Canada's Most Visited Cities

Canada's Most Visited Cities

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When it comes to global tourism, the cities of Asia and Europe tend to get the most attention. In a ranking of the world's top 100 cities based on their number of international visitors, only three Canadian cities make the cut.

Oh, but what cities they are!

Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal each offer a unique blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. Their high-end hotels, fine dining, and cultural events bring joy to millions of travels annually.

From Victoria to Prince Edward Island, the Great White North contains some of the world's most beautiful natural landscapes, but its cities are pretty spectacular too. We hope you enjoy this look at the three Canadian cities that get the most attention from international travelers each year.

3. Montreal: 2,240,000 Visitors Per Year

Montreal
Old Montreal an early summer morning.

Montreal, with a population of around 1.7 million people, is the second-most populous city in Canada. It was the hub of Canadian commerce until, in the 1970s, Toronto's population and economy surpassed that of Montreal. Still, the city holds a very significant place in Canadian culture.

To get a sense of Montreal's history, visitors can tour Old Montreal, an enchanting, cobblestoned section of the city next to the St. Lawrence River. It's where the original French settlers arrived. Tourists can enjoy a carriage ride or take an easy stroll through the area to explore the romantic lamplit streets.

Another common itinerary item is a visit to Mount Royal, which the city was named after. Parc du Mont-Royal allows visitors and residents the chance to escape city life without traveling too far. The park features a lake and a large forest, with a series of trails providing access to densely wooded areas. There's an observatory that offers a gorgeous view of the city.

From February to April, just outside Montreal, visitors can learn about maple syrup production and get a tasty treat. The region's cabanes à sucre (AKA, sugar shacks) offer tours, demonstrations, a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, extravagant feasts of local cuisine, and live music. Those who favor savory over sweet might want to leave room for a late-night snack back in the city—one of Canada's favorite foods, poutine, is a delicious concoction of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds.

Recalling the days of old while offering all the amenities of a modern city, Montreal earns its spot as the third-most visited city in Canada.

2. Vancouver: 3,900,000 Visitors Per Year

Vancouver
Vancouver at night

From humble beginnings grew Vancouver, a coastal city in western Canada that now has a population of 631,486, and the Greater Vancouver area is home to nearly 2.5 million people. Starting out as a tiny settlement called Gastown located near a logging sawmill, the town saw rapid growth around 1867 as businesses filled in the waterfront to the west. After it became the railhead of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886, the town was given its current name of Toronto.

Over the years, the city's massive natural seaport to the Pacific Ocean made it a critical part of the trade route between Asia, Eastern Canada, and Europe. Vancouver has become the third-largest port by tonnage in the Americas.

Vancouver is a beautiful city, and it's fun to explore. The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in North America and a popular place to visit in Vancouver. The Museum of Anthropology offers a glimpse of what the area was like 10,000 years ago, presenting a range of Aboriginal works that illuminate the world that was inhabited by the region's earliest settlers.

A short drive outside the city takes visitors to the starting point of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. At the other end is Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge—it's the length of a football field and offers breathtaking, 360-degree views of rugged Canadian wilderness.

1. Toronto: 4,520,000 Visitors Per Year

Toronto
Gooderham or Flatiron Building in downtown Toronto

Toronto is the 29th most visited city in the world and tops our list of Canadian tourist destinations. The city has an interesting history. After the War of 1812, what was the British town of York since the late 1700s became the property of Canada and was renamed to Toronto in 1834. It now has a population of over 2.7 million and is known as one of the world's most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities.

Toronto is packed with museums and art galleries, world-class hotels and restaurants, and all the other amenities that large cities offer. Ice hockey fans can visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, 65,000 square feet of space dedicated to Canada's unofficial religion. It's home to the original Stanley Cup and many other significant artifacts of the sport.

The city's historic Old Town is where you'll find the St. Lawrence Market. Originally built in the 17th century, the marketplace has held may roles, and today it's a shopping mecca that features hundreds of stores, gourmet food, exhibitions of the city's art and culture, and a historic farmers market.

Offering vibrant city life, easy access to Canada's natural grandeur, and a peek into their fascinating histories, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal deserve their rankings as top international tourist destinations. We hope you enjoyed this brief look at the three most heavily visited Canadian cities.