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DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Somerset UK
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DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

We want to visit Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec in late September but can't decide between an escorted coach tour or doing it ourselves using a VIA rail "corridor pass".

The escorted coach tour spends 2 nights in each of the four cities, includes Niagara Falls, and seems good value as it includes breakfast and most dinners. On the other hand you're tied to a timetable and don't have the flexibility and freedom of choice that independent travel offers. Any thoughts/advice most welcome please.

If we went down the independent route how long should we aim to spend in each city. We like to go on bus tours around a city first then go back and visit places that interested us that we passed en route. We also like guided walking tours that last 2 or 3 hours and museums but are not particularly interested in going round shops.

We aim to spend 8 or 9 days but is 2 nights in each city enough or should we perhaps spend 3 nights in 3 cities and miss one out altogether. We've been to the Iguassu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border so missing out Niagara wouldn't be the end of the world. Once again any thoughts/advice welcome.

Would be flying in from Las Vegas and flying out to the UK.

Many thanks

Somerset UK
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1. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Can somebody help here please? I need to make up my mind in the next 48 hours!!

It's unlikely we'll come back to Canada again so wouldn't want to return to the UK regretting our decision.

I'm thinking of the independent route and missing out Toronto altogether, i.e. 3 nights in Montreal, 2 in Ottawa and 3 in Quebec - how does that sound.

West Grey, Ontario
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2. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Hi WaltR;

I would suggest 3 in Toronto, 2 in Montreal and 3 in Quebec City. IMHO, missing Niagara Falls and Ottawa would be better than skipping Toronto.

FYI, Quebec City is celebrating its 400th anniversary this summer.

monquebec2008.sympatico.msn.ca/MonQuebec2008/

You could spend a week in either Toronto or Quebec City and still have plenty to see and do.

You don’t need a car in Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City, so going the “independent route” would be feasible.

For things to see and do, walking tours, etc. I would suggest going into each city’s forum and clicking on the green button on the left side of your screen marked “Things to Do”

Best Regards

Somerset UK
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3. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Many thanks Rescue Team - much appreciated. I'd aleady looked at "things to do" for all 4 cities. The guided walks seem interesting - we always go on "London Walks" when we're there.

2 questions please.

1. Is there a national railway museum in Canada?

2. Is going to the 1000 islands on a day trip easier from Toronto or Montreal? Or is it possible/make sense to go via them between the two cities bearing in mind we would have no car but luggage to cart around?

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Hi WaltR,

Although I have always been an independent traveller, I would say you should consider the organized bus trip. Canada is a very big country, and there is alot to see, and in your case not much time to do it in. An organized trip will ensure that you see alot, as well as hear about the major sights. It's like if I only had a week in the UK, although I'd love to explore it on my own, I'd be afraid that I might not get back again any time soon, so I should probably do a tour.

If however, I was to pick out the places that you've listed, what would I absolutely say is worth doing I would list (in order) - Quebec City, Montreal, Thousand Islands Area (its a day trip out of Montreal, if you happen to rent a car add in Kingston and Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg), and my last must see would be Niagara Falls (and Niagara on the Lake). I for one am not a big fan of Toronto (it really is just another huge worldclass city, although a pretty one with its harbourfront). Ottawa is the nation's capital, fairly small by as International cities go, and has great museums & Parliament (but coming from the UK you won't find it so different).

If you decide to go it alone, you can rail it to /from Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto and Niagara. The Thousand Islands lie east of Kingston (about 20 minutes by car)... Kingston could be your "replacement" for Ottawa, as it was the capital of Upper Canada before Confederation (similar in architecture, and of course there is Fort Henry which defended the Brits/Cdns against the US in War of 1812).

I would say as a minimum you need 2 Days in Quebec City, 2 Days (maybe 3) in Montreal, 1-1/2 Days in Kingston & Thousand Islands (and Morrisburg if you can get there), 2 Days in Niagara (and Niagara-on-the-Lake) and if you are going thru Toronto anyways, you can give it a day or two.

This should give you another point of view, LOL

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

West Grey, Ontario
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5. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Hi;

1) Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, is located only 25 minutes from downtown Montreal in the municipalities of Saint-Constant and Delson.

www.exporail.org/public/index_flash.asp

2) Without a car, I would suggest taking the train from one city to the other, and visit the 1000 Island region along the way. The town of Gananoque (pronounced GAN-AN-OCK-WAY), is known as the "Gateway to the Thousand Islands", and lies about ½ way between Toronto & Montreal. You can take a boat tour of the 1000 Islands from Gananoque.

www.ganboatline.com/

They offer 1 hr, 3 hr, and 5 hr tours. The 5 hour tour stops at Boldt Castle, which was built in 1900 by the former owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. If you wish to walk about the island and tour through the castle, you will need to clear U.S. Customs, as the island is in American waters. Be sure that you bring your identification as required.

www.boldtcastle.com/

I would suggest staying overnight in Gananoque and continuing your trip by train the following day. If you do decide to stay overnight, I strongly recommend the Islandview Inn Bed & Breakfast, which is located only 1 block from where the tour boats dock, and the St Lawrence River.

www.islandviewinnbb.com/

For more info on the 1000 Islands;

www.1000islandsgananoque.com

www.visit1000islands.com/

www.1000islandsinfo.com/

To visit Gananoque you will need to get off the train in Kingston Ontario, which is 18 miles / 28 km west of Gananoque, and take a taxi the rest of the way.

In the town of Kingston, you won't want to miss Fort Henry, which was recently designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (UNESCO)

The original Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812, between Canada and the United States.

http://www.forthenry.com/

Best Regards

Somerset UK
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6. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

Well after much soul searching we've finally gone ahead and booked an escorted coach tour.

We will be given a morning coach tour of Toronto but prior to that we'll have a full day to ourselves in Toronto and fancy going on one or possibly two guided walks.

Muddy York tours offer the History of Downtown Street Names and the History of Midtown Street Names on the day in question but they also offer four different neighbourhood tours. Which do people think would be the most interesting? Is there a minimum number of people needed to run a tour?

Also, would it be worth considering a walking tour run by Bruce Bell or Bill Genova instead?

Many thanks

7. Re: DIY or escorted tour plus how long for each city

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