If you are planning a first time trip to Canada, you'll realise this country is huge with so many places to potentially visit.

But where is best to go?

Along with popular tourist attractions like Toronto, Vancouver and Niagara Falls, you really need to plan a trip to Alberta.

Alberta is a province in Western Canada with stunning mountain ranges, lush forests and more than 600 lakes!

Mark Robinson from New Zealand has been living and working in Canada and has been lucky to see some of the most spectacular sights in the country.

Here he shares tips with essential things to know before going to Alberta and the most unmissable destinations you need to see including some of the most beautiful lakes and best road trips you can do in the world.


1. Maligne Lake, Jasper

Maligne lake (as seen in the main article photo) is incredible, I'd definitely recommend doing the boat cruise (unavailable in winter due to lake freezing over).

This lake also has a trail around parts of it and you are in for some phenomenal views. The crystal clear waters are definitely something to behold and each day you will see lots of adventurers kayaking, boating and canoeing out on this very vast lake.

Along the drive to Maligne Lake you'll also get the chance to see another beautiful lake called Medicine lake, very good postcard view/Instgram photo opportunity. 


2. Peyto Lake, Banff

Peyto lake, Alberta, Canada

This lake has got to be one of the most unique lakes I have ever had to chance to visit. A short walk from the car park will take you to the lookout and from here you can choose as far as you want to take your adventure.

This lake if you look at it from the lookout is the shape of a wolf and the blue colour of the lake is something that is very unique to Canada, notably Alberta as a whole.

Whether you choose to visit this lake in the summer time or the winter time it is very accessible and both offer chances of some of the most breath taking photos I have ever seen and taken myself.

I would highly recommend stopping in on your way to Banff which itself is something to behold.  


3. Moraine Lake, Lake Louise

Moraine lake, Canadian Rockies

This has got to be one of my personal favourites. This lake is just a short drive from Lake Louise and is definitely well worth your time. If postcard views is what you're after you have to go check out Moraine Lake in Lake Louise, this lake is truly something spectacular!

Once you park your vehicle you will see the lake has a very distinct blue colour - it almost looks like you bottle up blue powerade from it!

Whether you visit this lake in the winter or the summer time you are definitely going to see some spectacular sights that I believe you will only see in Canada and while you're there Lake Louise isn't too far which is another beautiful place, especially if you stay at the Fairmont which overlooks the lake itself.


4. Pyramid Lake, Jasper

Pyramid lake, Alberta

Sitting at the base of the magnificent Pyramid Mountain is Pyramid Lake. Prior to reaching Pyramid lake you will pass Patricia Lake, don't mistake this for Pyramid lake as beautiful as it is.

Pyramid Lake is a kidney shaped lake that offers some spectacular views of Pyramid Mountain and whether you choose to go in summer or winter you are in for an absolute treat. In the summer you are able to rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards and adventure around on the lake while in the winter bring your skates and skate on the frozen lake.

Pyramid Mountain itself is breath taking, the mountain changes colour day to day depending on how the sun hits it and viewing it from the lake offers an insane view, maybe a chance for a new profile picture.


5. Ice Fields Parkway, Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff

Ice Fields Parkway, Alberta

I would definitely recommend spending a whole day driving along this 232km stretch of road. Along Ice Fields Parkway you will constantly find yourself wanting to stop and take photos as everywhere you look is another photo opportunity waiting to happen.

There are lakes (Bow lake and Peyto lake) along the way and a number of different mountains and mountain ranges you can see which will truly blow your mind with how spectacular they are.

I'd recommend packing a day pack full of snacks and charging your camera as this adventure along Highway 93 will take a lot longer than you expect with all the rest and viewpoint stops along the way.

This road trip really is one of the best things you can do in Canada.


Best Time to Visit Alberta

Alberta is the perfect year round destination and is popular in both summer and winter as there are so many unique activities and adventures, not to mention the out of this world scenery.


Self-drive or Tour?

First things first if you do drive Alberta in the summer time you're a good chance of seeing a grizzly bear or black bear along some of the roads to the beautiful lakes (just look for all the cars pulled over on the side of the road).

Driving can give you the freedom and flexibility to go where you want, when you want. But sometimes driving conditions can be dangerous especially during winter. Also note some distances can be long, which might not be want you want to be doing on the holiday of a lifetime.

Canada group tours are recommend to see the highlights, lots of local and international travel operators offer trips. Prices vary depending on the operator but short and long trips are available. Some tours also visit more places in Canada which is perfect if you want to see more of the country and not have to worry about transport and accommodation.


Plan Your Trip to Alberta

Whether you are planning a holiday break or keen to go backpacking or take a gap year in Canada, you really need to visit Alberta.

There are lots more places you could add to your Alberta itinerary if you have more time and a flexible schedule, but my list highlights what I consider to be the very best locations.

If you have any recommendations for things to do in Alberta let me know in the comments section below.

Now go explore this beautiful region of North America for yourself, you won't regret it!