Interested in visiting Canada? Why not plan a road trip? Canada’s network of roads offers a variety of routes and drives to satisfy your wanderlust and provides the opportunity to learn about its ten provinces and three territories.
This road trips in Canada guide offer inspiration and provides detailed itineraries of some of the most popular Canadian road trip routes. Whether you’re a nature lover, a culture buff or an avid explorer, you’ll find something tempting in Canada.
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How to Plan Road Trips in Canada
Taking a road trip in Canada is similar to road tripping in the United States, however, if you’re crossing the border, it does require some extra preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
No one wants to have problems or make costly mistakes on a road trip so it’s very important to plan ahead.
Start by outlining your route and identifying most of the places you wish to visit. Consider factors such as travel time, weather conditions and road closures. Then make sure to leave enough time for spontaneous stops and road side attractions.
To road trip in Canada, you’ll need essential items such as valid identification, required travel documents (more on that below), a well-stocked emergency kit and clothing for varying weather conditions. Especially if you plan on exploring different provinces and the mountains.
Lastly, remember as a traveler, you’re visiting someone else’s home so be responsible on the road – show consideration and be respectful of local customs that might be different from what you’re used to. Now for the list.
Thousand Islands Ontario
One of the best road trips in Canada is through the Thousand Islands region in Ontario. The area is home to over 1800 islands in the St. Lawrence River. Its perfect location makes it an ideal road trip from elsewhere in Ontario or from New York.
There are countless reasons to take a road trip through the Thousand Islands. The stretch of road between Gananoque and Brockville is full of scenic lookouts over the water, charming small towns full of history, and fantastic restaurants.
Summer is the best time to visit to take advantage of all the exciting outdoor things to do in the Thousand Islands. The area is full of amazing hiking trails and paddling opportunities.
In addition, other ways to experience the region include taking a boat cruise around the islands and a helicopter ride. For more casual adventures, take in a performance at the theatre and a walking tour of each of the small towns.
The Gananoque Inn is a great place to stay during your road trip. This historic hotel on the river has spacious rooms with all the modern amenities as well as two restaurants and a spa.
Recommended by Stephanie from The World As I See It
The Powder Highway
For anyone looking to experience some of Canada’s best skiing, taking a road trip along the “Powder Highway” will be the trip of a lifetime.
The road trip takes you to 7 world-class ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies of British Colombia, namely Fernie, Kimberly, Panorama, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Red Mountain, and Whitewater.
Along the route, there are countless opportunities to soak in natural hot springs, try heli or cat skiing, and incorporate many different winter experiences into one ultimate vacation.
Accessing the Powder Highway route is easy as it runs in a loop and you can easily customize the stops to suit your time restrictions and interests. Plus, it’s possible to use Calgary, Alberta as a start and end point if you are flying to the area.
Of course, this road trip can be taken all year round if you are happy to substitute skiing for hiking and mountain biking, however, the best months to experience the region’s world-famous powder snow are generally January and February.
Recommended by Kate from Bags Always Packed
Lake Superior Road Trip
One of the most scenic and best road trips in Canada is along the shores of Lake Superior, from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. The drive offers spectacular views of the world’s largest freshwater lake, with its crystal-clear waters and rugged shoreline.
Explore pristine beaches, lush forests and charming small towns, making unforgettable experiences along the way.
Be sure to visit Pancake Bay Provincial Park, with a beautiful sandy beach and crystal-clear water. Lake Superior Provincial Park is another gem, with the Agawa Pictographs, plenty of hiking opportunities and the unique Bathtub Island.
Wawa is home to the famous Canada goose statue and Winnie the Pooh can be found in White River. The next stretch of the drive follows the lake Superior coast. Neys Provincial Park is another beautiful beach to visit or take a hike to stretch your legs.
Continue to Thunder Bay, where you can spend time exploring the city or hiking to the top of the Giant, a challenging, but rewarding hike.
The best time for this Lake Superior road trip is during the summer months, from late May to September when the weather is pleasant and you can fully appreciate the beauty of Lake Superior.
Recommended by Erin from Wanderlust With Kids
The Icefields Parkway is One of the Best Road Trips in Canada
If you are looking for one of the best road trips in Canada, then look no further than the Icefields Parkway in Alberta. Known as one of the world’s most scenic drives, exploring this stunning stretch of highway should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Stretching for 232 kilometres (144 miles) through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Icefields Parkway will lead you past incredible mountain vistas, gorgeous turquoise lakes, and endless photo opportunities.
While there are a ton of things to see and do on this drive, some of the must-stop locations include Peyto Lake, Athabasca Falls, the Columbia Icefields Skywalk, and the Valley of the Five Lakes.
You should also keep your eyes peeled for a wide variety of wildlife along the Parkway. From bears and mountain goats to moose and elk, you are definitely in for a treat.
So how much time do you need for this drive? While it’s possible to drive the Parkway in just 3 short hours, ideally, you’d want at least two full days. This would allow you to stop at every point of interest along the way and complete all the hikes.
However, accommodation options along the Icefields Parkway, including campsites, hostels, and hotels/lodges, are pretty limited. They also tend to book up well in advance. So, for most travelers, a one-day Icefields Parkway itinerary is more practical.
The best time to tackle the Icefields Parkway is during the summer when the weather is more forgiving. But be prepared for crowds, especially at popular stops. The shoulder seasons are much less busy, but you may have to contend with unpredictable weather.
Food options are also limited to just a few lodges along the Parkway. Be prepared for somewhat overpriced meals. In fact, your best bet is to pack a lunch for the day from nearby towns like Canmore, Banff, or Jasper.
Recommended by Marianne from The Journeying Giordano’s
One of the most picturesque road trips you can take in Canada is driving the Niagara Parkway. Although the road is only 34 miles long, there are so many beautiful stops along the way, so you can easily make a full day or weekend out of it!
The highlight is of course mighty Niagara Falls, which is a bucket-list-worthy destination on its own. But this isn’t the only impressive site you will see.
The Niagara Parkway takes you past stunning natural landscapes, charming towns, fascinating historic sites, and beautiful vineyards. Some key stops along the way include Fort Erie, Queen Victoria Park, the Floral Clock, Brock’s Monument and Fort George.
The best time of year to do this drive is in the fall when the parkway lights up with vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red. And if you’re planning to spend the whole weekend, staying overnight at Niagara-on-the-Lake is a must. This quaint town will easily keep you entertained with plenty of excellent restaurants, boutique stores and local wineries to explore
Recommended by Chanelle from Chasing Chanelle
Vancouver to Banff
If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies from Vancouver, driving through the Okanagan Valley to Banff is one of the best road trips in Canada. Taking 2-3 days to wind your way there will allow plenty of time to enjoy scenic walks, winery visits and stunning scenery.
There are two routes to take to get to the Okanagan Valley. The southern route takes you along the Okanagan-Similkameen Highway towards to US border, and up to Pendicton and Skaha Lake, before reaching Kelowna.
The northern route heads from the town of Hope, over the famous Coquihalla Pass, and approaches the Okanagan valley from the west. A fantastic stop along this route is the Othello Tunnels, an easy walk along old railway tunnels.
The city of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake make a sweet spot for a stop. Kelowna township has fantastic lake-side restaurants and a relaxed vibe. Don’t forget to stop by some of the renowned wineries in the area.
From Kelowna you will head north towards Revelstoke, joining the Trans-Canada Highway 1 at Sicamous. At Revelstoke, you will notice the landscape starts to change.
The grade of the mountains gets steeper, and the snow-capped peaks rise up in front of you as you drive Roger’s Pass. Welcome to the Canadian Rockies!
Recommended by Hannah from Hannah Henderson Travel
Montreal to Ottawa
One of the best road trips in Canada is the route between Montreal and Ottawa. This great trip allows you to combine the old-world charm of Montreal with a visit to Canada’s vibrant capital city. You can drive between the two cities in less than two and a half hours, so it’s an easy trip!
When you’re in Ottawa, take a tour of the Parliament buildings — it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Ottawa! Then take a stroll or a cruise along the UNESCO-listed Rideau canal.
When you’re in Montreal, take in the views from Mont Royal and explore the historic sites in Vieux Montreal. Or spend a morning visiting the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. Stay at the centrally located Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites.
The best time for this road trip itinerary between Ottawa and Montreal is in May through September. The summer is best since the days are long and you’ll have more time for sightseeing!
Recommended by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones
Toronto to Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County in Ontario is a great place to spend a few days, with its stunning scenery, abundance of wineries, and prime location on Lake Ontario.
The best way to get there is driving from Toronto to Picton, its largest town. The drive is just under 2 ½ hours – making it the perfect short Canadian road trip.
While in Prince Edward County, you should arrange to visit some wineries and The County Cider Company in Waupoos for a tasting. The other most famous thing to do in Prince Edward County is to visit Sandbanks Provincial Park, where you will find beautiful dunes and sandy beaches.
One of the most renowned places to stay in Prince Edward County is the Drake Devonshire. Accommodation gets booked quickly, so if there is no availability at the Drake Devonshire, you can also go there for a lovely meal.
The best time to visit Prince Edward County (PEC) is summer, between May and September, but you can still enjoy PEC in Spring and Fall.
Recommended by Samantha from Continuous Roamer
The Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most beautiful routes in Canada – and arguably, the world! The road stretches 120 kilometers, from West Vancouver past Whistler, hugging the coast of the Howe Sound.
Along the way, you’ll get stunning views of pine tree-covered islands, towering out of the Pacific; granite monoliths; and the Cascade Mountains.
This area of British Columbia enjoys moderate weather all year round, so it can be pleasant to visit, regardless of the season. However, the best time of year to make the drive is in the summer or early fall, when you’ll have the best access to all of the outdoor adventures along the way.
For example, plan a stop in the town of Squamish, where you can ride the Sea to Sky Gondola, which offers dazzling views of the Howe Sound. Be sure to carve out time to explore Whistler, famed for being the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
While it’s often considered a ski town, this is a huge oversight, given that the town offers endless outdoor adventures in the warmer months, like the incredible hike to Wedgemount Lake or white water rafting, ranging from family-friendly to more extreme excursions.
Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
The Acadian Peninsula
The Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick is a fantastic place for a family road trip in Canada. It’s where you can feel the ocean, learn about Acadian culture, and eat delicious seafood (don’t miss the crab cake at La Terrasse à Steve).
The Acadian Historical Village in Caraquet shows how Acadians lived from 1770 to 1949. It’s big, with historic buildings and people dressed up from the past. You can easily spend an entire day here. In Shippagan, there’s an aquarium with lots of fish and sea animals. You can also participate in the harbor seals’ mealtime.
Miscou Island has an old lighthouse that you can climb. The view from the top is super pretty! In the summer, you can enjoy Canada’s warmest sea salt beaches. Plus, if you visit around mid-August, you can participate in the Acadian festival with music, a parade and typical Acadian food.
This place is unique because it combines history, fun activities, and nature. As soon as you enter the Acadian Peninsula, you’ll understand the region’s slogan “Kick back to a new beat.”
Recommended by Emilie from Family Road Trip Experts
The Banana Belt
When it comes to road tripping through Canada in the summer or fall, one of the best places to tour is the Banana Belt of Southwestern Ontario.
This area between Niagara Falls and Windsor is known for its warm temperatures and ideal growing conditions, resulting in an abundance of orchards, vineyards and produce farms.
Start your road trip in the Niagara Wine Region, stopping in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake for boutique shopping, wine tasting at local vineyards, and to stock up on fresh orchard fruit.
Take your time driving through Haldimand and Norfolk Counties, visiting beautiful sandy beaches and more produce farms along the way. Stop for ziplining and glamping at Long Point Eco Adventures before making your way to your next home base of London.
There are plenty of activities in London, Ontario for all ages, and many local fruit farms, adventure farms and vineyards in all directions just outside the city.
Continue southwest through Elgin County and Chatham-Kent, visiting the bustling Port Stanley Beach, kid-friendly Greenview Park & Zoo, and the many fruit stands and u-pick farms that line Talbot Trail between London and Windsor.
Complete your road trip by visiting Canada’s southernmost point of Point Pelee and Pelee Island for more wine tasting, country road biking and unforgettable beaches before heading home with sun-kissed skin and memories to last all year.
Recommended by Erie from Everywhere Ontario
Located on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver Island offers a great opportunity for travelers to explore its magnificent nature. This island is a paradise for those who love outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, surfing, and wildlife watching.
One of the most popular (and for good reason!) road trips is to Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, known for its beautiful beaches and rugged coastline.
The best place to stay in Tofino is Hotel Zed, a 1970s-inspired hotel that is an experience in itself. If you visit during the summer months, there are several camping options, but reservations fill up well in advance.
Driving Nanaimo to Tofino, there are plenty of stops you will not want to miss, such as Coombs Market (goats on the roof), Cathedral Grove (home to some of the tallest trees in British Columbia), Englishman River Falls and Ucluelet.
You can start your road trip in Nanaimo after taking the ferry from the terminal in West Vancouver or Tsawwassen. You will want at least a long weekend, if not a week, to explore the area and take advantage of all its spectacular beauty.
Recommended by Debbie from World Adventurists
Toronto to Halifax
On a Toronto to Halifax road trip you’ll see all the highlights of Eastern Canada. Such as Niagara Falls, Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park, Montreal, Quebec City, Bay of Fundy, Prince Edward Island, Cabot Trail, Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove.
You’ll get to experience the these iconic cities in the east, but also the beautiful and powerful nature that Canada is rich in.
The road trip can best be driven from May till September, weather wise. Although most of these places would be beautiful seen covered in a layer of snow.
However the winters in Canada are strong with snow. Next to that, especially in Nova Scotia, lots of attractions and hotels are closed seasonally.
Next to the above mentioned highlights, do a whale watching safari out of Tadoussac, you’ll see beluga’s and minke whales. On this trip get a mix of hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts.
Recommended by Cosette from KarsTravels.
Banff to Drumheller
For a fun road trip in Southern Alberta, Banff to Drumheller takes you from the Canadian Rockies, through a bustling city to the heart of the badlands in 158 miles total.
After you’ve seen the mountains in Banff, join Highway 1 where you can stop off in lesser-known regions such as Canmore to see lakes and Three Sisters Mountain or Cochrane for an adventure at a Wolf Sanctuary.
After these regions, stay on Highway 1 until you reach a day in Calgary to catch a Calgary Flames game, climb the Calgary Tower and visit Canada Olympic Park which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics (as well as being the filming location for Cool Runnings)!
Continuing East on Highway 1, you’ll enter the Canadian Badlands to see Horseshoe Canyon, hike the Hoodoos trail and end in Drumheller, the dinosaur capital of the world. The reason for this accolade is because the area is considered, by geologists, one of the richest areas for dinosaur fossils in the world.
After visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum for all things paleontology, enjoy the town that is filled with dinosaur statues, restaurants and businesses named after dinosaurs and see the largest dinosaur in the world (25 metres high).
In the town of Drumheller and Midland Provincial Park, Hoodoo RV Resort & Campground is an ideal place to stay because it’s open year-round and has multiple options for camping in the heart of the fossil action.
Recommended by Shireen from The Happy Days Travels
The Cabot Trail
The 311-kilometer Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia is regarded as one of the world’s most scenic drives and rightly so. The trail winds around oceanfront cliffs of Cape Breton Island offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
You could drive around the island in five or six hours, but to fully appreciate the beauty of the region you should allocate at least two or three days. Take your time to hike a trail or two, stop at the best lookouts, and maybe even go on a whale-watching tour.
The most spectacular stretch is through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park park between Chéticamp and Ingonish.
Make your first stop at Cheticamp Visitor Centre to gather useful information about Cabot Trail highlights and hiking opportunities. If you’ll only do one thing it should be hiking the coastal Skyline Trail. Another must-stop is Black Brook Cove beach and Still Brook waterfall.
Markland Beach Cottages is a lovely place to stay on Cape Breton Island. Just keep in mind, they only operate seasonally from mid May to October. The cottages have a fantastic coastal location and provide delicious breakfast in their on-site restaurant.
To take your road trip on Cape Breton Island to the next level, you can rent a camper van. This way, you’ll save on accommodation and get a taste of van life in Canada for at least a weekend. Outdoorsy or RVezy have a good selection of camper rentals.
Corney Brook Campground is a great place to stay overnight. The campground doesn’t have any facilities but the incredible ocean views more than make up for that.
Recommended by Kamila from Van Life Canada
The Golden Triangle
A Golden Triangle road trip is definitely worthy of a spot on the best road trips in Canada list. It’s stunning and highly underrated. The route includes the infamous Banff National Park as well as 2 more incredible National Parks in Canada, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park.
It also passes through other beautiful mountain towns including Banff, Golden, and Radium Hot Springs, crossing the border between British Columbia in Alberta.
Banff National Park likely needs no introduction as it’s popularity is well known. Despite the crowds, outside of the townsite of Banff you can still find solitude in the wilderness on the many trails around the town. A favorite hidden gem just outside the town is Cascade Ponds for jaw dropping views and that turquoise water everyone loves about the Canadian Rockies.
In the town of Banff you’ll find many delicious restaurants and beautiful accommodations all surrounded by the big big peaks of the Canadian Rockies. If you have time and want to extend your road trip, Banff is a beautiful, although more expensive, place to stay for a night.
From Banff, head West on the Trans Canada Highway, you can stop at Lake Louise, one of the best places to visit in Canada, or keep going if you want to avoid the crowds. You’ll find Yoho National Park about one hour west of Lake Louise. Take the turnoff to Emerald Lake and see another beautiful turquoise lake that’s also a magical stop in the winter.
There is a lovely tea house and restaurant on the lake. Emerald Lake Lodge is another incredible spot to sleep. On the way back out the road from Emerald Lake to Highway Number 1, be sure to stop at the Natural Bridge. You can park and view the reverse waterfall from the parking lot, in summer or winter.
After taking in the sights in Yoho National Park, continue on to Golden. Here you’ll find a world class ski resort, as well as an incredible mountain town. The restaurant options in Golden are unreal! Hint* you’ll have to head into real Golden, which is so much more than the highway!
If you enjoy adventures and thrills, check out Golden Skybridge, a suspension bridge over huge canyons, a canyon swing, and zipline! Even if you don’t cross the bridges the views are worth it!
From Golden head south to Radium Hot Springs. Radium is another beautiful mountain town nestled between Kootenay National Park and the Columbia River Valley. Nature and the outdoors are literally on your doorstep in all seasons in Radium (skiing, wild ice, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, birding).
And of course, there are multiple hot springs close by including the Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park. Well worth a visit!
After visiting Radium, head North on the Banff-Windermere Highway to complete the triangle. There are numerous scenic stops on this route that are well worth a stop including Marble Canyon and Numa Falls.
As you drive this route you will be surrounded by mountains and will lose cell phone service. Because there are no services or gas stations along this stretch of highway, you will want to be sure that you are prepared, check road conditions, and have an emergency kit in your car.
Recommended by Jessica from Next Up Adventure
Driving & Road Trips in Canada Tips
Anyone can use this list of road trips in Canada as a planning guide, but since the website is read mostly by people living in the United States, the entry information below is mainly for U.S. citizens.
If you live in a another country and plan to visit Canada, check the Canada government website to verify visitation, visa and driving requirements for your home country.
Required Documents for Driving in Canada
United States citizens are allowed to drive in Canada with a valid U.S. drivers license. Other foreign tourists are allowed to drive in Canada with a valid drivers license from their home country as long as the license is in English or French.
Other languages may want to investigate an international drivers license sometimes referred to as an “IDL”.
To drive across the border into Canada from the United States, a valid passport, or passport card, is required to cross by land. Visas are not required of U.S. citizens for stays under 180 days.
Always verify that this info is up-to-date on the U.S. State Department website. You can also check for any current alerts and or advisories before you go.
Also be aware that Canada has very strict drinking and driving laws and takes intoxicated driving seriously. Even if you’ve had a DUI in the United States, you could be denied entry into Canada without the proper documentation.
Research the Rules of the Road
Even though driving in Canada is similar to driving in the United States and most traffic rules are the same like driving on the right side of the road and passing on the left, it’s a good idea to review road signs and other rules since they might vary in different provinces.
Renting a Vehicle in Canada
If you plan to fly into Canada and then road trip, renting a vehicle is basically the same as doing so in the U.S. and most of the familiar car rental companies and agencies are the same.
To search for rentals options, DiscoverCars.com is ideal for browsing a variety of companies and options. To review before you rent, both Google and Tripadvisor.com are solid choices for fairly accurate reviews about practically anything travel related.
If you’re using a credit card to for your collision coverage auto insurance, you just want to make sure it will cover you in Canada.
Canada has excellent healthcare but if you were to get sick or have an accident in Canada then you would be responsible for any bills incurred. Check with your U.S. based health insurance coverage before you travel to see what, if anything, is covered in Canada.
Even if you do have coverage, purchasing travel insurance to fill in the gaps and provide coverage for trip interruption and trip cancellation is best. Having that extra protection is super helpful in case of a natural disaster or something unexpected.
Many companies will even help if for some reason it’s necessary to evacuate the country quickly. Travelinsurance.com is one of the best websites to compare options to suit your needs.
Road Trips in Canada
As you can see, planning a road trip in Canada couldn’t be easier. Plus, the variety of road trip routes and options are perfect for anyone, including families and solo travelers.
In fact, Canada has some of most ideal cities in North America for solo female travelers that could be incorporated into an even longer road trip.
So, the next time you are looking to plan a road trip, why not consider visiting Canada?
See you on the road!