If you’re looking to see Canada at its most magical, there’s no better time to visit than in the fall. Autumn in Canada is a special time of year. As the temperatures start to dip in preparation for the long & cold winter, much of the country erupts into a cavalcade of bright red, orange, and yellow hues.
Looking to plan the perfect fall trip to Canada? Get started planning your journey with this guide to the best places to see in Canada in autumn…
Where to go in Canada in autumn
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Covering over 7,600 square kilometres in Central Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park is a favourite escape for Ontarians. And while the park is popular year-round, one of the best times to visit Algonquin Park is during the Canadian fall.
Starting at the end of September, you’ll start to see the park’s maple trees erupt into brilliant reds and yellows. Visiting later in the season, towards the middle and end of October, the tamaracks, aspens, and red oaks will hit their peak colours.
Despite feeling as if you’re completely in the wilderness, Algonquin Provincial Park is easily accessible. It’s one of the best road trips from Toronto, located just 3 hours by car from Ontario’s capital city.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Among the most magical places to visit in Canada all year-round, visiting Banff National Park in fall adds a little extra majesty into the mix. The perfect linchpin for Western Canada road trip, Banff is nestled in the Canadian Rockies among jagged peak, glacial lakes, and lush valleys of dense forests.
While there are plenty of fall foliage viewing opportunities around Banff National Park, among the most memorable autumn scenes is at Larch Valley.
One of the best hikes in Banff, Larch Valley comes alive in fall. The valley’s larch trees are among the only coniferous trees to change colour and lose their needles. They shimmer with a distinct golden yellow to a backdrop of mountains.
Other excellent options for checking out fall leaves in Banff National Park include the area around the lovely aquamarine-coloured Moraine and Lake Agnes, famous for its early-20th century teahouse and accessible via one of the best hiking trails in Lake Louise.
Niagara Region, Ontario
As the home of one of the natural wonders of world, Niagara hardly needs an introduction to most visitors. And while seeing Niagara Falls in its full glory is a favourite stop on any first-time Canada itinerary all year-round, one of the best times to visit the Niagara Region is in fall.
Like much of Ontario, the Niagara Region bursts into a cavalcade of fall colours during the short autumn season. But there’s more to the area during fall than first meets the eye.
If you’re visiting for the scenery, there’s no better place to start than driving along the scenic Niagara Parkway. This historic route follows the Niagara River along the Canada-U.S. border from Niagara Falls in the south to the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north. Along the parkway, you’ll get to witness some of the best fall colours in Ontario.
Autumn is also a great time to visit Niagara for wine lovers. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to some of Canada’s best vineyards including Jackson-Triggs and Peller Estates, and the fall season coincides with their harvest. Taking a Niagara wine tour, you’ll get to see the whole process in action from harvesting the grapes to processing to, of course, the palate-pleasing finished product!
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
If your fall visit sets you up on an East Coast Canada itinerary, don’t miss out on visiting beautiful Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
The island’s famous Cabot Trail, winding around the northern shores of Cape Breton Island, is often considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. (There’s a lot of those in Canada, eh?)
Visiting Cape Breton in fall, however, is a whole other world. Driving the Cabot Trail in autumn, the fall foliage will be ablaze in a sea of red, yellow, and orange colours.
The peak of the fall leaves in Cape Breton in early to mid-October also coincides with the island’s famous Celtic Colours International Festival. Celebrate the Celtic roots of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia by joining locals as they eat, drink, and be merry to a barrage of live traditional music and cultural activities.
Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick
Famous for tides that are among the highest in the world, the Bay of Fundy, separating New Brunswick from Nova Scotia’s peninsula, is one of the coolest places to see in Canada.
While many travellers stay in Bay of Fundy fishing towns like St. Andrews By-the-Sea to partake in some of Canada’s best whale-watching opportunities, visiting New Brunswick in fall should put the Fundy Coastal Drive on your radar.
The Fundy Coastal Drive stretches from St. Stephen in the south to Sackville at the bay’s northern tip via Saint John, the largest city in New Brunswick and one of the oldest cities in Canada.
Along the drive, you’ll get to witness some of the finest autumn colours in Canada. The leaves hit their peak in the first half of October leading up the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Truly among the most breathtaking places in Canada, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland hits its stride in fall as the summer tourist crowds head back home and serenity returns.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gros Morne National Park is most popular as a paradise for hikers. As you wander among its hiking & walking trails, you’ll experience the park at its most magical as the changing colours envelop the forest to a backdrops of fjords, coastal cliffs, and rolling hills. You may even catch some wildlife wandering about including moose and caribou.
Agawa Canyon, Ontario
There’s hardly a more iconic journey in Canada during fall than the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Running north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, this sightseeing train starts its yearly quest for autumn plumage around the end of September and beginning of October.
Departing daily in the fall season, this 366-kilometre round-trip whisks you through the Northern Ontario hinterlands among lakes, rivers, and deep forests.
During the famous fall trip, you’ll stop for an hour and a half at Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park. Here, you’ll find family-friendly walking trails snaking past waterfalls and lofty lookout points where you’ll get to witness the majesty of the canyon from above.
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
There’s hardly a time of year when visiting the Okanagan Valley isn’t a great idea. Perhaps none is better, however, than fall.
Like in much of British Columbia, autumn temperatures in the Okanagan are warm & pleasant and perfectly tuned for outdoor adventures. The most popular hiking trails in Kelowna, the region’s main urban centre, become ablaze with colours starting in mid-October.
Besides the usual Canadian fall delights, the beginning of October marks the region’s wine harvest, celebrated by the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. There’s about 170 wineries in the Okanagan Valley and about 40 wineries in Kelowna alone. Wine lovers will love a chance to tour some of the best-of-the-best this lovely time of year!
Laurentian Mountains, Quebec
Quebec is known for its natural beauty and nowhere does it shine more than around the Laurentian Mountains. While its highest elevation is less than half that of the Canadian Rockies in Western Canada, The Laurentians are nonetheless a gorgeous and easily accessible slice of nature.
Beginning at the end of September and continuing to mid-October, the autumn leaves start to hit their most colourful. Most stunning to check out on your road trip through The Laurentians are Quebec’s famous sugar maple trees which flare into fiery reds. You’ll also catch bright yellows and oranges among the birches and beeches.
Although it’s more well-known as a top destination in Quebec in winter, the ski resort town of Mont-Tremblant is among the best places to catch the fall leaves at their finest. It’s located just 2 hours northwest of Montreal.
Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island
If you find yourself on an East Coast road trip in autumn, you need to set aside some time for exploring Prince Edward Island (PEI). Thanks to a more moderate climate than its Atlantic provincial brethren, PEI has one of the biggest windows for viewing the fall leaves at their brightest.
Among the best places to catch the autumn colours in Prince Edward Island is the Confederation Trail. This 449-kilometre network of trails stretches across the entire island, taking in some of the best places to visit in Prince Edward Island including Confederation Bridge and Charlottetown.
No matter which section of the trail you trot along you should have no problem scoping out vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows among the province’s wide assortment of tree species including red maples, sumacs, populars, and birches.
Aside from the colours, the autumn months fall within PEI’s harvesting season. At the province’s farmers’ markets, you’ll fine a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Foodies should time their visit to September to check out the PEI Fall Flavours Festival. Running for the entire month across the entire province, the festival is among PEI’s biggest food & culture celebrations of the year.