With a landmass of 9.1 million square kilometers, Canada is the second-largest country in the world. There’s a lot to see here, and with approximately 415,000 kilometers of paved road, you can see plenty of it from the comfort of your car. Whether you’re behind the wheel or sitting as an observant passenger, be prepared for breathtaking ocean views, pristine lakes, golden prairies, snow-capped peaks, and an abundance of wildlife. The mix of scenery and climate makes Canada one of the best places for a road trip. 

Ready to embark on your next journey? Although we couldn’t possibly fit all the routes into one list, we’ve compiled a few top scenic drives in Canada for you to choose from.

Travel the Pacific Rim Highway from Port Alberni to Tofino

The Pacific Rim Highway, formally known as Highway 4, runs west across Vancouver Island from Port Alberni to Tofino and vice versa. Along the way, see and stop to witness rugged mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, and ancient forests. It’s no surprise that nearly one million people make this journey every year. The drive will take approximately 2 to 3 hours to complete, one way, making it perfect for families with children and larger groups. Based on its abundance of natural beauty, we bet you’ll be making plenty of pit stops, so you should bank on the trip taking a bit longer than planned! 

You’ll know you reached the end of the Pacific Rim Highway when you arrive in Tofino, a small fishing village on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Tofino has quickly become a popular tourist destination, known for its supreme whale watching, relaxing time spent at Long Beach, explorations through Pacific Rim National Park, and so much more.

One-way travel time (approximate without stops): 2 hours

Enjoy a Drive Among Mountains on the Icefields Parkway

One of the most scenic drives in Canada is along the Icefields Parkway, formally known as Highway 93. This 232 kilometer stretch of double-lane highway connects Lake Louise in Banff National Park with Jasper, Alberta. Along the way, be prepared for breathtaking views of the soaring rocky mountain peaks, vast sweeping valleys, cascading waterfalls, emerald lakes, dramatic rock spires, and thick pine. The highlight of the drive for many will be taking in some of the 100 ancient glaciers that dot the route. The Icefields Parkway passes through four national parks, including Jasper, Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho, as well as three provincial parks, including Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber. All of which combine to make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. 

Besides keeping a lookout for the plethora of wildlife along the route, like elk, moose, mountain goats, and black bears, you’ll certainly make pit stops at the many beautiful sites. Some of the most notable include Bow Lake, Wilcox Pass Trail, and the Columbia Icefield, where you can take a trip out to the Athabasca Glacier on a massive ice explorer vehicle. Without stopping, which is unlikely, the drive along the Icefield Parkway from Banff to Jasper takes about 3 hours, one way.

One-way travel time (approximate without stops): 3 hours

Ride Along the Nature-Filled Algonquin Corridor

The Frank MacDougall Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 60 and the Algonquin Parkway, is a portion of a larger east-west highway that stretches 255 kilometers. The Algonquin Parkway is the primary corridor through Algonquin Park. If you’d like to take in some of the sights and sounds of this provincial park, driving this route is a great choice. There is no requirement to purchase an Ontario Parks visitor’s permit if you stick to your car and don’t use any trails, campgrounds, or other facilities within the park boundary. This hour-long stretch of highway will pass by some of the park’s natural assets, such as forests, bogs, rivers, and beautiful beaches. The sights might inspire you to get out and do some exploring. With that being said, purchasing a visitor’s permit might be well worth the money if you have a few hours to spare. One of the top highlights of this drive is the opportunity for wildlife spotting. Drivers should use extra caution at night and in the early mornings as there is a good chance you will encounter deer or moose, which are common in the area.

One-way travel time (approximate without stops): 1 hour

Coast Along a Historic Highway – the Chemin Du Roy

The Chemin du Roy, translated to King’s Road in English, is the first roadway built between Montreal and Quebec City that accommodated wheeled transport methods for its entire length. The route will take drivers past several towns and villages, each with its own unique history and specialties, including Old Cap-Rouge, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, and Portneuf. This 260-kilometer journey will take more time to complete than if taking the main route between the two cities, but it does take drivers along beautiful countryside that would be missed otherwise. 

Along the way, make stops at some of the many historic sites. Check out 19th-century architecture at Maison Henry-Stuart, the grounds of the first French colony in America at Cartier-Roberval Archaeological Site, and the Grondines windmill, built-in 1674, and is the oldest of the 18 windmills in Quebec.

One-way travel time (approximate without stops): 3 hours

Take in Beautiful Coastlines and More on the Viking Trail

Are you looking for the best road trip in Canada? The Viking Trail in Newfoundland and Labrador should be at or near the top of your list. The route begins near the town of Deer Lake before passing through the magnificent Gros Morne National Park. Along the way, be prepared to pass by many small fishing villages en route to St. Anthony’s, the largest town on the peninsula. Although one could spend days exploring Gros Morne National Park, L’anse aux Meadows is also a significant stop. It is home to the only Viking settlement in North America and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers visitors a look into what life as a Viking was like, including artifacts and even a simulated village. For those who enjoy nature, the Viking Trail has you covered. The drive is home to wooded valleys, waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, rugged cliffs, sand dunes, fields, and wildflowers. 

The drive is 489 kilometers long and can be done in about five hours one way, without stopping. However, with so many sites along the way, not stopping would be a missed opportunity. Therefore, it is recommended that you spread the trip over a few days if possible. Consider visiting in the spring, summer, or fall, as winter weather along the route can create dangerous driving conditions.

One-way travel time (approximate without stops): 5 hours

Experience the Beauty of Nova Scotia Along the Cabot Trail

One of the best scenic drives in Canada is the Cabot Trail. Taking drivers around part of Cape Breton Island, it is also one of the most famous drives in the country. Begin and end your journey in the small village of Baddeck, in the heart of Cape Breton Island. Following both the western and eastern coastlines, driving the route clockwise is best for drivers and other occupants who dislike being too close to steep drops. Along the way, pass through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, among other scenic overlooks, cultural heritage sites, and an abundance of hiking trails. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for moose, coyote, Canada Lynx, black bears, and even bald eagles along the way. 

Although completing the Cabot Trail drive takes approximately five hours, many visitors spend an entire day or more to take advantage of the many stop-off points and for exploring Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

If you’re looking for places to grab a bite, check out the best meals on and nearby the Cabot Trail.

Approximate travel time of the loop (without stops): 5 hours

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