The decision to visit Canada, while being an excellent one, is not a simple as it might seem. As the second biggest country in the world, there is a huge amount of ground to cover and 13 provinces and territories to consider. The best way to decide where to go is to directly compare Eastern Canada vs Western Canada.
Travel to: Canada
|Eastern Canada||Western Canada|
|Most popular destination||Niagara Falls||Banff National Park|
|Natural attraction||Bay of Fundy||Canadian Rockies|
Both areas are stunning. Just picture beautiful coastlines, dramatic features and unforgettable towns and cities. But each side is wildly different, with imposing mountains to the west and striking icebergs to the east which begs the question, where will you focus your adventure in Canada?
Read here about the best time to visit West Coast, USA.
Eastern Canada refers to the provinces east of Manitoba and towards the Atlantic Ocean. With traces of Viking settlers dating back to the 11th century and French influences evident in Quebec – culture and history play a large part in determining the identity of the east. Whatever your travel style or preference is, Eastern Canada has something for everyone.
Eastern Canada basic information
Which provinces does it include? New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
Best time to go? Year-round, visitors flock to the east but even more so in the summer when the days are longer. Eastern Canada is especially attractive in the fall with its vibrant foliage.
Eastern Canada attractions
- Drive along the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia – It’s known as one of the most scenic drives in the world as it winds along the rugged coastline.
- Go whale watching – With more than 20 species of whales to spot, Eastern Canada is a gold mine. July to September is generally the best time to see humpbacks, belugas and more.
- Paddle among Icebergs – Iceberg Alley is the nickname for the path in which icebergs from the Arctic break off and float past Newfoundland every spring up until September. The most impressive way to see them is up close and personal on a kayak tour.
- See the CN Tower in Toronto – The iconic view of Toronto’s CN Tower can best be spotted from the picturesque Toronto Islands with the entire skyline in view.
- Skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa – A classic Canadian wintertime activity for all ages. Dig out those skates and cruise along the frozen Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.
- Sample European culture in Montreal and Quebec City – Experience the French influence in these two historical cities featuring cobblestone streets and impressive architecture.
- Visit Niagara Falls – Only an hour and a half outside of Toronto, Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. Take the boat into the mist at the bottom of the falls to feel its power first hand.
When a trip surpasses your expectations and dreams, you know you’ve visited an amazing destination. For David and I, that trip was to the Gaspesie Region of Quebec for a winter adventure that took us from the snowmobile racetrack and Ski-Doo Museum in Valcourt, to five days and a thousand miles on snowmobile trails in the Chic-Choc Mountains. The scenery, of course, was spectacular! Besides crossing what seemed like a hundred bridges, we scaled mountains, floated through valleys, and twisted between forests. Despite its beauty, the true richness of Gaspesie, though, is in its friendly people and local culture. – David and Linda, Guide2travel
Eastern Canada food and drink
- PEI Mussels – Mussels from Prince Edward Island are notoriously good. This is mostly due to the ocean climate and tidal patterns that are perfect for raising tender, plump and tasty mussels. Sample these beauties covered in the traditional white wine sauce, or opt for the more experimental varieties.
- Lobster – If there’s an area that knows how to do lobster well, it’s Eastern Canada and especially in Nova Scotia. There are a number of tours and festivals centred around lobsters as well as a variety of different ways to eat them, including lobster mac and cheese, ravioli and poutine.
- Peameal bacon – Said to originate from the city of Toronto, Peameal, or ‘Canadian’ bacon, is back bacon, wet cured and rolled in cornmeal. The best place to dig into this delicious treat is in a bun at the Carousel Bakery in St Lawrence Market, Toronto.
- Poutine – A quintessential Canadian dish, poutine consists of fries, gravy and cheese curds. Stay true to its origin and head to Montreal or Quebec City for a taste, but it’s such a classic staple in Canada that it can be found almost everywhere.
- Maple syrup – With Canada producing about 85% of the world’s maple syrup, it’s an important symbol and part of Canadian culture, but it’s Quebec that proudly takes the crown of maple syrup king, which harvests nearly 8 million gallons.
Geographically, Western Canada is everything west of, and including, Manitoba and generally consist of ‘The Prairies’ and the ‘West Coast’. Most commonly known for the Canadian Rockies, this area is seen as a bear haven and offers the laidback coastal vibes. The west is both wild and carefree with limitless adventures and trendy cities.
Read about the best time to visit East Coast, USA.
Western Canada basic information
Which provinces or territories does it include? Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Best time to go? Summer can get very busy but offers the best weather. For comfortable hiking conditions, we would suggest travelling between June and September. For skiing, the best time to visit is from December to March.
Western Canada attractions
- Ride a bike in Stanley Park, Vancouver – Stanley Park takes you along the coast and into various inland loops within Vancouver. It’s a perfect way to get a sense of the city.
- Surf in Tofino – Tofino is located on Vancouver Island, off the coast of Vancouver. It has one of the warmest climates in the country.
- Go hiking in the Canadian Rockies – The ultimate drawcard for anyone wishing to visit Western Canada is the famous mountain hikes within Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks (amongst others), offering breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains and bright blue glacial lakes.
- Ski in Whistler – If you’re looking to ski or snowboard in Canada, look no further than Whistler. Whistler has over 8,000 acres of piste catered for all levels and spectacular mountain surroundings that can’t be beaten.
- Go orca spotting – Along the Johnston Strait, orcas can be seen in masses. You can take a multi-day kayaking and camping trip to paddle next to these graceful creatures.
- Taste wine in Okanagan Valley – The climate in Okanagan Valley makes it perfect for growing fruit like apricots and grapes for wine. The vineyards here with the backdrop of rolling hills and sparkling lakes host the ideal wine tasting getaway.
- Visit Fisherman’s Village in Victoria – Fisherman’s Village is a floating village in Victoria, packed with colourful houses and is a must-see on Vancouver Island. You’ll probably spot a seal or two watching you from the water.
From lush rainforest and jagged peaks to endless tundra and the wild Pacific coastline, Western Canada is a land of contrasts and surprises. We had no idea, for example, that British Columbia is home to a desert region complete with cacti and rattlesnakes. The lakes in this region are surrounded by vineyards and orchards which flourish during the hot, dry summers. It’s a world away from the barren, desolate landscape of the Arctic north in Yukon and NWT or the ancient rainforests of Vancouver Island. Needless to say, Western Canada offers a lot more than mountains and lakes. – Gemma and Jean, Off Track Travel
Western Canada food and drink
- Caribou and bison – Served across Canada, caribou and bison steaks are a huge feature when travelling in Western Canada.
- Pacific Salmon – Considering Pacific salmon was named British Columbia’s official fish, it deserves a top spot in Western Canada cuisine. Given its abundance and versatility in many seafood dishes, Pacific salmon is a must-try when in BC.
- Craft breweries – Even within Alberta, the number of craft breweries have tripled in the past three years. Western Canada’s craft beer scene has been on a steady rise and is leading the charge in Canada.
- Nanaimo bar – These sweet treats made of a chocolate top layer, wafer crumb base, sandwiching a custard-flavoured centre.
- Saskatoon berry pie – This dish originated in the Prairies, consisting of the sweet fruit baked within double-crusted golden pies.