As the world’s second largest country, there’s nothing quite like surrendering yourself to adventure and heading out on a Canada road trip.
Road trips in Canada will allow you to see parts of the country that would be otherwise completely out of reach by public transit — small towns, world-renowned coastal drives, snow capped mountains, and badlands that stretch on as far as the eye can see.
As a Canadian with a passion for exploring my backyard, I’ve taken countless road trips across the country and have a birds eye view to the very best destinations. To help you plan your trip, I’m here to spill the tea on which road trips to take (and have conveniently left the most over-rated ones off the map).
From the forests of British Columbia to the colorful Atlantic coast, here are the very best Canadian road trips to add to your bucket list!
If it’s your first time planning a trip to Canada, be sure to bookmark my list of the top places to visit in Canada to help you sort through all the incredible options for visiting Canada.
Table of Contents
- 13 Best Road Trips in Canada
- Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
- Coquihalla Highway, British Columbia
- Montreal to Gaspé, Quebec
- Irish Loop, Newfoundland & Labrador
- Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
- Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
- Cowboy Trail, Alberta
- Icefields Parkway, Alberta
- Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
- Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Bay of Fundy Coast, New Brunswick
- Winnipeg to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, Manitoba
- Tip-to-Tip, Prince Edward Island
- FAQ About Road Tripping in Canada
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13 Best Road Trips in Canada
Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
Stretching up from the coastal city of Vancouver to the mountainous ski town of Pemberton, BC, the Sea to Sky Highway is a scenic Canada road trip that will take you through some drop-dead-gorgeous landscapes — think quaint towns, waterfalls, cliffs, lakes, forests, and more.
Also known as Highway 99, this scenic highway snakes along the coast and into the mountains, and is awesome whether you’re a hiker, small-town lover, or just like stopping off on the side of the road for some great views. Some of the best stops along the Sea to Sky Highway include the Cypress Mountain Lookout in Vancouver, Porteau Cove, Shannon Falls (a 355 meter / 1165 foot waterfall near the town of Squamish), and the Sea to Sky Gondola.
The Sea to Sky Highway isn’t too long, but it certainly still packs a punch as one of the most beautiful road trips in Canada.
👉 Headed to British Columbia? Don’t miss my epic itinerary guide to taking a road trip in British Columbia.
Coquihalla Highway, British Columbia
Also known as Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway is one of the best road trips that connects the southern Trans Canada Highway with the northern one.
The drive will take you to Hope, BC before you head north up to the city of Kamloops. Along the way, you’ll cross the Great Bear Snow Shed before reaching the summit of the Coquihalla Pass. This drive will give you an elevation gain of 1240 meters / 4068 feet, the Coquihalla is known for its steep terrain, avalanche chutes, containment basins, and dramatic scenery.
Though there are plenty of places on the highway to pull off and stop, it’s the mountains and the drive that make this highway special for a road trip. Some of the best stops include the towns of Hope, Merritt, Logan Lake, and Kamloops, and Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, Walloper Lake Provincial Park, and Coldwater River Provincial Park.
If doing this drive in winter for the first time, be sure to read my guide to how to drive in Canada first for rules, regulations, and tips on driving during frigid and icy weather.
👉 Are you covered for Canada? Although it is a pretty safe country, it’s still a good idea to carry travel insurance protection in Canada. Check out our full guide to travel insurance here, or get a quote from our favorite provider World Nomads.
Montreal to Gaspé, Quebec
As Canada’s largest province, there are plenty of amazing road trips to take in Quebec. But perhaps the most spectacular is the (quite long) one between the cities of Montreal and Gaspé.
A trip that will take you about ten hours total, I recommend starting your road trip in the world-class city of Montreal before heading east along the Saint Lawrence River over to the Gaspe Peninsula. The trip will have you mostly on the Trans Canada highway and over to Route 132.
Stops along the way from Montreal to Gaspé include Quebec City, the waterfalls and suspension bridge of Parc des Chutes de la Chaudiere, Old Levis, Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site, La Martre Lighthouse, and Cap-Bon-Ami.
These sites will have you hiking through forests, whale watching, exploring lighthouses, experiencing history through the eyes of costumed actors, and, if you’re lucky, seeing the northern lights.
Keep in mind that, unlike the rest of Canada, Quebec’s first language is French, not English. This isn’t so prevalent in Montreal or Quebec City, where plenty of people speak both languages, but as soon as you get rural you can expect French-only locals and signage. That’s why one of my top tips for travel to Canada is to bring along a French phrasebook.
Irish Loop, Newfoundland & Labrador
Named for the strong Irish ancestry of the area, The Irish Loop in Newfoundland and Labrador circles around the southern Avalon Peninsula.
Starting in St. John’s and going south on Highway 10, the loop will take you through quaint harbor towns and give you awesome views of the ocean. Newfoundland is a great place to take a whale watching tour (minke and humpback whales are commonly seen around here), see puffins, or check out some icebergs, this is your chance.
Some of the best sites along the Irish Loop include the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, the Ferryland Lighthouse, Cape Race, the East Coast Trail, and Conception Bay South.
Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
Find yourself in the prairie province of Saskatchewan looking for a multi-day adventure? Then check out the stunning Qu’Appelle Valley — a scenic drive full of rolling hills and beautiful lakes in an otherwise flat prairie.
Fun fact, the Qu’Appelle Valley will take you about a quarter of the way across the province while giving you experiences with grassy hills, coulees, forests, and gorgeous lakes. The route runs parallel to the Trans Canada Highway and starts just short of the Manitoba to the East and the Fishing Lakes of Fort Qu’Appelle to the West.
The Qu’Appelle River was an important waterway for the early settler’s fur trade, with towns such as Fort Qu’Appelle, Fort John, and Fort Esperance being havens for history buffs. Other than that, some of the best stops along the route include the Fort Ellis Trail, and Round and Crooked Lakes.
Fun fact, the first 18 years of my life were spent just ten minutes from the Qu’Appelle Valley in Southeastern Saskatchewan. Trust me when I say that this is where the locals prefer to spend their precious summer months!
📍 Distance: 171 kilometers / 106 miles | 🗺️ Google Maps Route
👉 Pro Tip: I recommend doing this drive in the summer when lake culture is in full swing and the restaurants are all open. This road trip can get impassable when it’s wet and in the winter months so June through September is the best time to do it.
More than just one of the best road trips in Canada, the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia is one of the best drives in the world and is known for leaving travelers in awe with its incredible views and Atlantic ocean experiences.
Though you could drive the route in a day, the Cabot Trail is the most popular attraction in Nova Scotia, so typically adventurers spend 4-5 days on the trail and drive in a counterclockwise direction (although you could take the highway either way from the town of Baddeck). This Cape Breton Island route will take you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park and onto seaside villages, kayaking opportunities, hiking trails, snowmobiling (in the winter), and so much more.
In particular, some of the best sites on the Cabot Trail include Ingonish, The Aspy Fault, Pleasant Bay, MacKenzie Mountain, Fishing Cove, the Skyline Trail, Cap-Rouge, and Cheticamp. Taking one of the many whale watching tours is also a must in this area.
📍 Distance: 298 kilometers / 186 miles | 🗺️ Google Maps Route
Cowboy Trail, Alberta
A Canadian road trip that will take you from the towering Rocky Mountains to the Alberta plains and back again, the Cowboy Trail is a historic Western Canada route that runs from the town of Mayerthorpe in the north to Lundbreck in the south.
This route is perfect if you’re looking for a way to experience Alberta’s famous ranching and western scene. Stops along the trail include rugged mountains, horseback riding experiences, farm stays, and so much more. Though you can take this route in one day, I recommend making a few stops along the way to really soak up the vibes. Check out my full Alberta road trip guide for more trip planning info.
I especially suggest that you bunk up at the Rustic Ridge Ranch & Lodge, go tubing down the Pembina River, check out the Drayton Valley Museum, visit beautiful Crimson Lake Provincial Park, and thundering Lundbreck Falls.
If you’d like to keep going from north to south, then I highly recommend extending your visit to Waterton Lakes Provincial Park. It’s a great blend of mountains, lakes, and prairie vistas.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Another great road trip in Alberta, the Icefields Parkway links the hamlet of Lake Louise in Banff National Park with Jasper National Park along Highway 93 North and is one of the most renowned drives in the world.
A mountainous drive all the way, the Icefields Parkway features towering waterfalls, rugged mountains, glaciers, and the turquoise lakes that this part of the world is so well known for.
Whether you start your drive in Lake Louise or Jasper National Park, this drive will take you past Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Waterfowl Lakes, Bridal Veil Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, Sunwapta Falls, Tangle Creek Falls, and so much more.
⛰️ Bookmark This: Check out my guide to Banff National Park if you really want to soak up the best of the Canadian Rockies!
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Though not a distinctive “road trip” like the Icefields Parkway or the Sea to Sky Highway, taking a road trip in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is one of the most scenic, panoramic drives in a province full of scenic, panoramic drives. The route is full of wineries and vineyards, hiking trails, and laid-back BC towns.
To get the most out of the Okanagan, I recommend starting your trip in either Vernon (north) or Osoyoos (south) and driving the length of the valley. Then, I recommend making stops in Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, and Kelowna.
When planning your visit, keep in mind that this stretch of the country gets very cold in the winter and obscenely hot in the summer. In recent years, July and August have been wildfire season, so to get the best of the area I recommend visiting in either May-June or September-October.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
One of the most famed road trips in Canada, Vancouver Island is accessible via plane or ferry. Vancouver Island is filled with things to do, and is a really fun place to come to in Canada to see incredibly old forests, goats on roofs (Coombs, I’m looking at you), bohemian surf towns, wildlife, and bustling cities alike.
To get the most out of your Vancouver Island road trip, I recommend starting your trip in Victoria, heading up the west coast to Port Renfrew, Sooke, Tofino, Ucelet, and Pacific Rim National Reserve, and then hitting the Pacific Rim Highway to see Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Coombs, Comox Valley, and Campbell River. See my full guide to British Columbia road trippin’ for more info.
Bay of Fundy Coast, New Brunswick
Feel like an exciting experience with seaside fishing villages, rugged coastline, (nearly) endless wilderness, and some of the planet’s most spectacular tides? Then head over to the Bay of Fundy Coast in New Brunswick.
Located on the Atlantic side of the country, this is the place to come for unspoiled nature and endless lobster rolls, but it also packs a punch in kayaking adventures, whale watching, puffins, and a unique experience of walking on the ocean floor at the Hopewell Rocks.
The Bay of Fundy features the highest tides in the world, and more than 100 billion tons of water flow in and out of The Bay of Fundy every single day. When the tide is out, people can walk on the seafloor and experience the rocks and sand up close and personal but, when the tide comes in, visitors better hope they have a boat (or they can just watch from the shore, which is the preferred way).
Other top sites along the Bay of Fundy Coast include Moncton, St Martins, Saint John, the Fundy Trail Parkway, and St. Andrews By The Sea.
📍 Distance: 343 kilometers / 213 miles | 🗺️ Google Maps Route
Winnipeg to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, Manitoba
This is a short Canada road trip that can be done as a day trip from Winnipeg, heading north of Manitoba’s capital city to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park.
To do this, take Highway 9 north of Winnipeg until it switches over to Highway 8. Though it can be done in one day, there are enough stops along this route to make a multi-day trip more than feasible and enjoyable.
Some of the best stops along the way include the beach destinations of Matlock and Ponemah, the Icelandic-culture-filled town of Gimli, and bohemian Winnipeg Beach.
Then, once you get to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, hike the lighthouse trail, relax on Sandy Bar Beach, hike the Grassy Narrows Marsh Trail, and learn all about local history and culture in Hecla Historic Village.
After living in Manitoba for two years, I have to say that driving north from Winnipeg to Hecla/Grindstone is one of my favorite drives.
👉 Headed to Winnipeg? Don’t miss my guide to the best stuff to do there!
Tip-to-Tip, Prince Edward Island
The smallest Canadian province, road trippers will love the stunning scenery and quaint towns of Prince Edward Island from coast to gorgeous coast.
Though spending a solid week traversing PEI will help you hit all the spots, the island can be broken up into the North Cape Coastal Drive, Points East Coastal Drive, and Central Coastal Drive.
Where you go and what you do depends on how much time you have, but given the manageable size of Prince Edward Island, traversing the whole island and checking off all the best things to do can be done in one fell swoop.
Some of the top places to visit in Prince Edward Island include the capital city of Charlottetown, PEI National Park, Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish Beach, and the Confederation Bridge.
FAQ About Road Tripping in Canada
Where should I go on a road trip in Canada?
Some of the best road trips in Canada include the Sea to Sky Highway, the Cabot Trail, the Qu’Appelle Valley, the Cowboy Trail, and the Icefields Parkway.
How long does it take to travel across Canada by car?
Traveling all the way across Canada by car takes approximately 106 hours and covers 8581km (5332 miles).
Is it worth driving across Canada?
It is worth driving across Canada. Though it’s a long drive, a coast-to-coast Canada road trip will allow you to cover a lot of ground and see some of the best major cities, natural sites, and small towns.
How do I plan a road trip across Canada?
To plan a road trip across Canada, you should first decide on which of the best road trips in Canada you will take. The next step is to reserve a rental car or campervan, prepare your insurance and travel documents, and book tickets to Canada. Be sure to prepare yourself for how to drive in Canada if you are coming from the United States.
That’s it for my 13 top Canadian road trips!
No matter what your agenda, Canada is full of major cities, small towns, and natural wonders alike, and I hope this gave you a ton of inspiration.
For more tips on traveling Canada, check out the Travel Lemming Canada travel blog.
Have fun on your Canada road trip!