Tour Eastern Canada recommendations
February 18, 2014 9:05 AM   Subscribe

My in-laws are flying in from India to Boston. They've never been to Canada and are curious to see the Eastern part including Toronto, Ottawa, Quebuc, Montreal. Do you have any recommendations on guiding tour companies which they may enjoy. (Please note, they aren't open to renting a car, so I'm researching guided tour options). Thanks in advance, -Z
posted by quiverandquill to Travel & Transportation around Charlottetown, PE (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A little clarification - as big as the USA is, Canada is enormous. Do they want to visit all of those cities? Are they aware they'll need to fly between them, or take a very long trainride? It's 500km between Boston and Montreal, and more than that between Montreal and Toronto. (And Quebec City is another 300km north of Montreal...)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:29 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Clarifying: they don't know what they want and I don't know Canada well enough to guide them. They do want to see more than one city and they have taken bus tours in the past enabling them to do so. But I'm very open to your thoughts.
posted by quiverandquill at 9:31 AM on February 18, 2014

I don't have much advice regarding tour companies, but do make sure they are aware of the visa requirements for Indian citizens visiting Canada. Many Americans treat trips to Canada fairly casually, but if you are an Indian without a green card, these trips need to be planned well in advance in order to get an appointment at the Canadian consulate for a visa.
posted by peacheater at 9:44 AM on February 18, 2014

How is their English? Would they want to take a trip with an English speaking guide, or would it be easier for them in their native language? That might help narrow down the options.
posted by barnone at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2014

You're naming things that are more central-ish Canada, not eastern. Eastern Canada is generally considered the Maritime provinces like New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Get them to clarify whether they want to see the big cities of Canada or if they want to see the actual east side of the country. Very different experiences. FWIW The Maritime provinces are beautiful, much smaller, and they'd be able to hit a bunch of cities if they wanted to. However, since most non-Canadians seem to think Toronto is most of Canada, best to take them there or else they may feel gipped out of an experience... (sigh...)

Also, like Slap*Happy said, this country is HUGE and the cities aren't just a hop skip and a jump apart. hundreds of kilometres separate the cities (except Ottawa and Montreal, they are fairly close-ish). You really need to nail down what they actually want to see. Toronto and Montreal and Niagra Falls and Quebec City are sort of classics and are places people have usually sort of heard of (vs. places like Halifax and Saint John) but there is big distances between. If they are hell bent on truly seeing all the cities you named then they need to be prepared to spend a great deal of their trip in transit.

When are they coming here? Time of year and weather matters.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

IF you do make the choice to go to Atlantic Canada feel free to memail me if you want some suggestions on things to do and places to see so that they can get a properly quality Canadian experience.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:26 AM on February 18, 2014

This company works with VIA rail and they have a package that seems like it might fit the bill. You can see the packages that VIA offers here. Train travel is very pleasant. I haven't used the tour company myself though.
posted by Cuke at 10:27 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folk, OP is looking for tour guide advice not "ways to make Canadians fight with each other"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:28 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Collette Vacations is pretty good, and they are based around Boston.

I have no personal affiliation with them; I once thought about applying for an IT job, but did not.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2014

When I worked at a nice resort in the Canadian Rockies (western Canada), Tauck Tours were one of the most highly regarded tour companies. Their guides always seemed very attentive and organized. This tour in particular seems to hit all your marks and Niagara Falls as well!
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:57 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend a cruise. They can pick it up in Boston, and take it all around the Atlantic coast. it's not going to hit inland, but I'll bet it's a really pretty trip!

What's great about a cruise, is that you're not trapped on a bus for hours on end between locations. You're on a ship, with things to do, places to hang out lots of options for meals. You unpack once, make yourself at home in your cabin and there are vetted port excursions at each stop. It's WAY more comfortable to rest in your cabin, than it is to be bumping along the highway with a bunch of other people

Cruises are inexpensive and relaxing. You're not fussing with loading and unloading every day, and you have lots of options in port and on the ship.

Holland is also a bit of an older clientele, we had a ball on our cruise, but we're fuddy-duddies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2014

If Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa are the main interest points, might I suggest staying in Montreal as a base point and taking two small separate side trips of a 2-3 days to Quebec and Ottawa. There are plenty of bus tours from Montreal to both Quebec City and Ottawa.

Toronto would be a little harder to get to from there, since it's a 5 hour drive (by car, at least). It depends how much time your in-laws have... visiting all four cities could make for a really really long and tiring trip.
posted by ohmy at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2014

I agree that, assuming they have a week or so, you might think about picking three of your cities, rather than fitting in all four.

Quebec City is smaller, more of a historic/tourist town, the others are major modern cities. Toronto is obviously the biggest and most cosmopolitan.

If you decide to include Toronto, the Thousand Islands region is also a nice scenic spot (you can do a short boat tour of the islands, then get a nice meal in Kingston, another small city) along one route from Toronto to Ottawa.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2014

Canada has some World Heritage sites and National Parks. In my experience, UNESCO WH sites are worth the travel. Nat. Parks in the US are pretty terrific, I'll bet the ones in Canada are, too. Canada's east coast has wonderful fiddlers and other great music, but I don't have links.
posted by theora55 at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2014

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