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Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine

The most secluded getaways from Montreal

From national parks to small towns, every one of these secluded getaways from Montreal have lots to see—except people.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki
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If you're over trying to find a place to throw down a towel on the best beaches in Montreal or a place to picnic in the best Montreal parks, try skipping the city altogether with the most secluded getaways from Montreal. How about distant islands with beaches and rolling waves? National parks with sprawling hiking trails and spots for camping? Sleepy townships and cottage country? You may need to pack your bags and take a drive to get out and away, but it's worth the effort, and most—if not all—of these escapes provide some of the best scenic drives from Montreal as well. The best part's that you can do it all with barely seeing another person, giving you more time to relax and enjoy time alone or with select company.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best travel from Montreal

Where to find the most secluded getaways from Montreal

The land mass of this small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence River may only be about 205 square kilometers in total, but once you're there, it's easy to travel its stretches of road to find wide wind-swept fields and long beaches without seeing a soul. Not that it's uninhabited—the absolutely gorgeous scenery of Îles-de-la-Madeleine (or Magadelen Islands) is a world-class part of Québec for tourism, and there are plenty of restaurants, hotels and quaint bed-and-breakfasts that see many visitors from afar. The day's worth of driving from the city for a lifetime of good memories is unquestionably worth it.

In half the time it takes to get to Îles-de-la-Madeleine, you can find equally beautiful scenery all along this Atlantic-facing  peninsula. Known as the cradle of French America following explorer Jacques Cartier's landing in 1534, this part of the province is full of small fishing villages, national parks (shout out to Forillon National Park, the province's first), wildlife watching (including whales!), and landmarks to explore. All that might make it sound like a tourist's paradise, but the area is vast with only around 130,000 people living along the coast; that means there's plenty of opportunities to have more than a whole square kilometer to yourself, with the only sound being you saying: "Wow."

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Le Bic, Québec
Photograph: Jean-Christophe Lemay

3. Le Bic, Québec

This southwestern part of the muncipality of Rimouski along the Saint-Lawrence River—noticing a theme here?—is where to go for one of our favourite places for camping near Montreal: Parc national du Bic. Good for as many rugged backpacking excursions as it is set up with ready-to-glamp cabins and yurts, this is a part of the province with unrivalled views (see above) of valleys made misty by the brackish water of the Gulf that run through stunted mountains. And that's just inland: Explore capes, bays and coves while you're hiking about as well.

Once you reach it by ferry, Île d'Anticosti is truly one of the more secluded places to go despite being the largest island in the province; Port-Menier is the only inhabited part of it, while the rest remains untouched. Home to over 200,000 white-tailed deer and around 220 bird species alongside rare and sometimes endemic plants you won't find elsewhere, its particular place in seawater has—through storms and time—turned its clifffaces into curved and waving monoliths. Stay in chalets or cabins offered by Sépaq and spend your days wandering its unparalled views.

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Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Photograph: Mathieu Dupuis

5. Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

Get this: Colossal limestone outcroppings that run along a seaside that's filled with whales and seals frolicking in the waves. Not enough? How about a selection of accommodations that go from camping in the wild to glamping in cabin setups and four-star stays in a lighthouse? If you're hungry for more after all of that, try discovering the edible plant life of the Boreal forest—think creeping snowberry, balsam fir, cloudberries, lingonberry, Labrador tea—with a tour offered by Services Maritimes Boréale. In between, go hiking or seakayayking, followed by wandering the coastline on foot. Peace and tranquility abound here.

Located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, the area known as Prince Edward County proper is populated plenty, but the towns that make it up are all full of friendly Canadians who can leave you to your devices. If you're looking to stay away from civilization, find a spot to camp in Sandbanks Provincial Park and enjoy the long soft sandy beaches. If you want a personalized experience or two, try dipping your toes into any one of the region's vineyards for tastings, courses for a round of golf, or check into a spa before sleeping in quiet bed and breakfasts.

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From the Saint-Lawrence River heading inland, the regional county municipality known as Charlevoix offers as many seaside attraction as it does sweeping mountainside views that almost rival that of the Rockies. The region's national parks and whale-watching in the summer are profoundly Instagrammable, while its châteaus and gastronomy are feasts for the eyes and stomach. If your idea of a secluded getaway is the chance to hike to points until you feel like you're a stand-in for Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, this is where you want to go.

North of Montreal, this region's proximity to the city—coupled with its natural escapes—make it an easy getaway that's easy on both the eyes and your wallet. Sure, you could spring for the chalets of Saint-Sauveur or Mont Tremblant and seclude yourself in the lap of luxury, but camping and hiking in the famous wide open spaces of its wildlife preserves provide a (literally) down-to-earth experience unlike any other. If you're short on time but equally short on patience to make your isolation from daily life as quick as possible, this is likely your best bet. 

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Known as the gateway to La Pêche River, this small unassuming Outaouais town moves at a drastically different pace—all the more surprising, given how close it is to Montreal and Ottawa. Life there moves as slowly as its current, and the area is home to artists, farmers and entrepreneurs looking for a quieter place to exist, one that you're more than welcome to immerse yourself in. Hit the taverns and restaurants if you want company, but the real gems here are off-the-grid folk who rent out their houseboats for truly disconnected experiences.

Back up in the Gaspésie, this small island on the Saint-Lawrence River nary a hour or two by ferry off the shore is a microcosm of isolation that only so many can reap the benefits of in summer and winter. Rent out its lighthouse accommodations and spend your days wandering the coastline pondering that novel or screenplay you wanted to write, practice your painting, or whip out your camera whenever whales breach or seals start playing in the water. It's a simple place that's fairly easy to get to, but being feels leagues away from the everyday hum and drum of the city.

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It's all about the fjords here. Skip the cruise liner experiences and plan a scenic passage along its roads by motorcycle or car or bike, and enjoy immersing yourself in a Nordic fantasy without ever having to cross the Atlantic. Pay a visit to Parc national des Monts-Valin to enjoy the sights from the highest point in the region, or see the famous glacier-carved fjord in Parc national de Fjord-du-Saguneay, before settling in under the stars in ready-to-glamp cabins or following a canoe-camping excursion into the wild. 

Good for long, scenic drives through farmland, the Eastern Townships are for those looking for the more bucolic experience without having to travel too far. Amble along the paths around the Ulverton Woollen Mills, built in 1840, or hit the trails of Parc national du Mont-Orford until you reach the top of Escalier-du-Nord for a view; sample foods from local farms, or just keep to yourself in the cafés, bars and restaurants of Sherbrooke; wherever you go and whatever you do, it's easy to forget city life was ever a thing during your visit to this region.

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While it's not fully disconnected from civilization, hats go off to Montebello for both its lakeside experiences and how it's home to one of the fanciest damn hotels this side of Eastern Canada: The Château Montebello, the largest log structure in the world that's run by Fairmont hotels. There, you can expect primo services where you can leave the Do Not Disturb sign on your door for as long as you like before hitting its spa. If cashflow's a problem, consider a natural escape into the Lagunas de Montebello natural park. Whatever your plan, be sure to check if the Montebello Rockfest is on when you go, or else there will be headbangers in every direction you look.

Want more travel ideas from Montreal?

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