Blueprint For a Road Trip Across Eastern Canada

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Well if it isn’t road trip season! Have I got a suggestion for you: Canada.

 

With a favorable exchange rate, easy accessibility and super-friendly people, Canada is the perfect place to get a complete change of scenery without going too far.

 

For some reason I had always regarded Canada as the same as the United States, only colder, but I was an idiot. Between the European cobblestoned cities of Quebec to the fjords of Saguenay; from the Maritime history of Nova Scotia to the bucolic overload of PEI, eastern Canada is not only memorable, it’s outstanding.

 

So go on, spend some time exploring Atlantic Canada. I’ve assembled my step-by-step guide on how to plan a road trip across eastern Canada below to help you put together your own trip.

 

For every stop, I’ve also got links to each of my posts that have even more specific information including restaurant reviews and ideas for attractions, so click away!

 

Days: 14

Provinces: 4

 

My Route

Note: I took a train between Montreal and Quebec City and a flight between Halifax and PEI. Google maps wouldn’t let me get that specific, so the routes between those cities appears here slightly inaccurately. You can of course drive between all points, and I’ve included that information below.

 

Starting Point: Montreal, Quebec

Mont Royal City View of Montreal | Road Trip Eastern Canada

 

How I got there:

Flight from the US

Where I stayed:

Airbnb in The Old Port of Montreal

How Many Days: 3

Highlights:

-Food scene of Mile End neighborhood

-hanging out (and eating and eating and eating) in Old Montreal

-Jean-Talon Market in Little Italy

-street art on St. Laurent St.

Best way to get around:

metro / on foot

More Information:

Montreal is a medium-sized city with a lovely mix of old-world cobblestone streets and modern city life. We flew into Montreal and stayed the entire time sans vehicle.

 

Not dealing with driving around or parking was ideal for us. Montreal is extremely walkable (we unintentionally walked 16 miles one day), the metro is very easy and safe, and you can always call a taxi as a last resort.

 

Honestly walking everywhere was perfect considering we couldn’t stop eating in Montreal, the food scene is delicious. Just LOOK at all this food, will you?

 

Looking for ideas on where to eat and what to do? I’ve put together an entire rundown for you and rated it so don’t go to Montreal without reading my recommendations!

 

Oh, and if you want to check out a super-cool speakeasy be sure to try and find Le 4e Mur. Good luck, because it’s not easy to gain entrance. I should know. Read why I never got in here: The Embarrassing Quest for a Hidden Montreal Speakeasy.

 

 

Stop 2: Québec City, Quebec

Quebec City Chateau Frontenac | Canada Road Trip

 

How I got there:

Train from Montreal

Where I stayed:

Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec

How Many Days: 2

Highlights:

-Chateau Frontenac

-Lower Town and the funicular up

-Pop-up shops ‘Artisans of the Cathedral’ on the lawn

-Dinner at Bistro Boulay

Best way to get around:

on foot

More Information:

The train from Montreal to Quebec was easy-peasy and really relaxing. We visited with this fabulous group of women in their 70s who were having a “girls weekend” and were already drinking their Crown Canadian at 9am. I aspire to be them so much.

 

Vieux-Québec, the old part of the city is so much like a little village in France you’ll swear you’re in Europe. The best thing you can do is simply stroll the streets of the old city, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the cafés.

 

But if you want some specific ideas on where to eat and what to see, I gotchu! I’ve put together a two-day itinerary so you don’t miss anything in the historic town. I even rated it all so don’t go to Quebec without reading my recommendations! (PLUS there’s a pdf guide so you can download it and take it with you.)

 

And if you simply MUST do a ghost tour in Quebec, remember: choose wisely. Read my story (along with a mostly funny, sometimes sad checklist) on how to pick the best ghost tour when you travel.

 

Stop 3: Saguenay, Quebec

Juliana Dever feed a moose in Quebec Canada

 

How I got there:

Rental Car (picked up in Quebec City)

Where I stayed:

A fjord-side treehouse, an animal sanctuary and farm, and the waterfront Hotel Tadoussac 3 Stars

How Many Days: 3

Highlights:

-Playing with baby goats full stop.

-Trying blueberry wines and vinegars at Domaine Le Cageot

-Tree house camping

-Snuggling animals at Ferme 5 Etoiles

-Whale watching in Tadoussac

Best way to get around:

by car

More Information:

Saguenay fjord region in Quebec was the biggest surprise of my trip. I had no idea it existed. Rich with dramatic landscapes, wild animals and rustically delicious foods from the boreal forest, it’s an absolute must for all nature lovers.

 

Out of the gate we were treated to a fascinating lunch with Nathalie, an artist who rides a motorcycle around town and forages for spices to raise money for the local youth mission.

 

My heart almost completely melted out of my chest when I visited a rural angora goat farm. You can and should stop for a visit here. The family makes yarn from the goat coats and also creates fashions from the wool, available for purchase at the main shop. You can find out more about it here.

 

Our second night was spent in a tree house high above the ground with a balcony overlooking the fjord. Sounds so peaceful, until you convince yourself there is a serial killer in the woods. Find out how I survived the night.

 

Night two in Saguenay was spent at a farm that is also an animal sanctuary. We went bear watching, fed a month-old baby deer, relocated tiny foxes (which I couldn’t stop cuddling) and well, just read about it here and then put it on your “must list.”

Canada Road Trip Tadoussac Bay

The last night in this area was spent in the 1940s Hotel Tadoussac. A gorgeous waterfront location, the hotel is cute but would benefit from an internal facelift. This is great home base for whale watching from the bay, or just relaxing and looking at the bay. Make sure you bring the mosquito repellent, black flies and other biting bugs are king here.

 

 

Stop 4: Moncton, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks New Brunswick Canada Road Trip Bay of Fundy

How I got there:

Drive

 

Where I stayed:

Chateau Moncton Suites 3.5 Stars

The hotel was clean and comfortable and very reasonable. If I did it again I would probably look for a hotel closer to the center of the main drag so I could walk to dinner.

How Many Days: 1

Highlights:

Hopewell Rocks Park at Bay of Fundy

Best way to get around:

by car

More Information:

This was an overnight stop after an 8-hour drive from Saguenay. I chose Moncton because of it’s proximity to the Bay of Fundy. I wanted to see the crazy flower pot formations at Hopewell Rocks Park. Check tidal times to ensure you can walk around and see the unusual water-worn pedestals from the ground.

 

Stop 5: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax Nova Scotia Waterfront

 

 

How I got there:

Drive. If you’re coming from New Brunswick you’ll have to take the ferry. We had a great time during our “crossing.” More info on ferry times here.

Where I stayed:

Hilton Hollis 3.5 Stars Excellent location but a bit pricey compared to the cleanliness of the room and the service.

How Many Days:

2.5 days

Highlights:

-All things Titanic

-Halifax waterfront and Bishop’s Landing

-Bars and restaurants on Argyle St.

-Drive to Peggy’s Cove and Lunenberg

Best way to get around:

by car

More Information:

My original impetus for wanting to visit Halifax was the Titanic. There’s an amazing seafood restaurant there that was once the mortuary for the victims. You can also see artifacts fished from the wreckage and read more about how the disaster affected the people of Nova Scotia at the Maritime Museum. Fairview Cemetery, where many victims are buried is a must stop to pay your respects.

 

Halifax itself is fun and friendly with a lively waterfront and many good restaurants. But don’t limit yourself to one city. Get out on the road and see nearby Peggy’s Cove and adorable Lunenberg. I’ve put all the information on where to eat and what to see in and around Halifax in one post to help you plan!

 

Stop 6: Charlottetown, PEI

Prince Edward Island nature

 

How I got there:

Flight from Halifax on a little 18-seat Air plane. *gulp* You can also drive the confederation bridge from New Brunswick or take a ferry from Nova Scotia.

Where I stayed:

Holman Grand Hotel

How Many Days: 1.5

Highlights:

-Glasgow Glen Farms

-Victoria Row and Peake’s Wharf in Charlottetown

-Prim Point Lighthouse

Best way to get around:

by car

More Information:

So many people come to PEI for Anne of Green Gables, which is the setting of the book. There is a heritage site dedicated to it and if you like the book, you’ll love the park. Even if you didn’t read the book, fake it! I know I did, but I don’t think anyone noticed.

 

If you want some specific ideas on where to eat and what to see, I’ve put together a two-day itinerary. And of course I rated it all and to help you plan your trip. Don’t go to PEI without checking it out! (Even better? There’s a pdf guide so you can download it and take it with you.)

 

Have you done this drive or visited any of these cities? What would you add? Tell me in the comments below!

 

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Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!

 

Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
Thinking about a Canada road trip? This 14 Day Itinerary takes you from Montreal to PEI. Download the free guide!
About the Author

Hi. I’m Juliana Dever and according to science I have some sort of "exploration" gene. Embracing this compulsion, I spend a lot of time hurtling around the planet in metal tubes experiencing other cultures and writing humorous essays about it. Enjoy.

2 Comments

  1. Alicia Killam / August 13, 2017 at 8:16 pm /Reply

    Just btw you do not need to take the ferry to get to Halifax from New Brunswick. It’s only about a 2.5 hour drive from Moncton. Ferry takes much longer and can be very costly.

    • Juliana Dever / August 17, 2017 at 7:54 am /Reply

      Yes, but isn’t it over the Confederation Bridge? I’m not a fan of being on bridges out over water without land in sight. 😳

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