Travelling with a group and travelling solo are two very different experiences. When you travel solo you can set your own schedule and fill your trip with all of the amazing things you dream about doing. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s needs but your own. In that sense, it can be seen as the ultimate self-indulgent thing you can do. If you want to spend the day at a spa, or hop from museum to museum just taking it all in in silence, you absolutely can.
Staying at a hotel for the duration of your stay gives you an added sense of safety – and the amenities that come with it. Take advantage of the free breakfast at Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Tru, Homewood Suites, and Home2 Suites hotels. If you are a Hilton Honors member, you get free wi-fi. Also, many of the Hilton hotel brands are located central to a lot of the hustle and bustle in major cities so you don’t have to go far to get to know the heart of your travel destination.
Canada is a great place to travel alone. Canadians are (for the most part) friendly and helpful and there are so many incredible places to explore and discover new things. Wherever you end up, make sure to check out the free walking tours in each city. It’s a great way to meet people and to learn about the history and what makes each city unique.
Next time you are planning to travel and you’re not sure whether you want travel alone, keep these things in mind about some of Canada’s major cities to have your best trip yet.
When people think of major cities in BC, they usually think of Vancouver first. Victoria is actually the capital city of the province. If you visit in spring and summer, you can experience the city in full bloom – although the weather is gorgeous year-round!
Travelling solo, you will appreciate the laid-back and historical feel of the city with its heritage buildings and small shops. Best of all, it’s on an island that is known for its natural beauty. With rugged shorelines, rainforests, and countless trails to explore, it is the best combination of urban life and nature.
There are so many great things to do in and around Victoria. Because the city is known for its gardens, be sure to explore the many gardens in the city – you can even rent a bike to ride around and enjoy the beauty of the blooms. You can also check out Butchart Gardens, which has programming throughout the year. The 55-acre garden blooms throughout the spring and summer and they even have the most incredible light displays if you happen to be there in the winter. The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is also an incredible experience where you can interact with thousands of tropical butterflies, tropical birds, and other wildlife as well as lush tropical (and some carnivorous!) gardens at an indoor facility (great even if the weather isn’t cooperating outside!).
One thing you absolutely don’t want to miss is the opportunity to go whale watching off the coast. There are a number of different whale watching and eco tours that will find you on the water for a few hours or even a whole day. From orcas and humpback whales to other marine wildlife, it’s the perfect way to explore the local ecosystem.
Vancouver is a vibrant city on the west coast. From the urban cool restaurants and nightlife to the natural and green space, it’s two very different worlds combined into one in the best way possible.
One of the most incredible things to experience in Vancouver is Stanley Park. It is 405 hectares of rainforest, open green space, and breathtaking views off the coast. Not only are there tons of things to do in the park like walk or bike along the seawall and hike through the forest, but you can also experience the incredibly unique arts and culture of the west coast. Throughout the park there are a number of First Nations art installations including the famous Totem Poles. There are also artists creating throughout the park that you can watch and then purchase their work. If you want to take in more of the arts and culture in the city there is no shortage of live music venues, theatre, and film – including the Vancouver International Film Festival.
To immerse yourself in a totally different culture in the same city, Chinatown has its own character. Walk though the Millennium Gate, which was built to honour the Chinese people and how much they are a part of Vancouver’s long history. After taking some time to browse unique shops, have some quiet time at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. You might even consider joining in on one of their morning yoga sessions.
Just like Victoria, BC, Vancouver also has some great opportunities for whale watching. Take a tour and look for multiple different species of whale as well as seabirds and other marine life like brown pelicans, tufted puffins, and dolphins. You can even take a seaplane to explore from a bird’s eye view!
If you enjoy diversity and a lot of hustle and bustle to keep you busy when travelling alone, Toronto is a great place for you. Not only is it one of the most diverse cities in Canada, it’s also the largest and there is always something going on.
One of the most amazing things that Toronto has going on is the incredible arts and culture experiences. The local live music scene is marked by legendary spots like Horseshoe Tavern and The Rex, and you can find great live music any night of the week. The Canadian Opera Company and Tapestry Opera call Toronto home, producing world-class operas. And if you want to spend hours getting lost at museums, be sure to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) or the ROM. Toronto even has a castle that you can walk through!
There are also great historical and unique areas of the city to explore. Distillery District is an area in downtown Toronto with cobblestone streets and old, brick buildings that house art galleries, artisan shops and restaurants, and a lot of local history. If you prefer something a little more quirky and cool, check out Kensington Market. With its local food shops and restaurants, vintage stores, and laid-back night life, it’s perfect for a night out or a day spent shopping.
Montreal has the feel of a big city with pockets of European charm. With tons of history, shopping, and delicious food, there is no shortage of things to do.
For a little of adventure and a little history combined, explore Mont Royal. It’s the city’s namesake and a great spot for hiking, cycling, and just enjoying some fresh air. The view from the top is also spectacular and it only takes 30 – 45 minutes to walk to the top. For more outdoor exploration in the city, check out Park Jean Drapeau. With programming year-round, you get to explore the city’s culture as well at this gorgeous location 5 minutes from downtown Montreal. Within Parc Jean Drapeau, you can’t miss the Montreal Biodome. It focuses on environmental issues, and it’s the only museum in North America of its kind. You also can’t miss it visually because it’s actually a huge glass dome that stands out against the background.
For a more historic glance at the city, Old Montreal is where you will find the old European charm and a lot of unique shops, cafés, and restaurants. You can also visit the beautiful Notre Dame Basilica while in the area. Montreal also has a number of museums to enjoy – Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History, the Maison Saint-Gabriel, Montreal Holocaust Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal to name a few.
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Montreal and not mention poutine. When it comes to food in Montreal, Quebec isn’t only known as the birth place of Poutine, take a food tour through Montreal and taste some of the delicious local cuisine.
Lively and beautiful, Halifax offers visitors a little bit of everything. It’s also really walkable if you choose not to rent a car and stay within the city.
While you can visit at any time of the year, the warmer weather means you can enjoy the incredible beaches and outdoor activity. You should absolutely go whale watching. But if you want something a little more relaxing, check out North America’s longest wooden boardwalk while you watch boats passing by. Of course, you can always take the day to relax on the beach and read a good book. If you want a little more quiet time, check out McNabs Island Provincial Park – you have to take a boat to get there, Chocolate Lake Beach is five minutes from downtown Halifax, Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park – which even has an annual sandcastle competition, and so many more to choose from depending on how far out of the city you want to venture.
While there are museums in Halifax such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, so much of the city’s history is in the stories and structures that make the city and surrounding areas so unique. Peggy’s Cove, which is home to the most photographed lighthouse in Canada – and one of the most photographed in the world – is worth the 50-minute drive from downtown. Closer to the city, check out the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, and the York Redoubt National Historic Site, to name a few.
St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
St. John’s is a small city with a population just over 200,000, but it packs a punch when it comes to experiences. Founded in 1610, it might be the oldest city in North America, and it is one of the safest and friendliest places you can visit.
St. John’s has a rich history, some of the best seafood you will ever eat, and lively character that stretches from daytime to the night life. There are some of the amazing historical attractions like Cabot Tower on Signal Hill (you can either hike the whole way or drive part of the way) where you can learn about St. John’s storied past and take in the exquisite views of the city and the Atlantic. If you’re lucky you might even spot a whale from the top. A quick 10-minute drive from downtown and you will reach Cape Spear and the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland. It also happens to be the easternmost point in continental North America.
You would do yourself a disservice if you don’t get screeched in on George Street at one of the local pubs. Yes, it means giving a frozen fish a kiss, but you can become an honourary Newfie! Take the time to try the local restaurants and the amazing fresh seafood dishes. Nearby, you can explore the small fishing village of Quidi Vidi, with its quaint charm and local brewery.
The highlight of your trip will be whale watching – hands down. Whales, dolphins, and the adorable puffins are all part of what makes the city beautiful. You can also take a tour and see the icebergs.
Travelling alone doesn’t have to be scary or boring. You can plan the trip of a lifetime within Canada and get every single thing you have ever wanted.