.S. can not currently fly direct into Greater Moncton International Airport (YQM) but will have to switch domestically to an Air Canada, PAL Aerospace, Porter or WestJet flight.
Where to stay in New Brunswick
Moncton isn’t the most exciting city, but there are a number of comfortable points hotels that will do the trick if you need a home base for exploring, including:
- Chateau Moncton Trademark Collection by Wyndham (15,000 Wyndham Rewards points)
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Beausejour (Marriott Category 3, 17,500 points/standard dates)
- Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Moncton (40,000 Hilton Honors points)
- Hyatt Place Moncton Downtown (from 5,000 World of Hyatt points)
- Residence Inn by Marriott Moncton (Marriott Category 3, 17,500 points/standard dates)
- The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea Autograph Collection (Marriott Category 5, 40,000 points/standard dates)
Newfoundland and Labrador
The rumored settlement of Leif Erikson, Newfoundland and Labrador, are rich in Viking history. In fact, l’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site is the only authenticated Norse site in North America. Yet much of this province’s land remains untouched. Gros Morne National Park is celebrated for its glacial fjords, icebergs and some of the tallest waterfalls in North America. It also hosts the world’s largest population of humpback whales, along with 21 other species. Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital, St. John’s, is also worth visiting to walk along the city’s iconic, colorful row houses and glimpse the soaring view from Signal Hill.
How to get to Newfoundland and Labrador
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into St. John’s International Airport (YYT) on WestJet.
Where to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador
If you want to use points, there are a handful of options in St. John’s, including:
- Courtyard by Marriott St. John’s Newfoundland (Marriott Category 3, 20,000 points/standard dates)
- Delta Hotels St. John’s Conference Center (Marriott Category 4, 30,000 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn St. John’s Conference Centre (15,000 IHG points)
- Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland (Marriott Category 3, 20,000 points/standard dates)
Like Canada’s other Eastern Maritime provinces, most come to Nova Scotia for scenic drives, fresh seafood, and picturesque fishing villages such as Peggy’s Cove. On Cape Breton Island, you’ll find both the Cabot Trail — a 185-mile loop along the coast with amazing views—and the Fortress of Louisbourg, a partial reconstruction of an 18th-century French fortress. The Annapolis Valley wine country, with the popular town of Wolfville a quick drive from the vineyards, is another big draw. The capital city of Halifax offers a bustling, harborfront downtown area and historic sites like the Citadel, an 18th-century fort.
How to get to Nova Scotia
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) on Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Transat, Sunwing and United.
Where to stay in Nova Scotia
In Halifax, there are points hotels with views of the water, including:
- Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel (Marriott Category 5, 40,000 points/standard dates)
- Hampton Inn by Hilton Halifax (24,000 Hilton Honors points)
- The Hollis Halifax a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel (37,000 Hilton Honors points)
- The Westin Nova Scotian (Marriott Category 4, 30,000 points/standard dates)
Ontario is home to two of Canada’s most popular destinations, Toronto and Ottawa. Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, boasts stately Victorian architecture and the magnificent Parliament Hill. And don’t miss Toronto, either. The country’s largest city, it has a host of world-class museums, including Aga Khan Museum and Art Gallery of Toronto, as well as the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the world from 1976 to 2007. Of course, the other major reason to visit is Niagara Falls. Niagara-on-the-Lake, a town at the mouth of the Niagara river, is known for its wineries and 19th-century buildings.
How to get to Ontario
For Toronto, travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) on Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air Transat, American Airlines, Delta, Swoop, United and WestJet. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) offers more immediate access to the downtown area but only has direct U.S. flights on Porter Airlines.
If you’re going to Ottawa, travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Ottawa International Airport (YOW) onAir Canada, American Airlines, Delta, United and Westjet.
For Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, if you don’t mind driving over the border, a number of airlines fly into Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines. Also on the American side of the border is Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG), which offers flights on Allegiant Air and Spirit.
Where to stay in Ontario
You’ll have your choice of convenient, modern points hotels in Toronto, including:
- Courtyard Toronto Downtown (Marriott Category 4, 25,000 points/standard dates)
- Delta Hotels Toronto (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- Park Hyatt Toronto (25,000 Hyatt points/night)
- The St. Regis Toronto (Marriott Category 7, 60,000 points/standard dates)
- The Ritz-Carlton Toronto (Marriott Category 7, 60,000 points/standard dates)
- Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
In Ottawa, you’ll find options such as:
- Andaz Ottawa by Ward Market (12,000 World of Hyatt points)
- Delta Hotels Ottawa City Centre (Marriott Category 4, from 17,500 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn Ottawa Downtown (15,000 IHG points)
- The Westin Ottawa (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
There are a number of Accor properties in Toronto and Ottawa, too.
Some of the best points hotels near Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake are:
- Holiday Inn Niagara Falls — by the Falls (28,000 IHG points)
- Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
- Radisson Hotel & Suites Fallsview (90,000 Radisson Rewards points)
Prince Edward Island
The smallest of Canada’s provinces, Prince Edward Island, is technically made up of the main piece of land, plus 231 minor islands. Visitors come to see the setting of literary classic Anne of Green Gables, eat lobster and stroll the Cavendish boardwalk. Charlottetown, the tiny capital, is full of local pubs and historic treasures, including Province House, Canada’s second-oldest seat of government.
How to get to Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island doesn’t have an airport with international flights from the U.S. You’ll need to connect via a domestic flight to reach Charlottetown Airport (YYG).
Where to stay on Prince Edward Island
There are also a handful of points hotels, including:
- Hampton Inn & Suites Charlottetown (40,000 Hilton Honors points)
- Delta Hotels Prince Edward (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
Traveling to Québec, the only Canadian province where the majority of residents are francophone, can feel a bit like going to Europe. Most of its attractions are split between the two main cities of Montreal and Québec City. In the latter, don’t miss Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage site where historic stone buildings line narrow streets. Just outside the city, there’s the Chutes Montmorency, which are taller than Niagara Falls; brave travelers can cross on a small pedestrian bridge. Montréal also has an idyllic historic quarter with cobblestone streets and the neo-Gothic Notre-Dame Basilica. Here, you’ll find one of the best food scenes in all of Canada (don’t forget to try poutine and Canadian bagels). If skiing is more of your thing, head to Mont-Tremblant or Mont-Sainte-Anne, two of the most famous resorts in the province.
How to get to Québec
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (YUL) Airport on Air Canada, Air Transat, American Airlines, Delta and United.
Air Transat, American Airlines and United fly direct into Québec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB).
Where to stay in Quebec
Montréal is full of both charming old-world contemporary points hotels, including:
- Hotel St. Paul, Montreal, a Member of Design Hotels (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- InterContinental Montreal (30,000 IHG points)
- Le Westin Montreal (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
- Montréal Marriott Chateau Champlain (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- The Ritz-Carlton, Montréal (Marriott Category 7, 60,000 points/standard dates)
- Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton (60,000 Hilton Honors rewards points)
- W Montreal (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
Québec City also has excellent points choices, such as:
- Best Western Premier Hotel Aristocrate (dynamic pricing with nights around 26,000 Best Western Rewards points in August)
- Delta Hotels Québec (Marriott Category 5, 35,000 points/standard dates)
- DoubleTree by Hilton Quebec Resort (between 31,000 and 50,000 Hilton Honors points/night)
- Hilton Québec (50,000 Hilton Honors rewards points)
- Hotel Pur Québec (Marriott Category 4, 25,000 points/standard dates)
- Québec City Marriott Downtown (Marriott Category 6, 50,000 points/standard dates)
In addition, there’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a Québec City icon, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018.
Dubbed the “Province of 100,000 lakes,” Saskatchewan is known for prairies and expansive skies, outdoor adventure is a big part of visiting. Don’t miss the chance to go fishing or canoeing in Prince Albert National Park. Regina, the provincial capital, is a major draw as the home of the iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police; a training facility since 1885, tourists can view a parade of Mountie cadets here. Saskatoon is another popular stop for visitors because of its attractions that explore the local heritage, including the first Prairies people at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park and European settlers at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada.
How to get to Saskatchewan
Travelers coming from the U.S. can fly direct into Regina (YQR) or Saskatoon’s John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (YXE) on WestJet.
Where to stay in Saskatchewan
There are a number of excellent points hotels in Regina, including:
- Delta Hotels Regina (Marriott Category 3, 17,500 points/standard dates)
- The Hotel Saskatchewan, Autograph Collection (Marriott Category 3, 17,500 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn & Suites Regina (14,000 IHG points)
Saskatoon also has a handful of points hotels, such as:
- Delta Hotels Saskatoon Downtown (Marriott Category 3, 12,000 points/standard dates)
- Holiday Inn Saskatoon Downtown (18,000 IHG points)
- Sheraton Cavalier Saskatoon Downtown (Marriott Category 3, 15,000 points/standard dates)
Five times the size of the United Kingdom, the Northwest Territories has a population of under 45,000 (half of which is indigenous). While the Northwest Territories isn’t high on many travel lists, it presents the type of pristine wilderness that is increasingly rare. A mix of arctic tundra and boreal forest, most adventurers gravitate toward the Nahanni National Park Reserve. There, you’ll find the striking Virginia Falls and Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America.
How to get to the Northwest Territories
To get into Yellowknife Airport (YZF), you’ll need to connect via a domestic flight.
Where to stay in the Northwest Territories
Where to stay: Being remote, this area is pretty short on hotels. But Chateau Nova Yellowknife, Capital Suites, and other properties are bookable with the Chase travel portal and Ultimate Reward Points.
Nunavut is a destination for the truly adventurous. Home to narwhals, beluga whales and polar bears, it’s one of the world’s most remote locations. Beyond animal watching tours in Sirmilik National Park and other glacial paradises, a trip to Nunavut is an opportunity to learn about the indigenous Inuit people’s culture. Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in Iqaluit is dedicated to preserving their history and art.
How to get to Nunavut
To get into Iqaluit Airport (YFB), you’ll need to connect via a domestic flight.
Where to stay in Nunavut
Most people going to Yukon aren’t there to see Whitehorse, the territory’s only city. Instead, once they land, they take off into the tundra to scope out the northern lights, the midnight sun and Mount Logan in Kluane National Park (the highest peak in Canada). You can also try your hand at dog sledding and check out historic Klondike Gold Rush locations.
How to get to the Yukon
To get to Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport (YXY), you’ll need to connect via a domestic flight.
Where to stay in the Yukon
There are a couple of hotel chains in Whitehorse — Best Western Gold Rush Inn and Days Inn by Wyndham Whitehorse. But your best bet is booking with the Chase travel portal. Using Ultimate Reward Points to stay at Yukon Pines luxury cabins or Boreale Ranch Adventure Lodge outside the city.
From a slice of Paris without the transatlantic flight to encounters with narwhals, Canada has something on offer for every interest. And myriad flight options and points hotels on tap and borders reopening, there’s never been a better time to check province or territory (or two) off your list.
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