If you've been dreaming of packing your suitcase and saying goodbye to Canada this winter, don't rush to grab your passport.

Whether it's the snow-capped Swiss Alps, the cobblestone streets of Paris or England's cozy, inviting pubs that are on your bucket list, it's possible to get an authentic taste of Europe without actually leaving the country.

That's because there are so many places in Canada that look like Europe, and you can enjoy so many European-inspired activities this winter, including things like winter festivals and Christmas markets.

So, before you book a long-haul flight across the Atlantic, take a look at these 11 wintry things to do in Canada that'll transport you overseas. You never know, you might just decide to stay a little closer to home!

Experience a winter festival in Ottawa

When: February 2 to 19, 2024

Address: Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: If you've ever dreamed of experiencing Germany's long-standing tradition of winter carnivals and holiday festivals – but don't want the hassle of the overseas travel – Ottawa's Winterlude has you covered.

This iconic Canadian winter festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year – and for good reason. Here, you'll find everything from stunning ice sculptures and a massive snow playground to the world-famous Rideau Canal Skateway, and so much more.

Stretching over 7.8 kilometers, the Rideau Canal Skateway is the largest naturally-frozen skating rink in the world. Gliding on it with the backdrop of the cityscape and Parliament Buildings will transport you to Germany in an instant – no passport needed.

Ottawa Winterlude website

Cozy up in a British-style pub in Victoria

When: All winter

Address: Victoria, BC

Why You Need To Go: If you'd rather be spending the winter in England this year, why not consider a shorter trip to Victoria, B.C.?

Here, you'll be able to sample all of the elegance and historic charm of Britain without the international airfare (although you can expect the weather to be equally miserable).

While exploring Victoria you'll be whisked away to another part of the world thanks to its historic museums, British-style architecture and horse-drawn carriages.

To truly get a taste of England, cozy up in one of Victoria's English pubs and spend hours sipping hot tea, traditional beer or a Christmas cocktail (or all three!), or treat yourself to a tasty portion of fish and chips.

Tourism Victoria website

Explore quaint boutiques in Quebec City

When: All winter

Address: Quebec City, QC

Why You Need To Go: If France is calling your name, there's nowhere closer to the real thing than Quebec City.

With its cobblestone streets, rich history and distinct French identity, it's not difficult to imagine yourself being on the other side of the Atlantic.

Strolling through Old Quebec, you'll find yourself transported to an authentic European village thanks to the charming boutiques and elegant architecture. Seeing historic buildings like the iconic Château Frontenac and Notre-Dame de Québec, you'll swear you've stepped into a French postcard.

During the holiday season, make sure to visit the city's popular German Christmas market if you want a little taste of Bavaria during your trip, too!

Destination Quebec website

Photograph the snow-capped peaks in Banff

When: All winter

Address: Banff, Banff National Park, AB

Why You Need To Go: If the idea of Switzerland's distant, snow-kissed peaks feels out of reach this winter, why not head to Banff National Park instead?

While both promise snow-capped peaks, quaint mountainside towns, endless winter hiking trails, and more photo opportunities than anyone could ever truly take advantage of, you won't need to catch a long-haul flight to visit Banff.

Not only will you be able to experience the full wonder of the Canadian Rockies during the winter here, but you'll also be able to transport yourself across the Atlatic.

To add a touch of European luxury to your trip, make a stop at the iconic Banff Springs Hotel which has all the vibes of an old European castle – high tea and ballroom included!

Banff tourism website

Chase the northern lights in Churchill

When: November through March

Address: Churchill, MB

Why You Need To Go: Considered among the best places in the country to see the northern lights, Churchill is Canada's answer to Norway.

Tucked away and admittedly awkward to get to, Churchill promises all the magic and allure of Norway, but with its own added bonus – the polar bears! Known as the "polar bear capital of the world," this spot is a nature-lover's paradise.

Like Norway, it also offers the chance to spot the elusive narwhal, as well as Arctic vistas and extremely dark, starry night skies.

Travel Manitoba website

Wander around the Christmas markets in Toronto

When: From November 16, 2023

Address: 55 Mill St., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: If you've ever dreamt of visiting a European Christmas market without the overseas travel, Toronto's Distillery Winter Village (formerly known as the Toronto Christmas Market) is the next-best thing.

This winter wonderland captures the spirit of European holiday markets with its charming cobblestone streets, festive lights, artisanal treasures and the cozy scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

As you wander through this authentic-feeling market, it'll feel like you've been whisked away to a magical European village.

The Distillery Winter Village website

Soak in a Nordic Spa in Quebec

When: All winter

Address: 16 Chem. Nordik, Chelsea, QC

Why You Need To Go: If Iceland's Blue Lagoon has always been on your bucket list, you don't need to cross the Atlantic to experience something similar. Nestled in Chelsea, Quebec, Nordik Spa-Nature promises to transport you to a world akin to Iceland's famous geothermal oasis.

At North America's largest thermal spa, you'll find Scandinavian-style thermal baths, saunas, outdoor pools and relaxation zones, all in a pristine natural setting. And the healing properties of Nordik's waters are said to be reminiscent of the Blue Lagoon, offering a serene escape from your busy day-to-day life.

Nordik Spa-Nature website

Hit the slopes in Whistler

When: All winter

Address: Whistler, BC

Why You Need To Go: Nestled in the heart of B.C., Whistler feels like an authentic piece of Europe in the Canadian wilderness.

Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America, wouldn't look out of place on the other side of the world, as it shares a resemblance with renowned ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland, and even France.

For snowsports enthusiasts, it's a winter paradise with slopes, trails and snow-covered landscapes that are every bit as impressive as their European counterparts.

Whether it's thanks to the breathtaking alpine views, challenging slopes, or boozy afternoons, you'll easily be able to convince yourself you're in Europe.

Whistler tourism website

Sip steaming coffee in Montreal

When: All winter

Address: Montreal, QC

Why You Need To Go: Montreal, with its charming European ambiance, serves up a taste of Paris on a Canadian platter.

It's the details here that'll transport you to the heart of Europe. The city's signature greystone architecture, cozy French bistros, iconic cathedrals and cobblestone streets create an atmosphere so authentically European that you'll find it hard to believe you're still in Canada.

Head into any one of the city's cozy cafes and spend a cold, wintry afternoon sipping steaming hot coffee (or mulled wine) and sampling delicious, authentic French pastries and baked goods.

Montreal tourism website

Cozy up in a forest log cabin

When: All winter

Address: Varies

Why You Need To Go: If you've always imagined retreating to a snug log cabin nestled in the forest, where the soft crackling of the log burner and the scent of pine trees fill the air, you really don't have to leave Canada.

While Germany's Black Forest is many, many miles from Canada, you can still get a similar experience closer to home.

With countless cozy, rural Airbnb options across Canada, you can snuggle up by the fire, close your eyes, and transport yourself to a European-style cabin in the heart of nature, all without even leaving the province you're in.

Host your own fondue dinner party at home

When: All winter

Address: Your home!

Why You Need To Try It: You don't actually even have to leave your home to get a little taste of Europe here in Canada.

Gather your family, besties, or call up your lover and host an event steeped in Swiss tradition – a fondue dinner party.

It's a culinary tradition where cheese or chocolate is melted in a communal pot. Originating in the Swiss Alps, it's a social dining experience where guests dip bread, meat, or fruit into the luscious mixtures, fostering a sense of coziness and togetherness.

So, gather your favourite people and transport everyone to the heart of the Alps – no plane ticket required!

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