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First time in Canada

london
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First time in Canada

Hi,

I'm going to Canada for the first time for two weeks. I will be staying in Toronto and I'm trying to put an itinerary together but the country is so huge and so much to see its overwhelming. I would really appreciate some tips. Although I'm staying in Toronto I would like to visit Quebec, Montreal, Ontario. What is the best means of transport? Do I have to hire a car or can I use the train services?

Thanks

West Grey, Ontario
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1. Re: First time in Canada

Hi paulm99;

FYI...Ontario isn't a city, it is a province.

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

• larger than France, Spain and the Netherlands combined.

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

• more than 4 times the size of the UK.

• more than 8.25 times the size of England.

• about the same size of the US states of Texas & Montana combined.

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

You don't mention when (month) you will be visiting.

From Toronto;

Montreal is approx. 340 miles / 545 km.

Quebec City is approx. 500 miles / 800 km.

Best Regards

Edited: 12 August 2014, 16:34
SE Ontario
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2. Re: First time in Canada

First of all we need to know when you are coming. Secondly - Toronto is in the province of Ontario. Perhaps you are thinking of Ottawa - the nation's capital? Thirdly - do you have a pace to stay in Toronto set up, or are you looking at hotels, etc?

If you can provide a nightly hotel budget in $$ that helps with suggestions.

A car is not neccessary in any of the cities as they all have excellent public transit systems. You can travel between them by train, bus, or air. If however you want to see the country side outside of the cities then a car is the best way to explore. If you are coming in winter and have no experience of winter driving we advise NOT to drive.

We usually recommend as a guide,3- 4 days each for Toronto and Montreal, 2-3 for Quebec City and 2-3 for Ottawa. A day long side trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto is often something people like to do. If you've not already booked flights, you should consider flying into one city and flying out of another to avoid backtracking.

What are your interests ... culture, history, nature, sports etc...

Take a look at the Top Questions to the right of this page, and the green info tabs at top for a wealth of info. Also look at the individual city pages for similar info.

Edited: 12 August 2014, 16:40
london
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3. Re: First time in Canada

Thanks for your responses, I'm going towards the end of August. Places of interest would be culture, history and nature. Sorry I got the cities mixed up lol. I'm staying in Toronto but would like to visit other places and stay couple of nights. Is a rail trip worth doing?

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: First time in Canada

Depending by what you mean by "worth it".....definitely a great way to travel and considering the cost and hassle factor of air travel, I prefer train if I am not driving myself...

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: First time in Canada

Hi Paul ~

Train service is good back there in the centre of the universe. :-) Ontario and Québec have the population to warrant good train service. VIA Rail will take care of your travel needs through the region. www.viarail.ca

I would strongly suggest you look into not staying in Toronto for 2 weeks, You really need to be prepared to move around to some extent to fully experience the 3 interests you have stated. And here's why, with the train in mind. Unless you plan to rent a car. Perhaps you can decide after you do your research. The following are places I would go to and stay for enough time to experience what interests you. Gananoque (GAN ah KNOCK way) can be accessed easily from Kingston:

Toronto > Niagara Falls (1.5 hours). Niagara Falls > Kingston (2.5 hours). Kingston > Gananoque (30 min). Gananoque > Ottawa (1.5 hours). Ottawa > Montréal (2 hours). Montréal > Québec City (3.5 hours). QC > Toronto (9 hours). Here the map for this idea:

http://goo.gl/maps/SeiyL

To recap: Toronto > Montréal = ~5 hours. Montréal > Québec City = ~3.5 hours. Then ~9 hours back to Toronto. By train.

Another reasonable means of transportation between Montréal and Québec City is the Orléans Express coach service. People seem to choose between coach and VIA depending on the convenience factor of the respective schedules: http://www.orleansexpress.com/en/

Kingston is arguably the most significant location for the celebrations of the War of 1812. Celebrations which are still in progress:

War of 1812 - Archives: …gov.on.ca/en/…kingston-supplies.aspx

War of 1812 - Toronto Star events: torontosun.com/2012/06/05/war-of-1812-bicent…

Walking Tour, Kingston, War of 1812: https:/…67ee6415-3dd7-44da-ba35-c5d3158cc2b2

Ottawa is the place for Canadian History. All the "national" level museums are there along with the Parliament Buildings.

Canadian War Museum, Canada Science and Technology, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Currency Museum, The Royal Canadian Mint. Byward Museum, Watson's Mill, Rideau Hall. And for nature, a boat ride on the Rideau Canal. The Parliament Buildings - a tour and a ride up to the Peace Tower. The Parliament Buildings grounds are a self directed tour in its own right.

Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau with its Aboriginal influence in the flowing lines (the only right angles in the building can be found in the elevators) by architect Douglas Cardinal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Cardinal

And the National Gallery of Canada, currently showing an exhibit of photography of Canadians in World War I.

When you research Montréal and Québec City, you will find equally rich experiences. So you can see staying for 2 weeks in Toronto would be very limiting. I might even suggest 4-5 nights Toronto, 2 nights NF, 2-3 nights Kingston, 3 nights Ottawa, 4-5 nights Montréal, 3 nights QC, one day's travel back to Toronto for 1 night before flying out. Weighted according to where your interests fall.

Edited: 15 August 2014, 04:14
SE Ontario
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6. Re: First time in Canada

As to the above:

Niagara Falls - Kingston - is a 4 hour drive.

Gananoque/1000 Islands region is easily accessed from Kingston if you have a car ... otherwise you are looking at a very expensive taxi ride... there are no buses or trains to Gananoque from Kingston, and generally little in the way of public transport to get there.

Niagara Falls and the surrounding region is actually more ground zero when it comes to 1812 celebrations.

Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico, and is steeped in the history of two of Canada's founding nations. Its charm is based in part on the old walls and the old town within them. However something to consider is that the city tends to hold more interest to North Americans rather than Europeans, since old castles, walls, cities are more prevalent in Europe than here.

You've had some good suggestions here - time to do more research on the areas and come back with a tentative itinerary, including whether you want to drive or take a form of transport ... bearing in mind as noted, that you will be limited in what you can see outside of the cities if using rail or bus.

Edited: 15 August 2014, 13:06
West Grey, Ontario
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7. Re: First time in Canada

>>"there are no buses or trains to Gananoque"<<

Actually, VIARail does have limited, inconvenient service, to Gananoque.

Best Regards

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: First time in Canada

VIA Rail allows Gananoque to be included in building a multi city itinerary of all those cities.

SE Ontario
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9. Re: First time in Canada

I said ... there are no buses or trains to Gananoque ... from Kingston... meaning there is no real local service ...

I am aware there is VIA service to Gananoque ... and indeed it is extremely limited ... one stop a day on what is known as the milk run. As someone who takes the train regularly, it is not a service I would recommend due to its inconvenience.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: First time in Canada

Geez, I thought I was going to have to draw a picture of a train with the letters V I A on it! :-))

I can think of a few ways to handle that part of the itin if the OP wanted to visit the 1000 Islands. The train is the least of the considerations.