A road trip starting in Toronto and via Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, crossing the St. Lawrence river through New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia ending in Halifax. On the trip from Toronto to Halifax you’ll visit a string of beautiful national parks and historic sites. You’ll discover Eastern Canadian Cities, drive the Cabot Trail and visit natural wonders such as Niagara Falls and Hopewell Rocks.
This East Canada Road Trip has it all: Grand nature, cities, national parks, animal encounters, waterfalls, history and endless forests.
Toronto to Halifax Road Trip
Day 1: Arrive at Toronto
Day 2: Explore Toronto
Day 3: Explore Niagara Falls
Day 4: Drive from Toronto to Huntsville (235 kilometers/146 miles, about 2.5 hours)
Day 5: Drive from Huntsville to Ottawa (345 kilometers/214 miles, about 4 hours)
Day 6: Drive from Ottawa to Montréal (198 kilometers/123 miles, about 2 hours)
Day 7: Explore Montréal
Day 8: Drive from Montréal to Québec City (343 kilometers/213 miles, about 4 hours and 15 minutes)
Day 9: Drive from Québec City to Rivière-du-Loup (288 kilometers/179 miles, about 6 hours)
Day 10: Drive from Rivière-du-Loup to Matane (201 kilometers/125 miles, about 2.5 hours)
Day 11: Explore Matane
Day 12: Drive from Matane to Richibucto (610 kilometers/379 miles, about 8 hours)
Day 13: Drive from Richibucto to Moncton (115 kilometers/71 miles, about 1 hour and 15 minutes)
Day 14: Explore the Bay of Fundy
Day 15: Drive from Moncton to Charlottetown (164 kilometers/102 miles, about 2 hours)
Day 16: Drive from Charlottetown to Margaree Forks (306 kilometers/190 miles, about 5 hours)
Day 17: Drive the Cabot Trail
Day 18: Drive from Margaree Forks to St. Georges Channel (308 kilometers/191 miles, about 4 hours)
Day 19: Drive from St. Georges Channel to Wolfville (360 kilometers/224 miles, about 4.5 hours)
Day 20: Drive from Wolfville to Digby (140 kilometers/87 miles, about 1.5 hours)
Day 21: Drive from Digby to Halifax (299 kilometers/186 miles, about 4 hours and 15 minutes)
Day 22: Going home
Day to Day Itinerary
This Eastern Canada Road has some bucket list items in it, such as Niagara Falls, Toronto, Québec City and the Cabot Trail. But bucket list items are not all there’s to see, there are also lesser known things, such as Parc National du Bic, on the itinerary.
Day 1 + 2: Toronto
Spend at least one full day or maybe one and a half exploring Toronto. We had a slightly different itinerary than spoken of here. Our first night was in Kitchener and we spent day 2 at Blenheim and Chatham. My father comes from Blenheim and I wanted to see where he was born and spent his early childhood.
We only arrived late in the afternoon on the second day in Toronto. We went up on the CN-Tower, and admired Toronto by night. Which was a sight to see and I can recommend it to anyone. There’s plenty to see and do in Toronto to fill more than one day.
Day 3: Niagara Falls
It’s about 1.5 hours driving from Toronto: Niagara Falls. It’s well worth the trip, expect to be spending the whole day here. In the evening or the end of the afternoon you’ll drive back to Toronto.
Start by admiring the falls from the Canadian side. You can see the falls from the Niagara Parkway. You’ll hear them long before you actually see them. It’s a roaring sound. Depending on how the wind blows, you can already get wet from viewing the falls at this point.
Next go see the falls from different angles. Do the Maid of the Mist tour to watch Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls from the water. We loved the Maid of the Mist experience. We had lunch with a view on the Horseshoe Falls. Then (if possible in the current situation) cross the Rainbow Bridge and enter the USA. Admire the falls from the American side. Walk all the way to Goat Island to admire the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls from this side. The most fantastic experience for us was the Cave of the Winds tour. You’ll walk over boardwalks and stairs to the bottom of the American and Bridal Veil Falls. It’s the closest you can get to Niagara Falls.
Then head back to Canada and do the Journey Behind the Falls, if you still have time. After doing the Cave of the Winds, we were less impressed with this. If you want you can make a short stop at Niagara-on-the-lake on your way back to Toronto. Which is a place that has beautiful floral displays.
Day 4: Lake Simcoe and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons
Start your day by driving to Lake Simcoe. If you have good weather enjoy this lake. You can go for a swim or scuba dive. We had some rain and overcast when we visited, so just stopped shortly and drove along it in our car.
From Barrie we made our way further North towards Lake Huron and stopped at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. Which is a reconstruction f a 17th Century French Jesuit Mission, the first European community in Ontario. Through re-enactors you’ll learn about how they lived in the settlement so many years ago.
After visiting this reconstruction make your way to Huntsville.
Day 5: Algonquin Provincial Park
On your drive from Huntsville to Ottawa, there’s only one stop you have to make and that’s at Algonquin Provincial Park. We didn’t know much about this park before we visited, but we were mesmerized and still talk about how fantastic it was years later. Be prepared to spend your whole day here. We entered the park at 8:30 am and left at 4 pm.
Algonquin is good for hiking and canoeing. We did short hikes and rented a canoe for a few hours to see the park from the water. Just after leaving the park we spotted a moose. Our first moose sighting in the wild.
Day 6: Ottawa
The Capital of Canada. Take most of the day to explore this beautiful city. We walked around the city center visiting Parliament Hill, the Parliament’s library, Liberty Bell, Cathedrale Notre Dame and a Tulip exposition that was being held at that moment. Then we made our way to the Rideau Canal Locks 1-8 and the Rideau Falls. I love waterfalls, so expect us to visit all of the ones we come along during the route. In the afternoon we entered the province of Québec and drove to Montréal.
Day 7: Montréal
A whole day to explore Montréal. We wandered around downtown and visited Chinatown and the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal. We took a Discoverer’s Cruise Montréal, and saw Montréal from the river. Montréal is a beautiful city where they speak both French and English. There’s plenty to see and do.
Day 8: La Mauricie National Park
The first National Park on this route and a beautiful one. Full of lakes, forest, maple trees and waterfalls. We visited viewpoints and did some short hikes. There’s so much to do in this park, in the winter there are all sorts of snow activities to undertake. Spend the whole afternoon here and then drive to Québec City.
Day 9: Québec City, Montmorency Falls, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and a whale watching safari
A whole, full packed day with one amazing thing after another.
First we start with exploring Québec City. The most European looking city in Canada. We only had an hour to visit, but fell in love with the city and still want to return one day. We wandered around the city walls, the citadel, Château Frontenac, the Rue du Petit Champlain and the Assemblée Nationale.
After leaving Québec City, after a much to short visit, we drove to the Montmorency Falls and explored here for about half an hour. Montmorency Falls is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls, but far less famous.
After this beautiful waterfall we went on to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. We admired the St. Anne Basilica, a shrine dedicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Receiving almost a million visitors a year.
We didn’t dwell around long at the basilica, since we had to be in Tadoussac on time for a whale watching safari. You reach Tadoussac by ferry and it came very close, we were almost too late for our safari. Luckily we made it in time. We loved the safari, we saw beluga’s and mink whales on the St. Lawrence river and Saguenay Fjord.
After this drive back to Saint Simeon and take the ferry to Rivière-du-Loup.
Day 10: Rivière-du-Loup and Parc National du Bic
In Rivière-du-Loup visit the Noël au Château. When we visited it was still closed for the season, but as a Christmas geek I would love to visit.
On this day you drive along the banks of the St. Lawrence to Matane. Make a stop at Parc National du Bic. We spent about 5 hours at this park. We rented bikes at the entrance and got to see most of this unique park.
Day 11: Matane
After all our exploring the last couple of days we took a bit of a rest day and only explored Matane a bit.
Matane is a good base for exploring the Gaspé peninsula. So if you don’t need a rest day head out to this part of Québec and admire its beauty.
Day 12: Acadian Coastal Drive
Leave Québec and enter New Brunswick, the maritime provinces part of the road trip through Eastern Canada. Today we’re driving part of the Acadian Coastal Drive upon entering New Brunswick to Richibucto. A long ride but Chaleur Bay, the Acadian Isles and the Acadian Peninsula are so beautiful and well worth your time with their charm.
We visited Miscou Island with its Peat Bog Boardwalk and lighthouse. The Miscou Lighthouse is the oldest wooden lighthouse in Canada.
Day 13: Parc National du Kouchibouguac and Little, Big Bear Safari
Drive a small bit back to Parc National du Kouchibouguac. We explored this park for about 5.5 hours and loved it. Beaches and bogs. There are plenty of fun hikes to do in this small park.
At the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening we did the Little, Big Bear Safari in Acadieville. It was our first time seeing brown bears in the wild. The safari was being organized by Richard Goguen. He has a wildlife viewing tower on his land, from which you observe the bears. We saw a mom and her cubs. But it seems to have permanently closed. There’s or was however some controversy surrounding this activity. Since Richard hand feeds some of the bears. We viewed the bears a total of 3 hours.
Drive to Moncton after this.
Day 14: Bay of Fundy
Today is all about the fabulous Bay of Fundy. We started by visiting Hopewell Rocks. These are rock formations shaped in flowerpots due to tidal erosion. The tidal differences can be up to 15 meters. At low tide you can walk among the Flowerpot Rocks. These are the highest tides in the world. You have to check low and high tide times before walking among the rock formations.
In the afternoon we went horseback riding at Hopewell Hill. Paul liked it, me not so much. Save to say I’m not cut out for horseback riding. It’s however a great way to see the area in a different way. We rode with Broadleaf Guest Ranch.
At the end of the afternoon we went back to Hopewell Rocks and watched the tides come in, in 3 hours.
Day 15: Prince Edward Island
Today is all for the beautiful Prince Edward Island, in short PEI. We took the Confederation Bridge to the island. Which is the longest bridge over water that freezes over in winter time.
PEI is a favorite vacation destination for Canadians. There’s lots to do, we however had a bit of bad luck. We drove to 3 different things, two where closed and a boat we saw just leaving at our arrival. So we were not that impressed with PEI.
Day 16: Pictou
We crossed by ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia. We stopped in Pictou to visit Hector Heritage Quay. A museum and replica ship, which teaches you how the Scots came to Nova Scotia. What a sea voyage looked like in that time. As historians Paul and I love this kind of museum.
Through the Canso Causeway you enter Cape Breton Island. Where we are staying the coming days. Drove to Margaree Forks.
Day 17: Cabot Trail
A whole day for the Cabot Trail, with its grand views. At least when you don’t have the weather we had. Which was fog, so no mesmerizing views for us, but a thick fog. Fog obstructed our views years later also in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The first part of the trail we had so much fog, we only could see a little of the road. We did however see a moose coming out of the fog suddenly. Part of the trail is through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Halfway through we had some more sight and we did a small hike through a bog, visited a replica of a Scottish farmer hut, a forest with 350 year old Maple leaf trees, Beulach Ban Falls and Green Cove. We drove all the way to Meat Cove, but the mist still obstructed our view there.
Day 18: Highland Village Museum, Fortress of Louisbourg and Bras d’or Lakes
Start with a visit to the Highland Village Museum at Iona. They have 11 historic buildings which depict the life of the Gaelic settlers from the first immigrants through the early 1900s. It’s only open a couple of months, in the Summer season. When we visited it was officially still closed, but we were allowed to look around. There were however no re-enactors yet present.
After your visit drive to Louisbourg, to visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, which is one of the Greatest and Best Forts in the World. It’s a National Historic Site. The place where in the 18th Century the French fought against the indigenous and the English people.
After this head back South and drive along the Eastern and South banks of the Bras d’or Lakes until you reach St. Georges Channel.
Day 19: Truro and the Bay of Fundy
A day of driving from St. Georges Channel to Wolfville. You’ll leave Cape Breton Island and enter the South of Nova Scotia. We stopped at the Victoria Park in Truro. We visited Jacob’s Ladder, the Holy Well Gazebo the Joseph Howe Falls and Waddel Falls. In the park we had a close encounter with a white tailed deer.
With Truro you’re again at the Bay of Fundy, to be precisely the Minas Basin. Follow the road along the bay and see the effects of the tidal differences. Boats that lay on dry land with low tide, with the water far away.
Visit the Walton Harbour Lighthouse and climb to the top. It’s a cute lighthouse that guided ships for a century.
Day 20: Grand-Pré National Historic Site, Fort Anne and Port Royal
From Wolfsville to Digby is a short route, but there are so many historical sites along the way, that it will take all day.
First stop is Grand-Pré National Historic Site. You can find a statue here of Longfellows Evangeline. It’s a monument to remember the Grand-Pré area as the center of the Acadian settlement in the late 17th and early 18th Century. And the deportation of the Acadians later in the 18th Century.
After this head to Fort Anne National Historic Site, a fort that protected the harbor of Annapolis Royal against French attacks. It houses a beautiful Heritage Tapestry.
As a third visit the Port-Royal National Historic Site. A reconstruction of a French settlement, one of the earliest European settlements in North America in 1605. See how they lived in the beginning.
Day 21: Kejimkujik National Park, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove
Today we cross through Nova Scotia, going from the Bay of Fundy to the Atlantic Ocean.
When driving from West to East, you’ll come across the beautiful Kejimkujik National Park, in the middle. This park is perfect for hiking, biking, kayaking and learning more about the Mi’kmaw. (It’s also a National Historic Site.) The park has lakes, forest and beaches.
On the coast Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove worth your time. Lunenburg is a famous, colorful town and a German settlement. Mahone Bay has beautiful churches and Peggy’s Cove a famous lighthouse. End your day in Halifax.
Day 22: Halifax
The last day of the road trip. Explore Halifax before returning home late in the afternoon. We visited the Public Gardens in Halifax, the Halifax Citadel and the harbor. The Citadel houses an army museum. Paul loves visiting these.
Where to stay
We made this road trip back in 2007, so I only know a few hotels we stayed at.
In Toronto we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express for 2 nights. In Huntsville we had one night in the Comfort Inn. We had a cabin at the Margaree Riverview Inn for 2 nights at Margaree Forks. In Digby we stayed at the iconic Thistle Down Country Inn.
Where to eat
I only know two restaurants where we ate at on our trip. First is 3 Guys and a Stove in Huntsville, where we had a fabulous dinner Paul still talks about.
In Pleasant Bay we had lunch with lobster at the Rusty Anchor. We also loved Tim Horton’s. Paul loved their everything bagel.
When to visit
You can drive the route all year long, but May till September would be best weatherwise. Canada has strong winters with snow. Besides that a lot of sites, attractions and hotels (especially in Nova Scotia) are only opened seasonally.
- Canada has it’s own National Parks system, with a yearly pass.
- We visited in May and had all kinds of weather: rain, thunder, sun, overcast, wind. So pack with layers.
Here ends the Toronto to Halifax Road Trip
Hope you enjoy(ed) this Eastern Canada road trip itinerary, we certainly did. Another bucket list road trip is the Ultimate 18-day California Road Trip. This trip was still at the beginning for our love of road trips.
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