The Best Lesser-Known Canadian Getaways

banff national park

Are you looking for somewhere unforgettable to get away from it all? The problem with so many idealized getaway places is that everyone else has had the same idea and got their first or at the same time as you. So if you are really looking for something special, you might need to get yourself off the beaten tourist track.

Staying in to get away

Many of us revel in the idea of getting out of the everyday and into new spaces and places. Sometimes, the best lesser-known getaways mean we do not have to go very far at all. If we want to cheat, we can curl up on the sofa at home and shut out the madding crowd. For example, we can load up an epic movie like Antanajurat: The Fast Runner from 2001, the first feature film made in the Inuit language. Alternatively, try unwinding with some online gaming by visiting any number of Interac casinos in Canada without leaving the living room.

However, if you have more wanderlust and time on your hands, here is a selection of wild and wonderful getaways. These destinations will require more planning than hiding away at home, however.

Quttinirpaaq National Park

This national park is in Nunavut’s Artic area – the northernmost part of the country. It is probably hard to find a more remote place, and it only receives a handful of visitors every year. You will need to get a series of flights even to get close. The landscape is rugged peaks, ice caps, glaciers, tundra and fjords. In the summer, this is a land where the sun hardly sets. So if getting away from it all is your priority, this has to be the number one destination.


Compared to Quttinirpaaq, Dawson is positively bustling. Its population is around 1,300, and this Yukon town is not a regular stop on most tourist trails. However, it should be. It grew up in the 19th Century during the Klondike Gold Rush. Like an old movie set, it has perfectly preserved buildings and an authentic atmosphere. Add it to your road trip itinerary. It is officially a city, but you will not find the usual trappings of a city break here.

Escape in Ottawa

Ottawa Parliament Buildings

You do not have to go to the furthest flung corners of the country to find some extraordinary getaways. Some of them are right under your feet. For example, while visiting Ottawa,  check out Diefenbunker. This four-story underground bunker houses Canada’s Cold War Museum. It was built to shelter government officials in the event of a nuclear attack. It is located in Carp on the city’s outskirts and is a place where you can literally descend into history.


The city of Yellowknife is the gateway to the North and is located in Chief Drygeese territory – the traditional land of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The city of around 20,000 inhabitants is situated on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and is the capital of the Northwest Territories. Its origins are in gold mining, and diamonds were discovered in the area in 1991. A big draw for tourists here is the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) which are visible up to 240 days a year. There are also numerous cultural and heritage events to broaden your horizons.

Athabasca Provincial Park

This park is made up of sand dunes; the most northern of Athabasca Sand Dunes in Saskatchewan is only accessible by floatplane. It takes real dedication to get away here, but you will find a unique ecosystem. These dune fields stretch for 62 miles and have flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else.

Fogo Island

Fogo Island

Situated off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island is one of Canada’s most photogenic places. It has a rugged coastline and rolling green hills. In addition, there is the award-winning Fogo Island Inn, where you can find some comfort and sustenance on your great getaway.

River Surfing in Calgary

If you want to try a getaway that will get your adrenaline pumping, trying out the world’s latest extreme sport could be just what you are looking for. River surfing makes the most of inland white water. Like rafting, it can be hazardous, but with good tuition, this pastime offers a lesser-known thrill. Head to Kananaskis Provincial Park, west of Calgary. Surf Anywhere was set up by Neil Egsgard in 2008. The company has created the Mountain Wave in the Lower Kananaskis River for wannabee and expert river surfers.

Trace the Viking Past

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows is located on the very tip of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Northern Peninsula. It is an ancient Norse settlement that has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. We do not necessarily think of Viking settlements outside of Europe, but here is one to prove how far the seafarers came. The buildings have been restored, and the site is open from June to early October. Thanks to costumed interpreters, you can relive the world at this Viking base camp and learn about the site’s 1,000-year history, which archaeologists have unearthed.

Burgoyne’s Cove

While in Newfoundland and Labrador, take time to visit Burgoyne’s Cove. In 1953 a B-36 bomber aircraft crashed into a mountain after getting caught in bad weather. All the crew members died in the crash. The wreckage of the crash remains at the site, and it is worth the trek out to see it – it is about 40 minutes before you start to see parts of the wrecked plane. After the disaster, a rescue plane was sent to the crash site, but it never returned to base. The rescue plane was never found, so its fate remains a mystery.

Manitoulin Island Ontario

Manitoulin Island is the largest island on a freshwater lake on the planet. It is home to one hundred lakes, some of which have their own islands. You can get to Manitoulin Island by driving across the Little Current Swing Bridge from Sudbury or catching the Chi Cheemaun Ferry from Tobermory. Manitoulin Island is a big place – it takes two hours to drive around. While here, visit its lakes Manitou, Kagawond and Mindemoya, where you can swim, canoe or sail.

Canadian Getaways Lake Cottage
via unsplash

We have barely touched the surface of your options for lesser-known getaways. Remember not to tell too many people, or they will stop being lesser known.

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