Montreal->QC->Nova Scotia/PEI/New Brunswick Advice needed
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jun 16, 2012 7:03 AM Last Post By: readytoretireca...
Jun 12, 2012 1:45 PM
We are a family of five (all adults) planning a trip from Friday, 17th August to Sunday 26th August, 2012. Nothing is set as of yet, and would love some advice/opinion on our itinerary.
Our plan is to fly into Montreal, spend 3 nights there, rent a car, drive to Quebec City, spend one night there, and then start driving east to the coast on Tuesday 21st morning. We will spend Tuesday night in Miramichi/surrounding areas (any recommendations for places to stay)- google maps indicates about an 8 hour drive from Quebec City.
On Wednesday, late morning or early afternoon we will drive to PEI and spend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night there. Saturday morning we will drive down to Bay of Fundy and spend one night at a lighthouse hotel that someone recommended (i think it is called Cape D'or) and then on Sunday return the car and fly home from Halifax.
Alternatively, we could spend two nights in PEI (wed, thu) and then two more nights in cape breton area (fri, sat) and then fly home from halifax on sunday.
We see each other only about once a year, so the things we wish to do are-
1. be in a beautiful place we can rest and relax
2. go sea kayaking
3. mild hiking
4. eat a lot of seafood
5. stay in a place where we can buy fresh produce/fish at farmers market/local fisherman shops and then cook them ourselves
6. fishing maybe
7. whale watching
Any suggestions much appreciated. We are open to changes as of now, if our itinerary seems a little too rushed...
Jun 12, 2012 6:50 PM
1Based on what you want to do, like fishing, kayaking, whale watching... I think spending 3 nights in Montreal might not be the best way to spend your time. Montreal is a beautiful city, but you're leaving yourself less than a week to do what you really want to do. I would suggest to pick between Montreal or Quebec City, and stay there 1 or 2 days there tops. You have a lot of destinations and not a whole lot of time.
There is little to no hiking on PEI, just FYI. As for whale watching and hiking, your best bet is Cape Breton, depending which part you are going to. The Cape Breton Highlands National Park is gorgeous with great trails for hiking. You didn't say whether you will be camping or getting hotels, etc.?
Also, if you are going to be in Cape Breton - which part? Driving back from Cape Breton to catch a flight from Halifax the same day could be really tricky, even if your flight is later. I usually try and give myself a night in the place I am flying out of, just for some buffer room... you never know what can happen. Halifax is also a great city too and might be worth spending a night there before you fly home. Hope this helps.
Jun 13, 2012 3:37 AM
2Thanks for your reply. Yes it helps!
Ideally we will rent a house/cottage/cabin since we are five people- and it will give us some privacy, ability to use the kitchen, etc... Hopefully there are accommodations like that in the area... haven't looked into the usual suspects- vbro.com, airbnb.com... unless there is a local website i should use to look.
In terms of where in Cape Breton, I think it will largely depend on where we can secure accommodations - somewhere along the coast will be great, and if that is not possible, maybe somewhere along the coast of Bras D'or Lake. Do you think we will be missing anything if we skipped Prince Edward Island for Cape Breton Island? Or maybe only spend one night in PEI before heading to Cape Breton Island for a few days..
I will also look into Halifax- good call about having a buffer period.
In terms of Bay of Fundy, it seems a little out of the way from everything else, but it was a place that someone suggested as well, how do you think it compares to Cape Breton..? Sorry if it is a silly question, I am still doing my research and getting a sense of how all these areas differ from one another, I know they are all beautiful...
Jun 13, 2012 12:10 PM
3Cape Breton is awesome, but for what you want so is the Bay of Fundy area from Parrsboro to Joggins, and especially Cape D'Or where you can stay in the Lightkeeper's House and Advocate Harbour and Cape Chignecto Park. http://www.capechignecto.net/overview/services.htm
There is a company which does kayak tours here and there are hiking trails, including overnight wilderness trails.
Here is the info on the Lighthouse: http://www.capedor.ca/
This area is still off the common tourist track.
Jun 13, 2012 7:21 PM
4You are trying to do far too much in only ten days. You are trying to do a cities of Quebec trip, a Maritimes trip, and driving between them in only ten days.
You are planning to rent a car in Montreal and drop it off in Halifax. Have you received a quote as to how much this would cost ? It may be cheaper and will be quicker to fly one way and rent a Halifax car for a loop tour.
With only ten days it would make sense to skip Quebec, fly to Halifax and do a proper ten day Maritimes tour as most of the activities you mention would be done there. You don't have time for two trips. You need to choose.
Jun 13, 2012 8:11 PM
52 days and nights in Cape Breton is the very bare minimal IMO
Another option would be to see Montreal 1 day, rent a car, see Québec City 1 day, drive to Fundy if you must (I would not do it because of the time constraint and the fact it is really out of the way, plus you need to secure a safe timing to see the tide..., but that's just me), overnight there. Drive to Halifax, drop the car. One full day lost in driving. Then take a 5-days tour with Salty Bear http://www.saltybear.ca/islandhopper_trip.asp Fly back from Halifax.
OR : drop PEI, drop Fundy ~ both should still be there when you come back! ~ and see the 2 cities you wanted to see, 1 full day each, drive to Halifax and spend as much time as you want exploring Cape Breton at your own speed, and see other bits of Nova Scotia as well (like Bras d'Or lake, with its warm water, like the lovely hamlet of Arichat at the entrance of the Cape Breton peninsula, etc). That gives you: a small bit of unique cities, less cumbersome and time consuming driving (Fundy, PEI) and a whole lot of nature. Now in my book, that is a good definition of a short vacation.
In case staying in a hostel, with private bedrooms and cooking facilities is of interest to your party, Pleasant Bay Hostel, on the Cabot Trail, offers that for $59 a night. With nearby kayaking and whale watching opportunities. http://www.backpackers.ca/listings.php?companyid=Cabot%20Trail%20Hostel%20--%20Pleasant%20Bay
Jun 13, 2012 8:19 PM
6Wow - I agree with Tofino Surfer. I know the areas you're talking about and at least for us, it would be WAY too ambitious. I have a picture in my mind of you taking pictures of a place from the open window of a moving car. Depends what you want, I guess.
Keep in mind I LOVE Montreal with a passion. It's a fabulous city and well worth a number of days. Going up the river, you have Quebec and then past Quebec, you have Ile D'Orleans. Keep going and you get to the Charlevoix regions which is absolutely fabulous. You could easily spend a couple of days (or 3) in this area alone. There are fabulous B & Bs in this region, and not only can you stay in them but they provide super dinners. watch the sun set over the magnificent St. Lawrence and eat a superb dinner on a summer night. Then there are wineries, cheese makers, honey makers, it is a gourmet's delight.
Explore the Isle aux Coudres. Keep going to Les Eboulements. then keep going to Tadoussac and explore the Saguenay region a bit. Take a boat tour. You could easily spend your whole time doing this trip and it would be worth it. Stay, linger, enjoy the country and the culture.
OR do the Maritimes - again, I agree here with Tofino Surfer. the area has so much to offer. Cape Breton Island, Annapolis Valley, Lunenberg, Mahone Bay, PEI, Fundy Coast, Joggins, Hopewell Rocks, Miramichi, Shediac - they are all super. And again, it would take your whole amount of time.
Once you decide on an area, there are tons of recommendations a number of forum folks could give you re accommodations and things to do.
Jun 13, 2012 8:35 PM
Jun 14, 2012 4:35 AM
8yeah in an ideal world, I would do either one or the other, (going up river from Montreal like readytoretirecalgary suggested sounds amazing...and romantic!) but my parents are coming from really far away (malaysia) so I'd like to try to give them a taste of both the cities and the maritimes, without taking pics from a moving car window :)
Having said that though, i think you guys are right - its too much in 10 days. I am inclined to drop Quebec City. I recently looked at a multi flight ticket from NYC to Montreal to Halifax back to NYC on hipmunk.com (love this site) and it's not too much more than a regular round trip. I think that would cut the driving time by 1 day, and give us more flexibility. Not sure that I can spend 10 hours in a car with my brothers anyway ;) I agree with tofino_surfer that a car rental from montreal to halifax might be more than we expect. I also looked at flying into QCity, taking a train from QC to Montreal and then flying to Halifax, and that route is also about the same price.
I think if I drop Quebec City all together, fly into Halifax on Monday the 20th, rent a car there, skip PEI, leaving us from Monday to Sunday to split between Cape Breton and Bay of Fundy, with more time in Cape Breton, and perhaps 1 day/night in Halifax before flying... what do you guys think?
Thanks for all the advice/comments....The more I research, the more I'm already thinking of planning a second trip back.
Jun 14, 2012 5:07 PM
9You said "I think if I drop Quebec City all together, fly into Halifax on Monday the 20th, rent a car there, skip PEI, leaving us from Monday to Sunday to split between Cape Breton and Bay of Fundy, with more time in Cape Breton, and perhaps 1 day/night in Halifax before flying... what do you guys think?"
That sounds do-able. Cape Breton is really cool - I have heard of people doing it in a day and again, speaking for myself, I can't see it. There are whale watching tours in Cheticamp, good little places to eat, the fort at Louisbourg is worth a visit, take a boat tour on Bras D'Or lakes.
then you could go to the other part of NS - Lunenberg, Mahone Bay, Wolfville, the Annapolis Valley - gorgeous, just gorgeous. Tons of farmer's markets in Annapolis Valley region and a really growing wine scene - go to the wineries, many are quite small and do tastings. Lots of arts and crafts places in NS too. Joggins fossil cliffs are a UNESCO world heritage site.
Go back to Halifax, spend a day or two there - it's a great city - my second favourite in Canada! (and no, I don't live there).
Tons of places to stay - in all sorts of categories. You'll have a blast.
Jun 16, 2012 5:56 AM
10readyforretirecalgary- what's your favourite city in canada? great to hear about the up and coming wine scene in annapolis valley - i was really hoping i could visit some wineries on this trip as well! yay!
Thank you everyone for all your advice here, it has been tremendously helpful! i will share details of the trip after! :)
Edited by: arunawaysailboat
Jun 16, 2012 7:03 AM
11Favourite city - Montreal. And I don't live there either - hmm, wonder if there's a message there. Montreal - love the vibe, the food, the style, the energy, the festivals (especially the jazz festival). The life. It's hard to describe.
Halifax? Love the food (different than Montreal), the water, the museum on the waterfront, the Citadel (worth visiting too) and the ability to get out of town quickly to some little coastal towns. both cities have great music too.
Have fun on your trip - you should have a blast.
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