5 Weekend Trips and Getaways From Toronto, Canada

Explore the Thousand Islands on a weekend excursion
Explore the Thousand Islands on a weekend excursion | © MURILLO LARA MARIA LUISA / Alamy Stock Photo
Toronto’s position amid enormous lakes, provincial parks and wildlife reserves makes it the ultimate starting point for a weekend trip. Rejuvenating for even the weariest city dweller, these escapes feel a million miles away from the big city.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Immerse yourself in more than 2,934 sq mi (7,600 sq km) of dense wilderness at Algonquin Provincial Park, where 18 interpretive hiking trails wind their way between more than 1,500 lakes and immense pine forests. Have it all on your doorstep by staying at this wood cabin just 10 minutes from the East Gate entrance to the park. The town of Whitney is also close by, so you can pick up supplies, visit restaurants and rent canoes.

ActivitiesAlgonquin Provincial Park Canoe Trip
From $112 per person
6 hours

This adventurous tour is the best way to sample as much of Algonquin as you can, without committing to an overnight camping trip. Settling off in a traditional Kevlar canoe, you will paddle up to 10mi (16km), physically exerting yourself at times but with tranquility drifting over the water at others. You’ll be taken on a hike through the pine trees to swimming spots where the brave will have the opportunity to go cliff jumping. Throughout the day, you’ll visit historic landmarks, forage for food and observe wildlife native to the area, pointed out by your experienced naturalist guides.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

This waterside town – perched on the edge of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River – feels frozen in time. With a quaint collection of 19th-century houses, brightly colored buildings and even brighter flowers, it has a charming atmosphere that’s matched by a thriving culinary scene and good wine from local vineyards. For somewhere to stay, base yourself in the Coupe – a hip two-bedroom apartment located a short walk from the lake and Ryerson Park, which is the perfect picnic spot for stunning sunsets and skyline views.

ToursWine and Cheese Tasting Tour
From $65 per person
4 hours
4.7 (10)

Discover the birthplace of Ontario’s wine industry on this guided small-group tasting tour through Niagara-on-the-Lake’s surrounding wine country. Visiting both big and boutique vineyards, you’ll get a great overview of wine production in the area. Starting with a tour that takes you from the vine to the tasting room at a major winery, you’ll then move onto smaller wineries and have the opportunity to try Ontario’s famous ice wine, complete with a cheese pairing. Your expert guide will have you tasting like a connoisseur by the end of the trip.

Ottawa

There’s more to the Canadian capital than its political significance. With gothic parliament buildings adding a fairytale flair to its architecture, a visit during winter will make you feel like a character from Disney’s Frozen (2013). And that’s before you’ve laid eyes on Rideau Canal, frozen thick with ice and illuminated with twinkling lights to create an atmosperic ice-skating rink. Regardless of the season, however, its large leafy parks and buzzing culture make Ottawa a great year-round destination. Stay in the heart of downtown at this plush one-bedroom apartment right around the corner from the ByWard Market and the National Gallery of Canada. Stocked with snacks, toiletries and even breakfast supplies, the chic space is the perfect place to crash after a long day of sightseeing.

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ToursOttawa Neighborhoods and Nature Tour
From $60 per person
3 hours
4 (1)

Experience two sides of the city on this bike tour around Ottawa. You will explore some of its lively neighborhoods, such as Centretown, the Glebe and Hintonburg, getting a sense of the local life along the way. It’s a great way to see all the major sites while also making the most of the capital’s numerous nature trails and waterways.

Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park is an outdoor playground at all times of the year. In autumn, hiking is the activity of choice, as the leaves turn fiery orange and crunch underfoot. Meanwhile, winter is all about cross-country skiing. In the summer, you can go mountain biking and cool off with a dip in one of the park’s many lakes. And no matter what season, the luxurious Nordik Spa-Nature will soothe any aching limbs and joints with its multitude of thermal pools. Stay close by in this stylish recently renovated apartment – an excellent spot for a romantic escape, complete with a giant hammock and easy access to the many trails and lakes around the area.

ToursSportif Bike Ride of East Ontario and West Quebec
From $100 per person
3 to 4 hours

Join your professional guides for a biking tour of Gatineau Park on a sportive bike. Your light aluminum or carbon bike will be expertly fitted to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. You’ll ride either a 19mi (30km) or a 31mi (50km) loop, traveling along the river, through the trees and around the park’s lakes. As it combines exercise, nature and sightseeing, you’ll get a great guided insight into this beautiful park.

Thousand Islands

An archipelago of more than 1,800 islands, the Thousand Islands is filled with 19th-century mansions, hinting at its heyday as a getaway for the wealthy. While others have caught on over the years, the area has lost none of its original magnetism: think ethereal landscapes, deep-blue lakes and bucolic islands. Whether you’re going castle spotting or want to immerse yourself in the countryside with a camping trip, the islands are the precise antithesis of busy city life. Take your escape one step further and check into this family-size retreat by Butternut Bay. It has three bedrooms that accommodate up to eight guests, and – best of all – an outdoor swimming pool less than 98ft (30m) from the front door.

ToursThousand Islands Cruise and Aquatarium Entry
From $40 per person
3 to 8 hours

To see the best of the Thousand Islands, take to the water on this guided cruise in a traditional sightseeing vessel or high-power speedboat. You will go past top attractions such as Brockville’s historic waterfront and the St Lawrence Seaway and explore the region’s ecology at the Aquatarium. Admission is included in the tour, so you’ll have full access to one of the islands’ most informative sites regarding the local ecosystem.