4 small towns in Ontario with a European atmosphere

If you’re not flying to Europe this summer but still want to experience charming towns, rich history, impressive architecture, cobblestone streets and natural vineyards, look no further than Ontario. Ontario, Canada’s second largest province, covers over 415,000 square kilometers and is packed with beautiful small towns with polite Canadians and charm around every corner. Ontario is an east-central Canadian province with vibrant multiculturalism, varied landscapes including waterfalls and rivers, and cute shops and cafes perfect for afternoon tea or an iced cappuccino on a patio. These four cities with a European vibe all make a great road trip or weekend getaway, whether you live in Ontario or drive across the border from the United States.


Merrickville is just an hour’s drive from Canada’s capital Ottawa, as well as the Canada-US border. Called one of Canada’s most beautiful villages, it has more heritage-listed buildings than any other Ontario community of its size, adding to its European atmosphere. Merrickvile is also called ‘the jewel of the Rideau’ and is located along the beautiful and famous Rideau Canal. It is a relaxing place for boating and exploring nature. It’s also the perfect destination to celebrate culture and history, including the Merrickville Lockstation. These unique locks are located on the south side of the river in an excavated canal and are the largest of the four bunkers built along the Rideau. Don’t leave without shopping in cute boutiques full of unique treasures created by local artists.


For a European fairytale destination, spend a weekend in Stratford. Admire the Victorian features of Stratford Town Hall, the site of the town’s municipal buildings since 1857 and a National Historic Site of Canada. The beautiful red brick building and clock tower are similar to those in Europe, except this one has a Canadian flag. Stratford is situated on the banks of the River Avon and is world famous for its exciting Stratford Festival. People from all over the world come to Stratford to experience world-class theater and music. Known for celebrating the arts, Stratford has galleries, museums, delicious restaurants and unique shops. A road trip from Toronto to Stratford takes about two hours.


For European charm, look no further than Price Edward County’s beautiful Picton. Picton is the largest community in The County, an island in Lake Ontario made up of small hamlets and villages. Picton is a beautiful town and home to the famous Regent Theater with a history dating back to 1918. This enchanting theater offers live performances in a variety of genres. After strolling through the city past art galleries and shops, enjoy a meal on a terrace. Prince Edward County has many wineries you can tour for views reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside, and it’s a two-hour drive from Toronto.


No, it’s not in England, this London is in Ontario. London, Canada, even has a Covent Garden Market. Founded in 1845 and located downtown, it is open daily with food, various services, a weekly local farmers market and cultural festivals. Although London’s population is closer to a medium-sized city, London still has a small-town feel and it is possible to travel from one end of the city to the other quite quickly. Check out the theatre, galleries and museums, including the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, to learn about the archaeological discoveries and artifacts, technology and culture of the First Nations peoples. London is located in the southwestern part of the province, approximately halfway between Toronto and Detroit, USA.