From the shores of the Pacific, across icy mountain ranges and pristine nature to the Atlantic coast, Canada is a huge – and incredibly diverse – country. Enjoying the nation’s richness in doses is not only a warm recommendation, but a given. Eastern Canada is a great intro to the second largest country in the world.
This balanced Eastern Canada road trip itinerary will take you to Montreal, Québec, Ottawa, and Toronto – with a quick stop at Niagara Falls. Brace yourself for stunning landscapes, tasty Atlantic cuisine, and a number of Canada’s oldest cities.
And the best part: you can experience it all in just 8 days. Let’s breeze through Eastern Canada and explore what to see and do along the way.
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day 1-2 | Exploring Montreal
📍 YUL Airport - Downtown Montreal
🚘 20 km / 12.5 mi / 20 min
Montreal, the largest city in the province of Quebec, is an excellent starting point for your Eastern Canada road trip. Trudeau International Airport is served by various international connections, which will make it easy to find a flight that suits your needs. I’d further suggest pre-booking a rental car prior to your arrival.
As in any big city, looking for accommodation can be overwhelming. But don’t stress out. Location is key. And Hotel Faubourg’s central downtown locations allows you to explore many of the main sights by foot.
Why not start your tour through the city by roaming history-laden Vieux Montreal? A walk along these cobble-stoned streets and picturesque 17th-century buildings is the perfect jet lag cure.
In the mood for some more diverse impressions? Then take advantage of the city’s vibrant mix of more than 200 ethnic groups that make up Montreal’s fabric. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the city’s various lively neighborhoods, such as Ville-Marie, Mile End or Le Plateau.
Eat your way around the world by bistro-hopping along Boulevard Saint Laurent and top your visit off with a quick climb up Mont Royal – those sunset views are not to be missed.
day 3 | 24 Hours in Francophile Québec
📍 Montreal - Québec
🚘 250 km / 155 mi / 2h 30 min
A couple hours on the road will not only kick off this Eastern Canada road trip but further bring you to the francophile city of Québec. Serving as capital of the same-named province, Québec City boasts several landmarks.
Close-by, you will further come across Fort Saint-Jean, which dates back to the 17th-century and played a crucial role during the invasion of American forces in 1775.
Not impressed yet? In fact, these are the only remainders of fortified city walls on the continent north of Mexico. 24 hours suffice for soaking up Québec’s charm.
day 4-5 | Soaking Up Capital Vibes in Ottawa
📍 Québec - Ottawa
🚘 450 km / 280 mi / 4h 30 min
Welcome to the capital! Once you’ve made your way southward from Québec along the Saint Lawrence River, passing Montreal midway, you’ll reach Canada’s political center after 4-5 hours on the road. After having explored the culture capital Montreal and charming Québec, Ottawa allows insights into Canada’s political life.
Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, boasting a convenient downtown location and hassle-free on-site parking, is an excellent choice for your brief stay in the capital. From here, it’s only a couple minutes by foot to Parliament Hill, home to the Parliament of Canada. Why not explore politics at work by touring this stunning Gothic building?
Sign up for one of the daily tours at the visitor center, located directly opposite. Do make sure, though, to get there early. In case tours are already fully booked for the day, a ride to the top of the Peace Tower, the building’s center piece, will at least give you a taste of the political air on The Hill.
Beyond politics, a visit to the National Canadian Museum of History (20 CAD / 13 €) is definitely worth your limited time in Ottawa, too. As it is located directly opposite Parliament Hill, visiting the museum can be conveniently combined with a stroll across the Ottawa River.
Looking for some evening entertainment? I know, Canadians’ obsession with ice-hockey is a persistent stereotype. But I dare you to not cheer on the Ottawa Senators, the local NHL team, when siting in a packed stadium.
Go, and experience for yourself, if you can.
day 6 | Marvel at Niagara Falls
📍 Ottawa - Niagara Falls
🚘 530 km / 330 mi / 5h 30 min
This day will inevitably be spent primarily on the road, but the views that await at the destination will be worth the ride from Ottawa all the way down to Niagara Falls. Located at the US-Canadian border, at the southern tip of Lake Ontario, the world famous waterfalls can be best observed from the Canadian side.
Unsurprisingly, the city of Niagara Falls has become an entertainment hub, featuring several large hotels, casinos, and other attractions.
In the end, however, you are here for the world-famous falls, and upon seeing Horseshoe Falls, you know why. On average, 6 million cubic feet / 170,000 cubic meters of water rush down the fall per minute.
Feel like taking a closer look? Then hop on one of the Hornblower Niagara Cruises (30.5 CAD / 20 €) and feel nature’s power up close – rain capes are provided for a reason.
day 7-8 | Experience “New York-light” in Toronto
📍 Niagara Falls - Toronto
🚘 125 km / 80 mi / 1h 30 min
Its prime location right at the shores of Lake Ontario, an eclectic mix of big city life, and the sheer diversity of its friendly inhabitants make Canada’s most populous city a rewarding destination. Similar to Montreal, more than 200 ethnic origins fuse into the city’s fabric.
How about ending your Eastern Canada road trip with a little bit splurge? Then treat yourself to a stay at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Not many beds in Toronto offer unobstructed views of City Hall on Nathan Phillips Square. From here, all of the main sights can be conveniently explored by foot.
First and foremost, there’s no escaping CN Tower. Measuring a staggering 553 meters/1,800 feet in height, it used to be the world’s tallest free-standing structure – until Dubai decided the time had come for new heights, i.e. Burj Khalifa.
The views from the top of CN Tower (39 CAD / 25 €) will provide you with seemingly endless views over Lake Ontario and Toronto downtown.
Once back on the ground, take a stroll along Harbourfront or a quick ferry ride to the Toronto Islands, located just off the waterfront in Lake Ontario – best skyline views guaranteed.
My personal favorite is a visit to the impressive Royal Ontario Museum, the ROM. The building is already a stunning sight in itself, featuring a crystal-like glass structure, which was designed by famous architect Daniel Liebeskind.
In the evening, head over to the Distillery District if you’re in the mood for a tad more fancy dinner. Sipping a Margherita under the open sky at El Catrin Destileria provides for a fine ending to your 8-day road trip across the friendly nation.
Falling in love with Toronto won’t be hard – in contrast to saying goodbye to Eastern Canada, for now.