Central Canada consists of the two provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and is surrounded by the Canadian Prairies, the USA, and Hudson Bay. With four major cities — Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City — the region offers a unique combination of vibrant city life and impressive natural beauty.
Although Ottawa is the country’s capital, it is quite small and can easily be explored by foot! One of the best times to visit the city is in February, during the open-air festival Winterlude. This features both entertaining concerts, and winter sports on the frozen Rideau Canal. Toronto, on the other hand, is Canada’s largest city, and multicultural hotspot, with tons of entertainment options. For a great view over this huge city, head up the 553-meter-high CN Tower!
|Toronto (Ontario) is Canada's largest city.
Northeast of Toronto you’ll find The Thousand Islands, a collection of more than 1,800 islands, which stretches into the USA. Hop on a cruise boat to see lighthouses, impressive mansions, beautiful castles, and uninhabited landscapes.
You’ll see many aspects of French culture in Quebec City (one of North America’s oldest cities) and Montreal, the largest cities in the French-speaking province of Quebec. The latter’s Old Montreal district has many remnants of old French culture, with romantic cobbled streets and European architecture. After exploring the city’s surface, head underground, where you’ll find more than 32 kilometers of shopping and entertainment facilities in the world’s largest underground city!
|The Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal is a great example of the French influence in the city.|
Just outside of Quebec City, snow lovers can hit the slopes of Mont St. Anne and scenic Le Massif, from which you can also take in unforgettable views of the St. Lawrence River. Both ski resorts are thrilling cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing destinations. If you’re staying in Ottawa or Montreal, head to Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains, Quebec’s largest ski resort.
Another great way to explore the Laurentians is Le P’tit train du Nord. This 200-kilometer cycling route will take you from Saint-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier, through lively tourist towns and past scenic rivers and lakes. The route’s name translates as “Little Train of the North”, as it’s built on a former railway, making the trail fairly flat, albeit pretty windy!
One of Central Canada’s most impressive national parks is Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park, with woodland, swamps, and over 2,400 lakes. Alternatively, head to Pukaskwa National Park (Ontario) on the northern shore of Lake Superior, where the Pukaskwa Coastal Trail (60km) allows visitors to explore the area’s impressive wilderness.
|Algonquin Provincial Park is one of Canada's most impressive nature parks.
Ontario’s Highlands, with their rolling hills, dense forests, and shimmering lakes, will instantly make you feel more relaxed, but they offer plenty for thrill seekers, too! Try your hand at white water rafting or mountain biking, or simply stroll around the region’s picturesque towns.
The world-famous Niagara Falls, span both Canada and the US Mid-Atlantic region. Head to the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve for great views over the Niagara River and the impressive whirlpool rapids. Afterwards, take a break in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This spot is where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, and is also one of Canada’s best wine regions!
|The Niagara Falls span both Canada and the US Mid-Atlantic region.
Although less well-known, Quebec’s Montmorency Falls, at over 80 meters high, are actually much bigger than Niagara Falls. They’re especially impressive in winter, when they partially freeze, creating a piece of beautiful, icy artwork. Additional waterfalls can be found in Hamilton (Ontario), the “Waterfall Capital of the World”, which is home to over 100 waterfalls of all shapes and sizes!
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I had a great time in Toronto! The locals were all incredibly friendly and helpful. I would definitely recommend going up the CN Tower. It is a tourist hotspot but it's not too crowded so you can still enjoy the view!