Canada calling

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Lonely Planet has named Canada its top destination for travellers in 2017, when the country will celebrate its 150th anniversary

Bolstered by the wave of positivity unleashed by its energetic new leader Justin Trudeau, and with dynamic cities that dominate global livability indices and a reputation for inclusiveness and impeccable politeness, the world’s second-largest country will usher in its sesquicentennial in 2017 in rollicking good health. Marking 150 years since confederation, the elongated birthday party promises to be heavy on bonhomie and highly welcoming to international gatecrashers. And, with a weak Canadian dollar pushing down prices, the overseas visitor should have plenty of pocket money to spend on Canada’s exciting fusion food and mysteriously underrated wine.

Population: 36 millionCapital: Ottawa

Languages: English, French

Unit of currency: Canadian dollar.

How to get there: Toronto Pearson International is Canada’s largest airport; Calgary, Vancouver and Montréal also have big international airports. The long Canada–US land border has numerous road crossings and several rail crossings.

Sesquicentennial or not, you don’t need too many excuses to visit Canada. With vast expanses of barely trammelled wilderness stretched across six time zones, alongside a solid infrastructure and straightforward entry requirements, the country beckons like a giant adventure playground. Among such rugged, uncrowded landscapes, outdoor pursuits, including hiking, climbing and wildlife-watching, are a given. The best way into the country’s sometimes forbidding wilderness is via its impressive national-park system, which, in honour of the 150th anniversary, will generously waive all its entry fees in 2017.

Birthdays are also an opportunity to look back and, in 2017, you can review Canadian history in several refurbished museums. Gatineau’s Canadian Museum of History is due to open a new wing following a $25-million makeover, while Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum will host a special exhibition about Vimy Ridge, the WWI battle won predominantly by Canadian troops in April 1917.


  • It’s practically obligatory for visitors to take in at least one of Canada’s 46 national parks and reserves. If your time is limited, hit Banff, nestled amid the Rocky Mountains that straddle the Alberta–British Columbia border; it balances accessibility with the call of the wild.
  • For cities, you’d be mad to miss the Anglo-French cultural cocktail of Montréal or the urban-cool-meets-natural-beauty of Vancouver, one of the world’s most spectacularly sited metropolises.
  • For a real taste of what inspired Canada’s bushwhacking European pioneers, pitch north along the remote Klondike Hwy to the Yukon’s historic gold-rush town of Dawson City.

Canadian winters are exceedingly cold. Unless you’re coming for winter sports, spring and summer are the best times to visit – this is also when the country’s wonderful landscapes are most accessible. Canada Day is celebrated on 1 July. Expect 2017’s parades, ceremonies and parties to be particularly memorable. 

By Brendan Sainsbury

Moraine Lake. © Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet

Moraine Lake.
© Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet

Extract taken from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017  – the highly anticipated collection of the world’s hottest trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead.Lonely Planet has named Canada its top destination for travellers in 2017, when the country will celebrate its 150th anniversar followed by Colombia and Finland, while Bordeaux tops the cities list, beating Cape Town and Los Angeles. The region which Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 declared the number one must-see in the coming year is Choquequirao in Peru with New Zealand’s Taranaki and the Azores also making the top three. Nepal was crowned Lonely Planet’s Best Value destination of 2017, closely followed by Namibia, Porto and Venice.

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