The sheer size of Canada – nearly 4 million square miles spread over 13 provinces and territories -- can be a bit intimidating. A Canada tour can hit the hot spots and help you make the most of your vacation.
If your trip begins on the country's Atlantic coast, you're likely bound for the windswept Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, also known as PEI. In Halifax, an old-fashioned waterfront recalls the city's background as a fishing and shipping hub, and ferry tours take in a scenic shoreline dotted by sailboats and century-old lighthouses. A local seafarers' museum holds mementos from the RMS Titanic and other vessels connected to the port, in operation since the mid-18th century.
Nearby Saint John is better known for its natural sights, including the Reversing Falls, a famous phenomenon found where the Saint John River meets the Bay of Fundy and the Hopewell Rocks, an eye-catching, beachside formation carved by wind and waves. A stop in Charlottetown on pastoral PEI will mean some quality time with the island's charming literary heroine, Anne of Green Gables.
Just west of the Maritimes, the Old World lures of French Canada await. Quebec City, on the banks of the winding St. Lawrence River, celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. At its heart is the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Old Quebec, filled with centuries-old structures now housing art galleries, cafes and gourmet restaurants.
Montreal is known for its cosmopolitan amenities, from music and film festivals to former Olympic venues, historic neighborhoods and a variety of shopping, including popular outdoor markets for antiques, handicrafts and farm-fresh produce.
Still in the mood for city shopping? Try Toronto, home of Hudson’s Bay Co., known as The Bay -- at 1 million square feet, it's the largest department store in Canada. Travel to the top of the city's CN Tower, one of the tallest structures in the world, for far-reaching views.
A wilder time awaits in Calgary, home of a popular zoo, amusement park and an annual 10-day rodeo that attracts upward of 1 million visitors. You also can trace the history of the western provinces in places like Fort Calgary and Heritage Park, Canada's largest living museum.
Western Canada holds the upper reaches of the Rocky Mountains and, of course, some top-notch ski resorts. But there are plenty of places to enjoy here year-round, including seaside Vancouver and quaint, British-flavored Victoria. British Columbia is one of the most picturesque spots on the continent and a big draw for visitors seeking outdoor recreation like hiking, biking and kayaking. You also can look for a tour that travels the famed Sea-to-Sky Highway and combines the best of British Columbia’s scenery.