If you’re heading out on a gap year in Canada, you’ve probably been sold on the scenic dream; the mountains, the snow, the beautiful national parks and, of course, the maple syrup and bacon. But when you’re thinking about what to do in Canada on a gap year, there are a whole lot of options to sift through.
Naturally then, you’ve turned to the internet for help in your search to find out what exactly are the best things to do in Canada on a gap year, and luckily, you’ve now arrived at just the right place.
Planning what to do in Canada shouldn’t be a stressful endeavour. In fact, it should make you incredibly excited for your big trip. So whether your gap year in Canada or your working holiday in Canada is just round the corner or still months away, take a browse through the list below and get stoked.
There are endless tourist attractions, must-see sports and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Canada at every turn. How to you select your favourite? It’s going to be different for everyone of course, but here are our 10 best things to do in Canada to get you started…
1) Spend A Weekend in Whistler
Hell yes! It’ll be no surprise to you if you’re a regular Mpora reader that – while this list is largely not in any particular order – we just had to put Whistler as our number one thing to do in Canada.
If you’re at all into your sports, this is where you need to be. It’s only a two hour drive from Vancouver, so set aside at least a weekend and get up there. If it’s summer, the legendary Whistler bike park is your calling; with routes ranging from iconic to beginner-friendly. If it’s winter, strap on your snowboard or click into your skis and head up the world famous mountain.
Everything about Whistler is near enough legendary. When it comes to planning your gap year in Canada, scribe this one at the top of your list – it’ll be a gap year experience you’ll never forget.
2) Visit Banff National Park & The Rocky Mountains
You know that picture you liked on Facebook the other day? It probably looked rather similar to the snap featured just above these words? Yeah, that’s Lake Louise – one of the most visually stunning natural lakes in the world.
Lake Louise can be found in Banff National Park, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. When you’re looking at what to do in Canada, this is an absolute essential for the list. We’re guessing you’re heading out there in the first place based on the amazing scenery and opportunities to explore, and this is a mecca as far as all that is concerned.
It’s worth noting that in the winter months, Banff is also a major player in the snowsports scene, with both Lake Louise and Sunshine Village Ski Resorts holding massive acclaim.
3) Look Over The Edge of Niagara Falls
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Canada, we’ve no doubt that you’ll already have heard of Niagara Falls, just over an hour’s drive out from Toronto. Some say it’s too crowded, some say it’s too obvious, some say it’s overhyped.
We say it’s a massive group of waterfalls with a 57m drop that you can stand absurdly close to if you’re really keen, with an abundance of crazy history and various awesome tours available, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Canada. It’s awesome. If you get the chance to get along to the falls, don’t miss out on what will be one of the greatest experiences of your Canadian gap year.
4) Walk Stanley Park & Sea Wall Vancouver
Vancouver is a beautiful place. If you’re not heading there for all of your gap year in Canada, you should make sure you at least try and make a road trip at some point. Take some beer, take some more beer. It’ll be fun.
One of the best things to in Canada can indeed be found in Vancouver as well – the beautiful 405-hectare Stanley Park, which has been wonderfully described on Trip Advisor as “Central Park but without the mugging.” Harsh, possibly.
Some of the best views of the city can be found in the park and from the sea wall that runs around the outside of the park. From totem poles to lakes and aquariums, you need to see this place.
5) Get on Your Road Bike
Throughout this list of the 10 best things to do on gap year in Canada, you’ll notice that the scenery, the distinctiveness and the beauty of the country comes up time and time again. Now, there’s no better way to see as much of that as humanly possible than on a road bike.
There’s so many amazing cycle routes in Canada, so whether you just choose to take an hour cycle out the city, try to climb to Whistler from Vancouver or go all out and take on the Route Verte, which crosses Quebec from east to west running nearly 2,500 miles, get on the saddle and keep your head up.
You’ll find throughout the country that the terrain changes so frequently and the sites refresh so often that you’ll never be bored.
6) Explore Old Quebec
Most people who are heading on a gap year in Canada won’t end up on the French-speaking side of the country, but if you do get the chance to check out UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Quebec, we recommend you take it. It’s a stunning sight.
Old Quebec is split between the upper and lower town of Quebec, and has the most historic buildings of the setting. We should also mention that the Upper Town happens to be sitting on an 100 metre-high cliff. One of the best things to do in Canada? You bet.
7) Spot Some Polar Bears
If you’ve come to this list of things to do in Canada looking for some truly unique, once in a lifetime experiences, this is the one for you.
The ideal time of year for viewing polar bears is in October or November, when the bears turn away from the land and head out onto the freshly frozen ice in Hudson Bay, Northern Manitoba.
Join a tour and a local expert will tell you everything you need to know and guide you to the best spots to see the amazing animals, often in a tundra buggy with caged windows. This is one of the must not miss gap year experiences of any trip to Canada.
8) Take in Gros Morne National Park
Another of Canada’s stunning natural wonders, and another that has received UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Gros Morne National Park of Canada can be found on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 697 square-miles, it’s rather large.
So what’s so special about this park? Well, Gros Morne is the eroded remains of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago, which we think is kind of cool. From hiking to boat tours, towering cliffs to tall mountains and an array of wildlife, this is something well worth adding to your list of things to do in Canada.
9) Get Yourself To An Ice Hockey Match
No matter where you’re based on your gap year in Canada, you should try and get yourself along to an ice hockey match at some point. You’ll realise pretty damn quickly on your arrival that it’s kind of a big deal in the country, and its well worth taking in the lights, sounds and speed of the game at least once.
Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to getting your shred on in Whistler or Lake Louise, but as far as taking in the local culture goes and getting involved in the country’s greatest love, this is a bit of a must. Maybe kill two cultural musts with one stone and get yourself a “Timmies” – aka Tim Hortons – on route to the stadium.
10) Discover the Bay of Fundy
With more variation in tide size than anywhere else in the world – with the difference between high and low tides measuring up to 19 metres – this is a truly special experience on any Canadian gap year.
Walk the cliffs that look onto the famous bay, see the sea stacks left on Hopewell Cape, walk through Fundy national park, go sailing or spend the day on a surfboard. You won’t regret it and the views will stay with you for a lifetime.