Top 10 self-drive tours in Canada
Heading off into the wide blue yonder on one of our top 10 self-drive tours of Canada gives you every opportunity to explore at a pace that suits you. Scenic picnic spots, bears by the side of the road or just one last photo of Banff or Jasper, a self-drive tour really puts you in the driving seat. But if you want to swap your car for the train, then trips aboard the Rocky Mountaineer or VIA Rail always fit the bill and offer a unique perspective when combined with life on the open road. With the family, with friends or just you and your better half, whoever you can see enjoying the freedom and independence of a self-drive tour, isn't it about time you packed up and kicked the pedal into drive?
Self-Drive Totem Peaks
How long: 14 nights
What: Journey through western Canada on a two week round trip from Vancouver and you'll be blown away by the incredible range of natural sights that you'll encounter en-route. Stunning snow capped mountains appear above glistening pine forests as you drive from one incredible national park to the next whilst all the while travelling at your own pace and pausing whenever you darn well feel like it.
The best bits: Vancouver is always going to be a great way to kick start this tour and once you've had your fill of coffee houses and those Stanley Park totem poles then Glacier National Park, Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper will give you the very best scenic sights in the whole of the Canadian Rockies. Aside from British Columbia's national parks, western Canada is renowned for its Pacific Northwest coastline and you'll find plenty of opportunities to kayak, island hop, fish for salmon and cruise the world-famous Inside Passage prior to your penultimate day in the parks of Victoria.
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Self-Drive Eastern Spirit
How long: 13 nights
What: Explore the south eastern section of Canada and you'll be treated to one of the world's most thrilling natural spectacles, Niagara Falls. Aside from the majesty of Niagara this is a great opportunity to experience Canada's cultural influences and as you get to brush up on your French and dip into just one more patisserie you'll be ready to hit the road in order to discover the rest of this fascinating region.
The best bits: Toronto is criss-crossed with cool neighbourhoods and equally impressive landmarks with Chinatown, Little Italy and the Greek quarter always providing an intriguing start to your eastern adventure, as well as plenty of tasty treats. Niagara Falls is always going to be a jaw-dropping highlight however, don't discount rural regions, such as Kitchener, Midland and Pembroke for a fascinating glimpse at Canada's intertwined international heritage. Mountain trails, cobbled streets and boat trips around the Thousand Islands will all stay with you for years to come, and it will be hard to drag yourself away from the sights, sounds & tastes of Montreal and Quebec City.
More information and to book: Self-Drive Eastern Spirit
Self-Drive Great Parks Of The West
How long: 13 nights
What: Get to know some of western Canada's most incredible natural sights as you drive through the Rocky Mountains and experience North America's most impressive national parks, first hand. If lush green pine forests and shimmering glacial peaks reflected in vast clear water lakes are your thing then this is going to be two weeks to truly savour.
The best bits: Swap your car for a hop on hop off Vancouver trolley and you'll be able to sightsee in style with numerous parks, galleries and trendy cafés providing a perfect first taste of life on the west side of Canada. Provincial and national parks form the backbone to this trip with the likes of Coastal Mountains, Revelstoke, Manning and the Okanagan Valley helping you get to grips with the awesome natural beauty of western Canada. Banff, Jasper and Whistler weigh in as the undisputed 'must experience' parks on this tour with the gold rush heritage of 100 Mile House never ceasing to put things into modern day perspective.
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Self-Drive Maritime Magic Treasure
How long: 13 nights
What: Discover the rich maritime culture and quintessential Nova Scotia scenes of eastern Canada as you embark on a fabulous self drive tour which encapsulates the essence of life on the Atlantic coast. There's just so much to enjoy about this idyllic part of the world and if you're into hot buttered lobster rolls and woolly jumpers than this is your chance to dive into all things Maritime.
The best bits: This circular self-drive itinerary from Halifax takes in a remarkable array of highlights including the beautiful Western Shore area and the world-famous Bay of Fundy. Hiking or canoeing through Kejimkujik National Park is just one of numerous ways to immerse yourself within the stunning natural scenery with heritage sites, such as those found en-route to Truro, helping you piece together the history and the heritage of this remarkable part of the world. With a chance to experience Prince Edward Island and the Cape Breton Highlands this tour is a must for outdoor lovers with more chances to spot sea birds and whales than you'll know what to do with.
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Best of Canada's West by Motorhome
How long: 9 nights
What: Jump abroad your very own home on wheels as you get to explore the very best of western Canada without the hassle of having to hunt for your accommodation. Nothing beats life on the open road and as this suggested itinerary goes to prove this is one of the best ways of making the most of British Columbia and Alberta with the minimum of fuss.
The best bits: Aside from immersing yourself in some of western Canada's most impressive natural scenes you'll be able to take advantage of this region's love of camping with numerous well-managed and well-positioned grounds where you can bed down for the night. Taking things at your own pace is always the way to go and as you cruise through national parks, such as Banff and Jasper, it's entirely up to you how long you choose to linger or how quickly you want to move onto the next jaw-dropping destination. Lake swimming, mountain biking or pure and simple R&R in the beautiful Canadian countryside, whatever you're hoping for from your motor home adventure, right here is where you get things rolling.
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Self-Drive Whales, Bears & Vancouver Island
How long: 8 nights
What: This self-drive tour encapsulates the very best of Vancouver Island with an abundance of cultural and natural sites creating the canvas for an extra special experience. Whales, grizzlies and eagles are all there to be discovered and if you're longing to pull over to the side of the road and capture the perfect close-up shot, then this is certainly one of the best ways to do just that.
The best bits: From Victoria to Vancouver, you'll be introduced to some of the most captivating scenes that British Columbia has to offer with the chance to spot orcas rising out of the water just one of many incredible highlights. A great way to get closer to the action is to leave the car behind and clamber aboard a fast-paced Zodiac craft and no sooner than you're zipping over the ocean accompanied by a certified marine biologist then you'll be bewitched as you get to watch wildlife from a particularly unique perspective. Swap the water for dry land and this tour takes you into Vancouver Island's prestigious provincial parks where the fabulous Sonora resort offers untold activities to enjoy as well as a comfortable base from which to get out, explore and experience.
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Self-Drive Yukon & Alaska Explorer
How long: 13 nights
What: Take a self-drive tour north of the border as you enter Alaska and the Yukon region just a short distance from the realm of the Arctic Circle. This is a must for all mountain lovers and those who like to explore in semi-remote areas and if you're planning on hiking, kayaking or fishing then this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity to realise your wishes.
Best bits: Alaska is a truly big experience in every way, and once you've got to grips with the mountains and glaciers from the ground then how about a scenic flight over Kluane National Park to truly put your spirits into the clouds. Swapping the open road for train tracks is an equally exciting experience and as you clamber aboard the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway you better have your camera ready to record this unique rail journey. From outdoor activities in Denali National Park to gold rush heritage in Dawson City, this unique tour is all about exploring away from the fast-paced life south of the border and if you're hoping to anchor down in Anchorage or cross the Top of the World Highway then grab your Davy Crocket hat as we're going in.
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Family Self-Drive Western Wonders
How long: 13 nights.
What: If you've ever wanted to grab the family and whisk them off into the wide blue yonder then now's your chance as this wonderful week of self-drive touring takes you from Calgary to Vancouver, featuring all of the best bits in between. Horse riding, boat cruises, waterfalls, glaciers, vineyards, golf or parasailing; you name it and this family-friendly adventure has got it going on in Mountie size portions.
Best bits: The national parks of western Canada are amongst the most naturally beautiful in the world and if you've ever wondered what it's like to explore the valleys, lakes and resplendent forests of Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise then this trip is the ideal opportunity to find out more. Along the way your family will find an incredible choice of outdoor adventures to keep the whole gang happy with helicopter rides, nature hikes, hot springs and scenic boat rides over Lake Moraine, just the tip of the iceberg. Family-friendly accommodation combined with all of that clean and fresh Rocky Mountain air has got winning written right through it. Have fun y'all!
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Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Cruise Ships
How long: 15 nights
What: If you like the flexibility of being free to explore however you darn well choose, then this two week blend of travel options lets you spread your wings and soar like an eagle. This is your chance to explore the stunning Rocky Mountains as well as the coastline of Alaska on a tailor-made tour that combines independent travel with chilled out cruising and an inspirational train journey on the legendary Rocky Mountaineer. National parks, Pacific Ocean and sailing the iconic Inside Passage, if you're looking for scenic stop overs then look no further than this fabulous fly-drive.
Best bits: Mixing it up a bit in the Canadian Rockies is always a good idea and we're not just talking pancakes with ice cream rather than Maple syrup. As all travellers will tell you, often it's the way that you travel that adds to the experience of being away from home and as this trip takes you through Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Jasper National Park and a week spent on a celebrity cruise ship in Alaska, prepare yourself for one heck of an adventure. Glaciers, fjords, sea lions and whales will all be classic cruise ship highlights as you cross the Inside Passage en-route to Glacier Bay and the incomparable Hubard Glacier. Finally, as you contrast Alaska's capital, Juneau, with the chic café culture of Vancouver, you'll be well aware of just what it means to be travelling in style.
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Self-Drive Rocky Mountain Journey
How long: 7 nights
What: Starting in Calgary and ending up in Vancouver, this week long self-drive tour of the Canadian Rockies encounters all of the natural beauty of the region including the iconic highlights of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper national parks.
Best bits: Sightseeing in Calgary is a great way to start this tour and no sooner than you've experienced the landmarks of Stampede City then you'll be swapping streets for trails as you head into one of the Canadian Rockies' best loved national parks, Banff. Banff town itself really sets the scene for the hospitable and characterful personality of western Canada and with a full day to relax and enjoy the hot springs and dominating peaks, you'll already be well versed in just what it means to be loving life in the great outdoors. The Valley of Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise more than set the scene for your forthcoming drive to Jasper National Park and as you decide whether to hike, canoe or just kick back and relax, there's plenty of time to write a few postcards home. More magnificent mountain peaks await as you take first the Icefields Parkway and then the Yellowhead Highway from Jasper to Sun Peaks to Vancouver; and as your week in the Rockies comes to a close you'll be hard pushed to have just such another adventure any time soon.
More information and to book: Self-Drive Rocky Mountain Journey
Fly Drive & Self Drive Travel Guides
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- Getting around British Columbia and where to stay
- Road tripping Quebec
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- Exploring British Columbia by motorhome