Canada is the perfect country for adventurers, whether you love the mountains, the lakes, the sand dunes or the cosmopolitan cities, Canada is meant for you! We know it is a very big country and distances, climate and the high price for domestic flights make it hard to explore it all. Therefore, it is always tempting to get a car, throw your favourite canvas backpack in the trunk, and hit the road with new destinations and adventures ahead.
A road trip is always a fantastic idea, especially if you plan it with a group of friends that share your same interests and adventurous spirit. This is the best way to move around and know every place better. For a cross-country trip, you can take the Trans-Canada Highway, which is considered one of the longest roads in the world with a total length of 8,030 km and travels through all the 10 provinces of Canada. The starting point of this highway, better known as “Mile zero”, is in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ends in Victoria, British Columbia.
If you take the Trans-Canada highway, just to travel the 8,030 km, can take you up to 2 weeks. Therefore, we recommend you to do it in sections to really enjoy the trip. You will be able to really explore the country and take your time to enjoy the landscapes, take pictures along the road and do some extra activities at the places you are visiting. The most important advice for a road trip is to not forget your favourite canvas backpack to carry all your essentials handy, bring some snacks and of course drinks to keep you hydrated.
Depending on your time availability, you can visit many different places in your cross-country journey. The best part is that in Canada no matter where you go, there will always be stunning things to see. Here is the list of the top places you should visit on this cross-Canada adventure:
This spectacular province is considered one of the most beautiful in Canada, with those scenic views along the road everywhere you go, you will find that British Columbia is a magical place to visit. If you love heritage cities with stunning architecture the best place to start your journey is in British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria. After walking around Victoria, you can take the ferry to explore Vancouver, the most populated city in the province. Stop by Granville Island to get some delicious food, visit Stanley Park and keep driving north.
Get on the BC-99 highway, better known as “Sea to Sky Hwy” towards Whistler and enjoy breathtaking views along the way. Make the first stop at Cypress Provincial Park to take pictures of the wonderful landscape. If you have time you can take a trail around the park. Keep going on the road towards Squamish. The first thing you should see is the amazing Shannon Falls. Also, you can't’ miss out on the “Sea-to-Sky Gondola”, this place was recently open and it is an impressive scenic gondola with hiking and cafes.
Continue your journey to visit Garibaldi Provincial Park, check out the amazing turquoise Lake Garibaldi. Finally, you will reach Whistler, the venue that hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2010. In these gorgeous surroundings, we recommend you take the “Peak-2-Peak Gondola” to have an overview of the impressive landscape. On the highest peak, there is a restaurant so you can enjoy a lovely lunch with a view, or, bring your TruBlue backpack filled with sandwiches, chips, and drinks, and enjoy a scenic picnic.
Continue driving through the mountains towards Alberta, the province known for the stunning landscape of the Canadian Rockies. Once arriving in Alberta, you can visit Jasper National Park and select the things that you would like to see. If you have enough time, plan to stay more days to explore more places. You can take the Jasper Skytram, which is a scenic gondola to have an overall view of the park. There is also a Museum in the central park.
If you keep driving south-east you will discover other magical places to visit in the park, like the Athabasca Falls and the Sunwapta Falls. If you want to enjoy more of the breathtaking views of the glacial lakes, visit Maligne Lake and The Spirit Island. You can hike a trail around the lake to take beautiful pictures of this stunning place from different angles.
Further ahead you can visit the most recent attraction in the park: The Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation platform that gives a birds-eye-view of the Sunwapta Valley. It is really impressive, don’t miss it! Then you can visit the Columbia Icefields and get into a Glacier adventure, they have tours that will take you to the Athabasca Glacier.
Keep driving and you will reach Banff National Park. This park is very big, so you have to plan your trip and select the places within the park you would like to visit. The highlights of the park are: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake - stunning turquoise lakes, that are a must-see. Take the trails to go around the lakes to get the most out of it. You can also take a ride on the Banff Gondola to take in a view of the mountains and enjoy a coffee at the top.
Alberta itself has so many stunning places to see. You can take a road trip to explore Alberta from Calgary to Edmonton driving through the Rockies and discover all the hidden natural gems this place has.
After visiting the amazing Rockies, keep driving east towards the next province on the journey: Saskatchewan. Visit Fort Walsh, a National Historic Site and take a tour of the fort’s buildings, the former town site and the whisky trading post. You can also visit the Buffalo Pound Provincial Park and end your journey at the province’s capital city, Regina.
Continue your cross-Canada backpacking adventure at our next province, Manitoba. Make a stop at Winnipeg, the Province’s capital city, restock your supplies and essentials and rest the night. Drive north to visit Lake Manitoba, which is one of the largest lakes in Canada. You can do some canoeing, fishing or walk along the lakeshore. You can also visit Lake Winnipeg which is another one of the largest lakes in North America.
If you enjoy history, art galleries and animals, Winnipeg also offers a variety of places you can visit like The Bear Creek and Birchwood Art Galleries, the Canadian Museum for Humans Rights, which is the city’s most iconic building. The Assiniboine Park Conservatory and the Assiniboine Park Zoo, are also both very near the city and visitors can interact with different animal species.
Following in your journey you can explore Ontario, the province of natural wonders. This province has so much to enjoy, especially if you love outdoor adventures like hiking, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, etc. Since you are coming from the west, the first place to visit is Thunder Bay which is just 7 hours away from Winnipeg. Thunder Bay is a magical place, you can visit the Sleeping Giant which is an impressive hike with a stunning view of Lake Superior.
Keep travelling Ontario and your next stop is a must-visit, Algonquin Park. An amazing place especially if you love camping. Depending on the season, you can stay one-night camping here and enjoy a variety of different activities. Head east to visit the beautiful city of Toronto. The skyline with the lake in the background will leave you breathless. In Toronto, there are many parks to visit especially at the lakeshore. If you are making your cross-Canada trip in the Summer, this will be the perfect place to take a dip in the water.
Finally, head north and don’t leave Ontario without visiting Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa. This beautiful city with historic buildings will bring you back to your Canadian roots. Rent a bicycle and ride along the Rideau Canal, it is the best way to move around.
Quebec is a favourite province for tourists, it has many things to offer. Since you are coming from Ottawa, you can visit Montreal first. Montreal is well known for its music festivals, amazing local restaurants, the best poutine, and the night life. Stop at the Parc du Mont-Royal to have an overall view of the city. There are trails to go to the top of the mountain and picnic area to enjoy a lovely snack. Fill your canvas backpack with sandwiches and drinks, and enjoy a great afternoon at the park.
If you are exploring Quebec, you have to make a stop by Quebec City, which has plenty of things to offer for those who love Canadian History and architecture. The highlights of Quebec City are the Citadelle de Québec and the Chateau Frontenac, which is one of the most known hotels worldwide.
New Brunswick & Nova Scotia
If you still have time on your trip, make sure to visit New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These two provinces are well known for whale watching and for the Northern Lights, which if you are very lucky you will be able to see this majestic natural phenomenon. In New Brunswick, a great place to visit is the Fundy Isles at the Bay of Fundy, you can do zip line and walk around the “flowerpot rocks” at low tide. Another fun activity here is to rappel down the cliffs at Cape Enrage.
Nova Scotia has impressive landscapes too. It is a great place for many outdoor activities. It is a small province but it is so cosy and the people are so warm that you will fall in love with this place. The best way to get around is cycling, but you can also find hiking trails with spectacular views. While here, you must visit the beautiful lighthouses, they are ideal for a photoshoot with your TruBlue backpack. You can also go rafting, and don’t forget to try the local restaurants!
Always remember to keep us posted with your adventures, we love to discover new places and to share them with our community. Don’t forget to tag us in your photos with your TruBlue canvas backpack. Happy Cross-country exploring!
Photos from Pixabay - CC0