Once derided by Voltaire as just a few acres of snow, Canada is so much more. The second largest country in the world, it is sparsely populated and has vast tracts of wilderness to explore. [See Canada itinerary ideas]
Canada's four major cities each have their own character. Montréal has delightful eighteenth century enclave and a lively music scene; Québec City is distinctly European; Toronto is ethnically and culturally diverse whilst Vancouver is perfectly positioned to enjoy both mountain and coastal pursuits in the same day.
The main draw though is the outdoors. Home to some wild and pristine landscapes, this is the land of the grizzly, black and polar bear as well as moose, wolf, arctic fox, lynx, beaver, caribou, seal and so forth.
Head to Prince Edward Island to walk along a beautiful stretch of sand, visited by seals and porpoises, Nova Scotia for whale watching, central Canada for dinosaur parks, into the Rocky Mountains for superb walking, climbing, camping and more in national parks such as Banff and Jasper, northern Canada and Nanavut for genuine wilderness in Auyuittuq National Park, the chance to meet the Inuit people and to see the Northern Lights, Churchill to spot polar bears and to the Great Lakes to experience the deafening roar of Niagara Falls from a small boat.
Canada offers incredible diversity and is an ideal destination for tailor-made luxury holidays.
When to go
Canada is geared up to visitors at all times of the year and though winters are dark and bitterly cold, some of the world's most impressive ski resorts open their doors and the cities host a festival of winter carnivals.
That said, summer is generally the most popular time to visit. The lakes and the Pacific coast sparkle with sailing boats and kayaks, hikers take to the mountains, the cities are buzzy with cyclists and bladers and much daily living takes place al fresco. In the south, summer lasts between May and September. It starts slightly later in the north, sometime in June and lasts until the first snowfall, which is sometimes as early as the beginning of September.
Alternatively, beat the crowds and enjoy reasonable weather by visiting in the shoulder seasons - April/May, September/October.
Capital - Ottawa
Size - 9,984,670 sq km
Language - English (official), French (official), other 19%
Population - 34.6 million
Religion - Roman Catholic, Protestant, United Church, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Muslim, none 16%
Currency - Canadian dollar
Time zone - GMT -3.5 to -8
Flight time from the UK - 6.5hrs to Toronto, 10hrs to Vancouver
January - Jasper in January
February - Winterlude, Ottawa
April - Calgary International Spoken Word Festival
May - Banff Festival of the Arts
June - Pride Week, Toronto, one of the world's largest
June/July - Montreal International Jazz Festival
July - Calgary Stampede, the world's largest rodeo held over 10 days
August - Edmonton Folk Music Festival
September - Toronto International Film Festival
October - Okanagan Wine Festival
November - Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls
December - Christmas Carol Ships Parade, Vancouver
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for the full duration of your stay. If you are visiting another country or countries en route to or from Canada, be sure to check any further entry requirements.
The Canadian dollar ($) is the official currency. Coins come in denominations 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1 and $2; notes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
$1 coins are often referred to as a 'loonie', due to the common loon, a common Canadian bird, pictured on the reverse side. $2 coins have subsequently been nicknamed 'toonie'.
ATMs are available at all times of the day throughout the country. There is likely to be a small charge for foreign transactions, but exchange rates at ATMs are generally as good as you'll find anywhere else. Be sure to notify your bank of your travels to avoid them from blocking your card when an international transaction is made. Credit and bank cards are accepted at most shops, hotels, bars and restaurants, but it's worth carrying some cash with you for tipping purposes.