Experience all the incredible attractions along the Toronto to Montreal drive with this fun-filled Ontario road trip guide to the best attractions.
Taking a 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. A drive from Toronto to Montreal brings travelers near some of the coolest things to do in Ontario. And even locals might be shocked at just how incredible this trip can be.
Canadian road trips are one of our favorite ways to see the country. And, 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 Ontario’s capital. This sprawling metropolis is home to the CN Tower, a beautiful stretch of the Lake Ontario waterfront, epic music festivals and much more. Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec. Although it’s not the capital, it is the center for much of the culture, business, and passion in the province. Montreal is home to some of the nation’s most incredible music, comedy, and cultural festivals. Quebec is Canada’s only province where French is the official language, although many locals also speak English, although knowing a little French does help.
So if you are looking for road trips from Toronto to Montreal, drive along HWY 401 and check out all of these amazing attractions. 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.
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 trip. This depends quite a bit on traffic though. Traveling from Toronto to Montreal by car can mean some notorious traffic. Although, once you get out of the cities traffic usually runs pretty 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, and one of my favorite Quebec destinations, Perce Rock and Bonaventure Island.
Tips For A Drive From Toronto to Montreal (or Montreal to Toronto)
If you are looking at travel from Montreal to Toronto, here are a few road trip tips to help you stay happy and comfortable. These tips for road trips 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 map of Ontario. Sure, a GPS is great, but there is something far better about having a real map. You can mark it up with a Sharpie and show off 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 if you are traveling around rush hour you can take the HWY 407 toll road. You won’t be missing may Ontario attractions by taking this route, but it can save hours if you are driving at rush hour. The 407 is an electronic toll route. You won’t need cash and you’ll receive the bill in the mail.
- 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!). Pack up some CD’s or load up those MP3’s and let the tunes flow.
- There are lots of gas stations along the Toronto to Montreal drive. Along HWY 401 there are the 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 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
So you’re starting 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 sites in Toronto. Things like Casa Loma, the Distillery District, the Lakefront, CN Tower, and more should be on your list. But 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 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 make some ground.
Toronto to Montreal Stop 1: Port Hope Transformers, Oddities, And Old Towns
Just after you reach HWY 115 (about 45 minutes East of Toronto with normal traffic), the gateway to Peterborough, Silent Lake Provincial Park, and the Kawartha Lakes cottage country, you’ll reach HWY 28 and the exit to Port Hope, Ontario. From the exit, 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. 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. 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. There are 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 a while. If you are visiting in the fall 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, dating from 1845, is a short walk from the 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 one of their famous pies. Or, you can 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 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 left on Lakeshore, you won’t be able to miss the entrance to Presqu’ile. Presqu’ile is one of our favorite Provincial Parks in Ontario. This small, but beautiful piece of shoreline has excellent swimming, especially with the warm waters of late summer. Check out the lighthouse, the long stretches of beach, or just grab some grass in the beautiful 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 place as well.
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. The rooms are big and airy, and it’s close to the park so 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 regions, Prince Edward County. But it’s not just wine in Prince Edward County. There are so many things to do in Prince Edward County that you could end up spending a few days here and still not see it all.
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.
Wine And Breweries, and Food Tours
PEC 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, awesome craft breweries, or taste some of the incredible local cuisine and artisanal cheeses.
Where To Stay in Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County is a big place and there are a lot of great places to stay. We love spending the night glamping at Fronterra Farm near North Beach Provincial Park. In Wellington, try to book a place 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 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 towards Montreal, or you can make your way across the Glenora Ferry along the historic Loyalist Parkway. The Loyalist Parkway, or HWY 33 skirts the coast of Lake Ontario through some of it’s most scenic and historic towns. Many of the towns were settled by the United Empire Loyalists that settled here in 1784.
The route is dotted with majestic colonial homes, quaint bed & breakfasts and cozy diners and restaurants. 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.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 5: The Historic Town Of Kingston, Ontario
The Loyalist Parkway ends just inside the borders of the town of Kingston. This lovely lakeside city has been a hugely important town in Ontario’s history due to it’s 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 makes for 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. Grab a bite at some of the great local eateries like Chez Piggy or Wooden Heads before heading off to explore Fort Henry built to protect the city from American attacks during the war of 1812.
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 it’s most important music. So, 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 the Thousand Islands Visitors Centre, and it’s something that shouldn’t be missed on Montreal to Toronto drive. 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, I highly recommend that you bring along your passport so that you can check out the incredible castles in the Thousand Islands.
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. The Woodview Inn in Gananoque is a great option. It has excellent service and a wonderful on-site restaurant. You can find some more great places to stay in Gananoque here.
Toronto To Montreal Stop 7: A Visit To Upper Canada And A String Of Islands
The next stop on our 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 with nicer views).
Upper Canada Village
It’s been a long-running joke between Christina and I that re-enactments are the bane of Ontario tourism. 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. And I was right, but I was also wrong.
Yes, the Upper Canada Village is all done in period attire. 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.
Long Sault Parkway
Just a short drive down HWY2 from Upper Canada Village is one of the coolest island chains in the St. Lawrence. The Long Sault Parkway is a road connecting 12 islands within the St. Lawrence River. The islands are managed under 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. However, 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.
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.
Getting To Montreal
From Long Sault Parkway, the Quebec border is a quick 40-minute drive along HWY 401. 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 heavy 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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Sunday 12th of March 2023
Hi, this article is fab and made us convinced to do the drive (family of 4 with 2x 8yr olds). Our only issue is that we only have 1 day to drive from Toronto area to Montreal. I assume we will only be able to fit a couple of bits in - what would your key highlights be? Thanks Alison
Monday 13th of March 2023
@Kevin Wagar, Thank you so much :)
Monday 13th of March 2023
Hi Alison, if I were trying to make the most of the Toronto to Montreal drive in one day I would probably stop at Primitive Designs in Port Hope, The Big Apple for some treats, and include a drive through the Long Sault Parkway. Finish it with a walk through the Brockville train tunnel, and you've got a full day with lots of stops for adventure.
Tuesday 3rd of August 2021
Hello, What would you recommend for a 8 year old boy in Montreal itself? It’s just me and my son planing to go on a road trip to Montreal.
Tuesday 10th of August 2021
Check out the Montreal Biodome at the Olympic Stadium for some really cool experiences. Right next door is the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, which is also an "out of this world" experience. You can also take a short trip to nearby Laval and visit the very cool Cosmodome (I'll be launching an article about that this weekend) and paddle through the Parc de Riviere des Milles Isles.
Tuesday 15th of September 2020
Hi Kevin, Could you advise which area should i book a hotel to avoid driving in Montreal downtown but close enough and with conveninet public transport to tour the sites located in downtown. Thanks Francis
Tuesday 15th of September 2020
Hi Francis, Because Montreal is a set of islands, it's difficult to avoid the traffic completely. However, if you're looking to miss the worst of it I'd recommend staying in Mile End. This area is still relatively close and has a booming up and coming arts scene. You'll also find some of the best bagels in town. Consider the Bienvenue B&B or the Parc Avenue Residences for something clean, bright, and fitting with the local vibe.
Saturday 1st of August 2020
Hi Kevin, I really like the article and the details you have shared. I am planning a road trip with my family (wife and 2 yr old son) by end of August. We have around 4-7 days before we come back to Toronto. I am thinking of going to Montreal but want to see few places on the way to Montreal and coming back to Toronto. It would be great if you can share some suggestions.
Monday 3rd of August 2020
Thanks for the kind words. This will be a great trip. There are so many nice things to see. We have done this entire route from Toronto to Montreal and back again with young kids, so I'm sure your son will love it. As for what you want to see, that depends a lot of how you hope to plan your trip and what to see along the way. I highly recommend making sure the Thousand Islands make it into your itinerary, it's a wonderful place for parents and children alike. IF you're looking for something a little different, you can also visit a few of the places in this article and then detour through Ottawa on the way back. The Nations capital always makes for a wonderful stop.