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5 things to know before visiting Canada

We run through five top things that are good to know before you jet off on an adventure to Canada.

By Saga team

Published 1 July 2024

Emerald Lake,Yoho National Park in Canada

Holidays to Canada are a must for anyone looking for adventure – whether that’s exploring one of the country’s major cities, or getting out and about amongst the glaciers, mountains and lakes.

As with many countries, there are some tips and tricks that it’s worth knowing ahead of time if you want to really make the most of your holiday. Here, we run through five things to know before visiting Canada – one of the world’s most diverse and scenic places.

1. Canada is a BIG country

While this probably won’t come as a surprise, it’s worth keeping Canada’s size in mind when it comes to planning your break. Made up of 10 provinces and three territories, it’s a vast country – which means hopping from place to place can take longer than you may expect.

You could easily fill weeks on end exploring all that Canada has to offer, so if you’re on a limited timeframe, consider picking an area of the country and really deep-diving into what it has to offer. From and the Rocky Mountains to the eastern cities like Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, focusing your trip will give you more time to explore and really get under the surface of the country.

Layering up can protect you from Canada's variable weather

Layering up can protect you from Canada's variable weather

2. Layers are your friend

When it comes to packing for Canada, layers are your friend. Even if you visit in the summer months, the temperatures in some of the more remote areas can get quite chilly in the evenings. Don’t forget a light waterproof jacket too, in case you get caught in any summer rainstorms.

If you’re planning a wintery visit to Canada, then layers become even more important. In Vancouver, British Columbia, the weather is semi-regulated by the Pacific Ocean, so things are a little less bitter when it comes to coldness.

Temperatures across the centre and east of Canada however can be incredibly cold, with plenty of snow to contend with, so make sure you have warm, thermal clothing and all of the essentials – like a hat, scarf and gloves.

3. Check your paperwork

Before you set off on your trip to Canada, you want to make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork. Holidaymakers from the UK don’t usually need a visa to visit Canada for short periods of time, but you will need to arrange an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) if you’re arriving by air.

Make sure your paperwork is in order before your holiday

Make sure your paperwork is in order before your holiday

The eTA process isn’t necessary if you’re travelling by land or sea, although you will still need to make sure that you travel with appropriate travel documents and identification – including a passport that’s valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Getting an eTA is a simple online process, with a small fee of $7 Canadian Dollars attached. You can find out more about travelling to Canada, and apply for an eTA, through the official website of the Canadian government.

4. Know what you’re going for

As we’ve already mentioned, Canada is a big country with plenty to see and do. That means that whether you like to explore a big, bustling metropolis, or lose yourself in the wilderness, Canada is the place to be.

Think carefully before you travel about what exactly it is you want to experience while you’re here. If you want to explore some of the cities, then the East Coast is a good place to start. From vibrant Montreal to modern Toronto, and the capital city of Ottawa, Canada’s cities have tons of things to keep you busy. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice the natural beauty spots, thanks to world-famous Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls can be seen as part of a trip to Canada's East Coast

Niagara Falls can be seen as part of a trip to Canada's East Coast

For more of a back to nature adventure, lose yourself in the magic of Canada’s western coast. From beautiful Banff to Jasper National Park, and, of course, the Rocky Mountains, the west of the country is a truly breathtaking place to explore.

Vast uninhabited plains, lakes, icefields, mountains, forests – you name it, and you can find it in Western Canada. If you like to spend time outdoors, then this is a true adventurers paradise.

5. Live like a local

Before you head to a new country it’s a good idea to brush up on some of their customs, to help you fit in like a local. To start, the currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar, with $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 Canadian bills (paper money) and $1 and $2 coins. Tipping is customary, with 10-20% of the total cost being a rough standard for many services – including eating out.

In an emergency, the number for emergency services is the same as in the US. Calling 911 will put you in contact with police, medical services, and firefighters.

English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada, making it a breeze to communicate with people. Depending on where you visit, you may find people speaking French – the country’s other official language.

Here at Saga, we offer a range of both hosted and independent Canada getaways. Find out more about our Canadian touring holidays or fill out our enquiry form to get in touch with our expert team.

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