Best Cars for Winter Road Trips in Canada​

popular winter destinations

Canada is an amazing country to visit year-round where destinations such as Quebec, Whistler, St. Johns, and Ottawa are even better in winter. For an awesome winter road trip in Canada, VroomVroomVroom has compiled the best and most popular rental cars guaranteed to keep you safe while on vacation.

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Visit many of Quebec City's top attractions with an SUV

Whether you are looking for a romantic winter getaway or just looking for a good time, the old town of Quebec City offers an experience unlike any other. A 3-hour drive east of Montreal makes for a doable day trip, allowing enough time to explore the city.

​Recommended Car: Because the drive from Montreal to Quebec is a few hours, book an intermediate SUV like a Toyota Rav 4 or similar for comfort and sufficient luggage room. This type of rental car is also ideal if you are traveling with a large family or a big group.

chateau frontenac in quebec city

Useful tips: Beware that in the province of Quebec, all vehicle fleet are required to be equipped with Winter Tires by law during the period of December 15th to March 15th.

Highlights:

  • Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec. During the holidays, the whole area sparkles with lights at night and will make you say, "This is the most charming town I have ever seen.​"
  • Find time to visit the four different ski resorts near Quebec City, as it hosts the largest winter festival in the world.
  • Ski at Le Massif de Charlevoix​ while admiring the gorgeous scenery of the Canadian Rockies or head to the Observatoire de la Capitale for a bird’s eye view of the city.​
  • Visit the Les Halles Cartier​ market ​​for some pastries and other delicious local treats and snacks.​

Getting there: You can book a car rental in Montreal. Take Autoroute Ville-Marie/Autoroute 720 E​ and continue onto Route Transcanadienne/Autoroute 20 E.

​Book an intermediate car and enjoy Ottawa's winter magic

Known for the iconic Rideau Canal Skateway, the country's capital is undoubtedly the best place to visit in winter. If you want an easy city break, there are plenty of wonderful things to do in Ottawa even in winter that will make you want to return again for another visit.

Recommended Car: Rent an intermediate car like a Toyota Corolla or similar and enjoy the drive to Ottawa as well as in and around the city. This type of rental car is ideal if you need more space for passengers and luggage than most smaller cars.

rideau canal in ottawa during winter

Useful tips: Check the weather and road conditions​. Make sure to practice driving and navigating the road surface before you embark on your journey.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy the spectacular views of Ottawa's Parliament buildings while sliding and twirling on the ice. Of course, this whole ice experience is not complete without eating your very first beavertail.
  • Get warm by visiting some of the best museums in the city, including the Canadian War Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint, and the Museum of Nature.
  • Time your vacation to coincide with the magical Winter Festival Winterlude.
  • Catch a hockey game at the Canadian Tire Centr​e.​

Getting there: Ottawa is located two hours west of Montreal and four hours drive northeast of Toronto. You can rent a car at Montreal Airport (YUL) and take Route Transcanadienne O/Autoroute 40 O​ and Trans-Canada Hwy/ON-417 W to Ottawa.​

Drive an economy car from Vancouver to Whistler

Whistler is a winter playground for anyone planning to visit Canada, and while it’s known for its breathtaking downhill skiing, that’s not all that attracts tourists here. Situated just two hours from Vancouver, there are many unique winter activities in Whistler other than snowboarding and skiing.

Recommended Car: If you are on a tight budget, book an economy car like a Chevrolet Spark or similar for your next trip in Whistler.

hiking at the top of the whistlers mountain

Useful tips: Note that winter tires are not required on roadways in the City of Vancouver, or on the Lower Mainland highways, but are required on the Sea-to-Sky, as well as routes north and east of Hope, and on many major highways in the British Columbia Interior and northern regions.

Highlights:

  • Winter activities here include sleigh rides, skating, hiking, heli-skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, winter fishing, snowcat tours and more.​
  • Spoil yourself by booking a room at the Nita Lake Lodge, a luxury lodge with amazing farm-to-table dining and awesome amenities.​
  • Don't forget to pamper yourself by spending a day at the Scandinave Spa while admiring the gorgeous view of the peaceful Lost Lake Park.
  • Shop till you drop from an array of boutique shops, galleries, gift shops, souvenir stores and artisan markets in Whistler.

Getting there: Rent a car in Vancouver and take BC-1A N/BC-99 N​ and Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 W/BC-99 N​ to reach Whistler.

Explore the city of St. John's with a full-size car

If you want to see plenty of snow, St. John’s is the perfect winter getaway. The city, which is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, offers a plethora of winter activities from snowshoeing to sliding and skating.

Recommended Car: If you want comfort and reliability,​ book a full-size car like a Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion or similar. This type of rental car is also more suitable for longer journeys.

woman skiing in the mountain

Useful tips: Note that during the winter season, all rental vehicles include an ice scraper and snow brush free of charge.​ Always make sure to plan your route in advance and don't forget to pack a map, flashlight, first aid kit, and a blanket in case of an emergency.

Highlights:

  • Free to the public, go skating at the Loop at Bannerman Park.
  • Visit the Basilica Cathedral of St. John's and soak up the stunning architecture.
  • The Quidi Vidi Plantation is a great place to buy unique gifts for friends and family.
  • Of course, snowshoeing the East Coast Trail is not to be missed.

Getting there: St. John's is only a 2-hour drive from Clarenville. Head southwest on Memorial Dr/NL-230A S toward Strongs Rd​ and turn left ​onto Trans-Canada Hwy/NL-1 E​. Take exit 41A to merge onto NL-2 E toward Mount Pearl/Saint John's until you reach St. John's.

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