Canada is the world’s second-largest country and home to five distinct regions. This means that if you’re planning to drive across it, you’re spoiled for choice of where to go and which route to take.
That being said, let’s try to narrow things down, finding the most common driving routes across Canada and also the distance and driving times for each.
Driving across Canada is the adventure of a lifetime! Popular routes include driving the Trans-Canada Highway, with a distance of 4397 miles and time of 76 hours; or for a real challenge, driving from Newfoundland and Labrador to Yukon, with a distance of 5391 miles, taking 93 hours. Whichever route you choose, plan for 3-4 weeks to complete the drive.
Popular drives across Canada
Here are some of the most popular long-distance drives across Canada.
The Trans-Canada Highway
A most used route to drive across Canada is to take the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s a fan favorite for those who thrive in natural settings, being surrounded by 97% nature and just 3% urban environment. It’s also our planet’s longest national road, with a driving distance of 4397 miles (7077 km) and a driving time of 76 hours.
Traveling from coast to coast, you’ll start at the easternmost point of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where you’ll make your way towards Port aux Basques, with a distance of 562 miles (905 km). From here, you’ll board a ferry crossing over to Nova Scotia (6-7 hours), and then you’ll continue your journey West.
Throughout the trip, you’ll travel through ever-changing landscapes, from leveled, open savanna to rough mountainous regions, passing flawless lakes and beach fronts along your way, ending your drive in the westernmost point of Victoria, British Columbia.
Although it’s a very long journey, it’s also fairly straightforward. However, the highway isn’t a single road but rather a system of different highways stretching throughout the route, allowing you the freedom to explore side routes, such as different cities and landscapes.
You’ll pass through ten provinces along your journey, cross over six different time zones, and encounter tolls along the way.
Newfoundland and Labrador to Yukon
If you’re looking for the ultimate road trip across the country and to see the majority of Canada’s highlights, then driving from Newfoundland and Labrador all the way to Yukon is one of the longest drives you can do throughout Canada and is certainly worth considering.
Starting in Back Shore, Newfoundland and Labrador, you’ll drive West towards Vancouver and then head North, running all the way to Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, which has a travel distance of 5391 miles (8,676 km) and a travel time of 97 hours. This route includes tolls, a ferry ride, and a time zone change.
If you were to embark on such a mission, taking travel time and rest stops into the equation, this could potentially take weeks to complete! This drive will see you traveling through all of Canada’s ten provinces and major cities. You’ll encounter the wind, rain, and Arctic breeze along the way.
Other routes to consider
If you’re looking to drive some interesting routes along your trip across Canada, then you might want to consider driving the different sections of the country listed below.
Even with shorter drives, they’re rich with areas to explore, have many stop-off points, and seeing the majority of what’s on offer can take days or even weeks! Whichever route you decide to take, make sure to read up on this and plan accordingly.
Victoria to Calgary
A well-driven route in Canada is from Victoria to Calgary, where you’ll encounter Rocky Mountain regions and dense wildlife. This route has a distance of 665 mi (1070 km) and a driving time of 13 hours 30 minutes. Completing the entire trip comfortably will take two days.
Toronto to Quebec
Another popular driving route is from Toronto to Quebec, where you’ll pass cities full of culture, and natural landscapes, with a distance of 501 miles (806 km) and a driving time of 7 hours 45 minutes. To see what is on offer can easily take a week’s trip.
The Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s finest scenic highways, where you’ll encounter old-fashioned fishing villages and world-class seafood restaurants. You’ll also pass through the northernmost point of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the route.
The drive has a distance of 186 miles (298 km) and a driving time of 5 hours, but to see everything can take up to a week.
The Okanagan Valley drive runs between two mountain ranges (Osoyoos to Vernon). It’s a great Summer option, with picturesque, endless views making for the perfect stop-off points for a cold beverage or a glass of wine for non-drivers.
The route has a distance of 109 miles (175 km) and a driving time of 2 hours and 3 minutes and can be completed in as little as a day.
Another popular route is to drive around Vancouver island, where you’ll see rainforests, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, and cities along your journey.
This drive has 12,079 square miles to explore, taking between 7-8 hours nonstop!
This trip is not to be taken lightly and can take weeks to complete if you want to see the majority of what’s on offer here.
The ten provinces of Canada
Driving across Canada is an unforgettable experience, and you’ll encounter National parks, sea shores, forests, thriving towns, and everchanging landscapes. Let’s take a look at the ten provinces you’ll pass through on your journey and see what they have to offer.
- British Columbia: The westernmost province in Canada, which is rich with mountains, dense forests, and a naturally carved coastline.
- Alberta: Known for its picturesque beauty and is rich in history, famous for its fossils.
- Saskatchewan: Superb architecture and golden wheat fields, famous for grain farming.
- Manitoba: Features varied landscapes, from dense forests in the South to icy, Northern sections filled with polar bears.
- Ontario: Home to Canada’s largest economy and a large number of manufacturing industries.
- Quebec: Known for being the world’s largest producer of maple syrup, it’s home to the oldest church in the country.
- New Brunswick: Featuring natural landscapes, with over 60 lighthouses and some of the best seafood you’ll find!
- Prince Edward Island: Best known for its pristine red beaches, golfing, and luxurious seafood.
- Nova Scotia: Renowned for its fishing industry, coastal towns, and high tides.
- Newfoundland: Features a mix of colorful homes, lovely seafood, and vast untouched landscapes.
Preparing for your road trip
Driving across Canada is something that will test your driving skills and patience, so proper preparation is paramount to help make things easier along the way.
- You’ll be driving on the right-hand side of the road.
- Keep your itinerary realistic. For a thorough trip across Canada, you can easily spend four weeks on the road!
- Canada is best driven in the warmer months. It can become extremely cold during the winter, and businesses shut down. For instance, in the Summer, Vancouver varies between 40-60 F, and in the winter, temperatures can drop to between 32-40 F.
- Choosing the right vehicle for your trip and packing it to your needs can save you a considerable amount of money on gas in the long run.
Canada is the world’s second-biggest country, and driving across it takes time. This shouldn’t deter you, however, as the Trans Canada Highway serves all major routes, so if you keep to this, you’ll find it relatively straightforward to traverse the country.
To fully experience what Canada has to offer can take a month or more to complete. Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to plan carefully, as seeing Canada will be something you’ll likely never forget.