A new year, a new adventure! For most of 2018, we will be exploring Eastern Canada. Are you planning to visit this region too? If not, perhaps this list (created with the help of some of my favourite travel bloggers) will change your mind. Alongside the classics (Peggy’s Cove,  Gros Morne, Toronto, Hopewell Rocks et al), there are so many incredible sights and scenery to see in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland. Here are just a few amazing places to visit in Eastern Canada this year, some further off the beaten path than others. We’ll see you there!

the Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick

The north-east corner of New Brunswick is home to the Acadian Peninsula. It is primarily a French-speaking area, with many of the local population being descended from the first French families who settled Canada in the 17th century. Jean Robert (JR) is a proud Acadian and grew up outside of Shippagan, a small town close to the ‘tip’ of the Peninsula. The area is known for sandy beaches, historical sights and of course, great seafood! We will be based in the centre of the Peninsula from late winter to at least spring while converting our new van to live in and I’m looking forward to exploring everything this off the beaten path destination has to offer. A little later in the year, we are aiming to be back in the area to celebrate Acadian Day. 

Waterfalls in Northern Ontario

Having just driven through Northern Ontario in winter, I am dying to get back to this area in another season. The snow blocked access to many attractions and much of the scenery, but through the blizzards, we still caught a glimpse of the beauty in this region. And it was enough for me to promise myself that we’d come back! This area is seemingly full of water, from huge (hello Huron and Superior!) to tiny lakes (see Killarney below) and also SO MANY waterfalls. One of the many places to visit is Agawa Canyon near Sault St. Marie, as featured in a post by Lindsay of I’ve Been Bit Travel. The 68m Bridal Veil Falls is one of three dramatic waterfalls in Agawa Canyon, an area that is most easily accessed by the Algoma Central Railway.

Bridal Veil Falls, Northern Ontario - 10 Amazing Places to see in Eastern Canada
Bridal Veil Falls, Agawa Canyon. Photo by Lindsay Davies

beautiful Quebec City, Quebec

Ah, Quebec City. With cobblestone streets, a towering chateau and small city charm, it’s a little taste of Europe in North America. It is an absolutely beautiful place to look at too. The day we arrived in Quebec City back in 2010 just happened to be 24th June i.e. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. This province-wide holiday is a celebration of Francophone culture and history. And the commemoration is pretty jubilant in Quebec City, to say the least. The pretty public squares of Quebec City were jammed with people singing, shouting and waving the Fleurdelisé all through the afternoon and night. It was one big street party.

Needless to say, the city was exceptionally quiet the next day and every street required something of a major clean-up operation. It was a fascinating event to experience but I’m excited to visit Quebec City this year, to see it on a more regular day! I will be there in May attending my first Women in Travel Summit (WITS).

Amazing Places to Visit in Eastern Canada in 2018 - Quebec City

Thousand Islands region in Ontario

Just the name of this park inspires wonder and adventure, especially for paddlers like us! And being an archipelago of more than 1800 islands in the St Lawrence River, the Thousand Islands region is a perfect place to explore by kayak. Not only is the scenery pretty magnificent, but Cathy and Frank from RoarLoud discovered that there are some pretty unique places to stay in Thousand Islands National Park too. The oTENTik campground has hybrid cabins (part tent, part cabin) that offer wonderful views and even better sunsets.

Amazing Places to Visit in Eastern Canada in 2018 - Half Moon Bay, Thousand Islands, Ontario
Half Moon Bay, Thousand Islands, Ontario. Photo by Cathy Merrifield

Grand Manan island, New Brunswick

With no traffic lights, no fast food restaurants and a population of only 2500, Grand Manan Island must be one of the most peaceful places on the East Coast. Grand Manan is located in the Bay of Fundy, geographically closer to the US state of Maine than New Brunswick. A rambling coastal road travels along the high cliffs, occasionally interrupted by sandy bays, lighthouses and working fishing villages.  The island seems like a great place to get away from it all. Oh, and the sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean look pretty wonderful too (see photo below), as demonstrated by Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels.

Amazing Places to Visit in Eastern Canada in 2018 - Grand Manan Island
Sunset at South Head, Grand Manan Island. Photo by Dalene and Pete Heck

the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail around Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is heralded as one of the world’s best road trips. It’s a winding 300km coastal drive through lush highland scenery with cliff-top vistas, picturesque bays and colourful fishing villages. JR and I have actually driven the Cabot Trail before, way back in 2010 on my first visit to Canada. The problem was, we drove it in one day! I remember the beautiful views, friendly locals (with intensely Scottish accents!) and plentiful wildlife (I think we saw a dozen moose in an hour or so). One day just wasn’t enough. There are so many great hikes in the area that deserve a stop!

Amazing Places to Visit in Eastern Canada in 2018 - Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

the Bruce Trail in Ontario

Did you know that Ontario is home to an 890km long hiking trail? I didn’t either, until I read about Lauren’s challenge to walk all of it on her site, Justin Plus Lauren. The trail starts in the Niagara region and travels through vineyards and farmland, past waterfalls and conservation areas before finishing in Tobermory at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. One of the things that interests me most about the Bruce Trail is that the hike winds through both populated and remote areas. Maybe a place to try European-style long-distance hiking a la the Camino de Santiago or South Downs Way? I truly love wilderness experiences yet the Bruce Trail intrigues me.

Amazing Places to go in Eastern Canada in 2018 - the Bruce Trail, Ontario
The Bruce Trail, Ontario. Photo by Lauren Yakiwchuk

twillingate, Newfoundland

The scenery in Newfoundland just blows my mind. This place seems larger than life! Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, Newfoundland is home to towering fjords, mountains and wild coastal scenery. This province is also one of the top places in the world to see huge icebergs. I’m not 100% sure we will make it to Newfoundland this year (keep your fingers crossed, those ferry fees are on the pricey side) but if we do, I’d love to be in time to see icebergs from Twillingate. As my friend Leigh from HikeBikeTravel recommends, Twillingate is a great place to hike and view icebergs. A winning combination in my book.

Amazing Places to Visit in Eastern Canada in 2018 - Twillingate, Newfoundland
Twillingate, Newfoundland. Photo by Leigh McAdam

prince edward island’s beaches

Prince Edward Island is another place I definitely didn’t get to see enough of last time. Canada’s smallest province is best known for rolling hills, potatoes, Ann of Green Gables and award-winning mussels. Something else that stuck out in my mind, however, were the beaches. Smooth, soft warm sandy unspoiled shoreline that seems to stretch for miles, bordered by red sandstone cliffs and cool, white-capped waves. Perfect! There’s even a beach that has sand that squeaks (Basin Head). I’m looking forward to sunbathing on PEI’s beaches again.

the backcountry of Killarney, Ontario

Eastern Canada is full of epic wilderness areas that I can’t wait to explore. Canoeing in British Columbia is fun but I’m not quite sure it can compare to Eastern Canada. Hundreds (thousands!) of small lakes and rivers connect to provide a huge network across Ontario and Quebec. Killarney Provincial Park in Northeastern Ontario is one of the many gateways to the waterways. Sometimes called the ‘jewel’ of the Ontario parks system, Killarney offers visitors majestic forests, tranquil lakes and an unusual pink granite shoreline on Georgia Bay. Not just great for paddling, Killarney also has some pretty impressive hiking on offer too. The Granite Ridge trail in particular, as recommended by Stephanie from The World As I See It, looks to have fantastic views.

Amazing Places to Visit in Canada in 2018 - Killarney Provincial Park. Ontario
Views from Granite Ridge Trail, Killarney Provincial Park. Photo by Stephanie Mayo

Have I missed any amazing places to visit in Eastern Canada? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Amazing Places to Visit in Canada This Year - Waterfalls, icebergs, amazing trails and more! offtracktravel.ca

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Gemma
Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently living in Penticton, British Columbia. Gemma is happiest with a paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

6 Comments

  1. What a great list! There are so many great places to visit in Canada. As a Canadian, who travels the world, there is still no place like home. Don’t forget to stop in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario as you are heading east. Happy travels!

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation Lori! I’d love to hear about the top things to do in and around Kingston if you have a chance. I’m glad you liked the list

  2. Great article.
    NFL and NB are in my bucket list!
    Glad u added Killarney, Agawa and the Bruce.
    I would encourage folks to check out Pukaskwa after Lake Superior Prov Park (where Agawa is).
    The little town of Thessalon 45 min east of Sault Ste Marie on Lake Huron is a hidden gem too.

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Thanks for mentioning Pukaskwa, we’ll be sure to try and make it there! Will you make it to Newfoundland and New Brunswick anytime soon do you think?

  3. Being from Nova Scotia, I have to argue that Ontario isn’t really Eastern Canada! But great list!

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      So interesting to hear a different perspective on the East/West divide! I’m glad you liked the list

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