Travel Across Canada
In this article, I want to outline my itinerary for 3 weeks in Canada. It is basically the trip we did and if you want more details of each city and the accommodations we stayed in then check out the gallery related post at the bottom of the page.
Whenever I start planning a new trip I find the hardest thing is seeing how much I can do and what order to visit things in. I find it really helpful to look at other people’s itineraries because it gives me a good starting point for my own plans. So, here I’m going to provide the outline with a brief description of where we went, where we stayed and how we travelled around. It will show you how much you can fit into 3 weeks in Canada and also how to plan the trip for the easiest travels from place to place.
Itinerary for 3 Weeks in Canada
Day 1. Fly into Vancouver. Then pick up a hire car and stay overnight in North Vancouver.
Day 2. Drive the especially scenic Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler. Stay in Whistler for 2 nights.
Day 3. Sightseeing in Whistler.
Day 4. Drive from Whistler to Hundred Mile House. Stay Overnight.
Day 5. Continue your drive into Jasper National Park. Then stay in Jasper for 2 nights.
Day 6. Explore Jasper National Park.
Day 7. Drive the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff. Then stay for 2 nights in Banff.
Day 8. Spend the day exploring Banff National Park.
Day 9. Another day exploring beautiful Banff National Park before driving to Calgary. Then stay overnight at a hotel near the airport.
Day 10. Drop your hire car at the airport and then fly to Ottawa. Then stay 3 nights in Ottawa.
Day 11. Exploring Ottawa.
Day 12. A second full-day sightseeing in Canada’s capital city.
Day 13. Take the train to Montreal and then stay 3 nights in a central hotel.
Day 14. Exploring Montreal.
Day 15. Another full-day for sightseeing in Montreal.
Day 16. On the train again, this time to Quebec City. Then stay 3 nights in accommodation near the Old City.
Day 17. Spend the day exploring the Old City.
Day 18. Take another day to discover more of Quebec City.
Day 19. Take an early flight to Toronto. Pick up a hire car at the airport and drive to Niagara Falls. Return your hire car at the airport and stay overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 20. Take the train into the centre of Toronto for a day’s sightseeing. Then return to the airport for an evening flight home
Day 1. North Vancouver
Firstly, you need to get to Vancouver so take the first day to fly into the city. Then pick up your hire car at the airport and make your way across to North Vancouver. We stayed at the Best Western Capilano Inn & Suites when we visited and it was good value and had free parking. I haven’t written a separate review but it’s a decent motel for an overnight stay. There are several other hotels in this area so plenty of choices.
Day 2. Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.
The following morning set off early to drive the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler. The drive really only takes about 2 hours if you drive straight there but take your time and stop off along the way to discover some fabulous waterfalls. Maybe even take a trip on the Sea to Sky Gondola. Stay 2 nights in Whistler so that you have a full day to explore. We stayed at the Summit Hotel in Whistler and so you can read my full review of it here.
If you are interested in reading more on the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, then check out my report here.
Day 3. Sightseeing in Whistler
Undoubtedly, you can spend days, weeks even in the Whistler area and I’m sure many people do. However, we fitted a lot of sighting into one day. Firstly, we spent the day exploring the village and then took some of the shorter local walks.
Day 4. Start your journey to Jasper
Afterwards, we started our road trip towards Jasper National Park. Of course, it’s a bit far to drive all in one day so we stopped over in a little place called Hundred Mile House. You’ll also find some interesting stops along the way and this gives you time to stop and take in the sights.
Day 5. Drive into Jasper National Park.
Continue the drive through amazing scenery into Jasper National Park. We arrived mid-afternoon which then gave us time to settle into our hotel and have a look around the town of Jasper. Stay in Jasper for 2 nights so that you have a full day to explore the National Park tomorrow.
We stayed at the Marmot Lodge Hotel in Jasper so do check out my review. You can also read a detailed account of what to see and do in Jasper National Park here.
Day 6. Explore Jasper National Park.
Given that you have a full day to explore this amazing National Park make the most of it with an early start. Firstly, head out to Maligne Canyon, the absolute highlight of Jasper National Park for me. Then head down to Maligne Lake and maybe do a bit of bear spotting before heading up to the Hot Springs for a relaxing soak.
Day 7. Icefields Parkway
Set off early and visit Mount Edith Cavell before driving south along the spectacular Icefields Parkway. You’ll want to stop often and so it will probably take you most of the day. Afterwards, check into a hotel in the Canmore area. I recommend Canmore over Banff as it’s much better value for money but you can choose to stay in Banff itself if you prefer. Check-in for 2 nights as you’ll want time to explore this National Park.
I have written a full account of our drive from Jasper to Banff on the Icefields Parkway so do take a look. I’ve also included a review of our accommodation in Canmore.
Day 8. Banff National Park.
Your first full day in Banff National Park. Start by exploring the picturesque town of Banff itself and take a walk along the river. There’s plenty to do in this area. Make time for a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the cable car. Afterwards, drive the scenic trail around Vermillion Lakes and then over to Lake Minnewanka. It’s a busy day but the sights are worth it.
If you want to pack as much as we did into 2 days in Banff then check out my detailed post to see where we went and what we saw.
Day 9. Lake Louise and Johnson Canyon
Check out of your hotel and throw your luggage in the car. Then take the whole day to explore Lake Louise and drive the Bow Valley Trail to Johnson Canyon. Afterwards, drive to Calgary and stay overnight at an airport hotel.
Day 10. Fly to Ottawa
Firstly drop your hire car at the airport and take an internal flight to Ottawa. The second part of our 3 weeks in Canada is then a rail tour around the Eastern cities. Check into a central hotel for 3 nights. We stayed at the Business Inn which is comfortable and great value for money. Then, depending on your flight arrival time you’ll have time for a walk around the neighbourhood to orientate yourself.
Day 11. Exploring Ottawa.
It’s time to get out and about in Ottawa. We started our 2 days of sightseeing with a visit to the Canadian War Museum and then we took a walk along the river to the History Museum.
Day 12. Ottawa
Canada’s capital city isn’t somewhere you can see in one day so I’ve allowed another full-day sightseeing. We spent time exploring Parliament Hill and then visited the National Gallery.
Day 13. Take the train to Montreal
The Canadian rail network is ideal for travelling between the major Eastern cities so hop on a comfortable VIARail train to transfer to Montreal.
We stayed at L’Appartement Hôtel during our time in Montreal and you can read my review here. It’s near McGill University which is a pleasant area and also an ideal location for exploring the city. If you’re looking for tips on what to see and do in Montreal then check out this post.
Day 14. Exploring Montreal.
A full day sightseeing in Montreal starts with a walk around both the old town and old port areas. Then head up to the summit of Mount Royal for a chance to stretch your legs and some fabulous views across the city.
Day 15. Montreal.
There’s so much to see and do in downtown Montreal and it’s very easy to get around by public transport. We took the metro to the Botanical Gardens and then walked over to the Olympic Park to see a different side of the city.
Day 16. Quebec City.
On the train again, this time to Quebec City. Check into your hotel for 3 nights so you’ll have plenty of time to explore.
Day 17. Explore the Old City.
Start your exploration of Old Quebec with a trip up the funicular to the plateau and then take a closer look at Le Chateau Frontenac.
Day 18. Another Day to discover more of Quebec City.
To begin with, wander the quaint streets and browse for souvenirs and then take a look around the cruise port and harbour. There’s plenty more to do in Quebec City.
Day 19. Niagara Falls.
Take an early morning flight to Toronto and straightaway hire a car for a day trip to Niagara Falls. Afterwards, return your car and stay at a hotel near the airport. For all the details on how we did this trip to Niagara Falls check out this blog post.
Day 20. Toronto
The following morning take the airport train to the centre of Toronto for a day’s sightseeing. If you need to then you can leave your luggage at your hotel or at the baggage storage at the airport. Finally, return to the airport for an evening flight home.
Finally, I’ve written a guide for sightseeing in Toronto, exploring Downtown Toronto.