Explore With Lora

How to Plan an Epic East Coast Canada Road Trip

By: Author Lora Pope

Posted on March 7, 2024

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Planning an east coast Canada road trip? Let me help! I grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and lived in New Brunswick for years. I’ve road-tripped the East Coast more times than I can count !

It’s one of my favorite parts of the world, so I created this guide to share all my favorite hidden gems with you.

While not as popular to visit as the Canadian Rockies, an East Coast Canada road trip should not be overlooked.

Humpback whales dancing below towering cliffs, fresh seafood, epic hiking trails, and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet are just some of the reasons to plan an eastern Canada road trip.

This guide will share all the best places to visit on an East Coast of Canada road trip to help you maximize your time.

It’s made for outdoor lovers and packed with incredible nature and wildlife experiences such as coastal hiking trails, boat tours, and wildlife watching.

The truth is, there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ itinerary – It entirely depends on the time you have available and the activities that interest you most.

You would need at least two months to road trip around all the places I’ve suggested below. But don’t fret if you don’t have that much time – simply choose the ones that interest you most.

I’ve also included some sample routes at the end to help you create a perfect Canadian East Coast road trip itinerary.

Having a car is the best way to explore Eastern Canada! I use and love Rentalcars.com to find the best deals on car rentals in Canada.

New Brunswick Road Trip

An aerial view of an east coast Canada highway in the fall.

Hooray, you’ve made it to your first Maritime province! Many people call New Brunswick a ‘drive-through’ province, but after living here for 18 months, I couldn’t disagree more.

New Brunswick has plenty to see, and it should be part of your East Coast Canada itinerary.

Québec City to Fredericton (593 KM)

A bridge over a body of water along the east coast Canada road trip.

Coming from Quebec, your first destination will be the capital of New Brunswick and my favorite city in the province, Fredericton.

Driving from Québec City to Fredericton takes an entire day, so plan to spend a night or two here to enjoy the city’s offerings.

🏠 Staying overnight in Fredericton? The Carriage House Inn is a super cozy, beautiful, and authentic old Victorian Downtown House to retreat after a day of exploring the city.

Visit the Garrison District, which hosts summer outdoor concerts, movie nights, and guided history tours. Then, walk across the Fredericton Railway Bridge.

No longer a train route, the bridge has become a sanctuary for pedestrians and cyclists. You can get spectacular views of the city and Saint John River below from it.

In the evening, enjoy a cold brew at one of the city’s craft breweries.

🚶‍♀️If you’re short on time, this two-hour historical tour of Fredericton is a great way to get acquainted with the city.

Fredericton to Saint John (112 KM)

saint john new brunswick

After a night in Fredericton, head to Saint John ( not to be confused with St. John’s, Newfoundland ).

It’s just an hour’s drive to reach this charming coastal town. You can either stop in for lunch or spend the night in town.

The Chateau Saint John offers tastefully appointed rooms in a primate location for exploring the city’s historic landmarks.

One fun thing to do in Saint John is to take a boat cruise to see the reversing falls, a unique natural phenomenon where the Bay of Fundy collides with the Saint John River. 

Or you can join this walking tour of Saint Johns to discover the city’s most interesting streets and central market – the oldest continuing farmers market in Canada!

Saint John to Fundy National Park of Canada (111 km)

lora by a waterfall in fundy national park

From Saint John, it’s an easy hour’s drive to my favorite place in New Brunswick, Fundy National Park .

You’ll want to spend at least two days here, camping or in a hotel near the park. It’s a paradise for hikers and waterfall chasers – I love hiking here during the summer time.

Fundy National Park to Hopewell Rocks (45km)

Kayaking at Bay of Fundy

One of New Brunswick’s most famous attractions is Hopewell Rocks , home to the world’s highest tides . The tide rises and falls 40 feet or so – twice daily!

To fully appreciate this phenomenon, visit Hopewell Rocks at low tide to walk around on the ocean floor and see the unique rock formations up close. At high tide, take an ocean kayak tour. It was incredible to see the difference in just one day!

🎟️ Save time and get skip-the-line tickets to Hopewell Rocks here

Hopewell Rocks to Moncton (31 km)

A wooden walkway next to a river on an East Coast Canada road trip.

After leaving Hopewell Rocks, take a half-hour drive to Moncton, New Brunswick’s most populous city.

You can spend the night here or stop for a few hours. An excellent spot for lunch is the Tide and Boar Gastropub, one of my favorite restaurants in New Brunswick.

Sray in the middle of Moncton’s entertainment district at this gorgeous boutique hotel. You’ll be steps away from the city’s best restaurants, entertainment, and bars.

While in Moncton, be sure to take a drive up Magnetic Hill. Park at the bottom of the hill, put your car in neutral, and it will start reversing up the hill on its own. It’s magic! Okay, really, it’s just an illusion caused by the landscape, but it’s a cool thing to experience, and kids will love it. There is also a water park near Magnetic Hill.

parlee beach shediac new brunswick

A great day trip or alternative destination to Moncton is Shediac; it’s just 20 minutes away. Shediac is home to Parlee Beach, which has the warmest salt water in Canada.

It’s known as the “lobster capital of the world”; this is the best place to get your first taste of fresh lobster.

For a taste of the local cuisine, check out this this small-group food tour in Shediac. You’ll sample everything from scallops to chocolates!

After you’ve filled up on seafood, head to Parlee Beach to watch the sunset.

Optional Route: Acadian Coastal Drive

If you have extra time on your east coast road trip in Canada and want to see an alternative side of New Brunswick, keep heading North.

New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, and the northern part of the province is where you can fully experience French Acadian culture.

Moncton to Kouchibouguac National Park (101 km)

seal in kouchibouguac national park

From Moncton or Shediac, head North towards Kouchibouguac National Park. Spend a night or two here camping to soak in the pristine wilderness. The park has beautiful beaches, canoeing, hiking trails, and wildlife, including an adorable seal colony.

I had so much fun spending the night here camping with friends – we saw a huge colony of seals!

Kouchibouguac National Park to Miramichi (51 km)

A sunset over a body of water with a boat in it, captured during an east coast Canada road trip.

Just half an hour from Kouchibouguac National Park is the town of Miramichi, which was my home for a year and a half. Miramichi is most famous for its fly fishing opportunities on the river.

Another fun thing to do in the summertime is to go on a tubing adventure down the river. In the evening, be sure to soak in the incredible sunsets.

One of the best places to stay in Miramichi is The Rodd. It’s set right on the river, where you can soak in the breathtaking river sunset. Plus, it’s a 5-minute walk from O’Donaghue’s Irish Pub – one of the best pubs in the city!

Miramichi to Miscou (138 km)

Keep heading North from Miramichi to Miscou, a beautiful island at the northern tip of New Brunswick. There, you can visit a picturesque white lighthouse.

Miscou Lighthouse, New Brunswick

Miscou to Caraquet (60 km)

caraquet new brunswick

Make your way to Caraquet, the heart of Acadian country. If your visit coincides with August 15th, you’ll be able to take part in some of the National Acadian Day festivities, which are sure to be fun .

There are several quaint B&Bs in Caraquet where you can spend the night. While there, be sure to visit the Acadian Historic Village just outside of Caraquet, where you can learn what life used to be like there.

🏨 Conveniently located off Route 145, this Caraquet property boasts quant rooms with a shared terrace. Acadian Historical Village is just 5 minutes’ drive away.

If you opt for the Acadian Coastal Drive, you’ll have to return south to Moncton/Shediac, which takes about three hours from Caraquet.

From there, continue your east coast trip to Prince Edward Island.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) Road Trip

A lighthouse on an east coast beach, Canada.

At just 224 km long and 64 KM wide, Prince Edward Island (PEI) is Canada’s smallest province. But don’t be fooled by the size; PEI has some of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes.

Red cliffs along the blue Atlantic Ocean, golden sand dunes, and picture-perfect white lighthouses are just some of the gorgeous scenes you will find here.

PEI connects to New Brunswick via the Confederation Bridge. It’s a 45-minute drive from Shediac to the start of the bridge, and it takes about 20 minutes to cross over which is a really unique experience.

While driving over the ocean, be sure to appreciate the undertaking it took to build this bridge. It’s an impressive example of architecture and engineering.

confederation bridge pei

PEI is a small island; you could see the main highlights in one day if you really wanted to. But I suggest staying at least a couple of nights as there are some wonderful things to do here.

The province is roughly divided into three sections, with three coastal routes you can make: North Cape Coastal Drive, Central Coastal Drive, and Points East Coastal Drive.

You’ll enter the province from New Brunswick at Boredon-Carleton, which is smack dab in the middle of the province, so you could do these scenic routes in any order.

red cliffs in prince edward island

Borden-Carleton to North Cape (121 km)

The North Cape coastal drive is 350 km and features a Canadian potato museum you can visit in O’Leary. PEI is very serious about potatoes! Cedar Dunes Provincial Park is another place worth checking out and a good option for camping overnight.

If you prefer to stay indoors, the West Point Lighthouse Inn and Museum is a unique place to spend the night in the North Cape.

PEI has 63 different Lighthouses, each one with a unique history. You could fill your whole time in PEI just searching for lighthouses; at least a few should be on your itinerary.

pei lighthouse

North Cape to Cavendish (129 KM)

After exploring the North Cape, head over to Cavendish, home of Anne of Green Gables. While that has never been an interest of mine, I know it’s a big attraction of PEI, so I can’t write this guide without mentioning it!

See the Green Gables House on this highly-rated tour, followed by a stop at a riverside restaurant with artisan preserves, fine teas, local pottery, and more.

Cavendish is home to Green Gables Heritage Place, which inspired the setting of the beloved tales.

Cavendish is also famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and red stone cliffs. The cliffs here are the best place to take in these stunning landscapes.

girl sitting on red clilffs cavendish pei

Afterward, head over to Cavendish Beach to soak in the sun along a 37-mile stretch of red sand. The red color comes from the high amount of iron in the island’s sandstone, which oxidizes and rusts when it comes in contact with air.

Cavendish to Charlottetown (38 KM)

After taking in the stunning natural landscapes of PEI, head to the capital of the province, Charlottetown.

Don’t expect big city lights; the population of Charlottetown is under 40,000. But that’s all part of its charm! There are several accommodation options in Charlottetown for spending the night.

Staying overnight in Charlottetown? Just two blocks from downtown, The Habour Inn features charming guest rooms , shaded patios, breakfast, and friendly staff to help you with anything you need.

Start your day in Charlottetown with an ice cream cone from Cows Creamery. It was voted Canada’s best ice cream spot and is one of my most treasured childhood memories.

In the afternoon, explore the local farmers market (it runs on Saturdays all year plus Wednesdays in the summer) or take a bike ride by the sea.

Later that evening, head out to Victoria Row. This pedestrian-only street is lined with a mix of bars, shops, and restaurants.

prince edward island views

Charlottetown to Greenwich (58 KM)

Spend your last day in PEI exploring the Points East Coastal Drive. Be sure to stop in Greenwich, which is part of the PEI National Park.

This section is home to some incredible dunes and an extensive floating boardwalk that leads to a white-sand beach.

pedestian walking bridge in greenwich pei

After a few days in Prince Edward Island, it’s time to visit Nova Scotia!

There are two ways to get to Nova Scotia from PEI. You can either go back via the Confederation Bridge through New Brunswick or take a 75-minute ferry from Wood Islands to Caribou, Nova Scotia.

I’ve always taken the Confederation Bridge because I find it more convenient, but the choice is up to you!

Nova Scotia Road Trip Itinerary

road trip to atlantic canada

Nova Scotia, known as ‘Canada’s ocean playground,’ is a paradise for outdoor activities. Kayaking, hiking, and rafting are just some of the ways you can enjoy the natural beauty of this stunning province.

Charlottetown To Halifax (325 KM, via Confederation Bridge)

road trip to atlantic canada

Start your journey in Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia. Spend at least a night or two exploring this vibrant city using this Halifax itinerary.

Staying overnight in Halifax? I loved my time at The Westin. It’s centrally located, across the street from the Halifax farmers market, where you can grab a delicious breakfast to go.

You can soak in the views of the harbor from the second floor of the Halifax farmers market and then head outside to walk along the pier.

The harbourfront comes to life during the summer with street performers, public art displays, and restaurants with outdoor seating.

harbourfront halifax nova scotia

Enjoy lunch here, and head up the hill to Citadel National Historic Site. From the top, you’ll get gorgeous views of the harbor below.

Rather than wandering around alone, get the most out of your visit to Halifax by joining a small-group tour and exploring the city in the company of a guide who can fill you in on the fascinating history.

In the evening, head out to Argyle Street for some live music and rest your head at one of these wonderful places to stay in Halifax.

Halifax to Peggy Cove’s (75 km)

peggys cove at sunset

The first stop after Halifax is just 45 minutes away. Peggy’s Cove is a quaint fishing village with a stunning white lighthouse.

It’s a paradise for photography, with the lighthouse that often reflects in the pools of water. The best time to visit Peggy’s Cove is during sunrise to avoid the crowds. Plus, the light is incredible during the golden hour. Some of my favorite photos from my time in Nova Scotia was my visit to Peggy’s cove at sunset!

If you’re tired of driving, join this Peggy’s Cove sunset tour from Halifax instead! Get a fully guided experience, with hotel pick-up and drop-off included.

Peggy’s Cove to Lunenberg (100 km)

lunenberg nova scotia

Next up is Lunenberg, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most colorful towns in Nova Scotia.

Dating back to the 18th century, this historic town is full of charming architecture and gigantic tall ships docked in the harbor. Head over to the golf course across the harbor for the best views and photo ops of this picturesque town.

Lunenberg is the perfect place to spend the night relaxing by the sea. I loved my stay at the the Sail Inn – a turn-of-the-century bed and breakfast just 35m from the waterfront.

A more off-the-beaten-path place to explore nearby is Blue Rocks, a small fishing village just outside of the Lunenberg. Head there for sunrise – you won’t be disappointed.

lora standing at blue rocks nova scotia

Lunenberg to Kejimkujik National Park (90 KM)

Next up, make your way to Kejimkujik National Park for some of the most pristine kayaking opportunities in eastern Canada. Kejimkujik is also a great place to go camping and stargazing if you want to spend the night.

Kejimkujik National Park to The Shubenacadie River (308 km)

Tidal Bore Rafting in New Brunswick

If you love adventure, you must try Tidal Bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River. I’ve been river rafting all over the world, but this is one of the most unique rafting experiences I’ve tried!

Twice a day, when the tide changes, the tidal bore temporarily reverses the flow of the river, creating incredible high-speed rapids. It’s the only place in the world where you can experience this! There’s even a Tidal Bore Rafting Resort where you can spend the night.

Shubenacadie River to Cape Breton Island (338km)

Although Cape Breton Island is part of Nova Scotia, it’s so unique that it almost feels like its own province.

After leaving the Shubenacadie River, head 338 km east (approx four hours of driving) to Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada.

cabot trail drive

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is home to the Cabot Trail, which is continuously named one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

It’s only 298km in length, but you’ll want at least a couple of days to take it all in. Thankfully, there are plenty of unique places to stay along the Cabot Trail.

🏩 One of the most beautiful places to stay on the Cabot Trail is  the Keltic Lodge at the Highlands . It’s got stunning views from the property and is right next to Ingonish Beach.

One of the most beautiful places to stay on the Cabot Trail is the Keltic Lodge at the Highlands . It’s got stunning views from the property and is right next to Ingonish Beach.

With such incredible views along the Cabot Trail, you’ll be stopping every five minutes for photos. Plus, there are a ton of hiking opportunities along the way. Be sure to hike the Skyline Trail for sunset – it was my favorite hike on the island!

Skyline Trail Sunset, Cape Breton National Park of Canada

Cape Breton Highlands National Park to North Sydney (114 km)

After a few beautiful days in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, drive to the North Sydney ferry terminal.

This is where you’ll say goodbye to the mainland of Canada and catch an overnight ferry to the island of Newfoundland.

Newfoundland Road Trip

girl on signal hill in st. johns newfoundland

Many people don’t include Newfoundland on their trip t Eastern Canada, but it absolutely should be. I may be biased, but I truly believe Newfoundland has its own identity, unlike anywhere else in Canada.

While out of the way, it will be worth making the trip there. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a road trip through Newfoundland.

There are two ferry options for getting to Newfoundland from the mainland. Both depart from North Sydney, Nova Scotia. One goes to Argentia on the East Coast of Newfoundland, and the other goes to Port aux Basques on the West Coast.

I recommend taking the Port Aux Basque ferry because it’s shorter, cheaper, and more reliable. The other ferry only runs during the summer months and is often canceled due to weather.

Port Aux Basque – Corner brook (219 km)

You’ll arrive in Port Aux Basque early in the morning, around 7 am (assuming the ferry is on time). Drive two hours East to Corner Brook, the largest city on the West Coast.

The next few days will be camping in Gros Morne National Park , so stock up on supplies at a grocery store in Corner Brook. Sobeys or Dominion are the best options. There are some small stores in Gros Morne national park, but they are limited in supplies and more expensive.

Corner Brook to Gros Morne national park (85KM)

waterfall gros morne national park

From Corner Brook, it’s just an hour’s drive to Gros Morne National Park , one of the main highlights of Newfoundland. Spend at least two nights here either camping in the park or at lodging nearby.

Rocky Harbour is the most convenient place to stay in the park if you aren’t camping. I recommend Bambury’s Hillside Chalets, cute saltbox homes with a 9.5+ rating.

With over 100 kilometers of pristine trails, Gros Morne is the perfect place to take a hike. Challenge yourself to go 800 meters up to the summit of Gros Morne mountain!

This hike is no easy feat, as the last two hours involve climbing up steep rocks. The views at the top are worth it – this is one of my favorite hikes in Newfoundland. It’s an all-day hike (16 km) that will take you between 6-8 hours.

hiking in gros morne national park

If you want a real adventure, try backpacking the long-range traverse. This epic hike takes four nights but will take you to one of the most sought-after photos in Newfoundland. This trek is not for beginners – you must attend a backcountry briefing to receive a backcountry hiking permit for this trek.

For a less strenuous activity, take a boat tour through the fjord s  and marvel at the beauty carved out by the work of glaciers over thousands of years.

fjords in gros morne national park

Optional route: Viking Trail

l'anse aux meadows national historic site

Another option is to continue your journey on a scenic drive down the Northern Peninsula, also known as the Viking trail , to the UNESCO world heritage site of L’anse Aux Meadows . Here you’ll find remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement.

I’ve done this route before, and it’s stunning, but you’ll need an extra couple of days. It’s about a three-hour drive from Gros Morne each way.

I recommend spending the night in St. Anthony, the largest town on the peninsula. It’s one of the best places to see icebergs in the spring!

Grenfell Heritage Hotel & Suites is a historic hotel in St. Anthony, centrally located in town. It offers fully equipped kitchens in the apartment rooms – we stayed here for a week and loved it!

Gros Morne National Park to Bonavista Peninsula (406 km)

After a few glorious days on the West Coast, you’ll continue your journey towards Newfoundland’s east coast through the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1).

It’s an easy drive as there is only one main highway across Newfoundland – just look out for moose along the way.

moose in newfoundland

If you’re craving more adventure along the way, stop along the way in Grand-Falls, where you can go whitewater rafting on the exploits river. This is a great place to stop for lunch or spend the night to break up the journey.

Optional route: Central Newfoundland and Fogo Island

fogo island newfoundland

While driving across the province, you could take an optional detour to Twillingate and Fogo Island, home to some of the cutest small towns in Newfoundland. Fogo island has become a popular spot in recent years with the addition of the 5-star Fogo Island Inn.

We all wish we could stay at the Fogo Inn, but it’s not in most people’s budget. Instead, stay at one of The Old Salt Box Co. locations and enjoy sunsets over the ocean from your room.

There’s so much adventure in Central Newfoundland you could easily spend another week exploring this region!

Bonavista Peninsula

The Bonavista Peninsula is one of my favorite parts of Newfoundland.

With endless picturesque fishing villages, a lively arts scene, fantastic puffing spotting opportunities , and gorgeous hiking trails , you’ll be sure to love it here. Check out this video of some friendly puffins I met there last summer!

@explorewithlora Found in Elliston, Newfoundland #puffins #explorenl #newfiecheck #nlwx #newfoundlandersoftiktok #newfoundlandandlabrador #wildlifelover ♬ Fantasy – Alina Baraz / Galimatias

Trinity is a perfect place to spend your first night here, with several homey guesthouses to stay.

The Eriksen Premises is one of Trinity’s historic homes and a great place to spend the night. Antique wood décor is featured in all individually decorated rooms, and it’s next to restaurants and shops.

After a good night’s rest, take a harbor kayak tour where you can come up close with whales and icebergs, depending on the season.

Trinity is also home to some great hiking trails. Try the Skerwink trail, a 4.7-kilometer loop with beautiful coastal views.

cliffs by the sea on the skerwink trail newfoundland

Trinity to Bonavista (50 km)

cliffs at Dungeon Provincial Park, Bonavista

Take a day to drive around the Bonavista peninsula or spend another night. Along the way, opt to visit Port Rexon Brewing for a delicious craft beer.

In Bonavista, take a hike in the stunning Dungeon provincial park, grab a cone at Sweet Rock Ice Cream, or head to nearby Elliston to spot puffins .

puffins in newfoundlands

In the evening, enjoy a locally-sourced dinner at the Bonavista Social Club.

Trinity to St. John’s (258 km)

Continue driving east to St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland, and my hometown. It’s one of the oldest cities in North America!

Celebrate the end of your east coast Canada road trip by driving to Cape Spear and soaking in the ocean views. Congratulations, You’ve made it to the most easterly point in North America!

One of the most beautiful places to stay in downtown St. John’s is Blue on Water. This 4-star accommodation features beautiful interior designs and is steps away from top attractions.

Another option is the Cabot Guest House i n Georgetown, a charming neighborhood I used to live in. If you stay here, be sure to grab your morning coffee and bagel at the Georgetown Bakery.

St. John’s is a great city with tons of fun things to do. Hike up to historic Signal Hill, where you can get sweeping views of the St. John’s narrows.

Take a walk around downtown St. John’s, or visit the picturesque fishing village of Quidi Vidi, which has a brewery that you can tour.

visiting quidi vidi on an east coast canada road trip

In the evening, head to The Duke for the best fish and chips in the city, then George Street for a night on the town. With the most bars per capita in Canada, St. John’s has a lively nightlife and a great local music scene.

As a visitor, you must get screeched in to become an honourary Newfoundland. Christians Bar on George Street is a perfect place to do that.

The next day (assuming you’re not too hungover), take a stroll along a section of the East Coast trai l – there are over 336 kilometers of trail to explore that will take you through breathtaking towering cliffs with beautiful views.

During the summer months, the world’s largest population of humpback whales makes their way to Newfoundland’s coast to feed. It’s one of the best places to go whale watching in the world !

whale watching in newfoundland

Whales can often be spotted while hiking on the East Coast Trail but for a closer look, join a whale-watching tour.

Want to see whales? I loved this boat tour that takes you to Witless Bay ecological reserve to see the world’s largest population of humpback whales, icebergs that are over 10,000 years old, and the charismatic Atlantic puffin.

If you’re a diver, you can also join a diving tour to see  WWII shipwrecks, reefs, wall dives, and more! Diving is a unique way to explore Newfoundland from the ocean floor.

Toronto to East Coast Road Trip

The focus of this post is on the Maritime provinces and Newfoundland. But since I know many of you will be planning an east coast canada road trip itinerary from Toronto, I’ve made a few suggestions for places to stop on the way below through Ontario/Québec before reaching New Brunswick.

There are MANY more amazing places to visit than outlined here, but they need a post of their own (and it’s coming).

If you’re starting from Toronto , make your first stop in Ottawa (a four-hour drive) or Montreal (a six-hour drive). Opt to stop at Thousand Islands National Park along the way.

Spanning across the border between Canada and the U.S., this park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ontario .

You can either spend the night in the park or just stop on the way to see the islands.

There’s no better view of the thousand islands than from the sky! This 5-star rated tour takes you on a scenic twenty-minute helicopter ride over the islands. Perfect if you’re short on time!

After touring the thousand islands, continue on to either Ottawa or Montreal. They are just two hours apart, so either make a great place to spend the night if you’re coming from Toronto. It just depends on how much driving you want to do in one day!

I love Montreal because of its exciting nightlife and overall atmosphere. However, if you prefer a quieter city with beautiful parks and historic sites, Ottawa is a great option.

Staying overnight in Ottawa? Don’t miss the chance to stay at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier – it’s one of Canada’s most iconic hotels, adjacent to the Parliament Buildings and Rideau Canal. Reserve early, as it does book up!

Leaving Ottawa or Montreal, continue your drive towards the province of New Brunswick.

Fredericton (capital of New Brunswick) is about 8 hours East of Montreal, so you could get there in a day if you drove all day. But if you prefer to do more sightseeing along the way, a great option is to spend the night in Québec City.

With its picturesque cobblestone streets lined with bistros and boutiques, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe.

Quebec city streets

If you didn’t get the chance to stay at the Fairmont in Ottawa, there’s another opportunity in Quebec City! The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is situated in Old Quebec, boasting gorgeous views of the St. Lawrence river in a fairytale setting.

Itineraries for Best Road Trips to Canada’s East Coast

With two months, you would be able to road trip all of this Eastern Canada itinerary, including the optional routes I mentioned.

You could visit the main highlights in a month, but the trip would be very fast-paced with a lot of driving.

14-Day East Canada Road Trip Itinerary

  • Days 1-3: New Brunswick – Start your journey in the picturesque province of New Brunswick. Spend your nights exploring the charming cities and natural wonders, including the Bay of Fundy, known for the world’s highest tides.
  • Days 4-6: Prince Edward Island (PEI) – Cross the Confederation Bridge to PEI. Enjoy the island’s red sand beaches, visit the Anne of Green Gables house, and indulge in fresh seafood.
  • Days 7-9: Halifax and Nova Scotia’s South Shore – Head to Nova Scotia, starting with its vibrant capital, Halifax, then explore the scenic South Shore, including Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Days 10-13: Cape Breton – Venture to Cape Breton Island, where the Cabot Trail awaits with its stunning coastal views. Enjoy hiking, local culture, and the Gaelic heritage of this unique region.
  • Day 14: Return to Halifax – Conclude your trip with a leisurely drive back to Halifax, perhaps stopping at any spots you missed on your way to Cape Breton.

Alternatively, you could do Cape Breton (4 nights) and Newfoundland (8 nights).

If you just wanted to visit Newfoundland, you could fly into the province to save time. St. John’s has an international airport where you can rent a car .

road trip to atlantic canada

Ten Days: Nova Scotia and Beyond

10-Day East Coast Canada Road Trip

  • Days 1-3: Halifax and Surroundings – Explore Halifax’s rich history and vibrant culture before heading to the picturesque towns along the South Shore.
  • Days 4-6: Cape Breton Island – Drive the Cabot Trail, immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty, and experience the local music scene.
  • Days 7-8: Prince Edward Island – Discover PEI’s lighthouses, beaches, and culinary delights.
  • Days 9-10: New Brunswick – Visit the Hopewell Rocks and enjoy the coastal beauty before heading back.

Seven Days: A Province-Specific Journey

7-Day East Coast Canada Road Trip Itinerary

  • Option 1: Nova Scotia – Dedicate your week to exploring Nova Scotia, from Halifax to the South Shore, and up to Cape Breton.
  • Option 2: Newfoundland – Fly into St. John’s, rent a car , and explore the Avalon Peninsula, Bonavista, and perhaps a day trip to Terra Nova National Park.

Five Days: Quick Escapes

5-Day East Coast Canada Road Trip

  • Nova Scotia Focus – Spend your days exploring Halifax, the Annapolis Valley, and part of the South Shore for a quick taste of Nova Scotia’s charm.
  • PEI and New Brunswick – Combine these two provinces for a whirlwind tour of the Maritimes, focusing on the highlights like the Bay of Fundy and PEI’s central coast.

east coast road trip canada

What is the best time of year to visit the East Coast of Canada?

While it’s possible to visit the East Coast year-round, I would not advise planning a Canada east coast itinerary around the winter months in Canada (November-April – yes, it can really go that long!), simply because the road conditions could be dangerous.

The Atlantic provinces are famous for their horrible winter storms making a maritime road trip unpleasant. Plus, the ferry to Newfoundland often gets delayed in the winter.

Summertime is the ideal time for a road trip, but it is also the most popular. The shoulder seasons are also great options. During the springtime, you will have fewer tourists and the possibility to see icebergs in Newfoundland.

During autumn, you can see beautiful fall colors, which will make the drive breathtaking, especially on the Cabot Trail. That said, you can expect some cold nights, and even days, if you are visiting the East coast during October.

fall colors on the east coast of canada

Booking A Car Rental for an East Coast Canada Road Trip

If you’re booking a car rental for your road trip around the east coast, make sure you do early. Car rentals do book up in the summertime (especially if you’re picking it up in Newfoundland)!

I use and love Rentalcars.com , which searches local and international providers to find you the best deal. Plus, you can buy insurance directly through them, so you’re fully protected!

road trip to atlantic canada

BEST CANADA CAR RENTAL COMPANY: Rentalcars.com

When booking your Canada car rental online, I recommend using Rentalcars.com. They search both international and local Canadian companies to find the best price.

Essential Items For an East Canada Road Trip

For your Eastern Canada trip, don’t forget to bring these items with you.

  • Parks Canada Discovery Pass  – This will get you unlimited admission for 12 months at over 80 parks across Canada. This may be worth it if you plan to visit a lot of the national parks.
  • Insect Repellant – they are fierce in the summertime!
  • Road trip snacks
  • Canadian cash  – Most places accept major credit cards and debit but in smaller communities, you may find places that only accept cash. Bring Canadian dollars as these places will probably not exchange American money.
  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Canada Road Map
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and Pillows – it gets cold in Canada, even in the summertime! You never know when those will come in handy.
  • Audiobooks for the road. I love  Audible   for this.
  • A  car charger   for charging your devices
  • A GPS  or download Google offline maps for your phone. Many rural places you will be driving through in Canada do not have cell phone reception.

FAQ: East Coast Canada Road Trip

Where should i go on the east coast of canada.

There are so many places to visit on Canada’s east coast! Some of the best places are Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Gros Morne National Park, and Fundy National Park – check this guide for more information.

What is East Coast Canada known for?

It’s known for its friendly locals, fantastic seafood, incredible whale watching, the Atlantic Ocean, and beautiful landscapes.

Is Eastern Canada worth visiting?

Absolutely! While many people overlook the east coast for the Rockies, they are two completely different experiences. The east coast of Canada has some of the most breathtaking scenery in Canada, along with fantastic cuisine, friendly people, and endless outdoor adventure.

How long do you need to travel the East Coast Canada?

The duration of the East Coast Canada trip depends on your itinerary and interests. A minimum of 1-2 weeks is recommended to cover key highlights, but longer trips allow for a more immersive experience.

How to plan an East Coast Canada road trip?

To plan an Atlantic road trip, start by deciding on your must-visit destinations (read this post), create a flexible itinerary, book accommodations in advance during peak seasons, and ensure your vehicle is in good condition for the journey.

Where is the best place in East Coast of Canada?

The East Coast of Canada is filled with amazing places, but Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is often considered among the best destinations due to its stunning landscapes.

Is it worth going to Nova Scotia?

Yes, Nova Scotia is definitely worth visiting. It boasts a beautiful coastline, rich maritime heritage, charming towns, and numerous outdoor activities that make it a captivating destination.

How long should you spend on PEI?

To fully experience Prince Edward Island, it’s recommended to spend at least 2-3 days. This allows time to explore the island’s beautiful beaches, scenic drives, and cultural attractions.

What is the largest city on East Coast of Canada?

The largest city on the East Coast of Canada is Halifax, which is the capital of Nova Scotia.

What cities are in East Coast Canada?

The East Coast of Canada includes cities such as Halifax (Nova Scotia), St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador), Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Fredericton (New Brunswick), and others, each offering its own unique charm and attractions.

Final thoughts: Road Trip East Coast of Canada

Embarking on a road trip along Canada’s East Coast is an adventure filled with awe-inspiring natural beauty, captivating history, and warm hospitality.

From the vibrant city life of Halifax to the rugged coastline of Newfoundland, this journey promises to be an unforgettable experience for any traveler.

As you traverse the scenic highways, immerse yourself in the rich maritime culture, savor the freshest seafood, and engage with the welcoming locals who make this region truly special.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie looking for culinary delights, the East Coast of Canada has something to offer everyone.

Allow the beauty of the coastal vistas, the charm of the small towns, and the tranquility of the Atlantic waves to leave a lasting impression on your heart. Happy travels!

Planning a trip to the east coast of Canada? Check out these posts!

The Best Things to Do in Bonavista Newfoundland

The Best Things to Do in Bonavista Newfoundland

landscape photo of the town of witless bay with the ecological reserve in the distance

11 Stunning Places on the Irish Loop Newfoundland

How to Plan a Newfoundland Road Trip Itinerary in 2023

How to Plan a Newfoundland Road Trip Itinerary in 2023

Unique Places To Stay In Newfoundland

Unique Places To Stay In Newfoundland

A Perfect Cabot Trail Itinerary in Cape Breton Nova Scotia

A Perfect Cabot Trail Itinerary in Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Where To Stay In Halifax Nova Scotia

Where To Stay In Halifax Nova Scotia

The Best Places to Stay on the Cabot Trail

The Best Places to Stay on the Cabot Trail

5 Best Places for Sea Kayaking in Newfoundland

5 Best Places for Sea Kayaking in Newfoundland

A Perfect One to Three Day Halifax Itinerary

A Perfect One to Three Day Halifax Itinerary

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Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

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Thankyou for this detailed itinerary! My sisters and I are planning an east coast road trip (around 19 days) next fall and the information you’ve provided is awesome.

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Hi, How long did this trip take you? Thanks for all the intel!

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Thank you for all of your excellent suggestions. We are planning an Eastern Canada road trip for September 2024. We are looking forward to the scenery, food and activities. We will be driving up from Louisiana and plan two weeks. Will there be plenty of options for decent hotel accommodations? Thank you!

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Yes, there are many great hotels along this route that I have suggested.

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Hi Lora, My 2 friends and myself would like to take a road trip for about 2 weeks next year (2023) to the East Coast and visit all four(4) lovely provinces. We all work together in the hospital and after the last couple years (with the COVID Pandemic) we all decided we REALLY need a break and a nice vacation. This road trip has been on our bucket list for quite a while now. We are hoping to save enough money by next year to do this amazing trip. A trip to be remembered!!!! Questions: (1) to visit all those wonderful places you mentioned and stay in nice B&B’s in all 4 provinces and really spend time with all the wonderful folks out East. Approx $$ for each person with our own single rooms. Just an approx $$. We will not hold you to that $$, just wondering and hoping we can make the trip re: our budget. (2) Approx in gas? (3) Do we stay in a motel/hotel/B&B along the way? Would you be able to plan our trip for us and do the bookings at the B&B or hotels? (4) We are thinking in May/June? Would you recommend those months? Oh … I should mention, we all live in the GTA area in Ontario and will be leaving from there. We are planning to rent a vehicle. Please help us make this trip a “dream come true” Thank You Lora!! :-))

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Thanks for this info Lora! I am going to use this when I cycle and driveEast in a few days. All the best to you!

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travelling in an RV, my main concern is heading over to NL, will the ferry take an RV, and any good parks in NL stay? And is the ferry wheel chair accessable?

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Hello! And thank you for such detailed info for the East Coast .My husband and I are planning a short 9-10 day road trip to east coast. this coming week. We were planning to drive straight to New Brunswick. Any suggestions on where to go for camping that I don’t have to make reservation? possibly in the Saint John, we’re planning to go all the way to Nova Scotia with this 9 days trip. Please let me know just the important places that we should see. Hope you can help. Thanks in advance……..

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Hi Lora, Thanks for such a wonderful travel guide. I am planning a road trip from Toronto to St. Johns or NFL by end of June. I will be traveling with family including Kids. I will leave the city on Thursday evening and so far I am planning the following Thursday | Home->Montreal Friday | Montreal->New Brunswick Saturday |New Brunswick->North Sydney, NS Sunday 7 AM | Channel-Port aux Basques, New FoudnLand Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday (11 AM Ferry) | Channel-Port aux Basques->North Sydney, NS B2A 3V2 Friday | North Sydney, NS-> Moncton, New Brunswick Saturday | Qubic City Sunday | Home (Pickering)

So I will have a total of 5 days in NFL and I need your help to plan these 5 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). We both can drive so driving is not an issue. We are interested in Whale watching and icebergs if still, we can see them.

Please guide me how I should plan these 5 days.

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Hi Lora, I’m curious about your quoted time of 2 hours from Hopewell Rocks to Moncton? Google maps says it is a 30 minute drive, and now I’m worried I’m missing something? Thank you

Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for your comment. You are right, it’s just over half an hour to get between them so that was just an error on my part. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, it’s been fixed!

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Do you have any other whale watching recommendations? We will only have a week with our 3 kids and are thinking of flying in to NB from Toronto to save time on the drive through Ontario & Quebec. We will likely just end up doing NB and PEI…maybe NS…think we’ll have time?

There is good whale-watching in New Brunswick by Saint Andrews by-the-sea! One week is enough to visit them but it will be rushed. I would spend at least half the week in Nova Scotia!

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This is great – I may have missed this and will re-read your post, but how long did it take you to road trip across the east coast and as woman would you safe it is safe if I do it alone? Thanks for sharing this post and it is really very intresting east coast Canada road trip.

I’ve done it many times as short as 3 days to as long as 3 weeks, it just depends on how much you want to see! Yes, the east coast is extremely safe to travel I’ve done it solo many times.

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Great article! I am planning about a 2 1/2 month trip for next summer and hoping to hit most of what you suggested. We will be traveling with a truck and trailer from about mid June to early September. Based on weather and crowds, I have two questions for you. Any idea for camping if reservations will be needed for National or provincial parks? And what would be your suggested order for the provinces coming from Maine? Was thinking of NB, NF, NS then PEI? Thanks, great article!

Hi Darlene, if you’re planning to visit the parks over the long weekends (Canada day, the first weekend of August, and labor day), I would make reservations as they can get really busy then. Otherwise, a few days in advance should be fine and the provincial parks usually have walk-in space (national ones can get busier in the summer). The order you suggested sounds perfect to me!

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In the middle of October, are leaves still on trees on the east coast in NB and NS?

Yes they should be!

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Hello and thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m planning a last minute roadtrip the first three weeks of Sept 2021.

I’m looking at starting from TORONTO and making my way out EAST and then driving back of course. Will be using personal vehicle and travelling with my spouse ( no kids )

Any recommendations itinerary wise ? I believe 3 weeks should be enough time to see and do a fair amount.

Thank you in advance for your time

3 weeks is enough time to see all four provinces! I would spend a week in Newfoundland, one in Nova Scotia and the other split between PEI and New Brunswick.

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Hi Lora, thanks a lot for this information – it already helps me a lot 🙂 I will go to Canada in October and will spend there 4 weeks. I would have more time, but I think, it would get cold in November. What would you think? Yes it really depends on mother nature … 🙂

As the temperature is getting low during my trip from beginning October till end of October, could you recommend me a good starting point? Is it better to start in Toronto or in Newfoundland? Or doesn´t it make a difference?

I will come from a one-month-trip in Iceland, so I would get used somehow to colder weather, but maybe you have some advice for me ? 🙂

Hi! So glad you found the post helpful. It can definitely be cold in Atlantic Canada by November – even in October! It stays warmer in Ontario longer (I’ve experienced 20+ degree at end of October in Toronto), so I would actually start in Newfoundland and end in Toronto to make the most of the weather 🙂

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Thanks so much for this perfect article, I’m planning for a small group 17 people 1st time ever driving from Toronto to Atlantic. This article perfectly giving me all ideas we can explore. Thanks

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Thanks so much for your nice comment! I’m so glad you found it helpful.

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Hi Lora, great article. We are thinking of taking a 2 week family road trip this summer from Toronto, do you think that’s enough time to explore the east coast? Thx

Thanks! Two weeks is absolutely enough time – there’s an example two week itinerary in the guide 🙂

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Hi Lora, Excellent presentation and very nicely explained all relevant issues for travelling. I have sent you an email also seperately for guidance but I know you are very busy. In fact I want to visit Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI with a friend from Brampton. We will fly from Toronto to Sydney and back from Halifax. We will get a car rental for visiting other provinces. My preference is Cabot trail and other areas to be covered in 8 days. Kindly guide.

Hi, I would spend at least 2-3 days to drive the Cabot Trail – it’s so scenic you’ll want time to stop and soak it in. PEI is a very small province, you could see a lot in just two days. If you take the bridge from New Brunswick you’ll be close to Moncton, although I personally prefer Fredericton. It’s worth spending a day or two in Halifax as well, but that’s about all you could fit in!

Hi Lora, we are planning to visit Atlantic from Aug 14-Aug22(must be back to Toronto Aug 22), we are planning to stay 1 night in Quebec for example leaving Toronto to Quebec city on Saturday Aug 14 morning, stay a night in Quebec, then leave Quebec around afternoon Sunday, please advise the next beautiful stop we should stay for 1 or 2 nights? group of 20 people 8 kids ranging from 3-11 years old. Thanks so much

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Thanks for so much great info! We are planning an -unfortunately- fairly rushed road trip in our camper van next month. Leaving from Muskoka on the 19th and we have to be home on the 29th. Staying near Quebec City the first night, somewhere close-ish to Fredericton the second night, then the weekend visiting friends in PEI. Monday morning we will board the ferry to NS and do a couple days on Cape Breton Island. We pretty much have to start heading towards Ontario on Thursday, or at the very latest, Friday. Two questions: 1) Is it fairly easy to “free camp” in PEI and Nova Scotia, or do we really need to book campsites? We are self-sufficient with a solar fridge, stove and composting toilet in a 19′ van. 2) If we do Cape Breton (Cabot Trail) over Monday-Tuesday, what’s the #1 thing you’d suggest for Wednesday/Thursday? Do we go west to Halifax/Lunenberg area? My concern is we might be burnt out from driving so much, but we also want to make the most of our time out there. Leaving from Halifax instead of closer to NB means a few extra hours of driving overall. I have been to Halifax/Peggy’s Cove/Lunenberg but my partner has not. Thanks in advance!

Hi Ashley, I have only camped at campsites but if you are a resident of Canada and self-sufficient you could camp on crown land for up to 21 days. I’m sure there is lots of it there, but I’m not an expert in this area.

If you have been to Halifax/Lunenberg and don’t want to add on the extra driving I would just stay on Cape Breton Island. Two days isn’t a lot of time there, the cabot trail is so beautiful I spent a week on it! Inverness or Baddeck are two nice spots on either side of where it starts. I am not super familiar with the part of Nova Scotia between Halifax and Cape Breton Island so can’t make specific recommendations for there, but I think you could easily spend more than two days in Cape Breton and enjoy yourself!

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Hi Lora, thank you for all the information you have provided. We are from Alberta and have planned to visit the East Coast Aug 26 – Sept 7th and hoping to see highlights in all provinces. Will check out your article on vaccination status for all provinces. Quick question – is it worth the long drive from Montreal to New Brunswick or should we fly? Thanks for any info you can provide.

If you are flying anyway I would just go to New Brunswick. Montreal is a great city and Quebec City is a nice stop along the way but if you are limited on time and want to see all four provinces it’s better to just fly.

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Hi Lora, Thank you so much for this great article. I would love to start planning a short east coast trip to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and PEI at the end of august (August 19-29). I live in Ontario. Do you maybe have any more specific information about the border restrictions for people from other provinces? Thank you!

Hi Cloe, I just updated the article with the latest information. Border restrictions depend on your vaccination status – fully vaccinated travelers can visit all four provinces, but you will have to apply for a PEI Pass for PEI.

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This is great – I may have missed this and will re-read your post, but how long did it take you to road trip across the east coast and as woman would you safe it is safe if I do it alone? Thanks.

I’ve done it in as little as 3 days and as long as a month! It really depends on how much you want to see but I’d recommend at least one to two weeks. It is safe to travel there as a woman alone – I did last summer! Atlantic Canadians are extremely friendly and helpful 🙂

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Hi, thank you for all of the info. Ten of us rented an RV and have booked our trip for Sept 3-10. We want to eat fish, do a lot of water activities and sightseeing. Since we have only a week and have no wish to see Montreal. Can you help me choose best places. We are from Toronto and are so tired of being on lockdown.

Hi! Without stopping somewhere in Quebec it will be a long drive to New Brunswick (14 hours) but doable if you guys don’t mind a long day of driving. I would recommend spending most of your time in Nova Scotia by the coast, they have tons of water activities and delicious seafood.

Hello Lora! Your blog is so informative and what beautiful pictures! I want to plan an East Coast trip this summer but I’m waiting (and hoping) for some travel restrictions to loosen up so we can visit from Ontario. If not, then I will save this information for 2022! I have a question for you. I know you said that Newfoundland shouldn’t be missed but we only have 3 weeks and when I followed most of your itinerary that didn’t leave me much time for Newfoundland. Is there a place for whale watching in the other 3 provinces?

Thanks so much! Yes for sure, there are lots of places to go whale watching on the East Coast. You can go in St. Andrews by-the-sea in New Brunswick, as well as Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. I do think Newfoundland is the best place for it though! Really hope you can make it out to the east coast this summer!

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This is very informative.

Was just wondering if you could suggest a perfect Canada East Coast road trip itinerary with RV Camper that last up to 16 days (3 adults)? I have seen and read many but l just don’t know how to manage that. The idea is to do a road trip from Montréal – Nova Scotia (16 days) or just Nova Scotia (16 days) suggesting probably “must see” places and camping possibilities. The road trip is planned for next year 2021 summer (hopefully by then the pandemic is under control). Wouldn’t mind if you can email me your ideas also per email.

Thanks for your time.

Cheers Mitch

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Hi Mitch. You can definitely plan a great road trip from Montreal to Nova Scotia with 16 days. You’ll have to drive through New Brunswick anyway so I suggest spending a night or two there on the way and back. Fundy national park is a great place to visit! That should still leave you with 10 or more full days in Nova Scotia, so for the rest of your itinerary, it depends on what you are interested in seeing. I love Cape Breton island for the Cabot Trail, I’d recommend 3-5 days to do that. The Halifax area is great too, and there are a lot of fun day trips to small towns you can take from there.

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Hi Lora, Thank you for such an informative post! You’ve helped me narrow down most of the places I wanted to go as I’m currently planning an Eastern road trip! I wanted to know what your estimated budget was for the entire trip, if you don’t mind my asking. Thank you again 🙂

That’s awesome, glad to hear! That’s so variable depending on how long your trip is, if you’re renting a car, camping or staying in hotels, solo etc. If you give me more details I can try and help!

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I live in Vancouver and have never been to the east coast so this is all high on my bucketlist! Looks beautiful 🙂

Vancouver is a beautiful spot too!! Hope you can visit the East Coast sometime 🙂

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I love all those rugged coastal views with the reflections in the waters and the lighthouses. I already love the West side of Canada, but I do really like the idea of exploring the Eastern coast as well. It looks like SUCH a fantastic area to hike, and then eat icecream.

p.s. My mum loves Anne of Green Gables…I wonder if telling her that would be a good way to lure her to Canada!? 😉

I love the West coast of Canada too, but the East coast is a completely different experience! Haha I think that would definitely get her there if PEI is on the itinerary!

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This is a very informative guide. Definitely will refer to it in future when I go.

Glad you found it helpful! 🙂

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Yay for road tripping! I haven’t had a chance to explore too much of Canada but would love to someday! I wanna visit the national parks!

Hope you can someday! We are lucky to have so many beautiful national parks 🙂

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Your photos alone make me want to pack a bag and hit the road! I’d love to do a coastal drive of Eastern Canada and PEI has always been on my radar!

Happy to hear that!! PEI is gorgeous, hope you can visit sometime!

Three road trips through Atlantic Canada

road trip to atlantic canada

Things to do

Explore Atlantic Canada on an Eastern Canada road trip that makes the most of the close proximity of neighbouring provinces with some of the world's most scenic drives. Discover local businesses, from family-run restaurants to cute boutiques, as you drive between stunning scenery on one of these quintessential East Coast Canada road trips. Here's everything you need to know before you go. 

Scenic road trip: Halifax to Charlottetown via Saint John

Explore the most picturesque spots on a coastal route between Halifax External Link Title , Saint John External Link Title and Charlottetown External Link Title .

Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia - credit: Nova Scotia Tourism

Distance : 977 km Timing : 5 to 7 days Suggested stops : Halifax External Link Title , Lunenburg External Link Title , Annapolis Valley External Link Title , Digby External Link Title , Saint John External Link Title , Hopewell Rocks External Link Title , Moncton External Link Title , Shediac External Link Title , Charlottetown External Link Title , Cavendish External Link Title , North Cape External Link Title , Summerside External Link Title

Halifax to Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Start your trip in Nova Scotia External Link Title 's cosmopolitan capital, Halifax External Link Title . Take a stroll and dine by the Halifax Waterfront External Link Title before driving to your first scenic stop in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Lunenburg External Link Title to explore the colourful colonial buildings. 

Drive two hours west to the lush Annapolis Valley External Link Title to indulge in an abundance of cideries and vineyards External Link Title for a day or two. Make time for a visit to the Millbrook Cultural & Heritage Centre External Link Title to learn about the culture and history of Millbrook First Nation and the Mi'kmaw people of the area.

Digby to Saint John, New Brunswick

Dig into famous scallops in the charming town of Digby External Link Title , known as " Canada's natural aquarium External Link Title " and catch the two-hour ferry to Saint John, New Brunswick External Link Title . 

Spend the night in Saint John External Link Title before taking part in high-octane adventures such as ziplining across the Reversing Falls Rapids External Link Title . These rapids are a unique phenomenon caused by the highest tide on earth: twice a day, the powerful tide from the Bay of Fundy External Link Title roars into the Saint John River, forcing it to change direction. Take advantage of the fast-changing tide to explore the Bay of Fundy and Hopewell Rocks External Link Title two different ways. When the tide is out, walk on the ocean floor to see the flowerpot rock formations close up (be sure to check the tide table). At high tide, take a guided kayak trip with Baymount Outdoor Adventures External Link Title to paddle where you stood just hours prior!

Moncton to Shediac

Make your way to Moncton External Link Title for a taste of New Brunswick local life - pick up locally made cheeses at Les Gourmandes External Link Title and enjoy as part of a picnic in scenic Centennial Park.  

In Shediac External Link Title , the "Lobster capital of the world", stop for a photo with the World's Largest Lobster and savour a lobster roll from Captain Dan's. External Link Title

Charlottetown to North Cape, Prince Edward Island

Cross Canada's longest bridge,  the Confederation Bridge External Link Title , to reach Prince Edward Island External Link Title . Pick up fresh produce in Charlottetown External Link Title for a taste of the island's bounty - on a Saturday, stock up at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market External Link Title . 

Drive 30 minutes northwest to curl up at  Cavendish Beach Cottage External Link Title s and take some time to explore the fictional home of Canada's favourite redhead, Anne of Green Gables, at Green Gables Heritage Place External Link Title . 

Head north to the tip of Prince Edward Island, winding along the red cliffs, to explore the North Cape External Link Title and its Black Marsh Nature Trail External Link Title , a 5.5-kilometre boardwalk. 

Summerside to Halifax

Heading back towards Halifax, stop in Summerside External Link Title to shop for locally made goods at Spinnakers Landing External Link Title or relax on the deck with fresh local seafood aplenty. 

Off-the-beaten path road trip: Halifax to Charlottetown via Fredericton

From sea caves and secluded islands to Acadian villages and ancient rock formations, discover the hidden gems of the Bay of Fundy and beyond taking in scenic Nova Scotia drives.

Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan, New Brunswick

Distance : 1,658 km Timing : 12-14 days Suggested stops : Halifax External Link Title , Brier Island External Link Title , Grand Manan Island External Link Title , St. Martins External Link Title , Fredericton External Link Title , Kouchibouguac National Park External Link Title , Point Prim External Link Title , Murray Harbour External Link Title , Panmure Island External Link Title , Basin Head External Link Title , East Point External Link Title , Prince Edward Island National Park External Link Title , Charlottetown External Link Title

Halifax to Brier Island

Head out of Halifax to take two short ferries from Digby to your first overnight stop: the tranquil Brier Island External Link Title . Stay at the Brier Island Lodge External Link Title and enjoy this small island where the friendly fishing community is outnumbered by an abundance of wildlife such as whales and seabirds External Link Title .

Recommended add-on: Grand Manan Island

Return to the mainland to catch the larger ferry External Link Title across to New Brunswick where you can add on another island adventure: Grand Manan Island External Link Title . Step into a postcard by staying in a quaint cottage or camp out to photograph puffins (with Sea Watch Tours External Link Title in the summer).

St. Martins to Bay of Fundy

Follow the red cliffs of New Brunswick's coastline to discover the sea caves at St. Martins External Link Title on a kayak trip with Red Rock Adventures External Link Title . Spend a few days in Fundy National Park External Link Title to witness the record-breaking 12-metre Bay of Fundy tides as they transform the famous landscape.  

Fredericton to Kouchibouguac National Park

Head inland to spend a night exploring Fredericton. Get a taste of local history and beer on the Capital City Brewery Tour External Link Title which visits four different breweries and showcases the city's heritage architecture. 

Drive to the Acadian Coast to explore the richness of Kouchibouguac National Park External Link Title . There, the Mi'gmaq and Acadian cultures intertwine with natural wonders including a designated Dark-Sky Preserve External Link Title .

Point Prim to Charlottetown via East Point

Cross the Confederation Bridge External Link Title to Prince Edward Island to join the Points East Coastal Drive External Link Title . Start with a stroll around the Island's oldest lighthouse at Point Prim External Link Title . Meander your way to Murray Harbour to stock up on award-winning seafood chowder at Harbourview Restaurant External Link Title . Work it off with a swim from the white sand beaches of Panmure Island External Link Title .

Stop at Basin Head Provincial Park External Link Title where the high volume of silica and quartz in the sand makes it "sing" when you walk on it. Continue your journey with a guided tour of East Point Lighthouse External Link Title to witness two tides meet External Link Title .

Wander along the boardwalk at Prince Edward Island National Park External Link Title , where you'll find red cliffs that frame coastal bays and accessible beach areas External Link Title . In the summer months, local artist Maurice Bernard runs Sensational Sandcastles External Link Title in Malpeque to teach families how to create beautiful sand sculptures. 

Before returning to the mainland, treat yourself to a night in Charlottetown External Link Title .

Classic road trip with a twist: Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Labrador

Step onto a storied land and take in the natural beauty of fjords and other fantastic sights along the rugged east coast of Nova Scotia and the wild west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gros Morne National Park - credit: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Distance : 1,450 km Timing : 9 days Suggested stops : Halifax External Link Title , Port Bickerton External Link Title , Guysborough Harbour External Link Title , North Sydney, Port aux Basques External Link Title , Corner Brook External Link Title , Gros Morne National Park External Link Title , Woody Point, L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site External Link Title

Halifax to North Sydney

Head to the rugged Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia and the historic Sherbrooke Village Museum External Link Title , where a heritage tour takes you back to the 1860s and pay a visit to Port Bickerton Lighthouse External Link Title as you drive along the coast. 

Stop to enjoy a sip at Authentic Seacoast Distillery & Brewhouse External Link Title and learn about the 300-year-old rum heritage of the region. Stay overnight in the majestic seaside SeaWind Country Inn External Link Title , before heading to North Sydney to catch the ferry to Port aux Basques External Link Title , Newfoundland and Labrador.

Port aux Basques to Gros Morne 

Book a cabin External Link Title to get some rest on the seven-hour sail across the Cabot Strait. Upon arrival, explore the grounds of Rose Blanche Lighthouse External Link Title and check-in at the Lightkeepers Inn B&B External Link Title . 

As you make your way up the western coast of Newfoundland and Labrado External Link Title r, discover the picturesque community of Corner Brook External Link Title , which is situated at the end of a fjord between the tumultuous Atlantic ocean and Newfoundland's highest mountains, the Long Range. Known as the gateway to Gros Morne National Park and the Humber Valley External Link Title , Corner Brook is also the ideal place to pick up locally made souvenirs External Link Title . 

As you enter the UNESCO Heritage Site of Gros Morne National Park External Link Title the spectacular scenery becomes increasingly dramatic with imposing mountains and deep fjords giving way to beaches, bogs, and barren cliffs. Choose from lakeside flatter hikes External Link Title such as the Stanleyville Trail, which takes in an abandoned logging town, or the more intense Lookout Hills Trail for panoramic views. 

Stay the night, or several, in Woody Point to get a taste of local life and cuisine on the Taste of Gros Morne External Link Title food tour. 

Recommended add-on: L'Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site

Before returning to continental Canada, make your way north on an epic drive to the tip of the island and L'Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site External Link Title for a Sagas and Shadows storytelling tour External Link Title . 

Get inspired

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Off Track Travel

East Coast Canada Road Trip | 2 and 4 Week Itineraries

A trip to Canada’s East Coast is all about sea breezes, fresh lobster, colourful fishing villages, sweeping swathes of sandy beach, weathered lighthouses and majestic ocean panoramas.

Connecting them all are winding coastal roads, sometimes only a crash barrier away from the water itself.

Colorful houses on coast at Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia

A road trip on Canada’s East Coast is an exciting and unforgettable adventure, with beautiful views and interesting experiences almost everywhere you go.

Read on and create your own perfect East Coast Canada road trip itinerary. Here’s what to expect:

Day 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Halifax and Nova Scotia’s South Shore

  • Day 5, 6,  7 and 8 – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Day 9, 10 and 11 – Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Day 12, 13 and 14 – new brunswick, days 1 to 6 – new brunswick, days 7 to 13 – prince edward island, days 14 to 19 – cape breton island, days 20 to 30 – mainland nova scotia.

  • General road trip advice
  • Essential items to bring
  • History and culture of the Canadian Maritimes

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. 

red sand beaches prince edward island canada

Planning the perfect East Coast Canada Road Trip

Spending the best part of five months exploring the Maritimes gave us plenty of time to reflect on what would be the ‘ultimate’ East Coast Canada road trip.

The truth is, there’s no such thing. It completely depends on your time limit and personal interests.

For that reason, I have created a two week East Coast Canada road trip itinerary that features all the highlights  and a four week beyond the beaten path route with more suggestions of things to do.

lobster supper brier island at Bare Bones Cafe

See which of the beyond the beaten path activities peak your interest. Then chop, change and add to the standard itinerary as you like according to your own interests and time restrictions.

The key to making the most of your East Coast Canada road trip is to not overload your itinerary.

Despite the provinces on the East Coast being some of Canada’s smallest, the driving distances are probably longer than you may expect. We spent a week driving Prince Edward Island from coast to coast and our mileage topped 2000km. 

Please note – Newfoundland is not included in any of the following suggested East Coast Canada road trip itineraries.

Gemma in front of lake and tree views from Mount Sagamook, New Brunswick

Two Week East Coast Canada Road Trip Itinerary

Road trip length: Approx 2200km

Ideal length of time:  Two weeks

This road trip is ideal if: You want to visit all of the iconic places shown on social media and talked about by family and friends. It’s also a great route for those short on time. This road trip can be condensed to ten days if necessary with the removal of a few activities and sights. 

Road trip overview: For a varied, fun and beautiful overview of the Maritime provinces, concentrate your time in these four areas – Halifax and Nova Scotia’s South Shore (3 nights), Cape Breton Island (4 nights), Prince Edward Island (3 nights), New Brunswick (3 nights). This road trip itinerary starts and ends in Halifax. 

Screenshot of Two week East Coast Canada road trip itinerary Google Map with featured route and attractions

The first destination of this East Coast Canada road trip is Halifax. A compact city situated on a picturesque harbour, Halifax is a great place to visit even if you don’t usually like cities. It’s also an ideal base for a wide range of day trips in the area. 

ocean themed street art on the side of period buildings in Halifax

What to do in and around Halifax

  • Halifax’s waterfront is a joy to walk and features several world class museums ( Pier 21 and the Maritime Museum ). Just behind downtown is the Halifax Citadel , a 19th century star shaped fort. Raise a glass and enjoy some local music on the excellent Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour .
  • Just south of Halifax are two of East Coast Canada’s most quintessential sights – the granite rocks and lighthouse of Peggy’s Cove and the colourful port town of Lunenburg . The latter is ideal for an overnight stay. If you don’t have wheels, consider a guided day trip .
  • If you have time, continue on along the South Shore to see more authentic fishing villages and rugged coastline.
  • The artsy yet regal small town of Wolfville is another welcome overnight or day trip excursion. Whether you choose wine tasting or history ( Grand-Pré ), be sure to see the beautiful view from nearby Look Off .

Where to stay in and around Halifax

The Prince George Hotel – Fabulous downtown location

Granville Hall Residence – Great value for summer visitors

Smugglers Cove Inn – Ideal location in Lunenburg

Micro Boutique Living – Modern and comfortable lodgings on Wolfville’s main drag

The iconic red and white lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, looking out to the ocean from granite rocks

Day 5, 6, 7 and 8 – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island, and specifically the Cabot Trail, offers some of the most magnificent views in the Maritimes.

Here, Nova Scotia’s highest mountains meet the sea. It’s a paradise for nature lovers. After exploring Cape Breton Island, head to Pictou to catch the ferry to Prince Edward Island. 

Gemma walking down stairs on boardwalk with highland, ocean and road views behind

Things to Do on Cape Breton Island

  • The Cabot Trail is a East Coast Canada road trip highlight for many. This scenic roadway across the Cape Breton Highlands may only be 298km in length but you’ll want at least a couple of days to take it all in.
  • From the Cabot Trail, you can go whale watching, hiking, camping, kayaking and also try local Acadian, Canadian and Scottish cuisine .
  • Other popular activities on Cape Breton Island include attending a cèilidh  in the Mabou area and visiting Alexander Graham Bell’s adopted home in Baddeck. 
  • Fortress of Louisbourg , a living museum portraying French colonial life in the 18th century, with costumed actors and restored barracks, shops, restaurants, blacksmith and bakery.

Where to stay on Cape Breton Island

Gillies By the Sea – Comfortable waterside B&B in Port Hood

Auberge Doucet Inn – Good value option in Chéticamp

The ZzzzMoose & Zzzz Moose 2.0 – Cute cabins with private beach, south of Ingonish

Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Six frontcountry campgrounds and one backcountry option

Read Next: 7 of the Best Road Trips in Nova Scotia

Cluster of wooden buildings built in 18th century French style by the ocean

Prince Edward Island is the East Coast’s archetypal sun, sea and sand holiday destination. Enjoy the slower pace of life on the island and short driving distances plus fresh, local cuisine and friendly locals. 

Gemma approaching the farmhouse that inspired Anne of Green Gables

Things to Do on Prince Edward Island

  • One of the highlights of visiting PEI has to be the white sand beaches of  Prince Edward Island National Park. Situated along the northern coast of the Island, there are various access points to this national park.
  • A quieter sections of the park is Greenwich , featuring unique dune formations.
  • For culture, head to quaint Charlottetown and discover the birthplace of Canadian confederation. Consider a guided bus tour to learn more about the city’s history from a local guide ( walking tour also available)
  • Back towards the coast, visit the the house that inspired Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish

Where to stay on Prince Edward Island

1 West Inn Waterfront – Beautiful location in central Charlottetown

Around the Sea Rotating House – Unique property by the ocean not far from Cavendish

Prince Edward Island National Park – Camping and oTENTiks available at two large waterside campgrounds

Gemma walking the path to Greenwich beach boardwalk, surrounded by lush green grass and trees

New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province and is best known for its coastal attractions.

The Bay of Fundy experiences the highest tides in the world and is simply awe inspiring. 

On Day 14, leisurely drive back to Halifax to finish your epic East Coast Canada road trip. 

Flowerpot rocks at Hopewell Rocks

Things to Do in New Brunswick

  • After crossing the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island, check out the Giant Lobster in Shediac (welcome to Lobster country!) and have a swim at beautiful Parlee Beach, home of the warmest saltwater in Canada.
  • Cape Enrage is your next stop. Take in the panoramic views of the Bay of Fundy and visit the light station that has been in operation since 1838.
  • Just a little further south is Hopewell Rocks , where it is easy to see the power of the huge Bay of Fundy tides (the world’s biggest). Time it right, and you can walk on the ocean floor next to the unique ‘flower pot’ rocks.
  • Fundy National Park is something of a condensed version of New Brunswick, offering both dramatic coastal scenery and dense forest landscapes to explore. Take a day hike in the woods or along the beach. Check out the cute coastal village of Alma and cross an iconic covered bridge at  Point Wolfe.  

Where to stay in New Brunswick

1854, the Maplegrove Inn – Great location half way between Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park

The Artisan Suites – Close to Hopewell Rocks, highly rated on Booking.com

Fundy National Park – Choice between four front country campgrounds plus wilderness campsites

Sunset at sandy beach with calm waves

Four Week Beyond the Beaten Path East Coast Canada Road Trip

Road trip length: 5000km

Ideal length of time: Four weeks (28-30 days) minimum, six weeks is more relaxed

This road trip is ideal if:  You want to see beyond the highlights of the East coast Canada, get a deeper experience of the area and also get away from the crowds. This offers a little bit of everything for a well rounded East Coast Canada road trip at a slower pace than the two week itinerary. 

Road trip overview:  The required month may sound exaggerated but trust me, it is needed to truly give justice to this beautiful area of the world. Included in this East coast Canada road trip is hiking, paddling, panoramic lookouts, caves, boardwalks, beaches, historic sites and offbeat places. 

Four week East Coast road trip Google Map screenshot with featured routes and attractions

In addition to the previously mentioned sights, consider adding these destinations and activities to your itinerary – 

Ligthouse and lobster traps painted in Acadian colours by the waterfront

  • Choose between exploring the lagoons and forests of Kouchibouguac National Park  or the Irving Eco-Centre coastal boardwalk at Boutouche. Or just do both!
  • Head to northeast New Brunswick and take a drive on the Acadian Coastal Drive and discover a culture that many people have never heard about. Travel through quiet fishing towns, marsh, beaches and peat moss, spotting the distinctive Acadian tricolour flag (with yellow Stella Maris star) as you go.
  • Be sure to check out the Village Historique Acadian which brings the 19th century to life with costumed actors, period food and interactive exhibits.
  • Inland from the Acadian Peninsula is Mount Carleton Provincial Park , home of Atlantic Canada’s highest mountains. New Brunswick’s 5.8km Mount Sagamook Trail offers views of 10 million trees and the highest peak, Mount Carleton (820m).
  • Make a stop at seaside resort town St Andrews By the Sea for waterfront cycling trails, cute boutiques, vibrant art galleries and general genteel feel. 

Giant lobster statue perched on rock in Shediac

In addition to the previously mentioned sights on the two week East Coast Canada road trip itinerary, consider adding these destinations and activities to your route – 

Brightly coloured street of houses with old style street lamp on left

  • Travel to Prince Edward Island’s  most easterly point via gorgeous beaches and laid back country roads. Basin Head is a particular highlight, nicknamed the ‘singing sands’ beach. No, really, the sand actually squeaks when you walk on it! The water is also fairly warm here, making it an ideal place to have a beach day.
  • Over on PEI’s west coast, explore more about Acadian culture at the Village Musical Acadien in Abram Village. There are two free music shows every day in the summer, performed by local Acadian artists. You can even try some authentic Acadian cuisine too, available in the on-site cafe at very reasonable prices. 
  • When driving around the Island, be sure to keep an eye out for lobster suppers being served. These are a PEI tradition and usually include chowder, mussels, lobster, potatoes, bread rolls, salad and a dessert. The latter is often a piece of home baked lemon meringue pie.

For the ultimate beyond the beaten path adventure, consider a side trip to the gorgeous Magdalen Islands . Part of Quebec, this interconnected group of tiny islands sits in the Gulf of St Lawrence, a five hour ferry from Souris

gemma in front of canola fields pei canada

Cape Breton is a surprisingly large island. It is easy to fill road trip days with historical sites, day hikes, live music, local cuisine and lookouts. 

packing the tent nova scotia fishing cove trail

  • One of the day hikes you should not miss is the Skyline Trail on the Cabot Trail. This 6.5km out and back route culminates in epic ocean and highland panoramas. Moose are often seen in the area so have your camera ready.
  • Consider camping at Cape Breton Highlands National Park’s only wilderness campground at Fishing Cove. This waterfront campground is reached by the short but sweet 12km return  Fishing Cove trail.
  • The adventurous should definitely not miss a detour to Meat Cove , almost at the very northern tip of Cape Breton Island. A rustic campground perches on a cliff above the ocean, providing panoramic views along the rugged coast and onto the pebble beach below. 

meat cove lookout summit nova scotia hikes

Mainland Nova Scotia has an incredible amount to offer travellers who are looking to go beyond the beaten path.

The easiest way to do so is to take a circular drive from Halifax along the Southern Coast and then back up along the Bay of Fundy, exploring the bountiful Annapolis Valley on the way back to the city. 

Here are some of my top recommendations along this circular route of mainland Nova Scotia, plus a few others within each reach. For even more suggestions, check the map above. 

brier island whale watching humpback nova scotia

Interesting towns

  • Only accessible via two car ferries (unless you happen to have a boat that is), Brier Island sits at the end of a long peninsula striking out into the Bay of Fundy. This isolation provides a wonderful environment for migrating birds and whales watching. Nature lovers looking to get firmly off the beaten track will love Brier Island.
  • Hidden just off the highway in a river valley, Bear River is a tiny tidal village with a distinctive feature. Many of the rustic houses and shops are on stilts. It’s a lovely little place for a drive or a walk, perhaps even a tasting at North America’s oldest winery . 
  • When driving along Nova Scotia’s coastline, be sure to leave the main highway and explore the small roads connecting tiny fishing communities. Cape Sable Island was a favourite and we also loved the LaHave Islands area (especially the local fishing museum in the latter). And, of course, seafood is usually plentiful in these areas. 

Read More: Brier Island, Nova Scotia’s Hidden Gem

gemma bear river nova scotia wineries vineyard views

Outdoor adventure

  • The Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail  is the Maritimes’ premiere backpacking route. The 51km circular trail leads hikers along the Bay of Fundy to the top of towering cliffs and dramatic rock formations, to sandy beaches and rocky coves tinged with red. You’d definitely need to extend your four week East Coast Canada road trip to include this hike
  • Much like the Skyline Trail on Cape Breton,  the Cape Split trail  (16km return) has a similarly dramatic finale, with the rugged tip of the cape falling into the Bay of Fundy

cape chignecto coastal trail beaches

  • The rugged coastline of Nova Scotia is particularly interesting for paddling, especially when as untouched as the 100 Wild Islands region   on the Eastern Shore
  • Inland, canoeists can explore quiet, interconnecting areas of lakes and rivers. The most easily accessible in Kejimkujik National Park , where canoe rentals and guided tours are also available

Sky reflections in still lake in Kejimkujik National Park

History and culture

  • Found at the very end of Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, Canso is the site of the oldest fishing port in North America. Due to the strategically important location, the area was subject to numerous raids and used for as a base for preparation in the 18th century.
  • The powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy continually reveal new geological wonders, including an incredible variety of fossils. Geologists have long been flocking to the Joggins Cliffs to make new discoveries, even before the fossil of the earliest known reptile (the Hylonomus lyelli) was found here. 
  • A visit to the  Grand-Pré National Historic Site in Wolfville is an essential stop to help comprehend the devastation of the Acadian deportation.

Fields, church and farmland of Grand Pre

  • The Port-Royal National Historic Site with replica Habitation building recreates France’s first settlement in North America. Nearby Annapolis Royal played a pivotal role during the early colonisation of Canada. The town still features many historic buildings and a fort.
  • Located on Nova Scotia’s South Shore is the Black Loyalist Museum , one of the most eye opening places we visited anywhere on Canada’s East Coast.
  • Closer to Halifax is the Oak Island Visitor Centre , a must visit for anyone fascinated by the famed ‘money pit’ on this tiny island (reservation required tours).

Stone well surrounded by wooden building with steep roofs, 17th century style

General road trip advice for travelling Canada’s East Coast

Slow down . In general, the pace of life on the East Coast is relaxed.

  • Though it may be tempting to try and rush around to see everything, take a lesson from the locals and take things slow.
  • This is also important to remember when driving. While there are some high speed highways, many of the roads on the East Coast are winding and fairly narrow coastal routes. 
  • Short on time? If you only have a week to travel Canada’s East Coast, consider limiting your trip to just one province or two at a maximum. You’ll probably have way more fun not rushing about!
  • Large animals (such as moose) may be on the road at any time, but more likely at dusk and dawn.

the golden sands of summerville beach

The locals are friendly. It may sound like something strange to point out but most Canadians on the East Coast are genuinely considerate and obliging folks. You may experience this in a few different ways.

  • We were regularly offered warm welcomes, road trip advice, destination tips and even free food and overnight hosting.
  • Something else we noticed was vehicle drivers stopping to let pedestrians (or other vehicles) cross roads, even in busy places. 

Colourful boats and cottages in Nova Scotia fishing village

The peak season is short.  The main tourism season on Canada’s East Coast is only two months long – the summer months of July and August.

  • Even then, in some areas of Nova Scotia only five weeks of that period (late July and August) is actually considered ‘the busy time.’
  • This does mean that June and September are great months to visit with generally good weather and fewer visitors. On the other hand, some attractions and accommodation will not be open yet. 
  • If you’re planning to camp in any of the East coast National Parks, make a reservation early. 

Read Next: 27+ of the Best Beaches in Nova Scotia, Canada

Granite rocks meet ocean near Peggy's Cove with fog overhead

Essential items to bring on your East Coast Canada road trip

  • Bug spray.  The East Coast is a favourite with mosquitoes. Alongside insect repellent , it is also a good idea to bring or buy some kind of after bite lotion too . It’s never fun to be driven crazy with itching. If camping, I’d suggest a Thermacell repellent applicance or at least some mosquito coils to burn
  • A Parks Canada Discovery Pass.  To get the most out of your visit, I’d recommend getting Parks Canada Discovery Pass. This offers free entry into all National Historic Sites and National Parks in the Maritimes. It pays for itself pretty quickly when travelling Canada’s East Coast. 

Sailboat on calm ocean

  • Backroad Mapbooks . The most comprehensive guides I have found for navigation and travelling across East coast Canada are the Backroad Mapbooks series. They feature ALL the local roads (gravel ones included) as well as trails, camping spots, must see sights and more. The Nova Scotia edition is particularly useful.
  • Ferry or bridge fares.  The Confederation Bridge is located towards the western side of Prince Edward Island and crosses over to eastern New Brunswick. The ferry to PEI  leaves from just north of Pictou in Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, on the western side of PEI. Ferry and bridge fares are only charged when leaving Prince Edward Island by whichever means you choose (the bridge is cheaper). 
  • Canadian dollars.  Some of the more remote places in the Maritimes will only accept cash. My second related piece of advice may seem more obvious, but we noticed quite a few American visitors trying to use American dollars in Canada. A few shops will take them begrudgingly, but trust me, you won’t get good value for money at all. 

Bright red wooden maritime buildings in Lunenburg

History and Culture of the Canadian Maritimes

The history of the Maritime provinces is probably more varied than you may expect. Here’s a brief lowdown; it will undoubtedly help put some of the experiences on your East Coast Canada road trip in perspective. 

The Mi’kmaq were the predominant residents on the East Coast until they were joined by the French in the early 17th century.

Fertile areas in Nova Scotia were quickly claimed by French immigrants. They called the land Acadie ( idyllic place) and themselves Acadian . The British eventually deported the Acadians, fearing their tentative alliance with the French ( click to read more about Acadians )

Glass of beer with blurred musicians in background

The French and British fought over this land for over a century, with the latter eventually succeeding to drive the other out.

The revolution in America brought thousands of Loyalists to the shores of the Canada’s East Coast, including a large continent of former black slaves (Black Loyalists) , who were promised freedom in exchange for fighting for the British. 

Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in huge numbers in the 19th century, attempting to escape famine, overcrowding and discrimination. The Gaelic influence is particularly obvious in Halifax and around Cape Breton – think bagpipes, fiddles, tartan, whiskey, céilidhs and bilingual signs. 

Planning an East Coast Canada road trip? Tell me your plans in the comments below!

A road trip on Canada's East Coast is an exciting and unforgettable adventure, with beautiful views and interesting experiences almost everywhere you go. Click here and use these itineraries to help create your own perfect East Coast Canada road trip route! offtracktravel.ca

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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

Monday 29th of January 2024

Really helpful ideas and tips. Planning a 3-4 week trip fall of 2024 with 4 other sisters (ages 51-74). Mostly interested in seeing how people live, quaint villages, trying seafood everywhere. Should be interesting and lots of laughs (if we don't kill each other). Thanks for sharing!

Hi Jackie, sounds like a fun trip! I hope you have a great time. I'm glad you found this guide useful (and let me know!)

Krista Hall

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Looking to spend 4-5 days in PEI or New Brunswick with four Seniors(me included). Any thoughts or suggestions mid Septmeber 2023?Thanks so much, Krista Maryland USA

Friday 18th of August 2023

Hope you have a good trip! I suggest three days in New Brunswick and three on PEI in the two week itinerary, so for five days, I'd suggest three on PEI and two on New Brunswick. I personally think PEI has more to offer and with three days, you'll be on 'PEI time' for longer! I'd stay along PEI's northern coast and explore from there. In New Brunswick, I'd stay along the Bay of Fundy coastline.

Monday 15th of May 2023

Hello Gemma My husband and I plan to do the east coast, for 4 weeks, leaving the Toronto area around May 29th. We have a 45 foot RV. Can we do your 4 week trip, in a 45 foot RV? Look forward to hearing from you!

Monday 22nd of May 2023

That is a good question. We have never travelled in anything close to a 45 foot RV so I wouldn't want to mislead you or give you inaccurate information. I know for sure that many people travel the Cabot Trail (on Cape Breton Island) in RVs, including larger ones.

Choosing campgrounds that would accommodation your rig is, of course, very important. I don't believe you would be able to stay at Meat Cove Campground, as mentioned in this itinerary (it is very compact). Brier Island does not have a campground.

The national park attractions usually have larger parking lots with space for RVs, so I would prioritise them. Some hiking trails on Cape Breton Island will be inaccessible due to the smaller lots.

Sunday 16th of April 2023

I would like a 3 week rv itinerary for 2 in a 20 fy camper with our small dog starting mid august to the end of September.

Wednesday 19th of April 2023

Sounds like a great trip! We don't currently put together custom itineraries but I would suggest looking at our 2 week itinerary as mentioned in this post and then choosing 2/3 places you'd like to spend additional time at.

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Hi Gemma I am looking to do a road trip from Peterborough Ontario to the east coast. leaving around the 14th of May to mid June. Any suggestions?

thank you for your time.

Tuesday 4th of April 2023

@Lori, it seems that Gemma is helping a lot of us.

I would be interested in that information as well.

From Toronto for a month. Be back in Toronto fist week of June.

Tuesday 28th of March 2023

I received the email from you and have now replied :)

An Epic Canadian Maritimes Road Trip Itinerary And Map

If you’ve ever glanced at a map in your life, you’ll see Canada is a big place. Stretching 7,800kms from coast to coast (and we have a third coast too!), we’ve got a lot of landscape all fit into this beautiful country of ours. Each one is unique in its own way, allowing cultures to grow around the landscape. In the Canadian Maritimes, it’s no different. The Maritimes, or Canada’s east coast, has developed its own way of life, and if you visit, you’ll see that it’s a vibrant and hardy way to live.

The Canadian Maritimes is made up of four (or five) provinces: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Sometimes, parts of Quebec, especially the eastern portions can be included in the broad term of “Maritimes.”

In this epic Canadian Maritimes road trip itinerary, I’ll focus on New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. I should note, again, Canada is a FREAKING LARGE country. Coming from Toronto, we stretched the road trip for 10 days, but there is so much more to see and do in each region.

Road Trip Essentials

I’ve said it twice, so why not a third time, Canada is significant. Not only does this have a role in the amount of time you have to explore, but also you should also take it into account when planning your trip. There are stretches of roadways that don’t have gas stations, rest stops, or places to find food. And there are places along the way that you may lose cell phone signal. On the flip side, there will be many picture-perfect stops to pull over and have a pit stop picnic.

Here are some tips to make your Canada road trip go smoothly:

Tip one: bring along a cooler to keep some fresh food cold. It will be a nice change to make a fresh sandwich or bite into a crisp apple rather than buy junk from a gas station.

Tip two: keep any roadside assistance numbers handy, written down in the front console or glove box. You never know if your phone will run out of juice when you need it.

Tip three: if you get below half a tank of gas, plan to see how far until the next gas station. Not only will this give you relief, but running out of gas is the worst. I once chugged into a Manitoba gas station with a “9 km” gas range left on my car – basically fumes. It caused a lot of anxiety not knowing where the next station was and if we were even going to make it.

Tip Four: have a good selection of music, podcasts, audiobooks, or whatever suits your ears. As I mentioned above, cell signal disappears in parts of the Canadian Maritimes, so you won’t have access to streaming services, and even radio stations are silent.  

Now onto the fun stuff. Here are the best stops for an epic road trip through the Canadian Maritimes.

Canadian Maritimes Map and Road Trip Itinerary

New brunswick.

New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, and its landscape blew me away. It is a very underrated province, but it is more and more available for visitors to sink their teeth into. The province has embraced its Acadian heritage and the fact that it is situated on two of the most incredible waterways – Gulf of the Saint Lawrence and Bay of Fundy – definitely helps its cause.

New Brunswick isn’t a large province, especially in comparison to its neighbor Quebec, but it has a range of landscapes like the northern edge of the Appalachian Mountains, the rugged and hardy coastline of the Bay of Fundy, and the fertile arable land of the east.

There are many treasures to discover here.

1. Kouchibouguc National Park

road trip to atlantic canada

Try saying Kouchibouguac five times fast. While you may not be able to pronounce this place correctly, you’re sure to enjoy its soft white sand. The national park is situated along New Brunswick’s eastern Acadian Coast and is home to a range of ecosystems, including a beautiful beach-ready for lounging.

2. Saint Andrews by the sea

If the quaint name doesn’t make you want to jet set all the way here, then the charming village will. It was voted top destination in Canada in 2017 by USA Today and has ranked high in many top 10 lists.

Saint Andrews by the Sea is not only a picturesque town but a jumping-off point for many whale watching and scuba diving tours. The best way to experience the town is to sit in one of the many restaurants along the water and feast in local, fresh-caught seafood.

3. Saint John

Not to be confused with St. John’s, Newfoundland, Saint John is Canada’s oldest incorporated city. It’s situated strategically in the Bay of Fundy, and Saint John has become a place that soldiers mustered many times over the history of the New World.

It’s full of rich Canadian and American history, as many loyalists fled to this city during the American Revolution. The history means there are many old buildings to discover. Walk through the loyalist cemetery, become a soldier at Carleton Martello Tower, and enjoy fresh finds at Saint John city market, the oldest continuing farmers’ market in Canada.

4. Fundy National Park

road trip to atlantic canada

Fundy National Park is the crown jewel of New Brunswick. Here you can experience some of Canada’s largest tides in the Bay of Fundy or go inland to see the thick forests.

New Brunswick is known for its covered bridges, so Fundy National Park is the perfect spot to find some Instagram-worthy locations. It’s also a great place to get out and take a hike. There are plenty of waterfalls within the park and trails ranging from easy to demanding lead to these amazing places. The more accessible one is Dickson Falls Trail – a moderate 1.5-kilometre loop that takes you to the most photographed waterfall in the park.

5. Hopewell Rocks

If you’ve ever wanted to walk on the ocean floor, then this is the place to do it. The Bay of Fundy sees the world’s largest tides, measuring a difference of 15 feet. Hopewell Rocks are rock formations that have been etched away by the tide.

During low tide, you can walk along the ocean floor and explore a world beneath the water. During high tide, you can rent a kayak and take in the formations from above.

Prince Edward Island

road trip to atlantic canada

There’s no doubt that Prince Edward Island – known as PEI for short – is an iconic Canadian location. This little island province is known for its red sandy beaches, delicious seafood, and its relaxed way of life.

Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of Canada, although the province didn’t join confederation until a few years after its independence. Until the 90s, PEI was only accessible by ferry or plane. Then engineers decided to build the longest (13 kilometers) bridge that spans over ice-covered water, connecting PEI to the mainland.

When in PEI, remember to live on island time and take it easy, because there’s so much to explore!

6. Argyle Provincial Park

If you want to experience the red shores that makes PEI famous, then Argyle Provincial Park is just for you. The day use park is located along the red sands shore drive, about 30 minutes from Charlottetown. You can also walk along the ocean floor here when the tide is low.

7. Cows Creamery

There’s no better place to enjoy a tasty treat on a warm summer day than Cows Creamery. There are many locations around PEI (and the Maritimes), but the origins of all that delicious ice cream come from Cows Creamery in Charlottetown, PEI.

You can take a factory tour to see how their ice cream, butter, and cheese are made. All their ice cream is made with local milk and high-quality ingredients. Go hyper-local and get yourself the PEI strawberry – you won’t be disappointed.

8. Charlottetown

The capital city of PEI, Charlottetown, isn’t very large in terms of city size, but it offers so much history. Explore the Province House National Historic Site, where the idea of Canada was formed, take a stroll in the beautiful Victoria Row, enjoy the sunshine at one of Charlottetown’s many waterfront parks, and take a dive into some delicious fresh seafood.

During the summer months, the Chip Shack in Charlottetown is the place to go for a delicious lobster roll and local Cavendish potatoes. PEI is known for its potatoes that are grown right in the hardy red soil that covers the province.

9. Prince Edward Island National Park

Not only is Prince Edward Island National Park a beautiful place to take a hike or enjoy a beach, but you can camp right on the shore. At the Cavendish campground you can wake up with stunning ocean views, and it’s a perfect way to spend your nights. Don’t forget to take in the towering sand dunes and red cliffs that make up this park.

Look for the red and white lighthouses that dot the northern landscape.

10. Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables is an iconic Canadian literary tale from the early 1900s. The author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, grew up on the island and created a beautiful story about her experiences.

Today, you can explore Montgomery’s home and the Green Gables, which is a national historic site. You can even find Anne herself wandering through the little farm.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has a lot going for it. Not only does it have an incredible landscape, but it also has an incredible food scene. It’s rich in cultural history and has so many places to explore on an epic road trip of the Canadian Maritimes. Have a look at how stunning this Maritimes province is in the following video:

In Nova Scotia, Halifax especially, you’ll notice many places that pay homage to the past – like Pier 21, where thousands of immigrants landed for the first time in a new country, or the Titanic museum – where you can learn about the incredible story of the Titanic, or Grand Pre – a UNESCO World Heritage site that shed light on the diaspora of the Acadians. In Nova Scotia, you’ll find it all, including the heart and soul of the Canadian Maritimes.

It takes a particular person to be able to live and survive in the Canadian Maritimes, and Nova Scotians are a hardy bunch. Here are some places to explore in this Canadian province.

11. Halifax

road trip to atlantic canada

There’s no doubt that Halifax is a stunning coastal city. From its delicious eats to the waterfront and buildings, there is so much to see and do in the city. Since you’re on an epic road trip of the Canadian Maritimes, it’s time to park your car and stretch your legs.

In the city, you need to check out the masterpiece that is the Halifax Public Gardens, the historical citadel that protects the city, the historic properties along the harbor, the lively waterfront, and, of course, the Alexander Keith’s brewery, which opened over 200 years ago.

12. Peggy’s Cove

It’s easy to see why thousands of tourists flock to Peggy’s Cove each year. The lighthouse is one of the most famous in Canada and the town surrounding it is equally as impressive.

Peggy’s Cove has a striking landscape that has been worn rough by the wind and sea. It can also be very dangerous. You’ll see many signs here warning people away from the shore. One sign reads “Injury and death have rewarded careless sight-seers here. The ocean and rocks are treacherous. Savor the sea from a distance.

13. Lunenburg

road trip to atlantic canada

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is a quintessential Canadian Maritimes experience. The old town was built around fishing and sailing. It is also the home of another Canadian icon – The Bluenose II. Due to its colorful architecture and historic settlement, the town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

14. Grand Pre

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is Grand Pre, a monument to the Acadian people who settled here and were eventually deported in the 18th century. The Acadians settled in the area, using dykes and sluice systems to farm the land. But a war between the French and English meant the New World was up for grabs. Thousands of Acadians were deported, and many died. Grand Pre tells their story.

An epic Road trip through the Canadian Maritimes

road trip to atlantic canada

Whether you want to see the cities, the history, the ocean, or the landscape, the Canadian Maritimes has it all. From the red soil island of PEI to the historic Nova Scotia, to the breathtaking New Brunswick , you’ll find yourself wishing to stay here forever.

Keep reading: Newfoundland to The Yukon Road Trip Itinerary

road trip to atlantic canada

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The Ultimate East Coast Canada Road Trip: 2 & 4 Week Itinerary

From towering cliffs, beautiful beaches, and colourful cities to welcoming locals and delicious food, there’s nothing quite like Canadian East Coast. It’s a prime region for an epic road trip in Canada!

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Located along the wild Atlantic Coast, the region comprises the four East Coast provinces of Canada: the remote Newfoundland & Labrador and the three Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia , Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.  

Each province has its own charm and attractions, with an endless amount of things to see and do. We’d heard so much about this region, and in 2022, we finally set off on a 2 months East Coast Canada road trip to see the best this region has to offer. 

While we were lucky enough to spend 8 weeks on the East Coast, we know that most people won’t have that kind of time to explore the region. But don’t fret! It is definitely possible to see the main sights and attractions of the region on a 4-week or even 2-week East Coast Canada Road trip. We hope this guide will help you plan the ultimate East Coast Canada road trip no matter how much time you have!

Road tripping in New Brunswick, Canada

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How Long Do You Need to Visit the East Coast

As mentioned before, we spent eight weeks on our East Canada road trip, which was just enough time to see most of the region. While it may look small and compact on a map, East Coast Canada is vast with long distances, so it’s best to allow plenty of time to get from one province to the next. 

To see the highlights of each province on a road trip, you’ll need at least 5-6 weeks. 

However, if you don’t have that much time to spare, you could spend 2-4 weeks in the Maritimes, visiting Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick (excluding Newfoundland). This would give you enough time to see the main highlights of those three provinces, which are easily combined on an Eastern Canada road trip itinerary. 

Best Time to Go on an East Coast Canada Road Trip

The best time to explore East Canada is in the summer, with the shoulder season starting as early as April and ending as late as October.  

Eastern Canada is at its best in summer . This is when you’ll experience the best weather, with pleasantly warm days and not-too-cold nights. However, you may want to try and avoid the high season between mid-June and August, when the region can be extremely crowded, and prices tend to go up.  

If you want to avoid the summer crowds, the best time to plan your East Coast Canada itinerary is for fall . It’s far less crowded, and you’ll also get to enjoy the pretty fall foliage colours. Try to plan your Eastern Canada road trip for September/October for the best colours, but be prepared as the temperatures, particularly at night, can drop quite significantly this late in the year.

In winter , temperatures on the East Coast are freezing, and many businesses, tours and small towns almost completely shut down to visitors. There is still fun to be had on the East Coast in the winter, but it would be a very different adventure – one that we have yet to experience!

east coast canada road trip

When is the Best Time for Whale Watching?

The Eastern Coast is known as one of the best places in Canada and in the world for whale watching. The Atlantic Ocean is home to several whale species that migrate through the region from April until October.

New Brunswick is a top spot for seeing humpback, fin and right whales. Newfoundland and Labrador offer visitors the chance to see humpback, fin and minke whales, while Novia Scotia is ideal for sightings of humpback, fin, right and long-filled pilot whales.

whale watching, east coast canada road trip

When Are the Most Popular East Coast Festivals?

Matching the glorious weather, most of the liveliest festivals on the east coast of Canada take place in summer. There are several great festivals, including TD Halifax Jazz Festival , Nova Scotia Summer Fest, Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, Halifax Busker Festival, Nova Scotia International Tattoo, Festival Acadien and Halifax Seaport Beerfest, all during the summer months. 

How to Get to East Coast Canada

Whether you’re on an extended road trip from western Canada or arriving from international destinations, there are plenty of ways to get to the East Coast. 

By car from within Canada

Both Newfoundland & Labrador and New Brunswick provinces border Quebec . The French-speaking province acts as the only gateway to the region on any Eastern Canada road trip itinerary. If you are traveling by car from the West Coast or from Ontario, your route will have you passing both Montreal and Quebec City.  

Once you hit Quebec, you can start to get excited – the East Coast is not too far away!. 

From Quebec City to Fredericton in New Brunswick is 590 km or 6-hour drive.

Another popular starting point for an Eastern Canada travel itinerary is Ontario . While an Eastern Canada road trip from Toronto to reach the coastal provinces is quite lengthy, there are plenty of places to stop on the way. Keep in mind that Toronto to Halifax road trip distance is nearly 1800 km, so you’ll need to add a few days of driving the journey.

driving from toronto to halifax

By car from the US

If you’re coming from the US, you could easily extend your North American East Coast trip into the Maritime provinces of Canada. A road trip from Boston to St John in New Brunswick is a 650 km or 7-hour drive via Portland in Maine on the main highway. 

Arriving by Plane

Halifax, Nova Scotia, has the region’s major air hub. Halifax Stanfield International Airport has frequent flights in and out of the region to both domestic and international locations. 

Other major airports include Saint John, New Brunswick, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and St. John’s, Newfoundland.  

Air Canada is the main carrier that flies in and out of the region, but you’ll also find ​​Delta Connection, Porter Airlines, United Airlines, and WestJet offering flights too.

Renting a car 

If you’re planning on flying into the region, we recommend arriving into Halifax, as it’s the most central city. From there, you can easily rent a car for your Maritimes road trip. We highly recommend having your own car for the entire trip around the region, as it makes getting around to all the destinations much easier. 

Alternatively, renting a campervan would also be a great option for those looking to camp out and explore more of the national parks. You can check out Canadream or Adventure Touring Canada for RV rental.

We did our East Coast Canada Road Trip in our self-converted Sprinter Campervan, Benji , a trusty home on wheels that we built during the pandemic. We loved exploring the East Coast in a campervan and think that road-tripping in an RV is the best possible way to experience this region. Our campervan was comfortable to drive and offered a lot more flexibility than getting around by car. We had a chance to experience camping in some of the East Coast’s best national parks and had an amazing time going off the beaten path!

Ok. Now let’s get to that itinerary!

canada east coast road trip

Ultimate East Coast Road Trip Itineraries

An East Coast Canada road trip deserves as much of your time as you can possibly spare. We recommend at least 4 weeks to make this road trip around Atlantic Canada. 

Assuming that you’re beginning your trip in Halifax, you can divide your time between Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick quite easily. 

4 weeks will allow you to see the main highlights of the east coast in Canada without compromising too much.  If you’re building your own East Coast Canada road trip itinerary, here are our suggestions for how you spend your time in the region. 

4 Week East Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Here’s an example of a  4-week Eastern Canada itinerary to help you start planning your road trip!

Start in Nova Scotia: 1 Week

As one of the Maritime provinces, Nova Scotia has a beautiful coastline filled with dramatic views, historic lighthouses, delicious seafood and local vineyards. It’s also home to the Cabot Trail, one of the most beautiful road trips in Canada. A week is a minimum time you need to see the highlights of Nova Scotia. Here’s how.

Halifax – 2-3 days

Halifax is the charming capital city of Nova Scotia. Home to one of the world’s largest harbours, the city has a relaxing atmosphere and plenty of cultural and historical attractions to explore over at least a couple of days.

Things to do in Halifax:

  • Halifax Waterfront: The bustling working port is one of the most visited attractions in the area. It’s home to a number of restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as a few shops.
  • Halifax Maritime Museum: This is Canada’s largest maritime museum, home to over 30,000 artifacts relating to maritime history, with a large collection of ship models, navigation tools, and wreck relics.
  • Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse: No East Coast of Canada road trip is complete without visiting Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. Located less than an hour southwest of Halifax, Peggy’s Point is one of the most iconic landmarks in Nova Scotia with the lighthouse being one of the most recognized around the world.

Halifax Waterfront

READ NEXT: 48 Hours in Halifax

Wolfville – 1-2 days 

Halifax to Wolfville: 92 km or 57 miles or 1 hour 10-minute drive

Wolfville lies in the beautiful Annapolis Valley . As the main city on the eastern end of the valley, it has both historic and horticultural significance as it’s home to several amazing wineries and nearby Acadian historical sites. 

Things to do in Wolfville:

  • Wine tasting: Wolfville is located at the heart of Canada’s smallest and coolest wine region, producing crisp wines that pair particularly well with seafood. Lots of wineries offer wine tastings in the region, but our favourites were Luckett Vineyards and Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards .
  • Grand-Pré National Historic Site: The Grand-Pré National Historic Site commemorates Acadian history and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The interpretive centre at Grand-Pré is surrounded by walkways and beautiful gardens.
  • Domaine de Grand Pré: The oldest farm winery in Atlantic Canada. You can sample delicious reds and whites just down the street from the national historic site.

Strolling around Wolfville downtown

READ NEXT: Guide to Visiting Annapolis Valley

Tidal Bore Rafting – Stop

Wolfville to Tidal Bore Rafting Resort: 105 km or 65 miles or 1 hour 20 minute drive

One of the most unique things to do in Nova Scotia is to go rafting down the Shubenacadie River . The river’s rapids are powered by the dramatic tides of the Bay of Fundy, which moves more than 100 billion tons of water twice a day. 

We went Tidal Bore Rafting with Tidal Bore Rafting Resort and highly recommend it as a stop on any East Coast Canada Road Trip itinerary. They offer guided tours for all ages ranging from 2 hours to full-day adventures.

Tidal Bore rafting on Shubenacadie River

READ NEXT: Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island – 2-3 days

Halifax to Baddeck: 351 km or 217 miles or 4 hours  

Take a few days to explore Cape Breton Island. Located at the northeastern end of Nova Scotia, it is known for its beautiful landscapes, great hiking trails and scenic route known as the Cabot Trail.

Things to do on Cape Breton Island:

  • Cabot Trail: Widely considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the world, the 300km (185 miles) drive winds its way around Cape Breton National Park on the north cape of the island. We recommend spending at least 2-3 days taking in the sights of the Cabot Trail, including scenic lookouts and walking trails.   
  • Skyline Trail: One of the best hikes in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is this 7km (4.3 mi) walk with steps down to the headland, which opens up to a birds-eye view of the coast. We recommend going at sunset to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets on the East Coast.
  • Baddeck: The start or finish of the Cabot Trail drive, this beautiful small town is home to a strong Gaelic heritage and culture. Located on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake, it’s a charming place for cultural immersion. 
  • Ingonish: A popular town on the east coast of the island, it’s known for great hiking, and a stunning white sand beach.

east coast road trip canada

READ NEXT: Our Suggested Cabot Trail Road Trip Itinerary 

Newfoundland – 10 days

To get to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia, take a ferry from North Sydney to Port Aux Basque with Marine Atlantic . The crossing takes about 7 hours and costs just over CAD $200 for a vehicle and two passengers. (Be prepared to pay a few hundred dollars more if you are crossing with a campervan)

This wild and rugged province is known for its unspoiled wilderness and stunning landscapes. Favoured by outdoor enthusiasts, it has plenty of activities to do and places to explore. If you’re planning to visit Newfoundland, allow at least 10 days to explore the region.

Lighthouse in Trinity, Bonavista Peninsula, Newfoundland

READ NEXT: Things to do in Newfoundland, Canada

Gros Morne National Park  2-3 days

Located in western Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an absolute must-visit. The vast landscape of the park was formed over hundreds of millions of years. It boasts a variety of landscapes, including barren Tablelands, moody fjords and Newfoundland’s second-highest peak – Gros Morne Mountain.  

Things to do in Gros Morne National Park:

  • Hike the Tableland Trail (4 km / 2.5 mi) : This easy loop follows the famous red rocky Gros Morne Tablelands landscape and is a must for hikers.
  • Hike to Gros Morne Mountain (17km/10.5 miles return) : You can hike this trail just to the base of the mountain (first 4.5km) or all the way to the top with 500m in elevation gain. The difficult hike is through the beautiful Arctic-alpine terrain with rewarding views of the mountains. 

east coast canada road trip

Fogo Island – 2 days

Take a Farewell Ferry to Fogo Island: 75-minute sailing time

Fogo Island is definitely one of the most special places to see in Newfoundland. A small community rejuvenated by Fogo Island Inn , this island is as rich in culture and stories as it is in its beautiful scenery. 

Things to do on Fogo Island:

  • Hike Brimstone Head : Take the 2 km (1.2 mi) trail up the stairs to a gorgeous lookout that is known as one of the four corners of the earth. It’s particularly beautiful at sunset. 
  • Stay at Fogo Island Inn : This beautiful luxury hotel operates as a social enterprise. It plays a huge role in the overall economic development of this small community. They offer an all-inclusive package with dining, tours and accommodation. A stay here is a very special experience, but be sure to book ahead. Despite the high price tags, it sells out almost every summer.

Sunset at Brimstone Head RV Park

Twillingate – 1-2 days

Gros Morne to Twillingate: 420 km or 261 miles or 4.5-hour drive

You can experience the magic of icebergs in Twillingate, known as the iceberg capital of Newfoundland. The colourful fishing town is one of the quintessential Newfoundland points of interest, with rocky shores and stunning scenery. 

Things to do in Twillingate:

  • Long Point Lighthouse: The lighthouse looks over Notre Dame Bay and is an amazing lookout point for icebergs and whales.   
  • Iceberg boat tour : Seeing icebergs from the water is even better than seeing them from land. Get up close and personal on a boat tour from town.

Iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador

Bonavista Peninsula – 2 days

Twillingate to Bonavista: 351 km or 217 miles or 4.5 hours

Located towards Eastern Newfoundland, the Bonavista Peninsula is worth a couple of days of your time. It is the site of the historic landing in 1497 by John Cabot. The peninsula is home to colourful small towns, photogenic streets and historic buildings. 

Things to do on Bonavista Peninsula:

  • Stay in Trinity: The historic seaside village is one of the most picturesque in Newfoundland and the kind of place you want to enjoy for a while. Stay in town, enjoy the atmosphere and the food, and take some time to walk the streets. There are plenty of opportunities for photographs. 
  • Visit Bonavista: Walk along Church Street, visit Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, and explore Dungeon Provincial Park.
  • See Puffins at the Elliston Puffin Viewing Site: The puffins nest on a rock very close to shore, making this one of the best places to see puffins from land. For the best experience, bring binoculars and a zoom lens.
  • Hike the Skerwink Trail in Port Rexton : This incredible trail is a 5.3-km coastal loop offering incredible views. It’s often considered one of the top walks in North America.

Trinity, Bonavista Peninsula, Newfoundland

St John’s and around – 2 days

Bonavista to St John’s: 300 km or 186.5 miles or 3.5-hour drive

St John’s is an undeniably Newfoundland top travel destination. The city’s colourful jelly bean houses, winding streets, and historic harbour boast a history and culture that’s older than any other city in Canada.  

Things to do in St Johns:

  • Signal Hill National Historic Site : Once home to military battles, Signal Hill celebrates the rich communication and military history and offers a gorgeous vantage point over the city. 
  • Cape Spear Lighthouse : A National Historic Site and Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse. It’s an iconic symbol of marine history located at North America’s most easterly point.

Signal Hill, St John's, Newfoundland

READ NEXT: Things to do in St John’s, Newfoundland

Ferry back from Argentia

From Argentia on the Avalon Peninsula, you can take the ferry back to North Sydney in Nova Scotia. This crossing runs from June to September and is a much longer journey of 16 hours on a good day. It costs about double, around CAD $470 for a vehicle and two passengers but spares the long drive across the island.

Alt tag: east coast vacations canada 

Prince Edward Island – 4 days 

While it may be the smallest province, it’s worth visiting on your East Coast Canada road trip. PEI is known for its stunning coastal scenery, red sand beaches, rolling farmlands and fantastic food. There are plenty of things to do at this underrated destination. 

The island is connected to New Brunswick by the 13-kilometre Confederation Bridge , which is the longest bridge over ice-covered waters in the world.

Canada PEI Basin Head Provincial Park Benji 0429

READ NEXT: Things to do on Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown – 2 days

The province’s capital city is a vibrant destination home to a variety of cultural attractions. This includes art galleries, museums, and theatres. In addition, Charlottetown offers a great selection of restaurants and cafes, as well as plenty of shopping options.

Things to do in Charlottetown:

  • Victoria Row: This is a pedestrian-only street in the heart of Charlottetown’s historic district. Lined with charming Victorian-era buildings, this popular spot has a variety of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques.
  • Confederation Centre of the Arts: Home to a variety of cultural attractions, including an art gallery, a museum, and a theatre. In addition, its most popular attraction is the annual production of Anne of Green Gables, the Musical.

Victoria Row, Charlottetown

Green Gables – 1 day

Charlottetown to Green Gables: 40 km or 24.8 miles or 40-minute drive

For lovers of Anne of Green Gables, this place is a dream come true on the Canadian east coast. The area around Cavendish is home to white sand beaches and plenty of historical attractions.

Things to do in Green Gables:

  • Visit Anne of Green Gables Museum: Dedicated to the life and work of Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote the series of novels. The museum contains exhibits on Montgomery’s life, as well as on the history of Prince Edward Island.
  • Visit Green Gables Heritage Place : Used as inspiration for the fictional home of Anne Shirley, the house is open for tours from May to October.
  • Spend a day on Cavendish Beach: This was our favourite beach in the area. It’s the perfect place to spend the day relaxing on the sand and swimming in the water.

Cavendish Beach, PEI

North Point – 1 day

Cavendish to North Point: 130 km or 80 miles or 1 hour 40-minute drive

If you head north on the island, we recommend taking the N orth Cape Coastal Drive to North Point Lighthouse . Offering stunning views at the very northern tip of the province, the lighthouse and walking trail is one of the highlights of the region.

Canada PEI North Cape North Point Lighthouse 01327

New Brunswick – 1 week

For nature lovers, New Brunswick is a dream come true. The scenic province is home to incredible beaches, lush forests and the famous Bay of Fundy coast. With vibrant cities, you’ll also get a balance of culture and history. 

Plan to spend at least a few days in New Brunswick. If you have time, it’s worth hanging around for at least a week.

maritime provinces road trip

Moncton – 2 days

Moncton offers a true taste of Atlantic Canada , combining the amenities of the big city with a small-town atmosphere. Surrounded by nature and the Bay of Fundy, Moncton is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Canada. It’s a great base for exploring further afield, with much to do in the area.

Things to do in and around Moncton:

  • Witness the Tidal Bore: Head to the Bore Park in Downtown Moncton to witness the rise and fall of the world’s highest tides, occurring twice a day. It’s a chance to see one of the most unique natural phenomena.
  • Shediac: Located just 30 mins outside of Moncton, Shediac is known as the lobster capital of New Brunswick . It’s a charming town best known for its lobster festival, which takes place every summer.
  • Parlee Beach Provincial Park: The warm, calm waters make Parlee Beach a great spot to spend a day with the family. The beach is busy in summer, but it has plenty of picnic areas and a long sandy beach.
  • Kouchibouguac National Park: About an hour north of Moncton, this coastal area offers year-round recreation. This includes camping, canoeing, skiing, hiking and biking.

Canada New Brunswick Moncton Tidal Bore 01550

READ NEXT: Things to do in Moncton, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks – day trip from Moncton

Located about an hour south of Moncton, Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park is home to a series of tidal rock formations along the coast of the Bay of Fundy. They can be reached by walking on the ocean floor at low tide. So, it’s best to time your visit and plan to stay for a few hours and appreciate the changing scenery.

Low tide at Hopewell Rocks

Fundy National Park & Fundy Trail Parkway – 1 day

Located just an hour outside of Moncton, this national park is filled with hiking trails, historical sites, beaches and campsites. There’s a lot to do. But, you can try to fit in as much as possible in one long day. Otherwise, a couple of days is ideal.

Things to do in Fundy National Park:

  • Fundy Trail Parkway: The road between the towns of St Martins and Alma, known as Fundy Trail Parkway, offers amazing scenery. There are plenty of stops on the way , so it’s best to take your time to soak it all in. It is not an all-seasons attraction, though; it is open from mid-May to mid-October only.
  • Dickson Falls: Walk the moderate 1.5 km loop (0.9 miles) to the most photographed waterfall in the park. 
READ NEXT: Best Stops on the Fundy Trail Parkway

Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick, road trip maritimes canada 

Saint John – 1-2 days

Situated where the Saint John River meets the sea, the large city is known for its Reversing Falls or Rapids. The historic city is also home to some of the best Victorian-era architecture in Canada. Saint John also features plenty of streets, bars and restaurants to explore.

Things to do in Saint John:

  • Area 506 Waterfront Container Village: The container village is the newest addition to the Saint John waterfront. It’s a vibrant spot with dozens of colourful shipping containers stacked up with a variety of restaurants and shops inside. 
  • Rockwood Park: Rockwood Park is one of the largest urban parks in Canada. It features extensive hiking and biking trails, lakes for swimming and fishing, rock climbing, kayaking, and hydro-bikes and a restaurant with a fantastic patio right on Lily Lake.
  • Saint John City Market: Known as Canada’s oldest continuous farmer’s market, it houses local vendors selling fresh produce, seafood, crafts and art. It’s open every day except Sunday.

Canada New Brunswick Saint John downtown 01918

2 Week East Coast Canada Road Trip Itinerary

If you only have 2 weeks for an East Coast Canada Road trip, you’ll have to make a different choice and narrow down the destinations you can visit. 

Option 1: You can cut out Newfoundland and follow the above-suggested itinerary to spend roughly 2 weeks in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. This is the most common choice for East Coast travelers as it allows them to get the most variety in their 2-week road trip. Plus, Newfoundland makes for an excellent destination to visit on another trip. 

Option 2: Focus your East Coast Canada road trip itinerary on Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, leaving PEI and New Brunswick for another time

Option 3: Ditch the car and fly to Newfoundland. Spend 1 week split between Gros Mourne National Park, Bonavista Peninsula and St Johns (You can use regional flights to get from Gross Morne to St John’s). Then fly to Nova Scotia, pick up a rental car and spend a few days in Halifax and the Cabot Trail. Continue the road trip for a day or two in PEI and 3-4 days in New Brunswick, focusing on Moncton, Parlee Beach, and Hopewell Rocks over 2-3 days and then Fundy National Park over one long day.

canada road trip 2 weeks

Have More Time? 

If you have 6 weeks or more for your East Coast Canada trip itinerary, consider adding the following destinations to your list for each province.

Nova Scotia 

  • Spend a few more days on Cape Breton Island , so you can hike more, see more sights and slow down a little.
  • Add some extra time in the Annapolis Valley , including visiting the National Historic Sites in Annapolis Royal, trying the delicious scallops in Digby and going whale watching off Brier Island.
  • Add a stop in Lunenburg , on Nova Scotia’s south shore just 100 km southwest of Halifax. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as one of the prettiest towns in the world. It is also home to the outstanding Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.
  • You could also add a short trip to nearby Blue Rocks , one of the hidden gems just down the coast.

Canada Cape Breton Cabot Trail Ingonish 03648

Newfoundland

  • Terra Nova National Park is often overshadowed by Gros Morne but is still worth a visit if you have extra time. Hiking and kayaking are popular activities to do in the forested area.
  • Head to St Anthony and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in the north, particularly if your visit coincides with iceberg season, to explore the Viking settlement and stunning views of icebergs.
  • Spend more time on the Avalon Peninsula, not far from St John’s. Follow the Irish Loop to check out Berry Head Arch, Ferryland Lighthouse and the cliffs at Mistaken Point.

canada east coast road trip 

Prince Edward Island

  • Add a few more days to your East Canada itinerary to explore beaches along the Points East Coast Drive , including the Basin Head Provincial Park, known for its unique “singing sands” beach.
  • Spend a couple of days in Summerside , the second-largest city on the island. It’s home to some delicious restaurants and trendy bars, as well as a nice stroll out to Indian Head Lighthouse.  

east coast canada road trip

New Brunswick

  • You can add a couple of days to your East Coast Canada road trip by enjoying a visit to St Andrew’s . A pretty seaside town is a popular place for vacations, with relaxing resorts and an old market square. 
  • We would also highly recommend a couple of days in St Martins . It was our favourite destination in New Brunswick with a laid-back vibe, a beautiful beach adorned by impressive sea caves, two covered bridges, great hiking and fresh seafood.

east coast canada road trip

No matter how much time you have to spend on the East Coast, we can guarantee you that you’ll love your experience. We found the region to be so different from other parts of Canada. We loved East Coast Canada’s laid-back vibe, great beaches, amazing lobster and incredible scenery all along the coast. 

An East Coast Canada Road Trip is a bucket list item for every Canadian and a highly recommended trip for any traveler visiting Canada. 

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Oksana & Max St John

2 thoughts on “the ultimate east coast canada road trip: 2 & 4 week itinerary”.

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Thank you for your recommendations. Very helpful for planning. So much to do see and experience. Planning on taking a camper van. Any suggestions on campgrounds? is boondockkng allowed? Do reservations have to be booked in advance during summer? And ferry reservations too? Thanks again.

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Yes to booking in advance! It gets very busy on the East Coast in the summer. So book campsites and ferries in advance. We didn’t do a lot of boondocking while on the East Coast. Used a lot of Harvest Host stays and campgrounds in state parks and national parks. If you want more advice, follow through to individual articles we have on traveling in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, PEI and New Brunswick. You’ll find some campground, hotel, restaurant and other recommendations there!

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Atlantic Provinces

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Suggested Itineraries in Atlantic Provinces

The eastern provinces of Canada are big, yet intimate. You can be a long way between major destinations only to find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with joy when you happen upon a small wooden church, fish stand, a rock outcropping -- and you end up staying longer there than you intended. I've seen it happen time and again.

So I have two pieces of advice. First, leave a bit of flexibility in your itinerary, because the provinces are full of these little unexpected surprises. You'd hate to leave Lunenburg without jumping onto a whale-watching boat, or right on the eve of the fisherman's festival, right? Second, allow yourself time for the long drives -- better yet, bring a companion who can share the load. Except when in Prince Edward Island, you'll log a lot of hours on the road to complete these tours. The provinces are big, and superspeedways are rare.

The range of possible itineraries in eastern Canada is practically endless (you could do a kayaking itinerary, or a French-towns itinerary, for example), but I've focused on a few of my favorite places in this chapter. Even a month is not enough to see all of the Maritime Provinces, but the four itineraries in this guide touching on the "greatest hits" of each province should get you started.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Frommer's EasyGuide to Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

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Best of Atlantic Canada Two-Week Travel Itinerary

Two weeks is an excellent length of time for visiting each of Atlantic Canada’s four provinces and not feeling too rushed along the way. You could just spend the entire two weeks in the three Maritimes provinces, or only explore the far reaches of Newfoundland and Labrador, but this itinerary has it all.

Nova Scotia

After arriving in Halifax, settle in at a historic downtown B&B such as The Halliburton. Spend the afternoon taking in sights such as Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic , and make dinner reservations at a waterfront restaurant.

yellow adirondack chair sitting on the deck of a colorful building

Drive south through Peggy’s Cove (take the obligatory lighthouse photo) and Mahone Bay (browse the arts and crafts shops, eat lunch at Rebecca’s Restaurant ) to Lunenburg. There’s plenty to see en route, but arrive in time for an afternoon walk through the UNESCO-protected core of downtown, which is filled with colorful buildings. For the views alone, the Salt Shaker Deli & Inn is my favorite Lunenburg lodging.

Drive across to Annapolis Royal to explore the historic town and visit Fort Anne. Stop in Digby for a meal of plump Digby scallops and board the afternoon ferry for New Brunswick and an overnight at one of the lodgings within walking distance of Fundy National Park .

New Brunswick

The Hopewell flowerpot rock formations at low tide.

Mornings are a delight in Fundy National Park, so plan on a coastal hike and then drive through to Fredericton. Here, the Historic Garrison District packs in the past (and art lovers will want to schedule a stop at Beaverbrook Art Gallery ), but the highlight of this day will be watching Loyalist history come to life at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. There’s no advantage to staying right downtown, so reserve a room at On the Pond.

Drive up the Saint John River, making a crossing at the Hartland Covered Bridge, then soaking up the wilderness of Mount Carleton Provincial Park en route to Miramichi. You’ll learn about Acadians and their struggles at Village Historique Acadien.

Prince Edward Island

bridge over water on Prince Edward Island

Drive to Prince Edward Island via the Confederation Bridge. Check in early to Charlottetown’s Shipwright Inn and spend the afternoon on a rural jaunt through Cavendish, passing through Prince Edward Island National Park and stopping at Green Gables Heritage Place.

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Back to nova scotia.

Rise early to catch the ferry from Wood Islands to Caribou. Learn about the arrival of the early Scottish settlers at Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou, then drive through to Baddeck, on Cape Breton Island. Squeeze in a visit to Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site . Most rooms at Baddeck’s Water’s Edge Inn have balconies with views of the sun setting over the lake.

road winding along green hills in Nova Scotia

Spend the day driving the famously scenic Cabot Trail, choosing between hiking coastal trails, relaxing on the beach, and a whale-watching trip. Catch the evening ferry to Argentia (reserve a cabin for extra comfort).

Newfoundland

You’ll wake to your first views of Newfoundland as the ferry pulls into Argentia. There’s plenty to see on the way to the capital, including the archaeological dig at the Colony of Avalon . Once in St. John’s, head to The Rooms to learn about local history and Signal Hill National Historic Site for the views. Make reservations at Mallard Cottage for dinner.

Still feeling energetic? The lively downtown bars of George Street come alive after dark.

rocky and mountainous landscape in Newfoundland

Head west, stopping at Trinity, a tiny fishing village where little has changed in over a century, en route to Gros Morne National Park , where during the long days of summer you have time for a walk through the Tablelands and can still be at Lobster Cove Head in time to watch the sunset. Gros Morne Cabins are a centrally located base in Rocky Harbour.

Join a morning boat tour of Western Brook Pond and drive north along the Northern Peninsula. Make sure to stop at Port au Choix National Historic Site and the thrombolites of Flowers Cove en route to Southwest Pond Cabins in L’Anse aux Meadows. Dinner at the Norseman Restaurant is a must.

wooden fence and green landscape in Newfoundland

Visit L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, then drive to St. Barbe and put your feet up for a couple of hours on the ferry crossing to Labrador. Head north along the Labrador Straits to Mary’s Harbour. Park your vehicle and pack an overnight bag for the short boat trip to Battle Harbour, an “outport” (remote fishing village) that was abandoned in the 1960s, but where restoration efforts include a restaurant and an inn.

Return to the mainland and spend the day exploring this remote stretch of coast. Red Bay National Historic Site should definitely be on your itinerary, as should the lighthouse at L’Anse Amour. Catch the ferry back to St. Barbe and continue south to Port-aux-Basques in time for the evening ferry back to Nova Scotia.

Head Back Home

Arriving in North Sydney around dawn, you have plenty of time to make an afternoon flight home from Halifax. If you’re not flying out until the following morning, take Marine Drive along the Eastern Shore and spend the night along this remote stretch of coast, where Sherbrooke Village is a historical highlight and where the beaches of Taylor Head Provincial Park are perfect for a walk.

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28+ Amazing Activities: Epic Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip

Tips for visiting new brunswick, nova scotia, newfoundland, and pei..

Last updated Apr 18, 2023

28+ Amazing Activities: Epic Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip

Canada’s easternmost provinces are each bucket-list-worthy destinations. There are so many amazing places and people that make up New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. But, we couldn’t decide on just one province, so we embarked on an epic nine-week Atlantic Canada RV road trip.

It was more beautiful, exciting, rejuvenating, and life-changing than we ever could have expected!

We walked on the gooey ocean floor in New Brunswick, drove the famed Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, were serenaded by locals in Newfoundland, and found a new perspective in Prince Edward Island. Plus, a whole lot of wonderful adventures in between.

If this isn’t on your list of places to experience, it should be – regardless of if you visit in an RV or not. But, for RVers, it is particularly nice because of all the wonderful camping options and scenic drives.

Hitting the open road in Atlantic Canada on our epic Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip

We’ve included an overview of each province, what we loved about it, tips for what to see, and where to camp. Want an entire list of everywhere we stayed? Check out our RV Camping Reviews page .

Table of Contents

Things to Do in New Brunswick, Canada

Our first introduction to Atlantic Canada began in the province of New Brunswick. This area is known for its high tides, beautiful wooded areas, and whale watching.

Overall, we found it relaxing and enjoyed the varying landscapes – from farmlands to beaches. When we crossed over from Maine, there was no line so the border guards happily chatted with us about best places to see. Way less stressful than we anticipated!

We also ended our Atlantic Canada trip in Northern New Brunswick, after looping around all the other provinces, and before heading on to Quebec !

Muddy waters at hopewell rocks in new brunswick

Favorite Place in New Brunswick: Hopewell Rocks

We loved Hopewell Rocks from the first moment we got there because it had RV parking! Can I get an amen? But the really impressive part is the tide viewing.

You can see the famed tides of the Bay of Fundy at their highest as they cover most of the rocks below. Then go back about 6 hours later to walk on the ocean floor where the water once was. The sea levels rise between 32 and 46 feet here!

Low tide at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick Canada

Other Top Destinations & Activities in New Brunswick

Waterfall at st. george gorge.

The waterfall at St. George Gorge was our first stop in the province. We parked at the visitor center (which doubled as a farm stand) and had a lovely stroll over. There is a bridge below the falls with a tiny viewing area (fits 1-2 people).

Waterfall at St. George Gorge in New Brunswick

Fundy National Park

More views of the tides and awesome hiking options. Don’t miss Dickson Falls! While the parking here was very sparse, and even more sparse for our Winnebago View, we were able to park and hike to the beautiful Dickson Falls.

Dickson Falls in Fundy National Park

Kouchibouguac National Park

Kouchibouguac National Park is a great spot for biking, hiking, nature viewing and beach chilling. They also host fun indigenous cultural events here and have a unique opportunity to ride in a canoe to visit a grey seal colony!

Green grassy field looking out towards the water in Kouchibouguac National Park

Best RV Camping Sites in New Brunswick

Harvest Hosts Wineries : We were surprised to find out that our Harvest Host membership would still be useful in Canada! We happily enjoyed multiple winery overnights during our visit.

South Kouchibouguac Campground : This national park campground is very chill, spacious and close to all of the fun activities the park has to offer.

The Shire Campground : This quirky, unforgettable place was a highlight of our trip. We got to enjoy great views while having a few drinks with other travelers and listening to all of their amazing stories. We wouldn’t recommend taking larger than a Class C RV here though.

The Shire Campground in New Brunswick

Cool Things to Do in Nova Scotia, Canada

We listened to a group playing bagpipes at the visitor center when we arrived in Nova Scotia – an accurate first impression of this culturally infused province. And as we journeyed along the Cabot Trail during our Atlantic Canada road trip, we heard more of the music that has been passed on through generations. We even took a mini fiddle-playing lesson!

In the southern portion, we learned more about the history at the many National Historic Sites – where they make learning a unique experience! That cultural infusion mixed with the insanely amazing views makes Nova Scotia a must-visit. Plus, summer is the absolute best time to visit Nova Scotia. The weather is great for hiking!

Red Chair overlooking a gorgeous view found on a small hike in cape breton highlands in Nova Scotia

Our Favorite Place in Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a must-see section of the Cabot Trail with so many beautiful hikes, you will really want to plan a few weeks to check out as many trails as possible. We got in about six, but definitely wish we had more time there!

The Skyline Trail is a must, of course! But there are many other great hikes through forests, along coasts, and even through a bog.

The Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Other Top Destinations & Activities in Nova Scotia

Celtic music interpretive centre.

This place hosts daily lunch ceilidhs most seasons (with live traditional music, singing, and dancing). They have delicious, fresh seafood too! And there is also a small museum/interpretive centre on site where you can learn more about the music, take a fiddle playing lesson, and learn to dance a jig!

Buddy playing a fiddle while at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Fortress of Louisbourg

Brooke shot a cannon. Enough said! To top that off, Buddy go to play the role as Prisoner of the Day and was paraded through ton and put in the Iron Collar. But really, the Fortress of Louisbourg is a blast, and they make learning about the history of the area a ton of fun. The national parks in Nova Scotia and historic sites are a must-visit!

Brooke right after she fired a cannon while at Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia

Halifax Walking Tour

This was a great walking city! We were able to park at the Citadel in our RV, then wander down to the waterfront to take in the views. Watching the craftsmen at the nearby crystal factory work their magic was mesmerizing! And on the way back, we stopped by the public gardens for a lovely stroll. It was the perfect day – there were even people lounging in the grass on the hill around the Citadel.

Canada 150 planter garden in Halifax

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

Sunset at Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is a must. And we had no problem sleeping in the RV overnight at the nearby visitor center. Regardless if you stay all night, we’d suggest parking here to avoid the congestion closer to the lighthouse.

Sunset at Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia with people standing next to the lighthouse

Kejimkujik National Park

An official dark sky preserve with lots of trails and a calm river to paddle around on, plus beaches? Perfection! Kejimkujik National Park is the perfect place for some relaxation while in Nova Scotia. This is one of the little-known Nova Scotia national parks and a great quiet getaway.

Parks Canada bag sitting on the sand at a beach in kejimkujik national park

Wine Tasting in the Annapolis Valley

Nova Scotia has a wine region, who knew? Don’t miss a stop at the breathtaking, newly built tasting room at Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards. We loved the wine and the views!

Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards in Nova Scotia

Best RV Camping in Nova Scotia

Cheticamp, Cape Breton Highlands National Park : This was a great place to base our Cabot Trail explorations on the west side with fun activities and nearby trails. However, we do suggest splitting your time between a few of the park’s great camping options to avoid too much backtracking.

Jeremy’s Bay Campground, Kejimkujik National Park : This wooded, quiet park was beautiful and puts you close to tons of trails and nearby beaches. Don’t forget to go out at night to see the stars!

Boondocking at the Visitor Center at Peggy’s Cove : Quiet, convenient, and easy to get to (much more so than the closer parking lot).

View of Peggy's Code Lighthouse from off in the distance

Things to Do in Newfoundland, Canada

It may sound overdramatic, but Newfoundland will probably be one of the great loves of our life. It was not just one thing, place, or moment that stole our hearts. The unique energy and beauty there was unlike anything we had experienced, and it made a lasting impression on us.

So, if you have time and can justify the ferry cost, then add Newfoundland to your Atlantic Canada road trip itinerary right now! The best time to visit Newfoundland is definitely in the summer to enjoy the top highlights, but shoulder season can also be nice.

Stairs leading down a section of the Gros Morne Mountain hike in Gros Morne National Park

Our Favorite Place in Newfoundland: Gros Morne National Park

It is no secret that we love to hike. So, Gros Morne National Park was a haven for us. We hiked up mountains, along coasts, and on the barren exposed mantle of the Tablelands area.

Plus, this area has adorable fishing villages with delicious fresh seafood, fun kitchen parties with great local talent, sandy beaches to lounge on, and lots of unique activities put on by Parks Canada. This Newfoundland national park is an absolute must!

Buddy hiking and enjoying the views at Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park

Other Top Destinations & Activities in Newfoundland

Atving adventure.

Check out Newfoundland like a local! We highly suggest an ATV tour with Pirate’s Haven.  They may even take you to their secret beach-side picnic spot if you are lucky!

ATV in the grass on a cliff overlooking the ocean at Pirate's Haven Newfoundland ATV tour in Newfoundland

L’Anse Meadows

This Viking settlement is not just a fun reenactment, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the remains of an actual Viking village were found. Go for the history, stay for the views.

L'Anse Meadows turf house

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting on the Exploits River in Central Newfoundland offers a relaxing, fun time. Paddle, swim, and picnic your way down while admiring the beautiful views.

Riding the waves on the Exploits River during our whitewater rafting trip in Newfoundland

Twillingate

Twillingate is perfect for iceberg and whale watching! Go to Long Point Lighthouse for a wide-open view of the ocean and its many treasures. Then, stop at Auk Island Winery to taste some delicious Iceberg wine!

Iceberg off in the distance from a viewing point in Twillingate

Elliston & Bonavista Lighthouse

If you want to see Puffins, you have to check out these places during nesting season. You can get extremely close to these adorable birds, and it is 100% free! Nesting season is mid-May through mid-September at the latest. We could really just watch these birds for hours.

Atlantic Canada Puffin flying back to the nest in Elliston

Terra Nova National Park

Don’t miss a trip to Terra Nova while you are in Newfoundland. There is a ton of great hiking with stunning views, but you will want to make sure to get out on the water as well.

From hiking to kayaking, and whale tours or fishing, Terra Nova National Park really has a bit of everything. We were really impressed with the national parks in Newfoundland!

Buddy looking for whales in the ocean from a view point during a hike in Terra Nova National Park

Avalon Peninsula

Whale watching at St. Vincent’s along the beach is a must. But if you want a closer look, take a whale and puffin watching tour  at nearby Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.

Humpback whale we saw during our molly bawn whale & puffin tour on the Avalon Peninsula in newfoundland

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

Cape Spear Lighthouse is the easternmost point in North America, and the wide-open ocean views are breathtaking.

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

Signal Hill National Historic Site

This is the perfect place to admire the beauty of St. John’s without getting stuck in the hustle and bustle of city life. There are also some great ocean views and trails at Signal Hill National Historic Site. Of course, there are many other St. John’s Newfoundland things to do, but we tend to stick to the scenic areas!

Our RV parked behind the Canada 150 display at Signal Hill National Historic Site

Best RV Camping Spots in Newfoundland

Pirate’s Haven ATV-friendly RV Park : Great stop in Robinsons on the way to Gros Morne from the ferry terminal. Don’t miss an ATV tour while you are there or a relaxing sunset walk.

Boondocking in Twillingate : Seriously amazing places to park along the coast! Just find an open side-of-the-road area with no rules against it and you should be good.

Celtic Rendezvous by the Sea RV Park : This campground in Tors Cove had perfect ocean views for whale watching and was conveniently located near awesome tour options.

Boondocking at Port au Choix : We looooved staying by this gorgeous lighthouse. Watching the waves at sunset was magical.

Tide pools near Port au Choix Lighthouse during sunset

Getting To Newfoundland by RV

The only way to bring your RV to the island is via Marine Atlantic’s ferry. It is about 7 hours from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. The ferry is pretty costly compared to smaller voyages, but well worth it, especially if you plan to stay in Newfoundland for an extended trip.

Plan to spend at least C$500 round trip if you are bringing your RV. You can also rent a two-bed cabin for about C$60, which we were happy to have on such a long journey. There is also a restaurant on-site with limited hours.

If traveling with a pet, you have the option to board them or leave them in your vehicle with windows cracked. For more details about the logistics of getting to Newfoundland read this blog post .

Marine Atlantic Ferry headed away from port

Places to Visit in Prince Edward Island

We saved the beach locale of Prince Edward Island for the last stop of our Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip. We planned to use this time to rest up from all of our epic adventures, but it turned out to have some of the best activities of our trip!

I even got to check parasailing off my bucket list – something I’ve wanted to do since I was 5! And the bike riding was top-notch.

Brooke and Buddy taking a photo next to the PEI sign before crossing Confederation bridge to leave Prince Edward Island

Our Favorite Place in Prince Edward Island: Greenwich Dunes, PEI National Park

After walking along the boardwalk, over marshes and through the majestic dunes, you reach a serene beach. How can you not fall in love? If you aren’t up for a day of lounging in the sand, there are multiple other beautiful trails at Greenwich Dunes in PEI National Park – some perfect for biking as well!

greenwich dunes in Prince Edward Island

Other Top Destinations & Activities in Prince Edward Island

Prince edward island national park.

Miles of great biking trails, multiple beautiful beaches, perfect seaside hikes, and amazing views around every corner. Yes, please!

Lovely sitting area with our mountain bikes in Prince Edward Island National Park

Eating PEI potatoes

Like anyone needs an excuse to devour French fries. Just don’t leave the island without sampling its claim to fame.

Prince Edward Island's famous french fries spelling out PEI on a plate

Get out on the Water

Whether you go kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, or parasailing – seeing Prince Edward Island from in, or over, the water is a must. If not in the water, enjoying the views from one of the many Prince Edward Island beaches is also really nice!

Brooke Parasailing while in Prince Edward Island

Rossignol Estate Winery

Rossignol Estate Winery is the perfect place to enjoy a glass while strolling through the gorgeous vineyard. And the wine is quite tasty, award-winning even! There are actually quite a few Prince Edward Island wineries to visit and enjoy.

Brooke making friends with a cat at Rossignol Estate Winery while sipping a glass of local wine.

Basin Head Provincial Park

I loooove to lounge on the beach on a sunny day. And after a few days of adventures, I couldn’t wait to get my toes in the soft sand. There are many gorgeous Prine Edward Island beaches, but one of the best and most beautiful was Basin Head Provincial Park. It is known for its “singing sand” which squeaks when you walk on it.

Buddy standing in the 'Singing Sand' at Basin Head Provincial Park

Marine Rail Park

Stop here before or after driving across the famed Confederation Bridge for some awesome photo opps. The 8-mile-long bridge is the longest in the world that crosses over ice-covered water. With its curved shape, it makes for a great photo subject!

Looking out into the water and the confederation bridge from Marine Rail Park

Best RV Camping Spots in Prince Edward Island

Red Point Campground : Very close to beach access, amazing sunset views and close to some great attractions – wineries, distilleries, lighthouses and parks.

Cabot Beach Campground : Close to a large beach that was far less busy than some of the rest and superb sunset viewing! Only a short drive to PEI National Park.

Campfire at our RV site in Cabot Beach Campground during sunset

How to Get to Prince Edward Island

We highly suggest driving from New Brunswick so you can experience the amazing eight-mile Confederation Bridge! There is also a relaxing ferry option from Wood Island, Nova Scotia. You only pay on your way back, but it is about $50 more to take the ferry as opposed to the bridge.

We took the ferry to the island and drove off via the bridge. Since we didn’t have to pay to take the ferry on, it was a very easy and quick process. The crossing only takes about 90 minutes.

Our Winnebago View in front of the Confederation Bridge

Suggested Itinerary for an Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip

For our trip, we spent the majority of our time in Newfoundland because we craved the remote areas and epic boondocking spots. We loved the rest of Atlantic Canada, but Newfoundland is definitely the least touristy (at least outside of the St. Johns area). Definitely adjust accordingly depending on your time and interests.

While New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were really nice, our favorite activities were in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. If we only had a few weeks, I’d choose to base ourselves in either province with a few days stopping at other top activities on the way.

I’d say if you don’t have more than two weeks, it would be challenging to do Newfoundland and another province because it would be a lot of driving. Getting over to Newfoundland is costly and time-consuming, so it makes sense to spend a lot of your time there if you do plan to make the trip!

With all the amazing Newfoundland national parks and other activities, you certainly could stay busy for weeks.

The 9-week Atlantic Canada itinerary we followed

Week 1 : St. George & Fundy National Park/Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick Week 2 : Northern Nova Scotia/Cape Breton Highlands National Park Week 3 : Robinsons & Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland Week 4 : Central Newfoundland (Twillingate, Terra Nova National Park, etc.) Week 5 : Avalon Peninsula & St. John’s, Newfoundland Week 6 : Northern Peninsula & more Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland Week 7 : Southern Nova Scotia (Louisbourg, Halifax, Kejimkujik) Week 8 : Prince Edward Island Week 9 : Northern New Brunswick (Kouchibouguac National Park)

If we could do it all again, we would plan a few more weeks in Newfoundland and a few more days in Northern Nova Scotia and PEI! Otherwise, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Winnebago View parked next to the lighthouse in Newfoundland

Tips for RVing in Atlantic Canada

  • Before crossing the border for your Atlantic Canada trip, make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork and know all the rules – like no guns, fireworks, felonies etc.
  • Know how tall and wide your RV is in meters and how much it weighs in tons! You don’t want to guess last minute.
  • Finding places to fill your on-board propane can be a bit of a challenge, so do some research before you get too low!
  • Costco only takes Mastercard, Canadian debit cards (NOT U.S.), and cash. So, you’ll likely need some moolah if you want to get your bulk shopping on.
  • Redbox isn’t a thing. Plan accordingly.

The support we received from Parks Canada , as well as local tourism companies was overwhelming. We would like to thank the following companies for helping make this trip so memorable and giving us so many great tips to share: Tourism Prince Edward Island, Marine Atlantic, Go Western Newfoundland, Adventure Central Newfoundland, Molly Bawn Whale & Puffin Tour, ONadventure Wilderness Tours, Happy Adventure Tours, Inn at the Pier, Outside Expeditions, and Gros Morne Theatre Company. As always, all opinions are our own.

Read more about other wonderful destinations in Canada .

28+ Amazing Activities: Epic Atlantic Canada RV Road Trip

About the Author: Brooke Baum

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Brooke is a freelance writer, editor, and content manager for various blog sites. After five years of full-time travel with her husband Buddy, they made the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, their permanent home base. However, they still travel regularly and are always planning their next trip.

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Marni Fisher

I found this site when Googling for RV trips in the Maritimes. Planning a trip in Sept. 2018. Good pictures and advice.

Deb

Hi! What would you estimate your total kilometers traveled to be? I’m trying to work out how many kilometers I need to buy with an RV rental?

Brooke Baum

I’d guess around 8,500 km for our Atlantic Canada road trip. We didn’t list it all out, but we had a total over that time period that we had noted elsewhere. Hope that helps! -Brooke

Steve Roper

What time of the year did you take this trip?

We began the trip in early July.

Brenda Drager

I will be using your site for our 60 day trip to the Maritimes this summer. We have a 45 foot Class A RV with a tow vehicle. Can you give me any advice on roads or places to avoid or even camp and go certain spots by our vehicle only?

Hi Brenda, I wish I had more insights but this was a few years back now and since we were in a smaller RV without a car, we weren’t paying as much attention to any roads that wouldn’t be ideal for a larger RV. You should be fine if staying on the main road. I do believe we ended up on a forest road that looked like a short cut that ended up being a dirt logging road, so you may just want to do a double check if it looks like you’ll be going off the main road at any point. I did create this list of every campground we stayed in: https://www.trailingaway.com/rv-camping-reviews/#NFL-C As you’ll see, this was 2017 so I’d call around to check these are still open and they are SO FRIENDLY up there, I’m sure if you ask about roads to avoid when you call campgrounds they will happily give you lots of info! We are still friends with the Pirate’s Haven folks and can’t wait to get back up there to see them again. Parks Canada may be another good resource to check-in with. I spoke to them before our trip and they were super helpful. Hope you have a lovely time!!! It’s one of our favorite things we’ve ever done.

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road trip to atlantic canada

Voyage & Venture

The Best 10-Day East Coast Canada Road Trip

The Best 10-Day East Coast Canada Road Trip

The East Coast of Canada is packed with amazing places to visit, from Prince Edward Island to Peggy’s Cove to Newfoundland. One of the best ways to see all of the coolest spots is by taking a fantastic East Coast Canada road trip.

Once upon a time, we actually lived on the East Coast of Canada – more specifically, in Halifax – so we know this part of the country inside and out! We can confidently say that there is so much to see on an East Coast Canada road trip.

It’s important to note that this guide is just a structured suggestion of a 10-day East Coast Canada road trip itinerary. It is by no means the only acceptable option out there. So feel free to adjust this guide to fit your preferences, whether that means taking stops out, putting some in, or switching up the order.

road trip to atlantic canada

Days 1-2: Gaspé Peninsula

This fantastic East Coast Canada road trip itinerary begins on the gorgeous Gaspé Peninsula. Most people completely overlook Gaspé Peninsula and instead head to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. And that’s a shame, because Gaspé Peninsula is such a gem!

Between the incredible mountains, stunning seaside views, little Quebecois towns, and four national parks, there’s so much to see on the Gaspé Peninsula. In other words, you’ll have to narrow down your list of things to do to fit it all into two days! If we had to pick a few favorite things to do, we would recommend checking out Percé Rock, popping by Forillon National Park, and saying hello to the birds at Parc National de l’Ile-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé.

Day 3: Kouchibouguac National Park

There are quite a few stunning national parks in this part of Canada, so we’d be remiss to leave them out of this East Coast Canada road trip itinerary. This first national park we’ve decided to dedicate an entire day to is Kouchibouguac National Park.

Kouchibouguac National Park is a 238 square kilometre area known for its various ecosystems, including salt marshes, sand dunes, forests, barrier islands, and more. And since there are so many different types of ecosystems, there is a lot to explore.

If you’d like to head to the water, you can canoe your way towards a wonderful grey seal colony. Just remember to respect their space! If you’d prefer to stay on land, you can picnic on the picture-perfect sand dunes. And if you happen to visit during the winter, you can even put your skiing skills to the test.

road trip to atlantic canada

Days 4-5: Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is the smallest Canadian province – and this little area is one of the best stops on an East Coast Canada road trip. Despite the fact that Prince Edward Island is an island, you can easily drive your way into this Canadian province.

Many visitors spend a week or more exploring everything that Prince Edward Island has to offer. But since you’ll only have a couple of days before continuing on your road trip, you can pick your favorite spots.

Literature lovers will enjoy a trip to Green Gables Heritage Place, which is a recreation of the home in Anne of Green Gables . If you’re more of a history buff than a fiction reader, you’ll want to visit Charlottetown. In 1864, this small city hosted the Charlottetown Conference, which eventually led to the official formation of Canada.

And last but certainly not least, if you’d prefer to head out into nature, Prince Edward Island doesn’t disappoint on that front either! One of the most beautiful sights on the island is the red sandstone cliffs. You can find these all around the island, including at Prince Edward Island National Park, Cape Tryon, and Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site. And don’t forget to visit Cavendish Beach, which boasts gorgeous red sand!

road trip to atlantic canada

Days 6-7: The Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park, and Saint John

Located on the Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park has so much to offer. The Bay of Fundy is most well-known for having the highest tides on earth. At low tide, you can walk along the ocean floor, but at high tide, it soars up to 16 metres! This makes for some incredible white water rafting opportunities, which we highly recommend.

But there’s more to Fundy National Park than just the Bay of Fundy. You can take a weird food tour by foraging for ocean edibles, try your hand at geocaching, and hike to Third Vault Falls.

Once you’re done at Fundy National Park, you can spend some time in Saint John. While you can certainly opt to rest and recover from the first few days of this amazing East Coast Canada road trip, you can also head out on the town. After all, there’s no shortage of things to do in Saint John either! Zipline across the Reversing Falls Rapids, explore Irving Nature Park, and pop by Saint John City Market.

road trip to atlantic canada

Day 8: Lunenburg, Peggy’s Cove, and Halifax

Day 8 of this East Coast Canada Road Trip is packed with a few different stops that are close together. First up, Lunenburg.

Lunenburg is such an underrated little town in Nova Scotia. With its friendly people, historic buildings, and adorable shops, it’s the epitome of small town charm. And that’s certainly something that you’ll want to experience if you get the chance! As a matter of fact, one of the best things to do is simply walk around the adorable town center, pop into cute shops, and dine at local eateries. And if you have a little bit of extra time, you can also visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, hop aboard Bluenose II , and stop by Blue Rocks.

Then, there’s Peggy’s Cove. This lovely small town and natural landscape are unlike any other place in Canada. With colorful boats, smooth boulders, foggy skies, and a towering lighthouse, it looks like it was plucked straight out of a painting!

And last but certainly not least, there’s the city of Halifax. When we lived in Halifax, we were always finding new things to do. But some of our favorites were the calm, easy activities, like walking along the waterfront and listening to live music at one of the city’s exciting pubs.

road trip to atlantic canada

Days 9-10: Cape Breton Island

Your second-to-last stop on this East Coast Canada road trip itinerary is the lovely Cape Breton Island. Like Prince Edward Island, you can easily drive your way onto Cape Breton Island.

Once you arrive on Cape Breton Island, you’ll be astounded by its beauty. With the sparkling waters, stunning ocean cliffs, and sleepy fishing villages, it looks like it belongs in a storybook! But luckily for you, this picture-perfect island is real and ready for you to explore!

The best way to explore Cape Breton Island is by following the Cabot Trail. This trail loops around the majority of Cape Breton Island, and, along the way, there are loads of wonderful things to see and do. As a matter of fact, most of these wonderful stops are perfect for nature lovers. You can walk to Uisge Ban Falls, go kayaking in the North River, and hike the famous 7.5-kilometre Skyline Trail.

If nature isn’t your top priority, don’t worry! There’s so much more to see on Cape Breton Island. Foodies can take a captivating tour of The Glenora Distillery and stop for a scoop at the adorable Lighthouse Ice Cream Parlour. And animal fans can take a whale watching tour from Neil’s Harbour.

eastern most point in Canada - Cape Spear Lighthouse

Days 11-13: Newfoundland

Newfoundland is a large island off the coast of Eastern Canada. But this island actually isn’t connected by roads, like the other two islands on this itinerary. So you may be wondering, how can I get to it on my East Coast Canada road trip? There are ferries!

There are two ferries to Newfoundland, both of which depart from North Sydney on Cape Breton Island. One ferry takes you to Argentia, Newfoundland, and the other takes you to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland. Both of these ferries allow you to take your car along for the ride.

When you reach Newfoundland, there is so much to do. If you like the outdoors, you’ll definitely enjoy hiking through Gros Morne National Park. If you’re a sommelier in the making, take a tour of the Auk Island Winery. And if you’re an animal lover, keep an eye out for awesome wildlife, including whales and seabirds.

To round out your road trip, you have a couple of options. First, you can head back to the mainland via the same ferry you took to get to Newfoundland. This is the best option if you’re using your own car. But if you’ve rented a car, you can return it in Newfoundland and take a flight out of Gander International Airport instead.

If you’d like to stick around in Newfoundland a bit longer, check out this longer Newfoundland road trip itinerary!

So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to hit the road and take this amazing East Coast Canada road trip? Let us know how your adventure goes in the comments!

Looking for other bucketlist destinations in Canada? Check out our guide!

Sajidafride1

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

Teaspoon of Adventure

The Ultimate Cross Canada Road Trip Itinerary

The Ultimate Cross Canada Road Trip Itinerary

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with planning the ultimate cross Canada road trip. And if my 10+ years as a travel blogger can tell you anything, it’s that I absolutely love organizing, planning and researching for big trips, even if I don’t have a definite date for when I will take them.

For most of my travel life, I’ve prioritized new, international locations over exploring my own backyard here in Canada. But during covid when international travel was restricted, I learned to appreciate travel in my home country. So much so that my husband, Colin, and I took an Atlantic Canada honeymoon!

It turns out: Canada is amazing! Or at least the 32 million people who visit my country each year certainly think so.

And so as a Canadian myself, I would love to spend more time discovering this country outside of the cities I’ve lived in and know well, Vancouver and Toronto. I love the idea of going from coast to coast, exploring cities and wildlife, visiting all 10 provinces on a cross Canada road trip!

Which is why I’ve put together an epic 34-stop cross Canada road trip itinerary from Vancouver to St. John’s!

When I was looking up an itinerary for a road trip across Canada, I noticed that many other posts only covered a fraction of the country. I get it, Canada is a big place. But I want to plan a route that drives across all of Canada (even if I can only drive it in small stretches at a time)!

Below I’m sharing my ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary – from Victoria to St. Johns , from the Pacific to the Atlantic – and all of the stops in between. I’ll dive into the things you must see, what to do if you don’t have enough time to drive across Canada, how to get around and where to go in each destination.

Hands holding a red cup that says "Canada, Strong and Free, 1867"

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Table of Contents

Canada road trip FAQs

Is canada good for road trips.

Absolutely! Canada is one of the best countries for road trips. Many people have taken on a Canadian road trip so you’ll find lots of infrastructure like free and paid campsites, rest stops, paved roads, gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores throughout the country. If you’re an English speaker, you’ll have no problem getting around most of Canada.

Canada is also great for road trips because it offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into big cities, natural wilderness, water sports, hiking, biking, shopping, art, food or something else, you can design your Canada road trip around your interests.

How long would a road trip across Canada take?

Canada is a BIG country; it’s the second largest country after Russia. So driving across Canada will take a while! The main route of the Trans Canada Highway, which starts in Victoria, BC and ends in St. John’s, NF, is 7,821 km, making it the fourth longest highway in the world.

It would take 100 hours (4.2 days) of straight driving to complete this route across Canada , which doesn’t account for overnight stops, waiting for ferries, stopping for meals or any sightseeing.

Assuming you don’t want to drive 24 hours a day without stopping, you should give yourself at least three weeks to road trip across Canada – though I’d recommend a couple of months if you have the time . My itinerary below has 34 stops and would probably take 2-3 months to really enjoy.

Because the country is so large, driving across Canada can be daunting. But even if you don’t have time to drive across all of Canada, you can still plan an epic east coast Canada road trip, a shortened Canadian road trip (such as driving from Toronto to Vancouver), a road trip around Atlantic Canada or one on the west coast.

Short on time? Check out my suggestions at the end of this post for mini Canada road trips!   

Orange car on the side of the highway with fall foliage behind on a road trip on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; cross Canada road trip

When is the best time for a Canada road trip?

Despite our reputation, it’s not ALWAYS cold in Canada. In fact, our country gets really stinking hot in the summers! And of course, being such a huge country, the weather varies a lot from coast to coast.

That being said, I wouldn’t attempt a cross Canada road trip in the winter . While places like Vancouver and Victoria might be mild, other places will be freezing, blanketed in snow and no fun to explore – if the roads are even open to let you through!

Summer is a much better time for a Canadian road trip. While the weather will be hot in places, driving across Canada in the summer means you don’t have to worry about snow chains or snow tires. Parks will be open and camping outdoors will be comfortable (if you can find some shade).

Of course, summer is also Canada’s busiest tourism season, so prepare for crowds. Many popular areas, like Banff, will be teeming with people and campgrounds will book up in advance.

I would plan a cross Canada road trip for late spring or early fall . That way, you still get the best weather but hopefully with fewer crowds.

Car vs RV: How should you drive across Canada?

So you want to road trip Canada but now you have to think: how am I actually getting across this huge country?

Unfortunately, public transportation isn’t a great option. We have very limited passenger train routes in Canada and while you can basically cross the country by train with ViaRail, it will be slow, expensive and skip a lot of great stops.

Your choice will probably come down to driving a car with plans to overnight in hotels, motels, tents, Airbnbs, and the like or driving an RV across Canada (or other motorhome/converted van/trailer) that allows you to sleep and live in your vehicle.

Ultimately, I think this comes down to personal preference as there are pros and cons to both .

A car will be cheaper to buy/rent (if you don’t already have one) and fuel up, easier to drive and likely have fewer parts to maintain. But it can be costly to stay in hotels every night and annoying to constantly be packing and unpacking.

An RV will be more expensive to buy/rent (if you don’t already have one) and fuel, plus more cumbersome to drive, but can be convenient for road trippers who want to have their home with them.

When trying to decide, consider your comfort level with driving, how many people are road tripping with you, what kind of accommodation you prefer and, of course, your budget for your cross Canada road trip. If you’ve never RV-ed before, I’d recommend renting one for a shorter trip before trying to drive across Canada.

Need to rent a car for your Canada road trip? Check out Discover Cars! 

My top 5: What to see on a road trip across Canada?

A quick scroll down to my itinerary will show you that there is so much to see on a road trip across Canada. But here my top five picks for stops you can’t miss:

  • Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC
  • The stunning Banff National Park in Alberta
  • Niagara Falls and the surrounding wine country in Ontario
  • Old Montreal and Old Quebec City in Quebec
  • The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

The most popular activities in Stanley Park

  • Enjoy this Stanley Park Walking Tour with a guide
  • Uncover the best sights of the city during this Stanley Park & Downtown Vancouver Bike Tour
  • Experience the natural beauty of Stanley Park in Vancouver on this bike tour

And for everything else you’ll want to see, let’s dive into my full cross Canada road trip itinerary below!

Cross Canada road trip map

The ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary

Through my extensive research, I found lots of posts that helped to plan a road trip in Canada, but on a smaller scale. Maybe it was just an east coast Canada road trip or a Toronto to Vancouver driving trip.

And while those adventures sound great, I wanted to put together an entire cross country road trip driving the entirety of Canada from east to west. While my road trip itinerary doesn’t cover every inch of Canada, it’s the most comprehensive one I’ve come across!

Below I’ll list every stop on my ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary, including how long the drive is from the previous stop and what you’ll want to do there. I’ve broken the itinerary up into sections (west coast, prairies, eastern, Atlantic), but they all connect to each other so you can simply continue heading east.

Ready? Let’s drive across Canada!

ULTIMATE CANADA ROAD TRIP: From Victoria to St. John's, discover the ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary with 34+ stops and planning advice! #canada #travel #roadtrip #banff #vancouver #toronto #niagarafalls

West coast and Rocky Mountains: BC & Alberta road trip

West coast and Rocky Mountains, itinerary for a BC & Alberta road trip across Canada

This portion of the itinerary covers British Columbia and the first part of Alberta along the Rocky Mountains . Stops on this portion of the road trip are:

  • Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, BC

Victoria Harbour, Victoria, BC, cross Canada road trip itinerary

As you’ll see from the Canadian road trip planner map above, I actually start my cross Canada road trip in Vancouver. I live in Vancouver, so it would be a lot easier for me to pack up my car from home and start heading east, rather than back track to the Island.

Plus, I’d love to do a separate BC road trip around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, like Galiano and Salt Spring Island (perhaps as a practice road trip before we try to drive across Canada!).

But if you’re not from Vancouver, have never been to the Island and want to complete the entire Trans Canada Highway main route, I highly recommend starting your cross Canada road trip in Victoria, BC .

I’ve visited Victoria a number of times and really love it. This charming provincial capital has a beautiful harbour, world-renowned gardens and great food. From there, you can keep exploring more of Vancouver Island.

Must do on Vancouver Island :

  • Stroll through Butchart Gardens
  • Try surfing in Tofino or check out more things to do in Ucluelet
  • Go whale watching

Canadian fun fact: Vancouver Island is an island off the mainland of BC where the provincial capital, Victoria, is found. Vancouver is a city on the mainland on BC. There is no such thing as Victoria Island in BC or a capital city of Vancouver.

However, a reader let me know that there is in fact a Victoria Island located in the Arctic Ocean (thank you, Marlene!), but don’t go there if you’re trying to find Victoria, BC. I know, it’s confusing! 

Vancouver, BC (3 hrs from Victoria)

Vancouver skyline and False Creek from Charleson Park

If you skipped Vancouver Island, your cross Canada road trip will officially start in my home city, Vancouver! Otherwise, you can take a short and scenic ferry ride from Victoria to the mainland.

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a highlight of any trip to Canada. Even as a local since 2010, I’m constantly amazed that I get to live in a place with beaches, mountains, city life and incredible food!

Must do in Vancouver :

  • Walk or bike along the Seawall to enjoy Stanley Park and city beaches
  • Shop and dine on Granville Island
  • Take a day trip to Whistler or another local ski mountain
  • Eat delicious sushi!

Another incredible thing to do in Vancouver (and all of Canada) is discover our indigenous history and culture. My friend Melanie put together this awesome post with lots of ideas for enjoying Indigenous culture in Vancouver!

The Okanagan, BC (4.5 hrs from Vancouver)

winery in Penticton, Okanagan, BC overlooking the lake

From Vancouver we’re heading into BC’s interior to visit the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is BC’s wine country and lake country, known for beautiful wineries, water sports and, unfortunately, summer wildfires.

If you’re visiting this area in the summer, make sure you’re aware of any fire bans, water restrictions or other alerts. Other than that, kick back with a glass of vino and a beautiful lakefront view!

Lucky for us, we have family in Kelowna and have visited the Okanagan many times (we even got engaged in Penticton!). But even if you don’t have family to stay with, BC’s Okanagan is well worth a visit.

Must do in Kelowna & the Okanagan:

  • Visit a local winery or join a wine tour
  • Hang out on Lake Okanagan
  • Take a day trip south to Penticton , Osoyoos or another South Okanagan town

Jasper, AB (7 hrs from Kelowna)

View of mountains, water and trees on Maligne Lake in Jasper, Alberta

Many people skip Jasper, preferring to drive straight from Vancouver to Banff or Vancouver to Calgary, but I think a detour north to Jasper would be a highlight of any Canada road trip.

Jasper National Park is the biggest national park in Canada, home to glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, islands, forests and so much more. As soon as I saw a picture of Maligne Lake (above), I knew I needed to add Jasper to this itinerary.

Plus, because it’s a detour off the main Trans Canada Highway, Jasper is never as busy as our next stop, Banff. Fewer crowds? Yes, please!

Must do in Japser:

  • Admire Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon
  • Witness the powerful Athabasca Falls
  • Ride the Jasper SkyTram or walk the Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Short on time?  If you don’t have time to stop in the Okanagan or Jasper, you can do a Vancouver to Banff road trip in about nine hours, passing through Kamloops, Revelstoke and Glacier National Park. 

Banff, AB (3 hrs from Jasper)

Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada road trip

Another reason to visit Jasper? Because the drive from Banff to Jasper is through Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the entire world.

Once you tear your eyes away from the road, you’re in for even more beauty in Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and visited by more than four million people every year.

Spend your days hiking, camping and admiring all of the beautiful scenery around you. Because Banff is so popular, make sure you book your accommodation ahead of time and wake up early to avoid the largest crowds.

Must do in Banff:

  • Check out the views from the Banff Gondola
  • Be wowed by some of the prettiest lakes like Emerald Lake, Morraine Lake and Lake Louise
  • Soak in a hot spring or set out on any number of scenic hikes in the area
  • Or check out this complete 4 day Banff itinerary !

Calgary, AB (1.5 hrs from Banff)

Calgary skyline, Canada road trip itinerary

In case you didn’t get enough hiking in Banff, you can make a stop in Canmore on your way to Calgary for more beautiful mountain views. Then it’s time to enter Cowtown, aka Calgary.

As a Vancouverite, it’s almost mandatory for us to make fun of Calgary (apologies to my Calgarian friends and family!), but there’s actually quite a bit to enjoy in the city. If you time your road trip right, you could be in town for the annual Calgary Stampede , which happens every July. There are also parks, museums, sports arenas and more to visit in Calgary.

Many people choose to visit Banff on a day trip from Calgary, since it’s only 1.5 hours away. But because there’s so much to do in Banff, I think it’d be better to spend a few days there before moving onto Calgary. However, if you’re short on time, you could do a day trip to Banff while basing in Calgary.

Must do in Calgary:

  • Don a cowboy hat at Calgary Stampede
  • Stroll (or raft) along Bow River and check out the Peace Bridge
  • Visit the Heritage Park Historical Village to learn some Western Canada history
  • Try your hand at some winter sports at WinSport, home of the 1998 Winter Olympics

Canadian fun “fact”: Just to prove how great the Vancouver-Calgary rivalry is, when I asked my husband what someone should do in Calgary he suggested “complain that you’re not in Vancouver.” But we’re just kidding, Calgary is great! 

Prairies: Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba road trip

Prairies: Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba road trip route through Canada

We’re now moving into Canada’s prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Stops visited on this portion of your road trip are:

  • Riding Mountain National Park
  • Whiteshell Provincial Park

Drumheller, AB (1.5 hrs from Calgary)

Rock formations in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

From Calgary we are leaving the Rockies and officially entering prairie land. This part of Canada is known for being quite flat (and dull) but as you’ll see below, there are some great places to stop on your cross Canada road trip.

First up: Drumheller! Known as the Town of the Dinosaurs, if you have any dino lovers in your car, this is going to be a mandatory stop!

Must do in Drumheller:

  • Check out fossils found in the area at The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
  • Spot hoodoos in the nearby badlands
  • Take a day trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park (2 hrs from Drumheller)

Saskatoon, SK (5 hrs from Drumheller)

Skyline of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada at sunset with snow on the ground

I was debating which of Saskatchewan’s major cities to include in this itinerary: Saskatoon, Regina or Moose Jaw. Ultimately I decided on Saskatoon as it’s the largest city, doesn’t have as much of a government feel as the capital (Regina), and is closest to Drumheller.

If you prefer to visit Regina, check out Stone Hall Castle, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the world’s largest moose statue.

Or if you prefer to check out Moose Jaw, don’t miss the Tunnels of Moose Jaw tours. These are interactive tours that take place in the tunnels below the city and look really fun!

Must do in Saskatoon:

  • Visit Wanuskewin Heritage Park to learn about people’s sacred relationship with the land
  • Stand up paddle board on the South Saskatchewan River
  • Grab lunch at the oldest and largest farmer’s market in the province, the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market

Not into cities?  If cities don’t do it for you, skip Saskatoon and head south to visit Saskatchewan’s Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park or Grasslands National Park for forests, lakes, wide open spaces, wildlife spotting and stargazing. 

Riding Mountain National Park, MB (6 hrs from Saskatoon)

Fall foliage and trees at Riding Mountain National Park, MB, Canada

A great stop to break up the long drive across the Canadian Prairies is Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba.

This park is home to forests, grasslands and great wildlife viewing. It’s a top place to visit in the province and a nice change from city life if you’re driving from Saskatoon to (spoiler alert on the next stop) Winnipeg.

Must do in Riding Mountain National Park:

  • Try out water sports in the summer or cross-country skiing in the winter
  • Take in the view from the top of Bald Hill
  • Go on a day trip to nearby university town, Brandon

Winnipeg, MB (3 hrs from Riding Mountain)

Winnipeg, Manitoba skyline with buildings, trees and the Winnipeg sign; visited on a Canada road trip

Welcome to The Peg! Affectionally called “Winterpeg” in the winter, you may want to steer clear of Winnipeg in the colder months. But in the summer, you’ll find lots to enjoy in this city. With a number of museums, markets, festivals and parks, you’ll have lots to fill your days.

And when you need a break from city life, head up to Lake Winnipeg. Enjoy the white sand dunes at Grand Beach or indulge in Icelandic heritage and Viking statues in Gimli.

Must do in Winnipeg: 

  • Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (I’ve heard it’s incredible!)
  • Get to know the city by riding the Central Winnipeg Bike Loop
  • Escape to the water on Lake Winnipeg

Whiteshell Provincial Park, MB (1.5 hrs from Winnipeg)

Dock on Falcon Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park, Canada road trip

Our last stop in the prairies is Whiteshell Provincial Park, a park located on the border between Manitoba and Ontario. It’s a great introduction to the natural scenery that awaits you in western Ontario.

If you prefer to drive farther (since Whiteshell isn’t that far from Winnipeg), you could cross the border into Ontario and base in Kenora, a waterfront town with lots of beach activities.

Must do in Whiteshell Provincial Park: 

  • Hit the beach at Falcon Lake
  • Discover the Bannock Point Petroforms
  • Visit West Hawk Lake, a crater lake formed by a meteor

Eastern Canada: Ontario & Quebec road trip

Eastern Canada: Ontario & Quebec road trip across Canada

We’re now moving into the middle section of Canada and our two biggest provinces, Ontario and Quebec. Here we’ll be visiting:

  • Thunder Bay
  • Sault Ste Marie
  • Manitoulin Island
  • Prince Edward County
  • Eastern Townships
  • Quebec City

Thunder Bay, ON (6.5 hrs from Whiteshell)

A man sitting on a rock with trees behind him overlooking Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

From Manitoba it’s a long drive to Thunder Bay to begin the Ontario road trip portion of this Canada itinerary.

The city of Thunder Bay isn’t the most exciting place to be but all of the nature nearby is really worth visiting. They say it’s home to some of the best beaches, waterfalls and viewpoints in the province!

Must do in Thunder Bay: 

  • Explore Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park (Canada’s version of the Grand Canyon)
  • Admire Kakabeka Falls, the second highest waterfall in the province
  • Check out the amethyst mines and find your own to take home , as suggested by my friend Lyn!
  • Visit the Terry Fox Monument, commemorating the spot where Terry’s Marathon of Hope across Canada ended

Sault Ste Marie, ON (7.5 hrs from Thunder Bay)

Historic home in Sault Ste Marie with the Canada flag

It’s another long drive from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie (pronounced Soo Saint Marie). What can I say? Ontario is a big province and you have a lot of ground to cover!

Luckily you’ll be driving along Lake Superior the whole time, affording you lots of places to stop and admire the view or go on a little hike to stretch the legs. Right on the US/Canada border, The Soo is a big port city with a splash of outdoor adventure for you to enjoy.

Must do in Sault Ste Marie:

  • Kayak down or go fly fishing on St. Marys River
  • Unleash your inner aviation geek at the Canadian BiPlane Heritage Museum
  • Ski or mountain bike at Hiawatha Highlands

Manitoulin Island, ON (4 hrs from Sault Ste Marie)

The Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island, Ontario

You didn’t think a cross Canada road trip itinerary would include islands did you? Or at least not in Ontario! But it’s true, Ontario is home to a number of islands, such as Manitoulin Island in the middle of Lake Huron.

Manitoulin Island is actually the largest freshwater island in the world and an amazing place to explore Indigenous culture, scenic trails and even see the Northern Lights (if you’re lucky!).

Must do on Manitoulin Island: 

  • Hike the Cup and Saucer Trail for epic views
  • Explore some of Manitoulin’s 100+ lakes by canoe
  • Visit Wiikwemkoong, Canada’s only official Unceded Indian Reserve

Tobermory, ON (2.5 hrs from Manitoulin Island)

Beautiful blue water and a rocky coastline on the Bruce Trail in Tobermory, part of an itinerary across Canada

To get from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory, you and your vehicle will load onto a scenic ferry. Now look at us; we’re island-hopping in Canada!

While technically not an island, Tobermory does feel like a world of its own. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful, natural places in Ontario with hidden gems (shipwrecks, anyone?) and Caribbean-like waters waiting to be discovered.

Must do in Tobermory:

  • Explore beaches, caves and grottos at Bruce Peninsula National Park
  • Take a boat tour around Flowerpot Island
  • Dive around 20 historical shipwrecks at Fathom Five National Marine Park

Short on time? Prefer cities? You can drive from Winnipeg to Toronto through the US (21 hours) rather than through the Canadian stops above (25 hours) and visit Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit on the way. 

Toronto, ON (3.5 hrs from Tobermory)

Riana and Colin in front of the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillip Square in 2015

Welcome to The Six, my hometown of Toronto (us locals drop the second “t” so it’s more like “Torono”). Arguably the best known city in Canada and the biggest, no cross Canada road trip could exclude TO.

Having grown up in Toronto, it’s hard for me to see it as a tourist locale. But besides visiting my friends and family, there really is so much to do in this bustling, diverse city. From museums, parks and islands to sports arenas, shopping streets and galleries, there’s something in Toronto for everyone .

But my favourite part of the city is all of the different neighbourhoods that each have a distinct culture and feel. My favourites are Chinatown, The Annex and Kensington Market. It’s also some of the best eating in Canada, no matter what cuisine you’re in the mood for!

Must do in Toronto: 

  • Head up the iconic CN Tower for a view over the city
  • Cruise across to the Toronto Islands and check out the skyline view
  • Watch a major league baseball, basketball or hockey game
  • See dinosaurs at the Royal Ontario Museum or admire art at the Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Get your fill of delicious Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Korean food and any other cuisine!

Day trip to Niagara Falls!

Guests wearing red rain slickers on a cruise down to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Having grown up in Toronto, I’ve been to Niagara Falls a handful of times and often stayed overnight. At just over an hour from Toronto, Niagara Falls is an easy day trip.

But if you have the time and budget, I do recommend spending a few days in the Niagara region. Or if you’d prefer to base in Toronto and just see the falls on a day trip , that works too.

Besides seeing the incredible Niagara Falls (and yes, the Canadian side is much better than the American side) you’ll also want to check out Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario’s charming wine country.

There are lots of wine tours through Niagara if you’d rather not drive or find wineries yourself. You can also visit Albion Falls just outside of Hamilton on your way to Niagara, kind of like a warm up for the bigger Niagara Falls.

Prince Edward County, ON (3 hrs from Toronto)

Prince Edward County

Despite having lived the first 18 years of my life in Toronto, I’m sad to say I haven’t been to Prince Edward County. Which is too bad because it seems like the cutest collection of small towns, beaches, wineries, galleries, shops and parks.

The County is an island in Lake Ontario (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island, which is also an island called Prince Edward, but a province in the Atlantic Ocean) home to farmers and makers, perfect for slowing down and enjoying local life.

Must do in Prince Edward County:

  • Hit the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park or North Beach Provincial Park
  • Wine taste through local wineries (there are also cideries and breweries, if you prefer)
  • Bike or hike the Millennium Trail or shop local in Picton or Wellington

For more suggestions of what to do, check out my friend Renee’s post with 16 things to do in Prince Edward County!

Ottawa, ON (3 hrs from Prince Edward County)

Parliament buildings and trees in Ottawa, ON, one of the stops on a cross Canada road trip

From Prince Edward County we’re heading north to Canada’s capital, Ottawa (no, Canada’s capital is not Toronto!). Ottawa is an incredible place to learn about Canada’s history and hear a mix of our national languages, English and French.

In the winter, don’t miss skating down the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest skate rink at 7.8km.

But there’s lots of fun to be had in the summer in Ottawa too! I’ve visited in both seasons and enjoyed skating in the cold and wandering Parliament Hill in warmer months.

Must do in Ottawa: 

  • Visit a museum such as The Canadian Museum of History , The Canadian War Museum or The Canadian Museum of Nature
  • Take a tour of Parliament Hill
  • Stroll, skate or cruise along the Rideau Canal with a Beaver Tail!

Canadian fun fact: A Beaver Tail is a Canadian dessert that is essentially deep fried dough with toppings on it in the vague shape of a beaver’s tail. No actual beavers are harmed in the making of these treats! 

Montreal, QC (2.5 hrs from Ottawa)

Colin and Riana posing at the top of Mount Royal, Montreal, Quebec overlooking downtown Montreal on a cross Canada trip

Bienvenue à Québec! Ready to road trip Quebec? We’re crossing over from Ontario to French-speaking Quebec and stopping first in one of my favourite cities, Montreal .

I always say that if I spoke French fluently, I would move to Montreal. But don’t worry! You don’t need to be fluent or even rudimentary at French to visit Montreal (but it would be good to parlez français if you want to move there).

Montreal has incredible food , is diverse and bustling, and has a wonderful European charm to it. There are beautiful viewpoints, stunning churches, funky street art, world-class restaurants, and lots of festivals and events.

Montreal feels like a place unlike any other in Canada and is a city where you could never get bored. I’ve visited a handful of times over the years and always enjoy the city.

Must do in Montreal: 

  • Wander Old Montreal and the Port of Montreal
  • Go on a food tour of Montreal enjoying bagels, poutine, crepes and much more!
  • Admire Montreal’s famous Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s churches

Eastern Townships, QC (1.5 hrs from Montreal)

Fall foliage on Mont-Mégantic, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada

Despite a few visits to Montreal over the years, I haven’t explored more of Quebec yet. One area I’d love to spend a few days in is the Eastern Townships, just an hour or two southeast of Montreal.

This area is Quebec’s natural wonderland, where many Quebec and Ontario locals have cottages to spend their summers. It’s the perfect place to golf, hike, bike, take to the water and stargaze. There are also wineries, local shops and festivals to enjoy.

Must do in the Eastern Townships: 

  • Get back to nature at Parc National du Mont-Orford
  • Visit the world’s first Dark Sky Preserve at ASTROLab in Parc National du Mont-Mégantic
  • Climb one of the world’s longest suspension bridges at Gorge Park

My friend Renee is once again coming in clutch with her list of 13 villages to visit in the Eastern Townships!

Quebec City, QC (2.5 hrs from the Eastern Townships)

View of the Fairmont hotel in Quebec City, Canada road trip

On your way to Quebec’s capital, it may be worth a detour to Beauce for a sweet treat, since this town is responsible for 20% of the world’s maple syrup production!

All sugared up, you’re off to Quebec City for a few days of culture, architecture and history. There are world-renown art galleries and museums, stunning churches, and North America’s only ice hotel!

Quebec City has always struck me as a very romantic place – in fact, Colin and I thought about including it in our honeymoon itinerary . I’d love to splurge on a stay at the Château Frontenac one day (the most photographed hotel in the world). You can tell how badly I want to visit Quebec City by all of the must dos I listed below!

Must do in Quebec City: 

  • Stroll along the fortified walls of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Explore the Citadelle de Québec, a military heritage site built between 1820 and 1850
  • Admire Montmorency Falls (they’re actually taller than Niagara Falls!)
  • Get your nature on at Jacques-Cartier National Park
  • Shop from local artisans at Île d’Orléans
  • Enjoy a day at Eastern Canada’s largest theme park , Village Vacances Valcartier, and stay the night at an ice hotel

Tadoussac, QC (3 hrs from Quebec City)

View over Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada with rolling hills, houses, green trees and water

From Quebec City, you’ll drive along the St. Lawrence River to your last stop in Quebec, the historic, small town of Tadoussac. Tadoussac was founded in 1600 as the first French settlement in North America.

Despite being a small place, Tadoussac draws a good number of visitors thanks to its beautiful landscape and wildlife spotting opportunities (whales, bears and beavers!). Plus, it’s the perfect stop before you head to the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada.

Must do in Tadoussac: 

  • Go whale watching and learn all about these mammals of the sea at Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre
  • Hike around Saguenay Fjord National Park
  • Sea kayak on Tadoussac Bay

Atlantic Canada: New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia & Newfoundland road trip

Atlantic Canada: New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia & Newfoundland road trip driving across Canada through the Maritimes

Last but not least is the east coast of Canada! We’ll be visiting all of the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia), as well as Newfoundland. In this section, you’ll stop at:

  • Fredericton
  • Fundy National Park
  • Charlottetown
  • Annapolis Valley
  • Cape Breton Island
  • North Sydney
  • Port aux Basques
  • Gros Morne National Park
  • St. John’s

Fredericton, NB (6 hrs from Tadoussac)

Snow covered Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada with bare trees and a tall church in the background

Ready to road trip the east coast of Canada? A big drive from Quebec has you in Fredericton, the provincial capital of New Brunswick.

While certainly not the most popular city in Canada, Fredericton is known for its colonial charm, military history, and arts and music scene. Since it’s such a long drive from Quebec into the Maritimes, why not spend a day or two in Fredericton?

Must do in Fredericton:

  • Shop the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market during the day and the Garrison Night Market in the evening
  • Stop by the old British garrison where you can watch the changing of the guard, visit restored barracks and cell blocks, and take part in a soldier’s daily activities
  • Visit Kings Landing (no, not that one!) to see what life was like in New Brunswick 200 years ago

Fundy National Park, NB (2 hrs from Fredericton)

Bay of Fundy, Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

I remember visiting the Bay of Fundy with my family when I was about 12 years old and being wowed by the changing tides. When the tides were out, we were able to walk all the way out onto the ocean floor. This really is a unique area of Canada!

The Bay of Fundy runs along the south coast of New Brunswick and you can visit a number of sites along it. St. Andrews, to the west, is a National Historic Site and when the tide is out, you can actually drive along the ocean floor from St. Andrews to Ministers Island.

Heading northeast you’ll hit Saint John where you can watch the Reversing Falls Rapids. Next you can visit St. Martins Sea Caves, which you can visit on foot or via kayak depending on the tides. From there, you’ll be into Fundy National Park where even more natural wonders await!

Must do at Fundy National Park: 

  • Hike and visit beaches along the Fundy Trail Parkway
  • Visit waterfalls from Alma such as Dickson Falls, Laverty Falls and Third Vault Falls
  • Explore Hopewell Rocks at both high tide and low tide

Charlottetown, PE (2.5 hrs from Fundy)

Anne of Green Gables, Green Gables Heritage Place outside Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The next stop on your east coast of Canada road trip is Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island (PEI). PEI is Canada’s smallest province and while there’s lots to see, Charlottetown is a great base to explore from since everything on the island is within two hours of the capital city.

The birthplace of Canadian Confederation, Charlottetown is a historic city full of charm, waterfront features and really delicious food (I could not get enough of their ice cream and fresh seafood!). PEI also has sand dunes, museums, Indigenous history, beaches and lots more to discover.

Plus, it’s the real home of Anne of Green Gables! You might know Anne from the novels written by LM Montgomery. Just outside Charlottetown, you can visit the home that inspired Montgomery’s writing. This was one of my highlights in PEI!

Must do in Charlottetown and PEI:

  • Eat home grown Cavendish potatoes, Cows ice cream and fresh PEI oysters
  • Visit the Anne of Green Gables Museum and walk through her home from the books
  • Go beach hopping in PEI: sand dunes, red sand beaches and more!

PS: On your way from New Brunswick to PEI, don’t miss a stop in Shediac, the lobster capital of the world! 

Annapolis Valley, NS (5 hrs from Charlottetown)

Green fields and fall foliage of the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

From Charlottetown you’ll head back across the Confederation Bridge, down through New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia. Your first stop in Nova Scotia is the Annapolis Valley, the province’s wine region!

Historically an apple-growing region, the Annapolis Valley is now known for its acidic white wine and Méthode Classique sparkling wine, as well as ciders and spirits. Of course, there’s lots to discover in this area for non-drinkers too! The views are beautiful and there’s lots of nature, history and delicious food to enjoy.

Must do in the Annapolis Valley:

  • Go on a wine tour to try the Valley’s best
  • Visit a recreation of one of North America’s first settlements at Port-Royal National Historic Site
  • Learn about the history and culture of the Mi’kmaw people at Kejimkujik National Park

Halifax, NS (2 hrs from the Annapolis Valley)

selfie in front of the Halifax, Citadel on our honeymoon

Next up is one of my favourite cities in Canada (and another one I’d consider moving to), Halifax. It was one of the highlights of our Atlantic Canada honeymoon .

Halifax is a really cool city with lots to do, great local seafood, an awesome waterfront and just a great vibe all around. I loved that the city had some awesome history to discover in really engaging ways, as well as lots of modern and multi-cultural offerings.

Plus, there are so many awesome day trips from Halifax along the coast of Nova Scoatia, like the famous Peggys Cove lighthouse and adorable town of Lunenberg.

Must do in Halifax:

  • Get dinner at The Bicycle Thief, try Nova Scotian donair and other great eats in Halifax
  • Have a moving experience at the Pier 21 Immigration Museum (probably the best museum I’ve ever visited!)
  • Visit the Halifax Citadel and learn about Canada’s military history
  • Walk along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk and take the ferry over to Dartmouth
  • Go on a day trip to Peggys Cove , Lunenberg and Mahone Bay

Need more suggestions? Check out 22 things to do in Halifax! 

Cape Breton Island, NS (5 hrs from Halifax)

Lakies Head on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada honeymoon

From Halifax you’ll head to the jewel of Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Island!

Depending on how much time you have, you can choose to drive the entirety of the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Island, or just visit one or two towns. The entire trail is only 298 km (185 mi) long, so could be driven in a day. But I highly recommend spending a few days in this picturesque region!

Cape Breton was the most beautiful part of our 2021 Atlantic Canada honeymoon . We loved checking out beautiful coastal vistas, going on short hikes amongst the fall foliage, and discovering small town bakeries and restaurants. I’d definitely suggest prioritizing this stop on your cross Canada road trip!

Must do on Cape Breton Island:

  • Visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck
  • Check out the stunning views at Lakies Head near Ingonish
  • Hike the Skyline Trail near Cheticamp
  • Eat breakfast at Salty Rose’s Periwinkle Cafe, have dinner at L’Abri and get fresh baked goods at Aucoin Bakery

For more details on where to stay and what to do on Cape Breton, check out my 5 Day Cabot Trail Itinerary on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia! 

North Sydney, NS (2 hrs from Cape Breton Island)

After your adventure around Cape Breton, it’s time to start making your way to Newfoundland, the most eastern province in Canada and the last one to tick off your Canadian bucket list.

The easiest way to road trip to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia is by taking a Marine Atlantic ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques. There is year-round ferry service, typically with two departures a day, and you can drive your car onto the ferry. A sailing takes about seven hours.

While waiting for your ferry to depart, you can enjoy Sydney’s waterfront, explore the nearby Fortress of Louisbourg and check out the world’s largest fiddle!

Sydney to Port aux Basques ferry with Marine Atlantic

Port aux Basques, NL (7 hrs from North Sydney)

Welcome to Newfoundland, your final province on this massive cross Canada road trip! Depending on what sailing you took from Nova Scotia, you may arrive at Port aux Basques in the evening or early the next morning.

In case you get seasick like I do, or just need a break from being on the move, you may want to book a night in Port aux Basques before continuing on with your east coast Canadian road trip. While in Port aux Basques you can check out the Cape Ray Lighthouse, go for a stroll along the Grand Bay West Beach Trailway, or head out on a marine excursion.

Canadian fun fact: Despite its spelling, most people pronounce Newfoundland as NEW-fin-LAND and not new-FOUND-land. 

Gros Morne National Park, NL (3.5 hrs from Port aux Basques)

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada road trip

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National Park is probably one of the most beautiful places in Canada. But because it’s hard to get to and lesser known, it doesn’t see the same huge crowds as Banff or Whistler.

All that means is you’ll have a lot of this beauty to yourself! Explore the rugged coast line and see where tectonic plates once crashed to form epic mountains, rocky tablelands, gorges, ponds, forests and more!

Must do in Gros Morne National Park:

  • Be wowed by the view at Western Brook Pond Fjord
  • Hike up Lookout Hills Trail or summit Gros Morne Mountain
  • Depending on the time of year, you can go for a pond cruise, kayak on Trout River, bike through fall foliage, or ski and snowboard in Burridges Gulch

Gander, NL (4 hrs from Gros Morne)

Come From Away playbill, musical about Gander, Newfoundland

Come from away to Gander, Newfoundland, the town made famous for hosting the “plane people” when air space was closed during 9/11.

On Sep 11, 2001, 38 planes with 6,500 passengers and crew members were grounded in Gander, which had a population of just 10,000. But Gander stepped up and showed the world what it means to be a good neighbour by welcoming and caring for everyone. This is all beautifully depicted in the musical, Come From Away, which I’ve been very fortunate to see in Toronto and Vancouver.

It’s because I’m such a fan of this musical that Gander is on my Newfoundland bucket list. But even if you don’t know the show, this is a pretty remarkable town to visit and an important place in history.

Must do in Gander:

  • Visit the Gander International Airport, once the largest airport in North America
  • Learn about Gander’s aviation history at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum
  • Take a trip to the Appleton 9/11 Memorial where a piece of steel from the Twin Towers is located (passengers from the grounded planes donated money to help build the park where the memorial is located)

Elliston, NL (2.5 hrs from Gander)

puffins at Elliston, Newfoundland

We’re coming to the end of your east coast Canada road trip. On your way to Elliston, stop at Terra Nova National Park, Canada’s most easterly national park, and the Discovery Trail, home to sweeping views and coastal history.

Just before Elliston you can stretch your legs along the Skerwink Trail, once named one of the best walks in the world by Conde Nast, and the perfect place to spot birds and humpback whales.

Speaking of wildlife spotting, that’s why I added Elliston to this Canada road trip itinerary. Nicknamed Bird Island Cove, Elliston is one of the best places in North America to see puffins from land! If you’re visiting between May and September, a visit to Puffin Island in Elliston would be well worth it.

Short on time? Not into puffins? If you’d rather not stop in Elliston, you can carry on straight from Gander to St. John’s (3.5 hrs drive). 

St. John’s, NFL (3.5 hrs from Elliston)

colourful buildings and a tall church in St. John's Newfoundland, Canada

Congratulations, you have officially made it to the end of the ultimate cross Canada road trip! From Victoria to St. John’s, from east to west, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, you have officially driven through every province and the entire length of Canada.

Give yourself a few days in Newfoundland’s artsy, historic and colourful capital to celebrate! Here you can dine out, enjoy Maritime music and discover what makes Newfoundland so unique.

Prefer to celebrate the end of your road trip out in nature? St. John’s has lots of options for that too. Hike the East Coast Trail, go puffin or whale watching, ferry to Bell Island, check out the gardens at Pippy Park or spot wildlife at Salmonier Nature Park.

Must do in St. John’s:

  • Take in the views and learn some history at Signal Hill National Historic Site
  • Push a little farther east to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site, the most easterly point in North America
  • Learn about the history, art and culture of Newfoundland at The Rooms
  • Check out the colourful homes on Jellybean Row

Canadian fun fact: Don’t confuse St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, with Saint John, a city (but not the capital) of New Brunswick. 

A red bike in front of a fence painted with the Canadian flag, Canada road trip

Where to go after you finish driving across Canada

You did it – you drove all across Canada on the most epic cross Canada road trip! Now what?

From St. John’s, you can fly direct to a few places in Canada (like Halifax, Montreal, Toronto or Calgary) or internationally, to places like Orlando, Florida and London, UK . Of course, that would mean either returning your rental vehicle in St. John’s, which may incur an expensive one-way fee, or selling it there, which could take time.

If you’re keeping your vehicle, the easiest way to leave St. John’s is to drive to Argentia (1.5 hr drive) and ferry back to North Sydney . This overnight ferry boards at 5:00pm and arrives in North Sydney the next morning at 9:00am.

If a 16 hour ferry crossing doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you could drive back to Port aux Basques (9 hrs from St. John’s) and get on the 7 hour ferry to North Sydney from there.

Or, you can put your most seaworthy road trip companion on the long ferry from Argentia while you hop a flight out of St. John’s (this is definitely what I will be doing – apologies to my husband who will get stuck with the car!).

Once back in Nova Scotia, you’re on Canada’s mainland and can continue driving to your final destination from there . Rather than reverse the Canada road trip you just did, why not check out our neighbour to the south and start a US road trip?

From North Sydney it’s only a 7.5 hr drive into Maine, where you can begin exploring the US. That may or may not be the next big road trip I’m planning!

The ultimate cross Canada road trip map and itinerary

What’s missing from this Canadian road trip planner?

Frankly, quite a lot! Canada is a huge country and while this road trip covers 34 places across all 10 provinces, that barely scratches the surface of what Canada has to offer.

I created this itinerary by researching places of interest in each province. Next, I plotted them on a map, which you can see above with all of the purple dots.

I then figured out a driving route that would link as many of the dots as possible without detouring too far from the most efficient east-west route. Sadly, some of the purple dots didn’t make it into the final road trip itinerary as they were just too far away.

The majority of Canadians live along the Canada/US border, so you’ll notice that my road trip route also stays quite far south. That means I missed a lot of central/northern Canada, including incredible places like:

  • Haida Gwaii in BC
  • The home of polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
  • All of the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut)
  • The capital of Alberta (Edmonton)
  • Algonquin and Muskoka in Ontario
  • Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula
  • Labrador, which makes up the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

All of these places are well worth visiting, but difficult to do on an east-west Canada road trip that’s primarily based in the south of the country. I hope to visit them all some day on separate trips!

How to plan a road trip in Canada if you’re short on time

The road trip itinerary I listed above covers 34 stops across Canada and would likely take 2-3 months to enjoy properly. But what if you don’t have 2-3 months to road trip Canada? No worries! There are lots of cross Canada road trips you can take if you’re short on time.

Obviously you can complete just a part of my road trip itinerary above if you don’t have time for the whole thing. But here are a few more suggestions for Canadian road trips depending on how much time you have:

1 week Canada road trip: Drive from Toronto to Quebec City

Toronto skyline with the CN Tower, downtown buildings and Lake Ontario, Canada road trip

Toronto (3 nights) > Montreal (2 nights) > Quebec (2 nights) 

With one week, you could do a mini Ontario and Quebec road trip when you drive from Toronto to Quebec City, stopping in Montreal along the way.

You could also take a half or full day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto . The entire drive is only 8 hours, making this an easy road trip to complete in a week.

2 week Canada road trip: Vancouver to Banff road trip

mountains, forests and water in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Victoria (2 nights) > Vancouver (3 nights) > Kelowna (2 nights) > Jasper (2 nights) > Banff (3 nights) > Calgary (2 nights)

Two weeks would be a great amount of time for a Vancouver to Banff road trip, seeing the best of the Rocky Mountains and Canada’s west coast. You can stop for wine in Kelowna and even push north to Jasper to really make the most of the area’s beauty!

With two weeks, you would even have time to add on Victoria on the west and Calgary on the east if you’re happy to move fast. Of course, if you wanted to slow down and spend more time at the national parks, you could cut these extra stops and add days in Jasper and Banff.

You can also drive from Calgary to Vancouver if you want to do this road trip in reverse.

3 week Canada road trip: East coast Canada road trip

peggys cove lighthouse outside of halifax, nova scotia, canada

Halifax (3 nights) > Annapolis Valley (2 nights) > Bay of Fundy (3 nights) > Charlottetown and PEI (4 nights) > Cape Breton Island (3 nights) > ferry to Newfoundland (1 night) > Gros Morne National Park (2 nights) > St. John’s (2 nights) > ferry to Nova Scotia (1 night) > return to Halifax 

When we went on our Atlantic Canada honeymoon , we had about 3 weeks to explore the Maritimes and it was a great amount of time.

I would highly recommend dedicating a three week Canadian road trip to one region of the country, whether that’s an east coast Canada road trip or west coast Canada road trip, rather than trying to drive across a few regions.

I’ve started this itinerary in Halifax, as it’s probably the easiest airport to fly into. After a few days exploring the city of Halifax, you can pick up a car and explore Atlantic Canada! You’ll start with wine tasting in the Annapolis Valley and then drive over to New Brunswick to check out the Bay of Fundy.

From there, you’re driving over to PEI for fresh seafood and then back to Nova Scotia to loop Cape Breton Island. Next, you’re on the ferry to Newfoundland where you’ll see the views of Gros Morne National Park and colourful homes of St. John’s.

Finally, you’ll board the overnight ferry and make your way back to Halifax where you can return your rental car and fly home.

1 month Canada road trip: Toronto to Vancouver driving trip

Road trip van parked at night with starry sky and trees

With a whole month, you can make a pretty serious dent in driving across Canada! Rather than stretching yourself to drive from coast to coast, save the Atlantic provinces for a future trip and just drive from Toronto (my old hometown) to Vancouver (my current hometown).

  • Week 1: Toronto, Tobermory & Manitoulin Island
  • Week 2: Driving across the prairies (see my recommended spots in the full itinerary above)
  • Week 3: Banff & Jasper
  • Week 4: The Okanagan & Vancouver

Alternatively, you could head east from Toronto and spend a month exploring Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. You probably wouldn’t have time to make it to Newfoundland, but you could tick off quite a few east coast provinces.

  • Week 1: Toronto, Prince Edward County & Ottawa
  • Week 2: Montreal, Eastern Townships & Quebec
  • Week 3: Bay of Fundy and PEI
  • Week 4: Halifax and Cape Breton Island

Wrapping up: 10 cross Canada road trips tips

Canada flag in front of a parliament building, the ultimate cross Canada road trip

Before you hit the road, keep these road trip tips in mind!

1. Safety first (car edition) : Make sure you’re comfortable driving the vehicle you’ll use for this Canadian road trip and that any necessary maintenance is taken care of. Follow the rules of the road, regularly service your car and have jumper cables available.

2. Safety first (human edition) : Stay safe and healthy on the road by staying in accommodation that you’re comfortable with, and keeping in touch with friends and family (particularly if you’re travelling alone). Make sure your car is stocked with water, a first aid kit and any other emergency supplies.

3. Book ahead in the busy season : Campgrounds, tours and parking lots fill up fast in busy Canadian tourist hot spots in the middle of summer! Make sure you do your research and book ahead when needed. While this might impact your ability to be spontaneous, it could save you a lot of stress and money.

4. Download all the apps : These days there are apps to help you find cheap gas, roadside attractions, free places to park, scenic campsites and so much more! Download the apps you need and be sure you have offline maps downloaded to help you navigate when you don’t have cell service. You may also want to join a roadside assistance or hotel loyalty program.

5. Consider a parks pass : Depending on how many national parks you’re visiting, you may want to buy the Parks Canada Discovery Pass for cheaper entrance to all of the national parks of Canada. Each province also has a pass for their provincial parks, which may be worth looking into.

6. Take it slow : If this is your first time to Canada or first big road trip, slow down. Give yourself time to get used to life on the road and schedule off-days so you can rest, do laundry, etc. Remember, Canada is a big place! You’ll enjoy your Canadian road trip a lot more if you aren’t driving 8 hours a day, rushing from one stop to the next.

7. Have a plan to stay connected : Depending on where you’re going on your road trip, you may not always have cell or internet service. And depending on where you’re coming from, you may not be able to use your home service in Canada. Look into options ahead of time, like buying a portable wifi unit, getting an e-Sim or stopping at wifi-friendly cafes, so you can stay connected.

8. Start preparing early : If you’re planning to be on the road for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, you’ll want to prep ahead of time. How far do you want to drive each day? Are you staying at campgrounds or hotels? Are you eating out or hitting the grocery store?

If you’re travelling with anyone else, make sure you’re having these conversations with them so everyone is on the same page.

9. Be respectful : Your Canada road trip will likely take you through lots of natural areas, so remember to Leave No Trace and be respectful of the outdoor environment. It’s also important to do your homework about whose land you’re travelling on, paying respect to Canada’s Indigenous peoples whose unceded land we live on.

10. Plan your next trip back to Canada! Whether you drive from Victoria to St. John’s or just a small section in between, make sure this trip to Canada isn’t your last. Hopefully you’ll be amazed by the natural wonders, history, culture, food and people here in Canada, and eagre to plan your next trip back!

Need to rent a car for your road trip? Get the best deal with Discover Cars!  

And there you have it, my ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary. I hope this itinerary has gotten you excited for your own road trip across Canada. I’d love to know: Where in Canada do you most want to visit? 

Check out more adventures across Canada:

  • 10 Things You Must Eat in Montreal
  • How to Spend a Weekend in Penticton, BC
  • Camping at Porteau Cove, BC

5 Day Cabot Trail Itinerary on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

  • 22 Things to Do in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Save my cross Canada road trip itinerary for your future trip planning. Pin it!

ULTIMATE CANADA ROAD TRIP: From Victoria to St. John's, discover the ultimate cross Canada road trip itinerary with 34+ stops and planning advice! #canada #travel #roadtrip #banff #vancouver #toronto #niagarafalls

Riana Ang-Canning is a travel writer who has been sharing her global adventures as the founder of Teaspoon of Adventure since 2012. In that time, Riana has travelled to almost 50 countries on 6 continents, including interning in Eswatini, working in Tokyo, road tripping New Zealand and living abroad in Prague. Riana helps everyday travellers discover the world on a mid-budget, proving that you don't have to be athletic, wealthy or nomadic to have an adventure!

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24 comments.

What a great trip you have to look forward to! I took 9 weeks to do this trip (return) the summer of 2019 and it was amazing — mainly staying in motels and AirBnBs (pre van life). You have many of the same stops on your itinerary. Just make sure to leave time for serendipity — those things you learn about from a sign on the side of the road.

-Lyn |www.ramblynjazz.com

Thanks so much, Lyn! So cool that you’ve been on this trip and great advice. Definitely have to leave room for some spontaneous stops and detours!

Yes to long-form content! Well done on pulling toegther this insanely comprehensive guide and road trip across Canada. This is content I’d love to read and indulge in. Your stops not only have a great distance to another to not overwhelm oneself and exhaust the driver, but I found all stops to be very engaging and of interest. It shows how much there is to do and see in Canada within reasonale distance, once you are here, why not check out this place, only 1.5h away and this makes a road trip interesting and long-lasting for me. I also appreciate the cafes recommendations along the way. Keep it up Riana!

Thanks so much, Carolin! You are definitely my inspiration for well-researched, long form content. I’ll have to commission you to do the cafe companion post to this one some day!

Thanks for this wonderful trip itinerary! live in Winnipeg & my husband & I are retiring this summer. We plan on driving east next spring and west probably the year after. I’m looking forward to my planning and will definitely take some of your “to do” recommendations into my planning!

So glad you liked the itinerary and hope it inspires some amazing travels for you!

What an amazing trip ! I love that you provided a shorter version also. However, I would love to do the longer one. I worked in Toronto one summer when I was a student and travelled around by train a little. I visit Montreal regularly as have family living there. But I have only visited a fraction of Canada so would love to explore further especially the West coast and mountain provinces.

Enjoy the trip and safe travels,

Thanks so much! I hope you get to explore more of Canada one day!

After reading this, I am so ready for a cross-Canada road trip! Growing up, my family regularly drove Ontario to BC and back as our summer vacation, and we also drove one summer to PEI and one summer to Newfoundland, so I’ve done it all in sections. (We usually opted for the detour through the States to skip Thunder Bay, sorry haha, but I’d like to give it another chance.) I’d looove to do it all at once as you’ve planned here, and there are a few places I’ve havent seen yet (somehow we skipped Fredericton, for example, and I’d like to see the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg). I’d forgotten how beautiful Tobermory is. I appreciate the “What’s missing?” section because it’s impossible to see it all in one trip—we are too lucky in this country!

Aw thanks so much for checking out the post, Melanie! So cool that you’ve been all over Canada with your family and I hope you (and I!) get to do the full road trip soon.

Thank you for sharing your Canada road trip, which looks an epic road trip, I have wanted to visit Canada, but I wont be doing it all in one long road trip in stages would be lovely, this has certainly given me some ideas for the future 🙂

Thanks, Nic! I hope you have an awesome time when you visit Canada.

Great blog! I did road trips in other parts of the world but needed clarification about the itinerary in Canada. Now I know how to plan. Thank you so much!

Thanks for checking it out! Glad it was helpful.

This is an excellent read! I have visited most of the places mentioned (in parts, and before having kids) and I can definitely say this is very practical and comprehensive! Like you said, Canada is sooo big that it takes time to visit most of it. Thank you for all the tips and recommendation. I can definitely use them now that I am traveling with my family (ie kiddos).

Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy your next Canadian adventure!

We are planning to do the cross Canada trip this summer. We are really excited about it and appreciate you spending time describing different places to visit. We are really excited about it and now even more so.

That’s so exciting! I’m glad my post was helpful. I hope you have a great time this summer!

Good day Riana

We are planning to self drive in Canada on early fall but we have only 3 weeks to explore . We are from Asia country and we know probably is not enough to explore everything according to the itinerary you recommended . Possible can advise us which is most and must visit from Vancouver to toronto by driving . Really appreciated

Hi Stephanie, thanks so much for checking out my post and how exciting that you’ll be visiting Canada this fall! I would actually suggest two smaller road trips to make the most of your time and see some of the best of Canada. First, driving from Vancouver to Calgary with stops in Kelowna, Jasper and Banff (apx 10-12 days). Then from Calgary I’d fly to Montreal or Quebec City and road trip through Montreal/QC, Niagara and Toronto (apx 8-10 days). Both of those would be one-way road trips, so you’ll likely incur an extra cost for a one-way drop off. You’d also be missing out on the east coast, which is a shame because it’s beautiful. But maybe you can add that to your next trip. I hope that helps and happy adventuring!

Really thanks for the recommendation but may I know the place I will be missing out for the east coast maybe I can adjust for extension

No worries! I actually have a post with my recommended Atlantic Canada itinerary: https://teaspoonofadventure.com/atlantic-canada-honeymoon-itinerary/ . I’d say the main places to see would be Halifax, PEI and the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton. I think you could do that in about 7-10 days, though more time wouldn’t be bad. That could also be a round trip drive if you pick up and drop off your car in Halifax.

Wow, this article really got me excited to plan my next road trip! The diversity of landscapes and destinations mentioned here is truly inspiring. I’ve been to a few of these places, but there are definitely some hidden gems I can’t wait to explore. Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive guide with helpful tips and recommendations. Can’t wait to hit the road and create some unforgettable memories! Right now I’m exploring campsites with my toddler.

Thanks for checking it out, Caroline! Enjoy camping with your little one!

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Budget Breakdown: The Cost of an Atlantic Canada Road Trip

After having travelled abroad for over 8 months, I was excited about the prospect of exploring more of my own country. Atlantic Canada is the most easterly region of Canada, comprising the four provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador. This part of Canada offers red sand beaches, amazing seafood, breathtaking scenery, and the friendliest folks in the country. In this post, I will go over my budget breakdown of my Atlantic Canada road trip!

Below is the route that we took in our Atlantic Canada road trip. We started in St. John’s, Newfoundland and finished in Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax.

Atlantic-Canada-Map-Route-Budget-Breakdown-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

We booked flights with Air Canada from Toronto Pearson to St. John’s and returning from Halifax. In total, the tickets cost $392.95 CAD per person. Travelling in other parts of the world made me realize just how much expensive it is flying within Canada (insert Arthur’s fist meme here).

For all you non-Canadians, flights to and within Canada are generally not cheap. We have a lack of budget airlines, and airline taxes make tickets expensive compared to other countries.

Air-Canada-flight-from-Toronto-to-St.-Johns-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

Food & Drinks

Seafood is quintessential for this region. Dishes like lobster rolls, fish and chips, or seafood chowder are found in most menus. But aside from seafood, each province is known for their own specialty. PEI is renowned around the world for their potatoes, which is said to have a unique flavour due to the rich red soil. Berries such as partridgeberry (similar to cranberry) are grown all over Newfoundland and makes great pies! Nova Scotia has the donair which is a variation of the doner kebab consisting of spiced ground beef, vegetables, and a distinctive sweet sauce, wrapped in flatbread. With a strong french community, traditional Acadian cuisine can be found all over New Brunswick.

In this region of Canada, you will find smaller mom and pop restaurants. The prices are not cheap but reasonable for the quality and service that you get. Apart from cooking your own food, there is not much option to eating on a budget. Usually you will have to resort to fast food chains. Chains like Tim Horton’s, Robins, and McDonald’s are your best bet.

Here is what I ate and what they cost:

  • A seafood feast of lobsters, a lobster roll, fried clams at Lobster Deck in Shediac, the “Lobster capital of the world”. $83.91 CAD
  • Fish & Chips at around $13 CAD for 2 pieces
  • Seafood Chowder Poutine for $15 CAD and small Steamed Blue Mussels Jardiniere for $10 CAD at The Blue Mussel Cafe in PEI.
  • Donair at Johnny K’s Authentic Donairs . $11.15 CAD
  • Donair pizza $24.60 CAD
  • Fried chicken at Mary Brown’s, a fried chicken chain based out of St. John’s, Newfoundland. $15.86 CAD
  • Partridgeberry pie with ice cream. $4 CAD
  • Two scoops of ice cream at Shediac, NB $6.64 CAD
  • Beer in the many bars in St. Johns $5.99 CAD

I have made a separate post on my Top 5 Eats in Atlantic Canada!

Seafood-feast-at-Lobster-Deck-Shediac-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

Transportation

With a lack of public transportation available, Atlantic Canada is best explored by car. It’s the best way to find yourself in quaint villages, deserted beaches, amazing viewpoints, and plenty off-the-beaten-track places.

As in the name of this blog post, we rented a car for the entirety of our trip. We rented a full size vehicle (Ford Fusion) with Hertz for $1,275.76 CAD . It was quite expensive as we picked it up from St. John’s and dropped it off at Halifax. For the 3,936 km that we drove, we filled up the gas/petrol 7 times amounting a total of $294.72 CAD .

I booked the car using Rentalcars.com . I find it the best for finding the best deals in Canada. I found that they show more rental companies and better prices compared to other sites like Expedia and Kayak.

road trip to atlantic canada

Another big chunk of expense was the overnight ferry that we took from Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland to Sydney, Nova Scotia. The 8 hour ferry with Marine Atlantic cost $255.99 CAD .

Also, if you are planning to drive in and out of Prince Edward Island, there will be a toll for using the Confederation Bridge. Driving from PEI to New Brunswick on Canada’s longest bridge will set you back $47.75 CAD .

Confederation-Bridge-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

As I was travelling with two other people, my share was only a third of each of the listed price.

Accommodation

When it comes to budget travel, Canada isn’t really a big hostel destination. Especially in Atlantic Canada, hostels are few and far in between with at most only one hostel in each city. Dorm beds are somewhat comparable to Western Europe or Australia starting at around $35 CAD per bed. Camping is a great alternative to sleep on a budget, and a great way to immerse yourself in our country’s natural beauty.

Travelling with others, I find Airbnb to provide the best bang for your buck for accommodation.

Here are the accommodations that we paid:

  • St. John’s, NL $55.45 CAD per night for a 3 bed in a basement
  • Gros Morne National Park, NL $158.03 CAD per night for small 4 bed chalet
  • Ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia $145.48 CAD per night for a 4 bed cabin
  • Cape Breton, NS $37.26 CAD per night (per person) for a dorm bed in HI Cabot Trail Hostel
  • Moncton, NB $69.87 CAD per night for a 2 bed in a basement
  • Halifax, NS $45.16 CAD per night for a 1 bedroom in shared apartment

For those who have not tried Airbnb yet, sign up with my referral link and you will get $45 CAD off your home booking! You will also be supporting this website, win-win!

Gros-Morne-Tiny-Chalets-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

The best thing about Canada is its amazing landscapes. Atlantic Canada is no different with breathtaking views of the ocean, beautiful national parks, and luscious forests. Best of all, most of these scenes can be viewed for FREE or for minimal costs. Here are the activities that we saw in our Atlantic Canada road trip:

Newfoundland

  • Signal Hill National Historic Site – This site offers sweeping views overlooking St. John’s and the Atlantic Ocean. It was also the site where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.
  • Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site – The lighthouse sits at the most easterly point in North America!
  • Skerwink Trail – This 5.3-km loop coastal trail offers breathtaking views from cliff tops overlooking the ocean where you can see whales, icebergs and sea stacks. Unfortunately for us, it was really foggy and we didn’t see much.
  • Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site – One of the best places to see icebergs and whales in Newfoundland. There were also amazing landscapes to be seen in this area.

St.-Johns-view-from-Signal-Hill-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

Gros Morne National Park

One of Newfoundland’s most spectacular nature spots has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 due to its unique natural and geological features. We spent three days here exploring the many sights found in this park such as:

  • Gros Morne Discovery Centre – Here is a great place to start off your visit in the park. They have great displays teaching visitors the history and the significance of the park along with suggestions on what to see during your stay.
  • Tablelands – Hike at the site where two ancient continents collided, exposing Earth’s mantle. This is also the site were scientists proved the theory of plate tectonics, making it a big reason why this park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
  • Green Gardens – One of the more popular hikes at the Gros Morne National Park. This 9 km return trail takes you through a number of diverse landscapes from green forest to volcanic sea coast.
  • Western Brook Pond- This fjord was carved out billions of years ago by receding glaciers. You can either hike around or take a boat tour. We did the latter and definitely recommend it! On board, we were able to get better views of the spectacular fjords, waterfalls, towering cliffs, and even some wildlife sightings (black bear). The boat tour is $65 CAD per person.

The-Tablelands-Gros-Morne-National-Park-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

Nova Scotia

  • The Cabot Trail – This is one of Canada’s (or perhaps the world’s) most impressive drives. The trail loops around Cape Breton Island and goes through Cape Breton National Park, alternating between oceanside stretches and forest covered hills.
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park – We hiked the Skyline Trail on the North East side of the park. This 7 km (return) hike leads to a boardwalk on steep cliffs giving panoramic views of the winding Cabot Trail and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Entrance fee to the park was $15.27 CAD for our group.
  • Lunenburg – Walk around this beautiful and historic town. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors to Lunenburg can have a great idea of what towns looked like under British colonial times.
  • Tour the deck of Bluenose II – This is the replica of the original fishing schooner Bluenose, which is on the Canadian dime (10 cent coin). The ship spends most of its time in the harbours of either Lunenburg or Halifax harbour. You can find the schedule of the boat here!
  • Peggy’s Cove – The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is famous for being one of the most picturesque in the world.
  • Stroll the Halifax Waterfront – One of the best waterfronts in the country, there are endless amounts of boutique shops, street vendors, sand some of the city’s best restaurants. Go here for sunset for beautiful colours shimmering on the water.

Cabot-Trail-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

Prince Edward Island

  • Charlottetown – Walk around this quaint provincial capital, the birthplace of Canada. There is the beautiful Victoria Row, a street filled with many boutique shops and delicious restaurants.
  • Cavendish Beach – The province is known for its red sandy beaches, and this is one of the best beaches to check out.
  • Basin Head Provincial Park – best known for the “Singing Sands”, in which the white sand “sings” as you walk through it, due to a high silica content.
  • Canada’s Smallest Library – Fitting that the country’s smallest province is home to its smallest library. This fun sized shack houses about 1,800 books.

Cavendish-Beach-PEI-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

New Brunswick

  • Hopewell Rocks – Walk on the ocean floor thanks to the Bay of Fundy’s low tides. The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest change of tide – up to 17 m (56 ft) tidal change takes place here. If you have some more time, check out the difference between high tide and low tide. Entrance is $10 CAD .
  • Shediac – This French-Acadian community is known for two things: warm beaches and lobster. The saltwater beaches are some of the warmest water north of Virginia. The town claims itself as The Lobster Capital of the World for its lobster fishing and processing plants.

Hopewell-Rocks-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

If you have some time for shopping, head to the Halifax Shopping Centre, where they have a free $5 gift card promotion for visitors. Just follow these steps!

  • Step 1: Head to guest services.
  • Step 2: Present an out of town ID.
  • Step 3: Profit.

Free-gift-card-at-Halifax-Shopping-Centre-Budget-Breakdown-An-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip

The Sum of the Atlantic Canada Road Trip

Our Atlantic Canada road trip lasted 11 days, and I spent a total of $1,946.37 CAD . That amounts to $176.94 CAD per day.

The tourist season here is remarkably short. Summer’s compact high season runs from early July to early September. When we went in June, we were surprised to find that many attractions were not open for the season yet.

As you can see, transportation costs made up the biggest chunk of my spend–this was mostly due to the car rental. Due to the lack of public transportation and having the flexibility to go wherever (for the most part) you want, renting a car is a must for this region in Canada… especially as the best sights are the natural landscapes.

Something that took getting used to while travelling back home was that the stated price is not the price that you will pay. The additional sales tax (15%) and sometimes tip (15-18%) in restaurants add a significant $$$ to your overall spend.

Budget-Breakdown-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip-Spend

My food and drinks spend was quite higher than average as we mostly ate out at restaurants and eating the local delicacies. Seafood is more expensive than other kinds of meat.

Budget-Breakdown-Atlantic-Canada-Road-Trip-Spend-per-day

Ways to save Money

  • Prepping your own food is always cheapest, whether that means packing simple eats for breakfast e.g. fruit, granola bars, or tortilla wraps with your simple choice of filling such as tuna or peanut butter. Farmers markets exist in most major cities, and can be great for stocking up on fresh produce and locally farmed eats.
  • If your route and schedule permits, have the same pick up and drop off point when renting a car. This saves you from paying a one-way fee.

road trip to atlantic canada

Whao, what a traveler you are and l ‘am just plain jealous of you, to say the list!

Just like you, I’m excited about the prospect of exploring more of my own country (I’m also from Toronto but been living in Germany for a long time and never done such road trip b4).

I have a question and maybe tips from you: I am planning doing a 16-Day RV Montreal – Nova Scotia Road Trip next year summer (starting from Montreal – NB-PEI -NS(last stop, Halifax).

In Cape Breton Island: which route would be better, clockwise or counterclockwise and where do they each start and ends?

Maybe you can suggest routes, a must-see along the routes, things to ignore etc. Remember just 16 Days…

Thanks and cheers Next

road trip to atlantic canada

Thanks for your kind comment. In terms of my suggestions:

If you have never been to Montreal , take at least 3 days to explore the city. You have your big sights such as Old Montréal, Notre-Dame, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, and Parc du Mont-Royal. Don’t leave the city without eating some poutine and Montreal Smoked meat. My favourite spots are La Banquise and Schwartz’s.

Next should be Quebec City . Take another couple of days there to explore the old town. Its nice to just walk around and get a feel of the vibe. There is also the citadel and different forts to see. I haven’t been to Quebec City in a long time, so I am sure there are more things to do here.

After, you should head towards New Brunswick . The only places I have been in the province are the ones I listed in my blog post. However, I would suggest either checking out Fredericton and Saint John if you want to get a more bigger city feel or drive on the coast for more nature and smaller port towns. The coast is also where there are strong Acadian roots, so you get more of the Acadian culture.

I would then follow the similar itinerary that I had (except Newfoundland). All the sights that I pointed out are must see. What I suggest seeing on top are exploring more of Bay of Fundy, particularly Fundy National Park, where there are more coastline experiences and waterfalls to see. As for Cape Breton Island, I think either way is fine, there are pros and cons to each way. The Cabot Trail starts at Margaree Harbour (West end) to Baddeck (East End)

I think what’s great is that you have time on your side. 16 days is more than enough time and makes it a lot enjoyable to see different sights. You can also take it easy

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Sorry, for the double post, just in case…

Thanks for your reply and suggestion(very good ones..) except that with poutine! l will try to keep away from it (don’t tell the Québécois- just between you and l ) 🙂 I will certainly go for the smoked meat ..

Actually, this is my planned itinerary for now:

My starting point is already Montreal(budgeted 2 days for it ) not including the 16 days planned and endpoint Halifax, also 2 days not including part of the 16 days!!! The 16 days start counting from Québec city:

Montreal – Québec City – Matane – Gaspe Peninsula – Perce – Kouchibouguac National Park – Fundy National Park – Charlottetown – Cape Breton Island – Halifax.

Will try to take your advice and figure out anything “must see” in between.

I did mention it’s a RV 16 Day itinerary. So lots of driving and campinggrounding.. Will need to find out more about the possible campinggrounds (conviniency) to each stop.

Maybe you have an idea?

Sounds like a great itinerary!

I haven’t had the opportunity to RV/vanlife across Canada yet, so I cant really add any tips on that. However, I hear the iOverlander app is great at finding the best camping spots along with some places thats free to camp.

Hope you have a great trip!

Thanks man and many happy cheers…

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road trip to atlantic canada

10 Road Trip Itineraries In Canada That Will Leave You Wanting More Vacation Days

  • Canada offers breathtaking road trip experiences with stunning views of mountains, icefields, oceans, and forests, showcasing the country's natural beauty.
  • The besr road trips in Canada provide unique perspectives on the world's second-largest country, from exploring national parks to scenic highways and charming towns.
  • Tourists can embark on thrilling and beautiful road trips across Canada, whether it's driving along the Icefields Parkway, the Cabot Trail, the Sea to Sky Highway, or exploring the cowboy culture along the Cowboy Trail.

Driving across a country can be a perfect mode of travel for tourists who want to experience that country at its fullest. One of the best countries for road trips has to be Canada; with towering snow-capped mountains, lively coastal areas, and fertile plains, driving across Canada is sure to display the true beauty that this North American country offers.

Tourists don't need to only visit national parks to see the splendor of this land; even the highways in this region are gorgeous! Here, travelers can find out about Canada's top road trip itineraries and highways; each of these incredible Canadian road trips offers tourists a unique perspective on the world's second-largest country, from exploring the Columbia Icefield to the stunning forests of Nova Scotia. Discover why road-tripping is one of the most thrilling things to do in Canada with these scenic drives across this breathtaking North American nation.

Related: 10 Truly Unusual Experiences You Can Only Have At Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway

The first, and probably the most famous of Canada's road trips, is Icefields Parkway. Running from Lake Louise in Banff National Park (a superb winter destination) to the town of Jasper, this roadway is considered one of Canada's best scenic routes. It's considered the best for a reason: on either side of the highway are stunning views of mountains and the famous Columbia Icefield.

Visitors on this itinerary will start at the crystalline waters of Lake Louise. They can then head to the aquamarine Bow Lake and from there to the Weeping Wall, a series of thin-streamed waterfalls that cascade down the mountain, resembling tears. After that, visitors can head to the Columbia Icefield, which is the largest glacier in Canada outside the Arctic Circle.

From there, visitors can stand on the daunting Columbia Icefield Skywalk . This is an observation platform standing high in the mountains...whose floor is made of glass! Finally, visitors can head to Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls to see some of Canada's most beautiful waterfalls before heading into the town of Jasper.

  • Distance: 144 miles
  • Notable stops: Lake Louise, Bow Lake, Weeping Wall, Columbia Icefield, Columbia Icefield Skywalk, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls, the town of Jasper

Cabot Trail

Nova Scotia's premier highway is the Cabot Trail, which consistently ranks among the best road trip itineraries in Canada. Although this area is commonly known as one of the most beautiful places in the world for fall foliage , it is still gorgeous at any time of year. Here, tourists will see stunning views of the North Atlantic Ocean, along with the deciduous forests of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

After starting on the Trail, tourists can first head to Baddeck, an adorable village that was once the home of Alexander Graham Bell. Next, visitors should head to Ingonish Beach, a rocky, North Atlantic-style beach with stunning views of the ocean and the nearby cliffsides. Afterward, visitors can head to Beulach Ban Falls, a gorgeous hike with a giant waterfall and moss-covered rocks.

Visitors can then head to the fishing village of Pleasant Bay, where visitors can learn all about local whales through whale watching tours or through the Whale Interpretive Centre. Visitors can also stop at the local MacKenzie Mountain Look-Off, a lookout point where tourists have been known to spot whales. Finally, visitors can head to Inverness, where they can explore the local museums, beaches, and restaurants.

  • Distance: 185 miles
  • Notable stops: Baddeck, Ingonish Beach, Beulach Ban Falls, Pleasant Bay, MacKenzie Mountain Look-Off, Inverness (Nova Scotia)

Sea To Sky Highway

Starting in Vancouver, this highway is among the most scenic drives in Canada; it initially hugs the Strait of Georgia before heading up inland to Pemberton. The Sea to Sky Highway has an apt name as tourists start on the beautiful, rugged coast only to head up into the clouds of the mountains. Tourists here will be able to see all kinds of wildlife (like mountain goats!), beautiful waterfalls, and rugged peaks.

An itinerary for the Sea to Sky Highway usually looks something like this: First, tourists will begin in Vancouver, where they can explore the artistic features of this coastal city. Then, they can head to Horseshoe Bay to explore the harbor and eat delicious fish and chips. After that, a northbound drive will find them at the Sea to Sky Gondola, which has a viewing platform that allows tourists to see stunning vistas of the Howe Sound region. Then, the town of Squamish, where tourists can explore an abundance of mountain biking trails, is not far.

After staying or passing through Squamish, visitors will be able to see the westward-facing mountains of the Tantalus Range. A quick stop in Brackendale to see wintering Bald Eagles in November-February will be a great way to finish off the trip before entering Pemberton.

  • Distance: 234 miles
  • Notable stops: Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay, Sea to Sky Gondola, Howe Sound, mountain biking in Squamish, Tantalus Range, Brackendale to see Bald Eagles, Pemberton

Related: Seattle To Vancouver: 10 Things You'll Experience On The Scenic Cascades Train Route

The Cowboy Trail

The Rocky Mountain Foothills of Canada are best experienced on the Cowboy Trail, Canada's best road trip for the wild at heart. Set along Highway 22, this road will take tourists through gorgeous mountains, aspen forests, and blue rapids. Visitors along the way should be sure to stay at a local ranch for horseback riding for at least one of the days on their trip.

The Cowboy Trail officially starts near the US-Canadian border in the town of Lundbreck, Alberta. There, visitors should be sure to stop or camp at the Lundbreck Falls, a set of gorgeous waterfalls that crash into aquamarine water. After beginning there, tourists can head up north to explore Calgary and its epic attractions , where visitors can see the sights of the city from Calgary Tower or walk down Stephen Avenue.

After that, travelers can stop at Banff National Park if they so choose to see Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Visitors can also stop at the Historic Cochrane Ranche, a museum where tourists can learn about the history of ranching in this area (Calgary isn't known as "Cow Town" for nothing!).

Visitors interested in history can stop at the small town of Rocky Mountain House, where they can stop at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site to learn about the fur trade and the Indigenous Peoples of the region. Finally, tourists can end their trip in the town of Mayerthorpe.

  • Distance: 356.7 miles
  • Notable stops: Lundbreck, Lundbreck Falls, Calgary, Calgary Tower, Stephen Avenue, Banff National Park, Moraine Lake, Valley of the Ten Peaks, Historic Cochrane Ranche, Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, Mayerthorpe

The Irish Loop

Newfoundland, on Canada's eastern coast, is the fourth-largest island in the nation, and the Irish Loop is one of the best ways to experience it. One of many different scenic road trips in Newfoundland , this 193.8-mile loop will take tourists along rugged coasts, over suspension bridges, through pine forests, and through incredible nature reserves.

Tourists can start anywhere on the loop, but the best starting place is the provincial capital of St. John's, where visitors will see buildings painted with bright primary colors and an impressive basilica. Visitors can then head to La Manche Provincial Park, where visitors can see (and swim near!) stunning white waterfalls, and nearby can see the La Manche Suspension Bridge.

After that, visitors can see the incredible rock formation of the Berry Head Sea Arch. Next, visitors can explore the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where tourists can see stunning rock formations and ancient fossils. Afterward, tourists can head to St. Vincent's Beach, where they'll relax and whale watch atop gorgeous gray sand.

Finally, one can hike, canoe, and look for wildlife at the Avalon Wilderness Reserve.

  • Distance: 193.8 miles
  • Notable stops: St. John's, La Manche Provincial Park, Berry Head Sea Arch, Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, St. Vincent's Beach, Avalon Wilderness Reserve

Inuvik-Aklavik Ice Road

One of the most incredible roads in Canada is the Inuvik-Aklavik Ice Road. There is truly nothing like this in the entire world; the road is made almost entirely of ice! It runs across the MacKenzie River and the various lakes between, starting at Aklavik and ending at Inuvik.

As it's made of ice, each year, the road has to be rebuilt during early winter. The road is in place until early April. Something interesting is that these towns are not connected by highway during the summertime and are only accessible to each other directly by air or canoe.

The window of time travelers can experience this road is getting shorter and shorter each year due to climate change. Speed limits on this road are also only 70 km (43.4 miles) per hour due to the road being made of ice.

Tourists can start their journey in the town of Inuvik, where they can explore the beautiful Jàk Territorial Park. After that, in the wintertime, they can set out along the ice road to the town of Aklavik for one of the most unique road experiences of their lives. Here, they can see stunning views of the frozen MacKenzie River. They should also scour the boreal forest for local wildlife, like caribou, moose, polar bears, and wolves.

The Ice Road is a sight in and of itself, but there aren't man-made stops between Aklavik and Inuvik, so visitors are encouraged to traverse this road as a detour from the Dempster Highway that runs through Inuvik all the way to the northern town of Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea.

  • Distance: 72 miles
  • Notable stops and activities: Inuvik, MacKenzie River, exploring the Boreal Forest, wildlife-watching, Aklavik,

Dempster Highway

One of the most ambitious highways in Canada for tourists to journey on is the Dempster Highway. This highway starts 25 miles east of Dawson City in the Yukon and runs all the way up to the city of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean. Visitors here will be able to see many unique and inspiring sights, like the official landmark marking the latitude of the Arctic Circle. People will even be able to experience the Midnight Sun, with 24 hours of daylight in the summertime!

Tourists can start their journey in at Tombstone Territorial Park, where visitors can see stunning and jagged black mountains as they hike. They can then head to Two Moose Lake for moose watching and further to Engineer Creek to hunt for fossilized coral. Afterward, they can head to the town of Inuvik, where they can explore the beautiful Jàk Territorial Park.

After that, they can head north to the Pingo National Landmark, where tourists can see and learn about Pingos (natural hills made from ice cores). While on the road, visitors should look for a variety of bird species, Arctic foxes, wolves, and polar bears. Finally, tourists can end their journey at the ocean town of Tuktoyaktuk.

  • Distance: 458.3 miles
  • Notable stops: Tombstone Territorial Park, Two Moose Lake, Engineer Creek, Inuvik, Jàk Territorial Park, Pingo National Landmark, Tuktoyaktuk

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is famous for its rolling green hills, its glassy ocean harbors, its red rock shores, and its adorable lighthouses. Tourists will be enthralled by the many beaches and bright green hills of this region, which served as inspiration for the famous novel Anne of Green Gables.

A road trip along Prince Edward Island will begin at East Point Lighthouse, an adorable white lighthouse with a red roof that faces out into the North Atlantic. After that, visitors can head to Prince Edward Island National Park, where tourists will encounter beautiful beaches, woodlands, ponds, and wildlife.

After an afternoon of hiking, visitors can head to the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish. This historic site was originally the home of Maud Montgomery's relatives and served as the setting for her groundbreaking book, Anne of Green Gables. Visitors can then head to the charming town of Summerside, a coastal boardwalk town with Instagrammable pastel buildings. Finally, tourists can end their tip-to-tip road trip at North Point Lightstation.

  • Distance: 159 miles
  • Notable stops: East Point Lighthouse, Prince Edward Island National Park, Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish, Summerside, North Point Lightstation

Related: These Are The 10 Best Beaches On Prince Edward Island

Coquihalla Highway

The Coquihalla Highway runs North-South from Vancouver to Edmonton. This route will take tourists through snowy mountain passes, through forested valleys, and along spooky caverns. After beginning their journey in the artsy city of Vancouver, tourists can head to the Cascade Falls and Suspension Bridge, where tourists can see a giant waterfall amid a temperate rainforest.

After this, tourists can visit Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Here, they can explore scenic trails lined with waterfalls and rushing rivers. This location is also famous for the Othello Tunnels, man-made tunnels from the 19th century that tourists can explore today. After exploring this park, tourists can head north to the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area, where they can see towering granite mountain peaks.

Next, tourists should head to Jasper National Park. This park is truly impressive; camping here for a few days is well worth it! After that, visitors can head to Edmonton, Canada's Festival City.

  • Distance: 719.5 miles
  • Notable stops: Cascade Falls and Suspension Bridge, Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area, Jasper National Park, Edmonton

Bay Of Fundy Coast

Between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is the Bay of Fundy, an estuary that leads into the Atlantic Ocean. This area is famous around the world for its unusually high tides and powerful ocean currents. With luck, tourists here should encounter a wide variety of sights and experiences, such as looking for North Atlantic right whales, seeing unique rock formations, and orange-rock beaches.

A Bay of Fundy Coast road trip starts in the coastal town of St. Andrews in New Brunswick. After stopping here, visitors should head to the City of Saint John, where visitors can see the Reversing Rapids. These rapids in the Saint John River collide with the strong tides of the bay, which creates the image of a reversal. After stopping here, visitors should head to Fundy National Park , where they can see more than 25 waterfalls and walk the Moosehorn Trail.

Next, tourists should head to the Hopewell Rocks, a unique series of rock formations formed by tidal erosion that characterize this region. Visitors can then head to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park to see old-growth forests and rugged cliffs facing the bay. After that, tourists should go to Blomidon Provincial Park to see a beach made up of orange sand underneath the shadow of red-rock cliffs.

Finally, a road trip along the Bay of Fundy ends in the town of Digby, where visitors can see an adorable ocean harbor.

  • Distance: 110 miles
  • Notable stops: St. Andrews (New Brunswick), City of Saint John, Reversing Rapids, Fundy National Park, Hopewell Rocks, Cape Cignecto Provincial Park, Blomidon Provincial Park, Digby

Related: 10 Best Tourist Attractions On The Bay Of Fundy Taking a road trip in Canada, whether tourists opt for the rolling green hills of Prince Edward Island or the tundra at the Arctic Circle, is something that should be on every adventurer's bucket list. There are miles and miles of untapped wilderness in this magnificent North American country to explore; all that's left is for tourists to pick their destination and hit the road to explore the most beautiful road trips in Canada!

10 Road Trip Itineraries In Canada That Will Leave You Wanting More Vacation Days

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  • DESTINATION GUIDE

The essential guide to visiting Canada

Here’s what you need to know about the world’s second largest country—when to go, where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.

A cityscape lighting up at dusk along a smooth, blue, body of water

Why you should visit Canada

The majesty of Niagara Falls and Banff National Park . Champagne powder at British Columbia ski resorts. Dense forests, teal waters. Polar bears and spirit bears and loons. Poutine in Montreal , lobster rolls in Halifax. The most lakes of any country in the world.

Reflections of rugged mountains and evergreen trees in a mountain lake.

Best time to visit Canada

Spring: Whale-watch at Clayoquot Sound (pronounced clack-what) as some 20,000 gray whales migrate past the coast, a UNESCO Biosphere Region. A million tulips bloom in Ottawa as part of a spring festival .

Summer:   This is prime season for canoeing Ontario’s many lakes, driving the glorious Sea-to-Sky Highway   from Vancouver to Whistler, rock-climbing at Squamish, and golfing at a world-renowned seaside course, like Nova Scotia’s Cabot Cliffs or Cabot Links . End of summer sees the stars come out at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Autumn:   Polar bears gather in large numbers in Churchill , Manitoba , waiting for ice to form on Hudson Bay so they can hunt seal. For fall colors, take a boat trip up the Saguenay River, in Quebec.

Winter:   Dogsled, ice-fish, and snowshoe at the Carnaval de Québec winter festival. Ski or snowboard at any of a score of high, steep, powdery ski resorts that populate the west, including Whistler Blackcomb , Kicking Horse , and Revelstoke , the last being one of the snowiest places on Earth. At Whistler, ride the bobsleigh track featured at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

People on a whale/bird watching trip look to the sky with binoculars.

Lay of the land

Cities:   Mountains and ocean sandwich outdoorsy Vancouver.   Lakefront Toronto’s dramatic skyline is interspersed with museums and vibrant ethnic neighborhoods. Sophisticated cobblestoned Montreal is where Canadians go to let their hair down. Colorful houses cling to the rock of St. John’s while icebergs drift offshore. “Any boat ride that has you entering St. John’s Harbour at dusk is a divine experience,” says legendary Newfoundland folk-rock musician Alan Doyle .  

West:   In British Columbia, get lost among the islands of Haida Gwaii,   home to some of the densest, most concentrated coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth. In Desolation Sound,   cultural interpreter and bear guide Klemkwateki (Randy) Louie teaches visitors how to weave with cedar bark and to carve miniature canoe paddles. He also takes guests by boat up the Toba Inlet (Yekwamen), among whales, orcas, seals, and sea lions, to the Klite River to watch grizzly bears in their natural habitat. “I’ve been involved in my Coast Salish teachings for 30 years, singing, drumming, dancing, giving visitors some Klahoose history. We’ve handed this down to the younger generation and to our guests to help with building a connection in working together.”

The 47-mile backcountry West Coast Trail (WCT) crosses beaches studded with flowerpot rock formations, and passes through groves of old-growth trees. Down the Vancouver Island coast is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail , a shorter but more hilly option. “Both trails zigzag through thick coastal rainforest with lots of muddy sections and ladders to help you up and down the steep slopes,” says Taryn Eyton, founder of HappiestOutdoors.ca .

Theforest suspension bridge over Pete Wolfe Creek on the Juan de Fuca trail on the way to Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island.

North:   In the Northwest Territories (NWT), paddle the Nahanni River through Canada’s deepest river canyons, along rapids, and past Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara. NWT is also where you can canoe and swim in enormous Great Slave Lake and spot the northern lights , visible here 240 nights per year.  

Prairie provinces:   Elk Island National Park , in Alberta , is home to bison, elk, and more than 250 bird species. Nearby on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Métis Crossing features a cultural center, historic exhibits, and dome accommodations with transparent ceilings for night-sky viewing. In early fall, Jasper National Park holds a Dark Sky festival with family-friendly events like night hikes.

Fly in by floatplane to lodges in Saskatchewan or Manitoba for trophy catches of northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. “Since there’s very little fishing pressure, the fish are typically giants, and more than willing to hit just about any lure you show them,” says Patrick Walsh, editor of Outdoor Canada   magazine.  

Ontario:   Charter a boat and cruise the 120 miles from the capital Ottawa down the 19 th- century Rideau Canal (the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America), through a series of lakes, locks, and rivers. Drive west alongside Lake Ontario to Prince Edward County , one of the hottest vacation spots in Canada, known for its wineries, food, hip hotels, and historic small towns like Wellington and Picton. Climb the immense sand dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park, the largest freshwater barrier beach and dune system in the world. Continuing west along the lake, a new Canadian Canoe Museum opened in Peterborough in May 2024.

Quebec:   Montreal comes alive in summer with a series of events, such as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal . In compact, French-speaking Quebec City, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a charming town in northern France. Off the beaten path, drive the Gaspé peninsula, encompassing four national parks and iconic offshore limestone formation Percé. Stop in at the International Garden Festival at Grand-Métis, Quebec.

Atlantic Canada:   A magical place of mountains and verdant coastline, Gros Morne National Park,   in Newfoundland , is one of the few places where you can stroll atop the Earth’s mantle , exposed when two continental plates collided. Visitors can hike to the top of Western Brook Pond fjord for an iconic view , or board a boat . The oldest known European settlement in North America—beating Columbus by centuries—is at L'Anse aux Meadows . Windswept homes of timber, peat, and sod, the Viking site lay undiscovered until 1960.

At the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Geopark in Nova Scotia   marvel at the world’s highest tides in action.  

Cape Breton Island is home to one of the world’s great drives, the 185-mile Cabot Trail. A few hardy types bike the steep winding hills. Offshore, visitors whale-watch or fish enormous bluefin tuna.

Flower Pot rocks, Soley Cove, Five Islands area, Nova Scotia, Canada, Cobequid Bay, Bay of Fundy; Ocean tides

Getting around Canada

By plane:   Leading carrier Air Canada has more than 900 flights daily. Floatplanes operated by small companies connect remote locations. U.S.-bound passengers can pre-clear U.S. customs and immigration at nine Canadian airports.  

B y train:   Rail is the time-honored way to see Canada, and operators run specialized services for tourists, like Rocky Mountaineer’s deluxe routes from Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies to Banff or Jasper. Regular train service by Via runs a limited number of routes.

By bus:   Intercity bus service has declined across Canada.

By car:   A car is essential for moving about within regions of Canada, but some top tourist spots—like Churchill for polar bears—are accessible only by plane or train.

By boat:   Bounded by three oceans and with an abundance of lakes and rivers, a cruise or boat trip is a great way to see the country.

Know before you go

Cultural heritage:   Native rights and the debts owed by settlers have become front and center in the public discourse, with land acknowledgements , which originated in Canada, now standard practice. Canada’s newest (1999) territory, Nunavut , is governed by the Inuit , and Torngat Mountains National Park , on the northern tip of Labrador, is owned and managed by the Inuit, the first of its kind.

The transcontinental railway helped establish Canada as a nation, but at the same time pushed aside Indigenous peoples and their rights. Blasting through the Canadian Rockies, untold numbers of imported Chinese workers died and were buried by their fellow countrymen, often in unmarked graves.

Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, but when Great Britain declared war in 1914 Canada automatically joined too as it did not yet control its own foreign affairs. Canada gained legislative independence from Britain in 1931, an official flag of its own only in 1965, and constitutional independence from the U.K. as recently as 1982.

Visitors arrive at Saglek Fjord's North Arm by boat and can fish for Arctic char. This site has been used for thousands of years as a summertime camping ground for the Inuit.

Hours: Bars in Canadian cities typically stay open until 2 a.m. Drinking age is 18 or 19, depending on province or territory, while some remote northern communities place restrictions on alcohol use. Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal uses.

LGBTQ+:   Canada is consistently ranked the world’s best country for LGBTQ+ rights and safety of travelers. The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2005—at the time only the fourth country in the world to do so. Pride Toronto (June) is one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world.

How to visit Canada sustainably

Greenpeace was founded in Canada and today the country ranks a respectable 14 th out of 76 countries on the Green Future Index . Keep your distance from wildlife. Bring your own reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and toiletries. Put all garbage and recyclables into designated bins. Support Indigenous peoples by taking guided walks and visiting Indigenous art galleries.

What to read and watch

Anne of Green Gables , by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This globally loved 1908 children’s book set on Prince Edward Island was adapted most recently into a Netflix series. November 30, 2024, will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Montgomery.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands , by Kate Beaton. This autobiographical comic from Cape Breton’s Kate Beaton recounts her experience as one of the few women working in the rough-and-tumble oil patch of northern Alberta. Beaton’s story also captures the never-ending tale of Canadians from the Atlantic provinces migrating westward for work.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America , by Thomas King. This history of Indigenous peoples in North America has been turned into a 2020 documentary .

The Sleeping Car Porter ,   by Suzette Mayr. The award-winning 2022 novel focuses on a 1920s Black closeted gay Canadian working as a railway porter to save money to attend dental school.

The Hockey Sweater , by Roch Carrier. This 1979 short story about a Quebec boy who receives a hated Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in error has been an enduring favorite of Canadians, managing to capture the importance of both hockey and winter to Canadian children, and also serving as an explainer of relations between English and French Canada.

Schitt’s Creek.   The pandemic’s surprise hit series was written by and stars Canadians, and more than anything has a gentle, Canadian-defining vibe to it. If these characters are your people, you’ll feel at home in Canada.

Kim’s Convenience.   Written by Ins Choi, this sitcom about a Korean-Canadian family who own a corner store in downtown Toronto captures the intimate feel of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods, as well as the common multi-generational immigrant experience in one of the world’s most international metropolises.

Related Topics

  • CITY GUIDES
  • NATIONAL PARKS
  • DOG SLEDDING

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Canadian Maritimes Road Trip | Atlantic Charm

Canadian Maritimes Road Trip | Atlantic Charm

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INTRODUCTION

Experience the fresh salty air, unspoiled nature, rich history and warm hospitality of Atlantic Canada on this comprehensive 11-day Canadian Maritimes road trip.

Traveling through lunenburg, annapolis royal, wolfville and charlottetown, you'll encounter national parks, national historic sites, museums and more, all set to the tune of canada's eclectic east coast., enjoy sightseeing, whale watching and learning about canada's history, ending with time on the cabot trail and in nova scotia's capital, halifax. .

Itinerary at a Glance

road trip to atlantic canada

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 Travel to Lunenburg | 145 km/90 mi Head south to Lunenburg, visiting Peggy’s Cove along the way. Peggy’s Cove (45km) is a small village with houses built right into the granite rock and a lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic. Old Town Lunenburg (98km), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a lovingly restored Victorian town that begs you to wander and explore.

Day 2 Travel to Annapolis Royal | 133 km/83 mi Cross the peninsula and make a stop at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, renowned for its hiking trails and incredible canoeing on wilderness lakes and rivers. Park interpretive staff conduct outings on foot to reveal the natural history of the area, including the Mi’kmaq pretoglyphs. Continue along Route 8 to Annapolis Royal. (breakfast included)

Day 3 Whale Watching Fishing Villages Exploring | 206 km/128 mi Today drive along 95 km along the Digby Neck to experience a whale watching excursion (operates 03 Jun - 09 Oct) in the nutrient rich waters of the Bay of Fundy. You will likely see finback and Minkes, humpbacks or even the rare North Atlantic right whale. Spend the afternoon exploring Annapolis Royal and Fort Anne. (breakfast included)

Day 4 Annapolis Royal to Wolfville | 109 km/68 mi Make time to stop at the Grand-Pré National Historic Site, commemorating the Grand-Pré area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755 and the Deportation of the Acadians, which began in 1755 and continued until 1762. Also the Domaine de Grand Pré is a fantastic winery in the area well worth a visit. (breakfast included)

Day 5 Wolfville to Charlottetown | 360 km/224 mi Enroute to Charlottetown take time to stop and see the Bay of Fundy, a marvel of nature. You will cross the 13km long Confederation Bridge. (breakfast included)

Day 6 Charlottetown | Island Sightseeing Explore Charlottetown, the site of Canada’s birthplace - Province House National Historic Site was the scene of meetings that led to the formation of Canada as a country in 1867. (breakfast included)

Day 7 Tour PEI - The Land of Anne | 100 km/63 mi You can explore picturesque Prince Edward Island National Park on the island’s north shore - see sand dunes, beaches and Green Gables Heritage Place, fictional home of Anne, the character created by Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery and loved by millions worldwide. (breakfast included)

Day 8 Charlottetown to Cape Breton Island | 274 km/170 mi + Ferry Depart Charlottetown taking Route 1 to the ferry crossing at Wood Islands to Caribou, Nova Scotia then drive to Cape Breton Island, a little piece of Scotland in North America. (breakfast included)

Day 9 Cabot Trail | 300 km/187 mi You are off to experience one of the most stunningly picturesque drives in North America. The Cabot Trail winds around the rocky splendor of Cape Breton's northern shore, ascending to the incredible plateaus of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Look-offs offer unforgettable vistas of Cape Breton's rugged coastline so be sure to have your camera on hand.

Day 10 Louisbourg Sightseeing | 220 km/137 mi This morning head north to discover the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. This incredible “living museum,” largest historical reconstruction in North America, is an impressive restoration of a French garrison town dating from the 1700s, complete with costumed interpreters who re-enact daily life from the French colonial period. You can even sample period food in the restaurant, or take part in a mock battle. Also, don’t miss a visit to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in the village of Baddeck, a museum dedicated to the life and inventions of this fascinating man - who spent his summers here on the shores of the Bras d’Or - Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is located on Chebucto Street (Route 205), in a residential area on the east edge of the village of Baddeck. You may also want to visit the Highland Village Museum in Iona.

Day 11 Travel to Halifax | 357 km/222 mi A full day for the return trip to Halifax along the scenic Bras d’Or Lakes Drive to the Canso Causeway to enter mainland Nova Scotia. At the community of Antigonish, travel southwest along Marine Drive to your destination.

Package Includes:

  • 1 night accommodation in Lunenburg
  • 2 nights accommodation in Annapolis Royal
  • 1 night accommodation in Wolfville
  • 3 nights accommodation in Charlottetown
  • 3 nights accommodation in Baddeck
  • Brier Island Whale Watching | Operates 03 Jun - 09 Oct
  • Bay Ferry Tolls - Wood Islands to Caribou
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Fortress of Louisbourg
  • Halifax Citadel
  • Kejimkujik (Day Use only)
  • Green Gables House
  • Prince Edward Island National Park

Hotel Information | Moderate Grade

  • Lunenburg - Blue Nose Lodge | Standard Room
  • Annapolis Royal - Hillsdale House | Standard Room | Breakfast Included
  • Wolfville - Tattingstone Inn | Deluxe Room | Breakfast Included
  • Charlottetown - The Great George | Classic Room | Continental Breakfast Included
  • Baddeck - Inverary Resort | Traditional Room

Not included:

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

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DATES & PRICING

Departs from Halifax: Daily (Tour Code: SD35)

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Caitlin Volkert

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Newfoundland Discovery | Atlantic Canada Road Trip Gros Morne National Park

Newfoundland Discovery | Atlantic Canada Road Trip

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INTRODUCTION

This popular two-week Newfoundland road trip takes you through the best of Canada’s easternmost province.

Visit two unesco world heritage sites, uncover fascinating viking history and learn about the atlantic way of life from the locals themselves., along the way you'll encounter abundant wildlife and scenic national parks, plus enjoy a boat trip in bay bulls to search for whales and the atlantic puffin. , visit the colorful clapboard houses of trinity, marvel at ancient icebergs (may-june) and spend time exploring gros morne national park. .

You've never seen Atlantic Canada quite like this!. 

Itinerary at a Glance

road trip to atlantic canada

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 St. John’s | Arrival Arrive in St. John’s and pick up your rental vehicle. You may have a late arrival so the rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 2 St. John’s Sightseeing A morning of sightseeing in St. John’s. Discover ‘the Rooms, museum art gallery & archives. Drive up Signal Hill for spectacular views and take a trip out to Cape Spear National Historic Site, the most easterly point in North America. Visit one of the provinces most photographed places, Quidi Vidi Village just 3 km from St. John’s. You may want to stop at Quidi Vidi Brewery for a pint. (breakfast included)

Day 3 Avalon Peninsula - Whale Watching, Puffins | 66 km/42 mi Spend the day exploring the stunning coastline and the little villages of the Avalon Peninsula. Start your day driving to Bay Bulls for a boat excursion to see whales and the Atlantic Puffin - if you are lucky you may even spot an iceberg (May/June only). From Bay Bulls follow the Irish Loop to Ferryland, the home of the original Colony of Avalon founded by George Calvert, later Lord Baltimore, in 1621. The site of the Ferryland settlement is now being excavated, and archaeologists have uncovered over a million artifacts from the stone constructed buildings including gold rings, Portuguese ceramics, and other unusual objects. (breakfast included)

Day 4 St. John’s to Trinity | 269 km/167 mi Today embark on your journey to the Bonavista Peninsula, known for its scenic and rugged coastlines. The peninsula also contains some of the oldest settlements in Newfoundland, particularly the towns of Bonavista and Trinity. Before settling in to your accommodation for the night, you may want to drive 20 minutes south of Trinity to New Bonaventure and visit the Random Passage Site. Constructed in 2000 for the filming of the international TV mini-series “Random Passage”, the site today provides the opportunity to step back in time and experience what life might have been like in a fishing outpost in the early 1800s. (breakfast included)

Day 5 Trinity Explore the enchanting village of Trinity with its restored white and pastel coloured clapboard houses. Set along a dramatic coastline you will discover a sense of Newfoundland’s history and nature. Join the Trinity Pageant, a walking theatre that meanders through the village enticing viewers to live the history of the area. If you’re feeling active, hike the short but steep 20-minute trail up Gun Hill behind the village for spectacular 360 degree views of the village and surrounding areas. (breakfast included)

Day 6 Bonavista Peninsula Now that you have a sense of the area, venture to Port Rexton today and hike the Skerwink Trail. This very walkable trail will take you along the rugged coastline for a spectacular view of the surrounding villages set against the ocean. In the afternoon, head north to the town of Bonavista, where you can visit the Ryan Premises National Historic Site, a 19th century replica fish processing factory. In this small village you will also find the red and white striped Bonavista Lighthouse, and the Matthew Legacy, a replica of John Cabot’s ship which voyaged across the Atlantic to discover land in 1497. (breakfast included)

Day 7 Trinity to Twillingate | 309 km/192 mi Enroute to Twillingate, pass through Terra Nova National Park. If you feel the need to commune with nature, a stop will introduce you to coniferous forests, ponds, and a plethora of walking trails. Continue towards Twillingate. In Boyd’s Cove make another stop at the Beothuk Interpretive Centre and visit an ancient Beothuk village discovered by archaeologists in the 1980s. Arrive in Twillingate then grab your camera and head out on the ocean with the afternoon Iceberg Watch boat tour, where you will have an opportunity to see icebergs, whales, sunsets and many other spectacular views that the beautiful island of Twillingate has to offer. (breakfast included)

Day 8 Twillingate to Norris Point | 428 km/266 mi Bound for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gros Morne National Park, words do not give the vistas justice. The park is populated by little villages, bare topped mountains, and forests inhabited by moose and caribou. (breakfast included)

Day 9 Western Brook Pond Cruise The morning is free to explore the area with your rental car. Enjoy a boat tour of the freshwater fjord of Western Brook Pond. The landlocked fjord is a rare sight. Carved by glaciers, and home to plenty of waterfalls and wildlife, it’s worth the trip alone. The rest of the day is free to explore the sites of the Gros Morne National Park.

Day 10 Gros Morne National Park Enjoy a day exploring all of Gros Morne National Park on your own viewing glacial valleys, intriguing rock formations, magnificent sea arches and numerous types of wildlife. Don’t miss the internationally known Tablelands, a rare outcrop of the Earth’s mantle pushed skyward half a billion years ago.

Day 11 Norris Point to St. Anthony | 356km/221mi Heading toward St. Anthony, make a stop in Port Au Choix and Port Au Choix National Historic Site where three ancient cemeteries of the Maritime Archaic People were discovered. The Visitor Centre gives great background to this culture with exhibits and artifacts. Continue to St. Anthony, the ‘Iceberg Capital of the World’. Along the rugged ocean coastline you can witness the majestic wonder of whales and icebergs (note that the peak iceberg season is typically May/June and early July)

Day 12 St. Anthony - L’Anse aux Meadows Visit the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site comprising the remains of the earliest European settlement in the Americas. The colony of Vinland was excavated in the 1960s and the artifacts are on display supported by a film. Walk to the original village and discover the full scale replicas of Norse buildings. Return to St. Anthony for the night. (breakfast included)

Day 13 St. Anthony to Norris Point | 356km/221mi Make your way back down the peninsula to Norris Point, your base at the doorstep of Gros Morne National Park with restaurants, shops and beautiful views of Bonne Bay and The Tablelands. Watch for Jenniex House as you drive in for fantastic views of both, with the latter designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 to acknowledge its geological diversity and striking barren shapes. Located just off the Viking Trail, Norris Point is in the heart of Western Newfoundland’s booming tourism visitation area and is well equipped with natural landforms, adventure activities and a relaxing small-town feel. (breakfast included)

Day 14 Norris Point to Deer Lake | 73 km/45 mi Upon check-out of your hotel drive to Deer Lake Airport where your Newfoundland discovery ends. (breakfast included)

Package Includes:

  • 3 nights accommodation in St. John’s
  • 3 nights accommodation in Trinity
  • 1 night accommodation in Twillingate
  • 4 nights accommodation in Norris Point
  • 2 nights accommodation in St. Anthony
  • Whale Watching Cruise
  • Iceberg watch boat cruise
  • Western Brook Pond Cruise
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Cape Spear Lighthouse
  • Castle Hill
  • Gros Morne National Park
  • L’Anse aux Meadows
  • Terra Nova National Park
  • Port au Choix
  • Ryan Premises
  • Signal Hill

Hotel Information | Moderate Grade

  • St. John’s - Leaside Manor | Deluxe Suite | Breakfast Included
  • Trinity - Artisan Inn | Standard Room | Breakfast Included
  • Twillingate - Harbour Lights Inn | Standard Room | Breakfast Included
  • Norris Point - Neddies Harbour Inn | Queen Room
  • St. Anthony - Grenfell Heritage Hotel | Double Room (Breakfast included)

Not included:

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Arrange a call with a Canada Travel Designer and bring your vacation one step closer!

DATES & PRICING

Departs from St. John’s: Daily Moderate Grade (Tour Code: SD96P)

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We just returned from a trip around Newfoundland. Destinations, itinerary and accommodation was all well thought out and we had a very memorable time. Thank you Jules! I'd happily use Canada by Design again.

Christopher Zurich, Switzerland

Start planning your tailor-made vacation to Canada or Alaska by contacting our travel specialists

Kaitlyn Joaquin

Kaitlyn Joaquin

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Emma McCarthy

Emma McCarthy

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Michele MacDonald

Michele MacDonald

Sehaj Sidhu

Sehaj Sidhu

Zahra Farhang

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COMMENTS

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