If you are wondering what to expect when it comes to travel in 2023, it’s safe to say that travel is back and that everything everywhere is going to be busy. Booked. Expensive. According to Expedia, Hotels.com and VRBO, who jointly delved into a vast bank of traveler data and surveyed thousands of people across 17 countries, “the coming year of travel will be like no other.” RELATED: 10 Best Budget-Friendly Vacation Destinations for 2023
So, if you’re planning to travel this year, it’s a good idea to book early, be prepared for crowds and to travel in the off-season whenever possible. If your travels are taking you to Canada, here are some ways to save money in some of the country’s biggest cities. Here are free things to do in 10 Canadian cities if you’re traveling on a budget in 2023.
1. Toronto, Ontario
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is known for its diverse culture and vibrant downtown. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the CN Tower, which offers stunning views of the city. Visitors can also take a beautiful and leisurely walk along the Harbourfront, which costs nothing and offers views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. Additionally, visitors can take a free tour of the historic Distillery District, which offers a glimpse into the city’s industrial history. Plus, general admission to all 10 Toronto History Museums is permanently free to provide everyone an opportunity to learn about the city’s cultural heritage. Find more details here.
2. Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is a coastal city known for having it all (ocean, mountains and a vibrant city life) and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can take a free walk along the seawall in Stanley Park, which offers views of the North Shore Mountains and English Bay. Visitors can also take a free hike in the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which offers views of the Capilano River and the surrounding rainforest. Additionally, visitors can take a free self-guided tour of the historic Gastown, which offers a glimpse into the city’s past. If you want to take in some of the city’s cultural options, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, entrance is by donation on Tuesdays. Find more free things to do in Vancouver here.
3. Montreal, Quebec
Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada and perhaps the most romantic. It’s known for its French culture and architecture and a certain je ne sais quoi that will have you planning your next visit before you’ve even left. Take a free walk along the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, to take in the views of the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Place Jacques-Cartier. Take a free tour of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which offers free admission on the last Sunday of every month and take a free self-guided tour of the famous Mont Royal, which offers views of the city and the surrounding area. Looking for a bit of culture? Wednesday evenings after 5pm and every first Sunday of the month are free at the McCord Museum, which educates and enlightens visitors about Canadian history.
4. Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and is known for its government buildings and historic sites. Visitors can take a free tour of the Parliament Hill, and appreciate the views of the city and the surrounding area. To save on your tour of the Canadian Museum of History, visit on Thursdays, between 5pm and 7pm, when admission is free (a timed ticket is required.) Plus, take a free self-guided tour of the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s 202 kilometers long and connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston.
5. Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City is known for its French culture and architecture. Visitors can take a free walk along the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec, which offers views of the Château Frontenac and the Place Royale. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month and visitors can take a free self-guided tour of the famous Terrasse Dufferin, a long wooden sidewalk alongside the famed Château Frontenac, where visitors can delight in the stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding area.
6. Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is one of the most famous natural attractions in Canada and is known for its stunning waterfalls. Visitors can take a free walk along the Niagara River to see the magnificent Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. Visitors can also take a free tour of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, which offers free admission on certain days of the week. The Niagara Gorge, offers views of the Niagara River and the surrounding area. In Niagara Falls, it’s all about the breathtaking views! If you’re interested in learning more about the region, every Thursday evening the Niagara Falls History Museum offers free admission from 5pm to 9pm. Find more free things to do in Niagara Falls here.
7. Banff, Alberta
Banff is one of Canada’s most picturesque spots and should top your list of places to visit, whether in summer or in winter. The mountain resort town is located in the Canadian Rockies and is famed for its glistening lakes, majestic mountains and access to world class outdoor adventure. Visitors can take a free hike in the Banff National Park and take a free tour of the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which offers free admission on the first Wednesday of every month. A free self-guided tour of the famous Lake Louise offers views of the lake and the surrounding area and in the winter, you can skate on the lake for free.
8. Calgary, Alberta
Home to the world-famous Calgary Stampede, Calgary is a bustling city in Alberta known for fresh air, open spaces and all the outdoor activities a traveler could want. Free outdoor activities abound here, like taking a free self-guided tour of the famous Prince’s Island Park, which offers views of the Bow River. The Glenbow Museum offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. And visitors can take a free walk along the Stephen Avenue Walk, which is a pedestrian mall that offers views of the city. Calgary has lots of free attractions, tours, parks and outdoor activities and festivals and events, all of which you can check out here.
9. Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba and has a rich cultural scene of arts, dance and music. When it comes to free activities, visitors can take a free tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building as well as a free tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which offers free admission on the second Sunday of the month. A free self-guided tour of the historic Exchange District offers a glimpse into the city’s past. From historic and heritage sites and museums to parks, markets and live outdoor theatre, there are plenty of free things to do in Winnipeg. Get more ideas here.
10. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Did you know that Halifax has the world’s second largest natural harbor? The charming heart of Atlantic Canada, Halifax is a beautiful coastal city with lots of free things for visitors to do like taking a free tour of the Halifax Citadel and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, which is free to visit. Walk along the Waterfront Boardwalk, one of the world’s longest urban boardwalks.
Canada is a gorgeous, vibrant and diverse destination and if you haven’t been before, you can find plenty of things to do while you’re there that won’t cost a fortune. Happy travels!
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