If you are planning a trip to Canada and you have about two weeks to see the best that this country has to offer, I invite you to discover 2 regions – Ontario and Quebec!
I chose to do this Canada tour itinerary myself because it has the perfect mix of urban and nature, culture and activities. Using this itinerary, you will be able to experience two completely different cultures inside one country (it is extremely interesting, I haven’t seen this anywhere else in the world!) and try completely different cuisines. Moreover, the route will take you to both big metropolitan cities such as Toronto and Montreal, but you will also relax in breathtaking less-visited national parks where you will hike and spot whales! And, of course, Niagara Falls will be included in our visit to Canada.
If this sounds like your kind of trip, continue reading – I have the complete itinerary planned for you! It is organized by dates, prices, things to visit and even hours on the road (I have slightly modified some things from my own itinerary and now it is perfect, in my humble opinion).
And oh, yes, this is a road trip itinerary in Canada, so we are going to be driving to all the destinations on our list. Please read why I think this is the best way to visit Canada and tips on choosing the best rental car here.
Here is the proposed Canada itinerary for 2 weeks:
- Day 1-3: Montreal
- Day 4-5: Quebec City
- Day 6: Tadoussac National Park
- Day 7: Saguenay Fjord
- Day 8: Fjords, road to Mauricie
- Day 9: Mauricie National Park
- Day 10: Ottawa
- Day 11-13: Toronto
- Day 14: Niagara Falls, Canadian side
- Day 15: Thousand Islands
- Day 16: Back to Montreal and back home
- Some practical things to know about your Canada road trip
Day 1-3: Montreal
Your eastern Canada road trip begins in the most charming European-looking city of North America! Are you ready?
NOTE: If you want to start your Canada road trip from Toronto, that is totally fine, too, as this trip is a loop – it ends where it begins, so you could start at any point on the itinerary without any problem!
As you noticed, I planned 3 days for Montreal which may seem like a lot to you. I did it this way first, because the city has a lot to offer and second, because you will need to relax after your flight and not feel jetlagged right when you start exploring this unique country.
There are indeed so many things to do – you can do a lot of Montreal activities, stop by some local breweries, and try the famous poutine…
By the way, I have an extremely detailed list of 15 things not to be missed in Montreal, so be sure to go through it before your visit!
Things to do in Montreal
I will not go into all the details about each of the activities here, as I have already described them in detail in my post about Montreal, but here are a few of the main activities to do in the city. You will find all the details such as prices, practical tips and more things to visit in my dedicated blog post (link above).
- Visit Old Town Montreal
- Hike Mont Royal for the city view
- Try traditional poutine
- Try Montreal’s local craft beer
- Wander around the Old Port of Montreal
- Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Rent a bike!
- Relax in the Montreal Botanical Garden
- Cruise around Montreal on a boat tour
- Visit the Biodome Montreal
As for good Montreal tours, I would recommend this one if you are looking to take a small organized group tour around the city.
Accommodation in Montreal
Besides making a list of Montreal sightseeing spots, you should make sure to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible, as the good ones always sell out fast! Below you can find my recommendations.
Luxury ($200 CAD and up): The Ritz-Carlton Montreal is a 5-star hotel and one of the top choices for your Montreal stay! This hotel will offer impeccable, high-quality services and amenities – plus the staff is extremely friendly! Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites is one of the best places to stay in Montreal as well because of its gym, sun deck, and all the other cool facilities! This is an aparthotel in Montreal, so you will feel right at home!
Middle-priced (from $100 to $200 CAD): My first recommendation for middle-priced travelers is Sir Montcalm Gite B&B, which is a great Montreal bed and breakfast! It has excellent reviews and great service, including a fully equipped kitchenette that you can use during your stay! Gîte Ocoin is another great bed and breakfast located super close to the subway. You will surely appreciate the delicate décor!
Budget (up to $100 CAD): If you are traveling to Canada on a tight budget, here are two super good accommodation recommendations for Montreal! Chambre privée au village is a great homestay with tasteful decorations, free Wi-Fi and a cozy terrace! On the other hand, Auberge Bishop is a great 3-star hostel with shared bathrooms and 3, 9 or 15-bed dormitories. And the price is really good!
Day 4-5: Quebec City
The next stop on our route is Quebec City, which is the capital of Quebec Province in Canada.
I suggest you leave Montreal early in the morning to reach Quebec by mid-day. The city is definitely worth visiting thanks to its charming Old Town!
Things to do in Quebec City
Here are the main things to do in Quebec City. We managed to do everything without rushing in 1.5 days:
- Wander around the cobbled streets of Old Quebec (this is a UNESCO World Heritage site)
- Walk around the Lower Town (Basse Ville) – This place is so lively, full of shops, restaurants and galleries!
- Have a drink in the beautiful Chateau Frontenac – there is a beautiful upscale bar called 1608 there, or you could book a table for dinner at Champlain (this is also a great idea for things to do in Quebec City in the winter!)
- If you are looking for free things to do in Quebec City, you should go on a Free walking tour (try to book this one in advance – we were too late with scheduling it so we could not join). An alternative tour is this 2-hour grand guided walking tour for $26 CAD.
- Take an Old Quebec funicular to the Upper Town (or you could also hike up the 200 stairs if you want to burn those calories, it is not that far. We took the funicular just for the fun of it!)
- Visit La Citadelle of Quebec
If you would like to take an organized city tour that would also take you to Montmorency Falls, I suggest taking this tour.
Where to eat in Quebec City
Here are some nice places to eat in Quebec City:
- Chez Jules (formerly Le Pain Beni) – for an authentic experience of a French brasserie with traditional dishes
- Il Teatro – for fine Italian cuisine and a stunning view over Old Quebec
- Laurie Raphaël – for a fancy, elegant dinner with French-Quebec dishes.
If you would like to truly understand why Quebec is a great foodie destination, I suggest you take a small group food tour with tastings of traditional and modern dishes!
Where to stay in Quebec City
Luxury ($220 CAD and up): Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is indeed one of the iconic 5-star Old Quebec city hotels that features some stunning views over the St. Lawrence River. Plus, it boasts delicious on-site restaurants, stylish rooms and even an indoor pool! Hotel Le Priori is a very good luxury 4-star hotel in Quebec with unique décor and Art Deco furniture! This hotel, dating from 1734, has even been designated a World Heritage Site – how cool is that?
Middle-priced (from $140 to $220 CAD): Hôtel Alt Québec is located only 15 minutes away from the airport and it will charm you with flat-screen TVs, coffee facilities and great service! Le Gite Du Hu-Art is a great middle-priced bed and breakfast in Quebec City with cozy rooms decorated in a cottage-style! There is also an outdoor fire pit available, as well as an on-site boat that you can use for free!
Budget (up to $140 CAD): Le 253 is a great budget bed and breakfast in Quebec City. The accommodation offers a super nice patio with garden views and a terrace where you can relax! Another amazing option is La Boheme, another cozy bed and breakfast which offers free Wi-Fi, free private parking and a nice location!
Day 6: Tadoussac National Park
Again, I advise you to try to leave Quebec City in the morning because the drive is quite long and you will have activities planned on that day. Make sure to take a snack with you, as there are some picturesque spots with tables along the road where you will be able to stop and enjoy the view!
There are so many places around the world where you can witness gentle giants (whales) in their natural habitat – before Canada I had personally seen whales in Sri Lanka and Iceland. Tadoussac, Quebec is Canada’s most popular whale watching spot and it is very cool as the marine life is so varied!
The ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Tadoussac takes approximately 10 minutes, operates 24 hours a day and is free of charge!
Things to do in Tadoussac National Park
There are not so many things to do in this small town, but the reason everyone goes there is, of course, to go whale watching!
The whale watching high season is usually from June to the end of October, but whales can be seen all year round there. I visited in mid-September and we saw quite a lot of whales!
Here are some other things to do in Tadoussac National Park:
- Take a Tadoussac whale watching tour by boat (read more details about the times and prices below)
- Try a kayaking experience and (hopefully) meet some whales! (also below)
- Visit the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre to learn everything about whales
- Do the Sentier de la Pointe-de-l’Islet Trail (it is a picturesque short walk, especially beautiful at sunrise. The track starts on the left of the Marine Centre and you might be able to spot some whales from there too!)
- Pay a visit to Petite Chapelle de Tadoussac
- You can also spot some whales from the shore of the Baie-Sainte-Catherine side – you will see a parking lot right before the ferry and then a path that leads to a beautiful viewpoint. Even when we were at a distance, we saw many whales from there!
1. Whale watching boat tours in Tadoussac
Taking a boat tour is the best option for your whale watching adventure in the Quebec region because the boats are fast and the people managing them are masters of navigation. They KNOW where the whales currently are!
Below are 2 options for taking the boat tour. I chose the first one, but you might be more interested in the second one if you have less time or fewer days in your itinerary.
Option 1. Whale watching tour from Tadoussac.
NOTE: Before I say anything about the boat tours, I would like to remind you to get dressed really, REALLY warm when going for a Tadoussac whale watching trip! Even if you are going to be given overalls, trust me – some extra layers won’t hurt! Even if it is hot and sunny on the bank, it is extremely windy and cold when you are on the boat. Take a hat and gloves as well if you are sensitive to cold temperatures like me.
There are a couple of boat tours companies that offer a tour and you can see all the tours offered here.
We chose Zodiac because it was the most convenient regarding the time and the price was $80 CAD with taxes for a 2.5-hour tour. Did we see whales? Yes and quite a few! And we also saw some curious seals. 🙂
Option 2. Whale watching tour from Baie-Sainte-Catherine
You can take THE SAME tour without crossing the Saguenay River to save some time. The tour will pick you up directly from there and drop you off at the same place.
So, the only difference between the two tours is that you will save some time by not taking the ferry and going directly from the other side of the river. Once the tour is finished, they will drop you off at the same spot so that you can continue your trip to the next destination right away. As our next destination (Saguenay Fjords) is only a 30-minute drive away, it might make sense to continue in that direction and stay there overnight if you are in a rush.
2. Kayaking with whales in Tadoussac
Kayaking in the St. Laurens or Saguenay Rivers is not only spectacular, but it can also give you an OPPORTUNITY to see the whales in a much more intimate atmosphere. Paddling around the gentle giants is truly a once in a lifetime experience!
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to reach as far as with the boat and you will only stay around the shore. Because of that, your chances of seeing whales are much lower, though still possible. Some of my friends did it and they were lucky enough to see the whales while kayaking. They said it was magical!
I was keen on trying the kayaks, too, but because the friend I was traveling with had never seen whales before, I wanted to make sure she saw them on this trip, so we decided to go for the boat tour, where the possibility of seeing the beasts of the seas is almost 100%!
So, if you would like to go kayaking for the sake of kayaking and the possibility of encountering whales is just an extra bonus for you, then I would highly recommend this option.
And, if your time and money allows, you could even do both boat and kayak, why not?
Kayaking is available from May to October. The duration can be anywhere from 3 hours to a full day. The prices start at $70 CAD + tax. Please see more information on this site.
Best Tadoussac hotels
When I did the trip, I decided to tell my readers that they actually do not have to stay here overnight if they are in a rush. As I said above, you could take the tour from the other side of the river without taking a ferry and proceed to Saguenay right away in the evening, which would save you some time. We, on the other hand, weren’t in a rush, so we thought that staying in cute Tadoussac overnight would be a good idea. And it was!
Here are the best places to stay in Tadoussac, as usual sorted for all budgets:
Luxury ($220 CAD and up): If you are searching for a cute and cozy inn to spend your night in Tadoussac, Auberge La Merveilleuse is a great option! It is located right on the seafront and it awaits you with a garden, a terrace and even dog-sledding during winter! La Galouine Auberge et Restaurant is another cool inn with rustic-style rooms, an unmissable restaurant that serves fresh seafood and wild fruit desserts and many other facilities!
Middle-priced (from $160 to $220 CAD): Maison Hovington is a cool bed and breakfast in Tadoussac that contains a nice garden, cozy and spacious rooms, and a daily buffet breakfast served on-site! Tadoussac Hotel is an accessible 4-star hotel that offers amazing views over Tadoussac Bay! Plus, they even have on-site spa services and 2 restaurants that serve delicious dishes!
Budget (up to $160 CAD): Motel Le Beluga is a great budget accommodation for people visiting the city on a tight budget. It offers free Wi-Fi, a cozy common area with a hammock and great service! My second suggestion is Le Petit Hotel La Passe Pierre Par La Galouine, which features a good on-site restaurant and a great cocktail bar!
Day 7: Saguenay Fjord
“Saguenay” comes from the Aboriginal words Saga and Nipi, which means “where the water exists”
At over 100 km in length, Saguenay is the longest fjord in the world at this low latitude! The cool thing about fjords is that they are easily accessible by car (I am comparing it to Milford Sound in New Zealand where you would need 2 days or a helicopter ride to get there!).
Parc National du Fjords du Saguenay stretches for over 320 km2 of protected territory with panoramic vistas. The entrance to the park is $9 CAD per day and it is located about a 50 minute drive from the town.
Things to do in Saguenay
Here are some of the main things to do in the area with a more detailed explanation on what I personally did myself below:
- Hike a trail in the Saguenay Fjord National Park
- Defy the Via Ferrata in Baie-Eternite sector (I am really sad I didn’t do this one! The prices are from $50 to $90 CAD depending on the duration)
- Go kayaking inside the Fjord National Park
- Visit L’Anse-de-Tabatiere
- Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing in the winter and fat biking in the summer at Mont Lac-Vert
- Visit Pointe-Taillon National Park in case you haven’t had enough of National Parks yet. This one is stunning too, and it has a beach!
- Visit Saguenay Lac-St-Jean for some exciting winter activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling
- Musee de Petite Maison Blanche – which means Little White House Museum
- Musee du Fjord
- Cruise around Lac Saint-Jean
There are numerous trails to try and your choice will depend on how much time you have and what you want to see. We wanted to do L’Anse-de-Tabatiere, but it would have taken us 9 hours and we wouldn’t have been able to finish it before dark. So we went for the most popular option – Cap Trinite trail that eventually leads to the summit with the Statue of Our Lady Saguenay viewpoint. The hike to Cap Trinite will take you about 5-hours round trip and you will see some nice views of the fjords along the way!
Hotels and camping in Saguenay
As camping in Saguenay is a very popular activity, I have included some options for camping inside the National Park along with hotel recommendations. If you want to stay in a campsite inside Saguenay National Park, you can access this link and then select the sector you are interested in (Baie-Sainte-Marguerite or Baie-Éternité); you will see the available options. Here are my recommended hotels near Saguenay:
Luxury ($170 CAD and up): Hotel Chicoutimi is a very cute and modern 4-star hotel in Saguenay! Some of the cool advantages of this accommodation are 3 on-site restaurants, stunning views offer the Fjord and even a well-equipped gym! Gite Au P’tit Manoir B&B is another 4-star accommodation that awaits you with a delicious breakfast every morning and country-themed rooms!
Middle-priced (from $120 to $170 CAD): Hotel Montagnais Chicoutimi is a nice and cozy 4-star hotel located in the heart of Chicoutimi. It features a congress center with 17 meeting rooms, an internet café, an indoor water park, a game room and even a fitness center. What more could you wish for? Chateau Murdock Gite & Wellness is a 4-star bed and breakfast that offers an outdoor pool, cozy rooms, and even a personal care clinic! Plus, the prices are super affordable!
Budget (up to $120 CAD): Motel Panoramique is a very good option for budget travelers. It is only 5 minutes away from Chicoutimi and you will surely enjoy the heated outdoor pool and the friendly staff! Gîte La Belle Dame is another good bed and breakfast with amazing prices. If you are traveling to Canada with kids, you should know that this place even has a children’s playground!
Day 8: Fjords, road to Mauricie
Today is going to be an on-the-road day. If you still have some energy, you can do a small hike in Saguenay. The park has 2 entrances; we checked out the Sainte-Anne one which has really pretty views and fewer people. We did not do a full hike, but we entered the park and walked around for an hour or so and it was really enjoyable!
I recommend taking this day easy. We woke up late, ate a big breakfast, enjoyed the mesmerizing views of Saguenay once again and continued on the road with some stops along the way. We reached the small town of Mauricie a bit before dark just to have dinner and relax before tomorrow’s hike.
If you do have some extra time (probably an extra day), you could stop at La Malbaie, which is on the way to Mauricie. The hike is more difficult, but I have heard that the views are pretty amazing!
Below are some pointers for you on where you should stay in Mauricie. The things to do and the description of our hike will be described on Day 9.
Accommodation in Mauricie
I recommend staying here for 2 nights because you will arrive in the evening on Day 8 and you will definitely be too tired for a 4.5-hour road trip right after you did a challenging 8-hour hike, am I right?
You can stay in a cabin as well – there is a special site for renting one.
You can stay in Shawinigan, which is the closest town to the park:
Luxury ($170 CAD and up): If you are looking for a chalet on the beach, Moniquandre is your perfect answer! I totally recommend this accommodation for a group of up to 4 people, as you will benefit from 2 beautiful bedrooms, a balcony, a living room and, of course, a complete kitchen! Another beautiful luxury chalet is Chalet Le Sainte-Flore, which is great for a group of up to 8 people! Plus, you also get a 25% discount at the skiing place nearby during your stay!
Middle-priced (from $110 to $170 CAD): Comfort Inn & Suites Shawinigan is one of the best choices for middle-priced accommodations. During your stay, you will benefit from free Wi-Fi, gym access and cable TV! Le Manoir du Rocher is a 4-star bed and breakfast with air-conditioned rooms, free Wi-Fi and a hot tub! This is the ideal place to get some rest and prepare yourself for the next day’s adventure!
Budget (up to $110 CAD): Auberge du Missionnaire is a great budget inn with accessible prices! You will surely enjoy spending some relaxation time on the terrace or in the shared lounge and the rooms are perfect for a good night’s sleep! Auberge Motel Drakkar is another cool inn that offers high-quality service for good prices! Plus, you will benefit from free on-site parking during your entire stay!
Day 9: Mauricie National Park
We have reached Parc Mauricie (pronounced [Morisi] in French), the last national park on our itinerary! While you are here, you can enjoy its countless crystal clear lakes, mountains, rivers, and evergreen forests!
As we spent the night there yesterday, you can start Day 9 fresh and early-ish in the morning!
Things to do in Mauricie
Below are the hikes and trails that you can do in La Mauricie National Park. I did the Waber Hike and I am going to tell you more about it below.
- Waber Falls Hike
- Les Cascades trail
- Spend an afternoon on Edouard Lake
- Solitaire Lake trail
- La Gabet Trail
Here is a full list of things to do in Mauricie by the Ministry of Tourism.
Waber Fall Hike
There are numerous hikes in the park and I chose the Waber hike as it is not only spectacular but also diverse. You get to paddle a kayak and then hike, so it is super fun!
When you enter Parc National de Mauricie, make sure to stop by the information office and ask them for some suggestions, then take a map. The info point is located near the entrance to the park and the kayak rentals are about a 30-minute drive from there inside the territory of the park.
I remember the people who were running the kayak rental were not very helpful, so I recommend asking about timing and any other information you need at the info point instead.
The hike will take you an entire day (around 8 hours) so plan your time accordingly. You will go by kayak (and at some point you will need to drag your kayak a bit because of the beavers blocking the river, haha!). Make sure to take your swimsuit, lunch and some water as there is obviously no place where you can buy these during your hike!
NOTE: If you are visiting on the weekend or during high season, make sure to book your kayak in advance here. They might run out of them and reaching that far, finding out there are no kayaks available, is definitely the last thing you want to hear, right?
PRO TIP: Make sure to stop by a viewpoint that is located about 1 km away from the waterfall (the hike is a loop). I think it was the most beautiful lookout of the trail and there were absolutely no people there!
Day 10: Ottawa
We could not miss the capital of Canada, could we?
It is especially important to start your day as early as possible today because the drive to Ottawa will take almost 4 hours and you will only have 1 day to see the whole city (do not worry, it is not that big, even if it is a capital). You could also stay for half a day during the following day, too, but then you will only have 2 days for Toronto (and not 3 as I suggest) – the choice is yours!
Unique things to do in Ottawa
- Go up to Parliament Hill
- Visit the ByWard Market with tons of restaurants and bars
- Try a Beaver Tail pastry
- Walk along the Rideau Canal (here is a cool tip for things to do in Ottawa in winter: you can ice skate on Rideau Canal during the winter and it is even the world’s largest outdoor skating rink!)
- Visit Parliament (in case you are searching for free things to do in Ottawa, you should note that there are free daily 45-minute tours if you want to visit the inside, too)
- Visit the Canadian Museum of History
- Take a Canal Cruise
- Visit the National Gallery of Canada – easily recognized by a statue of a huge spider in front of it
- Watch the Changing of the Guards (resemblance with England here. There is one at 9:50 AM each day at the Parliament building in the summer. If you miss this one, there is another Changing of the Guard happening daily at the WW1 Memorial, too).
- Admire the Mosaiculture floral exhibition during the summer – this one might be added to your list of things to do in Ottawa with kids!
PRO TIP: if you are searching for a cozy yet picturesque location with wonderful ambience to sip a cocktail and enjoy the view over Parliament, I wholeheartedly recommend Tavern on the Hill – it is a great spot that is not well known by tourists yet.
FUN NOTE: if you are a yoga fan, you might want to try a free yoga class by the Parliament building. It happens every Wednesday during the summer.