If you’re captivated every time you see pictures of Canada’s vast, beautiful landscapes and the vibrant cultural events in the cities, or hear about some of its rich and fascinating history, then what are you waiting for? Summer is the best time to visit most regions of Canada, especially with the freedom of a self-drive holiday. The snow and slush has melted from the highways (well, most of them) and temperatures average a comfortable 74 degrees. If you’re stuck when it comes to picking a location, here are a few of the best ideas for Canadian self-drive holidays.
Vancouver – Okanagan – The Rockies (700 Miles)
This 700-mile journey starts with history and culture, and ends with the stunning natural beauty that puts Canada on the map. To start, spend a few days in the unique, cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, eating their delectable seafood and soaking in stunning views of the Pacific. Then, drive five hours towards your first stop at Okanagan, staying overnight at one of the area’s incredible wineries, such as the Villas at Hester Creek or Burrowing Owl’s hotel. Just make sure you’re in an okay condition to leave the next morning! The next evening, stay in style at Sparkling Hill; a glamorous retreat commissioned by the Swarovski crystal family. This beautiful, modern building is one stop you certainly don’t want to miss. Your journey towards Banff will show an incredible shift in landscape, taking you through the only dessert in Canada, and towards the country’s towering, rocky peaks. When you reach the mountains, stop at Lake Louise, for one of the most romantic and photogenic picnics you’ll ever have. Then, make your way into Banff to your final stop; the historic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. After visiting, you’ll know exactly why this place is called the “castle in the Rockies”.
Ottawa – Montebello – Montreal – Quebec City (290 Miles)
If you think there’s a better way to see French Canada than this 290-mile crawl, then we’re all ears! A trip for people who feel at home anywhere urban, this will take you from Canada’s capital, through one of the nation’s largest cities, and finally to the historical, cobblestoned roads of Quebec City. Spend a few days in Ottawa, learning about the history and culture of the nation’s capital, then, drive a couple of hours past quaint local poutine stands, then stop to check out Fairmont Montebello, the largest log cabin ever constructed. As long as you didn’t watch The Shining when you were too young and wound up scarred for life, you’ll find this incredible hotel to be very serene! About an hour and a quarter from here, dive right into the beautiful bohemia of Montreal, and eat your way through some of its delectable and world-famous restaurants. There are over 5600 of them, and Montreal’s known as a foodie’s paradise, so do some research in advance! Once you reach Quebec City, you’ll probably be pretty tired, so recline on the picturesque banks of St Lawrence river, right next to the most photographed hotel anywhere on earth: the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac.
Halifax – Peggy’s Cove – Bay of Fundy – Charlottetown (361 Miles)
The Canadian Maritime provinces get onto countless travelers’ bucket lists, and once you visit them yourself you’ll know exactly why. This region has beautiful vistas that you won’t find anywhere else in North America. Think tall, waving grass, white, sandy beaches, and seaside communities painted in pastel colors. Spend the night in one of Halifax’s many hospitable B and B’s, making sure you plan a tour of Alexander Keith’s, one of the oldest breweries in the whole continent. From there, speed over to Peggy’s Cove, wandering past the quaint fishing boats moored up at seaside homes at the very end of St Margaret’s bay. Next, drive across Nova Scotia towards New Brunswick, and witness the incredible tidal flow of 100 billion tonnes of water at the Bay of Fundy. Your last stop on this trip will be Prince Edward Island, accessible via Confederation Bridge, an astounding engineering feat stretching 8 miles, built in a curve to keep drivers’ attention on the road! When you reach Charlottetown, wander around the tiny isle, and get some good snaps of the place’s iconic, colorful lighthouses. As a finishing touch, ask the locals about some good seafood restaurants, and dine on some of the best fish caught in the Atlantic.
There you have just three of the best self-drive holidays for anyone planning to see Canada. However, for anyone thinking of travelling in this wonderful country via other means, there is also the train and cruise ship holidays amongst others catered for by tour operators such as Canadian Sky. What is guaranteed is that a holiday to Canada will be special whatever the mode of travel – enjoy!
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.