Kicking Horse, British Columbia
Credit/Licence flickr: By Paul.Carroll

With vast wilderness areas of startling beauty, cosmopolitan cities that consistently top the ‘World’s Most Livable Cities’ list, and a cultural consciousness that is both progressive and liberal, Canada is quite simply one of the most likeable countries in the world.

Canada is known as North America’s ‘better half’, the USA’s more tolerant and laid-back sibling, and Canadians themselves are some of the friendliest, open-minded people you will ever meet, with a ready list of attributes to distinguish themselves from Americans.

Its major cities ooze sophistication and yet are renowned as hubs for the arts; music, art and theatre abound, both on the streets and in its world-class theatres and museums. Toronto is so urbanely chic that is referred to as the New York of Canada, Montreal offers a little slice of Europe without the airfare, and Vancouver is the ultimate laidback Canadian city, on the water and just a short drive from one of the world’s most famous ski resorts, Whistler.

Besides its cities, there is no shortage of sights to see in this enormous, diverse country; spectacular Niagara Falls (the American side simply does not compare), with over 6 million cubic feet of water cascading over the edge each minute, the incredible Canadian Rockies that extend for 1,500 kilometres through Alberta, and the country’s Great Lakes, which form the largest body of fresh water on the face of the earth.

Despite its snowy reputation Canada is beautiful to visit at any time of year; the summertime sees people flock to lakeside cottages to bask on the beach and head to the country's myriad of national parks to hike through alpine forests, kayak down glacier-feed rivers and spot Canada’s multitude of unique wildlife. Witnessing the maple trees change in the autumn is a sight that cannot be described but must be seen; hillsides awash with shades of gold, amber and vermillion that you never knew existed, punctuated here and there with the evergreen tips of conifers.

And then there is the winter, when Canada becomes everything that the stereotype suggests; piles of white snow blanketing rooftops and streets, lakes frozen solid with the unmistakable slices of ice skates etched in their surface, and mountains swathed in that perfect powder that people travel from around the world to score with their skis, snowboards and toboggans.