One Month Canada Itinerary: Perfect Itinerary For First Timers

by | Jan 3, 2021 | Canada Live Work and Play, Live Work Play Travel | 33 comments

So, you’re thinking about going to Canada “eh”? It’s a beautiful country with so much to offer but where do you start? Canada is the second largest country in the world, so it can be challenging to fit everything in for a one month long trip. I’ve simplified the planning process for you, detailing transportation, accommodation, activities and everything in between so you don’t need to. This one month Canada Itinerary is perfect for first timers and you’ll see the best the country has to offer. We start on the west coast and make our way over to the east, but you could always do this itinerary in verse if that works best for you.

Now let’s get into the good stuff!

 

The Best Time To Visit Canada

 

Canada’s climate varies tremendously. There are warm and sunny days in summer, July to August, and then there can be sub zero temperatures in winter, December to February. I guess, it depends on what you want out of Canada. Do you want to visit the ski fields and maybe work a season, or two? Are you wanting to see the Northern Lights, best viewed from November to March. Maybe you love sport and want to experience an Ice Hockey game during the season running from October to June. Or would you like to see Grizzly and Black bears in their natural habitats during May to October. It just depends on what you want to see, but really, any time is a good time to visit Canada.

 

Best Transit Options

 

As you can imagine, due to the sheer size of Canada, knowing how you’re going to get from place to place during your Canadian holiday is a must. There are a variety of options that work for different budgets, so there’s something for everyone!

 

Travel Canada by Car or Campervan

 

If you’re looking for the freedom to travel at your own pace, hiring a car or campervan might be your best bet. There are many places in the mountainous areas of Canada where there isn’t access to public transit, making this option one of the most popular among tourists. There are a variety of car rental companies to choose from. Each with comparable prices, allowing you to pick which one works for you. Campervans also take accommodation out of the picture, combining your stay and transportation. You can find affordable campervan rentals with Wicked Campers.

 

Travel Canada by Train

 

Travelling by train might be one of the best ways to see Canada. After all, you can kick back and relax, while taking in the beautiful views throughout the entire journey! There are many options when it comes to train travel but the most popular is Via Rail which is the government run train system. Then there is the Rocky Mountaineer, a world-renowned and privately-owned train system. You can find trips from coast to coast, as well as shorter distances. Keep in mind that since the train provides a once in a lifetime view and experience, it comes at a higher price point than other modes of transportation!

 

Travel Canada by Bus

 

It is doable to travel through Canada on a bus but will take a little more planning, coordinating and a resilient attitude! Local transit throughout major cities and towns have great bus routes and for longer journeys, you can hop aboard a Greyhound bus. The bus will take longer than most other modes of transportation, so it’s best for those who aren’t on a strict timeline!

 

Travel Canada by Plane

 

Of course, air travel is often the most convenient option to get from place to place within Canada because it’s such a large country. With that being said, flights are often shockingly priced for the distance. There are many airlines that fly within Canada, the most popular and reputable being Air Canada and WestJet. A few budget airlines have recently popped up, such as Flair Airlines and Swoop (an offshoot of WestJet), making air travel in Canada more affordable!

 

One Month Canada Itineray

 

While a month may not feel like enough time to see all of Canada, you’ll be able to cover quite a lot of ground! This one month Canada Itinerary will get you started and help you plan an amazing adventure.

 

Vancouver

 

Downtown Vancouver With Snow Capped Mountains Behind.

Beautiful Vancouver City

 

Vancouver is one of the largest cities in Canada, with lots of action going on year round! With a relatively warm climate (for Canada), there are many outdoor activities to partake in. Maybe get your bearings from the Vancouver Lookout, where you will receive 360 degree views of the city. A visit to the iconic Stanley Park to wander amongst the totem poles is a must. Afterwards heading by Canada Place where you can take in the beautiful Vancouver waterfront and take a photo with the 2010 Olympic cauldron!

On a rainy day, spend your time wandering through the Vancouver Art Gallery. Or head about 20 minutes out of the city to walk along the Capilano Suspension Bridge! The rain and fog will only add to the stunning scenery. There are also many unique neighbourhoods such as Gastown, Chinatown and Yaletown that are worth checking out during your stay. Each offer different shopping and dining options, so you can’t go wrong.

Maybe take a ferry across to Vancouver Island where you will find the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. Victoria boasts stunning natural beauty and has a rich heritage. Visit the Parliament Buildings and the Royal BC Museum or take a ride in a horse pulled carriage down the cobblestone streets.

 

Time in Vancouver: 3 days

Where to stay in Vancouver: For a hostel, try Samesun Vancouver or HI Vancouver Downtown. If you’re after a hotel, Blue Horizon and Hotel BLU are great options!

 

Vancouver to the Rocky Mountains

 

Lake Moraine. Crystal Clear Lake With Rocky Mountains Reflecting In The Lake In The Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Lake Moraine

 

Next up on our one month Canada itinerary are the Rockies! The Rocky Mountains span over different parts of British Columbia and Alberta and there are many breathtaking spots to hike, ski, snowboard, mountain bike and more, along the way. You’ll first want to head towards Whistler which is just a two hour drive north of Vancouver. Whistler is one of Canada’s favourite year-round destinations. Imagine sparkling lakes, charming villages nestled between snow-capped mountains.  Then make your way across British Columbia until you reach Alberta. As you leave Whistler, take the Sea to Sky Highway for a magnificent drive!

Once you reach the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, you must spend some time in Jasper and Banff! Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with dazzling glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, thundering waterfalls and mountains. Here you could undertake the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or ice skating. And come out at night as Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve, meaning it is an area where almost no artificial light is visible at night.

Banff is nestled high in the Canadian Rockies with a long list of things to do. Hike the 4.3 kilometre trail up Tunnel Mountain to get a great perspective of the town and valley. Or enjoy a meal by a warming fireplace in one of the lively streets which are lined with top-class restaurants and bars. And the shopping is pretty good too.

Your trip won’t be complete until you’ve made it to Lake Louise to see its emerald green water and rugged peaks and glaciers. Fantastic winter activities to be done here or canoeing in bright blue water during the summer months. Don’t be surprised if you see bears or other wildlife while hiking or venturing through the mountainous landscape! Always be prepared with bear spray or a whistle just in case.

 

Time in the Rocky Mountains: 6 days

Distance from Vancouver: The drive directly from Vancouver to Banff is about 9 hours, so you’ll probably want to break the drive up and stop at a few places along the way!

Where to stay in Whistler: For a hostel try Whistler Lodge Hostel or in one of the many ski lodges like the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre.

Accommodation in Banff: For a hostel try Banff International Hostel. If after a hotel try the Hidden Ridge Resort or Moose Hotel and Suites.

Accommodation in Jasper: For a hostel try Jasper Downtown Hostel or for a hotel Chateau Jasper.

 

READ MORE: Like the Rocky Mountains? Here’s how to find a job at a Canadian Ski Resort.

 

The Rocky Mountains to Saskatoon via Calgary

 

Calgary Stampede Is A Rodeo In Calgary Canada. There Are Clowns Who Distract Bucking Bulls And Horses.

Watch out for bucking bulls!

 

When you decide it’s time to say goodbye to the Rocky Mountains, you’ll want to make your way even further east. Saskatoon is a fairly long drive from Banff so you should consider stopping in Calgary to see what the city has to offer. If you go during the right time of year you may even catch the Calgary Stampede, which is a rodeo or really a 10 day event that takes place annually, every July. If there any other time of year there is plenty to do. Visit the Calgary Zoo or check out the views from Calgary Tower.

Accommodation in Calgary: For a hostel try Wicked Hostels. For a hotel try Best Western.

Afterwards, continue on your journey until you make it to Saskatoon. This underrated city is the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan is known as the Paris of the Prairies, because of it’s excellent cuisine. It’s an amazing spot for foodies who can check out the local farmer’s markets and restaurants. It’s also home to a large Jazz scene, so it may be worthwhile to plan your trip around the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival!

Distance from the Rockies: Saskatoon is about an 8 hour drive from Banff.

Time in Saskatoon: 2 days

Where to stay in Saskatoon: Book yourself an Airbnb for a night or stay at Park Town Hotel.

 

Saskatoon to Winnipeg

 

Winnipeg is another lesser-known city in Canada but it’s actually the largest city in Manitoba and has a relaxed feel. Some activities you can do while exploring Winnipeg include a trip to the Royal Canadian Min (maybe you’ll find out where toonies & loonies come from!), learn about the local indigenous culture and take part in the different arts and cultural events!

Distance from Saskatoon: Winnipeg is about an 8 hour drive from Saskatoon.

Time in Winnipeg: 2 days

Where to stay in Winnipeg: The Mere Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Winnipeg. It won’t disappoint!

 

Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

 

Sleeping Giant Mountain In Thunder Bay Canada.

Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay

 

As you leave Winnipeg and head for Ontario, the scenery will start to change. The Prairies are very flat and most of the land is used for farming but once you reach Northern Ontario, you’ll be surrounded by vast forests once again.

You’ll want to have a few days in Thunder Bay to explore all of the natural wonders such as the Ouimet Canyon, the Kakabeka Falls and the most noteworthy landmark – the Sleeping Giant.

Distance from Winnipeg: Just another quick 8 hour drive until you reach Thunder Bay.

Time in Thunder Bay: 3 days

Where to stay in Thunder Bay: Book a cabin in Thunder Bay and fully immerse yourself in life up North or stay at the Courthouse Hotel if you want something more lavish! Or there is The Haven Hostel.

 

Thunder Bay to Toronto

 

Toronto City Skyline In Toronto Canada.

Toronto City

 

As you say farewell to Thunder Bay, you’ll head south towards Toronto – Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural cities in the world! Since the drive is quite long, you’ll want to make a few stops along the way and allow for a few extra days for travel. There are many National Parks on the way where you can stop for hiking and a dip in the lakes (if weather permits!). You can’t miss Algonquin Park, especially during the fall season when all of the leaves are changing colour!

Once you finally reach Toronto, there are heaps of things to see and do. Take a trip to the CN Tower in the heart of downtown which was at one point, the tallest freestanding building in the world. Maybe brave the Edge Walk! Watch the Raptors go for another NBA Championship win at the Scotiabank Arena, or enjoy a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. And Canadians love their ice hockey so check out the memorabilia at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Go for a stroll along the waterfront, spend an entire day visiting the Toronto Islands and explore the many diverse neighbourhoods throughout the city! The nightlife can be found mostly along King Street West but you’ll be able to find a good bar just about anywhere throughout the city.

 

Distance from Thunder Bay: 14-15 hour drive

Time in Toronto: 4 days

Where to stay in Toronto: While Toronto receives many visitors each year, it’s not much of a backpacking city. More often than not, people stay in Airbnb’s or boutique hotels like the Drake Hotel.

 

Toronto to Niagara

 

Niagara Falls From The Canadian Side. Magnificent Waterfall.

Niagara Falls – From the Canada Side

 

A trip to Niagara can easily be a day trip if you’re short on time but it’s worth spending a few nights in the area if you can! When most people think of Canada, they usually think of Niagara Falls. The iconic falls are on the border of the United States and are a sight to be seen! Niagara is best viewed aboard a boat cruise or scenic flight. Book a cruise or scenic flight here.

There’s also Fallsview Casino if you’re feeling lucky and the beautiful wine region of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Spend an entire day sipping on some of Ontario’s best vino and wandering through the quaint town.

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hour drive

Time in Niagara: 3 days

 

Where to stay in Niagara: You can find a variety of hotels along Niagra Falls and b&b’s along Niagara-on-the-Lake!

 

Niagara to Ottawa

 

Did you think Toronto was Canada’s capital city? If so, you’re not alone but it’s actually Ottawa. That’s where you’ll stumble upon the Canadian Parliament and where the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau resides. On your way to Ottawa, stop at the waterfall capital of the world – Hamilton! With over 100 waterfalls, this city is a great pit stop.

 

Canadian Beaver Tails Are Pastries In The Shape Of Beaver Tails With Sweet Things On Top.

Yum – Beaver Tails

 

If you’re visiting Ottawa in the winter, you must try skating on the Rideau Canal and try a Canadian fave – Beavertails. Don’t let the name fool you, no beavers were harmed in the making of this delicious pastry!

Distance from Niagara: 5-6 hour drive

Time in Ottawa: 2 days

Where to stay in Ottawa: There are many hotels within walking distance to the city centre and Airbnb is also a popular choice among tourists! If after a hostel try the Ottawa Backpackers Inn or the Barefoot Hostel for women only. For a hotel try the Byward Blue Inn.

 

Ottawa to Montreal

 

Poutine, A Canadian Classic Meal Of Chips, Cheese And Gravy.

Poutine – a local food

 

Nearing the end of the one month Canada itinerary, it’s time to cross over to Quebec to say Bonjour! Montreal is just a hop, skip and jump away from Ottawa but it has an entirely different feel to it. Montreal has an amazing food and music scene, with large festivals such as Osheaga held each summer.

Head up to the Mount Royal Lookout for a view of the entire city and explore the underground city in downtown Montreal – it’s never a dull moment there! Walk along the cobblestone streets and discovery Old Montreal’s galleries and historic sites. Maybe sample the local cuisine of poutine, French Fries served with cheese curds topped with brown gravey, Quebec’s favourite way to eat French fries!

Distance from Ottawa: 2 hour drive

Time in Montreal: 3 days

Where to stay in Montreal: Try out Hotel Bonaventure Montreal during your time in the city! or for a hostel try the M Montreal Hostel or the Samsun Montreal Central.

 

Montreal to Quebec City

 

Stone Gate In Medievil Wall In Quebec City.

Through the Gate – Quebec City

 

Once you get to Quebec City, you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different country. With a European feel and French being the first language of most residents, it’s a pretty unique place to see! It is the only remaining fortified city in North America. You can discover all four surviving gates, Porte St. Jean, Porte St Louise, Porte Prescott and Porte Kent.

If you’re visiting during the winter, you can’t miss the Carnaval, where you can see ice sculptures and experience the best of winter in Quebec! You can also go dog sledding, tap a maple tree and taste fresh Canadian maple syrup.

Distance from Montreal: 3 hour drive

Time in Quebec City: 3 days

Where to stay in Quebec City: There are many places to choose from in Quebec City, the most prestigious and unique being Le Chateau Frontenac – the most photographed hotel in the world. The Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel), which you can only stay at during the winter, for obvious reasons! For a hostel try the Auberge Jeunesse LouLou’s Backpacker Hostel.

If you end up having extra time on your itinerary, it’s worth extending your trip to see the east coast of Canada! Halifax and Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia should be next on your list.

 

Final Words on this 1 Month Canada Itinerary

 

While you certainly won’t be able to see all of Canada with limited time, this one month Canada itinerary should help you get started on an adventure of a lifetime! If you are in Canada on a working holiday you will have 1-2 years to enjoy much more it. If you have been or are planning a trip to Canada, I would love to hear about it in the comments following.

 

READ MORE: Like to spend extra time in Canada? What About A Working Holiday in Canada

 

Collage Of Images Of Canada. Totem Pole, Lake Moraine, Beaver Pastry Tails And Bucking Bull At Calgary Stampede.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!

 

Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, Booking.com is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from Eurail and Interrail Passes. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. World Nomads is great for general travel insurance while SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers.

Need something else? Check out my Resources page.

 

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Hi. Sharyn here, the face behind Live Work Play Travel. I’ve been travelling all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. My aim with this blog is to help you work abroad or work online and travel the world.   Read more.

 

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33 Comments

  1. Shelley

    What an incredibly thorough post! I’ve only been to Vancouver & the west coast, but hopefully I’ll be able to change that in 2021. As with the U.S., I bet there are so many hidden gems that hardly anyone visits in the middle of Canada!

    Reply
  2. molly

    Thunder Bay is out of the way but beautiful! Thanks for covering so many places in one post

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Thunder Bay is beautiful and well worth the deviation.

      Reply
  3. Kristina

    Love Canada – have mostly visited Vancouver and Ottawa but so much more to see!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yep. Plenty to see in Canada. I hope you get back there.

      Reply
  4. Melissa Miller

    Ohhh I love this guide!! I grew up in Michigan, so I was lucky enough to visit Toronto and Niagara Falls area, but I would LOVE to visit Montreal. And Vancouver is probably my favorite city!! I miss having it so close like when I lived in Seattle. Can’t wait to explore more of Canada.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Sounds like you have experienced a number of Canadian places. I hope you get back to explore more!

      Reply
  5. Tess

    The rocky mountains are calling my name! I think this guide was made for me, Canada is definitely on the wishlist for future travels and adventures. I’d love to snowboard there too!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      They called my name too! I am sure you would enjoy the ski fields.

      Reply
  6. Planet Hopper Girl

    My best travel in 2019 was a solo trip to Toronto/Niagara. I left my heart in Canada and have a big itch to go back since. This is perfect to remind me of all the places I gotta get back to. Thank you Shelly!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      You are welcome Shelly. I hope you get back to Canada soon and find your heart again!

      Reply
  7. Rebecca

    I have had Vancouver on my list for a long time to visit! Looks like I’ll have a couple of more spot to add now.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      That’s good. There is plenty to see and do in Vancouver. The longer you can stay the more you get to know the place.

      Reply
  8. Brittany

    This is such an amazing guide! I have yet to visit Canada, but I really want to change that this year. This guide will be so helpful for choosing where I’ll visit!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Canada is an amazing place to visit. My itinerary gives first timers to Canada an overall view of some of the best bits! But I know there are plenty more best bits to experience. Next trip!

      Reply
  9. Megan

    What a great itinerary! I’ve never been to Canada, but when I do I’ll be sure to stop in Ottowa for a Beaver Tail!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Thank you. It is aimed at first timers to get a feel for Canada. And definitely stop in Ottawa for a Beaver Tail – they are yum.

      Reply
  10. Josy A

    Argh 1 month isn’t enough is it!? I could easily spend a month in each of these places and still feel like I only scratched the surface! I love that you saw a few of the best bits of this lovely country though!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yeah I know, but you need to start somewhere. Next trip will hopefully be longer.

      Reply
  11. Sayali

    A really useful article for a first-timer’s visit. Love how you’ve incorporated food in the itinerary.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      One month is a great start to a visit in Canada. Hopefully it can be longer.

      Reply
  12. Amy Aed

    Wow, this is such an in-depth post! I lived in BC and Alberta for a bit, and was meant to come back this year. One day…!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Canada is a fabulous place to visit and the longer you can spend in the country the more you can see and experience.

      Reply
  13. Tracy Hastie

    This is a bucket list trip for me, I’d love to cross the whole country by train, but you’re making me think maybe I’d be missing out if I didn’t drive. Is there a culture in Canada of buying campervans for travel , like in New Zealand?

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      The thing with trains and buses is they have set routes so you cannot deviate. This is why hiring a car or camper van is the perfect option. Yes, there are camper vans in Canada to hire.

      Reply
  14. MacKenzie

    I remember the first time I read about a beaver tail – it reminded me of something similar in California and I went into a deep dive for 20 minutes trying to figure out the difference, haha! Anyway, I’d definitely love more than a month in Canada, but I think this itinerary is a great start and it hits a ton of fantastic highlights.

    Reply
  15. Monica

    I plan to visit Canada one day soon than later. This post has opened my eyes to how long my trip could possibly be. Thank you for this helpful travel guide.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, this is a great way to extend your trip in Canada. There is plenty to see and do so try to make the time.

      Reply
  16. Amy

    An ambitious itinerary!! I love all the details you give and info on transportation. I really need to see more of Canada!

    Reply
  17. Leah

    What an amazing itinerary! A month in Canada would be a dream! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  18. Melinda

    So much to see and do! I really want to get to Alberta. Jasper and Banff look gorgeous anytime of year!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      There is plenty to see and do in Canada. One month in Canada could be just the start!

      Reply
  19. Alaina Thomas

    Even a month does not seem like enough time to see everything Canada has to offer, but this itinerary hits all of the main spots!

    Reply

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