A Toronto to Montreal road trip is a drive that we take frequently. As we depart from Toronto, we head north on the DVP, with the CN Tower disappearing behind us. Our journey to Montreal takes us through Ontario’s rolling hills and sprawling farmlands. The drive to Montreal can be a straight shot on the highway, but if you want to make a holiday out of it, you can explore small towns and major cities alike, giving us the chance to explore local shops and indulge in regional delicacies. With our road trip playlist loaded, we wail to the music as we make our way through Eastern Ontario. It is one of our favorite things to do in life….to drive.
Toronto to Montreal Road Trip
Most people who live in Ontario prefer to drive to Montreal but if you are visiting the city from abroad, there are flights between Toronto and Montreal that are just over an hour flying time. Flights leave daily from Billy Bishop downtown or from Pearson International Airport which can be reached by transit. You can also take the bus or train. They have regular schedules between downtown Toronto at Union Station and downtown Montreal.
But, driving is awesome and we recommend renting a car. This is a great way to see the best of Ontario all in one shot. Compare car rental prices here.
About the Toronto to Montreal Drive
The Toronto to Montreal Drive is full of things to see and do. While the direct route will take 5 hours, you can easily break it up to stop at some of the towns along the way. It’s easy to turn a five-hour drive into a week-long road trip! There are so many sights along the way, that we often end up taking a couple of days getting to Montreal from Toronto. Once you hit Old Montreal, it’s time to immerse in the city’s rich culture, explore its historic sites, and indulge in its renowned culinary scene.
How Long Does it Take to Drive from Toronto to Montreal? The drive typically takes around 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. The most direct route is via Highway 401 East, also known as the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, which is the primary highway connecting these two cities.
Directions from Toronto to Montreal
Start on the Gardiner Expressway East from Downtown Toronto. Merge onto Highway 401 East and continue for approximately 500 kilometers. Take exit 169 for Quebec 20 East toward Montreal. Continue on Quebec 20 East and merge onto Autoroute 720 East. Take exit 6 for Boulevard Saint-Laurent toward Rue Berri. Continue on Boulevard Saint-Laurent to reach downtown Montreal.
Sights Along the Way – Toronto to Montreal Drive
Two of Canada’s greatest cities are just a quick 5-hour drive along Highway 401 (short by Canadian standards) but they couldn’t be more different. Toronto is the English-speaking financial hub of the country with skyscrapers dominating the skyline while Montreal is the country’s cultural center balancing its historic French heritage with modern-day living.
There are so many attractions along the way that when taking a road trip from Toronto to Montreal, you’ll want to give yourself time. While it is only about 5 hours total, you can stretch it to a few days. Here are some sights you’ll see along the way from Toronto to Montreal.
Stop 1 – Port Hope
One of your first stops outside of Toronto will be the lovely small town of Port Hope about an hour and 20 minutes from Toronto. We used to film a lot of period TV shows in downtown Port Hope, so you can rest assured that it is the definition of charming.
Port Hope is situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario. Along the waterfront, you can indulge in the serene beauty of the area by taking a leisurely stroll or enjoying a picnic at popular spots like Port Hope Conservation Area or East Beach.
The historic downtown Port Hope is a must-visit, boasting beautiful architecture, quaint shops, and lovely art galleries. The Capitol Theatre, one of the last fully operational atmospheric movie theaters in Canada, is a highlight, offering a range of performances in a unique setting. Another local attraction is the Port Hope Fish Ladder, where visitors can witness salmon and trout swimming upstream during their annual migration in the fall.
From Port Hope, you can either get back on Highway 401 or if you want to really take your time, you can drive along Highway 2.
Stop 2 – The Big Apple
The Big Apple is an institution along the 401 corridor just about 20 minutes past Port Hope. The Big Apple is one of Canada’s iconic roadside attractions and it is at the perfect spot to get out and take a break. Located nearly two hours outside Toronto, you’ll be in the mood to get out of the car, especially if traffic is heavy.
Inside you’ll be able to do some shopping and pick up apple pies and apple treats and snacks. There is a petting zoo, mini putt, and even an observation deck inside the Big Apple. Plus, you can use their restrooms and there’s plenty of parking.
Stop 3 – Presqu’ile Provincial Park
Heading east along Highway 2 for another 20 minutes takes you to Presqu’ile Provincial Park, located near Brighton. My sister used to live there! This is an excellent stop on a road trip from Toronto to Montreal. The park is known for its beautiful beaches, scenic woodlands, and diverse wetlands. Its rich biodiversity makes it a hotspot for birdwatching, especially during the spring and fall migrations.
It offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, swimming, and bird watching within its lush green spaces. There are numerous trails that wind through the park, providing opportunities to explore the diverse ecosystems within its boundaries.
Dave and I have gone to a maple syrup farm here and in the winter there is cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Presqu’ile Provincial Park is a great stop on a road trip from Toronto to Montreal providing the perfect break any time of the year.
Optional – National Air Force Museum
My sister used to be in the Air Force and she used to be based in Trenton years ago before transferring to Germany and then working for NATO. However, while she was in Trenton, we visited her often at the base and a way that you can see what they do in Trenton is to visit the National Air Force Museum of Canada, located at 220 RCAF Rd, Astra, ON K0K 3W0, Canada, on the grounds of the Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the largest Royal Canadian Air Force base.
The museum boasts an extensive collection of aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia that span the entire history of the Royal Canadian Air Force. From historic planes used in World War II to modern-day jets, the museum provides a comprehensive look at Canada’s military aviation history.
Stop 4 – Prince Edward County
Known for its wineries, charming small towns, and beautiful beaches Prince Edward County is another great stop on a Toronto to Montreal road trip. Often referred to as simply “The County,” Prince Edward County is made up of several picturesque Ontario Towns including Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, and the townships of Ameliasburgh, Athol, Hallowell, Hillier, North Marysburgh, Sophiasburgh, and South Marysburgh.
Prince Edward County is home to more than 40 vineyards producing some of the finest wines in Canada. Visitors can take guided tours, participate in tastings, and learn about the wine-making process from knowledgeable local vintners.
Prince Edward County is also a haven for food enthusiasts, with a range of dining options that celebrate local produce and culinary traditions. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, and food trucks serving delicious farm-to-table meals. The area is especially famous for its cheese, with several artisanal cheese makers offering tastings and tours.
Where to Stay in Prince Edward County
There are numerous galleries, studios, and workshops showcasing the work of local artists and artisans. This is often a weekend getaway in its own right so you may want to stay overnight here.
Prince Edward County’s hiking trails and cycling trails attract outdoor lovers while history buffs will love visiting the old farmhouses, lighthouses, and other historic buildings that tell the story of The County’s agricultural and maritime heritage.
Stop 5 – Sandbanks Provincial Park
Stopping at Sandbanks Provincial Park is a beautiful and refreshing break. The park is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Ontario and is famous for its expansive soft sandy beaches and towering dunes.
You can experience its natural beauty take a break from driving stretch your legs while breathing in the fresh air. There are several trails in the park that take you through different ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and dunes, allowing you to explore the diverse natural beauty of the area.
Stop 6 – Kingston
You may want to split up the drive for a day or two and spend a night in Kingston. It is the perfect place to stop being the halfway point between the cities. This is an awesome town that has some amazing attractions. It was once the former capital city of Canada and it has the unique designation of being located on Lake Ontario, The Rideau Canal, and the St. Lawrence River.
You can visit the Historic locks on Rideau Canada, and take a boat cruise along its waterways. This is one very pretty town with one of the main attractions being Queen’s University which has historic buildings that are just waiting to be photographed
Home to the historic Fort Henry, a 19th-century British military fortress, the infamous Kingston Penitentiary, and a ton of historic sites, there are many things to keep you occupied. But it’s the food scene that makes Kingston stand out. A university town, this city has more restaurants per capita than any city in Canada. Read more: The Ultimate Kingston Ontario Weekend Itinerary
Stop 7 – Thousand Islands
After Kingston, you’ll be leaving Lake Ontario and continuing along the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence River spans between Kingston and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy its beauty.
One of the most popular attractions is the Thousand Islands. They are actually a group of more than 1,800 small islands that stretch for about 50 miles, straddling the border between the United States and Canada. They start from the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and stretch downstream toward the Atlantic Ocean. The islands vary in size, from over 40 square miles to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, or uninhabited outcroppings of rocks.
You can take a boat tour from downtown Kingston that will take you through the many islands or you can also book a helicopter tour to see them from above. We’ve done both and my vote is the helicopter tour.
Stop 8 – Thousand Islands Parkway
As you continue east along the St. Lawrence River, you’ll come up to the Thousand Islands Parkway. As you wind along the scenic route, you are treated to breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River, beautifully adorned with hundreds of picturesque islands.
The clear blue waters and lush greenery provide a tranquil backdrop to your journey. Along the way, the parkway offers ample opportunities for recreation, with numerous spots for hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming. The Thousand Islands National Park, accessible from the parkway, is a treasure trove of unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife, promising an adventure that is both educational and enjoyable. In short, driving the Thousand Islands Parkway is not just about reaching a destination, but rather, an invitation to explore, relax, and create lasting memories in one of Canada’s most beautiful regions.
Stop 9 – Brockville
Oh, Brockville how we love you. We used to scuba dive regularly in the St. Lawrence River at Brockville. While our diving days are over, we still love this town.
Brockville, known as the “City of the 1000 Islands,” is a charming city on the shores of the St. Lawrence River and offers an array of activities that make it an excellent stop on a road trip from Toronto to Montreal. Book this 1000 Islands tour where you’ll set sail for a half day cruise from Gananoque where you’ll get to explore Heart Island and Boldt Castle.
The 1000 Islands span up to Brockville and taking a 1000 Islands boat tour is one of the top things to do. You’ll see beautiful islands, historic castles, and the rich wildlife of the region.
The opulent Fulford Place is a historic mansion that tells the story of Senator George T. Fulford and his family. The home is filled with original furnishings and artifacts and offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of Canada’s elite during the early 20th century.
Stroll through the city’s downtown area and explore the shops, cafes, and art galleries that line the streets. It is home to one of the most Instagram-worthy stops in Ontario at Canada’s oldest railway tunnel. We loved drift diving the shipwrecks that litter the floor of the Saint Lawrence.
Stop 10 – Upper Canada Village
A fun stop on a road trip with family is Upper Canada Villages. Step back in time as it transports you back to the 19th century, providing a glimpse into the daily lives of the people living in Upper Canada during that time. The village is meticulously reconstructed, with historical buildings, furnishings, and costumed interpreters who bring history to life.
The interpreters at Upper Canada Village are not only dressed in period costumes, but they also perform the tasks and crafts of the 19th century, such as blacksmithing, baking, and weaving. Visitors to Upper Canada Village can even participate in some of the activities making it an immersive experience.
Upper Canada Village hosts a range of special events and programs throughout the year, such as the Pumpkinferno in the fall, where thousands of hand-carved pumpkins light up the night, and the Alight at Night festival during the holiday season.
Located in Morrisburg, Upper Canada Village is a fascinating living history museum that offers a unique and immersive experience, making it a fantastic stop on a road trip from Toronto to Montreal.
Stop 11 – Long Sault Parkway
This is one of our favourite drives on our road trip that we stumbled upon between dives years ago. The Long Sault Parkway is a series of causeways and bridges connecting islands of the St. Lawrence River. The Long Sault Parkway is more than just a road; it’s a destination that promises a rich and fulfilling experience for every visitor.
These picturesque landscapes provide a perfect backdrop for a leisurely drive with ample opportunities for picnicking, swimming, and hiking. This area is dotted with beautiful beaches and convenient boat launch areas, catering to both relaxation and adventure.
Long Sault Parkway is 11 kilometers (7 miles) from Ingleside to Cornwall running between the Canada US border.For those wanting to extend their stay, the Long Sault Parkway is also home to several campgrounds, each offering a unique camping experience surrounded by the beauty of the region.
Just past Bainsville, you’ll cross the Ontario-Quebec border. Highway 401 turns into the A20 and you’ll notice signs become French. There is no official border crossing, so you may not even notice. After you cross the border its just over an hour to Montreal, so get ready to relax.
Final Destination – Montreal
Once you reach Montreal there are so many things to do that you will want to spend at least two days in the city. , immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and rich history with these must-visit attractions: Where to Stay in Montreal – A Guide To The Best Places and Neighborhoods
Old Montreal: A historic district known for its charming cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and lively atmosphere. One of the main attractions in Old Montreal is Notre Dame Cathedral, make sure to go inside. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: One of the largest and most prominent art museums in Canada, featuring a wide range of artworks from various time periods and cultures. Mount Royal: A large hill located in the heart of the city, offering panoramic views of Montreal and a range of outdoor recreational opportunities. Read more: 29 Best Things to Do in Montreal, Canada
Make sure to stay downtown to be within walking distance of all the attractions. Montreal is a very walkable and historic city so you’ll want to be right in the heart of the action.
Where to Stay in Montreal
Looking for a place to stay in Montreal? Make sure to check our guide of Where to Stay and What to Do in Montreal!
Old Montreal – The most historic (and touristic) part of Montreal. This is where most of the sightseeing in the city is located. Downtown – Skyscrapers, museums, and the hustle and bustle of being right in the heart of it all. Le Plateau-Mont-Royal – Hipster haven, that is known to have quality coffee shops, boutique stores, street art, and an abundance of cyclists. Very Francophone. Mile End – Similar to the Plateau but more up and coming. Stylish, artsy, multicultural. Where you’ll find the best bagels in the city. The Village – Colorful neighborhood with good nightlife that has been gentrified in recent years. One of the largest gay communities in North America.
Back to Toronto
If you are not a resident of Toronto, you’ll want to spend some time in Canada’s largest city before you embark on your road trip. Toronto was our hometown (we’ve moved just an hour away now) and we have several articles showcasing the best things to see and do in Toronto. But to get you started, here are a few highlights of the best Toronto attractions.
CN Tower: Toronto’s iconic landmark, offering breathtaking views of the city from its observation deck. Royal Ontario Museum: A world-renowned museum featuring a diverse range of exhibits from natural history to world cultures. Toronto Islands: A group of small islands located linked by ferry from Toronto offering a peaceful escape from the city. Distillery District: This is an amazing neighborhood in the city that is all walking streets, boutiques, microbreweries and eateries. Kensington Market: Located in the heart of Chinatown, Kensington Market is the hippest neighborhood in Toronto with vintage clothing stores, independent boutiques, art galleries, and diverse food offerings that reflect the multicultural fabric of the city. The area has a bohemian, laid-back atmosphere that is not to be missed. Find out more about Toronto – 50 Best Things to do in Toronto Canada
Where to Stay in Toronto
Accommodation has become pricey in Toronto and our go-to place these days is One King West Hotel. It has a luxury feel while being affordable and very central. We have an entire article about the best areas to stay in Toronto here.
Taking the Train from Toronto to Montreal
Taking the train is my favourite option as it takes us to and from the heart of one city to another. Plus when taking the train, we don’t have to worry about the cost of parking downtown and we don’t have to fight the heavy traffic leaving the city every day.
It can actually end up being more cost-efficient to take the train to Montreal rather than driving. For tourists, it saves on the costs of car rentals or the hassle of standing in long lines at airports. Via Rail is Canada’s national passenger railway.
From Toronto Union Station
Trains depart in Toronto at Union Station. Union Station is a Grand Old Station dating back to the 1920’s. The main entrance is a great hall with vaulted ceilings and marble floors. There is plenty of shopping, dining and places to pick up snacks for the ride.
In 1975 Union Station was designated a national historic site due to its beautiful Beaux-Arts style architecture. It is considered one of the greatest train stations built during the 20th century.
Cost of Train to Montreal from Toronto
The cost of train travel has come down a lot in recent years. Escape Tickets from Toronto to Montreal start as low as $76 one way.
The other classes of train travel on Via Rail are: Economy Economy Plus Business Class Business Plus
The Escape class offers no refund or transfer. Economy Plus offers free exchanges or refunds. If it were the same price as the Spring sale all year round, I am sure that more Canadians would look to train travel as an option to travel through this vast and fabulous country.
Via often offers deals. We booked our ticket during their Spring Seat sale for 50% off. You can keep an eye out for deals here. There are also deals each Tuesday when booking for the following week at Discount Tuesday here.
Montreal Train Station
Montreal Train Station is located downtown and is easily accessible to Old Montreal and St. Catherines Street. Like Union Station, it is the central Metro hub of the city and it is easy to connect to anywhere you want to go. I know that we will make our summer travel plans and Via Rail will be a big part of it if they have their spring sale again.
A road trip from Toronto to Montreal offers the perfect opportunity to explore the diverse communities of Eastern Ontario. As you travel from the bustling streets of Toronto to the vibrant, history-rich city of Montreal, you’ll experience the beauty of Ontario’s countryside, the charm of small towns, and the excitement of urban centers.
Along the way, indulge in regional delicacies, explore local shops, and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of each destination. So pack your bags, hit the open road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure that combines the best of city and country, modernity and history, all in one incredible journey.