Ever since I set foot in Canada for the first time four years ago, I’ve been in love. I was smitten by the friendliness of locals and the beauty of the scenery alike. In no other place had I experienced so much vast emptiness whilst at the same time always finding things to do, people to hang out with and adventures to have. I knew I had to return – and luckily it finally came to the point where Ontario Travel invited me to explore the province for a while, so now I can tell you all about it!

When you think about traveling to Canada the first provinces to come to mind might be British Columbia and Alberta – who doesn’t want to see the Rockies and Vancouver? You might think en français and head for a French-Canadian experience in Montreal and Quebec. But what about Toronto, Maple tree country, the Niagara Falls, extensive forest, Ottawa and of course the Great Lakes? There’s so much to do and see in Ontario and I have come to love this province just as much as I loved BC back on my first trip.

I spent two weeks in Ontario in total, but decided to turn this into a 1o day itinerary, because really the second week of my trip I spent coffee shop-hopping around Toronto and catching up on work rather than exploring in a traditional sense – so I condensed my Toronto experience to a couple of days to make it more realistic.

Here is how I’d recommend you spend 10 days in Ontario.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Killarney (2 days)

While I first landed in Toronto I immediately got aboard a domestic flight to Sudbury, 1h northwest of Toronto (around 4h by car). Here I picked up a rental car and made my way to Killarney, a tiny town at the end of a dead-end highway towards the Georgian Bay.

This place is a typical holiday spot; many people have summer cottages up here and spend their entire summer by the lake. The great advantage though is that it’s considered quite a trek from Toronto, so most holidayers rent or buy a cottage closer to the city – Muskoka County is a popular area for that. Hence, Killarney is a lot quieter and a lot of visitors actually arrive by sail boat, anchoring in the picturesque town harbour.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

I spent two nights at Killarney Mountain Lodge, a beautiful resort that has recently been taken over by new management and is now being extended to offer even more space to visitors. I stayed in a small wooden hut that looked how you’d imagine a Canadian cabin to look, and enjoyed my morning and evening strolls along the water. People were lounging in typical Muskoka chairs (those low, wooden lounge chairs) and simply enjoying life.

This is a great place to wind down at the beginning of your trip and get a picture-book impression of Ontario. Hike to the lighthouse, take a boat trip, indulge in fresh seafood and ice cream, and gather up all the energy you’ll need for the upcoming days.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Killarney Provincial Park (2-3 days)

From Killarney I went a few minutes back up the highway for an adventure out of a fairytale: canoe-camping in Killarney Provincial Park. I had always wanted to try this kind of backcountry-camping – maybe the idea of schlepping with all your gear on your back didn’t appeal to me, because with canoe camping bringing your tent, equipment and food to the middle of nowhere becomes low- to no-effort.

I was joined by a guide from Killarney Outfitters to make sure I, or the food, wouldn’t get devoured by a bear – in fact I didn’t see a single bear, moose or deer anywhere. To be totally honest, I was a bit disappointed by that, but on the other hand that meant that I could sleep peacefully in my tent.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Killarney Provincial Park is abundant with lakes and gorgeous campsites, each for one group only – so you get everything to yourself. Simply apply for a permit and choose which lake appeals to you the most. I loved our camp at Killarney Lake from where I could watch the fog gather over the water surface and the sun rise every morning from behind the hills.

To read more about my adventures in Killarney and Killarney Provincial Park, read the full story here.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Haliburton Forest (1 day)

Returning from canoe camping around lunch time I made my way back south towards Haliburton Forest, a huge privately-run forest just south of Algonquin Provincial Park. It was quite a long drive after an exhausting weekend of paddling and hiking, but so worth it!

I stayed at Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Centre, the base camp for all activities in the forest, which span from conventional camping to extensive hiking and even snow-mobiling in the winter. It was Labour Day weekend so I was lucky to join the annual Hog Roast party the centre organises for its staff, campers and local community. I dug right into the veggie sides and numerous salads, observed a vicious game of tug-of-war from a safe distance and got entertained by no-care-in-the-world line dancers swinging along to Lady Gaga and her likes.

Well-rested from a night in my own personal cabin I joined one of the centre’s signature activities: the Canopy Tour. The elevated walkway high up in the trees gives you a great perspective of the forest, but first we had to canoe to its start across a lake in the middle of the forest.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

The family behind Haliburton Forest manages an area of 100,000 acres of forest, which is a lot of land – and every year they purchase more land. While they still log in the area, they have found a way to earn money with this whilst at the same time sticking to a sustainable logging schedule. Our guides Dave and Paul gave us great insight into what that means, talking about considerations over which trees were growing where, at which ‘age’ they were logged and how animal stocks were controlled.

Once we arrived at the start of the canopy walkway we got a thorough induction to our harnesses and the safe use of the carabiners – but soon after we found ourselves in groups of 2 or 3 braving the heights and working our way along the 26 bridges of the walkway. The highlight of the tour was without question our break at a spacious platform where we sat down for refreshments, veggie sticks and to soak up the view over the forest and lakes.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all! From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Before my trip continued I sat down for lunch at the on-site restaurant and visited the Wolf Centre where I was lucky enough to spot the alpha male snoozing in the shade. It was a hot day after all!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Niagara Falls & Niagara on the Lake (1 day)

I spent the night in Toronto but left the city early (yay, morning traffic) to visit the Niagara Falls and explore the tranquil little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara Falls

Deciding between visiting the Falls from the US or from Canada is not easy – ideally you could do both, but with only one day to spare and without the necessary papers to cross the border, I stuck to the Canadian side. And what an adventurous morning I had!

If your budget allows for it start your day with a helicopter flight over the Niagara Falls (CAD$140) – it really is ‘the thrill of a lifetime’! During the flight you get awesome views of the Canadian and the US-American falls, and you realise how massive they must be. The experience got me really excited to move closer up and understand the dimensions even better.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Back on the ground I made my way to Table Rock, the central structure at the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. Here I first enjoyed a walk through the Journey behind the Falls, the park’s first attraction and the original way to get close to the Falls. An elevator brings you down almost to the bottom of the falls and a system of tunnels in the rock lets you observe the waterfall from behind. Rain ponchos are provided (and recycled)!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

My third and final experience at the Niagara Falls was a boat tour with the Hornblower which gets you really close to the Falls. This was probably my favourite way to experience the force of the water. You feel so small and insignificant once you’re right underneath the drop, and sharing the experience with so many other people who are dancing and laughing in the spray was an awesome experience – everybody was so happy!

The costs of visiting the Niagara Falls can pile up significantly – parking, attraction passes, refreshments and snacks from the touristy stalls, the inevitable gift shops – but if I had to choose just one attraction, one way to see the Falls, I’d choose the Hornblower cruise as it was simply the most fun!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Niagara on the Lake

Instead of staying in touristy Niagara for lunch I headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a tranquil town just north of the Falls. Everything looked like something out of a TV series and finding a nice restaurant really isn’t hard work. I can highly recommend The Garrison House, especially for its delicious Sicilian olives. This area of Ontario is particularly fertile, so you should try as much fresh local produce as you can – including the wine!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!    From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

There are so many wineries in this area, it’s quite hard to choose. I guess it depends on your budget, but if you are happy to spend CAD$15 on a 40-minute tour that includes 4 little tastings (1x sparkling, 1x white, 1x red & 1x ice wine) Peller Estates Winery is a great option. It is one of the most famous and prestigious wineries in the region, and the estate is just beautiful.

As I was driving I held off the first three tastings but simply had to sip on a glass of ice wine which was served at the Peller 10Below Lounge, a little bar chilled down to a frosty 10C below zero. Luckily we were handed big jackets to keep us warm!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all! From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Toronto (3 days)

Finally, I returned to Toronto and got to explore the city. Three days is a good amount to spend in town, although the more the better. There is a lot to see, both in terms of traditional sightseeing and more casual local-style exploring. There are so many little pockets to be discovered, coffee shops to be frequented, restaurants to try and museums to visit, that I decided to spend an entire week here.

However, if you’re pressed for time 3 days should give you a great introduction to the city. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum, climb the CN Tower and brave the Edge Walk if you’re daring enough. Hop aboard the Tall Ship Kajama, a harbour cruise or simply the ferry to Toronto Island to enjoy the best view of the skyline. Don’t forget to explore the trendy neighbourhoods of Leslieville, The Junction and West Queen West and indulge in vintage shopping. Kensington Market is a great place to hang out during the day and the Distillery District is a prime spot for drinks and dinner. You see, you won’t struggle filling your days with awesome experiences!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all! From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all! From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

As a real treat I stayed at the Thompson Toronto, a stylish boutique hotel with the most amazing rooftop pool you could wish for in Toronto. The views of the skyline, especially for sunrise, are unmet by any other place I have visited, even though this is not the kind of pool to do your morning laps – it’s too small for that. But you’re on holiday after all!

From my room I could see the CN Tower lit up at night, and in the mornings I indulged in a diner-style breakfast at Thompson Diner, one of three restaurants located in the hotel.

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all! From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Good to know before you go:

How to get around: Renting a car and enjoying the freedom of choosing your own itinerary and time schedule is the best way to explore Ontario (or any other Canadian Province) if you ask me. Traffic is pretty straight-forward, maybe a bit intense in downtown Toronto, but nothing even an inexperienced driver like myself couldn’t handle.

Money, money, money: If you come from Europe and are used to Euro or Pound you might be shocked at the prices in Canada – I felt that everything seemed super expensive. Luckily the Canadian Dollar is quite weak at the moment, which allowed me to take a third off the price when converting to GBP. Still, especially eating and drinking out in Toronto is quite pricey – I’m looking at you CAD$8 juice bottle…Make sure to pencil in a little bit of extra budget for the nice things in life like waffles or fresh juices!

Mind the distances: Things in Canada are far apart – driving usually takes longer than you think, and at some point you’ll get hungry, need to fill up on fuel or simply use a bathroom. Distances between service stations can be even further, so when you see one, stop and fill up on all the things you need!

From the bustling streets of Toronto to the waters of Niagara Falls & Killarney Provincial Park; the Travelettes Itinerary for 10 days in Ontario covers it all!

Disclaimer: This trip was supported by Ontario Travel and arranged by Lieb Management.

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.