If you’re debating a trip to Canada this year, or even planning one, here’s what you need to know, based on my incredible week there at the start of October 2021.
On September 7th 2021 Canada eased its borders for international tourists. We’re free to go as long as we’re double jabbed. And so, my boyfriend and I did.
On 9th September we booked an epic trip to Montreal, Toronto and Niagara Falls, leaving three weeks later on October 1st.
Despite some travel anxiety on the lead up – mainly revolving around cost and the ‘Covid Recovery Certificate’ – I am so, so glad we went. It was a wonderful trip at an amazing time of year to be in Canada. Autumn in Canada is awesome.
As we explored museums and travelled around the attractions, we could tell from the amount of parking spaces, and queueing space that by going now, in 2021, we were in the privileged position to be in Canada while the tourists weren’t.
This had many benefits.
Obviously I’m going to cover them in this article, but let’s start with one of the most worrying parts of any trip abroad right now – getting in the country to start with.
To enter Canada as a tourist in 2021
– For the latest, up to date advice on visiting Canada visit the Official Government of Canada website here.
- You need to be double vaccinated, with proof.
- You need a negative PCR test OR a Covid 19 Certificate of Recovery (if you’ve had it in the last 180 days). The Certificate of Recovery essentially means you get to go in for free as you don’t have to do the expensive PCR test.
- You need to be prepared to show your certification and ID wherever you go, including museums, restaurants and attractions.
- Your proof needs to have your name, the type of vaccine, the date you had it, and it has to be in French or English.
- You need to upload all of this information to the ArriveCan app in the 72 hours before you depart.
- You also need to get the ETA visa in advance, as is standard for entering Canada (costs $7).
- You need a quarantine plan (more on this below).
Canada only considers you ‘fully’ vaccinated if you have received the full recommended dose of a vaccine from a manufacturer approved by Health Canada.
There are four: Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
You need to have had two weeks between the final date, and your proposed entry to Canada. There’s loads of information on this on the official Canada Government website. You can also find out your eligibility to arrive in Canada there too.
It might seem like a drama, but bolstered by our successful trip to Greece in August, we had some confidence in travel and after looking at the many, many reasons to visit Canada right now, we decided it was totally worth it.
Reasons to visit Canada in 2021
1. Canada is on England’s green list
Canada is on the Green List for England. This means you don’t need to do any tests to get back in to England after visiting, but you will need to do a Day 2 Test (until the end of October that is).
2. Autumn is a beautiful time to be in Canada
The foliage in Canada is incredible in October. During my trip to Canada in 2021 we drove from Montreal to Parc Omega, about two hours away, the colourful trees lining the route were just incredible. My partner, Ben, kept laughing at me for loving the trees so much, but they were just amazing.
It made the views from the CN Tower in Toronto better, from the wheel in Montreal, and the views across Niagara too. Autumn is a really beautiful time to be in Canada.
Spring in Canada is pretty sweet too, but I think I preferred Autumn.
READ MORE: How to Have a Romantic Weekend in Montreal
3. Less queues at attractions
From the winding queue barriers at the CN Tower, we could tell they’re well set up for a lot more people than were there on the day we were. The three car parks at Parc Omega told the same story. But, we were free to stroll on in to every attraction we went to.
Even the airports were as queue free as they can be. There’s just not as many people travelling these days, making it the perfect time to visit your dream destination in Canada.
There are also some great deals to be had on different schemes designed to get you out of the house. You can get deals on attractions like the Montreal Passport, which was already a good deal and then when we there, was offered half price.
We also managed to get cheap on the day tickets to a show in Toronto – Blindness. It was $69 in advance but I guess there just wasn’t the tourist influx to sell the tickets to, so we got an on the day deal of $29. Bargain!
4. Flight prices are cheap
It was the cheaper flight prices that first got me interested in going to Canada in 2021, and wondering if it was an achievable dream.
Our flight was £348 each, but then we added a shared suitcase for £55 each. Essentially, £400. We flew from London Heathrow to Montreal, and then from Toronto back to London Heathrow.
This was quite a bit less than the Google Flight Tracker tells me that flights should be at this time of year.
5. Hotels are cheaper
Demand is less around Canada’s attractions, so the hotels you want to be in are cheaper. We paid around £100 a night for our accommodation and stayed in some sweet places.
For our last We got this hotel at Niagara Falls for £160 a night with this incredible view and a jacuzzi. According to the signage there it was usually $1000!
6. It’s time to do those mega trips
If you’ve always dreamt of going to Canada, then now is the time to get planning.
I know that the last 18 months have been financially devastating for some people, but I also know that for others they’ve managed to bank some cash from being inside all the time. If you’re lucky and in that second group, it’s time to treat yourself to those travel adventures you’ve dreamed of.
Visiting Canada in 2021
Canada was closed to tourists for 17 months, so you need to be patient when you visit. Everyone’s getting used to it again. We were welcomed wherever we went.
I found people were a lot stricter in wearing the mask properly in Canada. In fact, I can’t remember seeing anyone doing the nose out trick, or disobeying the rules. Not like I’ve seen in England. In fact, some people working in tourism were wearing two.
There’s obviously still a fear.
Every attraction and restaurant you go to requires evidence of your double vaccination and an ID to go along with it. I had a screenshot of my second vaccination on my phone and my driving licence. This was annoying as to find it I’d also have a mask on, and glasses, which steamed up whenever you go in anywhere. I’m also asthmatic, and pregnant, so it got frustrating but if it protects us all, that’s great.
It’s what we have to do to have the luxury of being out and about, and travelling.
According to Canada’s official vaccine tracker, nearly 72% of the population is fully vaccinated as I write this.
A note on the Canada quarantine rules
Everyone who comes to Canada still needs to arrive with a quarantine plan in case the officer determines they must isolate for 14 days. The final decision on who has to quarantine rests with the officers at the border. I have no idea how they work this out.
The whole ‘quarantine plan’ thing seems confusing on your form, but we just put our hotel and made sure we had evidence of enough money to cover 14 days if the worst should happen, and that got us through – no questions asked.
Interesting to note that I was entering Canada under the ‘Covid 19 Recovery Certificate’ and they say you won’t be selected for testing if you come in that way. My partner Ben has also had Covid but his certificate didn’t appear on the app, and we couldn’t get a straight answer on how to get it from 119. He had to pay for a PCR test, which meant in theory he could’ve been selected for a random test which could’ve meant he had to quarantine.
“The quarantine plan must detail where you will stay, how you will get there and how you will arrange for delivery of essentials such as groceries and medicine. Failure to stick to the plan can lead to six months’ jail time and a CAD$750,000 (US$593,000) fine.
Additionally, all arrivals are given a health screening by a border officer to assess any symptoms.”– CNN
Why go to Canada now?
We had a brilliant time in Canada. I’m so, so glad we went, for all the reasons laid out above.
If you want to go, and you’re double vaccinated, then go. I was worried about all the media hype on queues at the airport, and stressed about certificates, but neither of those ended up being anything to worry about. As soon as we were in, we had a great time.
With the relatively low number of tourists, the beautiful autumnal colours and the good prices to be had, now is the perfect time for your dream trip to Canada.
Please, let me know if you have any questions. If you’ve seen my latest Instagram post, you’ll know I’m around for the next few months to help!
Find out more about visiting Canada at explore-canada.co.uk.