These best mini breaks in Canada include some of the most beautiful towns, districts, and resorts in North America. If you're looking for a short yet fulfilling getaway, consider our varied line up below, which combines modern pleasures with the natural beauty of Canada's great outdoors.

    Some choices are obvious and usually rank high on many people’s bucket lists, such as Niagara Falls, which is home to one of North America’s most magnificent natural wonders. Others are gateways to world heritage sites, offering fun and adventure, or places of high historical or cultural value. Read on to find out more about the scenic, charming, and exciting places where you can escape for a joyful mini break in Canada.

    1

    Niagara Falls, ON

    Home to Ontario’s most magnificent natural feature

    Niagara Falls ranks high on lists of things to do in southern Ontario as well as options for the best mini breaks in Canada. The main reason is this city on the west bank of the winding Niagara River is home to none other than the namesake fabled falls which is truly a sight to behold.

    USA’s American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, together with Canada’s Horseshoe Falls make up the grand waterfall. It’s from the Canadian side that you’ll be able to take in the whole beauty of this wonder of nature. Enjoy the view from above Skylon Tower at the cliffside park. For an immersive experience, take the lift down behind the falls, or hop on a boat for a tour right under the thundering cascades.

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    2

    Okanagan Valley, BC

    Canada’s beautiful wine-growing region

    Okanagan Valley is one of the best mini breaks in Canada, especially for nature lovers and wine enthusiasts. It offers plenty of action for thrill-seekers as well. Besides tours and tastings at over 20 vineyards, there are exciting water sports and fun hiking to engage in during the summer months. When snow falls, ski resorts such as Big White and Sun Peaks offer good powdery slopes for some fun carving.

    Take in beautiful vistas of Okanagan Lake and the surrounding range from the hills above Kelowna. Though many would enjoy most of their visit down at the town’s own beautiful Lake Okanagan shoreline, the city offers easy access to the rest of the valley. It’s also a starting point for scenic drives throughout the region.

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    3

    Banff, AB

    Gateway to the great outdoors in Canada’s first national park

    Banff is the highest town in Canada, offering unmissable sights that are best experienced in summer. The country’s first national park is found in Banff, where you can go canoeing or hiking through the magnificent landscapes of the Canadian Rockies.

    While in Banff, don't miss the opportunity to take in the mountaintop scenery from above, with a ride on the Banff, Lake Louise, and Sunshine Village gondolas, as well as the chairlift at Mount Norquay. On the ground, hiking and biking through pine trails and across flower-dotted mountain slopes await you. Back in town, unwind with fine dining, high-end spa treatments, and lazy afternoons in hot springs.

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    4

    Quebec City, QC

    French heritage and fun winter sports

    Quebec City is often referred to as the cradle of New France, being a place in North America that offers a strong taste of France through architecture and cuisine. The city is also known as a go-to for skiing and winter festivities. Besides skiing adventures, you can enjoy tobogganing at an over-a-century-old wooden slide, right in the heart of the city.

    Quebec City is a joy to visit in summer. Visit the chateaus in the heart of the city or learn more about its interesting past at the many museums dotting the western bank of the St Lawrence River. Enjoy a scenic funicular ride on the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec or walk the L'Escalier Casse-Cou which link both the fortified Upper Town and the historic Lower Town.

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    5

    Muskoka, ON

    Scenic cottage country with pristine lakes

    The district of Muskoka offers plenty to see and do year-round, especially in the great Canadian outdoors with its 1,600 lakes. It’s one of the best mini breaks in Canada where aside from the fun and action, you’d simply sit back and relax while taking in beautiful scenery – no wonder those iconic wooden lakeside recliners are called ‘Muskoka chairs’.

    Go on a boat tour to soak up the beauty of nature from a different perspective or opt for one with a sunset dinner. Families with kids can have a carefree Muskoka day out on a beach, swimming, building sandcastles, kayaking, or tubing about. Overland, mountain biking, ATV rides, ziplining, and hiking through the pine forests allow you to experience Muskoka’s beauty at your own pace.

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    6

    Victoria, BC

    Rich maritime heritage and beautiful parklands

    Victoria serves as one of the most refreshing mini breaks in Canada, with rich maritime history and coastal scenery. Downtown is a very pleasant area for long and easy strolls, against a backdrop of stately Victorian mansions. A horse-drawn carriage ride past such landmarks and blooming gardens has helped make the memories of many.

    Nicknamed the "Garden City” of British Columbia, Victoria appeals to outdoorsy types with its collection of gorgeous parks, such as Beacon Hill and the Butchart Gardens. Set on the rocky southern end of Vancouver Island and overlooking the Salish Sea, Victoria is also a launch point for whale-watching tours and sunset dinner cruises.

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    7

    Montreal, QC

    A stunning metropolis on an island in the river

    Montreal is a beautiful Canadian city with an underlying French character. Uniquely, it’s set on an island in Quebec’s Saint Lawrence River. The modern metropolis retains its old-world charm through well-preserved architecture. This led to Mark Twain giving Montreal its nickname “The City of 100 Bell Towers” after visiting ​in 1907. Among the must-see grand structures are Christ Church Cathedral and the Notre-Dame Basilica.

    A stroll along 16th-century cobblestone streets lead you to the city’s gorgeous parks and green spaces. Gaze up at the splendid interiors of towering basilicas. To enjoy the great outdoors, hike up Mont Royal or stroll along the banks of Saint Lawrence River. They’re lined with French bistros and farmers markets that offer a variety that’ll keep foodies content.

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    8

    Toronto, ON

    A city break with great dining and shopping

    Toronto is a Canadian lakeside metropolis where many make for a short city break, with great options for retail therapy, sightseeing, and culinary adventures. Downtown’s cityscape has the CN Tower standing out among its soaring modern skyscrapers and 19th-century landmarks. The EdgeWalk is a must-do for those who dare. The photogenic Kensington Market is a cool spot for shopping and hangouts.

    You’ll also find plenty of green spaces and scenic views within the city – Queen’s Park and High Park offer outdoor fun and a breath of fresh air. The beautiful Ontario countryside is never far away. Traffic-free islands are just a ferry ride out offshore. Add to that beaches, parks, museums, theatres, and a great zoo and botanical garden, Toronto is one of the most well-varied mini breaks in Canada.

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    9

    Vancouver, BC

    An urban scene intertwined with lush nature

    Vancouver is a seaside city on Canada’s west coast where you’ll find a lively urban scene with the most skyscrapers in British Columbia beautifully backed by the Cascade Mountains. The city also has some of the most charming nightlife scenes – Gastown and Granville Entertainment District are places to be, thanks to their Instagrammable cobblestoned and tiled streets, Victorian architecture, and curated décor boutiques.

    Beyond Vancouver’s theatres, galleries, and movie filming locations, there’s plenty of nature scenes to take in. Hit the thousand-acre Stanley Park where you can find Vancouver Aquarium, home to over 70,000 aquatic creatures. The park’s famous seawall bids those looking for a breather with scenic running and biking trails.

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    10

    Calgary, AB

    A fantastic city in Alberta for a mini break

    Calgary serves as one of the best city breaks in Alberta where you can enjoy modern urban pleasures as well as skiing adventures that relive the 1988 Winter Olympics. Winter fun awaits on the slopes of Canada Olympic Park. In summer, you’ll find strong hints of Calgary’s western culture through must-see events such as the Calgary Stampede filled with massive rodeos and cowboy festivities.

    Calgary is a city that’s known for its diversity and multiculturalism, meaning you’re in for a well-varied culinary adventure right in the city. An authentic bowl of Vietnamese pho is just around the corner from a Lebanese restaurant. You can expect street festivals throughout the year and there are many theatres, galleries, and live music venues to keep you entertained.

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    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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