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Affordable summer vacations you probably haven't considered

As we all know, Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation (the sesquicentennial) and although July 1 marks the official date, special events are taking place across the country all year long. Even Prince Charles and Camilla are making their way across the pond to experience what we have going on! Parallel to the milestone (or perhaps, due in part), Canada is being flaunted on the world stage as a great tourism destination. The New York Times even called Toronto the No. 1 place to travel in 2017.

Montreal

Montreal is celebrating its own anniversary this year – its 375th. There are a ton of fun activities taking place throughout the summer and beyond, not to mention that its food scene is really bourgeoning, there’s great shopping and nightlife, and it’s relatively affordable, compared to Canada’s other major cities. This year also marks 50 years since Expo 67; the city is offering a “Passport”, which gives visitors access to various interactive exhibits at different locations like the Stewart Museum and Biosphere. There is also the opportunity for visitors to Parc Jean-Drapeau to experience Expo 67 through visuals and augmented reality, from June 21 to Sept. 4, and then weekends only from Sept. 9 to Oct. 29.

Winnipeg

It’s often overlooked when we talk about Canadian cities, but there’s a renaissance going on in Winnipeg right now. Arts, culture, high-end, mid-range – there are options to suit various tastes and budgets. A Picasso exhibit is currently on at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, featuring 35 of his pieces, until Aug. 13. WAG is also known to have the biggest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Canada’s oldest dance company, has amazing performances scheduled all summer long.

The Yukon

Canada’s north is so untouched, and might be considered an “exotic destination.” For that reason, it appeals to the same type of travellers who might also consider vacations to countries like Peru and Patagonia. Temperatures in the Yukon during summer are warm and it is not unusual to have days reach 25 degrees Celsius. With little wind and low rainfall, blue skies are the norm. Yukon is an excellent add-on for guests visiting the Rockies or B.C. It’s great for those interested in outdoor activities – hiking, paddling, kayaking. Golfers will also find it to be a unique experience: The midnight sun means long days for touring and even golf tee times as late as 10 p.m.!

As much as we love our country, the world is full of summer-friendly vacation spots. If you're looking to spread your wings further afield, check out one of these unexpected international destinations:

The Arctic and South Pacific

It really is the perfect time to see these “bucket list destinations.”
According to a recent study from Virtuoso Travel Group, a major travel agency organization in the U.S. and Canada, more and more travellers are interested in travelling to destinations considered to be “rapidly changing.” The Arctic and Antarctic are among these top choices due to the threat of global warming; as is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is losing its coral due to pollution. 2017 marks the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as dubbed by The United Nations, so the topic is particularly relevant.

Iceland

Iceland is enjoying its time in the spotlight thanks in part to the exposure it has enjoyed on hit TV shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones.
The number of visitors to Iceland increased by 40 per cent between 2015 and last year, and it is estimated that the number of tourists in Iceland will more than double over the next three years, according to a report in The Reykjavik Grapevine.
Leveraging this momentum, you’ll notice a lot more direct service to Iceland out of Canada – and it’s not too far; only a five to six hour flight from the East Coast of North America. Broadly speaking, Iceland is appealing because it is off the typical tourist path, and has everything curious travellers might be looking for.
The scenery and landscape is so varied and beautiful, with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. It’s a very diverse country; enjoy the geothermal pools of the Reykjanes peninsula; the fresh and amazing food, not to mention unparalleled views in the south; and a teeming arts and culture scene in the capital of Reykjavik. Summer temperatures are typically 10-13 degrees Celsius, though it can reach up to 25.
Game of Thrones fans will find themed tours available, where they can walk in the footsteps of Jon Snow and visit locations like the famed “ice wall,” Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring. For Vikings fans, a fun activity is MINK Viking Portrait Studio in Reykjavik, which specializes in the art of turning visitors into Vikings (seriously). Dress up, do a photo shoot, and have a really unique souvenir to take home with yo

The Caribbean

The Caribbean always has and always will be a popular choice for Canadian travellers, particularly in the winter months. However, because summer is off-peak season, there are a lot of reasons that make now the perfect time to go. Firstly, it is more affordable to go during off-peak periods. Secondly, resorts and attractions are far less busy which means a quieter (more relaxing!) escape and more personalized service. While choices like Cuba and Mexico are long-standing favourites, lower price tags might also lure you to typically higher-end destinations. For example, St. Kitts, which is really evolving and developing its hotel offering to appeal to travellers who want to immerse themselves in a destination’s culture.
St. Kitts is off the typical tourist path, and you won’t find massive resort chains here. It has the sunshine, warmth and beautiful beaches that people are seeking on a vacation but without being overrun by tourists. It is a totally safe destination, where you can rent a car to explore; have cocktails and watch the sun set at SALT Plage; learn about the history via a Scenic Railway tour or a visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park; and spend some time visiting its sister island Nevis, which is equally as safe and beautiful. It is a place where you can go and have a real travel experience, enjoying the company of and conversation with local people, tasting local food and simply taking in an authentically “Caribbean” experience.
 

You can find more information as to what’s happening in your community by visiting canada.pch.gc.ca/ or download the Passport 2017 app to find out more about specific events and celebrations. The app allows you to find activities based on interest: sports, culture, family, food and drink, etc.