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How to Plan an Off Season Trip to Canada This Year

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Traveling to Canada in the off season is a golden opportunity to have unique experiences, meet wonderful people and create unforgettable memories at a fraction of normal prices, all while stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s a chance to see how nature changes with the seasons, and to experience authenticity in a more intimate and personal setting.

In May, the patios of restaurants and bars come alive as the sun’s rays stretch across the horizon. In June, the cities come out of their hibernation with a multitude of urban festivals. In September, national parks empty out for a more intimate experience with wildlife. And in October, the glorious orange carpet covers forests across the nation! There really is something for everyone, in every season.

What is the best month to see Canada off peak?

While the summer months of July and August are generally considered the peak season in Europe, the same is true in North America. This means that spring and fall are basically the off-season in Canada. These are mainly the months of May, June, September and October.

And what about winter? November to March is generally considered to be a midway point between the low and high seasons, as the joys of winter in Canada are plentiful and a magnet for adventure seekers! And for good reason: between a night in an ice palace, dreamy ski resorts, dog sledding trips and the Northern Lights, the cold season still has a lot to offer to warm the heart.

What is shoulder season in Canada and why is it great?

  • Weather: Summer can often mean high humidity and sticky heat across Canada. Planning a trip in the shoulder seasons of spring or fall will allow you to avoid these temperature spikes and enjoy the country’s beautiful scenery in comfort.
  • Crowds: The beautiful summer days are ideal for vacationing Canadians, which often results in overcrowded tourist attractions and infrastructure.
  • Prices: Of course, in Canada as elsewhere, taking advantage of the off-season allows for significant savings through discounts on airfare, accommodations and activities. In addition, due to the current economic recession in Canada, the exchange rate of the British Pound and the Euro against the Canadian Dollar is very favorable.
  • Contact: While Canadians are known for being friendly, traveling in the off-season is a great opportunity for socializing. Having the opportunity for interaction with the locals, really learning about their day-to-day life in their part of the country, and being told about their favorite little spots nearby… that’s truly priceless.

Traveling to Canada in May and in June: slightly ahead of summer in Canada

The weeks between mid-May and the end of June are the best time for two things: festivals and nature trips!

In cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, major streets are pedestrianized to accommodate major shows (most of which are free!), street food and outdoor artistic performances until the wee hours of the morning. Not to mention the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.

Right before the peak tourist months of July and August, June is ideal for exploring Canada’s vast expanses away from the summer crowds. The Magdalen Islands, Niagara Falls, the cider houses of Prince Edward County, a river cruise along the Thousand Islands, the humpback whales of the St. Lawrence, a microbrewery-themed roadtrip, the national park trails right when nature reawakens… the choices are endless!

Traveling to Canada in September: arguably the best time to visit Canada

Come and enjoy what is commonly known as “Indian Summer”! This term comes from “a time when the Native Americans of North America relied on these warm days for their crops”.

The month of September in Canada enjoys stunning weather, mild temperatures and a special end-of-summer atmosphere. Take advantage of this to watch salmon swim upstream in Ontario, go on stunning hikes, see some of the year’s most anticipated films at Canada’s largest film event, the Toronto International Film Festival, watch birds migrate south, or participate in one of the many agricultural festivals across the country.

For a different experience, take part in Canada’s grape harvest. Early autumn is the best time for wine aficionados! In the wine regions of Quebec and Ontario, the harvest takes place in early fall, before the nights get too chilly.

Traveling to Canada in October: the most colorful shoulder season in Canada

Canada en automne - Canada in autmn

The start of the low season that is autumn in Canada… is quite the picture postcard! In terms of weather, the days are almost as sunny as summer, without the scorching temperatures of summer. Plus, it’s infinitely more colorful. The transformation of the forests in all shades of red, yellow and orange, especially the Canadian maple trees up the Laurentian Mountains, is a truly unforgettable panorama. Travel and photography enthusiasts are in for a treat!

Autumn is also the ideal time to see moose in the wild, one of Canada’s most iconic animals. If you are lucky, you may even hear their unique roar.

Take advantage of the opportunity to get back to nature by staying in unusual accommodations in Quebec or wooden lodges in Ontario. Or, if your budget allows, head to Churchill, Manitoba to see over 1000 polar bears slowly make their way to the ice before winter arrives on Hudson Bay. This is the only place in the world that offers such a spectacle!

Finally, October in Canada is the best time for Halloween enthusiasts. You can head to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto or La Ronde in Montreal for a night of proper scares with a like-minded crows and amateurs of all things spooky. October 5 also marks Nuit Blanche in Toronto, when museums, art galleries, and other sites of celebration are open all night for free.

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

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