Oh Canada; home to hockey lovers, incredibly polite citizens, and plenty of maple syrup. It’s the second biggest country in the world and a bucket list destination for many who look to enjoy the country’s beautiful nature and friendly cities. But, just how much does it cost to go to Canada? Read on for some tips on how to plan your budget.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest 2 weeks in Canada. Keep in mind there is no way you can see all of Canada in 2 weeks- it’s way too big. I’m going to recommend you stick to one area in that time frame and see as much as you can there. Popular itineraries include:
- Vancouver area and Banff National park (West Cost)
- Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City (Central Canada)
- Maritimes (East Coast)
Please also keep in mind that this estimate is based on the costs for one person, so if you are travelling as a couple you will need to double everything except for hotels.
|Food and drink||$300|
The above estimate is in American Dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home country.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees and it comes with airport lounge access.
Airfare is going to be one of the biggest expenses in Canada. Canadian airfares are notoriously expensive. Prices will depend on where you are travelling from and what your destination is. For example, it will likely be cheaper for someone from Europe to fly to Toronto than Vancouver. For this estimate, I’ve used flight costs from Europe to come up with an average. If you are coming from the USA you can find tickets for a couple hundred dollars, if you are coming from Oceania or Asia, you’ll probably be spending at least $1,000.
To get the best deals, you’ll want to book in advance and try to fly into one of Canada’s main airports: Vancouver, Montreal, or Toronto. You’ll also want to be mindful of the season and time of year you are coming in. Summer months will be the most expensive especially around holidays like Canada Day (July 1).
Canada has a range of accommodation options, but not necessarily in the traditional sense compared to European or Asian countries. When it comes to budget travel, Canada isn’t really a big hostel destination. Sure, they exist but there isn’t a huge selection and they are often seen as more of a cheap accommodation option rather than a fun place for backpackers to meet (though that still happens). Often, Canadian hostels cater to all ages and sometimes families as well.
With that being said, Canada also has an additional accommodation option that isn’t quite as popular in other places around the world: camping. Granted, you can’t camp year round, but if you are visiting during the summer, it’s an easy way to stay on budget and enjoy the nature. Please note you can’t just camp anywhere, there are designated camping grounds and it’s not always free.
Of course, there is plenty of mid-range and luxury options as well. For the purpose of this article, I’ve based the estimate on a stay at a mid-range hotel in a larger city which is about $150 per night.
Need some recommendations? Consider the following:
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points. Plus, get complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year (apply by Jan. 13, 2021).
Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy when using a referral link. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
Local transportation in Canada is definitely lacking, especially compared to Europe. It’s not the easiest country to get around, partly because it’s so big, so depending on what you want to see or do, you really may want to consider renting a car. Since most people who come to Canada want to see the forest, lakes, mountains, and nature, I’ve based the local transportation estimate on a car rental. However, if you are just sticking to cities, then you can make do with the public transit options.
Canada does have a national train network- Via Rail. You can get passes for specific routes (including a cross-Canada route if you are feeling adventurous) though it really only connects the main cities. The train isn’t cheap so your best bet is to book in advance and book on a Tuesday- that’s when they have their deals. You can also travel around Canada by bus. It’s a cheaper way to travel, but not the fastest. Greyhound Bus company serves most of the country but not all communities.
Finally, you can also use domestic flights. This is by far the most expensive option and probably isn’t even worth considering. Canada does not have a budget airline option and flights from Toronto to Vancouver can often cost as much as a flight from Toronto to London, England. Sure, it’s fast, but flying domestically in Canada is definitely not budget friendly.
A big part of Canada’s charm is its natural beauty; hundreds of lakes, dozens of national parks, mountains, forests, and more. Some of Canada’s parks do have a fee, but for the most part, Canada’s natural beauty is free for you to enjoy including all of the best hiking trails in Ontario. If you’re renting a car, be sure to research what attractions you should visit on your route.
When it comes to Canadian cities, there are plenty of the usual things to see and do: museums, art galleries, themed tours, historic attractions etc. The good thing is that there are also many free things to do in each city so check the local tourism websites for ideas. Museums and art galleries often have free days or nights once a month so if the timing works out, you can get in at no cost.
Food and drink
Food and drink in Canada can be found for all prices. You can, of course, enjoy some great fine dining in Canadian cities but you can also find some delicious meals for very affordable prices.
When it comes to food and drink in Canada, one of the best things is the diversity. No matter where you go you can find restaurants and cuisine options from around the world, which also helps when it comes to finding a variety of affordable eats.
For a typical day of food and drink in Canada, you can expect to spend the following:
- Breakfast: $5.00
- Lunch: $10.00
- Dinner: $25.00
Which equals about $40.00 per day. Also, please keep in mind that tipping is normal in Canada.
Note: Canada is one of the biggest freshwater countries in the world, so skip buying bottled water and bring a reusable water bottle to fill up from the tap. It’s free and delicious.
It’s always a good idea to have a little extra in your budget for random spending. Whether it’s to pick up some souvenirs to take home, treat yourself to a special meal or activity, or just in case you need it for some unexpected cost. I recommend you have at least $100 on hand as random spending money just in case.
So how much does it cost to go to Canada? Based on my estimates, you can plan to spend around $4,510. Keep in mind that this estimate is based on more expensive options; renting a car to travel around, staying in mid-range hotels, etc. You can easily lower this estimate with some savvy budgeting and some of the tips listed in this article. Canada is big and expensive, but it is a beautiful country that is definitely worth visiting. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out my guides to Southeast Asia, Bali, Dubai, Italy, Jordan and Disneyland.