Family Road Trip - Driving Toronto to Halifax

Driving Toronto to Halifax: Eastern Canada Road Trip Itinerary

Are you ready to enjoy the full experience of the Ontario to Nova Scotia Road trip? This Eastern Canada road trip itinerary will provide you with the best views and stops between Toronto and Halifax as you pass through Quebec and New Brunswick on your way to Nova Scotia. 

As you travel through Quebec, you will enjoy visiting the charming historic old Quebec City, which features cobblestone streets, historical architecture, and iconic landmarks like the Chateau Frontenac.

As you continue east, you will enter the Charlevoix region, which is known for stunning landscapes, such as the cliffs of Les Palissades de Charlevoix, and numerous unique art galleries along the way. You will follow along the Acadian coast, which is rich in Acadian heritage and culture and offers historical sites to visit in small towns like Caraquet and Shippagan.

  • To learn more about all of the great places in Quebec, you may want to check out our Toronto to Montreal road trip guide to learn further details about key locations and stopping points.

Along the route from Toronto to Halifax, you will cross through the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia boundary in an area near the Bay of Fundy.

If you enjoy the sea and the outdoors, you will want to stop at Hopewell Rocks in Fundy National Park and walk along the ocean floor during low tide and then kayak around the rocks during high tide as the Bay of Fundy has a beautiful coastline and has dramatic tidal changes throughout the day.

Keep reading to learn more about the best stops on our Toronto to Halifax Scenic Route trip itinerary. We have covered the best times to view the landscape and what attractions and activities you want to visit. Our guide will help with planning your trip, whether you are driving a car or RV. 

Canada Family Road Trip planning tips

Toronto to Halifax Road Trip: How Long Do I Need To Drive?

How far is Toronto to Halifax?

The distance from Toronto to Halifax is 1455 km (approx. 904 miles), and it takes 16-20 hours to drive if you are going to drive straight from one location to the next.

Since this route can be a physically and mentally tiring drive, it is advised that you break up the journey over two to three days to allow time for sleeping, meals, rest stops and exploring attractions and events along the route.

Here’s an example of how you could break up the driving distances:

DriveDistanceEstimated Drive TimeWhere to Stay
Toronto to Prince Edward County204 kms (127 miles)2 hours 15 minutesPrince Edward County
Prince Edward County to Kingston92 kms (57 miles)1 hour 10 minutesKingston
Kingston to Ottawa197 kms (122 miles)2 hoursOttawa
Ottawa to Quebec City444 kms (276 miles)4 hours 40 minutesQuebec City
Quebec City to New Brunswick526 kms (327 miles)5 hours 55 minutesNew Brunswick
New Brunswick to Halifax461 kms (286 miles)5 hours 10 minutesHalifax
Estimates only; times will vary based on traffic and road conditions

Staying on the Canadian side is quicker and takes about 17 hours. However, you can cross the border and drive through New England, but this way takes an additional two hours.

The US route takes you through upstate New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine before re-entering Canada in New Brunswick for the trip’s final leg. 

This road trip will take you through four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and finally, Nova Scotia. You may want to split the routes into chunks, such as Toronto to Ottawa, Ottawa to Quebec City, Quebec City to New Brunswick, and New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. 

Best Time of Year to Drive from Toronto to Halifax

The weather in Eastern Canada varies greatly and can influence which activities you can experience. While summer provides the ideal weather conditions for a road trip from Toronto to Halifax, each season has its unique appeal. Consider your preferences, desired activities, and comfort level with crowds when choosing the best time for your journey.

Spring (April to June): The weather is warming up. However, it can be very rainy and cold in Halifax. The bonus is that there are fewer tourists.

Summer (July to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Atlantic Canada, including Halifax. The weather is warm, which is perfect for visiting beaches and enjoying outdoor activities. 

Fall (September to October): Early fall through New England and Atlantic Canada is known for its stunning foliage, particularly in late September and early October. The weather tends to be cooler, and most tourist activities start to close down around Thanksgiving, especially in smaller towns.

Winter (November to March): Winter can be a challenging time to drive from Toronto to Halifax due to the potential for severe weather conditions, including snowstorms and icy roads. 

Best Stops on a Toronto to Halifax Road Trip

Nova Scotia features an extensive coastline, majestic mountain ranges, numerous lakes, valleys, and downtown harbour cities like Halifax. Halifax is known for its inviting and welcoming vibe, so whether you are interested in architecture, history, outdoor activities or enjoying the relaxed maritime vibe, you will enjoy your Halifax road trip.

Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and offers a range of activities and attractions that are perfect for families. Here are some suggestions to make the most of your visit:

Prince Edward County

Start the journey by following Highway 401 from Toronto alongside Lake Ontario, and be sure to stop for a quick dip at one of the beautiful beaches in Prince Edward County.

Sandbank Provincial Park: This park offers a sandy beach perfect for picnicking, sunbathing or enjoying a refreshing dip!

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Prince Edward County

Taste Local Agriculture and Wine: Prince Edward County is an agricultural hidden gem of Ontario and offers many different wine tours allowing you to taste award-winning locally produced wines while enjoying the picturesque countryside. Be sure to stop at a local farm-to-table restaurant, bakery or food market to try some of the local cuisine grown in the region.

Outdoor Activities: If you enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling, then you may consider exploring the natural landscape on one of the region’s scenic trails, quiet country roads, or even on the waterways by kayak.

Kingston, Ontario

There are a ton of family-friendly activities in Kingston, making it a great place to stop for a few hours or even overnight. 

Waterfront: Kids will enjoy feeding the ducks and swans or watching the boats sail by while walking along the Kingston Waterfront. There are lots of playgrounds, and a few ice cream stops as well!

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Kingston

Trolley Tour: Enjoy a trolley tour to see the history, architecture and landmarks of Kingston, including the famous Kingston Penitentiary that you can now tour inside. You can choose either a city tour or a hop-on-and-off tour to explore the city’s main attractions and learn all about the history of the city.

Pump House Steam Museum: Located in a historic 19th-century waterworks building. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, learn about steam power and watch demonstrations of steam engines.

Family Fun World: This outdoor activity family hub has go-karts, batting cages, and bumper boats for the whole family to compete and enjoy!

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa is a great location to stop during the first leg on your way to Quebec City, as it is about the midway point.

Parliament Hill: Start your visit to Ottawa at Parliament Hill and learn more about Canada’s history and political scene. During the summer months, you can even see a daily changing of the guard ceremony outside on the lawn. 

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Ottawa

Rideau Canal: Enjoy this UNESCO world heritage site by taking a walk along the canal, stopping for a picnic, renting bikes or renting a paddle boat or canoe to explore the canals.

Calypso Waterpark: One of the best outdoor waterparks in Ontario, ideal for families of all ages to enjoy thrilling slides, a lazy river, splash areas and wave pools.

Museums: Ottawa is rich in history and is home to the Canadian Museum of Nature, where you can get up close and learn more about Canadian wildlife. Learn more about Canadian history at the Canadian Museum of History, located in Gatineau, Quebec.

Quebec City

This is a great overnight stop on your road trip to Halifax, as it is a picturesque city and is about 8 hours from Toronto, making it a good time to stop for the night. Halifax is about 10 hours from Quebec City.

Old Quebec: Discover the rich history of Quebec City as you explore the cobblestone streets, unique shops and restaurants located in Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Don’t forget to stop for a croissant in a local bakery. 

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Quebec City

Plains of Abraham: After spending so much time in the car, the kids will have the energy to burn. You can take them to this park that offers beautiful views of St.Lawrence, walking trails, and lots of space to have a  picnic. 

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency: Guests can either take a cable car or climb the stairs to reach the top of this 83-foot fast-flowing waterfall. Adventurous families may also enjoy the suspension bridges and zip lines available. 

New Brunswick

This is a great stop for the last leg of your trip to Halifax. The Bay of Fundy National Park sits on the border of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is a natural wonder of the world for having the highest tides in the world.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Bay of Fundy

Hopewell Rocks: These unique flowerpot rock creations are the best spot to walk the ocean floor during low tide and then watch the water rise even during the time you are visiting.

Fundy National Park: Visitors will enjoy stunning hiking trails with breathtaking coastal views, great picnic areas, flowing waterfalls, and beautiful beaches to enjoy some swimming. 

Whale Watching: If you have extra time or have never seen a whale up close, you will want to book a whale-watching tour from nearby St.Andrews or Grand Manan Island. On the whale-watching tour, you may see humpback whales, minke whales and other endangered whales in North America.

Beaches: As you continue towards Halifax, you will pass some beautiful beaches, including Parlee Beach in New Brunswick and Halls Harbour in Nova Scotia.

Coastal Kayaking: If you are travelling with adults or older kids, you may consider checking out the Bay of Fundy coastline by water on a kayaking tour that will take you to unique rock formations, marine life, and hidden coves.

Local Culture and Food: Check out nearby fishing villages such as Alma, which have great restaurants to taste local seafood straight from the sea. Some of my favourites include Tipsy Tails, where you can view the charming small harbour from the patio, or a quicker option is Fundy Takeout. Also, check out Buddha Bear Coffee and Holy Whale Brewery to try some other local gems.

5 Must-See Attractions to Explore in Halifax

Halifax is the capital city of the province of Nova Scotia and is located on the Atlantic coast of Canada.  Halifax has a rich maritime heritage and is home to one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

The remainder of the city comprises rugged coastline areas such as Dartmouth, scenic waterways, picturesque landscapes, and modern urban amenities.

Halifax is a cultural hotspot of the Maritimes and hosts many unique festivals, such as the Halifax International Busker Festival, the Atlantic Film Festival, and the Halifax Jazz Festival. We would recommend visiting Halifax for 2-3 days to truly experience everything in detail.

Here is a recommendation of some of the best attractions you don’t want to miss when visiting Halifax. 

Citadel Historic Site

Halifax offers a unique history that can be seen through architecture and historical sites such as the Halifax Citadel Historic Site, which sits on the hill above the harbour overlooking the city of Halifax.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Citadel Historic Site

The Citadel was established in 1749 as a British Military Post and is a unique star-shaped fortress that was originally built to protect the British people and the harbour during the War of 1812 and World War and was integral to defence.

The fortress is built of stone and still features a historical defensive structure as well as interactive displays that will teach visitors about military life and the strategies used during combat. One of the unique daily events you don’t want to miss is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, where soldiers dressed in traditional 78th Highland Regiment kilts and red coats reenact this age-old military ritual.

Downtown Waterfront

The boardwalk along the Halifax Waterfront is lovely to stroll and take in the scenic views or stop at some of the many unique places for photographs, such as the hammocks, Muskoka chairs, or many unique art installations. 

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Halifax Waterfront

The Halifax waterfront is where the city meets the sea and is a mix of old charming historic buildings and new modern amenities. Located along the waterfront, you will find unique restaurants that serve fresh seafood, local shops that sell tourist treasures and some of the best saltwater taffy, busy markets and lively pubs featuring local talents. 

Enjoy a Harbour Hopper Tour

Located nearby the waterfront is the Harbour Hopper Tour which allows you to learn about the history of the land and sea in Halifax as you enjoy an hour-long tour that splashes right into the harbour. This tour bus is amphibious and can turn into a boat.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Halifax Harbour

Take a Ferry

Children will enjoy the quick journey from downtown Halifax to Dartmouth across the harbour, spanning approximately 15 minutes onboard the Ferry. This trip provides breathtaking views of the Halifax skyline, and Dartmouth has some great shops and restaurants, including Portland Street Creperie. 

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic:

Visitors can learn how shipbuilding, navigation, fishing and the role of the Ocean have influenced and shaped the culture and economy of Halifax. The museum teaches guests about maritime life’s history as they view historic artifacts, documents and interactive exhibits.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - CSS Acadia

Historians will enjoy the museum and visit the model ship collection, including the famous RMS Titanic. Halifax has a strong connection to the Titanic as many of the found personal belongings, letters and stories connected to the Titanic are now shared through exhibits housed in the museum.

Kids will enjoy dressing up in Maritime-themed clothing and enjoying hands-on activities. Children will also enjoy checking out the CSS Acadia located outside, where they can explore multiple decks and areas of this large boat. 

Located just outside the Maritime Museum is a unique underwater-themed playground that is in the shape of a submarine that kids of all ages will love! There is also a unique wave structure that kids enjoy climbing. 

Halifax Public Gardens

These gardens offer stunning vibrant floral displays and are one of the oldest Victorian Gardens in North America. Halifax Public Gardens’ design was influenced by the Victorian era as it features geometric flower beds, ornate fountains, ironwork fencing, tranquil pong and an intricate bandstand.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Halifax Public Gardens

From tulips and roses to dahlias and lilies, the garden bursts with color and fragrance throughout the blooming season and is the perfect place to stop and enjoy a picnic or sit and relax.

The gardens also offer space for recreational activities like frisbee, kite-flying, and outdoor games, and during the summer months, you can catch live performances on the bandstand. In the middle of the park sits the historical Horticultural Hall, which has been transformed into a small charming cafe that serves coffee, tea, snacks and delicious ice cream on the back deck.

Fisherman’s Cove

This beautiful fishing village is located 20 minutes from the Halifax waterfront along the Eastern Passage and can be accessed by car or by boat as there is a public access dock. As you stroll past all of the beautiful coloured buildings along the boardwalk, you will not only enjoy the fresh sea air but also enjoy the scenic view of the Halifax harbour in the distance.

CA Driving Toronto to Halifax - Macnab Island

Fisherman’s Cove is a great place to shop for Maritime arts and crafts created by local artisans, including clothing, books, candles, jewelry, paintings and much more.  If you are hungry, you will enjoy one of the many patios specialising in seafood, fish and chips and offering ice cream to finish your meal.

If you have more time to explore consider checking out MacCoramacks Beach Provincial park or charter a boat to go deep sea fishing or visit Macnab Island.

There is so much more to Nova Scotia than just Halifax, so don’t miss out on the breathtaking scenery of Nova Scotia, which offers a multitude of captivating sights. With over 7600 km of coastline, Nova Scotia, known as Canada’s Ocean Playground, entices visitors to explore the province by taking one of many scenic road trips in Nova Scotia

More Scenic Driving Inspiration in Canada

We hope you’ve found some inspiring stops to make on your next Canadian road trip. You may also be interested in:

download your free road trip checklist click here button

© Family Road Trip 2024

Similar Posts