Canadian destinations that have a European flair

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Updated: December 19, 2018

When colonists from England and France made their way to Canada, they left much of their countries’ histories behind them. Canada is a remarkably young country. In Europe, it’s easy to visit places that were built centuries before Canadian confederation. And while there are architectural marvels to behold across the Great White North, Canada hasn’t yet settled into an identity as definable as a Europe’s towns and cathedrals.

Of course, jet-setting off to Europe to experience that flair is easier said than done. But Canada is an incredibly drivable country, and from coast to coast, there are countless small towns putting their own twists on our country’s across-the-pond heritage. If you’re looking to explore, there’s no better way to stay on track than with the All-New Volvo V60. Its 9-inch centre console touch screen makes mapping out your drive easy—it even works when you’re wearing gloves!—and its award-winning safety features like large-animal detection will give you peace of mind whether you’re driving in the city or in the country.

So if you’re looking to experience a taste of Europe at a fraction of the cost, here are some cities we’d start with.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

National Geographic called Cape Breton Canada’s answer to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and you don’t have to spend much time there to see why. Its steep, greenery-swept cliffs are a sight to see, the local accent’s lingering lilt is unmistakable, and Scottish-inspired folk music is always within earshot. We hope you like bagpipes.

Galt, Ontario

The former town of Galt is one of the prettiest hidden secrets Ontario has to offer. In 1973, Galt amalgamated with Hespeler, Preston, and Blair to form the municipality of Cambridge, but has retained its identity thanks to its unique riverside construction. Built along the edge of the Grand River, Galt’s stunning 19th-century churches, gem-filled antique shops, and must-visit farmer’s market all lead to its most captivating feature: the beautiful bridge that leads into town.

Victoria, B.C.

High tea, anyone? Named for Queen Victoria, this West Coast city is one of Canada’s oldest, and it’s steeped in British tradition. And when it comes to the Brits, there’s perhaps no tradition as sacred as high tea, which Victoria has fully embraced. Beyond this afternoon indulgence, Victoria is also filled with European-inspired architecture, more than a few British pubs, and the sweeping Italian and English landscapes of Butchart Gardens.

Stratford, Ontario

Considering it was named after Shakespeare’s birthplace, it’s no surprise that Stratford, Ontario, is internationally renowned for its theatre. But the town’s distinct charm is what keeps people coming back long after the Stratford Festival is finished. The equally driveable and walkable Stratford is filled with quaint Victorian shops and a striking sense of community.

Québec City, Québec

It’s the obvious choice for a reason. The former capital of New France, Québec City’s bones go back more than 400 years, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re experiencing history when you visit. Walk its cobblestone streets and take in its countless historical sites, like the iconic Château Frontenac and its signature oxidized green copper roof, or the Ursuline Monastery, which dates as far back as the mid-17th century.