You are about to go to Canada and want to get a glimpse of the country’s essentials during your trip? Follow me to find out the route I took.

GUIDES - CANADA: just down below, you can find city guides of the full itinerary:
Montreal: 2 days to visit Montreal
Quebec: 2 days to explore Quebec and its surroundings
Ottawa: 7 hours to visit Ottawa
Toronto: 3 days to discover Toronto and its surroundings
Vancouver: 3 days to explore Vancouver and its surroundings
Expenses of my 11 day trip to Canada

Canada - Montreal - view from Mount Royal Park Canada - Ottawa - Rideau Canal Locks Canada - Toronto - Niagara Falls Canada - Vancouver - view from Stanley Park
Click to enlarge images.

Canada is huge! However, a lot of sight seeing places are located in the south-east of the country, particularly between Quebec and Toronto. Therefore it is quite easy to visit the area by car, but be aware that distances are pretty long, so you’ll have to drive a lot! Then to reach Vancouver which is located on the western side of the country, you can take a domestic flight.
By the way, if you have a lot of time and that you like to drive, you can try a road trip driving through a part of the Trans-Canada Highway between Ottawa and Vancouver. But the trip takes about 46 hours!

Map - Canada, itinerary

When to go?

Canada is a pretty cold country so if you want to have warmer temperatures, you have to go between June and September. Also try to avoid school holidays in order to visit places more quietly and to spend less money. But just so you know, September is the best month to go.


During my trip, I visited 5 of Canada’s main cities, located into 3 different provinces: Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. I spent 11 days on this trip, which I think is quite short. So if you want to be able to explore each place furthermore, I recommend staying at least 2 weeks.

Schedule - Canada - part 1 - Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa

Let’s start by taking a flight to Montreal! I recommend renting a car directly from the airport, because it is pretty much the same price as if you have rented the car in the city. And you can choose to return the car to Toronto in order to avoid having to drive all the way back. Visiting Montreal takes about 2 days and the city can easily be explored on foot. Then, just drive to Quebec, there is almost 3 hours between the two cities. You can spend 2 days there. Then, for the Quebec-Ottawa trip, because it takes about 4 and a half hours, I recommend doing this long drive in two parts. That is to say to do half the way in the evening, sleeping in a hotel located in the middle of the 2 towns and finish the drive the next morning. Ottawa, even if it is the capital of Canada, is not a very large city to explore, so a few hours will be enough to see the essentials.

Schedule - Canada - part 2 - Toronto and Vancouver

For the Ottawa-Toronto trip, like before, since it takes more than 4 hours, it’s better to do it in 2 parts. Then you can spend 3 days sightseeing Toronto and its surroundings. This step includes Niagara Falls. Finally, it will be time to take a domestic flight to reach the west coast of Canada, Vancouver! The flight lasts about 5 hours but thanks to the jet lag, it will be like the flight has only lasted 2 hours. The city tour takes about 3 days, including a day trip to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. And again, I recommend renting a car directly from the airport. And once the visit is over, it will be time to take a return flight back home.

Tip 1: for the plane ticket, it is totally possible to buy a multi-city instead of a round trip, that is to say that the flight arrives in one city and leaves from another, instead of arriving and leaving from the same city. To do so, you can book a flight on an online website or you can also do it in a travel agency. Here, I did a Paris-Montreal / Vancouver-Paris.
Tip 2: for car rentals, I highly recommend, as for the plane ticket, to rent it in one city and to return it in another. In this case, I rented the car at Montreal airport and returned it to Toronto airport. It is really convenient, because not only you can go anywhere you want at any time, but also you won’t need to drive all the way back. You just have to return the car when you have finished your tour. But for Vancouver, since I arrived and left from the airport, I rented and returned the car directly at the airport. You can perfectly book your car rentals on the Internet before your trip and I recommend to compare prices!


Administrative part

To go to Canada, EU citizens don’t need a visa, but they need an eTA (electronic travel authorization). It is pretty like the U.S. ESTA, but the eTA is cheaper, it costs $7 and is valid for up to 5 years. You will also need a valid passport, but it doesn’t need to be valid 6 months after the date of your return, it just has to be valid during the length of your stay. Normally you don’t need to bring the eTA to the airport as the request is electronically linked to your passport.
For more information about the eTA, you can go to check the immigration website. To find out if you are eligible to apply for an eTA or if you need a visa, you can go to check the website

What to bring there


Canada - wall socket

In Canada, the power outlets have 2 flat pins and look exactly like the American power outlets, so if you’ve already been to the U.S. before then you can use the adapter you’ve brought back then! Otherwise, I recommend buying one before going on your trip, that way you’ll be able to choose it (a cheap one, a convenient one, …). By the way, I also highly recommend bringing a triple socket, otherwise you’ll only be able to plug one device at the time (or you’ll need to buy several adapters).

Tip: the best thing to do is to buy a universal adapter. That way you won’t need to buy a specific one each time you travel to a country you’ve never been to.

Last thing to know, over there the voltage is 110V, but many devices like smartphone or camera chargers can use voltage from 110V to 220V. So unless you want to bring your own hairdryer or shaver, you normally won’t need a voltage converter. However, double check what is written on each of your devices before going to buy a voltage converter.


Canadian dollars

To get Canadian dollars, there are, to me, 2 excellent ways:

  • Global Alliance: if your bank is a member of this alliance, then you can withdraw cash at any of the cash withdrawal machines of the Scotiabank in Canada with your credit card. They don’t take commission and have one of the best rates.

Tip: for example, the members are:

  • Bank of America or Bank of the West in the USA
  • Barclays in the UK
  • Westpac in Australia and New Zealand
  • BNP Paribas or Hello Bank in France
  • Currency exchange offices: you can also carry some cash and go to change it over there (or even change it before going). And if you need money at the airport, just change what you need there, you’ll change the rest in town.

Note: while in Canada, take a good look at the banknotes, you will notice that they are all made of plastic!



In Canada, like in the U.S., all stores display prices without tax. The tax is approximately 15% in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia (7% to 10% provincial tax and 5% federal tax). So you just need to know that the price will be higher at checkout. However there is an exception on all unprocessed food because the tax doesn’t apply.


If you are planning on going to the restaurant, be aware that the bill can quickly become very expensive because on top of the price of the meal is added the 15% tax and you also have to add 15% tip. Basically, when paying the bill, you have to add twice the amount of the tax!


First, instead of always choosing hotels located into the city you are visiting, when you have a long drive, consider booking a hotel located halfway on the drive. It will allow you to have a break, and it may even be cheaper.

Second, try to book hotels that offer free breakfast, it is quite common in North America. That way, you won’t have to worry about figuring out where and how to have breakfast. And more than that, it’s not necessarily much more expensive!


Plane tickets

Plane tickets to go to North America are not very expensive, especially when it’s not school holidays, like in September for example. And multi-city flights can also be a great choice in such a big country because it can save you a lot of time! One-way domestic flights are also very convenient for traveling long distances like Toronto-Vancouver for example.


Renting a car to visit Canada is definitely the best solution. It gives you a lot of freedom, you can go anywhere you want to go at any time! You won’t need an international drivers licence for a trip up to 3 months, it can be up to 6 months in some provinces. Just remember to take out CDW (included into Gold Mastercards and Visa Premier cards) and LIS insurance when renting a car. And I highly recommend considering renting a car in one city and returning it in another, that way you won’t have to drive all the way back. Last thing to know, renting a car from the airport is not more expensive than renting it in the inner city!

Tip: to park in the city, it’s better to go to underground car parks rather than parking on the street because the price is often the same. The advantage of car parks is that they allow you to park for an indefinite period, you pay for the number of hours parked, while street parking is usually limited to a few hours.
Please note: during rush hour, street parking spaces are removed to allow the opening of an additional lane for cars. So if it is written $2 per hour from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. then $1 per hour from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., parking is often prohibited from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.!
Very often in Canada, the parking meter ticket should be kept with you and not displayed on the dashboard. Sometimes street parking is free for 3 hours, but there is nothing to do. You just have to park and remember to leave within 3 hours.


To be able to find your way when driving the car, there are several options available:

  • Google MAPS: it works even without any connection, it’s just that there won’t be traffic information. All you have to do is to save the maps before going or even once there, as long as you have an internet connection. To do so, on your smartphone, in the application, click on your profile picture at the top right of the screen, then click on « offline maps ». And then click on « select your own map » and zoom out the map until you see the area you want to save. You have to repeat the operation several times if the area to be saved is too large.
  • GPS rental from the rental car company: you can rent an optional GPS from the rental car company, but it’s pretty expensive and you won’t have traffic information either. In my opinion, this is not an option to consider. However, if you are renting a high-end car, there is frequently a GPS already available in the car, so without extra charge. But you won’t know it until you get on board, because no one will tell you, either at booking or when getting the keys. For example, when I arrived at Montreal airport, as I had requested to return the car to Toronto and that they only had 2 cars registered from Ontario that had to return to Toronto, I got a « free upgrade » for an Audi A4 which had a GPS on board!

To know

  • At McDonald’s in Quebec, ordering a meal is not the same as in France. Because in France we can order the burger alone or on a menu (which includes the burger, the fries and the drink). But in Quebec, there are many different menus … Over there, the equivalent of our menu is the trio menu.
  • In Quebec, to do your grocery shopping, you can go to the IGA supermarkets. They often have very interesting savings!

Shopping, what to bring back home?

During a trip to Canada, you should buy some souvenirs:

  • all kinds of maple syrup treats
  • Vancouver salmon jerky: you can easily find some at markets, especially on Granville Island
  • common souvenirs: key-rings, magnets, mugs, t-shirts, hoodies, hockey jerseys …

Thanks for reading :)