Visit Canada by car: The 5 best road trip itineraries
You’re planning to do a road trip in Canada and you’re looking for the best itinerary?
You’re at the right place!
Visiting Canada by car is the best way to optimize your itinerary and discover all the must-see attractions of the country.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide with the 5 best road trips itineraries in Canada depending on the duration of your stay (7, 10 days, 2 and 3 weeks and even 1 month!).
For each duration, I will give you a summary of the itinerary as well as the link to read the detailed itinerary article.
And at the end of this guide, I will also give you my list of the best accommodations in Canada depending on your budget as well as my best tips to enjoy the perfect road trip.
- Visit Canada by car: The 5 best road trip itineraries
- Which airport to choose to start a Canadian road trip?
- Renting a car for a Canadian road trip
- Canada road trip: A week in the East
- Road Trip in Canada: 10 days
- Canada road trip: Two weeks
- Canada road trip: 3 weeks
- Canada road trip: One month
- Where to stay during your Canadian road trip
- What’s the best time to go on a Canadian road trip?
- You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
Which airport to choose to start a Canadian road trip?
Canada boasts several international airports.
For a road trip through Western Canada, your best bets are:
If you’re planning a Canadian circuit but this time in the East, I’d recommend the airports in:
For these itineraries, I’ve assumed you’d be landing in either Vancouver or Montreal. Simply because I believe these are the most convenient spots for journeying through eastern or western Canada by car.
Renting a car for a Canadian road trip
A must-have for any successful Canadian exploration: a car!
I’d advise you to rent it directly from the airport. That’s where you’ll find the widest range of rental services. Plus, it’s way more convenient to return it at the end of your trip, as opposed to dropping it off at a city branch.
The best option you got is to use Rentalcars.com to book your rental car in Canada. I use it all the time, Thailand, Sicily, Scotland, you name it… and have always been super pleased. The customer service is top-notch, and their services are high quality.
On their website, you can:
- Compare all rental rates at the airport with a single click. It’s super handy to see which service is the cheapest and who has the best customer reputation.
- Benefit from comprehensive insurance coverage: this is your only way (unless your credit card already offers coverage) to get a refund in case of an accident or theft. Having tested this system multiple times, I can assure you that the reimbursement process is swift and guaranteed. They’ve refunded me over 1,300 euros in total over the years!
- Modify or cancel your booking for free. This allows you to reserve your car in advance for a great rate.
Given the vastness of this country, and the long distances between places, I suggest trying to select a comfortable and well-equipped car. Long hours on the road are not uncommon, so comfort is key!
If you’re planning a winter road trip through Canada, don’t worry, the cars are tailored to the climate and come equipped with winter tires for instance.
The option to have a second driver (often included for free) is also a good idea to prevent the primary driver from getting too tired.
Click on the button below to compare car rental prices for a Canadian itinerary:
Canada road trip: A week in the East
First up, I propose a road trip starting from Montreal, taking you through Eastern Canada in a week.
This tour is a summary of my detailed article: A week in Canada.
Day One: Discovering the city of Montreal:
- Old Montreal district
- The Old Port
- Mount Royal Park
- Mount Royal district
- And don’t forget to taste the local delicacy: poutine!
For even more info on exploring Montreal in one day, you should read my post: Best things to do in Montreal!
Day Two: Embark on a scenic cruise through the Thousand Islands, known as Mille Îles in French. This captivating archipelago is comprised of 1,865 islands nestled along the picturesque St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
To book your 3-hour cruise around the Thousand Islands, just click the button below:
Day Three and Four: I suggest continuing this one-week Canadian road trip with a visit to Toronto, Ontario.
Here are the attractions you won’t want to miss:
- Kensington Market
- The Distillery district
- St. Lawrence Market
- Ripley’s Aquarium
- The CN Tower
- Casa Loma
- The Royal Ontario Museum
- The Toronto Islands
For all the details on these Toronto attractions, give a look at my article: Best things to see and do in Toronto.
Day Five: An excursion to Niagara Falls
A cruise at the foot of the falls is a must to truly appreciate them!
Remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line:
And if you want to experience something extraordinary during this 7-day Canadian road trip, consider taking a helicopter ride over the falls:
Day Six: Heading to Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
Here’s what I’d suggest you explore:
- Byward Market
- Parliament Hill
- The Canadian Museum of History: one of the most fascinating museums you’ll come across on your one-week eastern Canada road trip.
Wrap up your day with a stroll along the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For more details, make sure to check out my dedicated article: Visiting Ottawa.
Day Seven, make sure to stop by Omega Park, located in Montebello. The park is explored by car as the animals roam freely.
Next, head to Mont-Tremblant, where you can go hiking or indulge in water activities by the lake. In the winter, the village turns into a ski resort.
Day Eight: The holiday’s end is nigh, head back to Montreal for your return flight.
Road Trip in Canada: 10 days
For this next adventure, I’ll take you on an exhilarating 10-day road trip through the stunning landscapes of Canada.
You’ll get to discover western Canada, from the bustling metropolis of Vancouver to the vibrant city of Calgary. The perfect tour for checking out the two major cities of this part of the country and, above all, the stunning natural landscapes of Canada’s national parks.
On the agenda for this 10-day road trip in Canada:
- Wells Gray Provincial Park
- Jasper National Park
- Banff National Park
All the details to plan this road trip are in my article: 10-Day Itinerary in Canada.
I’ve summarized the main stages for you below:
1) Vancouver (2 days)
We kick off this 10-day Canadian road trip with Vancouver. The city is located on the West Coast, in British Columbia.
To discover its main tourist attractions and recover from jet lag, I suggest you spend 2 days there.
First day – Here’s an idea of what you can do on your first day in Vancouver:
- The historic district of Gastown
- Canada Place and the Waterfront
- The FlyOver Canada
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Lookout
- Yaletown district
On the second day, continue your tour by visiting Granville Island, followed by the Anthropology Museum, and a walk through Van Elsen Botanical Garden.
Then hit Robson Street for a bit of shopping, the main commercial artery of Vancouver.
To best plan your 2 days in Vancouver, check out my article: Top 25 Things to Do in Vancouver.
2) Whistler (1 day)
The next day (day three), head to one of the best ski resorts in the world: Whistler.
In winter, you can hit the slopes or go on a sled dog or snowmobile ride.
In summer, it’s time for hiking trails, biking or relaxing in a luxury Spa. And don’t forget to ride the longest zip line in Canada, at over 60 mph! Activity that can be booked directly by clicking here.
3) Wells Gray Provincial Park (2 days)
Days four and five will be dedicated to the Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Don’t miss out on:
- Helmcken Falls: one of the most beautiful in western Canada.
- Bailey’s Chute where you can watch salmon swimming upstream
- The Spahat Falls
- And Dawson Falls
As for activities, you can also go swimming or canoeing at Clearwater Lake, hike one of the numerous trails, or go black bear watching.
4) Jasper National Park (2 days)
Day six brings us to a must-visit destination on your 10-day Canadian road trip: Jasper National Park.
You’ll get to check out two stunning lakes: Maligne Lake, the biggest lake in the Canadian Rockies, and Medicine Lake.
And of course, there’s nothing better to tour the national park than a little hike!
5) Banff National Park (2 days)
Day seven my friends, brings us to yet another breathtaking spectacle: Banff National Park. Hop in the car in Jasper and treat yourself to one of the most beautiful scenic routes the country has to offer: the Icefield Parkways.
Connecting the two parks over nearly 230 km, it’s a feast for your eyes with sublime landscapes. The road is well designed, boasting plenty of parking spots and lookouts to safely stop. Here are a few pit stops to consider:
- Athabasca Falls, towering more than 20 meters high
- The Sunwapta Falls
- Explore Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield. If you’re going to make a single stop along the Icefields Parkway, make it this one. Strap yourself into a bus fitted with giant tires for a tour. It’s one of the most popular activities in the area and the good news is, you can book it directly by clicking here!
- Peyto Lake, a quick 15-minute stroll away. You’ll be amazed by its turquoise waters, a result of glacier melt.
On day 8, you should explore Banff on foot. Make your way to the famous Lake Louise, one of the most photographed spots in the world due to its stunning turquoise hue.
Moraine Lake is also a must-see!
To check the trail conditions and see all the possible hikes, visit Parks Canada’s website.
6) Calgary (2 days)
Cap off this 10-day Canadian West road trip by heading to Calgary.
On day nine, take some time to explore the city:
- Glenbow Museum with its collection of 33,000 works of art
- The 360° views from the Calgary Tower
- Heritage Park Village to learn about the old-fashioned lifestyle of a typical Canadian village
- Kensington Village: a lively neighborhood with great shops and restaurants
On day ten, it’s time to catch your return flight from Calgary Airport.
Canada road trip: Two weeks
For this 15-day Canadian road trip, let’s set off to discover the must-see sights of the west of the country.
This 2-week Canadian road trip also starts in Vancouver and ends in Calgary.
You can find all the details to plan this Canadian circuit in my article: 2-week itinerary in Canada.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the stages:
1) Vancouver (2 days)
We kick off this two-week Canadian road trip by spending 2 days in Vancouver.
You’ll get a good look at most of the places I mention in my Top 25 must-see places in Vancouver.
First and second day – Things to do:
- Gastown district
- Chinatown and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Garden
- The Waterfront and Canada Place
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Lookout
- A seaplane flight
- Granville Island
- Robson Street
2) Victoria (2 days)
Day three of your 15-day Canadian road trip, you’ll need to hop on the ferry to Vancouver Island and head for Victoria.
On your agenda for the day, I’d recommend:
- Visiting Butchart Gardens
- Taking a stroll through Chinatown
- Market Square
- Bastion Square
- Inner Harbour
On the fourth day, you’ll get a chance to set sail on a whale-watching cruise.
Be sure to book well in advance by clicking here:
The rest of the day can be spent exploring Victoria, where you can visit the Parliament and the Royal BC Museum and wrap up at Beacon Hill Park by the sea.
3) Pacific Rim (2 days)
Day five – Journey from Victoria to Ucluelet, the gateway to Pacific Rim National Park.
Two stops worth making: the village of Duncan and Cathedral Grove.
Day six – Explore the Pacific Rim reserve: plenty of hiking opportunities and a mandatory stop at Long Beach.
4) Whistler (2 days)
Day seven of your 15-day Canadian road trip, allow a day for the journey to Whistler.
On day eight, there’s loads of activities to do in Whistler, whether it’s winter (skiing, snowshoeing) or summer (hiking, biking).
And for those without a fear of heights, you can try out Canada’s longest zipline! Activity that can be booked directly by clicking here!
5) Wells Gray Provincial Park (2 days)
For day nine, point your compass towards Wells Gray Provincial Park, travelling along the beautiful Route 99, one of the country’s finest! Day ten – Adventure in Wells Gray Park where you can choose from:
- Helmcken Falls
- Bailey’s Chute, Spahat Falls or Dawson Falls, among other waterfalls
- Clearwater Lake
- Black bears spotting with a guide
6) Jasper National Park (2 days)
Impossible to explore Western Canada in 15 days without hitting up Jasper National Park. It’s just not done!
So, on the eleventh day, hit the road to this gem, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll be able to check out Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake.
Day twelve, it’s time to tie up those hiking boots and spend the day trekking the many trails in Jasper.
7) Banff National Park (2 days)
Post-Jasper, you’ll continue your Canadian road trip with another national park: Banff.
Day thirteen, you’ll be taking Route 93 (the Icefield Parkway) which links the 25 parks together. Covering nearly 230 km, it’s a route jam-packed with stunning scenery. And to enjoy it all, you can pull over safely at the many viewpoints and car parks.
As for the must-see spots, I highly recommend:
- The Athabasca Falls
- The Sunwapta Falls
- The Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield. You can explore on foot or on a bus tour equipped with giant tires for some off-roading. Book this activity directly by clicking here!
- Peyto Lake with its unbelievably colored water
On the fourteenth day, it’s time to immerse yourself in the beauty of Banff National Park. Here too, the best way to admire the landscapes is to opt for a hike. The most famous trails allow you to circle around Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, the two most renowned lakes.
8) Calgary (1 day)
Here you are at the fifteenth day of your two-week Western Canada road trip.
Wrap up your holidays in Calgary, where you can notably visit the Glenbow Museum, the Heritage Park Village or ascend to the top of the Calgary Tower. You should get your skip-the-line tickets in advance by clicking here!
I also provide all the necessary information to visit Calgary in this article: Best things to do in Calgary!
At the end of the day or the next day, take your return flight.
Canada road trip: 3 weeks
For this 3-week road trip across Canada, I suggest dividing your vacation into 2 parts:
- Western Canada for about two weeks featuring Vancouver, Victoria, Jasper National Park, Banff National Park
- A week-long road trip in the East of Canada to uncover the delights of Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa.
To help you organize your Canadian road trip down to the last detail, I’ve got you covered in my article: 3-week itinerary in Canada!
Simply click on the orange link above to discover: the different stages, travel times, places to visit, hotels for a good night’s sleep and the best activities to get involved in.
I’m still going to give you a quick rundown of the visits planned during these 3 weeks so you get a taste:
1) Western Canada (13 days)
Start your 21-day Canadian road trip in the West for the first 13 days.
Day 1 and 2 – Vancouver
Day 3 – Victoria, the capital of British Columbia
Day 4 – Whale watching, an essential part of your 3-week Canadian road trip!
Days 5 and 6 – Whistler, one of Canada’s top ski resorts! No worries, there’s plenty to do in the summer too.
Days 7 and 8 – Discover the Wells Gray Provincial Park and its many waterfalls
Days 9 and 10 – Explore Jasper National Park by car and on foot
Days 11 and 12 – Continue your three-week Canadian road trip with Banff National Park and the famous Lake Louise
Day 13 – Head on over to Calgary and catch your flight to Montreal!
2) Eastern Canada ( 8 days)
After 13 glorious days in western Canada, it’s time to continue your 20-21 day Canadian road trip in the east of the country.
Day 14 – Explore Montreal with a stroll around the old Montreal neighborhood and up to Mount-Royal
Days 16 and 17 – Discover must-see places in Toronto and don’t miss out on the view from atop the CN Tower
Day 18 – A day at the Niagara Falls, the major tourist attraction of this 3-week Canadian road trip. Whether it’s on a cruise at the base of the falls, a helicopter ride or by climbing up the Skylon Tower, you’ll get to see the falls from all angles!
Day 19 – Dedicate a day to Canada’s capital: Ottawa.
Days 20 and 21 – Return to Montreal to finish off your 3-week Canadian road trip by exploring the city a bit more.
Canada road trip: One month
Final itinerary for those lucky ones who get to embark on a month-long road trip in Canada!
I’m suggesting you discover a great chunk of the East over about thirty days. You’ll get to visit Montreal, Ontario, home to the famous Toronto, along with the province of Quebec and the Gaspé Peninsula (Gaspésie in French).
All the must-see cities of the east and gorgeous national parks are on the menu for this 1-month Canadian road trip.
I’ve got you covered with all the juicy details to plan your epic eastern Canadian adventure in this post: A one-month adventure: Exploring Canada. For each day, you’ll get a list of things to do and see, travel times, and the best accommodations to rest at each stop.
To give you a taste, I’ve prepared a summary of the itinerary’s stages:
1) Montreal (2 days)
To kickstart this fabulous one-month road trip across Canada, I suggest landing in Montreal and taking a couple of days to recover from your flight and the inevitable jetlag.
Day 1 and 2 – Get a taste of Montreal, dive into the iconic neighborhoods of Old Port and Mount-Royal.
2) Ontario (5 days)
The second chapter of this 1-month Canadian adventure unfolds in Ontario.
Days 4 and 5 – Explore the marvels of Toronto and its popular neighborhoods like Kensington, Chinatown, The Distillery…
Day 6 – Day trip to the breathtaking Niagara Falls
3) The Province of Quebec (21 days)
The third act of your 1-month road trip through Canada is entirely dedicated to Quebec.
Day 8 – Visit the Omega Park and Mont-Tremblant
Days 9 and 10 – Engage in varied activities based on the season (hiking, canoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling…) in La Mauricie National Park
Days 13 and 14 – Discover the lovely villages of Fjord-du-Saguenay and take a boat or kayak ride on the fjord
Day 15 – Whale watching cruise in Tadoussac, experiencing whales in their natural environment, one of the most unforgettable experience of your one-month Canadian road trip!
Days 16, 17, and 18 – Journey through Gaspésie National Park
Days 19 and 20 – Your itinerary includes: Forillon National Park, Percé, and Bonaventure Island
Day 21 – Relaxation day at Chaleur Bay that the locals call “Baie des Chaleurs” (litteraly heat bay) that boasts several long beaches
Days 22 and 23 – Hiking or cycling on one of the numerous trails in Bic National Park
Days 27 and 28 – This one-month road trip in Canada wraps up and you’ll return to Montreal where you can take some time to finish exploring the city.
Where to stay during your Canadian road trip
Now you’re well-equipped to plan your road trip across Canada! But there’s a final point we can’t ignore: where you’ll lay your head at night.
Where to stay at each stage of your Canadian journey?
Fear not, I’ve got you covered with a selection of the best hotels in Canada, categorized by city and area, and based on your budget, in all the road trip articles I’ve previously mentioned.
You can also find them by clicking directly on the links below:
For Western Canada:
- Pacific Rim
- Wells Gray Provincial Park
- Jasper National Park
- Banff National Park
For Eastern Canada:
- The Thousand Islands
- La Mauricie National Park
- Lac Saint-Jean
- Gaspésie National Park
- Chaleur Bay
- Bic National Park
What’s the best time to go on a Canadian road trip?
Good news, there’s no bad time to go on a road trip through Canada.
It all depends on the activities you fancy.
Winter is the best time to visit Canada by car if you want to enjoy a whole range of winter activities: skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
And if you’re doing this Canadian road trip with family, your kids will be thrilled to sled down the slopes or try snow rafting and ice skating.
Driving in winter? No worries, cars are well-equipped, and roads are maintained and cleared. However, some routes in national parks might be closed, but you’ll always find something to do!
If you plan to embark on a Canadian road trip in spring, it’s the perfect season to explore national parks, enjoy nature and go hiking. The crowds are scarce, and the weather is delightful.
As for autumn, this is the time when you can experience the vibrant colors of the trees and landscapes in shades of orange, yellow, and red. A treat for photography enthusiasts!
Summer? No problem with the temperature, it’s hot and sunny. But as with many destinations, it’s peak tourist season, so expect crowds pretty much everywhere.
Keep in mind, many Canadian companies shut down in July and August for “construction holiday” when many Canadian companies shut down. It’s the perfect time for Canadians to hit the road as well!
If you’re hoping to visit national parks (Jasper, Banff, in the province of Quebec and Gaspésie), options can be limited, so you should book your accommodations as early as possible.
For all cities, both in the west and the east, you can discover all the attractions at any time of year.
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Canada: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Canada are listed there.
- 20 Best Things to do in Canada
- 20 Best Things to do in Quebec – All best places to visit in the French-speaking province!
- Itinerary: One week in Canada: The perfect itinerary to visit Canada in 6, 7 or 8 days!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Canada: All my best tips for organizing your 10-day trip to Canada
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Canada: How to visit Western Canada in 15 days.
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Canada: My epic itinerary to visit Western and Eastern Canada in 21 days
- Itinerary: 1 month in Canada: How to visit Eastern Canada in a month!
- Itinerary: One week in Quebec: How to visit Quebec in 6, 7 or 8 days, with all my best tips!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Quebec: An amazing 10-day itinerary in Quebec
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Quebec: All my best tips to visit Quebec in 14, 15 or 16 days
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Quebec: the perfect 3-week road trip in Quebec!
- Road trip in Canada: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15, 21 days and 1 month
- Road trip in Quebec: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15 and 21 days
- Calgary: Top 11 things to do during your visit
- Montreal: 33 best things to see and do
- Ottawa: 15 epic places to visit
- Quebec City: Top 17 things to do and see
- Toronto: The 17 things to do during your stay
- Vancouver: Top 25 places to visit and activities
- Toronto in 3 days – The perfect itinerary to visit the city in 72 hours!