In a country as vast as Canada, there are countless beautiful places to explore. From jagged cliffs in the wild, tiny villages almost untouched by tourism, to heritage sites that border on pre-historic. There are plenty of hidden gems to visit across Canada.
Although it would be impossible to visit every breathtaking destination and cute rural town in the country, a few key locations are often overlooked when they shouldn’t be. Here are some of the most beautiful and historical Canadian destinations that you’ve probably never heard of.
Fogo Island, NL
The remote island of Fogo is a beautiful place to enjoy Newfoundland culture and view the icebergs. Early April to late June is the best time to spot them off the coast. Known as one of the four corners of the earth to flat earthers, visitors to the remote, wind-swept destination can understand why. Newfoundland’s largest offshore island has been restored since the founding of the illustrious Fogo Island Inn. But, you don’t need to stay at the luxurious accommodation to explore the sleepy fishing villages and meet the proud, welcoming locals. They’re working hard to keep the economy on the island they love so much alive.
Kejmkujik National Park and National Historic Site, NS
Kejmkujik National Park offers the lapping Atlantic Ocean, millions of stars in the Dark Sky Preserve, historic petroglyphs, and world-class outdoor activities. The rock engravings, or petroglyphs, tell a story over 4000 years old of the Mi’kmaq occupancy of the area, their traditional camping and hunting grounds, as well as canoe routes. We recommend exploring the park on foot or by canoe as there are lush forests, rolling hills, calm waterways, and diverse wildlife throughout the 381 square kilometers of protected land.
According to legend, this picturesque town on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River was named after a sailor who lost a valuable silver goblet in the river. You’ll still see even today, there are many water activities, abundant fishing boats and scuba divers in this relatively unknown town. Off the coast of the city lies the Ile aux Basques, a location used by Basque whalers in the 16th century and a fascinating historical destination. While the town is remote — it can be reached by the train called The Ocean – Trois-Pistoles has an annual music festival, a university French immersion program, and some excellent whale watching opportunities in the quaint French village.
Îles de la Madeleine, QC
Îles de la Madeleine, or the Magdalen Islands, is comprised of dozens of islands north of PEI. The archipelago boasts 300 kilometers of white sand, striking red cliffs, and secluded caves. You’ll wonder if you aren’t actually in PEI. In the summer, the Îles hosts one of the world’s top sandcastle contests, Concours de Châteaux de Sable. You can stroll through the beach to view some of the most insane sandcastle creations and even try to build your own. As if that wasn’t enough, the destination is also an incredible foodie paradise, with world-renowned chefs creating local concoctions with freshly sourced ingredients.
Prince Edward County, ON
With picturesque lakes, fields of vineyards, and excellent food, Prince Edward Country is a destination you definitely don’t want to miss. Enjoy the art galleries, wineries, beaches, and fresh food, just over two hours from Toronto. A relatively new wine region, the soil here forces vines to grow deep root systems to access the water underground, which adds to the flavour of the grapes. For this reason, the region’s soil is comparable to the world-renowned Burgundy region in France. And Burgundy grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir abound. Even a short sojourn here will make you understand the county’s moniker as “the new Hamptons.”
Whiteshell Provincial Park, MB
Whiteshell Provincial Park, nestled in the prairies province of Manitoba, is both beautiful and deeply historical. The park is named after the small, white seashell believed by some indigenous communities to be the shell the Creator breathed life into the first human. You’ll be greeted by cliffs and valleys offering incredible hiking opportunities, and the over 200 lakes in the park provide ample canoeing access for campers. The area is abound with wildflowers; visit the aptly named Lily Pond, encircled by cliffs covered with the lake’s name-bearing flowers. You can also find petroforms, or ancient animal shapes, carved into rocks centuries ago for Indigenous ceremonies, making it a true Manitoba gem of a destination.
Big Muddy Badlands, SK
Widely considered Saskatchewan’s best kept secrets, the Big Muddy Badlands prove that the prairie provinces have more to offer than fields. The steep slopes of sedimentary rock and clay soil have eroded to form striking badlands reminiscent of the Wild West. Visit Castle Butte, a 70-meter cliff created in the Ice Age. It served as a landmark to the many people that came before us. The many archaeological findings in the region attest to the fact that ancient civilizations called this part of the world home for thousands of years.
Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, AB
The little-known Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is one of the richest archaeological sites in North America. The jutting cliffs dropping to the valley below create the perfect conditions for this traditional bison hunting technique. Many Indigenous peoples, and later settlers, of the North American plains used this hunting method for nearly 6000 years. Herding a group of bison off a cliff was significantly more effective than hunting them one at a time. The buffalo would fall off the side of the cliff as they were chased, making it an efficient (and later devastating) way to hunt the bison in mass quantities and feed an entire community. Don’t forget to visit For McLeod’s Blackfoot museum to learn all about the significance of the area throughout Canadian history.
Joffre Lakes, BC
A winding drive northeast of Whistler will take you to the gorgeous Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Long considered the most beautiful hike in BC, magnificent lakes glisten in sparkling blue splendour. The glacial silt or rock flour found in the water reflects the blue and green tones from sunlight, making the lakes the bluest you’ve ever seen. The hike is well-worth the occasional steep ascent. Stick it out as long as you can, in this area the lakes just get more pretty the farther you go.
Nahanni National Park, NWT
The breathtaking natural beauty of Nahanni National Park never fails to impress adventure seekers. In this national park, you can experience an authentic wilderness experience and paddle in a paradise. While you can only access the park by plane or a very long hike from Fort Simspon, you’ll be more than rewarded for the effort. A must-visit is Virginia Falls, a 100 meter high, 250-meter wide cascade. Relax after your hike to the falls with a soak in some hot springs. Kraus Hot Springs is only accessible by boat, but it’s a spectacular paddle through Nahanni’s First Canyon. Camping is the best lodging on a trip to Kraus Hot Springs since there are no roads into the national park.