Planning a trip to Canada beginning mid-January or early February. I have never been there.
Is it a good idea to city-hop in Canada around Jan-April?
Where is the best and cheapest place in Canada?
Small towns? (I like small towns)
How is the local transportation? Bus? Metro? Taxi? (The reason I ask is because I plan to city/town hop).
NOTE: I'm a lone traveler. So I'd appreciate it if you give me tips on the "friendliest" neighborhood and such.
[ Edit: Edited on 27-Nov-2010, at 16:36 by shahoney ]
- forum members travel sites other than this one are correct: canada is very cold in jan / feb / march with the only exception ( generally ) being southwest bc ( vancouver & southern vancouver island / victoria ) - this is something you need to be very aware of if you intend to travel here at that time- most especially if you intend to visit eastern canada including the province of quebec and / or the maritime provinces. many travellers DO visit canada during the winter months, and many of them do to participate in winter- related activities. if you are interested in downhill skiing or ice- fishing or skating on canals in downtown ottawa- then you have picked a crackerjack time to visit canada.
- winter CAN be an excellent time to visit canada- just be prepared for the cold- and i mean bitter, fierce cold ( wind chill ) that can be quite unforgiving to those who are not familiar with it. late spring / summer / and most especially autumn- are- imo- more ' agreeable ' times of the year to visit and experience everything ( considerable ) canada has to offer.
- ' is it a good idea to city- hop in canada around jan- april ? '
you can do that- by air, bus, or train ( via- rail canada ) just keep in mind that in western canada there are often vast distances between cities. as well- most of the terrain you would be travelling through would be in winter- mode. beautiful for sure, but not for everyone. to travel between the cities of toronto / ottawa / montreal / quebec city is relatively easy ( and affordable ) by train and / or bus.
- ' where is the best and cheapest place in canada ? '
the warmest portion of the country in jan thru april is undeniably southwestern bc. as for ' cheap ': good deals for travellers on a budget exist. you just have to do the online leg- work. canada is generally an expensive country to travel in- but expenses are determined by range and the time of year / season you visit- plus which part of the country visited.
- ' how is the local transportation ? bus ? metro ? taxi ? '
toronto has an extensive subway system plus streetcars and LRT lines. montreal has an absolutely incredible underground subway network. vancouver has a surprisingly lengthy LRT network- both above and below ground, plus commuter ferries. the cities of calgary and edmonton both have commendable LRT street- level systems. all canadian cities- large or small- have transit options including busses, cabs, dog- sled, etc...
- ' i'm a lone traveller. so i'd appreciate... '
all of canada's major cities have- to a degree- run- down, or skid- row, or ' dicey ' neighbourhoods. a traveller is not necessarily ' at risk ' in one of these urban zones. adsverse situations can- and do- befall a traveller in affluent zones as well ( obviously ) until you have indicated just where exactly you intend to travel to- it is difficult to offer advice here. so please let us know.
- should be others offering advice here as well - hope i have been of some help.
take care, kezin.
Kezin's reply is good. I will just add some notes on one area he skipped - the small towns.
Canada is dotted with small towns. If you were going to be around Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City, then there are a number of options to check out.
About 2 hours North of Toronto is the Muskoka region, which has a number of medium to small towns. It is also a great launching pad for winter sports like cross country skiing, sledding, snowmobiles, etc. You can travel by bus between the towns, but would mostly be on foot or via taxi in them.
In Quebec, you might want to check out the Eastern Townships. While they offer similar activities to Muskoka, you'll find them culturally very different, and you'll run into a fair share of people who speak only French.
The Gatineau region, north of Ottawa, is also a beautiful place full of small towns and large national parks.
For something different, you might also want to check out winter camping in a yurt, Algonquin Park or McGregory Point have them.
I'll be as succinct as possible-Don't Bother it's freezing here-colder than you could ever imagine.
I've been to Canada a few times and love the place but as has been said, unless you are a fan of winter sports I'd stick to British Columbia. Vancouver is a great city, check out English bay, Stanley park and Kitsilano. Maybe take a ferry across to Vancouver island, we visited in the summer but Victoria, Sydney and Sooke were well worth a visit then. I guess it's just a day trip up to Whistler as well if you decide you do want to try a bit of skiing.
Well shahoney, I would have liked to know where you're from because cold is a relative concept; I'm guessing that you want to experience Winter. kezin has given a comprehensive answer, but I'd like to add a little to the "small town" answer that was given.
Some smaller towns, like Parry Sound in the aforementioned Muskokas, grow four-fold in the non-winter season; many services and activities are closed, some for the off-season & some are open only on the weekends in the winter; services such as hotels/motels/cottages, restaurants,activities.
I was raised near Montréal, have lived outside Toronto, in Edmonton & now live outside Vancouver. The mildest winters are definitely in Vancouver, the coldest (-40c is not unheard of) in Edmonton, the Rockies are extremely cold, the least comfortable because of duration & humidity was Montréal.
Because of winter conditions, airports can be closed and so can roads; ferries are delayed because of winds & waves, sometimes ice.
Some areas like Whistler in British Columbia & Mont Tremblant in Québec are year-round resorts, well frequented for winter activities, but expensive.
No one's mentioned clothing; if you are NOT from a winter country, buy clothing here when you arrive; there are stores specializing in winter clothing for travellers or outdoors enthusiasts. If you move around, plan for the colder places.
If you are NOT from a winter country don't contemplate driving.
By the way, the sunniest winters are in Alberta & Sakatchewan; you'll likely see morning frost on trees against the bluest skies or ice crystals slowly falling from a blu-blue sky. But it's -30c!!!!
I am not a winter person; Canada is a huge country. This summer I took a two month & 17,000km car trip from Vancouver to the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia and back, including about 25 days visiting relatives, and I ran out of time. And I did not visit the major cities.
You just might have enough time in 3 months!
Thanks for the replies.
I'm from Southern California (LA County), so I'm more apt to warm weather. But I have lived in cold climates during winter season in England. Or, is it colder over there in Feb.?
I've been to two other forums and they also said it would be "too cold to travel" around January-March. Makes me re-think this. I was expecting a nice spring season.
As for the commute, I'm thinking of flying to New York and just take a bus or train from there to somewhere in Canada. I'm gonna take a look at a Northern American map and plan out my itinerary two weeks from now when I'm done with university.
If you're going to New York and then coming north, I'm pretty sure Montreal is the closest major city. One thing to be aware of when traveling in the winter as well, if you're relying on buses is that they are occasionally canceled/delayed when there is poor weather (snowstorms, etc). This is particularly true when traveling to smaller towns. Because you're not accustomed to driving in snowy conditions, I would definitely stick with public transportation - it will probably be cheaper anyway, but will definitely be safer.
If you aren't too concerned about the cold (most places I would guess that you will see -15 to -35 with maybe the odd day warmer/colder). Towards April it is significantly warmer. If you enjoy winter sports, there is lots to do. You could check out Winterlude in Ottawa (and ice skating on the rideau!), or the Bonhomme Carnivale in QC city. There are also tonnes of parks for cross-country skiing as the other posters have outlined.
I had a trip last year with my friends and it was just ok as canada is so big and we spent most of the time in travelling rather enjoying at places.