Image credit: Hamelin, Jean-François
Sleep in a fairytale ice hotel1/16
Just 30 minutes’ drive north of Québec City, you can spend the night inside a winter fantasy. At Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel, you’ll check into snug igloo-vibe rooms or extravagant suites sculpted entirely from ice and snow. The ambient temperature hovers between -3°C and -5°C, but you’ll stay toasty in your arctic sleeping bag, especially if you get a suite with a fireplace (some even have a hot tub and one, a sauna). Find out about fun kids’ activities near the ice hotel here.
Image credit: Getty
Spot polar bears and the unicorns of the sea2/16
Known as sinaaq – the ‘line of life’ – in Inuktitut, the floe edge is where land-fast ice meets open water in the Arctic. On snowmobile and Inuit sled safaris through this icy wilderness in Eclipse Sound, Nunavut, you can see some of the world’s most magical creatures in the wild. Wonder at the ‘unicorn’ tusks of narwhals as they break through the water between slabs of ice, watching too for white beluga whales and butter-coloured polar bears. Read when and how to see the white wilderness in comfort.
Image credit: Alamy
Explore epic wonders off the tourist radar3/16
Given it spans 180,500 hectares and is home to a waterfall that’s higher than Niagara, monumental mountains, fjords and beaches, Gros Morne National Park in Canada’s easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador deserves to be on every adventurer’s bucket list.
There’s nowhere in Canada quite like it: the Tablelands of Gros Morne were formed by shifting tectonic plates when the supercontinent of Pangea was forming – you’re walking on the silicate-rock mantle, which was pushed up from the centre of the earth 500 million years ago. Explore stays and tours in Gros Morne here.
Image credit: Courtesy of Clayoquot Lodge
Snorkel with wild salmon on Vancouver Island4/16
Set along the banks of the 100-kilometre-wide inlet that is Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is a quick 45 minutes by seaplane from Vancouver. Once you land, however, you might as well be a world away. The heritage-luxe property’s 25 canvas tents come with king beds, cast-iron stoves, and outdoor decks with Adirondack chairs from which to drink in the stunning waterfront and old-growth forest outlooks. Visit in August or September for a bracing swim in streams of wild salmon.
Image credit: Courtesy of Trout Point Lodge
Soak under North America’s starriest sky5/16
As upscale as it is remote, Trout Point Lodge is a three-hour drive south-west of Nova Scotia’s capital of Halifax and more than worth the trek. Open from May to October, the property’s 40 hectares adjoin the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and the Tusket and Napier rivers wind past so close that you can unwind in a riverside barrel sauna and woodfired hot tub after an epic day of canoeing, kayaking, hiking or forest bathing. At night, explore the magic of North America’s inkiest sky on a guided stargazing walk with a staff astronomer.
Image credit: Destination Canada
Follow the moon on a snowshoe adventure6/16
Strap on your snowshoes, switch on your headlamp and follow your guide through snow-dusted fir forest on an eerie after-dark tour of Grouse Mountain. Or for more speed, try skiing down the mountain’s 15 glowing night runs. Out in these quiet, white wilds, you won’t believe you’re only a 20-minute drive from the big-city buzz of Vancouver.
Image credit: Destination Canada
Taste culture on the Cabot Trail7/16
One of Canada’s greatest road trips, the Cabot Trail winds a 300-kilometre loop around Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Start in the village of Baddeck to sail on beautiful Bras d’Or Lake or experience the island’s unique Scottish Gaelic culture at a Baddeck Gathering ceilidh. You can conquer most of the valleys, canyons and forests of Cape Breton Highlands National Park by car but you’ll want to walk the 8.2-kilometre Skyline Trail loop that hugs headland cliffs above the Atlantic. Go slow and watch for whales, moose and bears.
Image credit: Unsplash
See half a million Atlantic puffins8/16
Proof that Mother Nature has a sense of humour, the Atlantic puffin’s triangular bill transforms into a multicoloured thing of wonder during spring and summer, matching its bright-orange feet. Between May and early September, half a million of these delightful creatures can be spotted nesting on the four islands of Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, which lies off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Avalon Peninsula. Read a puffins and icebergs adventure here.
Image credit: Getty
Paddleboard among beluga whales9/16
Sitting on the west coast of Hudson Bay in far-north Manitoba, Churchill is famous for its polar bears. But in July and August you can get up close to pods of playful beluga whales, when 3000 of the white marine wonders swim into the bay in summer. Choose your mode of transport – Zodiac, kayak or paddleboard – on a guided tour and as you get close listen up: belugas are called ‘sea canaries’ for their repertoire of vocalisations.
Image credit: Courtesy of Fogo Island Inn and Alex Fradkin
Indulge in luxury at the edge of the earth10/16
Only 25 kilometres long and 14 kilometres wide, fog-laced Fogo Island lies off Newfoundland and Labrador’s north-east coast, in a spot so isolated flat-earthers consider it one of the four corners of the earth. From Fogo Island Inn, a starkly contemporary 29-room eco hotel on the north coast designed by Norway-based but local-born architect Todd Saunders, you can go heli-hiking, whale watch from blustery sea cliffs, spot icebergs floating down ‘iceberg alley’ from your stylishly appointed room, or dine on island produce prepared by a top-shelf chef. This is the wild served on a silver platter.
Image credit: Destination BC/Andrew Strain
Ski North America’s longest descent11/16
The slopes of Whistler are rightfully iconic. But Revelstoke Mountain Resort, in the Selkirk Mountains, midway between Vancouver (six hours’ drive) and Calgary (five hours’ drive) is the Canadians’ secret. Laying claim to the longest vertical descent (1713 metres) in North America, this white wonderland receives an average 10.8 metres of powder snow each year. Its charming town transforms into an adventure hub in summer, offering hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and whitewater rafting. See stays and eats in Revelstoke.
Image credit: Courtesy Parc Omega
Wake up next to a pack of wild grey wolves12/16
Make like Little Red Riding Hood – but with a delightful ending – at Parc Omega safari park, a 90-minute drive from Montreal in Quebec. Check in to spend a night inside a Wolf Cabin for thrilling face-to-face encounters – these deluxe log cabins front onto an enclosure so you can watch wild gamma grey wolves playfully nipping each other through floor-to-ceiling windows. Stay at the park during snow season for a fairytale experience that couldn’t get any wilder.
Image credit: Courtesy of Eclipse Hot Springs
Witness the Northern Lights outside Whitehorse13/16
Watching the Northern Lights glow in the dark skies of Yukon Territory is mesmerising. Seeing it all unfold while kicking back in the artesian waters of a thermal pool? Next level. Each year from late August to mid-April, charged particles from the northern pole interact with atoms from the upper atmosphere, resulting in the greatest light show on earth. After a day snowshoeing, fat biking along white-blanketed trails and skiing around Whitehorse, the Yukon’s small capital city, score a front-row seat in the Aurora Pool at Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs. Here you can soak in 40°C mineral water, watching the Aurora Borealis dance across the stars above until 11pm.
Image credit: Destination Toronto
Find the secret wine scene near Niagara Falls14/16
Done the iconic Niagara Falls? Don’t rush back to Toronto with the daytrip crowds. Wander on to discover the charming restaurants and wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, 35 minutes north of the falls, which was established in 1792 as Upper Canada’s first capital. The pretty town is surrounded by a scenic wine region locally-famous a unique style of wine made from grapes frozen on the vine and which is celebrated at the Icewine Festival each January. Read about heritage stays and scenic wineries you can cycle to here.
Image credit: Courtesy of Fairmont Tremblant
Do wild mountains in elegant style15/16
The pretty town of Mont-Tremblant is a 90-minute drive north-west of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains. Popular as a skiing destination in winter, in summer it pulls out all the stops with horseriding, panoramic gondolas, helicopter tours and cruises upon the 12-kilometre-long Lake Tremblant. Its colourful European-style village puts a chic spin on adventure, with a French-accented dining scene, Finnish-style spas and high-end hotels such as the Fairmont Tremblant making the most of multimillion-dollar views.