Top 5 must-visit Canadian sights to see on a gap year trip

Friday, 2 December 2011 10:07 AM

Canada is a fantastic gap year destination

Canada is a fantastic gap year destination

Canada makes for an amazing gap year destination. As the second largest country in the world, here you will find a wealth of attractions to visit and activities to take part in so your time is sure to be captivating. Here's a guide to some of the must-see sights that you ought to take in.

While there are plenty of well-known visitor hotspots that you will be able to see while on a gap year in Canada, there are numerous places which - although less famous - are equally worth going to.

One destination where this is certainly the case is Victoria. Spending time in the picturesque capital of the province of British Columbia offers you the chance to take part in a range of pursuits and see beautiful landmarks.

If you're after a little culture, meanwhile, there are numerous museums to visit, including the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Royal London Wax Museum.

Head to Beacon Hill Park - the city's main urban green space - and you can see exotic plants and take in views of the Olympic mountain range, as well as try a range of sports.

Victoria is situated on Vancouver Island, so a trip to the city gives you the opportunity to explore the wider area by going whale watching, caving and bathing in hot springs.

Another essential gap year travel destination during your time in Canada ought to be Banff National Park.

Established in 1885, this is the country's first national park and really is a must-see for all travellers. While it first started life as a 26 sq km hot springs reserve, it has since expanded into a 6,641 sq km development where you can participate in numerous activities.

Head here in the summer and you'll be able to go kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. During the colder months, the park becomes a haven for winter sport enthusiasts with skating and cross-country skiing just two of the activities to try. No matter what time of year you visit, you can breathe in fresh alpine air and see amazing wildlife, such as beavers and porcupines.

For very similar reasons, it is also worth your while visiting Wells Grey Provincial Park. Situated in British Columbia, this national park has a dramatically varied geography encompassing everything from glaciers and mineral springs to lava beds and extinct volcanoes.

Visiting here gives you significant opportunity to view astounding creatures, including grizzly bears, deer and mountain goats, while sports enthusiasts can go river-rafting, hiking and fishing. There is also the chance to go canoeing across the astounding Clearwater Lake, in what is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

If you want to return to urban civilisation there are perhaps few better places to do this than Montreal. One of the biggest cities in North America, here you will find a wealth of amazing architecture and exciting activities to be a part of.

Among the many attractions you can see here are the Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica, the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum and the Montreal Science Centre, while in the historic Old Montreal district you can ride along the cobbled streets in a barouche, a type of horse-drawn carriage that dates back to the 19th century.

Head to the city in July and you may be in time to see the Just for Laughs festival. Taking place each year, this is the world's biggest comedy event with Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin among the dozens of famous comedians to have taken to the stage here in the past.

A trip to the Yoho National Park is also sure to be a memorable experience. Located on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, here you can go horse-riding, fishing, cycling and even try your hand at rafting along the famous Kicking Horse River.

The park is also home to one of the world's most important fossil finds, the Burgess Shale, which contains the fossilised remains of over 120 marine animal species dating back some 515 million years.

Whether you're looking for adventure travel or wish to take in some culture on your gap year, Canada will offer something for you.