10 Reasons Why Your Next Destination Should Be Canada
Breathtaking nature, vibrant cities, gentle people and delicious food smothered in maple syrup – what more could you possibly want?
My first study abroad experience was a year-long high school exchange I did when I was only a wee 16-year old. I spent a year in Winnipeg, Canada and ever since then the U.S.’s northern neighbor has had a special place in my heart. Currently I’m back in Canada visiting my old home away from home – Winnipeg – as well as Montreal and Vancouver. It took no time for me at all to completely fall back in love with the place. That’s why I thought I’d give you my top ten reasons why you should make Canada your next travel destination.
1. Natural Wonders
Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of area (after Russia). However with a population of just over 35 million it isn’t very densely populated. This means there are vast stretches of untouched nature, from the Rocky Mountains in the West to the thousands and thousands of lakes in the East. Sometimes this means you can drive for miles without seeing any signs of civilization besides the road. That also means you better stock up on gas if you’re heading out into the vastness.
2. Outdoor Activities
With so much natural beauty it’s only natural (pun fully intended) that Canadians love their outdoor activities. Canada is the perfect place for hiking, climbing, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking and camping – basically any activity that will get you sweaty outside. And when you are all tired out and need to soothe your swollen feet and mosquito bites there will surely be a waterfall around to stand under or lake to jump in.
3. Friendly and Laidback People
Canadians are some of the most friendly and laid back people I have ever met. I have never had an encounter here where people weren’t immensely helpful and welcoming upon meeting them. Whether I needed a place to stay, someone to hang out with and show me around, a ride somewhere, directions, an enriching conversation or lifelong friendships – so far Canadians have had me covered for all of those.
4. French-Canadian Culture
About a third of the Canadian population speaks French as their first language. Most French Canadians live in the province of Quebec. French Canadians are very proud of their heritage and have a culture that is unique from the rest of Canada. Historically, that has been the cause for a lot of conflict between francophone and anglophone Canadians with Quebec’s separatists trying to secede from Canada on several occasions. Even though it seems that now these movements have somewhat quieted down it still provides for interesting political dialogues in Canada. Also when I visited Montreal this month I couldn’t help but think that Quebec has a certain flair that seems more European, people seem to dress just a little more sharply and have a love for excellent food.
5. Winter Wonderland
Personally, I prefer Canada in the summer but have also experienced how fun it can be in the wintertime. The West of Canada is known for its amazing ski resorts while just about everywhere else you can do such fun activities as ice-fishing, snowmobiling, ice-skating on frozen rivers and snowshoeing. Plus with all the shoveling you have to do to get to your car in the Canadian winter you don’t even to go to the gym for your daily workout.
6. Cool Cities
Most Canadians live in big cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver, all of which are located within 200 km of the Canada-U.S. border. Canadian cities are vibrant, diverse and very distinctive. To me, the high rises and grittiness of Toronto felt very different from the hip European flair of Montreal or Winnipeg, the geographic center of North America with its harsh winters but almost unlimited supply of sunshine. I am also looking forward to experiencing some of that praised West Coast living in Vancouver soon.
As is the case almost everywhere, if there ain’t a reason for a party you simply make one up. While in Canada, I have been to Snow Sculpture festivals, the Winnipeg Folk Festival which takes place in a beautiful provincial park, the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal and the Fringe Festival Winnipeg all of which have been fantastically good times. So weather you want to experience Canadian art, comedy and music in scenic locations, or beers and fireworks on Canada Day, Canadians will show you a good time while never getting rowdy or impolite it seems.
Poutine (fries, gravy and cheese curds), wild salmon, bison burgers; word class restaurants and fast food from all over the world – if you have a craving for literally anything, chances are high you’ll find it. In my personal experience, many Canadians value the quality of their food and are willing to spend a little extra for that. If you don’t want to spend much and have a craving for donuts, bagels or sandwiches and a decent brew of coffee, Canada’s number one fast food chain Tim Horton’s is just what you need.
9. Maple Syrup
Yes, it deserves its own category! Because Canadian maple syrup is the best. In fact, I after having it for the first time, any other syrup just tasted like flavorless sugar juice in comparison. Maple syrup is sweet and delicious, has that characteristic nutty aroma and goes with pretty much any food. I advise use in copious amounts whenever possible.
10. Arguably the Best Country to Live In
If the list above hasn’t convinced you yet that your next destination should be Canada, here are some statistical tidbits on why Canada is a fantastic place to spend some time, maybe even for longer than just a vacation: Canada is continually in the top 10 of the UN’s Human Development Index, consistently ranking it as one of the best countries to live in. Canada has public health insurance, a great education system, and was one of the first countries to legalize same-sex marriage. In the BBC’s annual poll on world influence, Canada was viewed the second most positive in 2013 and 2014 after (surprisingly for me) Germany, my home country.
So head up North soon, eh! You’ll have a great time!