East Coast road trip CANADA from Toronto to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island Cabot Trail lookout

Toronto to Nova Scotia Road Trip MAP: Best Driving Route to Halifax

Is a road trip from Ontario to Nova Scotia Canada on your bucket list? Fill your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive with world-class cities, scenery and adventure! Use this MAP to plan out the best places to stay, where to stop and things to do on your Toronto to Halifax road trip.

Drive from Toronto to Halifax Nova Scotia road trip itinerary map
You’re gonna want to save me!

You can do the Toronto to Halifax drive in two days. But I recommend at least six days to see the key sights along the way. Plus, consider adding in a week so you can take five epic detours, including to Cape Breton Nova Scotia, which will make your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive much more worthy of your bucket list. 

On your return road trip from Nova Scotia to Toronto, make the long drive more enjoyable by staying at beautiful places. I suggest two overnight stops.

Bottom line: This East Coast Canada road trip itinerary is super flexible. Customize the map to make it your own!


Also check out How To Plan a Road Trip You’ll LOVE in 7 Steps.

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MAP of Toronto to Nova Scotia Drive

Here’s your East Coast Canada road trip map! The blue line shows your core Toronto Ontario to Halifax Nova Scotia drive, plus scenic add-on routes. Red icons mark things to do. And grey icons mark great places to stay along the way.

To view map details: Click the top-left arrow to open legend. 

To customize the map: Click the top-right box “View larger map,” click three circles and “copy.” Add/delete places you’re planning for your Toronto to Halifax drive. 

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TORONTO + Niagara Falls Road Trip

Toronto skyline, road trip Toronto to Nova Scotia Canada

I’m going to start this Ontario to Nova Scotia drive with my favorite things to do in and near Toronto. If you’re from Toronto, feel free to skip ahead to Leg 1: Toronto to Quebec City. (And share your tips in the comments!) But if you’re visiting the area, be sure to spend at least a day exploring Toronto. My favorite area of Toronto is downtown, so that’s where you’ll find my top things to do and places to stay.

And since Niagara Falls is still on my bucket list, I thought it might be on yours, too! Although it’s in the opposite direction from Nova Scotia, it’s totally doable to add this short road trip idea to your Toronto to Halifax Nova Scotia drive. 

What to DO in Toronto:

  • Medieval Times: Our family had SO much fun! This 2-hour dinner theatre includes a generous delicious dinner and medieval jousting. Cheer for your knight and catch a rose! Come early to browse the shops, have a drink and get in the spirit. And wear your medieval best!
  • Ripley’s Aquarium: A fantastic aquarium, including a shark tunnel, beautiful jellyfish gallery and hands-on experiences. Another great spot for families. But if you come before lunch or after 7pm, you can beat the little kid madness. Buy your tickets online that morning to skip the line. We just parked in the parkade across the street. 
  • CN Tower: A top Toronto tourist site, for a good reason! Take the glass-fronted elevator up to three observation decks, one with a floor-to-ceiling lookout and glass floor walk. It’s the world’s highest outdoor walk on a building! Enjoy dinner at the award-winning, revolving 360 restaurant.
  • Toronto Island Park: My #1 favorite thing to do in Toronto. Just taking the ferry or boat taxi is fun! This island park has an excellent amusement park for young kids, splash pad, beautiful beaches, trails and restaurants. Something for everyone.

For Toronto tours or packaged trips nearby, check out Get Your Guide.

Where to STAY in Toronto:

  • Chelsea Hotel (downtown): A pretty downtown hotel with two indoor pools, sauna, hot tub, onsite dining, wine bar and games room. Also great for families. A supervised kid centre, teen lounge, treasures chests and waterslide. Plus an onsite restaurant with kid-friendly buffet options. 
  • The Ritz-Carlton (next to Aquarium): A luxurious hotel with onsite dining, spa, indoor saltwater pool, hot tub and sauna. Rooms have deep soaker tubs and floor-to-ceiling window views. Also fun for families, with packages including in-room movies, a tent and liquid nitrogen ice cream-making class! Families get access to the Club Lounge with breakfast, lunch, snacks and board games. 
  • Hotel X (waterfront): A luxury hotel in Toronto right on the water, with a gorgeous rooftop pool, elegant restaurant, beauty boutique, spa and theaters. Rooms have large windows with amazing lake or city views. Some have balconies. Families have access to cribs, mini robes, kid-friendly bath products, and a supervised play centre nearby.

Toronto to NIAGARA FALLS Road Trip

Niagara Falls, road trip Toronto to Nova Scotia Canada
Photo credit: Agustin Gunawan from Unsplash

One-way, your Toronto to Niagara Falls road trip is 130km and 1 hour 15 minutes. My bucket list road trip idea from Toronto includes stopping at the African Lion Safari, which adds an hour. Niagara-on-the-Lake is about 30 minutes north of Niagara Falls, and where I’d recommend staying for the night. 

Things to DO on your Toronto road trip to Niagara Falls:

  • African Lion Safari: This safari gets excellent reviews. Some guests like driving through the safari in their own vehicles, and others like the bus where you get a guided experience. And maybe saving your car from monkey nails. Ticket includes a lake tour and kids splash pad. You can bring your own food. Plan for 2-3 hours.
  • Niagara Falls: Although Niagara Falls is very touristy, I hear it’s pretty fantastic. See for yourself on the virtual tour! For a quieter experience, stroll along the riverside walk. 
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake: Known for its vineyards and breweries. Need I say more?! Plus, beautiful places to stay, including right on a vineyard. 

Places to STAY in Southern Ontario:

  • Vittoria Hotel & Suites (Niagara Falls): An elegant 3-star hotel with an onsite pool and restaurant, and an easy walking distance to Horseshoe Falls. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with large walk-in showers.
  • Best Western Plus Cairn Croft (Niagara Falls): A basic but comfortable hotel option for families. Features a large indoor courtyard with pool, play area and arcade games. Plus, onsite dining.
  • Riverbend Inn & Vineyard (Niagara-on-the-Lake): A brilliant Georgian mansion … right on a private vineyard. All rooms feature a cozy fireplace, private bath and sitting area, and some have a balcony. Onsite dining and 1890s salon bar.

For more places to stay in the Niagara area including private cabins, check out Romantic Getaways in Ontario.

Sample pages of Kids Travel Journal Printable for Early Readers, family road trip printables

Toronto to Nova Scotia Drive LEG 1: TORONTO to QUEBEC CITY

Quebec City skyline, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Rich Martello from Unsplash

The first leg of your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Halifax Nova Scotia is Toronto to Quebec City. You have quite a few options for which route you take and where you stop.

First, if you want to reach Halifax Nova Scotia as quickly as possible, you could head straight to Quebec City. Driving from Toronto to Quebec City is 8 hours, bypassing Montreal. 

If you haven’t been to Montreal, I highly recommend giving yourself at least one day here. I spent a week in Montreal and loved it. Montreal is a world-class city with a beautiful historic waterfront, excellent parks and even better places to eat.

And if you can, take a slight detour between Toronto and Montreal through Ottawa and the resort communities of Montebello and Mont-Tremblant. It can add as little as 2 hours to your drive. Ideally, let yourself spend a night in one of these pretty towns.

Best driving route from TORONTO to OTTAWA

You have a number of options for this first section of your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive. I scoured advice from locals and narrowed their recommendations to these best driving routes from Toronto to Ottawa:

  • Fastest driving route from Toronto to Ottawa is Highway 401 East and 416 North (450km and 4.5 hours drive). It’s divided highway the entire way, but most say it’s pretty boring. Leave before or after the traffic rush for the best experience.
  • Most scenic driving route from Toronto to Ottawa is Highway 16 East through Algonquin Provincial Park (575km and 6.25 hours drive). Take Highway 400/11 North to Huntsville and to access Highway 60. It’s a significantly longer Toronto to Ottawa route, but beautiful with lots of scenery, wildlife and hiking options. Another option is to stay on Highway 11 to North Bay and then follow Highway 17 along the Ottawa River (715km and 7.25 hours). But if you get stuck behind a military convoy, you can’t pass.
  • Best driving route from Toronto to Ottawa is Highway 401 East + 37 North + 17 East (400km and 4.5 hours drive). This road trip route combines the most direct route with pretty wilderness and small towns. Once you reach Highway 17, it’s 80km/hr, single-lane and 50km/hr through small towns.

Best driving route from MONTREAL to QUEBEC CITY

On your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Halifax Nova Scotia, what is the best driving route between Montreal and Quebec City? Again, I looked to advice from locals and found these tips:

  • Fastest driving route from Montreal to Quebec City is the Trans-Canada Highway 20 East, south of the St. Lawrence River (250km and just over 2.5 hours drive). It’s divided highway the entire way, and boring.
  • Most scenic driving route from Montreal to Quebec City is Highway 138 East (280km and just over 4 hours drive). Highway 138 follows the north shore of the St. Lawrence River most of the way. From Montreal, take Notre-Dame St East, which becomes Highway 138. Continue on Highway 138 until it crosses with Highway 40 (just past L’Île-aux-Castors). Hop onto Highway 40 East. Get back onto Highway 138 East just before Trois-Rivières, and follow it to Quebec City. This stretch takes you through the “Most Beautiful Villages of Québec,” like Deschambault, Neuville and Cap-Santé.
  • Best driving route from Montreal to Quebec City is Highway 40 East + 138 East after Trois-Rivières (275km and just over 3.5 hours drive). Make the most of the faster Highway 40 between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. Then jump down to Highway 138 East for the most scenic stretch of Highway 138 along the St. Lawrence River. 

Where to STOP on your drive from TORONTO to QUEBEC CITY:

Stop 1: Ottawa

Ottawa skyline, road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia Canada
Photo credit: Shubham Sharan from Unsplash

Our picturesque capital, Ottawa has been on my travel bucket list for a while. Beckoning highlights include Parliament Hill overlooking the lovely Ottawa River. The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lined with cycling paths, parks and flowering trees. Or filled with ice-skaters in winter. And Ottawa is home to highly-rated museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian War Museum, and Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

You also have the benefit of exploring Gatineau, which is literally just on the other side of the Ottawa River. Both cities are known for their excellent food and drinks. Like poutine and craft beer. Yummm.

Stop 2: Montebello

This small community is less than a 1000 people, but with rich history and the prestigious Fairmont resort. The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is arguably the main draw. It features an 18-hole golf course, full-service spa, elegant dining, and indoor and seasonal outdoor pools. All overlooking the Ottawa River. 

Other sites to see in Montebello are the historic Manoir Papineau property and Omega Park. Omega Park is like a Canadian safari, where you can come nose-to-nose with deer, elk and moose. And safely observe other Canadian wildlife, like wolves and bears, from behind glass. 

Manoir Papineau is a lovely historic building from the 1800s, surrounded by landscaped gardens and wooded areas with trails. It was designed and built by Louis-Joseph Papineau. He is considered a radical leader of French Canadians right before the Lower Canada Rebellion in 1837-1838.

Stop 3: Mont-Tremblant

Mont-Tremblant mountain village, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Joy Real from Unsplash

I’ve been told that Mont-Tremblant is to Quebec as Banff is to Alberta. A gorgeous mountain village with plenty of skiing, hiking, cute shops and restaurants. Plus, luxury spa resorts and private cabins with incredible views. It’s a four-season travel destination you could happily spend a lot of time at, or even just a few hours on your Toronto to Halifax road trip. The drive from Ottawa to Mont-Tremblant is just under 2 hours, and Mont-Tremblant to Montreal is 1.5 hours.

For incredible places to stay in and near Mont-Tremblant, visit Quebec Getaways for Couples.

Stop 4: Montreal

I loved my week in Montreal. This world-class city has SO much character and variety. If you don’t have much time in Montreal, head straight to Old Montreal right on the St. Lawrence River. Place Jacques-Cartier is the bustling square, with buskers, cafes and shops. Explore the cobblestone streets of St Paul St E down to Notre Dame Basilica. Hop on a bike and cycle the waterfront paths.

For panoramic views of Montreal and the St. Lawrence River, climb to the top of Mount Royal. And treat yourself to incredible food along Avenue du Mont-Royal, Rue Saint-Denis and St Laurent Blvd. Like the world-famous Schwartz’s Deli (prepare for line-ups!).

For many more ideas of the best things to do in Montreal, check out my 5-day Montreal itinerary.


Stop 5: Quebec City

Quebec City is a picturesque stop on your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive. Especially from the ramparts of its walled city, which are the only fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico. Visit the historic Chateau Frontenac, which stands proudly above the city and is an iconic feature in photos of Quebec City. Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 and is one of the first completed grand railway hotels.

After absorbing the panoramic views, descend the “Breakneck Stairs” (carefully!) and wander through cobble-stone streets. Duck into boulangeries and patisseries for a croissant or creperie. Tread the soil of major battles on the Plains of Abraham, overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River. 

Before leaving the Quebec City area, check out Canyon Sainte-Anne. It’s less than an hour east, on the north bank of the St Lawrence River. These spectacular waterfalls drop 243 feet (74 meters) into the narrow canyon. Explore hiking trails with suspension bridges that take you across the canyon. Or, try rock climbing, ziplining (woohoo!!) and wire walking (yikes!). 

For an incredible video of kayaking down Chutes Sainte Anne, visit Videos of Best Waterfalls in Canada

Toronto to Nova Scotia Drive LEG 2: QUEBEC CITY to HALIFAX

Crashing ocean waves in Nova Scotia, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Ruth Troughton from Unsplash

The next leg of your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Halifax Nova Scotia is Quebec City to Halifax. As with the Toronto to Quebec City leg, you have a variety of options for routes and where to stop along the way.

First, the fastest route from Quebec City to Halifax is 1,020 km and just over 10 hours. While the drive would be long, it’s doable in one day.

If you haven’t been to the Bay of Fundy, it’s truly a spectacular area you should visit on your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Halifax. You have three coastal areas to experience the Bay of Fundy. And if you have the time, I recommend all three. (Of course!) The shortest detour adds 2 hours driving.

Also, it’s easy to make a detour through Prince Edward Island on your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive. Take the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to PEI, and then the PEI ferry to Pictou Nova Scotia.  

Where to STOP on your drive from QUEBEC CITY to HALIFAX:

Stop 1: BAY OF FUNDY Coast in New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Ruben Ortega from Unsplash

The Bay of Fundy is absolutely incredible! And it’s easy to include on your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia. The detour along New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy coast adds about 200 km and 3 hours. So it’s a great way to break up the 10-hour drive from Quebec City to Halifax. But ideally, add at least two overnight stops in New Brunswick.

It’s a 7-hour drive from Quebec City to St. Andrews NB. Stop here for the night and explore this charming historical coastal town for at least the morning. Treadwell Inn is right on the waterfront, featuring cozy rooms with exposed beams, private balconies and hot tub. Continuing along the Bay of Fundy coast, visit Saint John, Fundy National Park and Hopewell Rocks Park. 

In Saint John, browse the stalls at the City Market. Hike along volcanic rock at Irving Nature Park. And take in a show at the 1913 Imperial Theatre.

Fundy National Park has excellent hiking and more than 25 waterfalls! If you’re up for some adventure, book a yurt, oTENTiks or Ôasis tent, or rustic cabin. Bring bedding and cooking gear.

And Hopewell Rocks Park is THE highlight of the Bay of Fundy coast. At low tide, you’ll walk along the ocean floor, under massive 40-70 foot tall rock towers. And at high tide, you can kayak over them! Spend the night at nearby Moncton. Canvas Moncton is classy, fun and in a decent area.

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Beach at Prince Edward Island, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
My happy place!

Prince Edward Island is another easy detour for your Toronto to Nova Scotia drive. Which is great news, since it’s arguably one of the most cherished of all Canadian provinces!

From Moncton, take Highway 15 until it connects with Highway 16. You’ll soon be on the 8-mile Confederation Bridge, which is an experience itself! It’s free to travel to PEI, but you’ll pay when you leave (whether via the bridge or ferry).

PEI’s shoreline is only 1,100 km and easily seen in three relaxing day-trips from Charlottetown. Or, just hit the highlights in one day. 

PEI highlights include lots of incredible seafood, strolling red-sand beaches and giving tribute to Anne of Green Gables. And all of these are along the north shore! In Charlottetown, explore shops and pubs on Victoria Row and the waterfront. And stop at the Province House National Historic Site, which is where the 1864 Charlottetown Conference was held. 

Now, I loved the northeast coastal drive. My favorite PEI beach is Red Point Provincial Park, with soft white sand, tall wispy grass and vivid red cliffs. Greenwich National Park trails take you over sand dunes and on floating boardwalks over ponds. And if you’re a golfer, PEI has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in Canada. For more ideas, check out things to do on Prince Edward Island.

We stayed at the historic Fairholm Inn in Charlottetown and loved it. Another iconic historic property is Dalvay by the Sea Hotel along the northern shore. 

When leaving PEI, don’t back-track to Confederation Bridge. Instead, head east to the Wood Islands ferry and take the 1-hour trip to Pictou Nova Scotia. Find ferry details at PEIferry.com.

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Stop 3: SOUTH SHORE Nova Scotia 

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia

Instead of heading straight to Halifax, bypass it to the South Shore. (Then you’ll loop over to Annapolis Royal, which is a fantastic place to stay for the night.) Nova Scotia’s picturesque South Shore is the perfect way to start the Nova Scotia leg of your East Coast Canada road trip.

Where to STOP on your South Shore drive near Halifax:

  • Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse: A heavily-touristed lighthouse you kinda have to see for yourself. Many say it’s underwhelming, so be aware of that. But I quite loved wandering the massive boulders past the lighthouse and watching the dramatic ocean waves. And if you want to send a postcard back home, mail it from the lighthouse!
  • Lunenburg’s waterfront: This pretty little port town has won many “most beautiful places” awards. The best view is from one of the docks, looking back towards the brightly-painted buildings. You might also want to take a 2-hour harbor cruise aboard the iconic Bluenose II.
  • Kejimkujik National Park: Stop for a hike or paddle in beautiful scenery steeped in Mi’kmaw heritage. It’s a Dark Sky Preserve, the perfect place for star-gazing. You can rent a oTENTik tent, including services that include bedding and essentials!

For more beautiful places to stay, check out Romantic Getaways in Eastern Canada!

Stop 4: ANNAPOLIS VALLEY Nova Scotia

Annapolis Valley is a rich area along Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast, with wines, whales, orchards and incredible food. Make this part of your East Coast Canada road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia!

  • Digby, Annapolis Royal and Wolfville: Annapolis Valley is known for its wineries. And nearby Digby is where you can take a Bay of Fundy whale-watching tour. The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s rarest and second-largest whales. Continue on to Wolfville for more wineries and dinner at Grand Pre Wines’ restaurant, Le Caveau. Wolfville has plenty of lovely places to stay. Raven Hill Vineyard is among my favorites.
  • Maitland Tidal Bore Rafting (June-Sept): My FAVORITE thing to do on the Bay of Fundy! Experience the Bay of Fundy’s incredible 50-foot tide, as it rises around you on the sandbar. Then, hop in the raft to meet the initial 3-foot wave and ride the rapids that reach up to 12 feet! I highly recommend booking with River Runners. It’s an early morning, but SO worth it.

Stop 4: HALIFAX Nova Scotia

Halifax Harbour, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia

And now you reach your destination on your Toronto to Halifax drive! Nova Scotia’s capital city of Halifax is located right on the Halifax Harbour. Which was definitely my favorite place to explore.

The nearly 2-mile wooden boardwalk takes you past many great stops, like the historic Privateers Wharf area, Maritime Museum, and Pier 21. Pier 21 houses a fantastic farmer’s market (North America’s oldest!) and the Canadian Museum of Immigration. Other top sites include the Halifax Citadel and Alexander Keith’s brewery tour, which dates back to 1820.

Great places to stay include The Lord Nelson Hotel, a 4-star boutique hotel in Halifax that’ll make you feel like royalty. Or, the Inn on the Lake just 20 minutes from Halifax, with a beach, pool and restaurant. Rooms have a private balcony, and some with a jacuzzi tub.

Here are more tips on things to do in and near Halifax.

East Coast Canada Road Trip: Toronto to CAPE BRETON ISLAND

Cape Breton Island fall foliage, East Coast road trip Canada from Toronto to Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Elyse Turton from Unsplash

The highlight of many East Coast Canada road trips lies beyond Halifax and mainland Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Island attracts nearly 2.5 million visitors a year, and for good reason. 

When most people think of a road trip from Toronto to Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia, they likely picture the famous Cabot Trail. Picturesque coastal communities. Excellent hikes. Colorful autumn leaves. But there’s a lot more to Cape Breton Island than this famous coastal drive!

To drive to Cape Breton Island from Halifax, stay on the coastal Highway 7. Stop for a light picnic and dip your toes in the ocean at Taylor Head Provincial Park’s pretty beach. This more scenic drive from Halifax to Cape Breton Island adds about 1 hour to your drive. 

On Cape Breton Island, hug the Gulf of St Lawrence coast all the way to Louisbourg. This coastal drive takes you along the Ceilidh Trail (Hwy 19), Cabot Trail (Hwy 30) and Marconi Trail (Hwy 255). Return to mainland Nova Scotia via Highway 4, which is part of the Bras d’Or Lakes Scenic Drive.

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Where to STOP on your Cape Breton Island road trip:

  • Glenora Distillery: The perfect place to experience the excellent live music, food and hospitality that Cape Bretoners are known for! If you arrive early enough, you can also take a distillery tour. Nearby is Egypt Falls, a steep and rewarding hike. And Cabot Cliffs golf course, which is ranked #9 in the world by Golf Digest! 
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park: The Cabot Trail drive itself is beautiful, but do plan to take at least one hike. We did the easy and popular Skyline Trail that has a beautiful panoramic view at the end. Then stop at Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse for ice cream and Cabots Landing Provincial Park beach. And if possible, drive up to Meat Cove. Meat Cove is a small fishing village atop seaside cliffs and next to a picturesque waterfall, with a beach and hiking trails. Knotty Pine Cottages is a nice adults-only cottage property with private balconies.
  • Cape Breton Miners Museum: Near Glace Bay, guests describe this museum as a life-changing experience. Descend into the mine beneath the museum with a retired miner guiding you. Explore the miner’s village, including dinner next to a large brick fireplace and kerosene lamps. Then take in the famous Men of the Deep choir of working and retired coal miners. 
  • Louisbourg: The historic Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstruction in North America, reflecting what would’ve stood before it fell in 1763. While here, book the half-hour guided sampling of the historic Fortress™ Rum that the soldiers drank! You’ll also learn about sugar cane’s influence on trade, shipping and slavery in North America. 

For MANY more ideas, check out Coolest Things to Do on Cape Breton Island.

NEWFOUNDLAND East Coast Canada Road Trip Itinerary

St. John's Newfoundland, East Coast road trip Canada
Photo credit: Erik McLean from Unsplash

I’m disappointed that I didn’t include Newfoundland on my East Coast Canada road trip. Some argue that it’s easier to fly into Newfoundland and make it a separate trip. It might actually be cheaper than driving! But given how hard it can be to get away and how close you are, consider adding Newfoundland to your Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip.

FERRY information to drive to Newfoundland 

If you want to take the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, you have two route options. Both leave from North Sydney on Cape Breton Island. You can take the ferry to either Argentia (SE near St. John’s) or Port-aux-Basques (remote SW). 

From my research, I’d recommend taking the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia. Drive around Newfoundland, and take the Port-aux-Basques ferry back to Nova Scotia.

Comparing the two Newfoundland ferry routes:

  • The ferry from North Sydney NS to Argentia NL takes 17 hours! But people describe it as a mini cruise. This ferry has overnight cabins (book in advance), food and entertainment. You sail past remote cliffs with likely sightings of blue whales. Runs seasonally June to September.
  • Sailing from Port-aux-Basques back to North Sydney NS is about 7 hours. Overnight sailings are available, as are overnight cabins, food and entertainment. Runs year-round.

How much does the Newfoundland ferry from Nova Scotia cost? Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. You pay for everything: passengers, vehicle, reserved seats and cabin. Plus all the food and entertainment onboard. And it’s all one-way. No combo pricing available. 

Get the details on Newfoundland ferries at MarineAtlantic.ca

Where to STOP on your Newfoundland road trip:

  • St. John’s: Hugging the steep slopes of the Avalon Peninsula, St. John’s has colorful buildings, good food and drink, and excellent ocean views. Hike the East Coast Trail and watch for puffins and icebergs! Explore historic parks and architecture from the 1800s, including cathedrals, battlements and government buildings. 
  • Gros Morne National Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is on the far west side of Newfoundland, and a full 7-hours drive from St. John’s. Sheer-cliff gorges. Peaks, sea stacks and beaches. Charming and welcoming villages overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 3.5 hours from Gros Morne. At the far northwest tip of Newfoundland is where the Vikings landed! Interact with costumed Viking interpreters. Explore the recreated base camp of timber-and-sod buildings and original artefacts. L’Anse aux Meadows is nearly 8 hours’ drive to the Port-aux-Basques ferry. 

For beautiful private cabins and hotels in Newfoundland, visit Romantic Getaways in Eastern Canada. Includes the perfect place at each of the stops above.

Sample pages of Kids Travel Journal Printable for Early Readers, family road trip printables

RETURN East Coast Canada Road Trip: Nova Scotia to Toronto

If you’re driving the return trip from Nova Scotia to Toronto, you likely want the fastest route. To keep it fun, make your overnight stops fantastic. Here are beautiful places to stay when driving from Nova Scotia to Toronto.

Returning from Halifax Nova Scotia to Toronto is just under 18 hours (1,784 km).  A good halfway point to spend the night is just before Quebec City. See Stop 2, Resort 1 below.

But if you’re returning from Cape Breton Nova Scotia to Toronto, the fastest driving route from North Sydney is 20.5 hours (about 2,000 km). I suggest two overnight stops: First at a lighthouse in Nova Scotia, and then at a resort in Quebec.

RETURN Nova Scotia to Toronto STOP 1: Cape d’Or Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

Cape d'Or Lighthouse cliffs, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
600-foot view at Cape d’Or Lighthouse

Staying at Cape D’or Lighthouse in Nova Scotia was certainly one of my highlights. Not only are you surrounded by gorgeous 600-foot cliffs, but the host serves up incredible meals. Note: the last stretch of road is remote and bumpy, so fuel up at Parrsboro and drive slowly. Also, it’s an uphill climb back to your car, so pack an overnight bag. 

If possible, dedicate some time to explore things to do on the Bay of Fundy, many near or on your way to the lighthouse. This includes Advocate Harbour boat tours, day hikes at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, and Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Advocate Harbour is also a fantastic place to witness the Bay of Fundy’s incredible tides. It’s the perfect final day in Nova Scotia on your East Coast Canada road trip!

If you’re coming from North Sydney on Cape Breton Island, it’s a 5-hour drive to Cape d’Or Lighthouse. Spend the rest of your travel day at Advocate Harbour and Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. The next morning, make a quick stop at Joggins Fossil Cliffs.

RETURN Nova Scotia to Toronto STOP 2: Resort in Quebec

Choose the final night of your East Coast Canada road trip carefully. It’s been a beautiful Toronto to Nova Scotia drive, but a long one. End it with a treat! 

The last leg from Cape d’Or Lighthouse in Nova Scotia to Toronto is about 17 hours. A good mid point is somewhere between Quebec City and Trois-Rivières. Quebec City is just over 9 hours from Cape d’Or and just under 8 hours from Toronto. Trois-Rivières is about 10 hours from Cape d’Or and 7 hours from Toronto.

Here are three excellent resorts to consider on your drive from Cape d’Or Lighthouse in Nova Scotia to Toronto.

QUEBEC Resort Idea 1: Montmagny

Hôtels l’Oiselière Montmagny might just be the perfect halfway-point between Cape d’Or Lighthouse, Nova Scotia and Toronto. It’s 8.5 hours from the lighthouse and 8 hours from Toronto. Plus, it’s easy to access just off the highway. And it frees you to take the faster Trans-Canada Highway south of the St. Lawrence River.

Hôtels l’Oiselière Montmagny has a wonderful tropical garden with indoor pool, full-service spa, restaurant and games room. Rooms are modern and comfortable. Price includes wifi and parking.

QUEBEC Resort Idea 2: Trois-Rivières

If you can make the 10-hour drive to Trois-Rivières, book a night at the Kinipi Spa Nordique & Hebergement. And then a spa treatment for the morning before you leave. It’s a very doable 6.5 hours drive to Toronto from Trois-Rivières.

Kinipi Spa Nordique & Hebergement is an adults-only spa hotel, with a pretty outdoor area. Relax in the hot spring bath, hot tub, sauna or in front of the fireplace. Also has an onsite restaurant, bar and terraces. Price includes wifi and parking.

QUEBEC Resort Idea 3: North Hatley, Eastern Townships

If driving through the United States is an option for you, another excellent resort to consider on your Nova Scotia to Toronto trip is Manoir Hovey Historic Mansion in North Hatley QC. Manoir Hovey is a pretty lakefront inn and resort in the lovely Eastern Townships area. Book the cottage on top of a small cliff, for a large terrace with lake views, two-person spa bath, and fireplace.

The fastest way to North Hatley from Cape d’Or Lighthouse is 10.25 hours on Highway 1 and I-95. It takes you through Saint John and St. Andrews NB, so this might be a great option if you weren’t able to see them before. And North Hatley QC is only 6.5 hours from Toronto.

Sample pages of Kids Travel Journal Printable for Early Readers, family road trip printables

So, what do you think? Have you been to any of these areas? Do you have extra tips for planning a Toronto to Nova Scotia drive? Please share in the comments below!

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Featured photo credit (Cape Breton Island lookout): Elyse Turton from Unsplash

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