Things to know before leaving for Canada

Canada is an incredible country, and you will get tired of hearing us say it here because we are delighted. We pass through Montreal, Quebec, Ilê d’Orleans, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

There was a train ride, car ride, helicopter ride, boat ride, a lot of walking, subway, streetcar, food, shopping, landscapes. I was just awesome.

Before we tell you everything we saw and lived there, let’s talk about the pre-trip, the part of how to plan and what you should know before embarking for Canada.

What you need to know before traveling to Canada

1. Where is Canada?

Canada is in North America, right up there on the world map. It borders the south and northwest (Alaska) with the United States, constituting the largest land border in the world. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, to the west the Pacific Ocean and to the north the Arctic Ocean.

The country is considered the second largest in the world with 9,984,670 km² and has a population of only 36.6 million, considered one of the smallest in the world. The largest city, Toronto, has approximately 2.6 million inhabitants. Imagine this whole territory with only 36 million people … Of course, nature predominates in the country.

2. What is Canada’s official language?

Canada has two official languages, English and French. Speaking of the east coast, through the cities we pass through, we can see that in Montreal most people speak both languages, pulling a little more into French.

In Quebec most of the information and conversations start in French, but English is also spoken. And in Toronto the predominant language is English.

3. How is the climate in Canada?

The country is huge, so the temperature varies a lot, but we can say that there are both extremes, super hot in summer and freezing in winter 🙂

The east coast, which is the part we visit, suffers the most from extremes, and is where most of the Canadian population lives. In winter, temperatures can reach -30ºC and with snowfalls. These low temperatures usually occur between November and April, beginning to cool in October.

The medium seasons, which are not so hot or cold, are between mid-May and June (when temperatures are still around 10ºC in the morning and at night, but during the day they reach almost 30ºC) and between mid-October and September (with temperatures ranging between 14ºC and 24ºC).

From the middle of June onwards it will get really hot. We now have temperatures around 34ºC in June.

In summer, between July and August, temperatures can reach 40ºC. And the days are long, with the sunset around 9 pm. Strange to see the sun set so late, but it is normal.

And on the west coast, the climate is a little different. From what we researched, the summer is drier, with mild temperatures, and the winter is humid and rarely snows.

4. What documents do I need to travel to Canada?

To enter the country you will need:

  • Passport that is within the validity period. Make sure it has at least 6 months of validity on the date you are going to embark, otherwise it is better to take another one to avoid problems.
  • Visa or Travel Authorization (eTA).
  • National driver’s license (CNH), if you are renting a car in Canada. You do not need an international wallet if you are on a tour. We rent with the same Brazilian driver’s license.

5. Tourist visa or ETA

If you have already had an American visa or obtained a Canadian visa in the last 10 years, you do not need a visa, but you do need an Electronic Travel Authorization (e-TA), which in practice is almost the same, but less bureaucratic.

If eTA does not apply to you, you will need to apply for a Canadian visa.

6. Do I need travel insurance to travel to Canada?

It is not mandatory, but the cost of healthcare in Canada is high and it is not worth taking the risk. So hire insurance here in Brazil that will cost much less than you will pay for expenses there, if you need to.

Until today, we never need to activate travel insurance, thankfully, but we always hire on all international trips whether mandatory or not.

7. And money, what currency should I bring to Canada?

The official currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and if you bring US Dollars, you will have to exchange at exchange offices. So it is better to buy the Canadian Dollar at once so as not to lose money with two conversions: from Real to US Dollar and from US Dollar to Canadian Dollar.

Very useful tip: Currency exchange offices do not usually have Canadian Dollar on delivery, so be sure to change it on the last day before your trip. We ordered in one day, deposited in reais for the currency exchange and withdrew Canadian Dollars the next day.

8. Is it worth shopping in Canada? And need to add fees?

Some things are worth it, but it’s still not like in the United States that you can come back with your suitcase full. We visited some outlets that had very good prices, but it was one piece or another and it didn’t always have our number. We thought that sneakers were cheap and dress shoes we didn’t like the models we saw very much.

And you have to be patient to keep looking for the products. Really tiring, and we don’t have the patience for it, but if you do, it’s worth leaving a day for shopping.

Electronics and photographic equipment are worth it. But remember that you can’t split the amount, it has to be cash payment or credit at once.

9. Is it safe to travel across Canada?

Super safe. It was a long time since we felt so safe traveling. Even in Toronto, we do not feel insecure / threatened at all.

10. Where to stay in Canada?

Accommodation in Canada, at least in the eastern part of the country, is not the cheapest. Especially if you are in high season, between June and August.

In Montreal we ended up staying on Airbnb, as hotels were no longer available. But you know we ended up enjoying the experience. It was really cool to rent an apartment just for us and in a great location.

And in Toronto it was the same situation. And it was really cool, we ended up becoming friends with the couple who owned the apartment.

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