HOW DO YOU PUT TOGETHER a single collection of photos to represent a nation? It would be a tall order for any country, but particularly one as expansive and diverse as Canada.

We’re talking 4,300 miles from the beaches and skyscrapers of Vancouver in the west to the colorful rowhouses of St. John’s on the Atlantic. The territory between encompasses every natural landscape you can think of — towering mountains, badlands, bucolic prairie, sprawling forests, and mighty lakes and rivers — as well as dozens of vibrant cities. And the people who inhabit those cities are just as varied as the land, from the 600+ First Nations of indigenous Canadians, to the Francophone Québécois, to the Scottish heritage of Nova Scotia, to the rich cultural milieu of more recent immigrants.

All this to say, there is no single gallery of images that can truly capture the essence of Canada. What follows is our best attempt — if we’ve done our job, it’ll inspire you to hop across the border and get your own look at one of the world’s most exciting countries.

1

Downtown Vancouver at sunset

Harbour Centre has been a Vancouver icon ever since it opened 1977. It's topped with a circular 360°-degree viewing deck—Vancouver Lookout—and a revolving restaurant; the glass elevator ride to the top takes 40 seconds. From here, visitors stand more than 550 feet above the ground for sweeping panoramas over one of the most beautiful cities on Earth.
Photo: Magnus Larsson

2

Ziplining over Vancouver

There are several options to get your adrenaline pumping in and around Vancouver, and one of them is ziplining over ancient forest, across peaks, and through canyons at Grouse Mountain. This zipline center is less than a 30-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver; shuttle and public transport options will get you there easily if you don't have a car.
Photo: Grouse Mountain

3

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

An hour north of Whistler, BC, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is less than three hours from Vancouver. The park is famous for its three ridiculously blue alpine lakes. The farthest from the trailhead is a 6-mile (steep, uphill!) hike with views that make the trek totally worth it.
Photo: Mirae Campbell

4

Crankworx World Tour, Whistler

Whistler isn’t just one of the world's top skiing destinations; it’s the final stop of the Crankworx World Tour, featuring the globe's top downhill, slopestyle, and enduro stars as part of a 10-day festival each August.
Photo: Mike Crane for Tourism Whistler

5

Wonderland sculpture in Downtown Calgary

Standing just shy of 800 feet, The Bow in Downtown Calgary is the tallest office building in the city, and the second tallest in Canada outside of Toronto. Jaume Plensa, the Catalan artist responsible for Chicago's innovative and acclaimed Crown Fountain, was commissioned to create the pictured installation—Wonderland—a 39-foot bent-wire sculpture of a young girl's head, completed in 2013.
Photo: @marikitjen

6

Northern Lights over Cascade Mountain, Banff National Park

Seeing the aurora borealis is on many travelers’ bucket lists, and in Canada you don't have to go too far to do so. This shot of Cascade Mountain was taken right next to the town of Banff, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Calgary International Airport.
Photo: Paul Zizka for Banff & Lake Louise

7

Horsethief Canyon, Alberta's Canadian Badlands

Pictured above is a First Nations pow wow—a ceremony involving singing, dancing, and feasting—performed near the town of Drumheller in Alberta. In town you’ll find the excellent Royal Tyrrell Museum, a center for paleontology and home to one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur fossils. The region is a great place to explore the rich natural history and cultural diversity of Canada.
Photo: Sean Thomson for Travel Alberta

8

Horseback riding by the South Saskatchewan River

Ranch life is alive and well in the Saskatchewan prairies. Try your hand at being a cowgirl or boy for the day with a stay at a ranch like La Reata, a few hours south of Saskatoon, and expect lots of horseback riding, steak dinners, and cowboy tales.
Photo: Greg Huszar Photography for Tourism Saskatchewan

9

Beluga whale, Churchill

Churchill, Manitoba, is probably best known for its polar bears, but the Hudson Bay coastline is also home to the world’s largest population of beluga whales—more than 57,000 hang out in these waters from mid-June to mid-September. And you can snorkel with them!
Photo: @discover_churchill

10

Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg

Opened in 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum to be built in Canada for half a century. It's also the first museum wholly dedicated to the evolution, celebration, and future progression of human rights. Its design comes courtesy of American architect Antoine Predock, and permanent galleries at the Winnipeg museum include Turning points for humanity, Rights today, and Inspiring change.
Photo: iStock.com/OlgaRadzikh

11

Puente de Luz, Toronto

In Downtown Toronto, the "Bridge of Light" was designed by Chilean sculptor-designer Francisco Gazitua and opened in 2012. A short walk from King West—a district known for its buzzing shops and restaurants—this sunshine-yellow structure gets Instagrammed a lot.
Photo: @hunter.valley

12

EdgeWalk at Toronto’s CN Tower

At more than 1,800 feet tall, the CN Tower held the record for world's tallest freestanding structure and tallest tower until Dubai’s Burj Khalifa eclipsed it in 2010. For the ultimate views of Toronto, take on the EdgeWalk and you’ll be heading outside for a (safely harnessed) walk around the roof of 360 Restaurant.
Photo: Destination Canada

13

Yoga on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Home to Canada's Parliament (and yogi Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), “The Hill” attracts around 3 million visitors annually. Midday on Wednesdays throughout summer, there’s also free yoga on the lawn. Bring your own mat, and the teacher will help you with the rest.
Photo: Ottawa Tourism

14

Niagara Falls, Ontario

One of the world’s most voluminous waterfalls, Niagara Falls sees more than a million bathtubs' worth of water plummet over the edge every second. Pictured is the Horseshoe Falls section of Niagara, as seen on an aerial tour; it lies almost entirely on the Canadian side of the US-Canada border.
Photo: Destination Canada

15

Thunder Bay, Ontario

At the head of Lake Superior in northwestern Ontario, the city of Thunder Bay is truly out of the way. It's surrounded by forest and lakes for hundreds of miles; one of the closest major cities, Winnipeg, is 437 miles to the west. Which means you have all the time you need to focus on gorgeous scenery like this.
Photo: Justin T. Stevens

16

Old Québec, Québec City

Old World architecture, cobblestone streets, and fancy boutiques (like the Longchamp store seen above)—Québec City is where Canada's Francophone culture truly shines. This place is made to be explored on foot...though if the stairs up Cap Diamant are too daunting, there’s always the funicular connecting the Upper and Lower Towns.
Photo: @colleenamelia

17

The Quartier, Montréal

At just one square kilometre, this tiny area in French Canada's largest city packs in a ton of fun. There are eight public spaces and dozens of annual festivals, performance venues, and art exhibition halls. Perhaps the best time to visit is at night, when many of the spaces are illuminated.
Photo: @v2com_newswire

18

Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal

Photo: @jimmythepope

19

Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Atlantic Canada’s Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides on Earth—100 billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the bay twice a day. There are many ways to explore the area and experience the tides, including hiking in the parks, sea kayaking, and rafting on one of its tidal rivers. Pictured above is Hopewell Rocks at low tide, when you can walk among the towering formations. When the tide is high, explore the pinnacles by kayaking in, around, and through them.
Photo: Destination Canada

20

Icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador

Spring and early summer is the best time to see icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador. From Twillingate to St. John’s, options for viewing the blue-white blocks of ice include hiking along the shore, taking a boat tour, and heading out on a sea kayak. Look for humpback whales and puffins while you’re by the water. And to keep track of the movement of 10,000-year-old icebergs, check out this website.
Photo: Linkum Tours

21

The Battery, St. John’s

The Battery, a colorful neighborhood on Slope Hill, St. John’s, protected the city harbor during both World Wars. It’s a particularly photogenic spot, though that’s something that could be said for practically every nook of the Newfoundland capital.
Photo: © Copyright Barrett & MacKay Photo for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

22

Train ride through the Yukon

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad—built during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897—links Skagway in Alaska with Whitehorse in the Yukon. This is a heritage route that still features vintage parlor cars with incredible views of mountains and glaciers, waterfalls, tunnels, and gorges practically the whole way.
Photo: vl8189

23

Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut

Mount Thor—the dramatic peak in the middle of this image—lies in Nunavut's Auyuittuq National Park. At 4,100 feet, it has the largest vertical drop of any mountain on the planet, making it a world-class challenge for hardy rock climbers. And one amazing photo subject.
Photo: Artur Stanisz for Nunavut Tourism

This post is proudly produced in partnership with Destination Canada.