Canada can satisfy almost any family holiday dreams, often in just one province.
It’s the country with several of the world’s leading ski resorts, the impressive Canadian Rockies, hundreds of vast lakes, thousands of islands and an indigenous cultural heritage that dates back 10s of 1000s of years.
Immense forests and endless wilderness spaces are the definition of the great outdoors and fantastic modern cities with lovely historic quarters are never far away from the coast or countryside.
Visit with kids and they’ll probably never want to go anywhere else except Canada, ever again.
Direct flights all year round from London to Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.
Canada has 47 National Parks, six of which have World Heritage designation.
16 UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites include Quebec’s enchanting historic quarter and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump just over an hour’s drive south of Calgary.
Whistler Mountain, home to North America’s No.1 ski resort ‘Whistler Blackcomb’, is under two hours drive north of Vancouver.
Mont Tremblant, Eastern North America’s No.1 Overall Best Ski Resort, is less than two hours drive from Montreal.
Beautiful Vancouver Island, home to the Pacific Rim National Park, is one of Canada’s top whale spotting areas.
Quebec City Winter Carnival, Toronto Cavalcade of Lights and Vancouver Festival of Lights are annual Christmas events usually enhanced by plenty of snow.
Where to go
Banff National Park, Alberta
Big city excitement, mountain adventure, seaside fun and just about everything else from theme parks to world class museums, outstanding skiing and fascinating history, Vancouver is a great all-round family holiday. Almost just a hop across the border from Seattle, Vancouver’s weather doesn’t go to the extremes of northern Canada, even in winter. And in summer, it’s sunny, warm, big on beaches and a great place to do some day-to-day island hopping.
Gateway for Whistler, the Canadian Rockies, Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Home port for Alaskan cruises during summer.
Mild weather year-round but excellent snow for winter sports at very accessible mountain ski resorts.
Vancouver city has 21 very different neighbourhoods including Chinatown, beachy Kitsilano and historic Gastown.
Don’t miss: Vancouver Aquarium, Granville Island Waterpark, Grouse Mountain Cable Car and Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Founded almost 400 years ago, Montreal is Quebec’s oldest city and the second largest French speaking city in the world. It’s also young, fresh, energetic and great for kids – it even has its own International Children’s Film Festival. It’s also home territory for Cirque de Soleil and Montreal Complètement Cirque, famous for year-round ice skating and within easy reach of most of Quebec’s 70 plus ski resorts including legendary Mont Tremblant.
Visit Old Montreal with kids for the Old Port Skating Rink, extreme sailing on Lachine Rapids, Montreal Science Centre and heritage fun at Château Ramezay.
Head to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (HoMA) for outdoor freedom at Olympiad, huge Parc Maisonneuve and the Olympic Park Esplanade.
Montreal’s less than 35 minutes’ drive from Mount Saint-Saveur for city-based family ski holidays.
Summer temperatures of 27 – 30˚C in July and August. December to March lows can be as low as -12˚C, so pack warm for winter.
Canada’s biggest city is a true icon from its CN Tower dominated skyline to the make-or-break Toronto Film Festival. New and shiny at first glance, Toronto has an old heart and, as haunted tours of the historic districts prove, more than a few tales to tell. It’s a lively city for kids with an endless parade of activities indoors and out, amazing zoos, enormous parks and the powerful attraction of Canada’s Wonderland – the country’s biggest and most thrilling theme park.
The city skyline’s defined by the CN Tower, it’s not the world’s tallest anymore but it’s still a spectacular 457m high and the views from the top are breathtaking.
Toronto is just 90 minutes drive from Niagara Falls.
The 90m high Scarborough Bluffs run for 15km along the coast just 40 minutes from Toronto.
Summer temperatures of 20 – 25˚C in July and August drop to -5˚C from December to February.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Canada’s first national park sits right in the heart of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains but just over an hour’s drive from Calgary. 6641km² of the type of natural splendour that could only be Canadian, this is the ultimate outdoor adventure holiday for kids. Visit in winter to ski the Big-3 (Lake Louise, Banff and Sunshine). Spring and summer are the seasons for hiking, climbing, walking and exploring. Banff is one of the loveliest places to go camping but there’s no shortage of fantastic hotels tucked into the wild and unbelievable grandeur of this magnificent national park.
Calgary’s less than 120km from Banff National Park.
Families can get involved in a range of interpretative programmes across Banff, combining learning and outdoor activities for kids.
Banff’s wildlife includes wolves, bears, elk, caribou, wolverine and lynx. Over 260 species of wild birds have been recorded here.
Activities in the park range from walking and driving to winter sports, cycling, swimming, sailing, ice-diving, skating, horse riding and fishing.
What to do
Montreal Space for Life A biodome, insectarium, planetarium and botanical garden all in one brilliantly exciting and pretty big space.
Canada’s Wonderland, Toronto One of the country’s biggest and wildest theme parks with a well justified reputation for the ridiculous size of its rollercoasters.
Vancouver Troller Tours Almost everyone agrees Vancouver is one of Canada’s prettiest city, make up your own mind the old fashioned way on a sedate city tour.
Granville Island Waterpark, Vancouver Hop aboard the cute little False Creek ferry and spend the day in one of the country’s great waterparks – there are plenty of other island activities too.
Toronto Zoo Canada’s largest zoo is almost all outdoors and has giant pandas among its thousands of wild residents.
Capileno Suspension Bridge, Vancouver In a city full of icons, this 70m high footbridge over the Capilano River is always the one by which others are measured.
Vancouver Aquarium Home to over 70,000 sea creatures, porpoises, whales and penguins, this is Canada’s largest aquarium.
Old Port Skating Rink, Montreal Old Montreal is a wonderful district to visit with kids and this enormous outdoor rink is a must-do.
Banff National Park, Alberta Canada’s first national park and third oldest in the world covers over 6000km² and is a holiday in itself.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump For over 6000 years the Plain’s People drove vast herds of buffalo over these cliffs to their death. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Educational value for kids
Canada’s one of the world’s leading winter sport destinations and award-winning ski schools at Whistler Blackcomb and Mont Tremblant are the best of the best.
From ancient indigenous culture of to the French legacy in the Montreal and Quebec, Canada’s awash with fascinating history and heritage experiences to get kids excited.
Pick up kid’s explorer packs when you’re in Banff and actively engage them with everything from wildlife spotting to conservation.
Canada’s cities are stuffed with arts and entertainment festivals year-round, many just for children.
Look out for special events and weekend activities for young visitors at city museums and galleries.
Street theatre during the summer in most cities is a fantastic spectacle for kids.
This is the country to learn new outdoor skills from canoeing to climbing, all under the guidance of local experts.
Getting around with kids in Canada
It’s a big country and everyone drives, so hiring a car for the holiday is an essential. Park and ride is big in cities and public transport is varied and very high standard. Inter-state domestic flights are the best option for longer journeys.