Canada offers up unique experiences that you won’t find in any guidebook — you just have to know where to find them. To help you explore like a local, we’ve asked friends from across the country to share their top spots and experiences from the cities they call home. Bundled by interest or passion, consider this your local’s guide to travelling through the country’s vibrant cities and boundless wilderness.
Thanks to Jeff Frenette, Jason Fitz, and Kael Rebick for their local tips.
When you see Canada, it's best to see it from the top. These lookouts will take you from the wilderness to the city, then back again. Bring your camera and appreciation for unadulterated beauty.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie - Montreal
Montreal’s best observatory
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie is a newly-opened observatory in downtown Montreal. The striking view from within the city center offers locals and travellers a new perspective of the city they love. The observatory is also home to an interactive exhibition where you can create a custom itinerary to plan the rest of your time. And if that’s not enough, enjoy the view with a glass of wine at Les Enfants Terribles, a restaurant at the top of the tower.
Polson Pier and Tommy Thompson Park - Toronto
World-class skyline views
Polson Pier and nearby Thompson Park are to ideal places to take in Toronto’s skyline. Our tipster recommends wandering through natural Thompson Park before making the 10-minute trek to Polson Pier for amazing sunset scenes of the city.
Cypress Mountain - Vancouver
See the city from the mountain
Vancouver’s known for beautiful views of its coastal mountains. But a view from the mountains is better according to our insider. Drive up Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver and take in the city from above at one of two picnic areas. You’ll be able to see the city lights below at night and Mount Baker in the distance during the day. Bring a blanket and thermos and settle in for sunrise or sunset. And definitely don’t forget your camera.
Thompson Hotel - Toronto
Toronto’s best view
The Thompson Hotel is a chic hotel with an equally exclusive rooftop cocktail lounge with breathtaking 360° panoramas of Toronto’s world-class skyline and Lake Ontario. The view is, frankly, ridiculous.
Expo 67 - Montreal
North America’s only biosphere
One of our local’s favourite views of Montreal is also an architectural landmark. Expo ‘67, the former site of the World’s Fair, is home to the famous Montreal Biosphere and environmental museum. The best time to go: in the evening when the lights go out and you can catch a unique glimpse of the city.
Gallagher Park - Edmonton
Best seat in the house
Who doesn’t love a city skyline? Gallagher Park in Edmonton’s downtown is the perfect spot to take in the city from a unique vantage point. Also home to Edmonton’s Folk Fest, this park is more than just a view point – there’s always a ton of activity going on, no matter the season. One of our insider’s favourite parts? Spotting the glass pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory below.
Port Airport Helicopter Tours - Toronto
An unreal tour of Toronto
If the view from the photogenic underground pathway at Porter Airport isn’t enough, try a breathtaking helicopter tour for an insanely close panoramic perspective of Toronto. The island airport is full of beautiful views in all weather, we think.
Pont Jacques-Cartier - Montreal
An offbeat perspective of Montreal
Even some locals don’t know about the obscure view of Montreal from Pont Jacques-Cartier. The bridge has a pedestrian and bike path that offers a distant view of the city. You can get there by taking the metro to Station Papineau and heading to the bridge entrance just north of the station.
Chebucto Head - Halifax
Home to rugged coastal views
Thirty minutes outside of Halifax by way of (partially) unpaved road, you’ll find Chebucto Head on the Chebucto Peninsula. Locals describe it as "like Peggy’s Cove with fewer tourists" — sounds good to us! Check out the lighthouse built in 1872 and take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean and Halifax on the horizon.
The Pilot - Toronto
Historic rooftop bar
The Pilot is a historic bar in the affluent Yorkville district. Sure, part of the local landmark’s charm is nostalgic, but the Flightdeck roof patio is a great place to observe the picturesque neighbourhood and catch live jazz acts.
Canada is full of views worth taking in. Stop by with your camera, but be sure to take a moment sans lens to really experience it.