Canada shines among Lonely Planet’s top picks for 2013

We know there’s a lot to love about our country, but it’s always nice to see international travellers recognize it too! Every year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel guides feature the Top 10 Regions, Top 10 Countries and Top 10 Cities. This year, our beautiful country is making an appearance on two of these lists.

The lists aren’t a popularity contest, nor will you find them a “to-do list” of typical destinations like Paris or London. Instead, the company gathers ideas from its staff, readers and extended family of travellers, bloggers and social media connections. In-house travel experts make the final picks based on criteria such as excitement and good value — not to mention that “special X-factor” that makes the destination unique.

Here is how Canada measured up in Best in Travel 2013.

Top Region: The Yukon

Lonely Planet is famous for favouring road-less-travelled destinations, so we weren’t surprised to see the Yukon ranked #4 for adventure and getting off the beaten track. The guide describes the territory as having “a grandeur and beauty that can only be properly appreciated in person.” Lonely Planet notes the wilderness has been “untouched by time” — but climate change is already changing the face of its many parks and glaciers.

Of course, there’s a lot more to see in the Yukon than the scenically rugged terrain. Re-trace gold rush history by driving the Klondike-Kluane Loop, or head to Yellowknife for front row seats for the spectacular northern lights. (For more ideas, visit

The Yukon is in good company. Other top regions on the list include Corsica, France; Mustang, Nepal; The Gulf Coast, USA; Palawan, the Philippines and Campania, Italy. (Read the full list of Top 10 Regions.)

Of course, 2013 isn’t the first year Canada has been among the Top 10 Regions, In 2012, our Maritime Provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PEI) — ranked 7th on the list.

Top City:  Montreal

Move over, Toronto and Vancouver! Montreal earned the #8 spot on this list for its good value, culture and events.

“We chose Montreal for Best in Travel 2013 due to its mélange of cultures, socially-responsible businesses, great food and unique style,” says Jennye Garibaldi, Lonely Planet’s Commissioning Editor for Canada in a recent press release. “And with the launch of the new Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the unveiling of the Grévin Wax Museum and the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Place des Arts, Montreal’s social calendar is overflowing in 2013.”

This year isn’t the first time Montreal has earned acclaim: the city was designated one of the “World’s Happiest Places” in 1000 Ultimate Experiences. If you’re looking for nightlife, Lonely Planet also has the city on its “Ultimate Party Cities” and “Top 10 hedonistic city breaks” lists too. (For more travel ideas, visit Tourism Montreal.)

Other top cities getting the nod this year include San Francisco, Amsterdam, Derry/Londonderry, Beijing and Christchurch. (Read the full list of Top 10 Cities.) Last year, Vancouver also earned the #8 rank.

What about 2013’s Top Countries? Canada wasn’t on this year’s list, but we had our turn in 2009 ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. (We’ll take a closer look at the top countries in next week’s travel newsletter.)

Naturally, there are many cities and regions in Canada that would be welcome on these lists — but we can’t hog the spotlight! What’s your favourite Canadian destination? Tell us in the comments.

Photo: Tombstone Mountains Park in the Yukon © Istvan Hernadi