Canada is a country overflowing with natural beauty and charm. From the maritime provinces in the east and the population and cultural centers of Quebec and Ontario to the Rockies and beyond, Canada is a road tripper’s dream. There’s plenty of open road to enjoy, and ample room to explore off the beaten path. Many of these routes are easily accessible from the U.S. as well, making them a great opportunity to get to know your neighbor to the north if you have not already become acquainted. Here are our writers’ picks for the most scenic road trips throughout Canada.
1. Cabot Trail
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia: Trunk 30
The Cabot Trail loop can be found in the highlands of northern Cape Breton Island. It’s a drive unparalleled in its beauty, with stunning views of the Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence as you negotiate the narrow, curvy road through the highlands of Nova Scotia. But the drive is much more than just highlands and ocean, as a portion of Nova Scotia Trunk 30 takes you inland as well, cutting through the interior of the island. This remote region of maritime Canada ensures a magnificent adventure filled with gorgeous views.
Vanessa Chiasson shares 10 things she thinks you should know about driving the Cabot Trail through Nova Scotia for you to learn more about this awesome drive.
2. Prince Edward Island’s Tip-To-Tip Road Trip
Prince Edward Island is a quaint maritime retreat off the eastern coast of New Brunswick just north of Nova Scotia. Since the classic 1908 novel Anne Of Green Gables was published, many have sought to retrace the titular character’s footsteps around this charming island. One great way to see all that PEI has to offer is to make the tip-to-tip trek between the North Cape Lighthouse in the northwest and the East Point Lighthouse in the southeast. Along the way, stop in charming small towns, stroll across the sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park, and even visit the green-gabled home of Anne herself.
Vanessa shares her seven favorite places to stop along a Prince Edward Island tip-to-tip road trip to help inspire your next trip.
3. Labrador City To Red Bay, Labrador
Labrador is the mainland portion of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and is extremely remote. Just getting to this lesser-known region of Canada may prove to be a journey in itself. But once you arrive, you will be treated to miles upon miles — well kilometers as this is Canada after all — of wild beauty. Expedition 51 is the name given to the route that connects northern Quebec with southern Labrador. As you meander from town to town between Labrador City and Red Bay, take time to learn more about the rich culture and natural beauty that abounds in this out-of-the-way province.
See why at least one Canadian says this spectacular Canadian Highway needs to be at the top of your road trip list. We are sure you will agree!
4. Tadoussac To Saint Felicien, Quebec
Saguenay-Saint Lawrence Region
Quebec is the largest of Canada’s provinces, and only the arctic territory of Nunavut has more land area in all of Canada. As such, this primarily French-speaking province has hundreds of millions of acres to explore. Fortunately, one of the most beautiful road trips in Quebec is located just 3 hours north of Québec City where the Saguenay River flows into the Saint Lawrence River. Get away from the big city and explore the natural beauty of the Saguenay region. Make time for some whale watching along the Saint Lawrence before embarking on your journey up the smaller Saguenay. Stop in gorgeous national parks and off-the-beaten-path towns as you follow it inland.
Discover all of Vanessa’s favorite stops during a perfect road trip through Quebec’s Saguenay-Saint Lawrence region.
5. Ontario’s Butter Tart Trail And Tour
If you are in the mood for a sweet ride through a sweet region, Ontario’s love for butter tarts — a sweet and gooey confection that calls this region home — ensures two great opportunities for you. In Wellington County just west of Toronto, you will find the Butter Tart Trail, connecting many of the county’s towns together by their love of butter tarts. Not to be outdone, the Kawarthas Northumberland region just east of Toronto boasts the Butter Tart Tour with many fine eateries of its own showcasing this special treat. Regardless of which you choose, prepare your tastebuds for a jolt of sugary goodness as you make your way between the fine eateries in the towns that make up these two great regions.
Need additional help deciding which of these two foodie road trips is for you? Learn more about both of Ontario’s sweetest road trips.
6. Winnipeg, Manitoba, To Calgary, Alberta
Historic Red Coat Trail
The Historic Red Coat Trail links Winnipeg and Calgary along a path once trod by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the early days of the nation. The goal was to bring law and order to the western reaches of Canada, thus 300 red-coated men set out to do just that. Today, road trip enthusiasts can embark on the nearly 900-mile journey between these two great cities to uncover the rich history awaiting them along the way. Plenty of side trips await as well as you pass through three great provinces, including the home of Grasslands National Park near the U.S./Canada border.
Jill Browne shares her picks for the best stops along Canada’s Red Coat Trail.
7. Calgary To Jasper, Alberta
For stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, you will want to make these next two trips a reality. First, enjoy the eastern slopes, starting in the city of Calgary, working your way up through Banff National Park, and then on to Jasper National Park and the Icefields Parkway. This drive can be broken up into two distinct sections for two shorter trips. Writer Jill Browne shares her favorite stops on both of these legs, so take a look at both of her great articles as you plan your trip between Calgary and Jasper.
The scenic drive from Calgary to Banff is a great way to bring together the excitement of the big city and the stunning beauty of the Rockies. Leave plenty of time to explore Calgary and Banff as both deserve extended stays. Then, head further north from Banff and make your way toward Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. This ruggedly beautiful region of Alberta takes you right through the heart of Jasper National Park. The landscape is laden with mountains and lakes carved out by the slow-moving yet colossal glaciers that formed the region.
8. Calgary, Alberta, To Vancouver, British Columbia
Via Trans-Canada Highway
Now head back to Calgary and prepare for a journey through the mountains and to the Pacific beyond. The first part of this journey between Calgary and Banff will likely look familiar. But, rather than heading north from Lake Louise to Jasper, continue west on the Trans-Canada highway into the Rockies. The drive will take you through forested mountains, along untamed rivers, and past gorgeous glaciers. The Trans-Canada Highway is a major thoroughfare, ensuring provisions will be readily available during your drive.
Consider each of Jill’s recommendations as you plan your beautiful Canadian Rockies road trip between Calgary and Vancouver via the Trans-Canada Highway.
9. Calgary, Alberta, To Vancouver, British Columbia
Via Crowsnest Pass
If you are interested in the same journey at a slower pace, consider the southern route via Crowsnest Pass instead. This route is longer, and less traveled, but therein lies its beauty. Head south from Calgary toward the U.S. border along Alberta Provincial Highway 22 before connecting with Crowsnest Highway, also known as British Columbia Highway 3. Experience a quieter and less-traveled region of the Rockies and enjoy the off-the-beaten-path towns you’ll experience along the way.
Discover all of the best stops along the scenic route between Calgary and Vancouver via Crowsnest Pass.
10. Vancouver To Victoria, British Columbia
The cities of Vancouver and Victoria are only roughly 75 miles away from each other, as the crow flies, that is. Yet, British Columbia’s state capital and most populated city are separated by water, as Victoria sits on Vancouver Island off the west coast of the mainland. While you could take a short 35-minute flight or a leisurely ferry ride south from Vancouver, there is a more scenic route to consider. Head up Canada’s Sunshine Coast before boarding a ferry further north to make passage over to Vancouver Island. This route provides spectacular sights and less crowded roads on both the mainland and Vancouver Island, with ample room for exciting side trips.
Alison Browne shares her reasons for taking this more scenic route between Vancouver and Victoria, which you should consider during your next visit to British Columbia.
11. Victoria To Tofino, British Columbia
Vancouver Island Road Trip
Once on Vancouver Island, take a little time to explore outside of Victoria: an island that includes a diverse landscape of coastal beaches, towering mountains, and an expansive rainforest. So spend some time in Victoria, but then set out to enjoy the other amazing wonders that await on this gorgeous island. Drive up the coast vast the Haro and Georgia Straits before cutting inland to traverse the island’s beautiful interior. Gaze out in wonder at the sprawling rainforest as you make your way through the island’s interior before reemerging on the Pacific coast.
Writer Donna Janke shares more on how to make the most of a gorgeous Vancouver Island road trip between Victoria and Tofino.
12. Vancouver To Whistler, British Columbia
Sea To Sky Highway: British Columbia Highway 99
Head north from Vancouver toward the ski town of Whistler along Highway 99 to experience what is called the “Sea To Sky Highway.” At just 65 miles, this journey from the outskirts of Vancouver in Horseshoe Bay may not be lengthy, but it makes up for its brevity in natural beauty. So take your time and pull off the road regularly to gaze out at the surrounding scenery as you move further into the mountains. Don’t forget to explore each of the great towns along the way.
Discover each of Donna’s favorite stops along the Sea To Sky Highway of British Columbia.
13. Fairbanks, Alaska (U.S.) To The Arctic Circle (Yukon, Canada)
This is one road trip that is not for the faint of heart. It will take you through remote portions of the Yukon Territory, with many of your paths covered in gravel and mud. However, if that doesn’t scare you away, this epic road trip to the Arctic Circle in the Yukon may be the perfect adventure. From Alaska, head east toward Dawson along the Top of the World Highway. Once in Dawson, uncover golden nuggets of history as you learn about the town’s past and connection to the Klondike Gold Rush. From there, head north on the Dempster Highway until you reach the Arctic Circle for an experience had only by the heartiest road trippers.
Carol Colborn describes her eight favorite stops along the epic Yukon Arctic road trip she took with her husband.