From NYC to Montreal – make the most of your road trip to Montreal

Road trip across two vastly distinct nations, stopping at four separate cities that each serve up their own brand of an unforgettable city break. From cartoonish yellow cabs and theatrical capers in NYC to colonial-era cathedrals and cobbled streets within Montreal’s early French settlements, our road trip New York takes us to cross border and cross-culture to enjoy world-class dining, shopping and natural phenomenon around North America’s greatest cities. Save on airfare and carbon emissions by opting for four wheels and driving northwards over 370 miles, from the Big Apple to the City of Saints and beyond. Let Mr Hudson take the wheel while you get acquainted with the itinerary.

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Photo: Andre Furtado

Tips on crossing the US/Canada border

As you’ll be crossing two countries, avoid a visa blunder and make sure to check the independent visa restrictions for both the US and Canada. The US has a reputation for stricter conditions but their Visa Waiver Program is available for most Europeans who wish to stay for up to 90 days. You’ll undergo a separate visa and passport check when you make a border crossing into Canada where you will similarly require an Electronic Travel Authorisation from the Canadian government to enter. For the chillest border crossing possible, be ready to answer questions about your travel purpose and length of stay. Possession of alcohol, tobacco and firearms will be monitored, so save your trip to the liquor store until after crossing.

Bear in mind that major highway crossings tend to be busier than smaller highway and truck routes, meaning that a small detour can save you potential hours queuing in traffic. The Canadian Border Services Agency’s Twitter feed can provide up-to-date information on border waits and opening times, or check here. Those wanting to cross in style should consider investing in a NEXUS card which gives pre-approval for travellers who pay $50 for a five-year card and take an interview with US and Canadian officials at the NEXUS enrolment centre.

Don’t get caught out speeding down the freeway on the other side without first getting to grips with Canada’s metric system. You’ll see speed limits written in kilometres, not miles so check closely on your speedometer for the conversion, or otherwise, check online before heading out.

Photo: StockSnap

Starting point of your Road trip – New York

Before revving off on your New York to Canada road trip, go on a New York City tangent and discover the best of Broadway musicals, Brooklyn vibes and deli bites. New York is a neon-lit cultural powerhouse where high-rise skyscrapers and street-level hot dog stands mingle with grandiose monuments, museums and modern art. For the unconvinced, our dedicated New York City travel guide aims to fill you in on the trendiest areas for sightseeing and partying. For more guidance on where to lay your head for the night, see our rundown of the best gay-friendly hotels in New York City.

New York City | Photo: Florian Wehde

New York to Quebec City – Itinerary

After a hectic few days pounding the asphalt in NYC, begin the epic journey towards Montreal at any pace you choose. The direct journey will be a six to seven-hour drive northwards on I-87 North Highway. (FYI, as well as being a great destination road trip from New York, Montreal is also a 455-mile leg from Philly, 308 miles from Boston and 260 miles from Portland and Maine).

Opt for the scenic route towards Montreal and take a brief interlude at Niagara Falls. The falls are also seven hours from New York, but instead, we take the I-80 West, I-81 North or I-90 West. From there, travellers have the added option of driving to Toronto (1.5 hours via the Queen Elizabeth Way) before making their way to Montreal (5 hours via ON-401 East) and concluding in Quebec City (2.5 hours via Route Transcanadienne / Autoroute 20 East).

Photo: Nathan Ziemanski

Photo: Guillaume Jaillet

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Straddling the US-Canada border, Niagara Gorge rises 160 feet covering three waterfalls where six million cubic feet of water gushes past every minute

Road trip from New York to Niagara Falls

If a dousing at Niagara Falls is on your to-do list, pack your umbrella hat and poncho and read on. Straddling the US-Canada border, Niagara Gorge rises 160 feet covering three waterfalls where six million cubic feet of water gushes past every minute. The most powerful in the whole of North America, these falls are spectacular viewed from any angle, either side of the border. Boat rides on the US side operate daily.

Niagara Falls | Photo: Sergey Pesterev

Toronto

Return to your vehicle and make the short dash to Toronto, hopefully arriving in time to sample a Toronto Cocktail or two. Not only repped by the likes of Drake and Keanu Reeves, Toronto is also well known for its lid-off diversity where 230 nationalities communicate in over 140 languages – although English remains lingua franca. Travel the city’s distinct cultural microcosms, getting drunk on heady spices in Little India and full up on hearty local produce in Greektown. A foodie’s last stand, Toronto honours Canada’s indigenous heritage while embracing diversity, with an exciting range of fusion and authentic global cuisine. Toronto’s openness extends through to its gay scene, where Church Wellesley Gay Village acts as the central hangout for a gay community that now spills into the trendy area of Queen Street West, Old Cabbagetown and beyond.

Read up on more of Toronto’s downplayed best bits, with Mr Hudson’s Toronto travel guide.

Parc de la Cité-du-Havre, Montreal | Photo: Marc Olivier Jodoin

Montreal

Whether you’ve come straight from the border or taken a sojourn in Toronto, Montreal will feel like a whole world away. Distinctly Canadian yet licked with French heritage, Montreal features European-style avenues side by side with chaotic Chinatown alleyways and, of course, an internationally contending Gay Village. The second-largest city in Canada, Montreal is also the world’s second-largest French-speaking city, although – unlike Paris – English is widely spoken.

Either way, brush up on your Français and you won’t regret it. A little effort goes a long way and a few words in French can quickly make you a local friend or two. As for dating, old school Montrealians still seem to prefer face-to-face flirtation in bars, nightclubs and bathhouses over hook-up apps. Discover more of Montreal with our full-length Montreal travel guide.

Photo: Talen De St Croix

Photo: Louis Renaudineau

Montreal to Quebec City drive

Take your sweet time on the next leg which will take you from Montreal to Quebec City through rural Canada at its most mesmerising, dotted as it is with quaint towns, local wineries and boutique districts. More slow-paced than its opposing urban ends, Quebec province allows visitors to return to nature, rekindling an appreciation for the simple things such as moseying through forests, indulging in farm-to-table fare and exploring the provincial sites of a gone-by era alongside a friendly diverse community.

The wider Quebec province encompasses the majority of Canada’s northeast, flanking Ontario in the west and rugged Newfoundland in the east. Feel free to venture further north for hiking excursions and picturesque drives, but for now, we stick to the more populated areas, following the St Lawrence River east to where Quebec City sits spoiled with stunning backdrops including Montmorency Falls, the Jacques-Cartier National Park and a variety of idyllic isles just moments from the centre.

Quebec | Photo: DEZALB

Quebec city

Unique across North America for its colonial fortifications, QC is an intriguing endpoint for our NYC to Quebec City road trip, where historical sites and cobbled streets provide the backdrop for a packed cultural calendar and lively night-time escapades. Of the many things to do in Quebec City, be sure to take a romantic walk and soak up the city’s Nouvelle-France architecture before winding up in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhood, where the city’s queer centre lies on Rue Saint-Jean. Despite lacking an official gay village, Quebec City is as liberal as they come, being one of the first jurisdictions in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The energy, passion and inclusivity in this city are clear – your rainbow flags and excessive PDA won’t even raise an eyebrow. While the use of English is pervasive in Quebec, attempting a greeting in French will again win you much favour with the locals… Essayez-le aujourd’hui!

Let us help you plan your New York to Canada road trip

Save undue stress and time by outsourcing your trip planning our one of Mr Hudson’s Trip Design experts. We’ll put together a full itinerary along with details of where to stay, things to do and see on your journey, based on your likes, needs and travel interests. Learn more about our Trip Design service here.

Quebec | Photo: Alain Audet

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