Planning a trip to Eastern Canada? Whether you’re seeking the hum of a city, the call of the wilderness, the lull of a sanctuary or the taste of a local dining scene, Canada’s six eastern provinces cater to travellers of all types. Start by scrolling through these destination snapshots, then click to line up your very own Eastern Canada escape.
Ontario: Water, wine, and Winterlude
Big city fun: Canada’s largest metropolis of Toronto just might be its most multicultural. Catch the calypso beat of summer’s colorful Toronto Caribbean Carnival, traditional dance at June’s Indigenous Arts Festival, and more eye-opening experiences throughout the year in the provincial capital.
A 1.5-hour drive away, descend 38 metres on the Journey Behind the Falls to witness 13-storey-tall Niagara Falls. A half-day’s drive northwest, the Canadian capital of Ottawa also rocks with festivals, food, and fun. Don’t miss summer’s splashy Northern Lights show at Parliament Hill or winter’s three-week-long high-spirited Winterlude.
Outdoor adventure: Immerse yourself in the country’s time-honored transport of canoeing on the Great Lakes, or tackle a wild river from your perch in a raft or kayak. After all, this is where one-fifth of the world’s fresh water sparkles in some 250,000 lakes and that many waterways. Still, landlubbers can take to the province’s 1,770 kilometres of hiking trails. Whether you wind down in cottage country, a rural inn or busy city at the end of the day, you’re never far from open-air pursuits.
Retreat and relaxation: Pop in for the Maple Luscious Body Scrub and Wrap at Holtz Spa in downtown Ottawa, or venture 220 kilometres west to Grail Springs Retreat for Wellbeing in the Canadian Shield town of Bancroft. Find more rejuvenating hot spots for your Eastern Canada trip here.
Foodie delights: Refuel at one of Toronto's 7,500-plus restaurants or peruse 35 specialty food shops and 88 bistros at Ottawa’s bustling ByWard Market. Branch out for a local wine tour, like the Wine Trail Ride through Essex County.
Quebec: Old-world charm, new-world amenities
Big city fun: Less than three hours apart, Quebec’s two urban hubs of Montreal and Quebec City can easily be visited on the same trip. Step back in time at the nearly-200-year-old Notre-Dame Basilica or soar for 1,200 feet over an island on the MTL Zipline – both in Old Montreal. Then see for yourself why European-like Quebec City consistently ranks among the world’s top travel destinations.
Outdoor adventure: With 27 national parks, 595,550 kilometres of hiking trails, and a million lakes, Quebec’s backyard promises year-round fresh-air fun. Try fat biking along Jacques-Cartier National Park's glacial valley in winter or explore the Saguenay Fjord by via ferrata in summer.
Retreat and relaxation: Stay somewhere cool or cozy. Along the St. Lawrence River north of Quebec City, tuck into a luxury hillside hideaway with a living green roof in Charlevoix or a National Historic Site-designated B&B in the Bas-Saint-Laurent countryside.
Foodie delights: From farm-fresh produce and artisan chocolate to crisp craft ciders and fine wine, Quebec’s gourmet driving routes showcase the province’s natural and hand-made bounty. Whichever Eastern Canada road trip you choose, visit both celebrity-chef-driven restaurants and up-and-coming bistros along the way.
New Brunswick: Seaside treasures
Big city fun: Home to eight cities, New Brunswick’s urban pleasures range from grooving to 400-plus musicians at fall’s Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in the capital of Fredericton to strolling boardwalks and browsing boutiques in Bathurst on charming Chaleur Bay.
Outdoor adventure: Explore 2,250 kilometres of coastline by foot, car or boat. Wander among Bay of Fundy’s famous flowerpot rocks, stop at Canada’s warmest saltwater beaches on the Sun & Sand Trail, and glimpse gannets and puffins, as well as humpback and minke whales, aboard a tour vessel.
Retreat and relaxation: Stay a spell in quaint St. Andrews by-the-Sea, a historic town 128 kilometres south of Fredericton on calm Passamaquoddy Bay. Cocoon in a cute cottage with heated pool and horseshoe pit nearby, or go big with a spa package at the 1889-built Tudor-style Algonquin Resort.
Foodie delights: Time your trip to pick fiddleheads – a local spring delicacy of unfurled ostrich-fern tips. Or simply savor them at restaurants like the seasonal Café Flora inside Edmundston’s New Brunswick Botanical Garden. In late fall, sample international vino and vittles at Moncton’s Wine Expo. Year-round, try these Acadian specialities.
Nova Scotia: From festivals to foraged fare
Big city fun: Nova Scotia beats to the drums of midsummer’s Halifax Busker Festival in the colourful capital of Halifax, and fall’s Celtic Colours International Festival held throughout Cape Breton Island communities like the historic city of Sydney. Discover more on a vintage double decker bus tour or walking tour.
Outdoor adventure: On the ocean’s doorstep, the province dishes up surfing for beginners, guided sea kayaking tours, and giant bluefin tuna sportfishing. In Cape Breton Highlands National Park, pick from 26 hiking trails, ranging from the easy Skyline to the challenging Franey climb up to 360-degree vistas.
Retreat and relaxation: After a signature Apple Blossom Facial, settle into a comfy lodge guest room or cottage with fireplace at the seasonal Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa two hours from Halifax. Or bed down by the ocean in a sleek geodesic dome with room service at Blue Bayou Resort near the northern tip of the Cabot Trail.
Foodie delights: Sample local seafood, craft beer, and wine while Dining on the Ocean Floor in the Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides. Or forage for the final touches of your Gourmet Garden Party plate of lobster, salmon, and scallops – paired with Annapolis Valley wines and enjoyed while overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Grand Pré marshland.
Prince Edward Island: East Coast Canadiana
Big city fun: An Eastern Canada visit isn’t complete without a stop in the country’s smallest but perhaps most beguiling province. Start with a turn around the Prince Edward Island capital of Charlottetown on a solar pedal bus tour – pub fare and peeks at local history guaranteed. End the evening on a bang at Chuck Hatchets, the province’s first and only axe-throwing lounge (call to book ahead).
Outdoor adventure: Get wet at the 90-plus beaches lining this island province, or swing by one of 25 undulating golf courses. More green escapades await in 23 provincial parks and the giant playground that is Prince Edward Island National Park – hike through woodlands or cycle along the seashore.
Retreat and relaxation: Embark on an Eastern Canada road trip along the quiet 482-kilometre Points East Coastal Drive for a glimpse at local island life – recharge in a raised wood cottage in the charming fishing village of Murray Harbour en route. Or step it up on the Central Coastal Drive in a five-star retreat overlooking the eight-mile-long Confederation Bridge.
Foodie delights: Taste for yourself why Prince Edward Island is dubbed “Canada’s Food Island.” Visit a mix of restaurants and festivals, as well as cafés and craft breweries. Or don a chef’s coat and hat for the hands-on Island Flavours Culinary Bootcamp, a Canadian Signature Experience.
Newfoundland and Labrador: A province with personality
Big city fun: From Newfoundland sea salt to codfish pillows, the character-rich shops in the creative capital of St. John’s will have you packing home a suitcase full of one-of-a-kind Newfoundland and Labrador keepsakes. Just a few minutes from downtown, toast your cool-find successes over an Iceberg Lager or Folk’d Up Pale Ale at Quidi Vidi Brewing in its namesake fishing village.
Outdoor adventure: Explore 28,970 kilometres of coastline in a kayak (look for icebergs, whales, and bird colonies) or on a diving excursion to one of 8,000 shipwrecks scattered on the sea floor. View the ocean from a different perspective aboard a snowmobile come winter, when 5,000 kilometres of panoramic trails open up the backcountry.
Retreat and relaxation: Hang your hat at an escape-from-it-all lodging, easy to find in Canada’s largest Atlantic province. A 45-minute ferry ride from Gander, Fogo Island and its striking white geometric inn perched on stilts promises a mind-freeing stay, as does ’Ome Sweet ’Ome with its nine luxury tents overlooking Iceberg Alley on Newfoundland’s north shore.
Foodie delights: Visionary chefs continue to raise the bar, with three establishments – Raymonds, Mallard Cottage, and Fogo Island Inn – ranking among Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2019. Lighthouse-themed dining is also making a splash: sit down to a lantern-lit dinner of locally sourced seafood, vegetables and berries in southern Labrador’s Point Amour Lighthouse – Atlantic Canada’s tallest at 108 feet. Or munch on gourmet takeout at Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland, a Canadian Signature Experience just an hour’s drive from St. John’s.
No matter what type of traveller you are, Eastern Canada has a vacation for you.