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12 Days in Eastern Canada: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City

Trip highlights: Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City

This 12 Days in Eastern Canada travel itinerary will cover only Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. From bustling city streets to serene natural wonders, this trip offers a kaleidoscope of experiences. Dive into the rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes of Eastern Canada. As we explore each destination, we are filled with discovery and delight. Get ready to uncover the remarkable hidden gems and celebrated highlights of the region.

12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary Toronto
12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary / Toronto

Start your journey with lunch at St. Lawrence Market, a haven for food lovers offering fresh, local produce. Then, ascend the CN Tower for unparalleled city views (buy your ticket in advance because the line can be unbearable). For family fun, visit Ripley’s Aquarium, showcasing an impressive aquatic world. Next, ferry over to Toronto Island. Here, you’ll find serene parks and stunning city skyline views across Lake Ontario. Cycle from Ward Islands to Centre Island, ending at Hanlan’s Point for a spectacular sunset. In the evening, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and dining options at Harbourfront Center, or opt for budget-friendly meals at Union Station’s food court.

Day 2 – Toronto’s Cultural Journey

Kick off Day 2 with a morning visit to Casa Loma, Toronto’s grand castle. Then, Journey westward to explore the contemporary MOCA. For lunch, choose between the Italian delights of Eataly or the chic options in Yorkville. Next, stroll to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for a dose of history and culture. Afterward, enjoy a leisurely walk through Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto Campus. As evening falls, head to Yonge and Dundas for vibrant city vibes. Of course, take a snapshot of the Toronto sign at the City Hall behind Eaton Center. Cap off the night with dinner at either Kensington Market or Stackt Market, easily reached by streetcar.

Day 3 – Urban Exploration in Toronto

Begin Day 3 at the Hockey Hall of Fame, a must-see for sports enthusiasts. Next, wander through the bustling Financial District on your way to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), renowned for its expansive art collection. For lunch, choose from various restaurants and cafes along Queen Street West. Post-lunch, delve into Chinatown’s vibrant streets, followed by a visit to the colorful Graffiti Alley. In the late afternoon, catch a streetcar to the charming Distillery District. Opt for dinner here, or head back downtown to indulge in Michelin-star Thai cuisine at PAI.

12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary Niagara Falls
12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary / Niagara Falls

Day 4 – Niagara Falls Excursion

Start Day 4 with a morning GO Train or bus ride to Niagara Falls, a scenic journey of about 2.5 hours. Once there, marvel at the majestic falls from the Canadian side. Then, if your passport permits, cross the bridge to the U.S. for a different perspective of the falls. Spend your day exploring nearby attractions, like the Journey Behind the Falls, or take a thrilling boat tour. Finally, ensure you catch the last train back to Toronto, wrapping up a memorable day filled with natural wonders and cross-border adventures.

Where to stay in Toronto

Planet Traveler Hostel: Located in Kensington Market, this hostel is central and vibrant. It’s known for its rooftop terrace with downtown views, ensuite rooms, free breakfast, and a sociable environment with events like trivia nights and pub crawls. 

The Only Backpacker’s Inn: This hostel offers a laid-back atmosphere with a bar, café, and outdoor patio. It’s near the subway for easy city access and is one of the more affordable options in Toronto. Beds here start from around 50 CAD per night.

Start Day 5 with an early bus to Ottawa, booked through BusBud.com. The trip lasts about 5 hours, including a brief 30-minute stop in historic Kingston. Once in Ottawa, first, explore the neighborhood near your accommodation. Then, head to ByWard Market for a delightful dinner amidst a vibrant atmosphere. Finally, cap off your evening with a relaxing walk along the scenic Rideau Canal, perfect for soaking in Ottawa’s beauty and unwinding after your journey.

12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary Parliament Hill Ottawa
12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary / Parliament Hill Ottawa

Day 6 – A Walking Tour in Ottawa

Begin Day 6 with a visit to Parliament Hill. Remember to book in advance to see the impressive Library of Parliament. Next, head to ByWard Market for coffee and local treats. Then, enjoy a peaceful walk along the Rideau Canal. Follow this with a scenic boat tour on the Ottawa River, offering spectacular views of the Parliament Building. For lunch, explore the diverse options on Elgin Street. In the afternoon, visit the National Gallery of Canada for an art immersion. Finish your day unwinding in Major’s Hill Park, then dine in vibrant Downtown Ottawa.

Where to Stay in Ottawa

HI Ottawa Jail Hostel: This unique and adventurous hostel offers a stay in a renovated jailhouse located in the heart of the city. It’s a great pick for solo travelers and those seeking a unique experience.

Alt Hotel Ottawa: A trendy and stylish mid-range hotel, Alt Hotel is perfectly situated in downtown Ottawa, providing easy access to the city’s main attractions. It offers a blend of comfort and modern amenities, making it an excellent choice for a more comfortable stay.

On Day 7, get ready for Montreal! It’s just a short 1 to 1.5-hour bus ride from Ottawa. Take it easy in the morning and hop on the bus after lunch. Once in Montreal, head to St. Catherine’s Street. It’s the heart of the city! Here, you can walk, see shops, and feel the city’s lively vibe. It’s a fun and easy way to start your Montreal adventure. Enjoy the sights and sounds as you explore! End your day with dinner in the Latin Quarter. Try La Distillerie No.1 for great drinks and affordable, tasty food.

12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary Montreal
12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary / Montreal

Day 8 – Montreal’s Cultural and Natural Beauty

Begin your day with a morning hike or bus ride to Mont Royal Park. Enjoy the lush greenery and city views. Then, walk to the breathtaking St. Joseph’s Oratory and marvel at its grandeur. For lunch, savor Montreal’s famous poutine at La Banquise. In the afternoon, unwind at Parc La Fontaine, one of Montreal’s iconic parks. Here, you can relax by the pond, watch street performers, or enjoy a picnic. Later, visit Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque to browse books or update your social media in a serene setting. End your day with dinner at Le Saloon Bistro Bar in the Gay Village, known for its vibrant atmosphere and delicious, affordable cuisine.

Day 9 – Explore the Charm of Old Montreal

Start Day 9 with a mini-walking tour of Old Montreal. Your first stop is the historic Notre-Dame Basilica, known for its stunning interior. Next, stroll to the charming Place Jacques-Cartier, bustling with street artists and cafes. Then, explore the vibrant Old Port, perfect for scenic views and unique shops. For lunch, try Café St. Paul in the heart of Old Montreal, offering delightful local dishes. In the afternoon, make your way to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to admire diverse art collections. End your day by wandering through Montreal’s streets, discovering hidden gems, and soaking in the city’s lively atmosphere.

Where to stay in Montreal

In Montreal, the M Hotel is a great accommodation choice. It uniquely offers both hotel and hostel room options, catering to a range of travelers. Whether you’re looking for the affordability of a hostel or the comfort of a hotel room, M Hotel has you covered. Conveniently located, it provides easy access to explore Montreal’s attractions. This flexibility makes it a popular and practical choice for visitors to the city looking for comfort, convenience, and value.

Begin Day 10 with a scenic 3.5-hour bus ride to Quebec City, arriving by noon. After checking into your hotel, ask the receptionist for the best route to Montmorency Falls, just 30 minutes away by bus. There, embrace adventure by crossing the stunning suspension bridge, ziplining, or trying Via Ferrata rock climbing. Once you’ve enjoyed the falls, head back to the city. In the evening, dine at Chez Boulay – Bistro Boréal. This acclaimed, affordable restaurant is perfect for tasting Quebecois specialties like poutine, tourtière, and maple-infused dishes, offering a true flavor of local cuisine.

12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary Quebec City
12 Days in Eastern Canada Travel Itinerary / Quebec City

Day 11 – Old Quebec – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Explore America’s Oldest Streets

Start at the Château Frontenac, a backdrop for several movies with its grand architecture. Wander along the Dufferin Terrace for panoramic views. Next, explore the Ramparts and Gates, immersing yourself in the city’s fortifications. Visit Petit-Champlain, a street filled with quaint shops and a magical atmosphere. Continue to Place Royale, the historic heart of French America. Then, head to the expansive Plains of Abraham, a key battlefield. Discover the military history at Citadelle de Québec. Visit the stunning Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec. Stroll through the charming Old Port. For dinner, enjoy affordable and delicious local cuisine at Le Buffet de l’Antiquaire in Old Quebec. 

After dinner, for a taste of Quebec City’s charm, meander down Rue du Petit-Champlain, North America’s oldest street, again. Walking here at night time encapsulates the city’s European flair and rich cultural heritage in a single, picturesque setting.

Where to stay in Quebec City

HI-Quebec: A popular hostel choice for solo travelers, located right in the heart of Old Quebec. It’s perfect for those looking to explore the city’s history and charm on a budget.

Hôtel Le Concorde Québec: This is a medium-priced hotel offering stunning views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. It’s well-reviewed, conveniently located near major attractions, and offers a comfortable stay with good amenities.

On Day 12, heading back to Toronto from Quebec City, you’ve got three easy options:

  1. Bus Journey: First, take a morning bus from Quebec City to Montreal. Then, catch an afternoon bus from Montreal to Toronto. This way, you travel smoothly throughout the day. Purchase tickets here.
  2. Flight Option: Simply fly back to Toronto. It’s quick and convenient, especially if you’re short on time.
  3. Train Travel: Alternatively, consider taking a train. It offers a comfortable and scenic route back to Toronto.

As we close our “12 Days in Eastern Canada”, let’s reflect. From the vibrant life in Toronto to the quaint charm of Quebec City, each moment was unique. We experienced the rich mix of English and French influences in Canada, seeing both the modern and historical sides. This journey was more than a trip; it was a deep dive into the diverse essence of this beautiful country! Oh, Canada!

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