Experience a fun-filled road trip on this Toronto to Montreal Drive that passes by some of the region’s most incredible attractions and experiences.
The drive from Toronto Montreal is one of the most fantastic road trips in Ontario. Passing along the shores of Lake Ontario and the magical St. Lawrence River, the Toronto to Montreal drive is one of the greatest ways to experience some of the coolest and most accessible attractions in Ontario.
In fact, this Ontario road trip between Montreal and Toronto passes so many attractions that this 5-hour drive can easily be extended to a week or more if you try to hit all of the sites and things to do along the way. Sure, you can drive straight up the 401 from Toronto to Montreal, but if you want to turn your drive into a memory-making experience, I’ll show you some of the best stops along the Toronto to Montreal route that will have you rethinking your route and planning another one for next year.
Canadian road trips are one of my favorite ways to see the country. My family has done epic road trips across Ontario, Canada, and even around the world in countries such as Iceland, Greece, and Finland. While we’ve experienced adventures around the world, our Ontario road trips remain in our hearts and souls.
About The Toronto To Montreal Drive
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Toronto and Montreal are two of Canada’s most iconic cities but in terms of atmosphere, they are worlds apart.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the capital of Ontario. This sprawling metropolis is home to the CN Tower, a beautiful stretch of the Lake Ontario waterfront, epic music festivals, and much more. The city is huge, diverse, and full of hidden gems. If you’re planning a trip to the city and are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of attractions, you can find our complete guide to visiting Toronto with kids here.
Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec. Although it’s not the capital, it is the center for much of the province’s culture, business, and foodie culture. Montreal is home to some of the nation’s most incredible music, comedy, and cultural festivals such as the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs festival.
The province of Quebec is also Canada’s only province where French is the sole official language. Many locals also speak English, although knowing key French words will help make your visit easier.
So if you are looking for great ideas for a road trip between Toronto to Montreal check out all of these amazing attractions that I’ve listed below. If you do, you’ll never look at HWY 401 the same way again.
You can also use this as a guide for a road trip between Montreal and Toronto. Just flip the directions and start from the bottom. And if you’re considering extending your journey up to Quebec City, you can find our Toronto to Quebec City driving guide here.
What Is The Distance Between Toronto And Montreal?
The most direct distance between Toronto and Montreal is about 541 km (336 miles). It typically takes about 5 and a half to 6 hours to make the complete trip. This depends quite a bit on traffic and the number of stops you make along the way.
Traveling from Toronto to Montreal by car can mean running into some traffic. Although, once you get out of the cities traffic usually moves fairly quickly. If you are planning on exploring what to see between Toronto and Montreal, expect to take longer, up to a few days.
In this Ontario road trip guide, I’ll lay out the best things to see between Toronto and Montreal and give an idea of how long each attraction can take. That way you can plan the most epic drive between Toronto and Montreal.
You might even have so much fun that you continue on up along the St. Lawrence River to spectacular sites like Quebec City, Rimouski, or even all the way east to Havre St. Pierre and the Mingan Archipelago.
Tips For A Drive From Toronto to Montreal (or Montreal to Toronto)
If you are looking to travel from Montreal to Toronto, here are a few road trip tips to help you stay happy and comfortable along the way. These road trip tips are helpful whether you are looking for a straight bomb between the two cities, or if you are looking at checking out the best attractions between Montreal and Toronto.
- Before you start out on your road trip between Toronto and Montreal, make a plan. But, keep it flexible. You want to be able to stop and see something cool if it catches your eye.
- Pack a backroads map of Ontario. Sure, a GPS is great, but there is something far more intimate about having a physical map. You can mark it up with a Sharpie and show your friends all the cool places you stopped along the way. Your friends will NOT believe that this trip was in Ontario!
- If you want to escape the traffic near Toronto while traveling around rush hour you can take the HWY 407 toll road. You won’t miss many Ontario attractions by taking this route, but it can save hours if you drive during the Toronto rush hour. The 407 is an electronic toll highway. You won’t need cash and you will receive the bill in the mail or through your car’s rental service.
- Stay entertained. Long road trips can get tiresome. And although there are plenty of stops between Montreal and Toronto to keep you occupied, you don’t want to get bored on those stretches in between. Check out our epic list of road trip jokes (family-friendly!). Fill your phone with music or audiobooks. My family loves listening to stories on long drives that we download from Audible.
- There are lots of gas stations along the Toronto to Montreal drive. Along HWY 401 there are many On Route stops that combine gas, food, and washroom facilities. However, once you get off the main road it’s good to keep that gas tank filled up.
- Bring a camera! You are going to see some amazing things on this Toronto to Montreal road trip. Make sure you capture those memories and share them with family and friends. I like this one because it’s super tough and durable. You can even bring it in the water.
The Best Things To See On A Toronto To Montreal Drive
You’re ready to start your Toronto to Montreal road trip and you want to see the best sites along the way.
Well, the first part is checking out the best things to do in Toronto. Things like Casa Loma, the Distillery District, the Lakefront, CN Tower, and more should be on your list. If you’re visiting Toronto for the Labour Day long weekend, I have a special list for you.
Once you get in the car it’s time to make some ground and get this Toronto to Montreal drive in gear.
Step 1: Escape the Greater Toronto Area
Getting out of Toronto is the first step on a drive from Toronto to Montreal.
You can either head to the 401 and brave the traffic (it sucks all day, but is especially bad heading East in the afternoon between 3:30 pm and 8:00 pm). Or, you can head further north to HWY 407 ETR.
HWY 407 skirts the worst of the traffic between Toronto and HWY 412 in Whitby. Between Toronto and Whitby there really isn’t much to see, so choose the root that’s best for you and crank up the tunes (or, in our case, audiobooks), and get ready to make some ground.
Toronto to Montreal Stop 1: Port Hope Transformers, Oddities, And Old Towns
One of the most fascinating and fun stops on the Montreal to Toronto road trip is on HWY 28, a short distance off of HWY 402, shortly after you reach HWY 115 (about 45 minutes East of Toronto with normal traffic).
The gateway to the city of Peterborough and the Kawarthas and the wonders of the region such as Silent Lake Provincial Park, the Kawartha Lakes cottage country, and Petroglyphs Provincial Park, HWY 28 can lead you to an entirely different world of wonder in Ontario.
Exit on HWY 28 and follow the exit to Port Hope, Ontario. From here, hang a right and right again onto HWY 28 towards Peterborough. A short drive down the road and you’ll see one of the coolest shops in Ontario, Primitive Designs. You won’t be able to miss it. Just look for the massive Optimus Prime Transformers and massive metal dinosaur sculptures.
Primitive Designs (2762 County Road 28, Port Hope, L1A 3V6) sells some of the coolest stuff I have ever seen for sale in Ontario. From intricate stone sinks to sculptures, to crafts and artwork imported from around the world.
Find a parking spot and explore the store for a while, I’d recommend setting aside 45 minutes to an hour. It’s easy to get lost in here and find that you’ve spent hours examining weird, wonderful, and downright crazy trinkets and designs.
Kids (and adults) will be blown away by the life-size transformers and dinosaurs on display in the parking lot. You can check out the Primitive Designs website here.
Downtown Port Hope
If you prefer a small town feel to gigantic robots, instead of heading right on HWY 28, turn left and head towards downtown Port Hope.
Port Hope is packed with quaint antique shops, great restaurants, and more to explore. Downtown Port Hope is a great place to stop for a coffee and people-watch for an hour or so. If you are visiting during fall in Ontario, you can also try to catch the Port Hope salmon run that makes its way up the salmon ladder at Corbett Dam near McKibbon St.
Where To Stay In Port Hope
If you become so enchanted with the town of Port Hope that you opt to spend the night here, check out The Waddell Hotel. This Heritage District hotel, dating back to 1845, is a short walk from Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre.
The hotel looks out over the Ganaraska River for pretty sunset views. You can find some more Port Hope accommodation options here.
Toronto to Montreal Stop 2: Apple Pies and Beautiful Beaches
Once you’ve finished exploring Port Hope, hop back on the 401 and make the 40-minute drive towards Presqu’il Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Ontario. But getting to Presqu’ile Provincial Park is half the fun on this Toronto to Montreal drive.
The Big Apple
You can’t miss the exit to reach Presqu’ile. It’s marked by the Big Apple pie factory. And when I say big apple, I really mean HUGE.
This enormous apple-shaped viewing platform is an Ontario icon. But it’s worth stopping into the Big Apple pie factory to snack on some of their famous pies. Browse the gift shop and grab some treats to take with you on your road trip to Montreal. I am a big fan of the caramel apple crumble myself. You can pick your pies ahead of time from their website here.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park
After you exit on HWY 25 for the Big Apple, head south and turn left on HWY2. After a right on Union Rd and a left on Lakeshore, you won’t be able to miss the entrance to Presqu’ile.
Presqu’ile Provincial Parks is one of our favorite Provincial Parks in Ontario (I’ve been to over 60 of these gems myself). This small, but beautiful piece of shoreline has excellent swimming, especially if you visit in late summer when the water is warm.
Make the short hike to the Presqu’ile lighthouse, enjoy a stroll along long stretches of beach, or just grab some grass in the scenic picnic area and relax for a while. If you want to do some camping on your road trip between Toronto and Montreal, this is a great stop to enjoy that as well. You can find our complete guide to Presqu’ile Provincial Park here.
Where To Stay Near Presqu’Ile Provincial Park
If you don’t plan on camping in Presqu’ile but want to spend a few days exploring this beautiful park, check out the Motel 6 in Trenton. It’s no luxury accommodation, but the rooms are big and airy, and it’s close enough to the park that you can get back to exploring as quickly as possible.
You can find some more accommodations near Presqu’ile Provincial Park here.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 3: Wineries, Beaches, And Mountain Lakes
About 45 minutes up the road from Presqu’ile is one of Ontario’s prime wine, beer, and foodie regions.
Prince Edward County is really where the Toronto to Montreal drive moves from fun to fascinating and beautiful. There are so many things to do in Prince Edward County that you could end up spending a few days here without seeing it all.
Prince Edward County is also where adventurous drivers will leave the 401 behind and start making their way along the shores of Lake Ontario via HWY 33. Whether you’ve got a few hours or a few days to spend, here are some tips on what to do.
Hit The Beaches Of The County
Prince Edward County has some of the best beaches in Ontario. Whether you’re looking for the scenic tropical feel of North Beach Provincial Park or the epic dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to put up your umbrella and soak in the sun.
Just be aware that both North Beach and Sandbanks see huge crowds during the summer months, especially on the weekend. If you want to find a spot to park you’re going to need to book reservations ahead of time. You can do that here.
Wine And Breweries, and Food Tours
Prince Edward County is famous for its wineries and breweries. There are more great places to grab a drink popping up each year. Head to the county and visit the amazing vineyards and awesome craft breweries or taste some of the incredible local cuisine and artisanal cheeses.
If you’re staying in the county for a few days, consider signing up for a Prince Edward County wine tour so that you’re not driving between wineries. You can also sign up for a full-day tour of the peninsula that takes you to some of the most popular stops and a few under-the-radar attractions that you may not have heard of.
Where To Stay in Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County is a big place and you’ll definitely want to spend a little time here.
We love spending the night glamping at Fronterra Farm near North Beach Park Provincial Park. These luxury glamping tents are absolutely gorgeous and you can paddle right across South Lake to North Beach Park.
In the town of Wellington, try to book a room at the beautiful Drake Devonshire. It has amazing food and one of the best waterfronts in the county.
If you prefer to stay close to Picton, then the Waring House Hotel is a classic and much-loved hotel that is close to all of the great Picton attractions. You can check out our guide to the best Prince Edward County hotels here.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 4: Drive Through History Along the Loyalist Parkway
From Prince Edward County you can either head back to the 401 and continue on the big highway towards Montreal, or you can make your way via the Glenora Ferry and along the historic Loyalist Parkway. Either way won’t change the stops along the way, but the route along the Loyalist Parkway is far more scenic.
The Loyalist Parkway, or HWY 33 skirts the coast of Lake Ontario through some of its most scenic and historic towns. Many of the towns were settled by the United Empire Loyalists that settled here as early as 1784.
The Loyalist Parkway is dotted with majestic colonial homes, quaint bed & breakfasts, and cozy diners. There are many places to stop along the route, whether you are looking to take in the views of the lakes and properties, or read the many historical plaques that identify many of the archeological and heritage sites along the way.
Traffic moves slowly along the parkway. But there is so much beautiful scenery, you probably mind. Don’t miss the picturesque town of Bath and Fort Henry National Historic Site. Here you can immerse yourself in 19th-century British military life.
The Loyalist Parkway will take you straight through to the city of Kingston.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 5: The Historic Town Of Kingston, Ontario
The Loyalist Parkway ends just inside the borders of the town of Kingston, Ontario.
This lovely lakeside city has been a hugely important town in Ontario’s history due to its proximity to both Montreal, Toronto, the St. Lawrence River, and Upstate New York. In fact, Kingston was the original capital of Canada from 1841 till 1843.
Kingston is a great spot to spend the night and break up your Toronto to Montreal road trip.
You can explore the town on the classic Kingston Trolley tours, visit the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, take a tour of the notorious Kingston Penitentiary, and much more. If you’re like me and love spooky stories, check out the Kingston haunted walk guided tour.
Where To Stay in Kingston Ontario
Kingston is a classic Canadian City. It has been the birthplace of some of the most important historical events, and even some of its most important music such as the legendary Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip.
With all of that history, it’s worth it to pick a great classic hotel in Kingston. The Rosemount Inn fits that bill to a tee. This boutique hotel offers the perfect combination of luxury and history. You can find some more great places to stay in Kingston here.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 6: Gananoque Thousand Islands Visitor Centre
Just half an hour up the 401 from Kingston on your drive to Montreal from Toronto is the small town of Gananoque. Gananoque is home to Thousand Islands National Park, and it’s something that shouldn’t be missed on Montreal to Toronto drive.
While much of the park is situated on the collection of Islands in the St. Lawrence River, there are still some great spots to explore and even camp or enjoy glamping on the mainland.
Gananoque is a picturesque community where thousands of visitors flock each summer to join Thousand Island boat cruises. If you are thinking of joining the 1000 island boat tours, there are a few options available. I recommend doing the longer 5-hour 1000 Islands Cruise that stops at Boldt Castle. Make sure to bring along your passport, as Boldt Castle is actually in New York State.
If you’ve got some more time to spare, you can do some exploring. You’ll find that there are actually several incredible castles in the Thousand Islands that you can visit.
Where To Stay in Gananoque and the Thousand Islands
Although we love staying in the Parks Canada oTENTiks when we are in the Thousand Islands National Park, sometimes you don’t want to haul your own bedding and want to be closer to an amazing breakfast.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 7: Upper Canada Village
The next stop on your road trip between Toronto and Montreal is about an hour down the 401. Exit on Upper Canada Rd. and turn left onto HWY 2 (You can also continue up HWY 2 directly from Kingston if you want to replace the high speeds of the 401 with the serene scenery of the Lakefrtont).
Upper Canada Village
It’s been a long-running joke between Christina and me that re-enactment villages are the backbone of Ontario tourism.
From Fort William in Thunder Bay to Fort Malden in Amherstburg, It seems that every historic fort and town in the province is filled with people in period dress trying to hide their cell phones in the many layers of vintage clothing that they’re wearing. And when I first visited Upper Canada Village I totally expected the same thing.
I was right, but I was also wrong.
Yes, the Upper Canada Village is a reenactment village where staff dress in period attire and act like life centuries ago, But it’s done REALLY well.
From the old town mill where they actually sell the grain and yarn produced on-site to stores in the area, to the horse-drawn boat that rolls through the town, Upper Canada Village is great! It’s so good, that I insisted we bring our children back here so that they could experience it themselves. And they loved it too!
Upper Canada Village is not a quick-visit place either. It’s easy to spend hours, or even a whole day here exploring what truly feels like an 18th-century Ontario town. You can check out their website here.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 8: Brockville
The city of Brockville Ontario is a wonderful stop on the Toronto to Montreal road trip. This city sits on the northern edge of the Thousand islands and offers a great blend of history, scenery, and great restaurants.
With a charming waterfront and an historic downtown, Brockville can offer anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days worth of fun. Whether you’re there for a short time, or if you’ve got some time to spare there are a few things that you shouldn’t miss.
Brockville Rail Tunnel
The iconic Brockville Railway Tunnel is the top stop in the city. This marvel of engineering was the very first rail tunnel in Canada. The tunnel was originally built in 1860 to allow the Canadian rail network access to the harbor.
It’s use as a freight port is long behind it now, but the Brockville Rail Tunnel has been transformed into a engaging tourist experience, and it’s completely free.
Stroll through the LED lit tunnel and enjoy plaques and displays along the way that describe the history and importance of the tunnel.
The waterfront in Brockville is where all the action takes place. Lined with yachts and tour boats and speckled with lush green spaces, manicured gardens, and shaded picnic areas, this leisurely stop makes a wonderful place to enjoy lunch or just a relaxing break from the car seat.
The marina offers boat rentals, fishing charters and 1000 Islands boat tours allowing travelers to explore the St. Lawrence River through their favorite activity.
Where To Stay in Brockville
Brockvilles place along the Toronto to Montreal driving route makes it a wonderful spot to spend a night or two. The historic waterfront and ample attractions mean that you’ll have lots to do and see nearby.
48 King West is a luxury property in the heart of the city with easy access to great restaurants and the scenic waterfront. Noble Suites is an historic property near the waterfront that offers apartment-style accommodations that are great for those spending more than a night in town.
Brockville hotels can book up quickly, so if you’re thinking of stopping here, I recommend booking early. You can find more places to stay in Brockville here.
Toronto to Montreal Stop 9: Long Sault Parkway
Continue the scenic drive along the St. Lawrence River waterfront and you’ll come across an experience that most people in Ontario don’t even know exists.
Long Sault Parkway
Just a short drive down HWY2 from Upper Canada Village is one of the coolest island chains in the St. Lawrence River.
The Long Sault Parkway is a causeway connecting twelve islands with the mainland. The islands are actually the tops of hills that were flooded when the dams that control the flow of the St. Lawrence River were built. Look closely and you can still find roads that end abruptly beneath the waves.
The islands are managed by the Parks of the St. Lawrence and offer a series of beaches, campgrounds, and picnic areas. At the very least, Long Sault Parkway is worth the scenic drive through the island chain.
It’s also a beautiful place to camp for a night or a weekend. If you happen to drive through Long Sault or nearby Ingleside during the Canada Day long weekend (July 1), make sure to check out the amazing fireworks display launched over the islands.
I absolutely love the area, so much so that I did a three-day cycle route with Ontario by Bike from Cornwall down to Thousand Islands National Park through the Long Sault Parkway.
Where To Stay Near The Long Sault Parkway
You can rent camper cabins and family lodges from Parks of the St. Lawrence within the Long Sault Parkway.
Near the town of Long Sault, you can also stay at the Lion Motel or the Long Sault Motel. Both are nice, clean locations that are close to the town amenities and the parkway itself. You can find more accommodations near Long Sault here.
Toronto to Montreal Stop 10: Cornwall
With a scenic waterfront and an historic city center, one of Ontario’s most commercially-important locks, and miles and miles of cycling trails, Cornwall is a great stop for both history buffs and explorers.
The Cornwall Marina offers bycicle rentals for a great price. I discovered this during my bike trip along the St. Lawrence River when my front tire went kaput and I had to search for a bike to complete my 112 km journey.
There are a great range of cycling trails in the region and most of them are pretty flat and easy. The Waterfront Trail is my personal favorite. This route can take you from Cornwall all the way down past Long Sault to Thousand Islands National Park.
There is nearly 240 years of history wrapped up in Cornwall, Ontario, so a visit to the towns historic district is a great way to experience the town.
Enjoy a stroll throughthe charming streets lined with beautifully preserved buildings that showcase architectural styles up to two centuries old. Don’t miss the Cornwall Jail on your tour. This building was built in 1833 and remained in operation for nearly 170 years.
Where To Stay In Cornwall
Cornwall is an historic city and it’s packed with great places to stay. For convenient comfort, the Best Western Parkway Inn & Conference Centre offers beautiful room with an upscale feel. The hotel has great access to all of the best things to do in Cornwall as well.
If you’d prefer a quaint bed and breakfast, Auberge Chelsey’s Inn is a fantastic (and family-friendly) spot not far from the water. The historic inn dates back to 1812 and is one of the most popular places to stay in Cornwall, Ontario.
If you don’t have any luck booking those spots you can check out a complete list of Cornwall accommodations here.
Getting To Montreal
From Cornwall to the Quebec Border is a quick 30-minute drive. Once you pass across the Quebec border, HWY 401 turns into Quebec Provincial HWY 20. and it’s another 40 minutes to Montreal.
Expect traffic to get heavier as you approach Montreal, especially if you are arriving during the morning rush hour. Once you’re there you can explore the old port, take in the views from Mount Royal, or cheer with the crowd at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game.
Where To Stay In Montreal
Montreal is a great city to explore. And now that you’ve made your Toronto to Montreal drive it’s time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Start your trip off right with great accommodations in Montreal.
Montreal is divided up into distinct regions, and each one offers a unique experience. Old Montreal offers the most historic sites and tourist attractions. Le Plateau-Mont-Royal has a modern hipster vibe with loads of great coffee shops. Mile-end has a stylish and artsy vibe that is popular with families.
You can find some great deals on accommodations in Montreal here.
Have you ever done a Toronto to Montreal drive? Drop a note in the comments to tell us about your trip. Or, head over to our Facebook page and share a photo of your trip. We would love to hear about it!
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