So you are planning a trip to Canada and want to experience as much of this beautiful country as you can whilst you are here. Where do you start, what do you see, what can you afford to miss? Well if you don’t want to miss too much you are going to need three weeks, two weeks in Canada is just not enough time to do everything. So what would a 3 week itinerary look like? That is what I am going to try and help you with in this post. We are fortunate to have family that live in Canada and gathered several family members round our laptop and planned what we thought was the best was to spend time in their country.
Be sure to check out all of our Canada travel guides.
Toronto is the best place to start your Canada trip, home to the CN tower and Toronto Blue Jays with Niagara Falls a short drive away. I would recommend 3 days here, 1 day for visiting Niagara Falls and Niagara on the lake, a beautiful little town just north of the falls. Make sure you book your trip on the HornBlower in advance, this is the boat that takes you right out to the falls. The other two days can be spent exploring the City of Toronto and visiting the CN tower.
Mini Road Trip – Thouand Islands, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa
Day 1 – Leave Toronto and visit Thousand Islands en route to Montreal
Day 2 – Leave Montreal for a day trip to Quebec City
Day 3 – Spend the morning in Montreal then set off for Ottawa for the night
Day 4 – Leave Ottawa and head back to Toronto
Four destinations all accessible from Toronto that come highly recommended. Hire a car and head west of Toronto to Thousand Islands where you can grab some lunch and take a boat trip to explore the islands and listen to the amazing stories that steep this area in such rich history. Jumping back in the car and ending up to Montreal, you would think you are in France, everyone speaks French and all the street signs are in French. Montreal is a very beautiful little town, spend an evening in the old town and have some traditional French food, such as Poutine, at one of the traditional restaurants. Whatever you do, do not miss going inside the Notre-Dame Basilica.
An early start is required for a day trip to Quebec City, another beautiful town that, in the old part, really holds on to its identity as a French military station. The old town is littered with signs of war and conflict. Tower, turrets and barracks fill the landscape and the information boards really help you understand what happened in Quebec City.
Spending the evening and morning in Montreal we then set off to Ottawa. Ottawa is the capital of Canada despite it’s small size. Exploring the parliamentary buildings was very surreal to us as in England you are not allowed in to the grounds at all. Make sure you stick around for the light show in the evening, a 30 minute story detailing the History of Canada, it’s quite a production.
Chose to either spend the morning exploring the rest of Ottawa or head back for more time in Toronto. The choice is yours.
Banff National Park
Probably on par with the desire to see Niagara Falls, Banff National Park is known all over the world for it’s unprecedented beauty. Nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains Banff is an absolute must for any Canada itinerary. You will need to fly into Calgary, hire a car and drive straight to Banff, don’t waste a night in Calgary like we did, there is nothing to see here.
Your choice of accommodation for visiting Banff is entirely up to you, but camping is extremely popular and you will want to have booked your camping online way in advance. It’s very simple to do on reservation.pc.gc.ca. There is a large outdoors store called Canadian Tire near the airport so can you pick up any supplies you might need for camping, hiking etc.
The drive to Banff is beautiful, starting to see the Rockies in the distance will make anyone’s excitement levels boil over. Your first stop should be Lake Louise (about 45 minutes north of Banff town), this is the most beautiful area of Banff and home to one of the best hikes we have ever done, The Path of Six Glaciers. The two days we spent hiking around Lake Louise was the highlight of our trip to Canada. Be sure to visit Moraine lake as well, but this can be done in the morning or afternoon. If you are a group of four you may want to spend a full day here, but all hikes require a minimum of four people and you have to carry bear spray.
The town of Banff is something out of a postcard, quaint little streets filled with wooden framed shops. But what is most striking is Mount Rundle towering above the landscape. Something unmissable near Banff town is Jasper Canyon, it’s an easy 5km hike over a suspended catwalk in a canyon, magical. There is so much to do in and around Banff so for me to try and advise what you should do each day would involve a very long post, but be sure to explore the town, eat at the local restaurants and maybe catch a film at the local cinema, we went twice!
Road Trip to Vancouver
To save money we drove back to Calgary, checked the car back in and checked it back out. If you want to drop a car off in another location it will cost you much more per day. So we did two bookings, one for Banff, and then one for the road trip to Vancouver. This saved us $200 so is well worth the 3 hour round trip back to Calgary. From Calgary we drover back past Banff and Lake Louise and headed to a campsite in Revelstoke. From here we drove to Kelowna where we spent some time exploring, it’s a really nice place and is dubbed the California of Canada.
This city blew us away, there is everything here you could ever need and it’s in a beautiful setting. We spent a whole day riding around the 17 miles of bike path around the coast, called the Sea Wall, explored the parks and Granville Island. Much like Banff, with so much to do, it’s hard to recommend how you spend your time here, but one think I can guarantee is you won’t forget it.
Day 1 – Fly into Toronto
Day 2 – CN Tower and explore the city.
Day 3 – Niagara on the Lakes and Niagara Falls.
Day 4 – Drive to Montreal, stopping off at 1000 islands.
Day 5 – Day trip to Quebec City from Montreal.
Day 6 – Drive to Ottawa and stay the night
Day 7 – Drive back to Toronto when you’re ready
Day 8 – Fly to Calgary and drive to Lake Louise
Day 9 – Hike around Lake Louise
Day 10 – Hike around Lake Louise
Day 11 – Drive to Banff town and explore.
Day 12 – Hike / Bike / Explore Banff
Day 13 – Jasper Canyon
Day 14 – Hike / Bike / Explore Banff
Day 15 – Road trip to Vancouver, spend the night in Revelstoke
Day 16 – Drive from Revelstoke to Kelowna
Day 17 – Drive from Kelowna to Vancouver
Day 18 – Bike the SeaWall
Day 19 – Explore Vancouver
Day 20 – Explore Vancouver
Day 21 – Fly home.
If you have any questions please leave a comment below.