Leisure activities in Canada

Things to see and to do in Canada
Updated 2019-05-02 09:26

In Canada, having fun with family or friends is easy. All you have to do is decide what kind of leisure activities you want to enjoy for a day, or even for a weekend. If you want to break the routine of restaurants, movies and bistros, know that the country has a multitude of places of interest such as zoos, amusement parks, national and provincial parks, waterfalls and rivers as well as mountain ranges.

In Canada, except on the west coast, winters are long. However, that does not stop Canadians from going out. There are ski resorts within reach, even outside the Rockies. You can also go hiking on snowshoes or snowmobiles. Remember to cover yourself well, especially at the extremities, and respect the safety requirements on the hiking trails. Canadians are quite active: sports halls, swimming pools and sports complexes are legion.

Walks in the heart of nature

To date, there are about 40 national parks across the country, as well as provincial parks, which aim to protect the ecosystems. In these parks, visitors will be able to discover different riches of nature. You will find visitor centres with naturalists who will guide you during your walk, as well as camping facilities and picnic areas. Some of these parks are very close to urban areas.

In the cities, you will find recreational parks where you can spend a day with your family, have a picnic and play sports. In winter, you can put on your ice skates and train, even in the city centre! Snowmobile and snowshoe trails are also available, even in the city, but they are not all free. Due to the presence of numerous water points in Canada, many cities have access to a beach, whether it is by the ocean, a lake or a river.

Different types of parks

National parks are indicated on road signs by a white beaver on a brown background. Most of them are not open all year due to weather conditions. You should check before you go there. Many provincial parks are closed from mid-October to mid-May, and some have reduced activities during this period. Some parks may charge a fee to enter.

If you are lucky and you are not loud, you may encounter bears, or, more frequently, deer and moose. It is advisable to respect nature during your visit: do not smoke, do not cut anything, collect your garbage and do not feed animals.

If you prefer activities rich in sensations, you can opt for amusement parks. In Montreal, you can jump to La Ronde, which attracts large crowds every day for its big rides. If you're a fan of roller coasters, the Goliath will delight you, with a speed of more than 100 km/h. There are also traditional rides for kids, fast trains and a pirate ship.

Here are some parks that you can visit: Atlantic Playland in Nova Scotia, Calaway Park in Alberta, Dinotown in Vancouver, Ontario Place and Paramount's Canada Wonderland in Ontario.


Toronto has one of the largest zoos in the world, with some 5,000 species of animals in a natural environment inspired by different continents. Furthermore, the Calgary Zoo is home to many species, as well as a botanical garden and a historic park with life-size dinosaur reproductions. You can also find zoos in New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba. In Montreal, you can visit the Biodôme, which hosts some animal species such as penguins and otters.

Hiking and road trips

If you are interested in a multi-day hike, you can try the crossing of the Rockies on the Great Divide Trail. Embark on a journey of more than 1,000 km and discover a variety of unforgettable panoramas. You can explore the wonders of nature on foot, observe animal life, and even try rafting and sightseeing tours in the park. The route includes campsites and youth hostels. The Rockies are recommended in June or September.

If you are a road-trip fan, you may be thinking of crossing Canada from east to west. You should know then, that you will need at least three weeks to travel from Montreal to Vancouver. If you have the time, you can stop in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary, and even travel through the United States.

On classified ad sites and on Facebook groups dedicated to expatriates, you will regularly come across ads of converted vans for sale for 2,000 $ CAD or 3,000 $ CAD. This solution will allow you to avoid having to pay for a hotel during the trip. If you are alone, you can post a classified ad to find yourself a travel companion.

Northern Lights

Canada is a prime destination for seeing the northern lights. You can see them everywhere, even near big cities. However, certain periods and places are more favourable to the phenomenon. The further you go towards the north of Canada, the more visible the auroras become. Thus, among the best places to attend this magnificent natural spectacle are the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Northern Quebec and Nunavut. To find out where and when to see the northern lights you can use the online tool at the University of Alaska.

Useful links:

Expat.com - Leisure Forum in Canada
Expat.com - Leisure Directory in Canada
Expat.com - Leisure in Quebec
Toronto official website
Ottawa Tourism
Saskatchewan Tourism
Alberta Tourism
New Brunswick Tourism
Tourism in the Yukon
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
Tourism in Canada
Canada - Endless Explore

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