Canada Travel Guide: Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City (2023)

Located in North America is a country famous for ice hockey, the Maple leaf, two widely-celebrated Justins (Bieber and Trudeau), and poutine. If I were to describe it in one word, however, I would say that it’s diverse. The place is populated with people from all walks of life, from Asian and Middle-Eastern to European communities. This variety of cultural backgrounds is translated in their food ranging from Chinese takeaways, kebabs, to pizzas and pasta. That’s Canada, eh.

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There are tons of places to visit in Canada, but this guide will be focusing on the eastern part considering I only had eight days’ worth of sightseeing: Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. If you have more time, add Ottawa (the capital city of Canada) and Prince Edward Island on your Eastern Canada trip.

Canada Travel Guide: Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City (1)

Table of Contents

“‘Sup T.O.?!”

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Toronto, the capital of Ontario province, has some nicknames: The Six, Hogtown, and T.O. to name a few. It’s home to the Raptors, the Blue Jays, and the Maple Leafs, which are the basketball, baseball, and hockey teams of the city, respectively. But “Tee-Oh” isn’t just about sports. It’s one of the cities that best showcases Canada’s diversity, which you’d notice if you took a quick look around.

GOING AROUND TORONTO

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Upon disembarking from the Toronto Pearson International Airport, take bus #192 to Kipling subway station. You can then take the subway train to your hotel. The best thing about their public transportation is that you can use the ticket you purchased for the bus on multiple transfers—like the subway or the tram (streetcar)—as long as it’s one way to your next destination. Make sure to remember your landmarks: the Union Station for the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Rogers Centre (Baseball stadium), and Air Canada Centre (Basketball and ice hockey arena), and the Dundas station for the Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square (which is within walking distance from Dundas Square).

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WHERE TO STAY IN TORONTO?

For a place to kick back and relax, The Only Backpacker’s Inn is a hostel I recommend. It has a bar at the entrance, which makes it conducive to socializing—similar to other great hostels I’ve tried. To get there, take the subway to Donlands. When you get down, just ask around for the Only Café—don’t worry, it’ll be within walking distance of the station.

You can also find the list of our recommended hotels in Canada, here.

WHERE TO EAT INTORONTO?

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You can take the 514 streetcars, exit at the Cherry Street Loop, then walk to the Distillery, which is a historic district. Alternatively, you can take the 504 streetcars, exit at King and Parliament, then walk a couple of blocks south. There are some dining options to choose from here, but I recommend the Mill Street Brewery for their variety of beer.

THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO

See the Jaw – Dropping View from Atop the CN Tower

(Video) Top 10 Things to do in Quebec City 2022 | Canada Travel Guide

The CN Tower was once the tallest tower in the world, standing at about 553 meters. That was, of course, well before the Burj Khalifa was constructed. The tower symbolizes not only the city of Toronto but the entirety of Canada as well.

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Take the elevator to the observation deck where you can absorb the panoramic view of the city. Just a warning though: If you look down, it might be a little frightening; the glass floor creates the illusion that you could fall at any moment! If the thought of heights doesn’t make you dizzy enough, you can satisfy your inner daredevil by embarking on an even more adventurous activity called the Edge Walk.

As the name implies, you’ll be walking around the side of the tower secured in a full body suit and a harness that’s attached to the railings above and around the tower. The walk made you hungry? You can eat right there, at the 360 Restaurant, which offers Canadian cuisine.

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I like visiting the tallest structures of any city. It gives you an overlooking perspective which makes you feel like you’ve conquered the place. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Visit the Ripley’s Aquarium

My friends based in Toronto said that I should go here—an aquarium holding approximately 16,000 aquatic animals, but I didn’t. Personally, I’d rather wear my scuba suit and dive into the sea myself than watch sea creatures swimming in tanks. However, if you would like to experience it yourself then book the “Sea the Sky” package to encounter both the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium first-hand for cheaper.

Watch a sports event

When I think about Toronto, the first thing that comes to mind is the Toronto Raptors. It’s a no-brainer for someone who is an avid NBA fan like me. Watching a live game has always been a childhood dream, and I finally made it a reality.

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Even if you aren’t a sports fan, a live game is a must-see! The experience is very different from when it’s shown on TV, as you get to feel the hype build up with everyone else. Hearing the music and the roar of the crowd firsthand is sure to get your blood pumping! If basketball isn’t your cup of tea, try watching baseball or ice hockey.

Stroll along Dundas Square

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They say it’s the miniature version of New York’s Times Square. It may not be quite as grand, but the place is Instagram-worthy. This is where you’ll find the well-known tourist attractions: street performers, tourist information centers, shopping malls, restaurants, big ads, the cinema, etc.

Photo op at Nathan Phillips Square

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A lot of people are leveling up their IG game here, just next to the City Hall. Take as many snapshots as you’d like and strike that blogger pose.

Niagara Falls day tour

(Video) WE CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS CANADA | Montreal and Quebec City

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You haven’t been to Canada if you haven’t seen this beauty—”the mother of all waterfalls,” as I call it, between the USA and Canada—the Niagara Falls. You can take the public bus or drive to get there, but I recommend booking a guided day tour with King Tours for convenience.

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They provide rides to pick you up to and from your hotel. Join the others and hop on the bus as you head towards Niagara Falls for a cruise on the Horn-blower boat! It almost feels like you’re in a movie as you get closer and closer to the mighty falls – the thunderous sound, the cold water splashing, and the dark atmosphere is an exhilarating experience you wouldn’t want to miss.

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You can grab a quick snack after the boat ride before you head to your next stop: Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque town where you can do all your sightseeing. End the tour with a wine-tasting at a favorite winery. Don’t forget to try the ice wine!

Jason’s hot tip: You can opt to spend the night near the falls. There are a lot of attractions in the area. It resembles a big theme park with fun rides, magic shows, and casinos. You can find a list of all casinos near Toronto here.

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“Bonjour, Montreal!”

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Did you know?: The province of Quebec is predominantly French, and it’s because the first explorers of the region were French, therefore culturally influencing the biggest city of Quebec: Montreal—the home of the Montreal Canadiens, the city’s ice hockey team.

GOING AROUND MONTREAL

Coming from Toronto, you can take either the bus or the train to Montreal (the bus being the cheaper option), then walk from the Dundas Square until you reach the coach terminal. Buy some beef jerky and licorice to make your eight-hour ride to Montreal (with a transfer in Ottawa) a bit more bearable.

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Upon arrival, you can use the metro to go around the city. Take note of Mont-Royal station for hiking, and Champ de Mars station for the old Montreal.

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WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREAL?

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I recommend staying at Alexandrie-Montreal. It’s a hipster-looking hostel with a cool lobby, free maps, and free breakfast. It’s a 7-minute walk from the bus and metro stations.

WHERE TO EAT IN MONTREAL

Try the famous smoked meat at Schwartz’s deli (3985 Boul St-Laurent). It’s near Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. Ask around to locate the shop.

THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL

Hike Mt. Royal

(Video) VIARAIL from Toronto to Montreal (Economy Class) and 10 tips!

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I love to hike, so I consider this activity the best thing to do in Montreal. Stroll at your own pace across a trail or forest to the other side. Some entry and exit points may get you confused, so my advice is just to follow the crowd. The duration of the hike depends on the amount of time you use to enjoy and take in the view of nature and the city at the top.

Visit old Montreal

Have a blast from experience. See the mix of the North-American and European culture, and marvel at the French-inspired architecture. The highlights are the Notre-Dame Basilica and Vieux Port de Montreal.

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“Je time, Quebec.”

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Quebec City is quite similar to Montreal – a fusion of old and modern, from the cobbled streets to the interesting street art. It’s probably the most romantic city in the province of Quebec, the Old Quebec being its highlight. The ambiance reminds me of a little French town – calm and serene, but above all, charming.

WHERE TO STAY IN QUEBEC CITY?

Auberge Internationale de Quebec is an excellent place to stay, located in Old Quebec. However, the guy owner is a bit weird and not very accommodating.

GOING AROUND QUEBEC CITY

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From Montreal Central Bus Station, take the 3-hour bus ride to Quebec City. Once you arrive, walking is the best way to tour the city. You can walk all the way through old Quebec. If you get exhausted, just retake the cab to your hotel. Do take a bus ride if you’re going somewhere far like the Montmorency Falls. If you’re going to the airport, it is said that grabbing a cab is the easiest way.

WHERE TO EAT IN QUEBEC CITY

Poutineville!!! Make your poutine with the toppings of your choice. Poutine is fried with style. Toppings and sauce are added, the basic ones are cheese and gravy. Who in the world doesn’t like fries?!

THINGS TO DO IN QUEBEC CITY

Visit old Quebec

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Just like in Montreal, you should visit its old version: old Quebec. Be fascinated by the European castle-like architecture. The highlight is the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, the iconic hotel of old Quebec.

See the Montmorency Falls

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Take Bus 800 for a 20-minute ride from downtown Quebec to the falls, which is the final stop. Montmorency Falls pales in comparison to the grandeur of Niagara Falls, but it’s still a beautiful sight to see and serves as a perfect background for a quick selfie at the bridge.

SAMPLE ITINERARY AND EXPENSES FOR 8-DAY TRIP IN CANADA

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(Video) Old Québec City, Canada|Quebec Vacation Travel Guide | Our Fav Spots #bonjourquebec

Here’s a sample itinerary for eight days in Canada, which is similar to what I did last April 2017 starting from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and back. Take note that this will just serve as a reference. You can reduce costs by booking buses months ahead, by avoiding expensive meals, and by choosing cheaper seats at an NBA game.

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*Burger meals at fast food joints cost less than 10 CAD and a Chinese meal (duck and rice) costs around 17 CAD.

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About the Writer

Canada Travel Guide: Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City (31)Jason Gotuato writes technical reports during the day and travel stories at night – an engineer by profession and a traveler by heart. He has done a lot of crazy stufffrom diving between the North American and Eurasian plates to jumping out of a plane. He’s on a quest to conquer this world and bring out the adventurer in all of us. Take apeek into his adventures and find him atwheresjason.com.

Social Media:

Instagram: @wheresjason_ig

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FAQs

How many days do you need in Montreal and Quebec City? ›

Ten days is the perfect length of time to visit both Montréal and Québec City, allowing you to dedicate enough time to experience Montréal's legendary nightlife and Québec City's historic center, with a few side trips.

How many days is enough for Quebec City? ›

We recommend spending a minimum of 3 days in Québec City to get a feel for the city, its people and authentic French Canadian culture. Our Québec City itineraries are filled with suggestions on things to do in Québec City, whether you're coming for a weekend getaway or planning to stay longer.

Which is better for tourists Montreal or Quebec City? ›

The Bottom Line. Montreal is a better choice if you're looking for a more urban feel, amazing food and cafes, and a more bilingual city. Quebec City may be better if you want a charming old town experience, all the major attractions in one place, and a festive winter holiday.

Is 3 days in Montreal enough? ›

Visiting Montreal in 3 days can be done, and you will definitely be able to tick off a ton of things from your Montreal bucket list too. From the cobbled streets of Old Montreal to the french inspired restaurants all across the city Montreal has been tricking visitors into thinking they're in Europe for decades.

What is the best time of year to visit Québec City? ›

The best times to visit Québec City are June through September and December through February. During the summer and winter months, the city's social calendar is booked solid with festivals.

What is the best month to visit Montreal? ›

The best times to visit Montreal are from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is milder and hotel vacancies run amok. But aside from fluctuating rates, you'll discover that there really isn't a bad time to vacation here.

How many days do you need in Toronto? ›

To see and experience all that is Toronto, you should plan a stay of at least a week (preferably in spring, summer, or fall -- winters can be bitter, though no worse than a winter in New York City).

Is 2 days enough for Montreal? ›

This hip Quebec city is home to some of the best street art in the world. There are distinctive cafés on every corner. But throughout it all runs its historic roots and celebrated diversity. And while there's much to do and see, I recommend at least 2 days in Montreal for first-time visitors.

Is 2 days enough in Québec City? ›

The historic heart of Québec City is compact and easily walkable so it doesn't take long to see the most significant sites. With 2 days in Québec City you'll be able to enjoy it at a leisurely pace and still have time to venture further afield.

Is 3 days in Toronto enough? ›

You can easily fill a whole week or more in Toronto if visiting for the first time, enjoying the trendy city vibes and attractions, dining out and exploring like a local. However, if you are short on time, 3 days in Toronto will ensure you see the best of the city and get a real taste for what is on offer!

Is Quebec worth visiting? ›

It is the cradle of French America and the only fortified city on the continent north of Mexico. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the best historic sites, soak in the region's magnificent heritage, storied past, and European charm.

How many days in Montreal is enough? ›

How many days do you need in Montreal? Plan to spend at least 2 full days to exploring the main attractions in Montreal. If you have more time, consider visiting Quebec City, which is 3-hour drive from Montreal.

Can you speak English in Québec City? ›

English is Widely Spoken in Tourist Areas

While most of the locals working in the tourism industry in neighbourhoods like Vieux-Québec, Petit-Champlain, Place Royale and Vieux-Port will speak English; locals in other neighbourhoods may not speak English as well (or at all). Do not panic.

Is Québec City cheaper than Montreal? ›

The cost of living in Montreal is 38% more expensive than in Quebec City. Cities ranked 2131st and 3333rd ($1727 vs $1249) in the list of the most expensive cities in the world and ranked 52nd and 145th in Canada.

Is it cheaper to fly into Montreal or Québec City? ›

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Montreal and Quebec City, we can see that Montreal is more expensive. And not only is Quebec City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Quebec City would let you spend less money overall.

What part of Québec City is the best to stay in? ›

The best place to stay in Quebec City is in Old Quebec City, also referred to as old town, near the main attractions and historic sites. This area is easily explored on foot, and a funicular makes the trip from the lower to the upper neighborhood much easier.

What is the coldest month in Quebec? ›

The cold season lasts for 3.3 months, from December 4 to March 13, with an average daily high temperature below 32°F. The coldest month of the year in Québec is January, with an average low of 7°F and high of 21°F.

What airport do you fly into for Québec City? ›

Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, 16 km (10 miles) away from downtown Québec City, can be reached via boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel (138) or autoroute Duplessis (540).

Can you drink the tap water in Montreal? ›

While Montreal's water is of excellent quality and is safe to drink, lead leaching from the old pipes that water runs through can contaminate it by the time it comes out of your tap. Health Canada recommendations released in March reduced the acceptable level of lead from 10 micrograms per litre of water to five.

Is Montreal an expensive city to visit? ›

Montreal is an affordable city to visit, but there are always ways to slash your spending. Here are some ways to save money in Montreal: Stay with a local – If you plan ahead, you can usually find a Couchsurfing host in Montreal.

Is Montreal worth visiting? ›

With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that Montreal is one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations. So whether you're looking for culture, cuisine, or simply a great place to relax, Montreal is definitely worth a visit.

Is 2 days enough in Québec City? ›

No, you're not in Paris; you're in Quebec City! And a 2 days in Quebec City itinerary is the perfect chance to see and do all the main highlights in this lovely town. Quebec City, the second-largest city in the Quebec Province in Canada, is located along the Saint Lawrence River, a few hours northeast of Montreal.

How do I get from Montréal to Québec City? ›

Travelling with Orléans Express bus lines between Montréal and Québec City is the best way to travel between the two cities if you are on a budget. The buses are comfortable, with Wi-Fi and electric outlets onboard. The journey takes about 3 hours and tickets start at around $25 one-way.

How can I spend 4 days in Montréal? ›

How to Spend 4 Days in Montreal
  1. Montreal Botanical Gardens.
  2. Château Dufresne.
  3. Place Jacques-Cartier.
  4. Château Ramezay.
  5. Bonsecours Market.
  6. Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History.
13 Oct 2019

Do I need a car in Québec City? ›

You do not need a car in Québec City, but if you plan on taking a daytrip or two, you can rent a car in town or at the Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB), located about 8 miles west of Old Québec. Another option for exploring is by bike.

How many days do you need to see Toronto? ›

To see and experience all that is Toronto, you should plan a stay of at least a week (preferably in spring, summer, or fall -- winters can be bitter, though no worse than a winter in New York City).

Is 2 days enough for Montreal? ›

This hip Quebec city is home to some of the best street art in the world. There are distinctive cafés on every corner. But throughout it all runs its historic roots and celebrated diversity. And while there's much to do and see, I recommend at least 2 days in Montreal for first-time visitors.

What part of Québec City is the best to stay in? ›

The best place to stay in Quebec City is in Old Quebec City, also referred to as old town, near the main attractions and historic sites. This area is easily explored on foot, and a funicular makes the trip from the lower to the upper neighborhood much easier.

How much is the train ride from Montreal to Québec City? ›

How to Travel From Montreal to Quebec City by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane
TimeCost
Train3 hours, 15 minutesfrom $40
Bus3 hours, 15 minutesfrom $25
Flight45 minutesfrom $90 (one-way)
Car2 hours, 45 minutes158 miles (255 kilometers)
14 Sept 2022

How many hrs drive from Toronto to Quebec? ›

7 hours, 48 minutes.

Is there a direct train from Toronto to Québec City? ›

No, there is no direct train from Toronto station to Quebec. However, there are services departing from Toronto Union Station and arriving at Québec via Montréal. The journey, including transfers, takes approximately 9h 44m.

Is 3 days in Toronto enough? ›

You can easily fill a whole week or more in Toronto if visiting for the first time, enjoying the trendy city vibes and attractions, dining out and exploring like a local. However, if you are short on time, 3 days in Toronto will ensure you see the best of the city and get a real taste for what is on offer!

How many days in Montreal is enough? ›

How many days do you need in Montreal? Plan to spend at least 2 full days to exploring the main attractions in Montreal. If you have more time, consider visiting Quebec City, which is 3-hour drive from Montreal.

Do I need Canadian dollars in Montreal? ›

You can use US dollars at most places in Montreal. However you will receive a poor exchange rate or none at all. Many find it advantageous to have some Canadian money for spending, but it is not necessary to obtain Canadian dollars at an airport or from your local bank.

Is Quebec worth visiting? ›

It is the cradle of French America and the only fortified city on the continent north of Mexico. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the best historic sites, soak in the region's magnificent heritage, storied past, and European charm.

What is the cost for train from Toronto to Québec City? ›

The average train ticket price from Toronto to Quebec City is $272. The best way to find train tickets from Toronto to Quebec City is to book your tickets as early as possible. Prices tend to rise as your travel date approaches, so book in advance to secure the best prices!

Is public transport free in Quebec? ›

Free Public Transport for Visitors

For a hassle-free and more eco-responsible stay, leave the car parked and board an RTC bus to visit the attractions: Old Québec, museums, Mosaïcultures, Aquarium du Québec, shopping centers and much more!

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