International students agree, travelling around and exploring new places is one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad. Being an international student in Canada means getting an education in one of the safest/most peaceful countries in the world, where exploration opportunities simply thrive. Travelling around Canada while studying your degree also means you will be on a tight schedule and budget. Worry not! With proper planning and budgeting, you will be able to achieve both your academic as well as travelling goals, whether you are in Canada, Germany, UK, or elsewhere in the world.
Here is everything you should know about travelling around Canada as an international student:
What Places Should I Visit in Canada?
Canada has countless of visit-worthy places, it is vast, diverse, and spans over 9 million square kilometres. Granted, it would be quite a challenge to explore the whole of Canada, but it’s great outdoors is extremely unique and packed with beautiful landscapes and vast peaks. As an international student (on a budget) travelling around Canada while studying your degree, you might want to know which Canadian spots to mark on your map. Find some great destinations in Canada in the sections below:
Some of the loveliest places to visiting while travelling around Canada as an international student include:
Where Canadian past and present collide, the historic neighbourhood of Old Montreal, in Montreal. Although it is the oldest neighbourhood in Montreal, this area is coincidentally quite vibrant and lively. There is plenty to see here, from historical landmarks (some of which date back to the 17th century) to outstanding architecture. While you are there, make sure to visit the picturesque Saint-Paul Street, which is the oldest street in the city. Add to the list, the Old Port of Montreal, where you can stroll around and enjoy a calming scenery. The public square, Place d’Armes, will give you an interesting visual insight into the outstanding architecture of the city.
P.S: Do not forget your French dictionary, you will find one of the biggest French-speaking communities in the world here.
The cultural activities in Toronto and the green scenery of this Canadian city are endless. On the surface, it is quiet and peaceful, and wonderfully clean. Here, you will get to connect with different cultures, as well as explore all the must-see spots, while being surrounded by some extremely friendly people – Torontonians. As the most populous city in Canada, you will find a lot of liveliness here. Make sure to also visit the popular CN Tower, get on the glass floor elevator, and view the city from up above. The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is one of the best museums in North America, boasting more than six million artefacts. Boredom levels will be pretty low here, especially if you decide to spend a few days.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff National Park, located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, is one of the most picturesque national parks in the whole country. The mountains are simply astonishing, there are numerous hiking opportunities, and the glacial lakes and wildlife complement the whole experience. There is beauty everywhere you look, and there is always something entertaining to do. The colours on the lakes are out worldly and you will likely be in awe upon stepping foot on this national park in this adorable town in Alberta. As an international student on a budget, however, you might want to avoid visiting Banff on the high season (avoid summers/winters). You will likely find cheaper transport and accommodation off-season. But the visit is definitely worth it!
Visiting Niagara Falls is a splendid experience, and definitely, a great weekend getaway as you are travelling around Canada while studying your degree. This breathtaking experience will help you relax, especially if exam time is close and you feel overwhelmed. Millions of people every year stop by Niagara Falls to enjoy the scenery of this world wonder. There are numerous outdoor and indoor activities once you find yourself here. You can enjoy a nice lunch with a view, board the Maid of the Mist cruise for a 30-minute journey, where you will get to experience ‘600,000 gallons of water falling per second’ quite up-close. Visiting this destination is an experience on its own, different from any other experience you might have during your travels around Canada.
Vancouver has its fair share of peaky mountains, beautiful landscapes, a tranquil ocean, and green spaces. Beaches here offer a great place to spend the day and relax, but you will also be able to find plenty of culture-related activities and places to visit. For example, you can visit the Vancouver Art Gallery or the science centre known as the Science World Museum. The local cuisine is one of a kind, and if you visit the city during the off-season (spring and autumn) you will find everything to be less costly and the weather mild. Vancouver is the perfect blend of nature and urban life, suiting everyone’s needs – you will be able to find theatres, art galleries, shopping centres, beaches, and beautiful mountains, in addition to a vibrant nightlife.
Take The One-Week Train Journey Across Canada
Some might call it ‘an astonishing travel experience’ and it is actually so. For a matter of a week, approximately $500, and a 4,000-mile journey, you will be able to travel all the way across Canada. This train journey is known as “The Canadian” and it is a transcontinental passenger train travelling from Toronto, Ontario all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia. Travelling around Canada while studying a full-time degree means you would only be able to hop on this train during the holidays, considering it is a lengthy journey. You will be able to see the country and its scenery from a different perspective. Imagine waking up to the beautiful scenery of the mountains as seen from train windows!
Does Canada Have Reliable Transport?
If you are travelling within the city, you will find that public transport in Canada is largely efficient and useful. And it is important to become acquainted with public transport because you will save both time and money. You will be able to find different means of public transport, including buses, trains, subway, light-rail trains, as well as streetcars.
A one-way ticket for local transport costs an average of around 3,25 CA$, which can be considered budget-friendly, but the cost can be lower or higher depending on the city. If you want to travel from one province to another or from one city to the next, you can also use buses, trains, or even flights (if you want to arrive quicker and money’s not on the rocks).
Here’s how you can travel to different regions/cities in Canada:
- Train: The national rail network, VIA Rail, offers numerous discounts for students, and it’s both efficient and affordable. Besides, travelling by train is such an interesting experience, and the view is often marvellous.
- Bus: Buses travelling from one city to another are also present in Canada and at a fair price. Although they are not the quickest way to get from one place to another, the cost is affordable and if you are not travelling far, they are a common form of transportation.
- Car: In case you want to drive (have your own car), make sure your foreign license is recognized in Canada. Depending on your preferences, you may choose either form of transport, however, foreign licences are usually only allowed for a short period of time.
Things To Keep in Mind While Travelling
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when you are travelling around Canada while studying your degree:
If you are travelling further lengths, you should search beforehand whether there are any available (and affordable) hotels/hostels nearby where you could stay. If you are staying overnight, for the weekend, or longer periods of time, you should book your hotel/hostel spot well in advance. This way, you will be stress-free, knowing you have someplace to sleep and somewhere to leave your luggage.
Travel light but pack the essentials. It is important that you check the weather forecast, so you know what type of clothing to pack. As an international student travelling around Canada, you are advised to bring your laptop with you, in case you have assignments to finish during the time you are travelling (you can make use of the evenings). Bring layered clothing, this way you can adapt to different weather conditions.
There are plenty of things to do around Canada which are free (or at least budget-friendly). For example, you may be able to find free festivals or music events during the summer season. Oftentimes, you will find discounts on museum entry tickets or theatre tickets. Sightseeing on your own (without a tour) is free of charge, so you can hop into a bus or train and visit the suburbs. During the winter, ice skating is also a fun, affordable activity.
Planning is crucial if you want to meet deadlines, do well at university, as well as travel around the country. Try to plan the bigger trips weeks or even months ahead. Make use of the weekends or even the holidays to explore the beauty Canada has to offer. If you do not want to visit places on-season, you can add an extra day before or after the weekend, and there you have it, a three-day getaway.
Young Pioneer Tours are the leading travel operator to “destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from”. Check out their full international group tour schedule, or browse through the tours of their regional offices and let them plan your next travel adventure.