There are plenty of ways you can make your dollar go further while you're on vacation. But one of the easiest ways to save money is to choose a destination where your dollar goes further. That's where Canada comes in. Our neighbor to the north offers not only some of the most vibrant cities and stunning landscapes in the world, but also a favorable exchange rate that lets you experience more of it for less.
With the American dollar currently equal to about 1.33 Canadian dollars, plan a trip to one of these hot spots north of the border. Whether you plan to hit the bars in Vancouver or head off into the wilderness of Nova Scotia, here are the best places to stretch your dollar in Canada.
Arguably the most European city in North America — and one of the best places to visit in Canada — Montreal offers an enticing mix of historic culture and modern attitudes. It's hard to imagine a more diverse and welcoming city.
Thrilling nightlife, cutting-edge art galleries, centuries-old architecture and vibrant restaurants to suit every palette — and budget — are just a few of the things that make Montreal one of the most exciting places to visit in Canada. It also offers a good opportunity to brush up on your French; Montreal is one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world, second only to Paris.
Some of Montreal's high-end clubs and eateries can be pricey, but there are still plenty of deals to be had if you're a budget-conscious traveler. When planning your itinerary, check the Montreal Tourism website. It routinely offers affordable travel packages with discounts on hotel rooms and airfare. You can also take advantage of a lot of extra perks in 2017, which marks Montreal's 375th anniversary. Browse the "375th Perks" for discounts on everything, from meals and drinks to walking tours and gallery admissions.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the best times to visit Montreal are March through May and September through November. During these months, you can take advantage of mild weather and save money on your hotel room.
Cape Breton Island
Explore Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and you'll instantly fall in love with its beautiful views of the water, vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. Take the time to go kayaking or whale watching. Watch the sun set over the water. Hike the trails in Cape Breton Islands National Park. And enjoy some of the best seafood you've ever had. The island also offers one of the world's most breathtaking drives.
Encircling Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail provides some of the most stunning scenery on the Canadian coast as it meanders through Cape Breton Island National Park and quiet fishing villages. You can drive it in a day or two if you're in a hurry, but the Cabot Trail is best explored at a slower pace. Give yourself three to five days to fully immerse yourself in the landscape.
An abundance of cozy inns, cottages, campgrounds and bed and breakfasts on Cape Breton Island make it easy to find accommodations that won't strain your wallet. Plenty of rooms are available for well under $100 per night, especially if you visit during the off-season — basically anytime before July or after September.
Car rentals are available at the airport, but airfare can be costly. Since Cape Breton Island is within a day's drive of Bangor, Maine, you could save money if you live on the East Coast and decide to drive instead.
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Vancouver is one of Canada's most vibrant cultural hubs, a place where people and influences from all over the world mix to create something truly unique. The New York Times once called it "Manhattan with mountains."
Every neighborhood in Vancouver offers something to entice visitors, from the theaters and late-night hangouts of Granville Street to the bustling sidewalks of Chinatown. The city is also surrounded by some of British Columbia's most magnificent scenery, with hiking trails and ski slopes just minutes away.
The best time to visit depends on how you intend to spend your time — skiing at Grouse Mountain or sunbathing on Vancouver Island? You'll find the lowest hotel rates in winter, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, spring and fall might be the best times to visit Vancouver if you're looking for a combination of mild weather and moderately priced accommodations.
Vancouver also offers a lot of chances to save money on transportation. It's about an hour or so from the U.S. border, making it an effortless drive for American visitors. And the city's compact layout makes it easy to explore on foot or bicycle.
Nestled between the peaks and prairies of southern Alberta, Calgary is a modern cosmopolitan city that somehow retains a genuine frontier charm.
The shopping and dining options in Calgary rival any destination in Canada. But if you visit in time for the annual 10-day Calgary Stampede in July, you'll witness a city that fully embraces its Wild West heritage. A rodeo, a chuckwagon event and a performance by Usher and The Roots are just a few of the exciting events you can expect at this year's Stampede.
For the outdoorsy type, the nearby Banff National Park offers hiking, mountain biking, camping and much more. And for the sports fans, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame features more than 50 interactive exhibits honoring Canada's sports history, the country's greatest athletes and the best moments in sports.
A great public transit system makes it easy to get around Calgary on a budget, with just about any major destination in the city easily accessible by bus or train. If you plan on hopping from site to site over the course of a day, you can save on fare by getting a day pass instead of paying for each ride.
And while airfare to Canada can often be pricey, Calgary can be a cheaper destination — especially if you're departing from the West Coast. At time of writing, a round-trip ticket to Calgary from Los Angeles often goes for as little as $225.
Toronto is Canada's largest city — and one of its most captivating. It's home to some of Canada's most renowned museums and a lively entertainment district where you can see Broadway shows, making it one of the best places to visit in Canada for arts and culture.
Meanwhile, Toronto's waterfront offers everything from beaches and lakeside patios to boat tours and butterfly gardens. And the multicultural Kensington Market neighborhood on the west side provides some of the city's best restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
Like any major city, Toronto can be expensive if you're not careful. You can save on some of the city's biggest attractions by using CityPass, which gives you access to the CN Tower, Casa Loma, the Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada and either the Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre — all for around $60 per person. To help you save on food, Toronto has a diverse fleet of food trucks that offer everything from fish tacos to vegetarian mushroom burgers.
Toronto is less than a two hours' drive from Upstate New York, making it very accessible for American travelers. If you prefer to fly, round-trip flights from New York City can be as low as $200. Try to plan your trip during the spring instead of the summer — you could save a ton of money.
Jasper National Park
Canada offers some of the most stunning wilderness in North America, and it's hard to imagine a better example than Alberta's Jasper National Park.
Spanning more than 4,000 square miles, this park is a seemingly endless playground for anyone who loves the outdoors. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, paddling, scenic drives and wildlife watching are just a few ways you can get acquainted with the wild landscape.
At the heart of Jasper National Park is the cozy mountain town of Jasper, which offers countless options for dining, from fresh apple pie at the Bear's Paw Bakery to handcrafted beer at the Jasper Brewing Company.
One of the great things about Jasper is its affordability. The park itself offers a wide range of budget-friendly lodging, from primitive campsites to luxurious oTENTiks — tent-cabin hybrids that offer a rugged outdoor experience along with some modern comforts, like bunks, mattresses, wood floors and your own front porch. The town of Jasper also offers accommodations to fit every budget, whether you're looking for a room in a palatial mountain lodge or a bunk in a hostel where you can connect with your fellow travelers.