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Curious about the best places to visit in Western Canada? Canada is one of the largest countries in the world.
The sheer size and diversity of this North American country make it a great travel destination. There is everything for everyone in Canada.
Outdoor lovers and avid hikers will absolutely love the nature trails and national parks Canada has to offer. History buffs will enjoy Canadian cities, historical towns and museums. Kids will enjoy the plethora of tours and fun activities.
Did you know that Canada is one of the few countries in the world where you can view majestic polar bears in the wild?
As Canada is so vast, it’s impossible to write about all the places one can visit there. To make this task easier, in this article we will focus on Western Canada only.
Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Western Canada.
7 best places to visit in Western Canada
Banff National Park
Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park and one of the oldest national parks in the world.
It is one of the largest national parks in the country and the ultimate destination in Canada.
Banff National Park is located in the picturesque Canadian Rockies and is home to rugged mountains, turquoise glacial lakes and more than a thousand glaciers.
Some of the best places to visit in Western Canada are located in the park:
- Lake Louise — turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks.
- Moraine Lake — a scenic, glacier-fed lake. It is surrounded by ten peaks. Together the peaks and the lake form the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
- Peyto Lake — yet another beautiful glacier-fed lake.
- Sulphur Mountain — a mountain overlooking the town of Banff.
- Lake Minnewanka — a glacial lake, the second longest lake in the mountain parks of the Canadian Rockies.
- Johnston Creek — one of the most popular day hikes in Banff National Park.
- Castle Mountain — a mountain and a large ski area.
- Castleguard Caves — the longest cave in Canada.
- Banff — the highest town in Canada at an elevation of 1384 meters.
Banff National Park has been recognised as one of the best destinations in the world. The park is a part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage site.
Jasper National Park & Columbia Icefield
Located just 290 km from Banff, Jasper National Park is another must-see in Canada.
Spanning 11 000 km2 is the largest national park within Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.
The park is home to mountains, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls. It also contains the Columbia Icefield which is the largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains. It is about 325 km2 in area, and a part of it lies in the northwestern tip of Banff National Park.
The icefield contains several glaciers. Athabasca Glacier is the most notable glacier.
We strongly suggest combining a trip to Banff National park with a trip to Jasper National Park and Columbia Icefield, as these 3 are the best places to visit in Western Canada.
Take the Icefields Parkway which runs from Banff to Jasper. It is a scenic road, and parts of the Icefield are visible from the Icefields Parkway.
Jasper together with the other national and provincial parks of the Canadian Rocky mountains form a UNESCO World Heritage site named “Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks”.
Yoho National Park
As you may have already understood, Western Canada is rich in national parks.
And Yoho National Park is yet another amazing national park you should visit during your trip to Western Canada.
Yoho covers 1313 square kilometres and is bordered by Kootenay National Park on the southern side and Banff National Park on the eastern side.
Yoho, together with Jasper, Kootenay and Banff National Parks, form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
The Iceline Trail is a must when visiting Yoho National Park. It is 21 km long and offers expansive views of Yoho Valley and Little Yoho Valley. It goes past Daly Glacier, Laughing Falls and Takakkaw Falls which are the most famous sights in the park.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is situated in the Red Deer River valley, which is known for the abundance of dinosaur fossils and impressive badlands and spectacular hoodoos (thin spires of rock).
The park is one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales in the world. Fifty-eight dinosaur species have been discovered here.
With its spectacular and bizarre landscapes, reconstructed skeletons and ancient fossils, the park is a great place to visit both for adults and kids.
Vancouver & Vancouver Island
Vancouver is a major city in western Canada. It is home to world-class museums, gleaming glass skyscrapers, multiple green spaces and a renowned food scene.
According to DK Eyewitness Travel, Vancouver is a ‘fast-paced multicultural destination’.
Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver.
Hike Grouse Mountain — 1200-metre mountain offering sweeping views of Vancouver.
Do not miss Vancouver Chinatown, which, just like other Chinatowns around the world, is a popular tourist attraction.
Vancouver Chinatown is considered the largest Chinatown in Canada and one of the largest historic Chinatowns in North America.
If you plan to visit Vancouver, do not miss Vancouver island — the largest island on the west coasts of the Americas.
Start in British Columbia’s capital, Victoria. With a distinctly British atmosphere, it boasts plenty of historic buildings and great restaurants.
Probably the most popular destination on Vancouver Island is the Butchart Gardens which are located not far from Victoria.
It’s a group of gardens which feature several themed floral displays: Sunken Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, and Italian Garden.
Nearly one million people visit these gardens each year. The Butchart Gardens are among the world’s most beautiful public gardens.
Vancouver Island is also known as a superb hiking destination. With an abundance of hiking opportunities, it’s a paradise for outdoor lovers.
Hiking trails here range from peaceful walks through meadows to summit treks and multi-day hikes.
Canada is one of the few countries in the world where you can view majestic polar bears in the wild.
And Churchill is one of the best places in the world to see them in their natural habitat.
Churchill is a town in northern Manitoba, on the west shore of Hudson Bay. It is often called “Polar Bear Capital of the World”.
The best months for polar bear viewing are October and November.
But polar bears are not the only animals you can spot in Churchill.
Thousands of beluga whales move into the warmer waters of the Churchill River estuary during July and August to calf. It is a major summer attraction. That’s why Churchill is also known as the “Beluga Capital of the World”.
Churchill is also one of the places in Canada where you can witness the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).
Auroras are the result of solar wind — a stream of charged particles released from the sun that collides with oxygen and hydrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere. The collisions produce the lights of the aurora as the magnetic field of the earth draws the solar wind towards the high-latitude regions.
Remember that the Northern Lights aren’t visible all year round, only during the longest and darkest nights of the year (typically February & March).
Barkerville Historic Town & Park
Want to travel back in time? It’s possible in Barkerville Historic Town — a well-preserved 19th-century mining town and world-class heritage site. It appears as it did in its heyday and attracts visitors from all around the world.
Fully restored in the 1950s, Barkerville Historic Town has over 120 restored or reconstructed buildings. The history of each building has been researched and documented.
Costumed guides show visitors around the town.
Visitors can see craftsmen at work, watch 1860s-style shows at the theatre and partake in other fun activities.
Canada travel tips
- If you are a citizen of the EU, you don’t need a visa to travel to Canada. Only an eTA is required when arriving by air. It must be purchased online prior to your arrival in the country.
- Canada is the second-largest country in the world. You need months if not years to explore the whole country. We suggest you explore one or two provinces at a time.
- Rocky Mountaineer is a great way to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s not cheap, but it’s totally worth it. Rocky Mountaineer is a rail-tour company in Western Canada that operates trains on three rail routes through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
- Canada is a huge country with a varied landscape and weather. Make sure you pack for the right temperatures.
- Summer is the peak season. To avoid the crowds and the higher prices, visit Canada during the spring and fall.
- If you are planning to hike or camp, know how to avoid an encounter with a bear.
- The official language in Canada is English, but in Quebec it’s French. However, English is widely spoken in major cities, especially in tourist areas.
- The Canadian dollar (CAD) is the currency of Canada.
- Travelling by car is the best way to see Canada. This gives travellers maximum flexibility.