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16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada you’ll want to put on your 2021 bucket list

From the thundering waters of Niagara Falls to the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies to arctic tundras, rugged coastlines, and desolate prairies. Blend these dramatic settings together with incredible architecture and history, and you’ll find yourself in the most beautiful cities in Canada.

In a country as vast and diverse as Canada, there are countless places to visit, each with its own unique attractions, including some stunning Canadian landmarks. It boasts beautiful landscapes, stunning lakes and magnificent wilderness areas. Not to mention a plethora of exciting recreational facilities, including some of the best ski resorts in the world.

Let’s face it, Canada is all-around extraordinary. So, let’s take a look at the most beautiful cities dotted throughout The Great White North.

16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada

1. Vancouver, British Columbia

Located in British Columbia, Vancouver is easily the most beautiful Canadian city. You’ll discover mountain vistas in the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Stanley Park downtown. The city’s sweeping panoramas are incredible and offer unlimited recreational opportunities.

vancouver with grouse mountain in background
vancouver with grouse mountain in background

The city is renowned for its art and culture scene, with various museums and galleries to choose from. These include the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Vancouver, and the Science World Vancouver.

The sky’s the limit for adventurers here. Try your hand at white-water rafting, zip-lining, or jet-boating. Enjoy mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, and more in the Pacific Spirit Park or cycle along seawall downtown. Meander along the beaches in Kitsilano or head to Granville Island to shop for some special goodies.

I highly suggest taking a Vancouver city tour to see the best highlights – you won’t want to miss them.

buildings and water in vancouver canada

2. Ottawa, Ontario

Located in Ontario, Ottawa is the vibrant and colourful capital that offers a treasure-trove of exciting attractions and fun activities and tours.

canada_ottawa_chateau-laurier-from-the-canal

Take a peek into the world of the Canadian government on Parliament Hill. If you’re a history buff, the city is dotted with world-class museums and galleries where you can learn about Canadian history and culture. Some excellent stops not to be missed include the National Gallery, The War Museum, The Museum of History, and the Science and Technology Museum, to name a few.

canada_ottawa_spider-sculpture-with-church
One of the key things to see in Ottawa Canada – the spider sculpture!

The city also offers stunning trails, as well as boating and kayaking on the Ottawa River. If you’re feeling peckish, don’t miss the Byward Market area – it’s a short distance from Parliament Hill. Here you’ll find delicious foods, drinks, and a vibey atmosphere.

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One of the instagrammable things to do in Ottawa – the lock bridge on the Rideau Canal

⇒ Don’t miss Canada’s capital Ottawa. Read my posts on the 17 most fun things to do in Ottawa, the Ottawa restaurants Byward Market, 21 Places to see the Sunset Ottawa style, best Ottawa Tours, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada and 11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks.

3. Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, boasts a distinctly European atmosphere. Located on towering cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, it’s the only capital in North America with its original city walls, the ancient Porte Saint-Louis.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac quebec
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac quebec

The city’s Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can easyily be explored on foot. I suggest taking a walking tour through the Old Quebec City streets; be awed by architectural treasures and learn about this magical place’s history.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

A must-see on your list is Parliament Hill and the 100-year-old Chateau Frontenac that dominates the cityscape. Other city highlights include the Jacques Cartier National Park, the National Museum of Beaux-Arts, Montmorency Falls, and the Sainte Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine.

4. Montreal, Quebec

Located in Quebec, Montreal is one of Canada’s largest city, famed for its architecture, superb cuisines, vibrant art scene, and exciting entertainment opportunities. The city boasts incredible structures, with skyscrapers rubbing shoulders with historical gems.

notre dame montreal
notre dame montreal

Another jewel to visit is the Basilique Notre Dame, the famous cathedral located at Place Jacques Cartier. Spend time inside admiring the stunning gold-adorned altar and stained glass.

Some other city highlights not to be missed include Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal) the futuristic Expo 67, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the modern Olympic Stadium. Head downtown to find an array of cultural venues in the Quartier.

montreal skyline at sunset
montreal skyline

If you’re an avid nature lover, hike Mont-Royal and get sweeping views of the entire city. And if you’re into stunning scenery, visit La Grand Roue de Montréal, Canada’s largest observation wheel located at Montreal Old Port. 

5. Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is the capital of Ontario and is best described as the ‘cultural capital of Canada’. The energetic, vibrant city is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario and is home to an array of attractions and seemingly endless entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities.

toronto skyline from boat
toronto skyline from boat

However, most Torontonians would argue that what makes Toronto the best city is its diverse neighbourhoods, from Little Italy to Chinatown and everything in between.

Walk the cobbled lanes amongst quaint boutiques and studios in the Distillery Historic District. If you’re a lover of the arts, head down to Rush Lane (better known as Graffiti Valley), to admire some incredible street art. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is another exciting place to visit.

toronto canada skyline at sunset
toronto

Toronto also boasts a plethora of museums, National Historic Sites, and famous landmarks, including the iconic CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum. Other popular places to visit include Casa Loma, Toronto Island, and Nathan Phillips Square.

6. Calgary, Alberta

Calgary, Alberta, is considered Canada’s wild west. It’s home to the famous Calgary Stampede, a week-long festival featuring concerts, rodeos, and exhibitions galore. However, there’s much more to Calgary than just cowboy hats and horses.

calgary skyline
calgary

Experience what life was like back then and learn about the pioneer days at the Heritage Park Historical Village or wander along the Bow River at the Prince’s Island Park. If you’re keen on witnessing some majestic views, enjoy a meal at the SKY 360 revolving restaurant atop the 191m Calgary Tower.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there are many activities to revel in, including river rafting, biking, hiking, and more.

calgary canada
calgary

7. Halifax, Nova Scotia

One of the most beautiful cities in the Maritimes has to be Halifax, in Nova Scotia. The historic ocean port is the perfect place to walk around, exploring and finding fun things to do.

Halifax Seaport Market4 blue airondack chairs outside

A good place to start would be at the Halifax Peninsula. A four-kilometre boardwalk along the waterfront. You can also learn a lot about the history of Pier 21, the gateway for one million immigrants who first arrived on Canadian Soil. The city flaunts an array of renowned museums, including the Canadian Museum of Immigration and the Atlantic’s Maritime Museum. 

If you’re looking for a place to rest your feet, head to the scenic Halifax Public Gardens. A short distance from the gardens is the the19th-century Halifax Citadel, another fascinating National Historic Site.

things-to-do-in-halifax-nova-scotia
Halifax Nova Scotia

There are plenty of adventure tours available around the city. I highly suggest catching a whale watching tour or sailing to Peggy’s Cove. Or do a day trip to lovely Wolfville and explore its wineries and farmer’s market.

And don’t miss Atlantic Canada’s number one tourist attraction the Halifax Harbour Hopper and Halifax Farmers Market, the oldest farmers market in North America.

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The gorgeous bandstand at the Halifax Public Gardens

Another fantastic city in Canada that isn’t too far away is Halifax, Nova Scotia. There are loads of fun things to do in Halifax like visiting the fantastic Halifax Farmers Market and taking Atlantic Canada’s number one tourist attraction the Harbour Hopper Halifax and don’t miss 47 Fun Facts about Canada and 11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks.

8. St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. John’s boasts some of Canada’s most dramatic scenery and landscapes. This beautiful city is dotted with brightly coloured homes, art galleries, and the Newfoundland Museum.

st johns newfoundland canada
st johns

As North America’s easternmost city, the metropolitan has played a number of important roles throughout history. While you’re visiting this city, be sure to check out Signal Hill and The Rooms for a step back into the past.

colourful houses of st johns newfoundland
colourful houses of st johns

Stroll along St. John’s Downtown area. It’s a great place to grab a snack or two, find some souvenirs, and window shop. While you’re here, explore the beautiful coast or embark on a puffin and whale watching tour.

9. Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, in Ontario,  isn’t just one of the most picture-perfect places in the country, but in the world too. The spectacular waterfalls are, by far, the main attraction here. Hop on a helicopter ride, go on a cruise or take a deluxe day tour on foot to see these majestic cascades.

Niagara-Falls
Niagara Falls

Apart from the falls, the city itself boasts a range of entertainment activities, like the indoor waterpark, the Guinness World Records Museum and mini-golf courses. Other popular family-friendly attractions include Old Fort Niagara and the Niagara SkyWheel.

If you don’t have kids in tow, try your luck at the Niagara Fallsview Casino or head off to sample some ice wine at the Inniskillin Winery. There’s plenty to do in this stunning city.

niagara falls 1
Niagara Falls with a Rainbow

10. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

There’s something spectacular about Saskatoon – Saskatchewan’s largest city. Nestled along the Saskatchewan River, it’s sprinkled with beautiful leafy trees which look particularly picturesque in fall. The city becomes a mirage of orange, yellow and red hues.

saskatoon downtown in winter
saskatoon downtown in winter

Step back in time at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, the Western Development Museum, and the Ukrainian Museum of Canada.

If you’re a nature lover, head to the Beaver Creek Conservation Area or put on your hiking shoes and get trekking (or snowshoeing in winter) on the Meewasin Valley Trail.

saskatoon skyline at sunrise
saskatoon skyline at sunrise

Throughout the city, you’ll find modern art galleries, theatres, live music and exhibitions. Each year, the metropolitan attracts over 80,000 music fans to the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival held in the gardens of the iconic Delta Bessborough Hotel.

11. Winnipeg, Manitoba

Located in Manitoba, Winnipeg boasts many indoor and outdoor activities, coupled with architectural, cultural, historical, and gastronomic attractions.

winnipeg at sunset
winnipeg at sunset

While you’re here, one of the must-see attractions is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which houses some stunning modern architecture. The Canadian Royal Mint, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Manitoba Museum are equally fascinating. The St Boniface Cathedral is another one of Winnipeg’s must-see sites in the city.

12. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg isn’t exactly a city – I think strictly speaking it is a town – but does it matter when it is this cute? Gorgeous Lunenburg, 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 Instagram heaven with colourful houses lining the streets, a picturesque harbor, great food, and super cute street signs.

Lunenburg_Harbour
The stunning Lunenburg Harbour

There are loads of lovely things to do in Lunenburg from exploring its harbour to eating at some of its fantastic restaurants to trying its amazing rum at Ironworks Distillery to visiting the cutest ever fishing village Blue Rocks – well I wrote a whole post on things to do in Lunenburg so do check it out.

things to do in lunenberg
The street signs of Lunenberg

Nova Scotia is another stunning region in Canada. Check out my Nova Scotia Itinerary for 6 days to give you a sense of the region. Don’t miss the Wolfville Wineries and nearby Wolfville Farmers Market, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada,11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks and there are loads of things to do in Lunenburg with its UNESCO listed old town. And 47 Fun Facts about Canada.

13. St Andrews, New Brunswick

Here I go again with another town rather than a city but New Brunswick needs to be covered in this post as it is such a beautiful region – there are so many fantastic things to do in New Brunswick and great boutique hotels. Lovely St Andrews, New Brunswick was founded in 1783 and is one of the best-preserved examples of colonial heritage in North America today.

canada_new-brunswick_standrews-dock
The St Andrews dock

The town is designated one of Canada’s National Historic Districts and it is utterly charming. Plus it has a fantastic location on the Bay of Fundy which means it has some of the best whale watching in the world. Don’t miss Kingsbrae Gardens, driving the ocean’s floor nearby to Minister’s Island, eating ALOT of lobster, staying at the delightful Algonquin hotel and visiting the St Andrew’s Farmers Market.

canada_new-brunswick_st-andrews-sunset-2 most beautiful cities in canada
St Andrews Sunset

⇒ 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, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada, Whale Watching St Andrews and some charming boutique hotels in New Brunswick Canada.

14. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown is Prince Edward Island’s charming capital city. Its charming Victorian era streets and harbour can be explored on foot. Do you remember the novels of Anne of Green Gables? They were set in nearby Cavendish which is on the north shore of Prince Edward Island.

charlottetown prince edward island
charlottetown prince edward island

The conference which led to the unification of Canada was held in Charlottetown in 1864. The annual Charlottetown festival runs all summer and features plays, art exhibitions, concerts and more.

harbour charlottetown prince edward island
harbour charlottetown

15. Whitehorse, Yukon

whitehorse yukon under northern lights
whitehorse yukon under northern lights

This small town in the Yukon is home to just 25,000 people and is the kickoff point for exploring Canada’s beautiful northern lands. Don’t miss Takhini Hot Springs and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Plus Whitehorse is a fantastic place to see the Northern Lights if you are lucky enough to time your visit just right.

aerial view of whitehorse yukon
aerial view of whitehorse

16. Banff, Alberta

Okay, I have slipped another town into the list. Banff isn’t actually a city but how can you write about beautiful Canada and not include Banff? This little resort town is the base for Rocky Mountain adventures. It is also situated in Canada’s most popular national park, Banff National Park.

Banff town canada
Banff town

If you’re looking to explore natural Canada at its best then don’t miss lovely Banff. It might be small but there are plenty of things to do in Banff.

banff town canada
banff town

A Footnote: Most Beautiful Cities in Canada

Canada is renowned for its scenic natural wonders, from towering mountain cliffs, majestic blue lakes fed by glaciers, lush forests and uninhabited prairies. Many cities are steeped in rich maritime history, sprinkled with historic buildings and filled with friendly locals. Canada boasts many of the world’s most scenic cities.

So, now that we’ve covered some incredible places, it’s time for you to get your walking boots on and your cameras out for a spectacular time in North American’s crown jewel.

This most beautiful cities in Canada 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.

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