In my quest to tackle overtourism and encourage a community of more responsible travelers, it’s my duty to provide you with as many solutions as possible! One of those solutions is to find alternative places to these overcrowded destinations around the world.
We’re not going to stop traveling, so why not travel to places that need tourists? And since I’m not only passionate about travel, I’m a proud Canadian.
So I thought I would offer a unique perspective into all kinds of places to visit in Canada instead of similar overcrowded places around the world.
For my fellow Americans and Canadians, when you only have a week or two to spend your annual holidays, these alternative travel destinations might provide you with a chance to experience some travel hot spots that you never thought you’d have the time or money to do so.
Sometimes, the path less traveled turns out to be the best one. Finding those hidden gems off the beaten path is such a rewarding experience.
I’d even go as far as saying finding alternative travel destinations can even be better than their original counterparts.
Canada is pretty cool. Being the second largest country in the world, there are tons of unique experiences all over the country.
Here, four different seasons can be felt on the same day in different parts of the nation.
We have deserts with cacti, rain forests, three oceans, polar bears and all kinds of wildlife, jagged rocky mountains, thousands of freshwater lakes, thriving hipster-loving cities, hot springs, northern lights, waterfalls, all things cannabis, good beer, and yes, snow and cold.
Canada is also known for its multiculturalism and embracing other cultures from around the world.
But did you know you can find a multitude of experiences in Canada that you thought could only be found in other parts of the world?
So whether you’re a Canadian looking to get to know your home country a little better or are looking for alternative travel destinations in the fight against overtourism and away from the crowds, Canada is sure to grab your attention and satisfy your wanderlust.
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Popular Tourist Destinations and Alternative Places to Visit in Canada Instead
Here’s a list of 12 popular travel destinations around the world, and the alternative versions you can find in Canada!
Instead of the Caribbean…
While Canada is never going to be able to compete with the heat of the tropics, one of the main reasons we love to visit down south is to swim in the turquoise water.
Visit the Okanagan in British Columbia
But if you find yourself not able to escape that far, you can find shimmering fresh water lakes that are just as beautiful as the Caribbean.
This lake, for instance, is located only one hour east of Kelowna. Plus, there are tons more lakes in the area that shine bright in emerald-blue.
Instead of Tulips in The Netherlands…
As the largest producer of tulip bulbs in the world, tulips are synonymous with images of the Netherlands.
But if you can’t make it across the ocean in time for spring blooms, you can find a similar experience just outside of Vancouver.
Visit the Abbotsford Tulip Festival
For a few weeks in the Spring, starting around mid-April you can wander the stunning tulip fields just an hour outside of Vancouver.
There’s even an international airport in Abbotsford, so it’s easy to fly here (and cheaper than Vancouver), especially on Swoop Airlines.
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Instead of Lavender Fields in France…
In southeastern France, perfectly purple rows of some of the best lavender in the world are found in the Provence region.
It’s no wonder this area is referred to as the perfume capital of the world.
Visit the Terre Bleu Lavender Farm in Ontario
But if you want to marvel at the vibrant colors closer to home, just outside of Toronto you’ll find the Terre Bleu lavender farm.
Not only can you admire the gorgeous fields, every visitor will leave with a better understanding of sustainable agriculture practices here.
Or the Okanagan Lavendar and Herb Farm
In addition to the expansive views of endless rows of purple, the turquoise water of Okanagan Lake makes the scenery breathtaking.
Instead of Paris…
With Paris being one of the most visited cities in the world, you can bet it’s also the most expensive.
While the City of Love definitely lives up to its nickname and exudes romance and history all bundled into one magical place, there’s a perfectly suitable alternative in Canada.
Visit Montreal, Québec
Much like Paris, in primarily french-speaking Montreal, you’ll find similar Catholic architecture and history. The St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is built up on a hill and includes a massive dome similar to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris.
And with the devastating fire that damaged parts of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, you can still enjoy similar historic sentiments at its little sister, the Notre-Dame Basilica.
And much like Paris, there are so many things to do in Montreal, like trying decadent pastries, walking through historic neighborhoods and finding incredible street art.
Pay a visit to the Victoria Square metro station to snap a pic of the famous Metropolitain sign that are famously found throughout Paris. Pretty close, eh?
Instead of Fairy Tale Castles in Europe…
Europe’s antiquated and rich history has left us with amazing pieces of Gothic and medieval architecture to marvel at.
The remnants of kings, queens and royal families all over Germany, France and the United Kingdom are now some of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
Visit the Chateau Frontenac
Built in 1893 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Chateau Frontenac located in Quebec City, Quebec.
Perched above the river and located in the heart of Old Quebec, you’ll feel old world Europe vibes here, especially after wandering through the narrow streets nearby.
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Or the Banff Springs Hotel
Opened in the late 1800s, you’ll find another one of the most famous railway hotels. It was modeled after a famous Scottish baronial castle architecture and other castles found in the Loire Valley of France.
Located in Canada’s first national park, the Banff Springs Hotel transports any guest or visitor back in time. There is no shortage of ghost stories at this spooky palace either!
Instead of Getting Your Shakespeare Fill at Stratford-upon-Avon…
For any English literature fan or Romeo and Juliet lover, a visit to William Shakespeare’s birthplace is a bucket list item.
Visit Stratford, Ontario
But if you can’t make it to England anytime soon, Stratford, Ontario is a great alternative. Just like its English cousin, this community surrounds the Avon River, aptly named after the one in England.
Every summer you can visit the Shakespearean Gardens and almost all year long you can attend Shakespearean plays at the Stratford Festival.
Instead of the Cherry Blossoms in Japan…
One of the most coveted spring time draws in Japan is the cherry blossom season in April.
Millions of domestic and international tourists arrive for a few weeks during peak blossoming season to see the brilliant shades of white and pink that paint the country.
Visit the Cherry Blossoms in Vancouver
If you can’t make it across the pacific ocean, Vancouver will suffice! Every April the trees come out in full force. A perfect time for a quick (and cheaper) spring staycation.
Instead of the Sahara Desert…
While there’s no denying there are few experiences more unique and authentic than riding a camel across miles sand dunes, it’s not an easy or inexpensive place to get to.
Visit the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan
The Great Sandhills are located in southwestern Saskatchewan. While there aren’t any camels here, you can grab a sled or a toboggan and zip down the dunes.
And although it doesn’t get nearly as hot as the Sahara, if you visit in the dead of the summer, it might just feel like it!
Instead of Hobbiton in New Zealand…
A trip to the Hobbiton movie set is a must see for any Lord of the Rings fanatic.
Go Glamping in Quebec
Just over 2 hours from either Montreal or Ottawa you can rent a hobbit-themed eco-hut.
This whimsical property has done it all to provide you with the closest experience to living like a hobbit!
Instead of Napa Valley…
It’s no doubt Napa Valley is heaven on earth for any wine aficionados out there. But if you’re looking for an alternative to this luxurious wine region, head north.
Visit the Okanagan Region in British Columbia
Sometimes lovingly referred to as Canada’s Napa Valley, Wine Country in the Okanagan Valley is a beautiful alternative.
Between producing some of Canada’s finest wines and the glistening warm waters of Okanagan Lake, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in this area of the country.
Instead of the Belfast City Hall…
This beautifully ornate building opened its doors in 1906 with a heavy influence of characteristics emulated during the Baroque Revival period.
Visit the Alberta Legislature Building
But if you can’t make your way to Ireland anytime soon, the beautiful grounds surrounding the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton could suffice for an afternoon stroll.
Then cross the street and take a ride on the high level street car for vintage city vibes.
Instead of the Bali Swing…
If you follow any travel account on Instagram, you can bet that you’ve seen a post or 3000 about the epic Bali swing above the rice paddies and terraces.
While this experience is surely epic, rumor has it that you have to up to an hour or more in line just to get a few minutes on the swing. Not to mention the $35 USD price tag.
Visit the Canmore Swing (*closed)
For a less crowded and cheaper alternative, head to Canmore, Alberta which is just outside of Banff National Park.
After a short hike to get some altitude, visitors can enjoy equally stunning views of the mountain valley below.
*July 2019 update: Looks like the Canmore swing has been taken down. For similar views, head to Vancouver Island.
Mount Baldy Swing
Located near Duncan, BC, head to the Old Baldy Mountain trail for this beginner-grade hike.
At the top, you guessed it–a swing overlooking the Cowichan Valley below. It’s a hidden gem among the locals…shhh!
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