Canada Holiday Road Trip Planning Recommendations. adventure travel Canada the best way for you.
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
Canada is HUGE, DIVERSE and in many places PURE WILDERNESS. Traveling Canada well requires a bit of planning.
Canada has 10 provinces, 3 territories and is a bit less than 10 million km squared. There are almost 2 million lakes in Canada and potentially more than 2.5 million rivers in Canada - not all of Canada has been mapped, and no one has done a full count! Oh, and Canada has almost 20% of the world's fresh water. Canada is vast, just check out the map below and see. Want to have a fantastic holiday vacation in Canada? It is possible to do many times over!
Recent estimates are that there are around 1 million moose, almost 0.5 million bears, 6 million beavers and a little fewer than 37 million people! Canada is vast, and most people are down south. Animals rule most places in the country.
One way to look at it is how much bigger Canada is than other countries - well you can fit the United Kingdom 41 times, New Zealand 37 times, Germany 28 times, Sweden 22 times, Norway 26 times.
It can take you 5500 KM, 80 hours to drive from the east to west coast on a road trip across Canada.
This is without taking a nap. We forgot to mention ferries to cross lakes, bays and rivers. Add another 16 hours potentially if visiting the Rock! Want to drive North, well in most places you can’t really make too far! In Ontario & Manitoba, you don’t even make it to James Bay! You have to hop on a train, one nicely called the Little Polar Bear express that gets you to Moosonee. But I guess it is a long distance relative to the size of most countries. Canada is just that big where you drive north for 15 hours, and then you take a train a further 4 hours north, but you do not call it being in the north! You aren’t even out of Ontario!
Given this, do you really visit Canada, a province, a city or a river?
What about a famous provincial park like Algonquin Park? We have spent over 500 nights camping backcountry in Algonquin Park and still have tons to see, just scratched the surface. Each season, each time it changes and each location is different from the highway 60 corridor and hiking ridges to the Barron Canyon or the majestic Petawawa river.
The most important thing, is great adventure, and having the time of your life, seeing beautiful places with great people.
What about the majestic coastlines of Canada. Want to drive our smallest province Prince Edward Island. That should only take you about around 15 hours! But these places, people and wildlife and landscapes are breathtaking. Don’t worry, we’ve already done it a few times and explore lots of the top spots along the way. Have a fantastic tour of Canada your way.
How should you generally think about a Canadian Road trip?
This highly personal. How much time you have, what you are interested in and beyond. Explore, adventure and travel Canada - but do what makes you happy while doing it. Are you a big foodie? Check out our many multicultural cities. Into the great outdoors, head out of the town to one of our 53 national parks. This doesn’t include the more than 1000 provincial parks which in some cases are more spectacular!
We enjoy and believe that you should take your time in each place, don’t spend all your time in the car, and get to experience some of the fantastic sites in each location - or discover somewhere new.
Do something spontaneous when visiting Canada.
There are so many places to visit in Canada. You can make a holiday in one province for a month if you would like (not all of them, but some!). But, see that national park you didn't know about? Why not check it out for a day. We suspect you will be surprised. Or that little Oyster barn? Or something else!
We hear about a lot of people driving from Vancouver to Toronto or vice versa on a road trip.
You end up driving for 2 days if you don’t sleep! This is without taking any time to explore the 4500 KM, and just taking a direct route. The hostel infrastructure isn’t really there so be prepared. Same with the weather. If you are interested in the east coast and don’t have a lot of time, just fly to Toronto and then head east. Trust us, it is more than worth it. There are few travellers and some of the best parts to tour in Canada are on the east coast. Tickets can be had as low as $200 one-way. If you need to move your car, go for it… but don’t finish your trip in Toronto, keep on going. The east coast is magical (note: somewhat biased, but informed opinion!).
Potential Regions & Itineraries to Plan your visit to Canada
To simplify things you can sort of break up Canada into a few geographic + provinces when planning your trip. This is useful when considering adventure holidays that are of decent length. Some regions can take less, some more, but just for practicality think about two weeks for a taste for each place. We don’t recommend jumping between regions if you have less time than a month travelling in Canada. Just choose one and experience all that it has to offer.
The West & Rockies in Canada: British Columbia & Alberta and a bit of the north. Check out the national parks, the islands and more. Sea to Ski, Banff, Jasper, Whistler Blackcomb, Squamish, Duffy, Big White, Lake Louise, Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet, Kelowna… and the list continues. Each of these places has 100’s of things to do. If you get a chance to visit Haida Gwaii, it is very much worth it. This is a big island west of Prince Rupert and north of Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, for the road tripper and backpacker, it can be prohibitively expensive.
Have lots of time, head north and go to the Yukon and Alaska. You can spend anywhere from 1 month to 10 years exploring any of these places!
The North West of Canada: Now if you really want to experience the Yukon, Northwest Territories… you 100% have to go on a camping trip paddling one of the majestic rivers. The beauty of the north isn’t a town or city… but the wild beauty and landscapes of the never-ending outdoors mountain ranges. It is like you just stepped into a National Geographic book, but there aren’t any filters or processing needed. Canada is spectacular because of our outdoors, wildlife, diverse culture and great times with fantastic people. Ask anyone that has been there, and the answer will be apparent, if not already… go on a multi-day paddling adventure.
Nunavut Canada: None of us have any experience so can’t comment too much just yet. However… we have only heard amazing things. Two of our friends are going on some 150KM hiking trips this summer. Stay tuned, but remember how big the country, provinces and territories are. Exploration is never ending!
Manitoba & Saskatchewan Canada: Many just drive through these places, but there are tons to do and see. We aren’t the most well versed (Canada is Huge!) so will hold off on recommendations without enough to back them up.
Ontario & Quebec Canada are the two largest provinces in Canada, yet poorly understood from a travellers perspective. People think only Niagara Falls or Quebec City - and they are MISSING so much. Don't just fly to Toronto and not see what makes Ontario Spectacular. The majority of the populations are south, near the border with the US (or other provinces when getting to Eastern Quebec). They are very different from each other, but they are both vast and diverse. Try comparing someone from Thunder Bay to Rimouski!
Ontario, Canada is known by many for amazing parks like Algonquin and Killarney, and cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and more. Our cottage country in Muskoka, Kawarthas and Haliburton Highlands are beautiful for short or long getaways. We have the great lakes, epic rivers and more.
Quebec is a wonder of its own for a holiday visit to Canada. Very diverse from the rest of the country and within. The language difference helps! From Montreal, Quebec city to the majestic Gaspesie we don’t even scratch the surface. Listen to some tunes at boite de chanson, eat some poutine (at a chip shack out of the city), eat some unpasteurized Quebec cheese, Cirque du Soleil, whale watching in Tadoussac, enjoy the quaint Laurentians. Just go adventuring there. There are a million more things to do.
Maritimes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI are all worth exploring on your tour of Canada. All very different, but we lump them together for some reason. Could be that the populations are small - less than 2 million total across them all. Famous for seafood, epic coastlines & coves, potatoes, red-hair folks (PEI), fried bologna, Irving gas stations, blueberry beer, lighthouses, Acadian culture & meat pies, Celtic/Gaelic culture and more. A bit of a correction - not famous -, but should be given the fantastic experiences, landscapes and more. We can’t do this place justice with these descriptions, but pick up a fiddle and dance your evening away.
Newfoundland. Gros Morn, St. Johns, Bonavist, Vikings and more are well worth exploring on your holiday to Canada. A few of the most gorgeous national parks in the world, an indescribable town with an insatiable appetite for beer and 'screech', accents galore from towns recently being un-landlocked, some Viking history and just overall good times. The primary challenge is getting there and around. You need a car, and it is a 17 hour plus drive to get around if you bring your vehicle. Taking the ferry, 6 hours to the Westside from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and 16 hours to the East side near St Johns. Want to fly and rent a car instead? Definitely, plan on having a big budget! Regardless, we highly recommend it and will be expanding our trips to the Rock in 2019.
We could write tons more about road trips through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and it wouldn’t do the place justice. Every adventure is different, and there are already tons on our site that you can check out.
Which Canadian region should you Tour, road trip and travel?
It all depends on what interests you, time, budget and more. There is no perfect answer. You won’t make a correct choice, or a wrong one if you follow-up what makes you excited.
Want to have the trip of a lifetime? Do something spontaneous.
See you on the road.
Travel, Paddle and Adventure on.
Getting into the Canada road-tripping spirit?
Why not check out out:
Our main page, www.outheretravel.ca with all the details about our awesome adventure road trips?
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