Stephanie Blackmun, our sales and customer service supervisor at Newmarket Holidays, ventured out on our ‘Canada’s Maple Leaf Trail’ tour and has shared some of her highlights with us. Though she’s always enjoyed a relaxing beach holiday, her preferred trips strike a balance between relaxation, a spot of sightseeing and at least a dash of cultural exchange.
Not realising Canada was more than 40 times the size of the UK, I had no clue of the scale of the country. The vast wildernesses and large gulfs between cities can make for a lot of travelling and a potential logistical nightmare, so I was grateful to be with a knowledgeable tour manager for the entire trip.
The tour was an expansive introduction to Canada and all its east coast has to offer. We had the opportunity to explore some vibrant cities including Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, as well as the capital city, Ottawa.
We kick things off with a high point: Niagara Falls. I was mesmerised by the thunder, spray and sheer volume of water. We stood awestruck below the bellowing falls, putting a tick at the top of my bucket list, all while surrounded by the country’s famous fall colours.
If you’re able to, sign up for the optional helicopter flight over Niagara Falls. This ride gives you the ultimate bird’s eye view of all three of the falls. I’m not one for heights but this was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done.
Since my return, I’ve frequently been asked which side of the falls is better, Canada or the US. Personally, I believe Canada is exceptional because of the panoramic views and photo opportunities.
Things take a more relaxing turn in Toronto, where we check out the famous CN Tower. This is where I faced my fears and braved the 553-metre tower with striking 360-degree views of the cityscape. It even had a revolving restaurant.
We follow the maple leaf trail, stopping at the stunningly rugged Thousand Islands, where Lake Ontario meets the St Lawrence River. Here, there happens to be more than 1,800 islands. We travelled during October, meaning it was the ideal time to see an array of fall colours, with the bonus of pumpkin displays for Halloween.
Natural sights aside, you can’t miss Canada’s dynamic selection of cities. After checking out Ottawa, we ventured onto Montreal. This dynamic city is a must as it includes the major sights as well as the somewhat peculiar RÉSO, also known as The Underground City.
I also recommend the Quebec City walking tour. This came next, taking us around the old town, which has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s filled with charming cobbled streets, captivating architecture up to four centuries old, plus a 130-year old funicular to the upper town.
Overall, our tour manager Gloria and driver Byron were full of knowledge and insight, answering everyone’s questions while having a great sense of humour. This made the trip extra special.
If you’re tempted to follow in Steph’s footsteps, find out more about our ‘Canada’s Maple Leaf Trail’ tour here.