Canada's most beautiful small towns and villages



Slide 1 of 31: From dinky coastal villages featuring charming lighthouses to historic towns tucked into the mountains, Canada's provinces and territories offer some delightful communities that welcome visitors with open arms. We've selected the top spots worth a detour for when it's time to travel again.
Slide 2 of 31: Prince Edward Island – aka PEI – might be Canada's smallest province but it has no shortage of adorable towns and villages, and Victoria, or Victoria-by-the-Sea is a postcard-pretty example. Founded in 1819, the village is tiny, focused around just six main streets. Stop by the chocolate shop, the Studio Gallery to see local artists' works and the island's longest-running theater, the Victoria Playhouse. 
Slide 3 of 31: Set on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in the Bas‑Saint‑Laurent region of Québec, the small village of Kamouraska is the perfect tiny town for a peaceful escape. Eat locally-sourced seafood in its restaurants, enter another era in the local general store and spot seals along the pretty shoreline. Be sure you stay out until evening – Kamouraska is famous for its stunning sunsets.
Slide 4 of 31: The town of Mahone Bay, set on the picture-perfect south shore of Nova Scotia, was first settled by the French in the 17th century. The British later gave it the name we know today and the town has remained a quaint community attracting artisans and entrepreneurs. While the Three Churches of Mahone Bay, all built in the late-19th and early-20th centuries in different architectural styles, are a highlight, the town hosts wholesome gatherings like the Scarecrow Festival and Antiques Fair most years too. 

Slide 5 of 31: Scattered along a peninsula in the Eastern region of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trinity is a pretty place. Its history goes back to the 1720s, when around 30 families lived there permanently and 200 fishermen would come for the season each year. Fishing, lumbering and shipbuilding were the main industries then and many of its historic buildings have been preserved. Today, there are walking tours of its most important sites and good hiking trails along the coast. Discover 50 more stunning photos of Canada's best bits here.
Slide 6 of 31: On the shores of Lake Ontario and 30-minutes' drive north of the famous falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming, well-preserved 19th-century village with tree-lined streets and some of Canada’s best wineries nearby. Take a horse-drawn carriage through the pretty Heritage District, where buildings have cast-iron balconies overflowing with colorful flowers during spring and summer.
Slide 7 of 31: Founded in the Klondike Gold Rush days of the late 19th century, Dawson City expanded rapidly as people flooded in to take advantage of the riches on offer. Today, the rush may be over but gold mining continues, and you can take a walking tour (summer only) to learn about the town’s history and listen to intriguing tales told by guides in convincing period costume. Now check out Canada's eeriest ghost towns that time forgot. 
Slide 8 of 31: Voted the best destination in Canada in 2017, the picturesque seaside town of St Andrews on the eastern coast has a population of less than 2,000 but it’s packed with personality. On the water there are adventures on offering including whale watching, kayaking and scuba diving in the Bay of Fundy while on land, Kingsbrae Garden features thousands of plant species in a tranquil setting. 
Slide 9 of 31: There are many reasons why the village of Whistler – two-hours' drive north from Vancouver – normally attracts three million visitors per year. In addition to world-class skiing in winter, the area offers summer activities aplenty including 186 miles (300km) of mountain biking trails and 15 parks with five lakes for hikers. But it's not just about the great outdoors, the village and its surrounds has 200 restaurants, cafés and bars, plus 200 shops and even hosts a food festival in November. 

Slide 10 of 31: Less than an hour from the capital city of Ottawa is the utterly charming mill town of Almonte. Wander the streets and take in the limestone mill buildings which have been repurposed as galleries, restaurants and boutiques. There’s a thriving creative scene with potters, sculptors and glassblowers showing off their wares all over town. The Old Town Hall (pictured) is now a creative hub offering theater performances and music concerts, as well as being the local tourist information center.
Slide 11 of 31: The town of Jasper is the place to base yourself for a trip to Jasper National Park, the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain national parks. Although more than three million people pass through the park every year, the population of the town is fewer than 5,000, meaning there’s still a charming small-town feel, especially in the shoulder seasons. Visit Jasper Museum to learn about the area’s history, then enjoy the spectacular national park, where you can spot black bears, hike in surreal surroundings and paddle on scenic lakes. Find out more about what to do in winter in Alberta here. 
Slide 12 of 31: The beautiful village of Percé has a stunning setting at the east end of the Gaspé Peninsula. A popular summer resort, there is plenty to entertain in the center, but the real draw here has to be its proximity to some natural wonders. Tens of thousands of northern gannets flock around Bonaventure Island, just off the coast of Percé and there's also the striking arch of Percé Rock, a towering, 1,420-foot (433m) long monolith rising from the ocean.
Slide 13 of 31: Black and white images of old Lebret reveal that this village, around an hours' drive northeast of Regina, hasn't changed much over the decades. Sat on Mission Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley, the highlight here is the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Church. First constructed in 1865, the current stone building dates from 1925. The landmark Stations of the Cross, which lead to the wooden red and white Memorial Chapel at the top of the hill were erected in 1929.
Slide 14 of 31: The fishing town of Bonavista is a pretty little place on the eastern shores of Newfoundland, with its lighthouse, boats bobbing in the harbor and a historic waterfront. Just over 3,000 people call this town home, so it has a pleasingly slow pace of life – perfect for a relaxing break. The four-mile (6.4km) hike along the Cape Shore Trail is a highlight.

Slide 15 of 31: Churchill in Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay, is synonymous with one thing: polar bear spotting. However, stop a while in the town itself and you'll discover a cultural scene you probably won't be expecting, including 300 street art murals and the iconic wreckage of Miss Piggy, a C-46 cargo plane. Discover more about Churchill here. 
Slide 16 of 31: While it's worth stopping by French River to admire the traditional wooden buildings, really it's the view of this fishing village that's beloved by both Islanders and visitors alike. Located on the Green Gables Shore, nearby you'll find Cape Tryon Lighthouse and a stunning secluded beach too.
Slide 17 of 31: This pretty town is 15 minutes' drive from French River and was made famous thanks to author Lucy Maud Montgomery after she wrote Anne of Green Gables. She moved to the area as a child and regularly visited Green Gables farm, which provided inspiration for her novel. When fully open, fans can squeeze in days of Anne-related activities, visiting the Anne of Green Gables Museum, the Green Gables Heritage Place (pictured) and Avonlea Village, a recreated rural community based on the village where Anne lived. Discover Prince Edward Island with our guide.
Slide 18 of 31: Sitting on the confluence of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers, it's hardly surprising that water-based activities are the main attraction in Tadoussac. Whales can be spotted on boat trips from mid-May until mid-October, and for the more adventurous you can try sea kayaking or surf biking. On land, don’t miss the pretty Petite Chapelle de Tadoussac (pictured), a little wooden church dating back to 1747.
Slide 19 of 31: The province of Nova Scotia may be home to over 160 historic lighthouses, but one of its best-known is found in the picture-perfect fishing village of Peggy’s Cove on the Bluenose Coast. Visit Peggy’s Point Lighthouse (pictured) and stay in the surrounding village, where wooden clapboard homes are scattered up the shore and boathouses on stilts pepper the waters. Don't miss the area’s active adventures, such as kayaking and hiking.
Slide 20 of 31: Those seeking active adventures with a slice of charm on the side should head to the autumnal town of Bracebridge, built around a tumbling waterfall on the Muskoka River. With watersports for all seasons, there are cross-country skiing trails, ice climbing trips and kayaking on the town's various bodies of water. After a busy day splashing about, a tour and tasting at the Muskoka Brewery is a must.
Slide 21 of 31: This mid-18th century fishing town in northeast New Brunswick is one of the province’s oldest French settlements. There's an Acadian Historical Village, which recreates life from the 1770s to the mid-1900s while during August the town hosts the popular Festival acadien de Caraquet, which sees thousands of visitors celebrating the culture of the French settlers' descendants.
Slide 22 of 31: It takes just 20 minutes to walk the width of Tofino's main village, which sits on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. But don't let its size fool you: this place has a lot going on. The surf is spectacular, so grab a board and hit the waves, and there are several gorgeous beaches to explore. Head to Long Beach to spot whales in the distance or get out on a stand-up paddleboard at Mackenzie Beach. There’s a thriving arts and crafts scene here, with handmade chocolate shops and wooden furniture stores, and the Ocean Village Resort is a cute overnight stop with its seafront wooden cottages.
Slide 23 of 31: Located in southwestern Nova Scotia, the charming port town of Yarmouth has plenty to offer whatever your interests. For active pursuits there's an 18-hole golf course, hiking trails or canoe rental. If you get out on the water, look back to shore to admire red wooden buildings so typical in this part of Canada. Visit one of the diverse museums, such as the Firefighters’ Museum featuring a collection of vintage equipment, and don't miss a guided tour of the Cape Forchu Lighthouse.
Slide 24 of 31: Brigus is quaint all over. This historic village was home to a number of "Arctic Heroes", captains who sailed the icy waters in the north of Canada. Stop by Hawthorne Cottage, the former home of ice navigator Captain Robert Bartlett, to see memorabilia from his voyages. More history can be found on Vindicator Lane, which has a long dry-stone wall reminiscent of a European village, and the Convent of Mercy, built in 1860. Although canceled during 2020, the three-day Blueberry Festival in August, when 12,000 visitors come to eat the fruit grown here and celebrate with music, dancing and fireworks, is set to return in 2021. 
Slide 25 of 31: The fishing village of Twillingate, located on Newfoundland’s northeastern coast, calls itself the iceberg capital of the world. Between May and July hunks of ice glide through the Atlantic waters and boat trips take tourists out to watch them. Hop on board and you'll also spot whales, dolphins and seals. On land, Twillingate is equally captivating, with its cluster of colorful houses and activities like geocaching on offer. You can also hike along the coastline, picking blueberries and bright red partridge berries as you take on the six-mile (9.6km) amble to the Long Point Lighthouse. 
Slide 26 of 31: The pretty town of Wasagaming is located within Riding Mountain National Park on the southern shores of Clear Lake. This small but beautifully-formed place has wide streets lined by pine trees and secluded homes set back from the road. But the main attraction here is the lake itself – enjoy a peaceful stroll through the waterfront park before sunning yourself on the beach. The park is also a great place to spot wildlife, and you can see black bear, elk, moose, lynx and bison on a drive. You might even spot deer wandering the streets of the town itself. See our guide to gorgeous Canadian lakes here. 
Slide 27 of 31: Think Banff and undoubtedly you imagine an azure lake backed by the vertiginous Rocky Mountains. However, that's not all there is to this incredibly popular area of Canada. Head into Banff town and you'll be rewarded with a pretty main street, lined by gabled houses and a view towards those majestic peaks. In winter, some of the world’s best ski resorts await, with fantastic powder snow and après ski scenes. In summer, paddle on the bright blue lake and hike the many trails. Discover more of Canada's magical winter escapes.
Slide 28 of 31: On the shores of Québec's Lake Massawippi, North Hatley is a gem of a place and a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Québec. Elegant, historic homes line the streets and a smattering of cute B&Bs make it a glorious retreat by the water. From June to October there's a farmers' market every Saturday and come winter there's cross-country skiing on offer. You can even try your hand at curling at the local club.
Slide 29 of 31: In the apple-growing valley along the Pike River, Frelighsburg is a delightfully leafy village. With so many orchards, it would be a shame not to make the most of the cider tasting on offer at farms like Au Coeur de la Pomme and Ferme du Haut-Vallon. A stroll through the village itself reveals traditional fieldstone houses and mills too.
Slide 30 of 31: The colorful port town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is a photographer’s dream destination. One of the best ways to see the 48 blocks of perfectly preserved wooden homes is on foot with a guide from Lunenburg Walking Tours, which takes in sights including the marvelously monochrome St John’s Anglican Church. After all that exploring, tuck into the lobster and beef Lunenburger at the Grand Banker & Grill – it's worth the journey here alone. 
Slide 31 of 31: While Lunenburg is thoroughly charming, Nova Scotia is brimming with other stunning seaside towns and villages. Blue Rocks, just 10 minutes' drive along the coast from Lunenburg, is a glorious spot to spend the afternoon. There's a smattering of houses and even a tiny (fake) lighthouse that was built in 2002. In summer you can also kayak the millpond-like waters of the Atlantic that surround the tiny maze of islands off Eastern Point, with local experts from Pleasant Paddling. Check out what else to see in Nova Scotia with our comprehensive guide. 

Small wonders

Victoria, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island – aka PEI – might be Canada’s smallest province but it has no shortage of adorable towns and villages, and Victoria, or Victoria-by-the-Sea is a postcard-pretty example. Founded in 1819, the village is tiny, focused around just six main streets. Stop by the chocolate shop, the Studio Gallery to see local artists’ works and the island’s longest-running theater, the Victoria Playhouse. 

Kamouraska, Quebec

Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

The town of Mahone Bay, set on the picture-perfect south shore of Nova Scotia, was first settled by the French in the 17th century. The British later gave it the name we know today and the town has remained a quaint community attracting artisans and entrepreneurs. While the Three Churches of Mahone Bay, all built in the late-19th and early-20th centuries in different architectural styles, are a highlight, the town hosts wholesome gatherings like the Scarecrow Festival and Antiques Fair most years too. 

Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador

Scattered along a peninsula in the Eastern region of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trinity is a pretty place. Its history goes back to the 1720s, when around 30 families lived there permanently and 200 fishermen would come for the season each year. Fishing, lumbering and shipbuilding were the main industries then and many of its historic buildings have been preserved. Today, there are walking tours of its most important sites and good hiking trails along the coast. Discover 50 more stunning photos of Canada’s best bits here.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Dawson City, Yukon

Founded in the Klondike Gold Rush days of the late 19th century, Dawson City expanded rapidly as people flooded in to take advantage of the riches on offer. Today, the rush may be over but gold mining continues, and you can take a walking tour (summer only) to learn about the town’s history and listen to intriguing tales told by guides in convincing period costume. Now check out Canada’s eeriest ghost towns that time forgot. 

St Andrews, New Brunswick

Voted the best destination in Canada in 2017, the picturesque seaside town of St Andrews on the eastern coast has a population of less than 2,000 but it’s packed with personality. On the water there are adventures on offering including whale watching, kayaking and scuba diving in the Bay of Fundy while on land, Kingsbrae Garden features thousands of plant species in a tranquil setting. 

Whistler, British Columbia

There are many reasons why the village of Whistler – two-hours’ drive north from Vancouver – normally attracts three million visitors per year. In addition to world-class skiing in winter, the area offers summer activities aplenty including 186 miles (300km) of mountain biking trails and 15 parks with five lakes for hikers. But it’s not just about the great outdoors, the village and its surrounds has 200 restaurants, cafés and bars, plus 200 shops and even hosts a food festival in November. 

Almonte, Ontario

Jasper, Alberta

The town of Jasper is the place to base yourself for a trip to Jasper National Park, the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain national parks. Although more than three million people pass through the park every year, the population of the town is fewer than 5,000, meaning there’s still a charming small-town feel, especially in the shoulder seasons. Visit Jasper Museum to learn about the area’s history, then enjoy the spectacular national park, where you can spot black bears, hike in surreal surroundings and paddle on scenic lakes. Find out more about what to do in winter in Alberta here. 

Percé, Québec

Lebret, Saskatchewan

Bonavista, Newfoundland & Labrador

The fishing town of Bonavista is a pretty little place on the eastern shores of Newfoundland, with its lighthouse, boats bobbing in the harbor and a historic waterfront. Just over 3,000 people call this town home, so it has a pleasingly slow pace of life – perfect for a relaxing break. The four-mile (6.4km) hike along the Cape Shore Trail is a highlight.

Churchill, Manitoba

Churchill in Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay, is synonymous with one thing: polar bear spotting. However, stop a while in the town itself and you’ll discover a cultural scene you probably won’t be expecting, including 300 street art murals and the iconic wreckage of Miss Piggy, a C-46 cargo plane. Discover more about Churchill here. 

French River, Prince Edward Island

Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

This pretty town is 15 minutes’ drive from French River and was made famous thanks to author Lucy Maud Montgomery after she wrote Anne of Green Gables. She moved to the area as a child and regularly visited Green Gables farm, which provided inspiration for her novel. When fully open, fans can squeeze in days of Anne-related activities, visiting the Anne of Green Gables Museum, the Green Gables Heritage Place (pictured) and Avonlea Village, a recreated rural community based on the village where Anne lived. Discover Prince Edward Island with our guide.

Tadoussac, Québec

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Bracebridge, Ontario

Caraquet, New Brunswick

Tofino, British Columbia

It takes just 20 minutes to walk the width of Tofino’s main village, which sits on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. But don’t let its size fool you: this place has a lot going on. The surf is spectacular, so grab a board and hit the waves, and there are several gorgeous beaches to explore. Head to Long Beach to spot whales in the distance or get out on a stand-up paddleboard at Mackenzie Beach. There’s a thriving arts and crafts scene here, with handmade chocolate shops and wooden furniture stores, and the Ocean Village Resort is a cute overnight stop with its seafront wooden cottages.

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Located in southwestern Nova Scotia, the charming port town of Yarmouth has plenty to offer whatever your interests. For active pursuits there’s an 18-hole golf course, hiking trails or canoe rental. If you get out on the water, look back to shore to admire red wooden buildings so typical in this part of Canada. Visit one of the diverse museums, such as the Firefighters’ Museum featuring a collection of vintage equipment, and don’t miss a guided tour of the Cape Forchu Lighthouse.

Brigus, Newfoundland & Labrador

Brigus is quaint all over. This historic village was home to a number of “Arctic Heroes”, captains who sailed the icy waters in the north of Canada. Stop by Hawthorne Cottage, the former home of ice navigator Captain Robert Bartlett, to see memorabilia from his voyages. More history can be found on Vindicator Lane, which has a long dry-stone wall reminiscent of a European village, and the Convent of Mercy, built in 1860. Although canceled during 2020, the three-day Blueberry Festival in August, when 12,000 visitors come to eat the fruit grown here and celebrate with music, dancing and fireworks, is set to return in 2021. 

Twillingate, Newfoundland & Labrador

The fishing village of Twillingate, located on Newfoundland’s northeastern coast, calls itself the iceberg capital of the world. Between May and July hunks of ice glide through the Atlantic waters and boat trips take tourists out to watch them. Hop on board and you’ll also spot whales, dolphins and seals. On land, Twillingate is equally captivating, with its cluster of colorful houses and activities like geocaching on offer. You can also hike along the coastline, picking blueberries and bright red partridge berries as you take on the six-mile (9.6km) amble to the Long Point Lighthouse. 

Wasagaming, Manitoba

The pretty town of Wasagaming is located within Riding Mountain National Park on the southern shores of Clear Lake. This small but beautifully-formed place has wide streets lined by pine trees and secluded homes set back from the road. But the main attraction here is the lake itself – enjoy a peaceful stroll through the waterfront park before sunning yourself on the beach. The park is also a great place to spot wildlife, and you can see black bear, elk, moose, lynx and bison on a drive. You might even spot deer wandering the streets of the town itself. See our guide to gorgeous Canadian lakes here. 

Banff, Alberta

Think Banff and undoubtedly you imagine an azure lake backed by the vertiginous Rocky Mountains. However, that’s not all there is to this incredibly popular area of Canada. Head into Banff town and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty main street, lined by gabled houses and a view towards those majestic peaks. In winter, some of the world’s best ski resorts await, with fantastic powder snow and après ski scenes. In summer, paddle on the bright blue lake and hike the many trails. Discover more of Canada’s magical winter escapes.

North Hatley, Québec

On the shores of Québec’s Lake Massawippi, North Hatley is a gem of a place and a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Québec. Elegant, historic homes line the streets and a smattering of cute B&Bs make it a glorious retreat by the water. From June to October there’s a farmers’ market every Saturday and come winter there’s cross-country skiing on offer. You can even try your hand at curling at the local club.

Frelighsburg, Québec

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The colorful port town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is a photographer’s dream destination. One of the best ways to see the 48 blocks of perfectly preserved wooden homes is on foot with a guide from Lunenburg Walking Tours, which takes in sights including the marvelously monochrome St John’s Anglican Church. After all that exploring, tuck into the lobster and beef Lunenburger at the Grand Banker & Grill – it’s worth the journey here alone. 

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

While Lunenburg is thoroughly charming, Nova Scotia is brimming with other stunning seaside towns and villages. Blue Rocks, just 10 minutes’ drive along the coast from Lunenburg, is a glorious spot to spend the afternoon. There’s a smattering of houses and even a tiny (fake) lighthouse that was built in 2002. In summer you can also kayak the millpond-like waters of the Atlantic that surround the tiny maze of islands off Eastern Point, with local experts from Pleasant Paddling. Check out what else to see in Nova Scotia with our comprehensive guide. 

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