As with the rest of Canada, everything in Ontario is on a grand scale. Indeed, this vast central province covers an area larger than that of France and Spain combined, while its lakes – all 250,000 of them – contain a staggering one fifth of the planet’s fresh water.
Most of Ontario’s 13.5-million inhabitants live in its cities, with the Gothic-revival architecture and pretty tree-lined canals of Ottawa – the Canadian capital – providing a pleasing counterpoint with the multicultural sprawl of fashion-conscious Toronto and its trendy bars and boutiques.
History and culture
Visit Canada's capital, Ottawa, to admire the Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Château Hotel on opposite sides of the Rideau Canal. You'll find the National Gallery of Canada displaying works of art, including paintings from Group of Seven artist Tom Thompson. Enjoy a greater variety of specialist museums in Toronto and visit Niagara on the Lake to discover more about the War of 1812.
Enjoy the bustling city life and brilliant nightlife of Toronto. Look down on the city from the CN Tower and take advantage of a theatre scene that rivals both New York and London, watch a ball game at the Rogers Centre or meander through this multicultural city for excellent sightseeing opportunities. Over in Ottawa, British and French influences abound in the charming capital, a seamless blend of old and new and home to seriously impressive Gothic architecture along with some of Canada's best museums.
In many ways, these cities are mere launchpads for the adventures that lie beyond. In the north, the provincial parks of Algonquin and Killarney are all forested mountains, peaceful lakes and secluded trails, seductive in summer, resplendent in spring and autumn, and fun-packed in winter when the snows arrive.
The Killarney Provincial Park is one of the worlds finest kayaking destinations and a haven for hikers, with mile upon mile of pristine trails taking inn shimmering lakes and forested mountains, home to wildlife including wolves and black bears. Algonquin Provincial Park, with its trickling streams, cragged cliffs and thousands of pretty lakes, is arguably Ontario's most beautiful park – visit in autumn to watch as sprawling maple forests take on deep shades of red, amber and gold.
In turn, at the border-straddling Great Lakes, idyllic bays shelter remote communities that look out to a horizon stretching all the way to the American Midwest. Made up partly of Lake Ontario, Lake Superior and Lake Huron, they're home to picturesque Georgian Bay and Manitoulin Island.
Then, lastly, at headline-grabbing Niagara Falls, it’s possible to join the hordes on a cruise before slipping away to discover vineyards far off the tourist trail. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a delightful alternative to touristy Niagara Falls, a picturesque town and the ideal base from which to explore North America's most famous waterfall and a host of nearby wineries.