Travel guide to Canada

» Canada
Versatile is the keyword when considering Canada's many assets. The nation traverses great mountains, flat prairies, rainforests, softwoods and much more - it is after all the world's second-largest country. The culture is also rich and multifaceted - Canada is anything but dull.

Facts

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Local name
Canada
Capital
Ottawa (326,842)
Size
9,958,319 sq km
Principal Languages
English and French
Principal Religion
Christianity
Inhabitants
31,281,092
Government
Constitutional Monarchy
Geography
Surpassed only by Russia in square kilometres, Canada's 10 million sq km includes hot springs and glaciers, great mountains and flat prairies, temperate rainforest and endless hardwoods and softwoods, deserts and tundra. In addition to this Canada holds one tenth of the world's freshwater supply, shared out over so many lakes that they have never managed to count them all.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Spring, summer and autumn are the best seasons to visit Canada, but if you want to go skiing, you should go in the winter or during early spring. For camping in the northern parts of the country the best months are July and August. The high season for tourism is from mid-June until mid-September, and some facilities may be closed out of season.

Literature

Berlitz guide Canada

Local conditions

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Currency

Dollar (CA)

Net cafes

You can find Internet cafes in all major cities in Canada.

In case of emergency

In case of an emergency, call the following numbers: Police, ambulance or fire department (0). In certain areas, you have to dial (911) to call for help.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Canada, and you usually pay 15 per cent of the price for good service at a restaurant, a hairdresser or with a taxi driver. A maid and a porter will usually expect about one dollar for their service.

Timezone

Canada stretches across six time zones, with a difference of 4½ hour from coast to coast. When it is 12.00 in England, it is 06.00 in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

Weight and Measures

Weight: kilogram Length: metre Volume: litre Some older people still use old imperial standards.

Photography

Most Canadians are very friendly which means you can snap away, but be considerate and ask for their permission when photographing different ethnic groups.

Drinking water

The tap water is amongst the purest in the world.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz

Behaviour

Generally speaking Canadians are very open and friendly, but you have to keep in mind that it is a multi-cultural society and each ethnic group has its own customs and traditions. The best advice is to be considerate and friendly.

Business Hours

Opening hours vary a great deal. Shops are usually open 9.00 to 16.00 (Monday to Friday), many shops are also open until late during one or two weekdays, and most shops are open Saturday. A few shops are open Sundays, and a few are open 24-hours a day. Banks are open 10.00 to 15.00 (Monday to Friday), some are open longer on weekdays and some are open a few hours on Saturdays.

Food and drink

Canadian cuisine is highly varied because of the many ethnic groups and you can sample food from all corners of the world. Fish is a speciality of the Maritime Provinces, and the inhabitants of Quebec specialise in cabbage and pea soups (it is very French-inspired). Vegetarian meals are easy to find in the cities, but can be harder to track down in the northern territories.

Disabled travellers

The facilities for the disabled are excellent in Canada. Vancouver has been nominated the world's most disability-friendly city, and the rest of the country is also widely equipped with lifts, ramps, disabled-toilets etc. Wheelchairs can also be used on the wide trails in the wilderness.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Canada Day, 1 July Remembrance Day, 11 November Christmas, 25 and 26 December Shifting holidays Good Friday, March or April Easter Monday, March or April Victoria Day, the Monday before 25 May Labour Day, 1st Monday in September Thanksgiving Day, 2nd Monday in October

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are approximately 2,000 camping sites scattered all across Canada, and some of them are very well-equipped, perhpas even luxurious - whilst others invite the more basic out-door life. Most camping sites can only offer a few days stay during the high season, because space is in great demand.

Hotels

There are many hotels in the Canadian cities, and you should consider getting a room with air-conditioning during the summer, as well as checking out various discounts.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

If you like B&B in familiar surroundings then you are in luck in Canada. You can also find larger guest-houses in most major cities.

Hostels

You should book a room in one the country's 70 hostels before even leaving home. Most of the hostels are situated in the Rocky Mountains, while there are practically none in the Maritime Provinces.

Other Accommodation

Alternative accomodation includes university dorms, house exchanges with a Canadian family, and Farm holidays - and you can also rent a motor-homes of all sizes.

Local transport

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Planes

If you haven't much time, and want to experience the great geographical contrasts, flying between the 160 airports is the only way to do it. Air Canada and Canadian Airlines offer domestic flights.

Bus

The Canadian bus system is very extensive, cheap and in some places the only way to get around. Greyhound and Voyaguer-Colonial cover most of the country.

Trains

The VIA-Rail trains, operating between 405 stations spread out over most of the country, have excellent service and great food. The Rocky Mountaineer Railtours offers some spectacular rail tours in the Rocky Mountains.

Taxi

You can easily get a taxi in all major Canadian cities.

Car rental

You have to be 21 years old to rent a Canadian car, which can be everything from a luxury car to a motor-home - or even a actual deathtrap, so beware.

Boat or Ferry

With Canada's many lakes and rivers, there are also a great number of ferry companies

Other Transport

It may take some time to get a ride if you are hitch-hiking, but on the other hand that one ride will often take you hundreds of kilometres away from where you start. Always hitchhike in pairs. Bikes can be rented in several places, and cycle tracks and paths do keep on expanding.

Special conditions

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Canada is bear-country in many places, so you should always comply with the safety rules when visiting a place where bear attacks are known to happen. It can be deadly to be in the Northern Territories without a guide and the proper precautions.

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