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Road Trips Across Canada: Exploring the Country by Car

With a rich natural heritage spread over an incredible expanse of land, Canada offers virtually endless room for exploration. If you want to see everything the Great White North has to offer, grab your car keys and plan a road trip across Canada! 

From world-class cities to breathtaking views and inspiring historical finds, a road trip around Canada is the best way to get to know the unique sights and experiences in every corner of the country. Start exploring with our top road trip ideas!

Calgary to Banff in Alberta

Alberta’s landscapes make for some of the best road trips!

Hot Stops:

Banff National Park, Bragg Creek, the Icefields Parkway

Why We Love It:

Starting in busy and bustling Calgary and ending in the peaceful quiet of Banff national park, this road trip takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Alberta. The perfect destination for a weekend getaway — or even a full week — this trip lets you get to know the prairies’ largest city first. This Calgary to Banff route is an all-season road trip. However, if you’re taking a summer drive, check out our Calgary guide to get the most out of the city!

Heading west out of Calgary brings you to the numerous rural communities that dot Southern Alberta’s rolling foothills. Take a detour south to Bragg Creek and stop for lunch. Orm simply admire the area’s charming log houses and ranches.

Once you’re back on the road, it won’t be long until you arrive in Banff National Park. The park is one of the country’s most beloved national parks. Take some time to check out beautiful views of the Rockies and drive the Icefields Parkway!

Don’t forget to book the perfect accommodations in Calgary and Banff to make this road trip shine!

Planning a trip to Banff? Check out our “Travel Canada: Explore Canmore to Banff, AB” blog for more ideas!

Cabot Trail to Sydney in Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail boasts some of the most beautiful things to see while driving across Canada

Hot Stops:

Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Breton Highland Links

Why We Love It:

This Nova Scotia coastal highway is perhaps the most stunning stretch of road in all of Canada.  As you drive along the edge of the sea, you’ll see why the Cabot Trail is considered one of the best road trips in Canada. The trail makes a loop around the coast, so pick your starting point — any point — and go!

Be warned — the area’s diverse and breathtaking landscape makes it hard to resist frequent stops. Hiking, whale-watching and kayaking are just some of the activities you can check-off your Cabot Trail itinerary as you make your way through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on this road trip. In order to get the full experience, set aside several days for this wonderful journey. The best places to see on the Cabot Trail include the Cape Breton Highland Links. Even non-golfers will be in awe of the coastal views.

Make stops at the many beaches along the highway. Ingonish Beach’s Freshwater Lake Trail straddles Freshwater Lake and the Atlantic Ocean. So, book a stop here on your road trip planner and take a dip on either side.

Take your time exploring this ultimate Canadian road trip. Cape Breton has a number of enchanting cottages and rentals that will charm you.

Beyond the Cabot Trail, check out what else you can do nearby in Halifax with this helpful blog post.

Montreal to Quebec City in Quebec

Take one of the most enchanting road trips in Canada

Hot Stops:

Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Val Notre-Dame Abbey

Why We Love It:

The ultimate Quebec road trip will not only take you to the province’s two most well-known cities, but through the beautiful small towns that make up the heart of Quebec’s countryside.

Enjoy the best that Montreal and Quebec City have to offer on either end of your trip. From Montreal’s museums and nightlife to the stately architecture and attractions of old Quebec City. In between the two, there’s no shortage of things to do and sights to see!

Quebec’s rich religious and cultural heritage has left its mark on the province. Use that for inspiration for road trip ideas and visit the picturesque, secluded and surprisingly contemporary monastery Abbaye Val Notre-Dame as you leave Montreal. After the Abbey, add a stop in Trois-Rivieres, Canada’s oldest industrial city, to your road trip itinerary.

No Quebec road trip would be complete without a stay in the heart of both Montreal and Quebec City.

Visiting during the summer? There are a plethora of things to do in Quebec City that will keep you entertained. We’ve narrowed it down for you in this article.

Vancouver to Whistler in British Columbia

BC’s mountain roads are ripe for a road trip

Hot Stops:

Sea to Sky Gondola, Stawamus Chief trail, Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Brandywine Falls 

Why We Love It:

British Columbia’s best road trip route is something you need to put on your bucket list (check out our other bucket list ideas). Winding mountain roads take you through valleys and peaks, past lakes and streams, and into the heart of some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The Sea to Sky Highway will leave you breathless at every turn!

While this can be a quick one-day trip, plan for frequent stops on this scenic road trip. There are dozens of fascinating attractions along the way. Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a popular stop, with a sunken ship feature for divers and snorkelers.  

Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the Sea to Sky Gondola or challenge yourself by hiking the Stawamus Chief trail. Be sure to bring your camera and snap Instagram-worthy shots of Howe Sound! As you near your final destination, take a detour and hike the spectacular Brandywine Falls before you finish off your British Columbia road trip in Whistler.

Make sure you budget time on either end of your trip to explore Vancouver and Whistler. A downtown Vancouver condo rental and a mountainside cabin in Whistler make for perfect bookends to this road trip!

Viking Trail in Newfoundland

Ready for a road trip, Canada?

Hot Stops:

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, The Arches Provincial Park, Port au Choix National Historic Site

Why We Love It:

Load up your Maritime road trip itinerary — this is a road trip no one in Canada should miss! The trail connects two of Newfoundland’s World Heritage sites, Gros Morne National Park and the thousand year old Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows. Officially known as Route 430, the Viking Trail is home to North America’s only confirmed viking-era settlements. If you’re itching to visit Newfoundland and seeing a viking village, this is the road trip for you.

Along the way, you’ll find a multitude of ecological and historical stops to capture your eye. Stop for a picnic in The Arches Provincial park and get to know the unique rock formations with naturally carved arches. When you’re ready to continue your road trip, make sure you stop at the Port au Choix National Historic Site, an archaeological site that has been occupied by Canada’s indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

Finish off this Canadian road trip at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, the viking village that the trail is named after.

Start this nordic road trip right with a rental in Deer Lake, where the Viking Trail begins.

Ottawa to Prince Edward County in Ontario

Plan a road trip canada

Hot Stops:

Confederation Park, Fort Henry, Queen’s University, Presqu’ile Provincial Park, The Big Apple, Sandbanks Provincial Park

Why We Love It:

For a bit of history and a lot of good wine, road trips from Ottawa don’t get better than this one. Less than a 3 hour drive from Ottawa, without stops, this relaxing drive rewards you with a plethora of great vino once you’ve arrived in Prince Edward County. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to check out our blog on the “Best Things To Do In Prince Edward County” before you hit the road!

While it only takes a few hours to drive from Canada’s capital to wine country, you will want to make stops along the way. What would a Canadian road trip be without them? About 2 hours away from Ottawa is the city of Kingston, also known as the “Limestone City” for its heritage sites being made of limestone. For history buffs, you’ll want to make a stop here to visit sites like Fort Henry. Built in the 19th century, the site now acts as a living museum to educate visitors and tourists. You may also want to take a stroll through Confederation Park while you’re in Kingston. 

Before you arrive at your destination in Prince Edward County, you will want to make a detour to The Big Apple in Colborne. This roadside attraction is famous for its bakery with apple treats. You can easily spot it from the highway — thanks to its giant apple-shaped structure.

Once you’ve arrived in Prince Edward County, you’ll want to make a few more stops during your road trip to pick up goodies at the wineries. Or, you can park your car and rent a bike to ride around the County while doing a few wine tastings here and there. You may even want to do a wine limo tour with a group of friends! Remember to always drink responsibly.  

Start mapping out the wineries you want to hit up and plan a stay at one of the many cottages and vacation rentals in the area. 

Central Coastal Drive in Prince Edward Island

Some of the things to see while driving across Canada include Prince Edward Island’s incredible coastal views.

Hot Stops:

Confederation Bridge, Green Gables Heritage Place, French River, Victoria-By-The-Sea, North Rustico

Why We Love It:

When it comes to an Eastern Canada road trip, you can’t go wrong with any road trip within Prince Edward Island. There are so many great routes to take that come with their own unique attractions. Feeling adventurous? Plan a drive around the entire island. It would be the ultimate Canadian road trip! 

The Central Coastal Drive offers some of the best ocean views from the island. This 253 kilometre route passes by incredibly scenic backdrops, including white-sand beaches, farmlands and red cliffs. Enjoy a peaceful moment when you visit the tiny fishing village of French River. For fans of Anne of Green Gables, you’ll definitely want to visit Green Gables Heritage Place. If you want to test your luck with fishing, drive to the fishing community of North Rustico. Along the Red Sands Shore, you’ll be treated with beaches that are covered by warm red sand. 

If you plan to explore the entire island, you may want to check out our guide on the “Best Things To Do In PEI“! Once you have a plan, you’ll want to check out some of the great coastal vacation rentals that offer incredible views of Prince Edward Island. 

Toronto to Muskoka in Ontario

Ultimate Canadian road trip from Toronto to Muskoka is great year-round!

Hot Stops:

Bala Museum, Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve, Muskoka Discovery Centre, Muskoka Wharf, Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery

Why We Love It:

Almost 200 kilometres north of Toronto is the beautiful cottage region of Muskoka. If you’re planning road trips from Toronto, this is definitely one to add to the list! A little over 2 hours away from the city, it’s been named one of Canada’s top vacation spots by several publications. This cottage country is known for its picturesque lakes and charming towns. So, it’s no surprise why people fall in love with it after just one visit.

Whether it’s to take in the view of the sparkling lakes in the summer or the colour foliage during the fall season, Muskoka is worth the drive from Toronto all year-round. Along the way, make a stop at the towns, including Gravenhurst and Port Carling. In Gravenhurst, learn about the fascinating steamship history at Muskoka Discovery Centre. Or, take a stroll along the boardwalk at Muskoka Wharf where you can shop and dine. If you get there late at night, you’ll want to go stargazing at Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve! Port Carling is known as the “Hub of the Lakes,” which includes beautiful Lake Rosseau. Make sure to take an Insta-worthy shot of the famous Port Carling Wall, which is a 111-by-45 foot art mosaic to welcome you into the town. 

A drive to Muskoka is definitely one of the best road trips in Canada with so many charming sites to see. While the drive is relatively short, you will want to stretch out the time you spend on the road to explore all the little towns around this cottage region. 

Find a cottage rental in the region to kick start those road trip plans! 

Taking a longer trip through Canada? Whether you want to rent a condo in Calgary and drive to your vacation rental in Banff, or rent a chalet in Quebec City and drive to a condo in Montreal, you can experience the area like a local with a vacation rental from CanadaStays