In our series of the North American road trips to take at least once in a lifetime, we have decided to explore Eastern Canada — a region that gives travelers a diverse taste of Canada, its cultures, and its natural scenic wonders. This is the perfect road trip for both city kids and country folks alike.
Discover Eastern Canada’s many treasures from Toronto to Quebec City to Halifax and loop back via Montreal. With a little more time on your hands, you could even head southeast to Boston and New York City. Buckle up!
Toronto is a dazzling city and a fantastic place to start this epic Eastern Canada road trip. Before you hit the road, you must explore its many marvels, from the iconic CN Tower to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the shopping Eaton Centre and so much more.
Toronto is also a multicultural hub, a world of diversity within a world city. Explore its 70+ neighborhoods, each of its own distinct cultural appeals: restaurants, public places, but also theaters, art galleries, and museums.
If you visit during summertime, be sure to soak up the lakefront atmosphere in Toronto’s dozen of designated sand or cobble beaches located in waterfront parks. They are the perfect spot for a picnic and often host great outdoor summer festivals like no other.
The Falls are just 1h 30 minutes away via the Queen Elizabeth and the route will take you through Mississauga, Oakville, St Catherine, and other quaint little towns with hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
What you may not know is that Niagara Falls is also a city of 80,000+ inhabitants and with many attractions… other than the legendary waterfalls. From spas to award-winning golf courses to the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanic Gardens, you will need a day or two to truly uncover the true beauty of this city.
If you came just for the main attraction, tour the Niagara Falls by boat or helicopter. Enjoy the stunning views from the top of the Skylon Tower or a romantic dinner at a Fallsview restaurant with the Falls as backdrop. The Niagara Falls experience is unique.
Stroll along the Rideau Canal or spend the afternoon touring the Parliament Hill or the Gatineau Park. Ottawa is beautiful, calm, and designed for tourists, history and culture buffs.
A visit to Ottawa would be incomplete without a visit to its world-class museums. Don’t pass up the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery of Canada. With more time at hand, check out the lively ByWard Market, one of the oldest and largest public markets in Canada. Don’t forget your wallet.
Out of Ottawa, go-through Fort-Coulonge on your way to the magnificent Algonquin Park and spend a day just reconnecting with nature. If you visit during wintertime, then you just know that Mont-Tremblant is the place to go for breathtaking sceneries and top-class slopes.
How good is your French? Here is your chance to practice it a little. If you read this blog you know just how much we love Quebec City and its cultural attractions.
Start off in Old Quebec and explore its ramparts — the oldest standing citadel in North America — and make your way to Vieux Port for sight-seeing in the scenic sidewalk cafes.
Along the way, ride the funicular or take your chances down the Breakneck Steps. Beyond lie the artsy Petit Champlain district and the Place Royale: 2 of our favorite things to see in Quebec City.
If you can, get out of the city to see the best of the Quebec Province, including the Montmorency Falls Park.
The distinct cultures of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will charm ocean and nature lovers. As you cross one-street towns like Fredericton and walk the famous Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. Make stops to indulge in plenty of seafood along the way.
Sea lovers should spend a day or two in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, and a city deeply rooted in a maritime tradition. Take in the harbor views from the lively Historic Properties Wharf and take the ferry to Dartmouth. Visit the Maritime museum of the Atlantic and the hilltop Citadel to understand the past naval glory of this former British stronghold — especially the role it plays during the American Civil War.
A visit to Canada would be incomplete without its most exciting city. Montreal is a booming, young city, prefered by night-owls, party crowds, and bachelor(ette) parties.
During the day, jet-boat the Saint Laurent River to take in the city’s spectacular landscape. You should also rent a citibike to explore the urbanscape, on a brewery tour or to visit the Montreal Botanical Gardens and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Around the evening, check out the Vieux-Montreal to see the heart of the city, with its cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. Catch the sunset from the top of Mont-Royal which is also the perfect vantage point to admire Montreal’s skyline.
But Montreal really comes to life in the evening. After a poutine, take over the infamous Rue Sainte Catherine and its house-music mecca — the Stereo Nightclub for a night of revelry. If you are into speakeasies, check out the Big in Japan in the Plateau borough.
Boston – New York?
From Montreal, you could just head back toward Toronto via the Ontario 401 highway. But it would be a shame not to extend the adventure to Boston and New York. Check out this road trip itinerary that will surely convince you to visit the best of the US East Coast.
Tell us what you think of this Eastern Canada road trip. What would you do differently?