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Montreal / Quebec City / Maritime provinces


We were going to Italy last fall but was cancelled. Since we are not hopeful that it will be safe to travel to Europe this fall we decided to check out the two cities that offer some European flavor (keeping fingers crossed Canada will be welcoming visitors by Sept.); Montreal and Quebec City. And while we’re at it, see some of the highlights of NS, NB, and PEI. Why not. We are a (vaccinated) retired couple. We are interested in historical sites/buildings, enjoy natural scenery, hiking, culture, and local food, etc. I’ve done a fair amount of research and it appears that the trip will entail a lot of driving. We don’t really like 1-nt stays and going through the same routes twice, but it looks like these can’t be avoided. So we came up with the following itinerary. Your advice/comment(s) are much appreciated. Please let me know if we are short shrifting or wasting time on certain places.

Halifax 3nts/Lunenburg 1nt/long drive to Whycocomagh 1nt / Ingonish 1nt / Baddeck 2nts/ Take ferry to Charlottetown 2-3nts?/ Hopewell 1nt / Alma (Fundy NP) 1nt / St. John 1nt / Moncton 2nts / Miramichi 1nt / Long drive to Quebec City 4 nts / Train to Montreal 5 nts / Fly home

Why Whycocomagh? - short drive to Skyline Trail, Macintosh Brook and Lone Sheiling trailheads -we think we can do all three hikes in one day if we start early, and have time to drive to Ingonish.

Miramichi: overnight before or after spending a day at the Acadien historic village.

Where can we fit driving the Fundy Trailway Park? Pictures look amazing, we would very much like to drive through it.

If we were to break up the 7-hr drive from Miramichi to QC, where would be a good spot to spend the night?

Thank you!

Posted by
3016 posts

If you haven’t seen fall colors I suggest at least some of the trip into October.

Montreal is nice but I wouldn’t say it has a large amount of European flavor.

There are neat villages in Quebec along the St Lawrence which feel extremely European.

The St Lawrence River is one of the world’s premier whale watching areas if that interests you.

Posted by
40 posts

Tom_MN: Autumn foliage is one of the reasons for this trip, starting mid Sept into early Oct.
Hearing people speaking French in Montreal will be plenty European flavor for us.😊.

Posted by
3868 posts

You could do Lunenburg as a long day trip from Halifax - start early - stop at Peggy's Cove either going to or back - Mahone Bay is nice for an hour - lots of nice homes and cute shops. The three churches make a lovely photo. Lunenburg is good for 2-3 hours - again - great architecture and cute shops. That would eliminate a one night stay there - unless you wanted to see more things in that area - we do day trips down from Truro and it's a 2 hour drive for us.

I'd almost say to do South Shore as a day trip, and spend a night in the Annapolis Valley - it'd be lovely in the autumn - lots of farms and trees/colour and harvest stuff. Look at Wolfville/Kentville area. But you'll also be getting lots of trees in Cape Breton, so it may just be overkill - the best colours are early-mid Oct.

If you decided to do the Valley - you could catch the ferry from Saint John, NB to Digby, NS, visit Annapolis Royal on the way to the Valley - it's about 90 min fr Digby to Wolfville. From there you could go to Halifax, or do the one night in Lunenburg.

Posted by
3571 posts

I know that the rules today will be different in September, but currently, New Brunswick requires a 14 day isolation to enter the province. Same with Nova Scotia, even from New Brunswick. So you will need to pay attention to these provincial covid requirements. Canada is not as well vaccinated and some will not be recieving first shot until June or later, then second shot 4-12 weeks later pushing that September timeframe for more open travel.
Canada has a number of low population/reduced health care infrastructure provinces that need to be protected
Perhaps you can consider New England for Fall colour this year?

Posted by
40 posts

Nicole P: We’ll consider Lunenberg as a day trip from Halifax. Doing so will shorten the drive to our next destination. Thank you.

MariaF: If by Sept., quarantining is still required, we will cancel that cancel the trip. Thank you.

Posted by
7 posts

I live just north of Seattle, only an hour or so drive from the Canadian border and one of my great joys is going up to Vancouver every now and then, so I've been following the news closely about when travel in Canada will be possible again. You may need a plan C because it doesn't look like it will be happening anytime soon. I wouldn't count on being able to take the trip that you are thinking about this autumn unless you can factor in a lot of the required quarantine time. That may change, and I hope it does, but I wouldn't count on it.

That said, as for your itinerary, the only suggestions that immediately come to mind are:

  1. I love Montreal, but five nights might be a little too much. I would suggest looking into the possibility of visiting Ottawa, the national capital. It's really close to Montreal, perhaps a bit far for a day trip, but it's a place certainly worth spending a day or two in.

  2. Canada has a couple of discount airlines, so you may want to look into that if you want to avoid that long drive between Miramichi and Quebec. Porter Airlines is one I've used in the past. They may have a Halifax to Quebec route or something else that will work out for you.

Posted by
9 posts

If I could get back to Quebec (downtown Montreal is but 75 miles from me, as the crow flies; it pains me not to be able to go there, my home away from home), I would love to visit Tadoussac, at the confluence of the Saguenay and the Saint Lawrence, get a campsite along the river and watch the whales migrate. That's on the opposite bank of the river from where you'll be, but it looks like there's a ferry from Trois Pistoles.

Anyway, when you get to Montreal, head to the Mile End neighborhood and pay a visit to Drogheria Fine. They make excellent Pomodoro, in which they simmer fresh-made gnocchi and sell it in ample takeout cartons. Perfect food for walking around a great neighborhood. It's right next door to Fairmount Bagel (one of the two Montreal-style bagel Meccas) and across from Wilensky's Light Lunch (a small, friendly, neighborhood lunch counter, immortalized in Mordecai Richler's "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.").

Wish I were there right now.

Posted by
40 posts

Kblu9: We are watching closely the progress of vaccinations or lack of it in Canada. We are most definitely prepared to postpone the trip if quarantining remains in place by Sept./Oct. 5 nts in Montreal equates to 4 full days in my mind. We are slow travelers but I will review the things we want to do, perhaps we don’t need 4days. Thank you!

Posted by
40 posts

Karaoke Nomad: Whale watching would be awesome! Would there be a great showing in the fall? I wonder if we could drive Miramichi to Trois Pistoles instead, Take ferry and overnight in Tadoussac.
Thank you for the food suggestions -we love bagels (NY style whis is hard to find where we live. But we hear Montreal is good too but has a hint of sweetness to it which sounds delicious as well. Thank you!

Posted by
3571 posts

If you can get to this trip, Montreal has lots to offer if you also like museums and gardens. One year there was a Dale Chihuli glass exhibit, so one full day was museums. Next day was the Mosaiculture international exhibit at the botanical gardens. That is the garden displays of thousands of small plants used to create 3D sculptures. Many botanical gardens now have one or two of these types of installations, but this one was dozens of them from numerous countries. Even without these, the Botanical Gardens are wonderful with an extensive arboretum as well. By late September, they also had the night lights in the Japanese Gardens. Difficult to say whether that will be possible this year, as it is usually well attended (weekends only so a draw for families).

Posted by
1600 posts

hey hey pappillion54
hello bay area neighbor
few years ago we flew to quebec city for a fall color cruise to NYC, first week of october, which was fabulous. we stayed at hotel des coutellier in town. breakfast delivered every morning to door, we loved the place. parking is away from there with a cost, don't know where and how much. we rented a car one day only to take a day trip. if you're with car look for parking within hotel.
look at dates, canadian thanksgiving is october 11 and some places are closed to celebrate. the town was decorated for fall, like our halloween, absolutely gorgeous and so festive.
walked around the town (upper and lower), the saint laurence river, the funicular, chateau frontenac the gorgeous hotel, had a cocktail at the bar and little tour thru this exquisite hotel, stopped in cafes for lunch and dinner, people watched, ate poutines, crepes, drank hard cider. in quebec city travel guide gourmet farmers market (local fruit, vegies, fish, local artisans, bakers, butchers, chocolatiers, cheese and pastry makers, coffee, wine) spend a few hours and have lunch. check directions and how to travel there.
met a couple staying in same hotel, who were on another cruise, hearing our conversation to rent a car. they asked if they could join us. great people from charleston SC and still friends. i did some research on ile de orleans, a french speaking island across bridge from quebec. farmer/ranchers, small villages, vineyards, maple syrup. like you're on another planet with the river running right by it. drive around the quaint island, stop for photos, little shops, old houses
chocolate shop (chocolaterie de ile de orleans)
les fromages de ile de orleans de orleans
we stopped and bought a baguette, cheese, meats, bottle of wine (always carry a corkscrew) and found a place with picnic bench and had our "french party" it was fabulous. lots of places closed because of holiday but made due. walk the trails thru this canyon sainte-anne park of gorges, suspensions bridges, waterfalls, hopefully no fear of heights.
sainte-anne-de-beaupre basilica huge and gorgeous church along the hiway, stopped to look inside and light candles for my family. old quebec city food tour, st roch quebec food tour
this are my visions of beautiful quebec city, after our 5 days there we hopped on our cruise ship for fall colors to NYC montreal attractions to do in montreal things to do in montreal day cruises
we did not make it to montreal but giving you things to research about couple places you have mentioned. just keep your eyes and ears open about covid-19 and praying you can take this fun and fabulous trip. enjoy

Posted by
288 posts

Hi Papillon,
Sounds like a great trip. Couple of comments. Are you thinking of September/ early October? We were in Quebec in October a couple of years ago, and very early October had a lot of colours already around Quebec City, and was already a bit cool. September might be more reliable weather wise.
Also, I hope someone from out east can comment a bit more, but it seems to me you are backtracking in New Brunswick. Its a long time since I was there, but I feel you could drop Moncton. If you skip both Moncton and Miramichi the rest of your trip will be smoother. I think ( as you said) that will be a lot of driving. You could then maybe do the Fundy Trailway Park. You could also see Fredericton.

Posted by
1480 posts

We took the train from Montreal to Quebec for a day or so in the fall, the colors were spectacular.

I mentioned this on another thread, look for Michael Portillo's Canadian train series on Youtube. He goes lots of places and does interesting stuff.