Destination Guides

Top 10 places to visit in Ontario

Ben Westwood

31st May 2024

Niagara Falls

Canada’s most populous province is most famous for wonder of the world Niagara Falls, but Ontario has many other stunning sights to explore – from the archipelago of Thousand Islands to the rugged hills of Killarney, the waterfront of Toronto and the vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here are the top 10 sights to visit on a holiday to Ontario.

Niagara Falls

As one of the world’s most visited attractions, Niagara Falls needs little introduction. What may surprise visitors though is the wide variety of perspectives to watch a fifth of the world’s fresh water tumbling over three sets of falls. As well as the obligatory boat trip, there’s the alternative view from below on Journey Behind the Falls, the view from above on the Skywheel or the Skylon Tower, and if you want to splash out, a helicopter ride is perhaps the most spectacular way to take in this spellbinding destination.

Thousand Islands

Someone got their math a little awry because there are actually about 1,800 islands in this incredible archipelago, but who’s counting? Explore the landscapes, castles and communities of Thousand Islands on a cruise, or take to the skies on a helicopter tour. The literal highlight of the region is the 130-metre Observation Tower on Hills Island, while the 240-metre Thousand Islands International Bridge is one of the world’s most impressive border crossings over to New York State. Don’t miss the nearby city of Kingston, briefly the capital of Canada in the 1840’s, with sights including 19th century Fort Henry and the oldest public market in Ontario in front of City Hall. Whatever you choose to eat, adding some Thousand Island dressing is obligatory.

Toronto

Canada’s biggest city is more than a gateway to the rest of the province – with its iconic waterfront and multicultural population, Toronto is a great place to begin or end a holiday in Ontario. The best way to view the city is from the observation deck of needle-like CN Tower, while a cruise on Lake Ontario showcases the fantastic waterfront. The city also has several great museums, including Royal Ontario Museum with the world’s largest fossil collection. After a busy day sightseeing, explore Toronto’s diverse cuisine in neighbourhoods such as Chinatown, Koreatown, Portugal Village and multi-cultural Kensington Market.

Killarney Provincial Park

Artists have been visiting Killarney for generations, attracted by landscapes so beautiful that they must be committed to canvas. The dramatic cliffs, crystalline lakes and forested hills of Killarney recall the wilds of its Ireland namesake. Stretching from pink granite cliffs on Lake Huron’s northern shore to La Cloche Mountains, the park contains over 50 lakes ideal for kayaking, while hikers can explore the 80km Cloche-Silhouette Trail or scale Silver Peak, the park’s highest point for spectacular views.

Ottawa

With grand Victorian architecture, a walkable downtown and scenic riverside location, Canada’s capital is one of the country’s most beautiful cities. Much smaller than Toronto or Montreal, Ottawa retains small town charm, easily explored on foot. Historic highlights include Parliament Hill, Museum of Civilisation, National Gallery and Canadian War Museum. Then take a boat trip along the St Lawrence River or along the Rideau Canal, which transforms in winter into the world’s largest skating rink.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Canada’s oldest provincial park contains some of Ontario’s most beautiful, tranquil scenery. Algonquin’s lush maple and fir forests, hills, meadows, rivers and lakes are havens for hiking, canoeing, rafting and fishing. The wildlife is a big draw too, including moose, deer, beavers, black bears and wolves. It’s a great place for hiking and cycling on the many trails, canoeing on lakes and tributaries, and the more adventurous can try whitewater rafting. Nearby Muskoka Lakes is equally beautiful with densely forested hills filled with deer, beavers, moose and blue herons. Muskoka is also a great place for food and drink with many breweries and wineries, while the town of Bala is known as the cranberry capital of Ontario.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

There’s far more to Niagara than waterfalls – the province of the same name is Canada’s largest wine-producing region, filled with lush vineyards and wineries offering tasting tours. The charming Victorian town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is a wonderful step back in time with colonial buildings, boutique shops and horse-drawn carriages. Take in historic highlights such as Fort George, used to defend Canada from the USA in 1812, then indulge in a wine tour and explore some of the town’s many gourmet restaurants. Niagara-on-the-Lake is particularly famous for its sweet ice wine, a dessert wine produced from grapes frozen on the vine.

Blue Mountains

The region of Blue Mountains is a haven for alpine adventures in summer and winter alike. The charming pedestrian village is an adventure sports hub with ziplining, climbing, hiking and cycling in the surrounding hills in summer, and some 43 ski and snowboarding trails in winter. The Blue Mountains region is also famous for its apples, growing 18 different varieties, and the Apple Pie Trail is a recommended route through orchards and cideries along Southern Georgian Bay.

Tobermory

On the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron, Tobermory is famous for more than 20 shipwrecks, some of which can be viewed through incredibly clear water on a glass-bottomed boat tour. This charming town is also known as the scuba diving capital of the Great Lakes. Other highlights of Tobermory include the 19th century Big Tub Lighthouse and Fathom Five Marine Park with unique rock formations that gave Flowerpot Island its name. A popular hike is along the Niagara Escarpment on the famous 782-km Bruce Trail.

Manitoulin Island

The largest freshwater island in the world, Manitoulin in Lake Huron offers scenic hikes, beautiful beaches, star-gazing and the chance to experience diverse First Nations cultures first-hand. Highlights include Providence Beach, as well as hikes on the Cup and Saucer Trail and to Bridal Veil Falls. It’s popular to camp on the island in Manitoulin Eco Park, a Dark Sky Preserve in the forest. Learn about local indigenous communities on a guided walk, then sample the traditional local cuisine.

To find out more, explore Journeyscape’s range of Holidays to Ontario.

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