Canada is known for its scenic splendor and ten uniquely different provinces. Sprinkled among these diverse regions you’ll find some incredible landmarks. From modern structures to natural formations and historic buildings, the range is truly remarkable.
If you’re planning a trip to Canada, they’re definitely worth checking out. Whether you’re looking for picturesque landmarks in Nova Scotia, natural phenomenons in New Brunswick or popular points of interest in Ottawa, you’re sure to find something you’ll love.
This list highlights 25 of most famous Canadian landmarks. Not only are they all aesthetically pleasing to look at, but they also provide insight into the culture and history of the area.
25 Canada Landmarks
Table of Contents
- 25 Canada Landmarks
- 1. The CN Tower
- 2. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
- 3. Niagara Falls
- 4. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site
- 5. Banff National Park
- 6. Confederation Bridge
- 7. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
- 8. Parliament Hill
- 9. Hopewell Rocks
- Kayaking Tours in Hopewell Rocks
- Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Tour
- 10. Signal Hill National Historic Site
- 11. Peggy’s Point Lighthouse
- 12. Lake Louise
- 13. Quebec City
- 14. The Canadian History Museum
- 15. Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa
- 16. The National Gallery of Canada and its Spider
- 17. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa
- 18. The World’s Largest Log Cabin
- 19. Halifax Citadel
- 20. Lunenburg Harbour
- 21. Saint John’s Reversing Falls
- 22. The Bay of Fundy
- 23. Grouse Mountain
- 24. Capilano Suspension Bridge
- 25 Mount Robson
- Beautiful Canada Landmarks: Final Thoughts
1. The CN Tower
Located in downtown Toronto, the CN Tower has been an iconic feature of the city’s skyline since 1976. It rises 553 metres up; an impressive height that gave it the title of the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years.
In 2007, the Burj Khalifa took over this title, then in 2009, it was bumped into third place when the Canton Tower also surpassed its height. Today, it’s the world’s ninth tallest free-standing structure, but the tallest on land in the Western Hemisphere.
The observation deck of the CN Tower offers the best view in town. It features a glass floor you walk on if you really want to get your heartbeat racing.
⇒ Book a small-group sightseeing day tour of Toronto that includes access to the CN Tower.
2. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal is an awe-inspiring religious landmark in the city’s historic district. Built with the Gothic Revival architectural style from 1824 to 1829, it possesses timeless beauty that will leave you spellbound.
The interior provides a feast for the eyes. The colour tones of deep blue, red, purple, silver and gold give it a highly dramatic and wonderfully aesthetic appeal. Detailed wooden carvings, paintings, and religious statues further catch your eye and add to the building’s elegant charm.
The stained glass windows are a bit unusual for a church. Instead of depicting biblical scenes, as is common, they showcase the religious history of Montreal. The basilica is a religious masterpiece from the inside out and a must-see when visiting the city. Visiting the cathedral is one of the things you must do when visiting Montreal.
⇒ Book a walking tour of Montreal that includes access to the Notre-Dame Basilica.
3. Niagara Falls
Famed for its grand allure, Niagara Falls is one of Canada’s most visited landmarks. The land that encompasses the falls is split between Canada and the state of New York, in the United States. It features three waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
Horseshoe Falls is the only one of the three that resides in Canada. It’s also the largest. It drops roughly 57 metres down and is an impressive 790 metres wide.
As you can imagine, this famous Canadian landmark is an incredible place to witness the true beauty and power of nature first hand.
4. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site
Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in south-west Alberta. It’s one of the country’s coolest landmarks and holds great historical and archaeological significance.
For nearly 6,000 years, the native peoples of the North American plains hunted buffalo by chasing them over a precipice. Their carcasses were then retrieved and used for food and other purposes. Today, the site houses vast quantities of buffalo skeletons as well as evidence of an aboriginal camp.
There are beautiful scenic trails you can take from the visitors centre to a viewpoint that shows the cliff where the buffalo would jump from. The site also houses a museum that provides more insight into the Plains Indians lifestyle.
5. Banff National Park
Banff National Park is a place where you’ll feel an instant connection to nature. Located in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, the region is characterized by mountainous terrain full of dense trees, turquoise lakes, glaciers and icefields. It’s a scene that will truly take your breath away.
Lake Louise is one of the most popular points of interest in the park. It features plenty of outdoor activities, like swimming, fishing, and nature strolls and hikes. In winter, the lake freezes over and the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. It becomes one of the country’s most visited ski destinations.
⇒ Book a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus tour of Banff National Park and explore the highlights.
6. Confederation Bridge
Opened in 1997, The Confederation Bridge connects the province of Prince Edward Island to the province of New Brunswick. It’s classified as a box girder bridge, which is basically a structure consisting of a top and a bottom slab connected by vertical beams.
Spanning 12.9-kilometres, it’s Canada’s longest bridge and the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered water. Standing still over the ocean, it’s a marvel of engineering that makes for a lovely scenic drive.
To cross the bridge, you must be in a vehicle as pedestrians and cyclists are not permitted. For some gorgeous photos check out the land around the entrance to the bridge on the New Brunswick side.
⇒ Book a small-group Prince Edward Island tour that includes a visit to the Confederation Bridge.
7. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City is a 5-star château-style hotel. The large, castle-like building dominates the skyline and towers over the Saint Lawrence River down below.
It was built in the late nineteenth century by the directors of the railway society. They wanted to encourage luxury tourism, or more specifically, influence wealthy travellers to frequent their trains.
This historic hotel still operates for its original purpose. If you’re feeling frivolous, book a room and enjoy the full scale of this lavish landmark. Guests have access to the fine dining restaurant, wine bar, bistro, spa, indoor pool, and more.
Having personally stayed at this hotel I highly recommend visiting. It literally does feel like you are sleeping in a Canada landmark. The hotel inside is beautiful and bustling and the rooms are excellent.
⇒ Another amazing part of Canada (and home to some beautiful Canada Landmarks) is New Brunswick. Check out my posts on the top New Brunswick Tours, the best things to do in New Brunswick, Whale Watching St Andrews and some charming boutique hotels in New Brunswick Canada.
8. Parliament Hill
Located in the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Parliament Hill is the home of Canada’s first government. The Gothic Revival-style buildings are the headquarters for the Monarch, the Senate, and the House of Commons.
Perched on a 50-meter hilltop overlooking the scenic Ottawa River, it enjoys a highly scenic location. Many statues and monuments are also showcased on Parliament Hill, including those of Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II, and the second Prime Minister of Canada, Alexander Mackenzie.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony happens every morning in the summer. Dozens of soldiers participate and the troops march up Elgin Street and onto the lawn.
⇒ Click here for the official Changing of the Guard at Parliament Hill website and more details.
Did you know that the Canadian parliament has a temporary location for the next 10 years? Who knew? As it is going to take another 10 years to get the permanent home to the Canadian parliament completed I imagine that will be an impressive place to visit.
In the meantime, it is possible to visit the temporary home of the Canadian Parliament on an Ottawa parliament tour.
The House of Commons tour runs for about 40 minutes and takes guests through the newly renovated West Block. See where all the action happens when bills are debated and check out the speaker of the house.
When parliament is not in session the tours run every 5 minutes – and this is a free tour. However, it is essential to book this parliament tour in advance as there are only a small number of tickets available each day for first come and first served.
Find out more about the tour of the Houses of Commons tour and some other great options in my 3 Best Ottawa Tours post.
9. Hopewell Rocks
The Hopewell Rocks are a series of rock formations that have been uniquely shaped by tidal erosion. Located in New Brunswicks’ stunning Bay of Fundy, they stand between 12 to 21 metres tall and visiting these iconic rocks is one of the best things to do in New Brunswick.
The bases of the rocks are submerged in water twice a day during high tide. The time span between low and high tide is just over 6 hours. For the full perspective, it’s recommended to visit during both high tide and low tide.
Hopewell Rocks are visited by millions each year and are one of the best places to visit in New Brunswick. The park is open from Mid May to the middle of October. There is a lot to do – and multiple visits required to really experience Hopewell Rocks.
I highly recommend visiting Hopewell Rocks New Brunswick at both high tides and at low tide for photos. Both will result in very different shots.
The easiest way to experience Hopewell Rocks at low tide is to head to the park and walk down the staircase. Once the low tide has been reached it is possible to walk between the rocks and get some nice shots. The appearance of Hopewell Rocks is most dramatic when low tide is at its peak.
Kayaking Tours in Hopewell Rocks
A great way to experience Hopewell Rocks at high tide and get some great photos is to go on a kayaking tour. This allows you to get in and out of the rocks and provides some great angles. Plus the kayaks themselves look great against the water and the rocks.
All of the Hopewell Rocks kayaking tours are run by Baymount Outdoor Adventures. I was very impressed with how professional and organized they were as on operation.
Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Tour
The third way to experience Hopewell Rocks is through a night photography tour. This was such a special experience! The Hopewell Rocks night photography tour is guided by the amazing Kevin Snair.
The ability for the Hopewell Rocks night photography tour New Brunswick to run is very much weather dependent. To begin with, there are only a few days each fortnight where the tides allow for the tour to happen.
And then if the weather is too cloudy the tour won’t go ahead as without seeing the moon there isn’t much to photograph. Find out more in my 9 New Brunswick Tours Not to Miss post.
⇒ Book a small-group tour of the Bay of Fundy and Hopewell Rocks.
10. Signal Hill National Historic Site
Signal Hill is a historic landmark that overlooks the city of St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was the site of the final battle of the Seven Years’ War: the Battle of Signal Hill. It took place in 1762 and ended in the French forces retreating and surrendering.
There are several areas of interest around the hill. The Cabot Tower was constructed in 1898 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Newfoundland, as well as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. There’s also a visitor centre where you can watch a film and learn about the history of St. John’s.
If you’re an active traveller, you’ll find plenty of walking trails and scenic lookouts that offer amazing views of the city below.
⇒ Book a tour of St. John’s that includes a visit to Signal Hill National Historic Site.
11. Peggy’s Point Lighthouse
Peggy’s Cove is a small fishing village in Nova Scotia. It’s about one hour (43 kilometres) from downtown Halifax. Famed for its picturesque seaside beauty, it contains one of Canada’s most well-known lighthouses, known as Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.
The first lighthouse on this site was built in 1868 but replaced by its current structure in 1914. The classic red-and-white structure stands nearly 15 meters high. It’s still active to this day and is operated by the Canadian Coast Guard.
⇒ Book a tour of Halifax which includes a scenic drive to Peggy’s Cove.
12. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is a highlight of many tourists’ Canadian holidays. It’s an unforgettable sight: tall alpine trees line the slopes of snow-capped Mount Victoria, framing the sparkling topaz water.
The glacial lake is part of Banff National Park which offers a host of activities, including skiing, hiking, ice climbing, and boating.
Banff National Park is so vast that you can even take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour from the town of Banff in the reserve. This is a convenient way to take in all the natural attractions in the reserve.
13. Quebec City
Quebec City is the only walled city in North America and a UNESCO-listed site. I was quite blown away by the beauty of Quebec City when I visited. It is a mix of beautiful architecture, the height given by its cliff location above St Lawrence River and the French influence.
Quebec City is divided into the upper town and the lower town. The two towns are connected by both a funicular and winding streets.
The lower town of Quebec City is filled with cute little cobblestone streets and squares. There are many cute stores and restaurants in this atmospheric area. Don’t miss Quartier Petit-Champlain.
A great way to get some fantastic views of this beautiful city is to take the Quebec-Levis Ferry. This ferry regularly crosses the St Lawrence River between Quebec City and Levis. Dusk is a great time to take the ferry for beautiful views.
14. The Canadian History Museum
This museum is big – like most things in Canada. The Canadian History Museum receives over 1.2 million visitors every year, has a very cool design over its three large floors (you can get sneak peeks of other museum areas from various spots in the museum through its open design) and is Canada’s largest and most popular museum.
The Canadian History Museum is located on Ottawa River and was designed by a Canadian Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal. It is a stunning building with dramatic, curved lines and is one of Canada’s top-ten architectural wonders.
The building is stunning and very photogenice. The curved lines, in particular, make for some great photos. I suggest heading down to the river and photographing the museum looking back.
Whilst you are down by Ottawa river there is also a great shot to be had of downtown Ottawa including Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal.
The exhibitions at the building start from 15,000 years ago and run all the way through to the present time so there is a lot to learn about. This history museum has the largest indoor collection of totem poles in the world.
Get your camera on portrait mode as these make for some nice shots of your Ottawa vacation particularly in the Grand Hall on the entrance level.
Some other photography highlights at the Canadian History Museum include:
- Artworks by local indigenous artists
- Reflection Alley
- Surprisingly, the entrance to the Canadian Stamp Collection
These and the museum itself were all fantastic (do allow yourself at least 3 hours as there is so much to see) but the insta highlight for me was the Morning Star. The Morning Star is a dome that rises 7 stories above the ground floor of the museum.
Painted in 1993, the dome features an abstract painting by Alex Janvier. The white central area of the painting represents the morning star. The four distinctive colorful areas in the outside ring represent a period in Canadian native history.
The painting is a commentary on the clashes which took place between the native culture of Canada and the Europeans who arrived in North America. It is absolutely stunning. So stunning that there are even special seats to allow visitors to sit and appreciate the Morning Start in their own time.
15. Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa
It doesn’t feel right to call Fairmont Chateau Laurier a hotel as it is so much more. Like the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac earlier, the building itself is a Canadian landmark. It is literally a stunning castle set on the Ottawa river.
Fairmont Chateau Laurier first opened across from Ottawa rail station. A wonderful part of the expansion of the Candian railway was the creation of premium hotels near the stations.
Many of these hotels are now part of the Fairmont Group who has done an amazing job keeping their special and unique feel alive. Most Fairmont hotels I have stayed at are considerably bigger than my usual boutique hotel.
However, each one has a unique charm and sense of place which I feel are the most important qualities when choosing a hotel.
Back to Chateau Laurier. Built in 1912 across the road from Ottawa railway station, this castle-like building also has possibly the best location in Ottawa.
It sits on the corner of the Ottawa river and Rideau Canal, just across from Parliament Hill in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The building itself is very photogenic – and it serves as a fantastic backdrop to shots taken on the Rideau Canal.
I stayed at Chateau Laurier and it was a brilliant experience. I was given a room on the 6th floor of this Ottawa hotel that was literally in one of the castle turrets.
The view was extraordinary – and best of all it faced west so I got some fantastic sunset shots.
16. The National Gallery of Canada and its Spider
The National Gallery is one of Canada’s finest art museums. And it is also a rather spectacular building! Before you even get inside the National Gallery of Canada there are photo opportunities galore.
Let’s start with the rather famous outdoor sculpture Maman. Maman is a 9.25-meter bronze spider that comes with 26 marble eggs.
On the other side of the National Gallery Ottawa is the Majestic sculpture. This sculpture was built in 2011 and is made up of streetlamps that were upended in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. These street lamps still work and light up this area at night.
As one of the top Ottawa attractions, there are many photo opportunities inside the National Gallery of Canada as well. One of my highlights was the glass ceiling at the entrance, the walkway from the entrance and then the stunning glass roof (also a nice shot from outside).
17. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa
The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO world heritage site and North America’s oldest continuously operating canal. Most famously, in the winter the Rideau Canal freezes over sufficiently to allow for ice skating and it becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink.
These plus beaver tail stands make ice skating on the Rideau Canal one of the top things to do in Ottawa winter. However, visiting the Rideau Canal is one of the must things to do in Ottawa all year round.
I visited Ottawa in the summer. The canal was filled with boats and the 202km canal is a favourite spot for runners and cyclists. The canal winds through downtown Ottawa before connecting with the Ottawa river.
I took a cruise on the Rideau Canal. Most Rideau Canal Cruises start at the lochs near Parliament Hill. It is a very pleasant trip and a guide will provide information about the history and use of the canal.
I found the canal to be most photogenic where it intersects with Ottawa River and there is a nice bridge with locks that works well as a shot with Chateau Fairmont Laurier in the background.
The cycling path along the canal is fantastic. I went on a cycling/food tour and we cycled along the canal. It is very flat so nice and easy (Ottawa has over 800kms of cycling paths).
Where it is necessary to dismount those clever Canadians always have a ramp for your bike for the minimum hassle.
18. The World’s Largest Log Cabin
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is the world’s largest log building. It is a star-shaped structure and was built in the depression of the 1930s in just 90 days. The reason for the urgency was that the developer wanted to open the hotel for Canada day, which is still July 1.
The chateau was once an exclusive private club but is now part of the wonderful Fairmont group of hotels. This is the third Fairmont Hotel in this post and I must admit I am a bit crazy about them.
The logs are red cedar and all 10,000 of them were brought in from British colombia by train. I learned that red cedar is also the wood used for totem poles. This is because it is soft and long-lasting – and because red cedars are huge.
There are 211 rooms at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. The hotel is halfway through renovating all the rooms – particularly the bathrooms. I was lucky enough to have a freshly renovated room and it was lovely.
There is so much to do at Montebello. Indoor and outdoor activities, a spa, a marina, a golf course – it is impossible to be bored. I used one of the free bikes available and cycled around the entire property which was lovely.
And as if all of that wasn’t enough I have saved my favourite element of Le Chateau Montebello for last. The lobby of the hotel features an amazing six-sided stone fireplace in reception – surrounded by multiple comfortable couches and seats.
⇒ Check Prices and Availability for Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello [separator type=”thin”]
19. Halifax Citadel
The Halifax Citadel is one of the most visited national historic sites in Canada North America. The fort is easily explored on your own and good for photos.
And don’t miss the Old Town Clock on the way – any Halifax travel guide will tell you that the Old Town Clock is one of Halifax’s most recognisable sights.
20. Lunenburg Harbour
Gorgeous Lunenburg in Nova Scotia is only 4 square km or 48 blocks and has just 2,263 permanent residents. Old Town of Lunenburg was named a UNESCO site in 1995. It is very photogenice with colourful houses lining the streets, a picturesque harbor, great food, and super cute street signs.
It is best known for its beautiful harbour with its restored and colourful old buildings.
The best shot of the red wooden houses on the water in general and at sunset is said to be from the Bluenose Golf Course on the other side of the harbour. You’ll need a car or be in the mood for a decent walk.
21. Saint John’s Reversing Falls
Yet another way to experience the unique tides of New Brunswick! The Reversing Falls are created by the collision of the Saint John River and the Bay of Fundy. At low tide, the river empties into the bay which causes a series of whirlpools and rapids.
In between the tides, the Reversing Falls rapids are peaceful and like a lake in appearance. When high tide comes the whirlpools and rapids start up again – but this time they go in reverse! This can generate large waves as well at the highest tides.
The tide cycle is roughly 12.5 hours. The moon has the largest effect on the rapids. A full moon can produce swings in the water level of 9 metres.
There are several ways to experience the Reversing Falls Rapids. It is very easy to get to the visitor area by car as it is just off the highway.
It is difficult to see the phenomenon clearly from the car park. The visitor center has a Skywalk. I got fantastic views here. And they show a video on the falls for more tide geekiness.
Or best of all, get up close with this amazing phenomenon of nature on a speed boat.
22. The Bay of Fundy
If you are taking a road trip – which is what I did – you will be able to visit all of these fantastic places at your own pace and take advantage of the many different tour options which each attraction provides – the majority of which are free and don’t require booking ahead.
If you travel to New Brunswick on a cruise ship that is stopping in Saint John then you, of course, won’t have that option. Here is a few Bay of Fundy day trips from Saint John New Brunswick:
⇒ the Fundy Coast to Fundy Shore tour lasts 5 hours and covers lovely St Martins with its photogenic harbour and sea caves as well as the Reversing Rapids and the town of Saint John. The New Brunswick Shore Excursion offers a similar itinerary.
⇒ the Fundy Harbours Hidden Gem coast ride tour will allow you to see St Martins, The Fundy Trail, and the Reversing Falls.
23. Grouse Mountain
Grouse Moutain rises 1,250 metres over Vancouver and is just a 15 minute drive from the city’s downtown area. The moutain is the most popular tourist attraction in Vancouver as there are things to do all year round.
The most well known way to see Grouse Mountain is by taking the Super Skyride. This cable car takes just eight minutes to get from Valley station to the summit of the mountain and comes with jaw dropping views.
The Eye of the Wind is a wind turbine which is the first in the world to have an elevator and observation area 20 stories up. Views from here cover all of Vancouver including its harbour and the Coast Moutains. And don’t miss the Wildlife Regue when you visit Grouse Mountain.
24. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge has been a highlight of any visit to Vancouver since 1889. The bridge is 137 metres long and 70 metres high. The bridge has appeared in many tv shows including MacGyver and Stairway to Heaven.
The bridge is located in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The park also offers a Treetops Walk with seven suspension bridges of its own as well as a Cliffwalk.
25 Mount Robson
Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is located in Mount Robson National Park which borders Jasper National Park. The south face of Mount Robson has an eye catching sheer rise of 3100 metres.
The mountain was first summited in 1913 and is still considered to be a very challening and dangerous climb. The good news is mountain climbing is not the only way to appreciate this beautiful mountain and park.
Take in the views at Yellowhead Pass, relax at Moose Lake, hike to Overlander Falls and more.
Beautiful Canada Landmarks: Final Thoughts
There you have it, the most beautiful and famous Canadian landmarks. As you can tell, there are some pretty diverse options. Whether you’re into history, architecture, nature, or religion, you’ll easily find something that aligns with your interests.
Each landmark does a great job of showing the unique character and culture of the area – visiting them is sure to be a highlight of your trip!
This Canada landmarks post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.