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Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

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kuwait
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Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

We am planning a two weeks tour to Canada in June starting from Toronto. We are a couple and will be starting from Toronto around June 10. Actually we will have some additional days in Toronto so, will be able to find time to visit tourist attractions within Ontario including Niagara Falls in 1-2 days/daytrips. We looked at previous discussions in this forum but seems like there is much more what we can do in this limited time, so need to select the best.

I am seeking advice on around 2 weeks' tour to other provinces: best destinations, means of getting around i.e. transport means or to buy a complete trip package?

Our interest is in nature and local culture. We are open to various options including train travel or flights to different provinces. While I sense two weeks may sound not enough time for such a vast country but may be a good start and get the best out of time and money spent in the forthcoming hopefully exciting trip.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Many thanks for your help in advance.

Amir

West Grey, Ontario
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1. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

Hi Amir;

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, 4th largest in Canada & the US after New York, Los Angeles & Chicago. You could spend an entire week in Toronto and still have plenty to see and do !

The Province of Ontario, where Toronto and Niagara Falls are located, is;

• approximately 1,076,395 sq. km / 415,598 sq mi.

• larger than France, Spain and the Netherlands combined.

• almost 1/3 the size of India.

• more than 1/10th the size of Canada.

• more than 37.5 times the size of Kuwait.

Due to the size of the province, half day or full day trips using Toronto as a base can be difficult.

Would you consider renting a car ?

Without knowing more about your family, it is very difficult to make suggestions / recommendations.

How many people are making this trip, and what are their ages ?

Are you looking to make this a round trip starting and ending in Toronto ?

Do you have any other plans while in Canada ?

Best Regards

London, Canada
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2. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

Two weeks is not near enough to see the highlights of Canada, that's for sure; however, if you are willing to do a few flights (not necessarily cheap) within that time, you might be able to see a bit more. Unfortunately, the highlights I would recommend are at opposite sides of the country. Landing in Toronto, I would certainly include Niagara Falls. Flying to both coasts would be my choice - Vancouver for the beautiful scenery and atmosphere, including a ferry ride over to the island to visit Victoria and/or flying to the east coast, Nova Scotia, to try to see the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island.

If you want to stay closer, you could rent the car in Toronto, drive to Niagara, you could drive into Quebec, perhaps go as far as Quebec City.

Whatever you decide, you will certainly have an extremely busy and full two weeks.

Edited: 07 May 2011, 13:24
Toronto, Ontario
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3. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

I would suggest that if you really want to go out of province and you love nature and local culture, you'll get a healthy dose of each by splitting your time between Toronto, and a direct flight to Halifax out on the east coast. That can be done in about 2 hours flight time, and if you flew on Porter air off our downtown island airport, you'd save the time from busy Pearson International. From Halifax, you could plan a day trip out to Peggy's Cove, which sits right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Tons of "local culture" east coast style (very welcoming, not as "formal" as big city Toronto), and there is a huge artist concentration out that way. In between these two areas you have Quebec City or Montreal (choose one or the other, not both), if you want urban experience with a touch of the French Canadian Culture.

But you're going to have to do these by flights, because otherwise, you'll use up way too much time by car. Train travel is not as accessible here in North America as it is in Europe. And we don't have cheap airlines like Ryanair or Southwest in the States, so don't be shocked by our air prices.

kuwait
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4. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

More precise additional information is as follows:

1. We are a couple (wife and me) in mid-30's.

2. Just finished booking air tickets, so will be landing in Toronto precisely on June 3. We would need to stay in Toronto for at least a week with partial commitment apart from tourism. So, we will be exploring areas within Ontario during that time.

4. June 10 onwards, we will have around two weeks to tour around Canada, and that is where I am seeking advice.

5. Upon return we will need to spend at a couple of days again in Toronto prior to our flight to current residence in Abu Dhabi/Dubai.

6. On Budget, though flexible but generally ready to spend on local or experience unique to Canada rather than splashing out on luxury.

Halifax, Quebec is possibly one option we can take. I guess we need to opt between heading towards East or West of Ontario. I also read good things about exploring British Columbia and Alberta instead. Just trying to weigh the two options before deciding on the itinerary and spotting specific areas of interest; appreciate your input and thanks in advance.

One last question, what kind of driving license will I need to rent a car. Do I need an International license from UAE (Abu Dhabi)?

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

Unfortunately, Porter's prop planes can't make it to Halifax on a single tank of gas, so it's three hours to Halifax from the island airport (with a stop in Ottawa or Montreal), or a two hour non-stop flight from the larger and more distant Pearson airport.

But given the extra details, I wonder if you want to head west for most of your two free weeks if the flight will fit in your budget. You'll have gotten a bit of a taste of cosmopolitan Canada during your time in Toronto, and while there's lots to see in and around Ontario and east towards the Atlantic, it's really Alberta and BC that have the kinds of mountains and wilderness everyone thinks of when they think of Canadian natural scenery. Pop over to those forums (especially the Canadian Rockies forum, tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-Cana… ) for a better idea on what you'd find out that way.

I believe, if your UAE license is not in English, you'd want to get an International Driving Permit before you leave home.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

You might like to consider flying to Calgary, about a 4 hour flight non stop, doing a one way car rental to see the Rockies, then continuing on to Vancouver.

Perhaps 4 nights in Banff, 1 full day in transit along the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper, 3 nights Jasper.

You could drive to Vancouver, 850 km, about 10 hr driving for a visitor, stops extra, so one overnight on the way to Vancouver. Or you could investigate taking the Rocky Mountaineer train from either Banff or Jasper, which stops for 1 night on the way:

http://www.rockymountaineer.com/en_CA_BC/

3-4 nights Vancouver, 2 nights in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Fly out of Victoria x Vancouver or x Toronto if you wish. You don't need a car for either Vancouver or Victoria as they are completely walkable. You don't need a car to get between the two either. A journey one way by land/ferry takes about 4 hours.

Total - 13 or 14 nights.

Here are a few reasons why people flock to the Rockies:

…google.com/Mjneenan/CanadianRockiesJuly2010#

Edited: 08 May 2011, 00:48
Montreal, Canada
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7. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

The most economical way with a good taste of the "culture" (and not only Anglo-Saxon) will be to rent a car just a few times while in Toronto. One day (or two with an overnight) for Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, one other to go to the Tri City Area (Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo) where you could do different activities like the Elora George and the superb Farmer Market in Saint-Jacob, right in Mennonite country. With one overnight you could go even farther, all the way to Stratford a charming Victorian town with a Theatre Festival of world renown. Well if you don't mind the 2 hours drive you could do it in one day, for example attending a matinee performance. You could also do it by train if you don't want to bother about all the drive.

Then after your time in Toronto you could rent a car and head northwest, make a stop for a cruise in the 1,000 Islands and then head to Ottawa for a few nights. In Ottawa there are many great sights in town but you could also take a steam train tour through the Gatineau Park or you could drive that way for a bit of nature..

For a bit more I will then suggest that you drive on the Québec side of the Ottawa River and spend a night or two at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello, if budget allows. Otherwise you could just look at the attractions around (stop to visit the hotel and then visit Omega Park for native wildlife) and continue unto Mont-Tremblant for, again a night or two before driving to Montreal. You might arrive then smack in the Jazz Festival so it will be a great party all around. After Montreal you could drive or take the bus or train to Qc to end your trip, return by train or plane to Toronto.

Just notice that car drop off fees in other cities can be very high in Canada, on one hand and cars are almost useless in TO, Mtl and Qc so just rent for the days you are planning in Southern Ontario and then rent a car in TO to Montreal from a company that doesn't charge drop off fees. Drop when arriving in Mtl and then it will be better to take the train or bus to go to Qc, unless you plan to have a car for out of town excursions and you might also find car rental Mtl / Qc without drop off fees too.

If you want a more precise ittinerary or need links to websites just send me a private message.

Oh I just figured that you might be around for the Montreal F1 GP so it can be of interest for you, the party will be from June 8 to 13 with the main race on the 12th. But if not interested then avoid Mtl at all cost during that time as it will be very congested with all kind of lodgings at inflated prices.

Edited: 08 May 2011, 02:14
Toronto, Ontario
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8. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

Muftimixandmatch, if those are your photos, thanks a TON! I'm just in the process of buying some new lenses for my DSLR, and one of them I'm considering is the 10-24mm, so your gorgeous canyon shots just put me over the edge, pun intended!

Matt, thanks for the heads up on the Porter timing; last time I went to Halifax it was by Air Canada out of Pearson, so I didn't know about Porter's stop.

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

flyinmom ~ pas moi! The caption in photo 1 says something about coming from Chicago. I came across these somewhere and have kept track of the site. I really like the drop down caption for each picture, but they are tricky to keep in view with your mouse. I bring it out sometimes when someone is trying to decide where in Canada they might like to go.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Canada Tour in two weeks - First Time Visitor

It's not an easy decision, given the vastness of Canada. I think that whichever way you go (east or west), you will not be disappointed.

Be sure to factor in travel times and time zone changes into your decision. The flying time Vancouver/Toronto is 4 1/2 - 5 hours (depending upon tailwinds and headwinds). In addition, you need to add time for travel to the airport, check-in, security, etc. As well, there is a 3 hour time change. So, for example, when we leave Vancouver to visit family in the Niagara area of Ontario, we leave our house about 8:30 AM (Pacific time) and check into our Niagara area hotel about 8:30 PM (Eastern, or Ontario time). The flying time Toronto/Halifax is only 2 hours and there is only a 1 hour time change.

As has been mentioned, flights in Canada are quite expensive, when compared to flights within Europe and the US. This is because our population is concentrated within 200 miles of the Canada/US border. However, we do have some towns/cities in more remote areas that still require air service. Fares are set to ensure that service is available in those more remote areas. I believe that there are some seat sales going on right now. However, the closer you get to the time of flying, the less likely that there are seats available on the particular flights.

We do not generaly have a good level of passenger train service in Canada. You could travel by train quite easily between Toronto and Montreal, then on to Quebec City. (There is quite good service along the Windsor to Quebec City corridor.) In the west, however, there is a more cadillac service between Vancouver and Calgary that is quite expensive because they are providing a "train experience", rather than merely getting passengers from Point A to Point B. We therefore fly and/or drive (and of course take the ferry over to Vancouver Island).

You could make a lovely holiday visiting Toronto, and surroundings, taking the train to Montreal/Quebec, then flying on to Halifax. There, you could rent a car and see something of Nova Scotia. I assume that you have seen this website -

https:/…default.aspx

Given that you are flying so far already, an eastern trip might make for a less tiring holiday than trying to combine BC/Alberta with your trip. On the other hand, the scenery in the Canadian Rockies and BC generally is quite amazing. As I said, whatever you decide, you will not be disappointed (and perhaps there could be another trip in your future at some point?).

Edited: 08 May 2011, 19:50