How To Visit Canada (3/10)

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Welcome To Canada! Welcome to my new “How To… Canada” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowledge to good use and shed some light on my new country: Canada. You will learn how some immigration tips and tricks, how to improve your proficiency in both official languages, how to find a job, how to settle in Canada etc. I’ll publish a new “How To… Canada” post every Saturday.

Even if you’re not ready to apply for a work permit or to get the Permanent Residence in Canada, you may want to visit the country. Why not? Canada is a beautiful place!

Okay, let’s tackle the myths:

  • Canada is cold: yes, it’s cold…in the winter. Yet, you will survive. We do.
  • Canada is boring: well, well…so is your country!
  • I don’t speak French: nor do my students.

All set now?

When to visit?

The weather will influence your decision:

  • Winters are harsh in most of the country, averaging -22C to 12C (and it’s more likely to be below 0C…). It’s very cold but except when it’s snowing, the weather can be dry and sunny. This season is great to experience all the good sides of the legendary Canadian winter: winter festivals (like the Winterlude in Ottawa); activities such as dog sledding, skating (Ottawa has the longest skating rink in the world), skiing, eating maple toffee and just experiencing a big snow storm (promise, we won’t let you shovel alone!).
  • Springs are very short and the weather is unpredictable. It could still be a lot of snow on the ground (this year, in most of Northern Ontario and Quebec, the snow only melted in May) or already very hot. It’s always amazing to see nature alive again after months of staring at a white landscape.
  • Summers are usually very nice and rather hot. Temperatures range from 10C to 30C. Western and south-eastern Canada experience high rainfall (summer storms… and high humidity) but the Prairies are fairly dry. There are a lot of festivals in the summer and you can also enjoy the outdoors fully.
  • Fall is a great season to visit Canada. Temperatures are mild and the leaves slowly turn orange, and then red. It’s the Indian summer: no snow, no humidity, just perfect weather.

Canada is a big country and this weather summary is mostly for Southern Canada. Along the Arctic Circle, temperatures are below freezing for seven months a year…!

How to get there and how to get around

To find cheap plane tickets can be challenging, but you can check out Zoom Airlines (low-cost airlines which flies between Europe and Canada), Air Transat (flights to Canada from the USA or Europe), Corsair (To Quebec from France).

In Canada, you can either take the bus, the train, or drive from one place to another. Depending on where you want to go, you may also consider flying.

The Greyhound is probably the cheapest way to get around and it worth considering for relatively short trip (Montreal – Ottawa – Toronto etc.). You can also take the Greyhound for longer trips (I took it from Ottawa to Texas! Yes, it took three days…): the bus service operates in eight of Canada’s provinces and territories. But this is more a backpacker option… as the saying goes: “Greyhound’s buses are clean and safe but other passengers might not be”. Buy your ticket in advance to get really good deals.

Via Rail is another option. The train crosses the country from East to West, from Atlantic to Pacific. However, even though it must be a great trip, taking the train in Canada isn’t cheap nor very efficient.

You may also rent a car or flight long distance (for that, check out Westjet (a Canadian low-cost airline) or even Air Canada.

Visa, customs etc.

You should first check if you need a visa to visit Canada. If you do, you should apply for a temporary resident visa. Allow enough time for processing before planning your trip.

Even if you don’t need a visa, you should be prepared to go through the immigration upon your arrival. The immigration officer will ask you a few questions (where are you going, where will you be staying, will you be visiting friends or relatives etc.) and will stamp your passport. The date below the stamp indicates how long you can stay in Canada (usually 3-6 months). Should you wish to stay longer, you can apply for a visa extension. If you give good reasons to extend your stay, the visa will usually be extended without troubles.

What to do in Canada?

A lot of things!

Generally speaking, Canada is big on outdoors activities: camping, hiking, climbing, kayaking etc. . Park Canada has an impressive list of National Parks in all provinces, including the Nunavut territory! Winter sports and activities are also popular: ice fishing, dog sledding, snowboarding, skiing, ice skating etc.

Tourists usually enjoy visiting the biggest cities: Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

The province of Quebec has a very European feel, plus Quebec city celebrates its 400th birthday this year, so it’s a great place to be to celebrate. Ontario is the most populated province, and home to the nation’s capital, Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands and numerous other attractions. The Atlantic provinces boast a strong maritime culture and are home to small fishing villages which have rich folk traditions. The Prairies have vast open and flat spaces, rocky mountains, forests, sleepy farm towns and host the Calgary stampede, and the Winnipeg Folk Music Festival. There are a lot of hiking and skiing opportunities in British-Colombia and the province has both the Rocky Mountains and rainforest. You may also venture North to spot auroras borealis and experience the arctic wilderness.

So, what are you waiting for?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Salut Zhu,
    Well, you know that we are coming in september. Just a short but sweet stay to appreciate Montreal.Yet in the future, I would love to visit other parts of Cananda, like New Brunswick or way out there, BC.I have a French friend that was in Vancouver very recently & just loved it !
    See you soon 😉

    barbaras last great read…Love is gone- David Guetta Feat. Chris Willis

  2. Salut Zhu,
    Vous ne parlez pas Francais! C’est bizzare!
    Just kidding, but still you do not know any French? Canada by rail sounds very fun actually. I like near Detroit and have never even been to Windsor. :O Shock I know.

    Ryans last great read…Affiliate Marketing

  3. Froggywoogie on

    Gosh girl, my feet are on the start mode now, they want to go there. I’m trying to let them know about the current state of my bank account lol.
    I had studied the East/West option by train as I found it interesting to see the different landscapes from coast to coast but it’s very expensive indeed.

  4. Sadly, the world is far too large for me to visit everywhere.

    That’s probably a bad excuse to not visit Canada since it’s so close to Rochester…

    Ulquiorras last great read…I’m Still Alive!

  5. Btw you need to fix your “This week’s best comments” widget…the people without websites are indented to the left – or is it supposed to be like that?

    Ulquiorras last great read…I’m Still Alive!

  6. really is a useful series 🙂 my bro actually just came back from a 3 year bachelor degree in toronto.. i wanna visit canada sometime. hopefully during a summer :p

  7. Lis of the North on

    Hi Zhu! I think the Canadian tourist board should pay you a retainer 😉 Seriously, I’d love to visit Canada and travel across the country from east to west. That has to be one heck of a journey. Maybe one day I’ll do it?

  8. Very informative post. I’d love to visit Canada, in fact I have wanted to for ages but there always seems to be another priority… One day…!

  9. @Seraphine – Oh, me too! Crossing the country has been my dream for quite a while now.

    @barbara – Even I haven’t had the chance to visit all the provinces, but I definitely plan to do so one day!

    @Ryan – I speak French because I’m French 😉 But my students (I teach French) don’t!

    @Froggywoogie – Bring some euro here and you’re rich, don’t worry!

    @shionge – Same here… I just wanted to go traveling as I was writing this post!

    @Aiglee – Where would you like to visit first if you had the choice?

    @Ulquiorra – Yep, bad excuse! I mean, even *I* drove to Rochester! I know about the sidebar… I’ll have a look into it. Thanks!

    @ammaro – But winter is also something to experience, especially for you.

    @Lis of the North – I also think the tourism board should pay me — but I’m still waiting 😆

    @DianeCA – Oh, I understand, I wouldn’t immigrate twice, it was already a lot of hassle the first time. Plus, Norway looks like Canada so… 😉

    @Liz – I know how it is! I actually don’t know France well except for the region I grew up in.

  10. To answer your last question: “What are you waiting for?”

    I am waiting for Canada to come closer because I am too lazy to come all that way:)

    Oh well, maybe I will come one day when the temperatures in Greece rise so high that pavements will be melting and greeks will be sleeping in fridges because it will be the only option to ‘keep cool’ (yeah I know, pun intended, LOL).

    Hmmm, come to think of it, there will be a lot of people coming your way when that day comes, LOL!!!

    Oh well, plenty of empty free space in Canada I ‘ve heard so no worries then:).

    Cool post as always girl!

    Deadpoolites last great read…The post that was never meant to be…

  11. Hey you are tempting me to come to Canada. If I will keep reading your this blog series; I might will change my route 😉

  12. hola Zhu!!

    Está muy chida tu página..oye yo quisiera tener más infirmación a detalle sobre cómo ir a Canada en plan de trabajo, pues soy Ingeniero Industrial y hablo un poco de inglés y francés…necesito de tu ayuda .. espero y me respondas..gracias!!

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