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11 reasons to visit Canada this year

Jan. 14, 2020
6 min read
Old Quebec is a historic neighborhood of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
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With its scenic landscape, vibrant cities and natural wonders like the Northern Lights -- as well as quirky attractions like giant statues of sausages and hockey sticks -- Canada is just a road trip or plane ride from the U.S. An international destination without the jet lag.

You can use points and miles to get there on Air Canada and all the major U.S. airlines, as well as a few smaller outfits like Sun Country and WestJet. And tons of new routes have been added recently.

Here are 11 reasons why you should visit Canada this year.

World-class cities

From the diverse, multicultural population of Toronto to the French-influenced Montreal and Quebec City to the Pacific Northwest haven of Vancouver, Canada has some fantastic cities. To experience the maritime culture along the Atlantic Ocean, visit Halifax, Nova Scotia. To get a taste of British society, try Victoria, British Columbia, and to feel like you’re in the Wild West, head to Calgary, Alberta.

Related reading: How to get to Montreal using points and miles

Québec, Montréal. (Photo by RENAULT/hemis.fr/Getty Images)
Québec, Montreal. (Photo by RENAULT/hemis.fr/Getty Images)

It’s inexpensive

The Canadian dollar (sometimes referred to as the "loonie" because of the one-dollar coin with a loon on it) is almost always worth less than the U.S. dollar, so things are generally cheaper here. It’s a trip that won’t break the bank.

Related reading: 7 ways to save on overseas ATM withdrawals

Super-fun festivals

Canadians really know how to celebrate. The country has so many festivals it’s hard to keep up, but it’s worth checking out some of them, like the Montreal Jazz Fest, Luminato in Toronto, Ottawa’s Tulip Festival and the Calgary Stampede. Some lesser-known but no less incredible celebrations are: Vancouver’s 5X, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival and Baie St. Marie in Nova Scotia.

Montreal Jazz Fest (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)
Montreal Jazz Fest (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)

French culture without going to France

Quebec was settled by the French in the 1600s and has retained its French heritage. In fact, going to Montréal, Quebec City or the Quebec countryside is a great way to get a taste of France without the jetlag. You will see Gothic Revival architecture and a unique café culture. And, of course, you'll have the opportunity to speak and hear French. The official languages of Canada are French and English.

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Breathtaking national parks

Canada is a popular destination for nature lovers. An extensive national park system celebrates the country’s natural wonders. From popular parks like Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Pacific Rim and Yoho in British Columbia and the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia to lesser-known gems like Riding Mountain in Manitoba, Ivvavik in Yukon and Gros Morne in Newfoundland, the parks encompass snow-capped mountains, deep fjords, lush islands, massive glaciers, teal lakes, rainforests and gushing waterfalls.

Related reading: The best national parks to visit during winter

Banff in all its glory. (Photo by William Patino/Destination Canada)
Banff in all its glory. (Photo by William Patino/Destination Canada)

See the northern lights

Although there a few places in the northern U.S. where you can spot the aurora borealis, Canada is typically the closest place to see them routinely. It’s possible to see the lights (almost) anywhere in Canada during all four seasons, but the northern half of the country is where they are the most active most of the time. The Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut, and Newfoundland and Labrador are your best bets.

Related reading: Best northern lights adventures for families

The northern lights in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)
The northern lights in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)

Visit a museum

This year, Manitoba celebrates its 150th anniversary and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Inuit Art Center opens. Also in Winnipeg, is the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the only museum in the world exclusively dedicated to human rights.

Taste Canadian cuisine

Yes, we all know about poutine (that’s French fries smothered in gravy for the uninitiated) and maple syrup, but there are also butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, Montreal-style bagels, bannock bread, Saskatoon berries, smoked meat, Prince Edward Island oysters and the Caesar cocktail -- all waiting to be sampled. So pack your stretchy pants.

See amazing animals

Canada is a great destination for animal lovers and wildlife spotters. There are polar bears up north and grizzlies, moose, bison, pronghorn, lynx and mountain lions. But if a controlled environment is more your thing, you can see long-haired Highland cattle on the farm behind the Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa in the Quebec countryside.

Unexpected wine country

No, we don’t just mean ice wine (although that is a Canadian specialty). As climate changes and some of the world’s most vaunted grape-growing regions have to adjust, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is emerging as a prime wine-growing region (with a climate similar to Napa a few decades ago). Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia are not far behind.

Canada's Okanagen Valley wine region. (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)
Canada's Okanagen Valley wine region. (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)

It has a thing for giant statues of odd things

Canada has an unprecedented number of gigantic statues devoted to everything from a lobster to a coffee pot to a Canada goose and a rocking horse, so if you’re one for wacky roadside attractions, Canada is for you. Several of these odd statues hold records for being the largest in the world, like the giant hockey stick and puck in Duncan, British Columbia; the massive axe in Nackawic, New Brunswick; the sausage in Mundare, Alberta; and the enormous mosquito (really) in Komarno, Manitoba, which is known as the mosquito capital of the world (maybe not something to brag about).

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023