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Canada is famed for its beautiful natural scenery with its wild coastlines, frozen tundras, stand-out mountain views, emerald lakes and national parks often taking all the limelight.

Dotted in the beauty of these Canadian landscapes are the small towns and villages that have sprung up as a result of the first French settlers, British colonists, and the aboriginal people. Every town or village has a story behind it and whilst there are many you can visit, here are the top eight you need to add to your bucket list and what you can see and do when you visit them.

1. Niagara Falls

Province/Territory: Ontario

Visiting Niagara Falls is a unique experience with its plethora of attractions, whimsical boutiques and the falls themselves. The town offers views of all three falls straddling the US border and has, for a long time, been one of the top destinations to visit in Canada. This can partly be put down to the fact that it is just over an hour’s drive from Toronto (and with cheap flights to Toronto available from the UK, it makes it easily accessible too!)

Claire Drinkwater, from the UK travel blog, Backpacking Bella, recommends Niagara Falls as it is one of the natural wonders of the world and has a lot more to offer than people realise.

“Come to Niagara Falls, Ontario for the once-in-lifetime views, romantic hotels and a host of activities and attractions. Niagara is also a popular winemaking region in Canada, with many award-winning wine estates a short drive from the falls.”

Attractions and activities to try

•Niagara Falls History Museum – Comprising of three galleries, the museum explores the World Wars and how they impacted the lives of all those living in Niagara at the time, as well as the wonder of the falls themselves and stories of the daredevils taking on the falls. Clark Bernat, the Culture & Museums Manager, tells us about some of the things you can see: “There are large stories, like the falls themselves, the creation of them, the attempts to harness the power or defy it. There are global stories, like the Underground Railroad, War of 1812 and the Indigenous history that weaves through our narrative. Then there are stories that are personal, stories of the people who live here, who you don’t see.”

•See the falls from a different angle – As you’ll see from our own Niagara Falls holidays, there are many different ways that you can experience Niagara Falls. Claire Drinkwater recommends seeing them via boat, by helicopter or the SkyWheel: “The Hornblower boat tour takes you up close and personal to the falls, which is totally exhilarating, but you will get wet! Another impressive way to see the falls is by helicopter tour, which gives you a bird’s-eye view, swooping over the landscape as you learn about the area’s history. The Niagara SkyWheel, Canada’s largest observation wheel, is a serene way to see the falls, day or night.”

Insider tip: The Niagara Falls History Museum puts on special events on Thursday nights, so keep your eyes peeled on their events page.

SEE ALSO:

•48 hours in Niagara Falls

2. Blue Rocks

Province/Territory: Nova Scotia

Blue Rocks

This authentic fishing hamlet has been untouched by time and is world’s away from its more famous neighbour Lunenburg, which is a 10-minute drive.

As the name suggests, the rugged rocks of Blue Rocks Point appear blue, but what makes the village even more spectacular is its stunning coastal scenery, which has inspired artists like William E. deGarthe.

Anne-Sophie Redisch, a travel journalist and editor of Sophie’s World, spoke to us about her memories of the village and why it’s inspiring for artists.

“Blue Rocks is also home to artists and photographers. It’s easy to see why. There’s something about the light here at Blue Rocks, not unlike Skagen on the tempestuous northern tip of Denmark. Don’t miss the blue slate rocks, the wooden boats and the quaint and colourful sheds, some used as artisans’ workshops/studios.”

Attractions and activities to try

•Go walking and cycling – To best experience the stunning scenery, you should rent a bicycle or go out walking. This is something Leigh McAdam, the travel blogger behind Hike Bike Travel, did during his visit: “Walk, bike or drive past wildly colourful homes and fisherman’s cottages. Walk the wharf, take a picnic and slow down. This place has a timeless appeal that’s good for the soul.”

•Visit the Halifax and Southwest Railway Museum – Dedicated to preserving the rich railroading past of the area, this is a great attraction to visit to get an insight into the history of the region.

Insider tip: With Lunenburg just a 10-minute drive from Blue Rocks, make sure you head to the old town, which has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

3. Churchill

Province/Territory: Manitoba

Churchill

Polar bears, beluga whales, and northern lights: Churchill has it all. Perched on the shores of Hudson Bay, the town is not accessible by road, only by air or by train. But this remoteness is a large part of its charm.

Despite this, the frontier town has a wealth of hotels you can stay in, lots of great restaurants like the Tundra Inn Dining Room and Pub that you can eat at, and several shops and gift stores. With these amenities and its vast, open tundra landscapes, Churchill is a world away from other holiday destinations.

Attractions and activities to try

•Go polar bear watching on a Tundra Buggy – Churchill is the polar bear capital of the world, and one of the best ways to see them is to take a tour in a Tundra Buggy across the frozen flats in early winter.

•Watch the northern lights – The best time to see them is between January and March when the night skies are darkest, but they can be seen throughout the year. We recommend watching them from a custom-made plexiglass covered Aurora Dome. These plexiglass “bubbles” allow you to sit and view the spectacular outdoors from the comforts of being indoors in a heated facility.

Insider tip: The prime viewing times for polar bears are in October and November when the bears descend upon the shores of Hudson Bay and begin their move from their summer habitat on the Tundra back to seal-hunting territory on the pack ice.

SEE ALSO:

•An essential guide to polar bear watching in Canada

4. Frelighsburg

Province/Territory: Québec

Frelighsburg

Frelighsburg is ranked as one of the Québec’s most beautiful villages with it being set at the foot of Mount Pinnacle and on the banks of the Pike River.

By booking flights to Montréal, you can make the hour journey to Frelighsburg and see a historic village that was settled in the late 18th century by American Loyalists. Many of the buildings from this period still stand today. If you’re a fan of cider, then you’ll enjoy the fact that the village is surrounded by cider houses and orchards dotted across the countryside.

Attractions and activities to try

•Missisquoi County Museum – The exhibitions on display take you through the development of Missisquoi County and you can find out about its agricultural past, the local community and the conflicts that shaped its history. The museum told us a bit about their exhibitions: “Relive the settlement of the Loyalists and the invasion of the Fenians in the historic Cornell Mill; step back into the 1930s at Hodge’s General Store and meet storekeeper Edmund Hodge; discover the agricultural treasures in Québec’s only 12-sided Walbridge Barn in the nearby hamlet of Mystic.”

•Visit an orchard – Frelighsburg is famed for its cider production and by visiting an orchard such as Au Coeur de la Pomme, you can enjoy local cider, jams, jellies, preserves and even mustards.

Insider tip: Try the village’s famous maple syrup pie at Les Sucreries de l’Érable.

5. Tadoussac

Province/Territory: Québec

Tadoussac

The village is the gateway to Québec’s Côte-Nord and the north shore of the St Lawrence River. Being located where the Saguenay Fjord and the river estuary meet means many people flock here in the summer for its main attraction—whales.

Attractions and activities to try

•Go whale watching – The waters here provide rich feeding grounds and it is one of the best locations for a whale watching tour. Tadoussac is a favourite for humpbacks, fin whales, minke whales and even belugas.

•Play golf – If you want to mix stunning scenery with sport, head to the Tadoussac Golf Club. The nine-hole course is surrounded by mountains and valleys and overlooks the St. Lawrence Estuary and the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord. It is also one of the oldest golf clubs in Canada.

Insider tip: The Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac is a great place to visit to learn more about the whales that frequent Canada’s waters.

SEE ALSO:

•Everything you want to know about whale watching in Canada

6. Banff

Province/Territory: Alberta

Banff

Nestled within the iconic Canadian Rockies, Banff is home to only a few thousand people, but welcomes millions of people every year. There is so much to do on a Banff holiday for all interests and ages that it can be hard to know what to do.

This is something UK travel blogger Hannah, who is one half of the team at That Adventurer, found whilst she was in Banff.

“It’s in the heart of the beautiful Canadian Rockies surrounded by mountain peaks, emerald lakes and plenty of wildlife including bears, moose and mountain goats. It’s just a short drive from the famous Lake Louise and the stunning Maligne Lake too.”

Attractions and activities to try

•Go hiking – You should make time for a hike as this is the best way to see the lakes, mountains and wildlife. Hannah from ‘That Adventurer’ tells us about the Sulphur Mountain hike she did: “Along this hike, you’ll experience some of the best views in the Banff area. There’s also Tunnel Mountain which looks down on to the village of Banff and is a great spot for watching the sunset.”

•The Banff Hot Springs – Soak in the steamy hot mineral water and rest those weary legs. Do as the locals do and visit in the morning for the most relaxing experience.

Insider tip: If you have a car, the Icefields Parkway is the perfect day trip from Banff. There are full-day bus trips available for those of you that don’t have a car.

SEE ALSO:

•48 Hours in Banff

7. Merrickville-Wolford

Province/Territory: Ontario

Merrickville-Wolford

Referred to as the Jewel of the Rideau, Merrickville has been named ‘Canada’s Most Beautiful Village’ by Communities in Bloom. There are more designated heritage buildings than any other Ontario community of its size and these range from Gothic churches to Victorian homes.

Attractions and activities to try

•Go canoeing on the Rideau Canal – An easy paddling section of the river is from Merrickville Locks to The Catchall. Along this stretch, you will see beautiful marshland and local wildlife like the Great Blue Heron and the Osprey.

•Enjoy the Rideau Woodland Ramble – The gardens at Rideau Woodland Ramble are the result of years of evolution—and today you can see a variety of rare plants. From woodlands to gardens and ponds, there is so much to explore here.

Insider tip: Try the village’s famous ice cream from the Downtowne Ice Cream Shoppe. There are around 30 delicious flavours to choose from and this is what separates it from other ice cream parlours. Some local flavours you can try include apple pie, banana peanut butter fudge, Merrickville merlot and lots more.

8. Memramcook

Province/Territory: New Brunswick

Located in south-eastern province of New Brunswick, Memramcook is one of Canada’s most beautiful and unique villages. What makes the community so unique is the fact many people who live here are of Acadian descent. These people are descendants of the 17th-century, mostly French, colonists, and they speak the Chiac derivative of the French language.

Attractions and activities to try

•Visit a local winery – Head to Domaine Latitude 46 Estate Winery for wine tastings, production tours, a picnic lunch by the Petitcodiac River, or a walk through the six-acre vineyard.

•Monument-Lefebvre – A National Historic Site where you can immerse yourself in the struggles and cultural revival of the Acadian people.

Insider tip: Visitors to Monument-Lefebvre should be aware that it is closed on Mondays from October to May and during the months of June and September.

If you are planning a trip to one of the towns or villages above, you should first take a look at our cheap flights to Canada from the UK before you book your Canadian holiday.