Last year, Travel + Leisure named Canada our Destination of the Year — and for good reason. With awe-inspiring national parks, unsung wine regions, and pristine coastlines, it offers an array of rural, outdoor-focused adventures. But the cities don’t disappoint, either. And when we asked T+L readers which ones stood out from the pack, they were quick to cite things like walkability, the warmth of the locals, and the diversity of cuisine as they selected their favorites.
Quebec City, a 400-year-old multicultural hub along the St. Lawrence River, earned the No. 1 slot yet again, no doubt because it blends old-world charm (cobblestoned streets, colonial architecture) with a new-world sensibility (innovative restaurants, marquee festivals). “It felt like we were in France,” said one reader. “There were so many sights, along with great food.” Added another: “We found lovely people who could move between French and English with ease and were obviously proud of their city.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver, finishing in second place, won over our readers thanks to its numerous outdoor attractions like Granville Island and Stanley Park. “Vancouver has it all: mountains, ocean, a great city,” said one fan. Several readers praised Vancouver’s Chinatown, the largest in Canada, where young chefs, artists, and entrepreneurs have injected new energy. (If you’re planning a visit, we suggest making your way to Kissa Tanto, a 76-seat Japanese-Italian hybrid serving inventive dishes like rib eye topped with saffron-chili sauce.)
Toronto, long considered the cultural nexus of Canada, also makes an appearance. Today, hip hotel options are popping up left, right, and center (we even dubbed the Broadview Hotel one of the city’s best new hotels of the year in our It List), and visitors can head to King and Queen Streets to experience award-winning restaurants and funky shops. One reader hailed the Science Museum as being a great place to take kids, while another mentioned the standout nightlife and theater scene. “Toronto is world-class,” said one fan.
Curious to see what other Canadian cities made the list? Read on to see the Top 5 and how they scored with our readers.
With its cobblestoned streets, soaring church spires, and atmospheric sidewalk cafes, Quebec City emanates European elegance. First-time visitors won’t want to miss strolling through the neighborhood of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to famous attractions like the Citadelle, the Quartier Petit-Champlain, and the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica. Meanwhile, more intrepid travelers can explore the magnificent Jacques-Cartier National Park, which is located 45 minutes from downtown. Consider staying at Auberge Saint-Antoine, a boutique inn voted by our readers as the best in the destination.