Captivating Canada: Top five road trips

The world’s second-largest country by area, Canada stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean. This is a land that lends itself perfectly to road trips. Here are five of the best.Friday, 1 November 2019

Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls.
photo by Canadian Sky

Ontario: Lakes, mountains and Niagara Falls

This trip combines wild natural drama with urban hotspots. Things get going in Toronto, a city known for its food scene and varied nightlife. From there, a short two-hour drive will bring you to one of the world’s great natural wonders — Niagara Falls. While in the area, make sure to stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake, an attractive town with interesting boutiques and superb wineries. At Château des Charmes, for example, generations of the Bosc family have worked to perfect their balanced whites. Winding up into the mountains, the next port of call is Blue Mountain Resort, a ski destination in winter and outdoor playground in summer; think mountain biking, zip-lining and everything in between. Finally, drive deeper into Muskoka, a region known for its vast lake, forested hills and family-friendly accommodation. Horse-riding, hiking and biking are all great ways to get out and explore.
Standout stop: A once-in-a-lifetime helicopter flight over Niagara Falls.
Time needed: 10 nights
For more information click here

Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park.

The Great Parks of the West

Canada is renowned for its national parks. This drive showcases the best of them, from the soaring Coastal Mountains to Manning Provincial Park, where orchards and vineyards criss-cross the Okanagan Valley. Next up are the woolly wilds of Glacier National Park, where more than 700 miles of hiking trails traverse the peaks. Banff is perhaps Canada’s most iconic national park; the town that bears its name is an alluring gateway to the pine-crested wilderness beyond. Bucket-list Jasper, meanwhile, always lives up to the hype, with hulking glaciers, plunging waterfalls, alpine meadows and lofty mountains. Then, for something entirely different, head towards Whistler along the Cariboo Highway and Duffey Lake Road, taking in picture-perfect cruises and towns tied to the gold rush. Finally, wind up in Whistler itself, a world-famous hotspot that’s as vibrant in summer as it is in ski season.
Don’t miss: An Ice Explorer trip on the Columbia Icefield.
Time needed: 20 nights
For more information click here

Quebec City skyline.
Quebec City skyline.

Quebec: Pristine nature and French finesse

Crowds flock to Quebec, drawn to its raw nature, lively cities and French flair. On this trip you’ll see the region at its best: the vibrant, hipster metropolis of Montreal; Old Quebec City with its own Notre-Dame Basilica; and isolated islands, far off the tourist trail. Follow the route down to the Gaspé Peninsula and Chaleur Bay, stopping to admire the seascape overlooked by brooding mountains. Then it’s onwards to the iconic Percé Rock, rising dramatically from the Gulf waters before heading deeper into the peninsula to Forillon National Park, a frontier of cliffs, pebble beaches and pretty coves. Finally, head to the wildlife-rich Gaspesie National Park to hike its wild, windswept trails.
Try this: Follow the lead of the locals in Montreal and munch on poutine and Montreal-style bagels, washed down with craft beer.
Time needed: 14 nights
For more information click here

Skyline Trail, Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia.
Skyline Trail, Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia: Maritime magic

Nova Scotia is stark, wild and jaw-droppingly beautiful. Before belting up, wander around Halifax, a town with a rich maritime history and a restaurant scene that hums until late with the clatter of craft beers and the whiff of freshly caught seafood. On day three, set off for the coast, passing through sleepy fishing villages and along headlands with coastal views of Oak Island. Stop in Western Shore, where you can take sunrise walks and spot minke and fin whales frolicking in the waters around Big Tancook Island. Take it down a gear as you arrive into Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site, and cruise into the Bay of Fundy before nightfall. Next up, catch the ferry over to Prince Edward Island — a tiny speck of land and Canada’s smallest province — before ticking off more mainland attractions including the Cape Breton Highlands and Bras d’Or Lake.
Don’t miss: From Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown, climb aboard a lobster boil boat trip along the town’s waterfront, culminating in a seafood feast.
Time needed: 13 nights
For more information click here

Grizzly bear fishing in Chilko River.
Grizzly bear fishing in Chilko River.

British Columbia: Wildlife and watersports

A road trip through Vancouver Island and along the Sunshine Coast of British Colombia is characterised by blue skies and pounding surf. This trip takes you from Vancouver’s cultural hub to some of Canada’s most beautiful coastal destinations. There’s the waterside town of Tofino with its legendary surf culture, whale safaris and bear spotting excursions. This is followed by the crowd-pleasing resort of Parksville, where salty-haired locals SUP across the bay’s calm waters. The region also has serious winemaking credentials, and an afternoon wiled away at a winery is a great way to get involved in the viticulture scene, bumped up by standout seafood dishes. Back on the mainland, tick off Earls Cove, a breathtaking collection of islands, inlets, rapids, waterfalls and wildlife.
Standout stop: Comox, where you can wild swim in Nymph Falls Nature Park’s natural pools and walk the winding trails of Seal Bay Nature Park.
Time needed: 12 nights
For more information click here

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