Essential Stops Driving Toronto to Montreal

A road trip from Montreal to Toronto will take you along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, by the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

If you are looking to further explore the area along the 401 on your Toronto to Montreal road trip, then check out all of our amazing recommendations for attractions to enjoy with your family.

You can also use this guide on the reverse route of Montreal to Toronto by car, or if you are extending your journey to the Maritimes, then you can find our Toronto to Halifax driving guide.

Some Tips for Your Trip to Montreal from Toronto

before we dive into the best stops, you’ll want to keep these road trip pointers in mind:

  • Start Early in the Morning – Start your route early in the morning to avoid traffic in Toronto, and start the journey with a plan but remember to be flexible as you may drive by something that interests you that wasn’t on the plan.
  • Avoid Traffic – If you want to avoid traffic, then consider paying to take the HWY 407 toll road, which can save you hours of traffic depending on the time of the day and is billed later as they track your license plate.  You won’t miss any Ontario attractions using this shortcut. Highway 407 avoids the worst traffic between Toronto and Whitby.
  • Plan your stops – In Ontario, we are lucky to have countless ON Route Roadside plazas that have restrooms, shops, and restaurants all in one location, making it easy to take a quick break.

Toronto Vs Montreal

Toronto and Montreal are two of Canada’s largest cities, yet they offer a very different vibe and set of attractions. 

Toronto is one of the busiest and most multicultural cities in all of Canada and is home to the iconic CN tower, busy lifestyle, towering buildings, and the Lake Ontario waterfront. There are lots of things to do in Toronto with kids, as the city is full of hidden gems.

Toronto neighbourhoods such as Little Italy, Greektown, Chinatown, and Kensington Market allow visitors to explore festivals, events, and cuisines that reflect the city’s multicultural fabric.

In contrast, Montreal is a vibrant and culturally rich city and the largest city in the province of Quebec. The city has a unique history with French and English influences and beautiful historic architecture, such as the Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Montreal.

Montreal has many unique neighbourhoods where you can experience authentic traditions, cultures and cuisine, including Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Quartier des Spectacles

What is the Distance Between Toronto and Montreal?

How far is the drive from Toronto to Montreal?

DriveDistanceEstimated Drive TimeWhere to Stay
Toronto to Port Hope107 kms (66 miles)1 hour 15 minutesPort Hope
Port Hope to Big Apple36 kms (22 miles)25 minutesBig Apple
Big Apple to Prince Edward County66 kms (41 miles)50 minutesPrince Edward County
Prince Edward County to Kingston92 kms (57 miles)1 hour 5 minutesKingston
Kingston to Gananoque34 kms (21 miles)25 minutesGananoque
Gananoque to Brockville53 kms (33 miles)35 minutesBrockville
Brockville to Long Sault Parkway82 kms (51 miles)50 minutesLong Sault Parkway
Long Sault Parkway to Cornwall21 kms (13 miles)20 minutesCornwall
Cornwall to Montreal114 kms (71 miles)1 hour 20 minutesMontreal
Estimates only; times will vary based on traffic and road conditions

The distance from Toronto to Montreal is 542 km (approx. 337 miles). The Toronto to Montreal drive time is approximately 6 hours to drive if you are going to drive straight from one location to the next.

Most of the route from Toronto to Montreal is on Highway 401, which can be busy with traffic, so you will want to avoid driving during rush hour if possible. You can complete this trip in a single day, but stopping to take 2-3 days will allow you to explore all the attractions along the route.

There are so many great things to see along the route, so you will want to turn this trip into a memory-making road trip with your family. Check out our guide below to help you rethink your route and plan your journey!

Best Time of Year to Drive from Toronto to Montreal 

The best time of year to drive to Montreal depends on what you are interested in seeing and experiencing in Montreal, as it offers amazing attractions in both Summer and Winter that are completely different.

Spring (April to June): The weather can be mild and pleasant, but it can also be rainy so it all depends on the day. In the spring, you will see blossoming trees and flowers along the route, and attractions have fewer crowds.

Summer (July to August): The weather will be warm to hot depending on the day, but the roads will be dry, which is perfect for driving. This is the most popular season to visit, so expect larger crowds at events and attractions. 

Fall (September to October): The weather will be cooler and along the roadside will be beautiful foliage to view especially near Thousand Islands and Eastern Ontario. There will be fewer crowds however some attractions may be closed.

Winter (November to March): This can be a difficult time to drive as there are often bad snow storms along this route during the winter months, making it unideal to travel, so be sure to check weather conditions before leaving. Montreal has great skiing, snowboarding and winter sports in the winter months. 

Attractions to Explore Between Toronto and Montreal

Port Hope

This quaint small town is a delightful destination to pit stop and check out the blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. 

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Port Hope

To start your visit, head to Downtown Port Hope, where you can stroll through the historic town center that dates back to the 19th century. You will find unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants among these historic buildings and heritage homes.

You can even join a guided heritage tour to learn more about the town’s history and why these landmarks are important. If you have extra time, plan ahead and grab tickets to a show at the historic Capitol Theatre that shows films, musicals, concerts and plays.

If you enjoy the outdoors, then head to the Ganaraska River, where you can stroll along the river and enjoy the peaceful environment while spotting wildlife. Located in the  Ganaraska forest to enjoy some hiking, biking or fishing that offers experiences for all skill levels.

If you are visiting in the fall, head to the Corbett Dam near Mckibbon St to check out the unique sighting of the Port Hope Salmon run as the salmon work their way up the ladder. It’s very cool to observe this natural phenomenon up close.

Big Apple

The Big Apple is seen from afar as you approach it driving along Highway 401 as this large red apple is an Ontario icon. You can order products such as caramel apple pie ahead of time on their website.

The Big Apple is a great place to stop and enjoy lunch from the Smokehouse or just to buy some snacks for the road trip, such as donuts, chocolate and much more. There is also a small gift shop with souvenirs. 

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Big Apple Pie Factory

Visitors will enjoy the serene country setting, and you can check out the petting zoo, mini golf, and apple cider brewery, or you can climb 35 feet to the top observation deck of the giant apple for a spectacular view of Cramahe Township, the Village of Colborne and Lake Ontario.

Prince Edward County

This picturesque region is made up of a variety of small towns located on the peninsula that juts out into Lake Ontario and is known as an agricultural gem for its thriving wine industry, fresh produce, and farm-to-table culinary scene.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Prince Edward County has many sandy beaches and sand dunes, including Sandbanks Provincial Park, which is the perfect place to spend some time sunbathing or swimming. If visitors have more time then they may also enjoy hiking, cycling or birdwatching in the multiple conservation areas located nearby.

Producing some of Ontario’s best wine, Prince Edward County has over 40 different wineries and vineyards to explore and enjoy wine samplings and culinary delights.

The county is home to small towns like Picton and Wellington, where visitors can explore art galleries, and boutique shops, and enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at local restaurants.

Kingston

Kingston is an important Canadian city as it was once the Capital City of Canada. It is a great stop to stay overnight or can be a quick 2-3 hour stop.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Kingston

The attraction you don’t want to miss if only stopping for a short time is the Kingston trolley tour. The 1-hour tour takes you by the home of Canada’s first prime minister, along the historic downtown shopping area, and even to Kingston’s penitentiary.

You can get off at the prison, which is Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security prison, and enjoy a guided tour inside.

Gananoque and the Thousand Islands

Located a short drive from Kingston is Gananoque which is where you will find the famous Thousand Islands National Park, which is a must-stop destination on a Toronto to Montreal road trip.

Gananoque is best known for its picturesque area that offers camping, glamping and boat tours around the Thousand Islands. 

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Thousand Islands National Park

Begin your journey in Gananoque, the gateway to the 1000 Islands, and make sure to visit Panache Bakery to pick up a delicious lunch to enjoy on the go.

Once you have your snack in hand, take a brief drive to Gray Beach, where you can indulge in a delightful picnic lunch. This picturesque location provides picnic tables, a gazebo shelter, and a breathtaking panoramic view of the water.

Experience a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction, the 1000 Islands Tower, offering panoramic views of the entire South Eastern Ontario region. This unique tower features three observation decks, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the 1000 Islands and the majestic St. Lawrence River. 

Before concluding your stop, make sure not to miss the Palaces and Palisades Cruise, a delightful two-hour sightseeing tour. Cruise along the stunning St. Lawrence River, marvel at the 1000 Islands Bridge and catch glimpses of the renowned Boldt Castle.

Brockville

Brockville sits on the Northern edge of the Thousand Islands and has a great waterfront area to watch the boats while enjoying a picnic in one of the lush green spaces if you have more time, head to the marina to sign up for a boat rental, 1000 island boat tour or fishing charter to explore the St. Lawrence River from the water.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Brockville Railway Tunnel

Another unique attraction in Brockville is the Brockville Railway tunnel which was the very first railway tunnel built in Canada that connected the Canadian railway to the harbour.  The free attraction lets you stroll through the tunnel that is now lit by LED lights and learn about its history and importance through decorative plaques.

Long Sault Parkway

Outdoor adventurists will love the scenic parkway that stretches across eleven islands in the St. Lawrence River between Ingleside and Cornwall offering stunning views of the river and natural landscape. The parkway is 11 kilometres (7 miles) and can be accessed by car for a leisurely drive, bicycle or on foot.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - St.Lawrence River

This is a great area to stop for a picnic lunch or go for a stroll to stretch your legs among nature. The St. Lawrence is a great spot for swimming and fishing, and there are many nearby campgrounds if you plan to stay overnight.

Cornwall

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure or a glimpse into Cornwall‘s past, the city offers a mix of cycling trails and historic areas that are sure to interest visitors.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Upper Canada Village

If you are interested in Cycling, you can rent a bicycle from the Cornwall Marina and enjoy over 40 kilometres (25 miles) of paved trails or check out some of the more challenging trails, such as The Summerstown Trail, which offers off-road trails for mountain bikers as you wind through forest and fields.

The most popular trail for tourists is the Waterfront Trail which allows you to cycle along the river and connects Cornwall to other communities, such as the Long Sault Parkway.

Cornwall has many historic areas, including the Cornwall Museum, which highlights the area’s industrial, military and cultural history. Downtown Cornwall, Victoria-era architecture has become shops, restaurants and galleries while keeping its small-town charm.

A short drive from Cornwall is the Upper Canada Village, a living history museum where staff dress in traditional clothing, and you can enjoy over 40 heritage buildings and transport back to a day in a rural village of the 1800s.

Lastly, you can walk along that canal that was important in transporting goods in the 19th and 20th centuries.

10 Must-See Attractions to Explore in Montreal

So what is there to do once you reach Montreal with your family? Montreal offers tons of things to do, these are the top recommendations for families.

Montreal Science Centre – Located in Old Montreal, the Science Centre offers educational learning for kids through hands-on science and technology activities. 

Grand Roue – This 60-meter tall observation wheel allows you to view Montreal from above and enjoy the scenic views of Old Montreal. The observation gondolas have glass windows that offer 36o degree views and are the largest observation wheel in Canada. They offer a family package to make rates more affordable. 

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Grand Roue

Voiles en Voiles – Climb aboard this pirate ship for non-stop family fun, as you enjoy an aerial course, Pirate Movie Theatre, climbing walls, a small zipline, inflatable games and an archery arena all in one location. Voiles en Voiles offers activities for both younger children and teens, making it ideal for all families.

Tyrolienne Mtl Zipline – Explore the biggest urban zipline in Canada as you get a bird’s eye view of Port Montreal on this 1200 feet zipline as you soar like a superhero above the city.

Labyrinth – Explore a maze full of obstacles and traps on your way to finding four treasures as you navigate this 2km maze. Fun for the whole family to work together to escape the maze and solve the mission.

Biodome – This unique attraction introduces kids to a variety of ecosystems, including the tropical rainforest, polar region and Laurentian forest and allows them to view animals and plants that belong in each ecosystem. 

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Biodome

Parc Jean-Drapeau – This large park is located on two islands in the St. Lawrence River, Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. This park has expansive green spaces for walking and cycling, picnic areas and a variety of sports courts.

The park is also home to two sandy beaches Plage Jean-Doré on Île Sainte-Hélène and Plage de l’Île Notre-Dame on Île Notre-Dame that allow you to swim along the waterfront. Lastly, in the summer, there is an aquatic center with water slides, an outdoor pool and a splash pad for the family to enjoy!

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Parc Jean-Drapeau

Mont Royal Park – This park is a peaceful retreat in the city of Montreal as you can reconnect with nature and enjoy hiking trails with panoramic views of Montreal. At the summit of Mont Royal, you will find Beaver Lake, which allows canoeing in the summer and skating in the winter. The park has wooded areas, meadows and open green space that are perfect for strolling or even cycling.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Mont Royal Park

Ecomuseum Zoo – The ecomuseum zoo is not your typical zoo as it is home to injured or orphaned Canadian wildlife that cannot return to the wild, including bears, wolves, lynx, and otters. Visitors can explore the easily walkable trails while learning about Canadian wildlife up close. There is a small picnic area and playground where children can take a break and play!

Botanical Garden – This is a little more of a relaxing activity as you can tour the themed gardens, greenhouses and outdoor spaces in this tranquil environment. There is a natural playground for younger children to explore featuring a spider’s web climbing structure, slides and twirling chairs.

CA Driving Toronto to Montreal - Botanical Garden

Day Trip from Montreal

If you have extra time and want a cool experience that’s a short 1 hour drive from Montreal then check out Saint Sauveur. 

In the summertime, you can experience Acro Nature which has hours of ziplining and treetop trekking fun, or you can experience the one-of-a-kind mountain waterpark. The waterpark has over 40 water activities, including slides, rafting, and pools, all built into the mountainside.

In the wintertime, you can enjoy snow tubing, skiing and snowboarding and the largest night skiing in the Laurentians. 

Where to Stay in Montreal

You have reached your destination of Montreal, but now you need accommodations as a home base while you enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful new city. Where you stay will depend on which area you plan to visit: Old Montreal, Mont Royal or Downtown.

If you’re looking to stay right Downtown, I would recommend the Residence Inn by Marriott Montreal Downtown as rooms have a separate living area and kitchen, making it ideal for families to prepare meals. The hotel has an indoor pool and complimentary breakfast and is close to downtown Montreal dining, entertainment and shopping. 

Staying near Mont Royal is a great option if you want to be near a quieter area with a family-friendly atmosphere. Mont Royal has a beautiful park, playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails and kid-friendly cafes. Hotel Omni is a great option for families and even offers a welcome tote bag for kids with snacks and activities.

If you want to experience a historic area of Montreal that is close to lots of attractions like the Montreal Science Centre, the Montreal Clock Tower, and the SOS Labyrinthe adventure maze, then you will want a hotel in Old Montreal.

Families will enjoy staying as it is close to the waterfront if you want to stroll, cycle or take a river cruise. Place d’Armes is a great option for families as they offer a treat for kids and larger suites.

More Canadian Road Tripping Adventures

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