Montreal is about 335 miles (541 kilometers) northeast of Toronto. The fastest route by car is to take Ontario Highway 401 out of Toronto and drive straight to Montreal. This drive should take approximately 5.5 hours with traffic.
A more scenic route is to take Ontario Highway 2 which parallels Highway 401, but follows the shoreline of Lake Ontario. This may not be the best route for business travelers, but vacationers will enjoy the history, spectacular views of the lake and opportunities for recreation along the corridor.
Before leaving Toronto, you will want to visit some of the amazing attractions. Toronto is home to Canada’s Wonderland, a roller coaster theme park. It also boasts the CN Tower, a marvel of engineering complete with a glass-bottomed viewing deck. Or soak in the country’s unique cultural mosaic in Canada’s largest city.
Niagara Falls is an unforgettable day trip from Toronto. In fact, no trip to Southern Ontario should be done without a side trip to Niagara. From Toronto, take ON-403 West out of the city then take the exit for Queen Elizabeth Way. Once through St. Catherines, Ontario, look for the Stanley Avenue exit and follow the signs to Niagara Falls. Just viewing the spectacular falls is impressive. Following the walkway along the falls, browsing the shops and boutiques, lunching in a restaurant with a brilliant view, are all options once at Niagara. Boat rides right up to the falls are also possible on the Maid of the Mist. Tickets cost $18.25 (CAD) for adults and $10.65 (CAD) for children 6-12 years of age. Once back in Toronto, take the 401 and you’re on your way to Montreal.
If you choose a slower pace with more scenic views, and take Ontario Highway 2 instead, your first stop should be Port Hope or Coburg, Ontario. Both towns boast 19th century downtown areas with quaint shops, restaurants and coffee shops. When you’ve had your fill of reliving history from the 1800’s, jump back onto Hwy 2 and head east along Lake Ontario. This section of countryside is picturesque. There are plenty of antique shops, markets and small general stores to visit along the way.
The next stop on your journey is Kingston, Ontario. This is the city where the famed St. Lawrence River begins. Downtown Kingston is a history-lover’s dream and a visit to Fort Henry is a must. Fort Henry dates back to the war of 1812 and was of strategic importance in Canada’s earliest days. Admission prices are as follows in Canadian dollars: Ages 6-64, $18; seniors (65+) and military, $16; Children 5 and under are free.
Heading back on Highway 2, look for the 1000 Islands Region just past Kingston. The 1000 Islands area is a UNESCO Biosphere and is home to dozens of federal parks, conservation areas, and provincial parks. Over 1,800 islands spread throughout the St. Lawrence River form the 1000 Islands area and straddle the border of Canada and the United States. The area used to be a retreat for the elite and wealthy in the 19th century. Today, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Walking, hiking, biking, boating, even river cruises, are all options in the 1000 Islands area. Or, take a break from adventurous outdoor activities to explore some of the area’s interesting architecture, including gothic-style mansions and even a couple of castles.
From the 1000 Islands area, you can either continue on Hwy 2 straight to Montreal, which will take another 4 hours. Or, connect with Hwy 416 and stop in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital city, on the way. From Ottawa you can get onto the 401 and continue to Montreal.
Montreal is a beautiful Canadian city situated on the St. Lawrence River. Known for its history and its vibrant culture, there is no end to the sights and activities to explore and experience in Montreal. The city’s website details everything wonderful about the city: places to stay; cuisine to try; adventures to take; explorations to make and beaches to enjoy. Photo: Katia/Fotolia
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