The Ultimate Canada Bucket List for Your Gap Year: 22 Must-Do Experiences

To help you make the most of your time in Canada, here’s a list of epic activities to ensure your year is packed with unforgettable experiences and discoveries from coast to coast.

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soNomad
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Bucket list Canada Gap Year

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Canada, where the people are warmer than a cup of cocoa, the scenery is jaw-dropping, and the sheer size is almost as vast as all of Europe, is the ultimate playground for your gap year adventure.

To help you make the most of your time in Canada, here’s a list of epic activities to ensure your year is packed with unforgettable experiences and discoveries from coast to coast.

1. Surf Tofino’ Waves (British Columbia)

Welcome to Canada's surf mecca! Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just curious to learn, Tofino promises a memorable experience. With surf lessons for just $60 for 3 hours, including board rental, it’s the perfect time to ride the waves at Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay. Between surf sessions, explore local cafes and savour a craft beer at Tofino Brewing Company.

2. Ski Whistler’s Legendary Slopes (British Columbia)

Hit the legendary slopes of Whistler, accessible via the scenic Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver. With 200 runs, 36 lifts, and a vertical drop of 1,609 metres, Whistler offers you an unparalleled skiing and snowboarding experience that will make you feel like a pro.

3. Journey by Train Through the Rockies (British Columbia)

Opt for a budget-friendly scenic train ride from Vancouver to Jasper with VIA Rail. Ditch the pricey Rocky Mountaineer and enjoy this more affordable option starting at $172. While part of the trip is overnight, you’ll still experience breathtaking views without breaking the bank.

4. Experience the Calgary Stampede (Alberta)

Don't miss one of the world’s largest rodeo tournaments. Get ready for the electric atmosphere of this iconic event, but be warned—you might find yourself trading your backpack for cowboy boots and a hat.

5. Fly Over the Rockies in a Helicopter (Alberta)

For a truly unique experience (because YOLO, right?), treat yourself to a helicopter and snowshoe tour. Nothing compares to the thrill of a 20-minute flight over glaciers, frozen lakes, and the majestic Rockies.

6. Drive the Icefields Parkway (Alberta)

Considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, the Icefields Parkway is Alberta’s crown jewel. For the ultimate scenic drive, rent a campervan and explore this spectacular route where every kilometre offers views so stunning you might forget to keep your eyes on the road.

7. Marvel at the Northern Lights (Saskatchewan)

Witness the awe-inspiring northern lights in Saskatchewan’s vibrant skies, known as “The Land of Living Skies.” Don’t miss these dazzling natural light shows, illuminating the night from November to March. It’s like nature’s own winter fireworks display.

8. Soak in the Unique Vibes of Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)

Stroll through street art-filled alleys and be surprised at every turn in this city dubbed the “Paris of the Prairies.” Let the enchanting blues and jazz vibes sweep you away, giving the city its unique character.

9. Join a Bison Safari at Lake Audy (Manitoba)

Meet Manitoba’s majestic bison and learn how these iconic animals were essential to Indigenous cultures. Marvel at the fascinating interplay between Anishinaabe culture and the history of Riding Mountain National Park.

10. Spot Polar Bear in the Wild (Manitoba)

If you're an adventurer, save a ton by planning your own trip instead of joining a tour to spot polar bears in the wild. Take a 40-hour train ride to Churchill for a unique winter experience. It’s the perfect time to catch up on your audiobook playlist!

11. Discover Bruce Peninsula National Park (Ontario)

Get ready to fall in love with the stunning turquoise waters of Bruce Peninsula National Park. Don't miss the Grotto, a hidden gem that will make your visit unforgettable. This natural wonder will make you question whether you're still in Canada or have been transported to a secret tropical island!

12. Skate on the Rideau Canal (Ontario)

The world’s largest natural ice skating rink awaits. Lace-up your skates and glide along the Rideau Canal. 

After all that exercise, treat yourself to a delicious BeaverTail. The Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and if you’re lucky, you might time your visit with Winterlude, a winter festival that’s sure to impress.

13. Feel the Energy of Niagara Falls (Ontario)

Can you say you've truly visited Canada if you haven’t been to Niagara Falls? This iconic spot is a must-see. 

Hop on a boat cruise and prepare to get soaked by the falls' power. The iconic poncho might not be stylish, but it's definitely necessary to avoid getting drenched!

14. Kayak with Seals at Sunset (Quebec)

Head to Gaspésie for an epic sunset kayak tour in Gaspé Bay with Cap Aventure. Your guide will take you to a seal colony. With a bit of luck, these curious seals will come up to greet you just a few metres away.

15. Dance the Cold Away at Igloofest (Quebec)

Ready to brave the Quebec winter in style? Attend Igloofest, an outdoor electronic music festival held at -15°C! Enjoy international DJs, giant ice sculptures, bonfires, and hot poutine to warm you up from the inside.

16. Step Back in Time in Old Quebec (Quebec)

A stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec will immerse you in Quebec’s history and culture. 

Summer or winter, don’t miss Terrasse Dufferin for stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and Château Frontenac. In winter, try the 80-metre-long toboggan slide for a thrilling experience!

17. Discover the World’s Highest Tides at the Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick)

The famous Hopewell Rocks offer an unforgettable experience: walk on the ocean floor at low tide, then watch these monoliths transform into islands at high tide. Check the tide schedule to plan your visit for optimal kayaking or walking.

18. Indulge in Seafood Delights (New Brunswick)

What could be better than fresh seafood, especially lobster, during your stay in New Brunswick? Head to Shediac for the must-have selfie with the iconic giant lobster statue.

19. Beach Hop on Red Sand Beaches (Prince Edward Island)

As you arrive via the Confederation Bridge, you will be captivated by the island’s vibrant red soil. Every corner of Prince Edward Island is within view of the sea, offering a beach lover’s paradise. 

Don’t miss Argyle Shore Provincial Park on the island’s south side, where you can explore shallow tidal pools at low tide, creating magical reflections on the red sand.

20. Hike the epic Cabot Trail (Nova Scotia)

For breathtaking panoramic views along a 300 km loop, the legendary Cabot Trail offers an unforgettable adventure. Each stretch of the road reveals a unique landscape. Don’t miss the iconic Skyline Trail hike near Chéticamp for a stunning ocean view at sunset.

21. Watch Icebergs, Puffins, and Whales (Newfoundland)

From May to June, witness the extraordinary natural spectacle of iceberg spotting. Use the Iceberg Finder app to locate these ancient ice giants and marvel at their beauty from the shore or on boat tours.

22. Party on George Street (Newfoundland)

Immerse yourself in Newfoundland’s vibrant culture with a visit to St. John’s. On the legendary George Street, Christian’s Pub will introduce you to the local tradition of “screeching in.” Mingle with locals and celebrate your new status as an honorary Newfoundlander in a ceremony where you’ll eat a piece of baloney, kiss a codfish, and take a shot of Screech, the local rum.

Where Will You Start?

Before ticking every experience off this Canadian bucket list, get a travel insurance quote from soNomad to enjoy affordable coverage for your gap year.

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