Canada is vast and diverse in the varying types of landscapes and attractions from East to West and is the second largest country in the world by size. One of the best ways to truly experience the country is to go road-tripping across Canada from one side to the next, exploring all the hot spots along the way.
We have created a list of the best Canadian road trip Ideas to help you get behind the wheel and discover some of the most beautiful roads in Canada and all the unique scenery that you will encounter along the route.
The best time of year to explore and road trip across Canada is from May until October, when the weather is the nicest and the road conditions are the safest in terms of weather.
While we couldn’t include every amazing road trip in Canada, as there are just too many, we believe these 10 Scenic drives in Canada are some of the best road trips in the country. They feature some of the most iconic landmarks, thrilling activities, and beautiful scenery in the world that you need to experience at least once in your lifetime.
10 Best Road Trips in Canada For Stunning Scenery
1. Cabot Trail, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia
Time to Explore: 2-3 Days
The Cabot Trail is one of the most beautiful roads in Canada as you travel through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Cabot Trail is a loop, so you can drive in either direction to explore the local Acadian culture, outdoor activities, and food in the small fishing villages of Baddeck, Cheticamp, and Ingonish.
This is one of the most famous road trips in Canada and the most popular on the East Coast as thousands of travelers visit this 300 kilometer Nova Scotia scenic route annually. You can technically drive this route in one day, but to truly explore, you will want multiple days.
The Cabot trail is the perfect road trip for any outdoor adventure lover as you can participate in so many outdoor activities such as paddling, whale watching, hiking, swimming, picnicking, exploring waterfalls, and much more!
This coastal loop offers scenic cliffside views of the Atlantic Ocean while also offering lush, dense forests to explore!
2. The Bruce Peninsula – Ontario
Time to Explore: From 1-3 days
Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula has panoramic views of the sparkling waters of Georgian Bay that run from Collingwood to Tobermory. This Highway 6 route follows along the Bruce Peninsula and Huron Shores and will take you to beautiful beaches, breweries, local restaurants, and a variety of beautiful hiking trails, including the famous Grotto.
Located in the Bruce Peninsula National Park is The Grotto, which is a famous hiking trail that weaves you through limestone caves until you reach the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay.
While you are in the area, explore the unique fishing village of Tobermory, and then check out Fathom Five National Marine Park to explore 19 islands, including Flowerpot Island and shipwrecks by glass bottom boat. This area is the scuba diving capital of Canada!
If you have a few days for this scenic Ontario road trip, head to the ferry to explore Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island.
3. Calgary to Jasper – Alberta
Time to Explore: 1-2 days
One of the most scenic drives in Western Canada as the landscape is ever-changing from bright blue lakes, mountain ranges, forests, wildlife, and glaciers. Leave the busy city life of Calgary and head to these natural paradise locations.
This gorgeous road trip will take you through two National Parks: Banff and Jasper National Park. This route has many unique family-friendly activities to do along the way, including hiking in National parks, exploring small towns, swimming, shopping, hot springs, kayaking, and much more!
Your first stop should be in Canmore, where you will want to visit the pedestrian-only 8th street that has multiple boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes, all while seeing the Rocky Mountains in the background.
From Canmore, you will head to Banff National Park, where you will enjoy beautiful landscapes just waiting to be explored on one of the many hiking trails. If you have little kids and want to skip the hike, then take the Banff Gondola up to the top, where you can walk the upper boardwalk and view the town of Banff and surrounding mountains from the Lookout.
The next stop is Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, which is one of the most visited natural destinations in all of Canada. Both of these Lakes offer picturesque postcard-worthy photo opportunities as you can enjoy a canoe or kayak ride while you are surrounded by the mountains.
End your road trip at the unique Columbia Icefields Skywalk, which is a 1km interpretive walkway that is made of glass and gives you the best views of the nearby waterfalls, wildlife, and more jaw-dropping views.
- You can continue this itinerary from Calgary all the way to Vancouver
4. Sea to Sky Highway – British Columbia
Time to Explore: 1 Day, 2 hours of drive time
The Sea to Sky (Highway 99) runs from Vancouver to Whistler and takes you along the water of the Howe Sound, which is a fjord to the snowy mountain tops of Whistler.
The Sea to Sky Highway has a deeply rooted connection to First Nations culture, and history, as the land is the ancestral territory of the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and Lil’wat First Nations.
Start your road trip at Whytecliff Park and head to the coastline to view the beautiful Howe Sound, or check out the trails for incredible views of the surrounding area. Or, if you choose to skip Whytecliff Park, then stop at Porteau Cove, which is a small provincial park with a beautiful day-use area surrounded by mountains.
Kids may enjoy a stop to learn more about the history of the area at the interactive mining museum, where you get to immerse yourself in the experience as you wear a hard hat and head down into an old mine by train.
As you get closer to Squamish, you will want to stop at Mount Garibaldi, which is a dormant volcano, or check out the 335-m-tall Shannon Falls, which are 3rd largest in British Columbia.
Lastly, you won’t want to miss out on the Sea to Sky Gondola that carries you past granite cliffs to the top of the track, where you can view the Howe Sound below. At the top, you will find a kid-friendly flat 1.6 km trail with viewing platforms and a suspension bridge.
For those who prefer a challenge and adventure, you can save money and climb up the mountain trail that climbs 900 meters and is 7 kilometers long. This trail takes about 3.5 hours, and you can take the gondola on the return for a reduced price.
5. Fundy Coastline – New Brunswick
Time to Explore: 3-5 Days
The Fundy Coastline is home to beautiful coastlines, the world’s highest tides, and quaint fishing communities. Enjoy visiting the unique coastline and fishing villages that have been created by the sea. This natural tour will show you Atlantic Wildlife, Outdoor adventures, and amazing food like Atlantic fish and Chips or a Lobster Roll fresh from the Sea.
Your first stop has to be to visit the low and high tides of Hopewell Rocks, as it is a sight to see! Walk on the ocean floor around giant sea stacks, then take out a kayak as the water rises up to 4 ft, and you can explore the sea stacks.
Check out the small fishing community of Alma, which has a few shops and great restaurants that have amazing patios on the water, and you can check out local fishing boats. Not too far from here is Fundy National Park, where you can spend the entire day exploring beautiful lush trails of varying difficulties and even stop to relax in the famous red Muskoka chairs.
Continue along the Fundy trail parkway to check out the beaches, lookout points, waterfalls, and observation decks of North America’s Eastern Seaboard as you head to Saint John’s.
6. Eastern Townships – Quebec
The Eastern Townships have three different routes that highlight the hidden gems of Quebec: The Wine Trail, Townships Trail, and Summit Drive.
The Wine Trail is a 25 kilometer route that features 22 different wineries that offer unique picnic spots for lunch, as well as wine tastings. In the fall, some wineries even encourage tourists to help harvest the grapes and stomp on them to start the process of making wine.
Townships Trail is a 430 kilometer route for history lovers and focuses on the history of Quebec and its American and British Roots. Learn about the first habitants of Quebec and how they settled the land as you visit 31 villages that have many interpretive sites, museums, and historic locations to explore.
Summit Drive is a 193 kilometer route for outdoor enthusiasts as you stop in little villages surrounded by lakes and rolling mountains. This area is known for being part of the International Dark Sky Reserve, offering breathtaking views of the stars.
Check out the hiking trails at Mont Megantic or enjoy the wildlife in the park before visiting the Astrolab to learn more about space and the Dark Sky Reserve.
7. Journey to Churchill – Manitoba
Time to Explore: 2-3 Days
Take Highway 6 along the shores of Lake Manitoba as you head through multiple land treaty zones on your way towards Hudson Bay and Churchill – the Polar bear capital. Stop in Lundar to check out the marshlands that are home to ducks, songbirds, and pelicans at Lundar Beach Provincial Park.
Along the route, you want to stop at check out the most photographed area in Manitoba – Steep Rock. Unique limestone rock formations overlook the lake and make for great lookout points.
If you are looking for adventure off the beaten path, then check out the boreal wilderness of Paint Lake, which is the largest lake in Manitoba, and offers secluded beaches and beautiful hiking trails such as Coffee Cove Hiking Trail.
For a quick leg stretch, check out Pisew Falls, where you can hear the roar of the water from the parking lot, and it is a quick jaunt on the boardwalk to two viewing platforms. Once you reach the falls, you can walk another 500m to a bridge to check out the nearby rapids.
You want to visit between July and November when thousands of polar bears migrate and make Churchill their summer home. Churchill can only be visited by train, but the scenery is breathtaking to watch all the natural wildlife and take in the boreal terrain of the sub-arctic wilderness.
8. Prince Edward Island Coastal Drives – Prince Edward Island
The beautiful province of Prince Edward Island offers road trip views of farmland, churches, fishing communities, and iconic landmarks on all three amazing coastal road trip options. Each road trip features unique cities and boardwalk areas to explore.
North Cape Coastal features 350 kilometers of breathtaking views and is inspired by the arts as homes are made from bottles and are very decorative.
The region has a deep Acadian history, so you can learn more about the Acadian culture through their food and music while smelling the fresh salt air and enjoying fresh Malpeque oysters at one of the many restaurants.
Central Coastal is 253 kilometers and is best known for being home to Anne of Green Gables and having beautiful red cliffs and white sand beaches.
The Central Coastal Drive begins at the Confederation Bridge and takes you to Chelton Beach, where you can enjoy a swim. Along the drive, you will pass rich farmland and gorgeous lighthouses on your way to Anne at Green Gables Heritage Place or continue on to explore the historic buildings in Charlottetown.
If you enjoy spending time at the beach then check out the Points East Coastal drive that passes by over 50 different beaches on the coastline. This route is 475 kilometers and explores the famous red cliffs of PEI, fishing communities, beaches, and harbors. Discover small-town culture by visiting local restaurants and artisan shops.
9. Badlands Parkway – Saskatchewan
Time to Explore: 1 day
Explore the pristinely preserved grasslands in Grasslands National Park, which have been divided into two sections, East and West. In the West, you can visit the Frenchman River Valley and, if you are lucky, see one of many endangered species, while the East is an area rich in fossils. Stop at the visitor center in Val Marie and decide if you want to road trip the East or the West.
The West section is an 80 km loop where you will likely see prairie dogs, burrowing owls, wild bison, old ranching sites, as well as cool archaeological sites. In the East, is a much shorter 11km route that is one of the most scenic drives in Canada that will take you through the richest fossil sites for finding dinosaur fossils.
Pro Tip: These routes are only available during daylight hours and are very remote, so come prepared with food and water and fill up your tank before you arrive.
10. Viking Trail and Gros Morne National Park – Newfoundland
Time to Explore: 1-2 days
Newfoundland is the most easterly province, and while it is small in size, it is actually quite vast! Newfoundland is known as the “Rock” for its mountains, beautiful scenery, breathtaking outdoors, and unique Canadian wildlife, all of which can be viewed as you drive the Viking Trail.
The Viking Trail runs along the northern peninsula of Newfoundland and can be driven in 5 hours. However, taking at least a day to explore is a much better experience rather than rushing the road trip.
The Viking trail should be on your bucket list as this road trip will take you through scenic coastline communities, historical sites, St. Anthony’s and L’anse aux Meadows, and majestic Gros Morne.
St. Anthony’s is a small community located in Iceberg Alley, as you can see multiple icebergs off the coastline even in the summer months. Kids will love seeing icebergs up close by boat or kayak and learning more about the Canadian arctic. If you’re lucky, you may even see some whales and seabirds.
L’anse aux Meadows is home to the Vikings and is the only confirmed place of Norse settlement in North America. Kids will enjoy checking out the replica Viking Boat, 3D Viking camp model, dressing up as Vikings, and listening to stories about Norse characters like Thor and Noki.
Gros Morne is the second largest national park in all of Atlantic Canada and is full of beautiful wildlife, including bears, foxes, moose, and caribou. The park has several hiking trails to meet the experience levels of all hikers.
For beginners and families, the Southeast Brook Falls trail uses built stairs to take you to a beautiful waterfall. At the same time, more experienced hikers may enjoy the uphill climb of over 800 meters on the Gros Marine Mountain.
More On Road Tripping Canada
Whether you live in Canada and are seeking new areas of the country to explore by road, or are a first time fascinated by the country’s natural beauty, you might want to check out next:
- Unmissable Scenic Drives in Nova Scotia
- Day Trips From Toronto
- Road Trip From Toronto to New York
- Vancouver to Banff Family Road Trip
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