Welcome to the picturesque town of Tobermory, located on the beautiful Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Known for its stunning landscapes, crystal clear waters, and rich biodiversity, Tobermory offers a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers and those craving tranquility. This Tobermory itinerary will guide you through the must see attractions and the best of Bruce Peninsula.
Spend a day hiking to the grotto, admire the gorgeous blue waters from cliffs above, sing around a camp fire under the stars & so much more!
Tobermory is approximately 4 hours away from Toronto and is the perfect place for locals and tourists alike to spend a summer holiday. So, get ready, pack your bathing suit and sunscreen and let’s visit the turquoise waters of Ontario.
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What is special about Tobermory?
Tobermory, Ontario is located within one of the most gorgeous areas in Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula. Visitors come from all over the world to see the gorgeous blue waters and famous underwater shipwrecks at Fathom Five National Marine Park.
The area is known for it’s unique geological rock formations (Flowerpot Island), the Grotto, the towering forests and cliffs overlooking crystal-clear waters.
Although Tobermory is mostly known for it’s proximity to some of the most beautiful parks in Ontario, the town itself has a unique charm worth visiting. The harbour, cute shops, ice cream parlours and colourful buildings, all add to the allure of the town.
When is the best time to visit Tobermory?
Typically the best time to visit Tobermory is during the summer months from June to September. The weather is best, there are longer daylight hours and optimal conditions to hike, kayak, swim and more!
However, the crowds can be overwhelming during the summers, especially summer weekends.
Therefore, I will take it a step further, and say that I recommend early autumn, WEEKDAYS to be the best time to visit. This will significantly decrease the crowds. That’s just me being me though… you have to visit when it’s most convenient for you.
Early autumn weather is still gorgeous. Temperatures range from 10°C – 18°C (50°F – 65°C) with minimal rainfall.
The autumnal colours will send you overboard, I don’t know how many times I see fall foliage and it is still one of the best things my eyes have seen.
How to get from Toronto to Tobermory?
Driving to Tobermory
There are several options for traveling from Toronto to Tobermory. The most convenient way is by driving which takes approximately four hours.
If you are from the Toronto area, or anywhere within Ontario really, it should be pretty easy to get to Tobermory. We are used to the long cottage country drives over here in Canada.
However, if you are visiting Toronto from afar and want to stop over at Tobermory and the national parks, I definitely recommend renting a car.
The most common route is past the city of Brampton, taking Highway 10 north and getting on Highway 6 at Owen Sound all the way until Tobermory.
Bus to Tobermory
Parkbus is a bus company that provides services from Toronto to Tobermory & Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Parkbus’ mission is to help people, especially those without cars, get to parks & outdoor destinations easier!
They do not recommend visiting Tobermory as a day trip, neither do I. However, you do have the option to book a return same day.
How many days should I spend in Tobermory and Bruce Peninsula?
To fully experience the wonders of Tobermory and its surrounding parks, I recommend at least 3-4 days.
Our stay in Tobermory: 4 days, 3 nights (including travel from Toronto).
Where to stay in Tobermory?
Tobermory offers a range of accommodation options to suit every preference and budget. You can choose from cozy bed and breakfast, comfortable cottages, lakeside resorts or campsites.
I personally recommend staying in a cottage or vacation rental. This will give you a true feel of northern Ontario.
I have been visiting cottages every summer for my whole life (the perks of growing up in Toronto), and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than waking up to the smell of bacon, overlooking a gorgeous lake, with a full day of fun and relaxation ahead of you. Trust me.
Tobermory Cottages & Vacation Rentals
Popular places to stay around Tobermory include the town centre, or nearby cottage country area.
Do NOT forget to book WELL in advance. Some gorgeous cottage / vacation rentals near Tobermory include:
- 3 beds, 2 bath: sleeps 6
- Great location
- Nespresso & Keurig coffee for your morning needs
- High speed Wifi
- Fire pit (for use if NO fire ban in effect)
- Great for those: who need to work (wifi), travelling in a larger group / family travel
- 5 star rating
- 3 beds, 2 bath: sleeps 8
- Fabulous location: 3 minute drive from town, 17 minute drive to the Grotto
- 55 inch TV
- BBQ access
- Bonfire with Muskoka chairs (a Canadian cottage CLASSIC).
- Great for those: who want fast access to town!
- 4.9 STARS
- 4 beds, 2 bath: sleeps 8
- Memory foam toppers on the mattresses!
- Waterfront property
- Great for those: travelling in bigger groups, wanting lake front access!
- 5 STARS
- 2 bed, 1 bath: sleeps 4
- Lake view cottage!!
- Close to hiking trails
- Location: 22 minutes from Tobermory town
- Great for: small families, those who love to cook! (spacious kitchen available for use)
Big Tub Harbour Resort is a waterfront hotel in Tobermory, Ontario. The location is perfect for sight seeing or hiking in the gorgeous Bruce Peninsula National Park.
The hotel has cottage style rentals or hotel rooms available. Big Tub Harbour Resort is a great choice for those who wish to explore the region or those who wish to relax and swim just steps from their door.
The Bruce Anchor Motel & Cottages is located in the heart of Tobermory. This is a perfect spot to lay your head after a long day of hiking and swimming in Bruce Peninsula National Park!
Bruce Anchor Motel & Cottages offers affordable and different room options for those travelling on a lower budget. Check them out if you want to visit Tobermory for less!
Cyprus Lake Campground
Cyprus Lake Campground is another great option for your Tobermory itinerary. It is perfect for those who wish to camp in the area! This campsite fills up extremely fast. Please book WELL in advance to ensure your desired dates!
Cyprus Lake has 232 drive-in campsites available for rent; each site offers a picnic table, fire pit, access to outhouses and showers, WiFi, and sports areas.
Important Information for your Tobermory ItineraryIf you take anything away from this itinerary, let it be these 5 tips:
- Plan this trip FAR in advance: Tobermory and Bruce Peninsula are super hot tourist destinations for many Ontario residents, as well as tourists visiting from afar. Hotels, cottages, hiking trail parking and camp sites will fill up very fast. As soon as you know you want to visit, BOOK!
- Book parking for your hikes: Parking lots for hikes work on a booking system. You must make a reservation in advance. If you do not have a parking reservation, there is NO outside access to the parks. Click here to book parking for the Grotto and Halfway Log Dump.
- Aim to visit Tobermory & Bruce Peninsula on weekdays and in off season. Weekends (especially long weekends), are PACKED. Avoid crowds!
- Leave enough time for hikes: Do not jam pack your itinerary and miss out on important things because you did not leave enough time for a 6 hour hike! Plan accordingly!!
- Download the free app Alltrails here for important hiking trail information.
Tobermory Itinerary: The Best of Bruce Peninsula
Ready for one of the most beautiful destinations in Ontario? You’re in the right place, let’s dive head first into the crystal clear waters of Bruce Peninsula!
Day 1: Travel Toronto to Tobermory & Lion’s Head Provincial Park
Morning: Travel from Toronto to Tobermory
Get up early for your road trip to Tobermory! If living within Ontario with access to a car, getting to Tobermory should be easy peasy!
If you are visiting from afar, I recommend renting a car to make the trip out to Tobermory, click here for Rental Cars deals & discounts!
Afternoon: Lion’s Head Provincial Park
Lion’s Head Lookout Trail
Lion’s Head Lookout Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in Lion’s Head Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. This popular trail offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline along Georgian Bay, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and avid hikers.
The McCurdy trailhead is where the Lion’s Head Lookout trail begins. This is where you are taken on an exhilarating journey through a diverse landscape of forests, rocky terrain and STUNNING cliff formations.
As you hike, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the turquoise waters below.
The hike is approximately 3.5 kilometres one way and is categorized as moderate difficulty. The trail is very well marked and maintained, we had no issues following along.
Although the hike is marked moderate, we were able to do it with ease, after a summer of not much hiking (so do not worry)!!
The higher you go, the more beautiful the views will be. Once at the top, the Lion’s Head Lookout point, you will have unobstructed views of the turquoise waters crashing against the cliffs.
The trail can be uneven at some points, so make sure to wear sturdy and appropriate shoes. We just wore running shoes, however, hiking shoes may be needed for variable weather.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or just casually visiting Tobermory, the Lion’s Head Lookout Trail is a MUST-see. You won’t believe that these waters exist in Ontario. This hike is one of the highlights of my summer. I can’t wait to do it again!!
Lion’s Head Harbour and Lighthouse
Lion’s Head Harbour and Lighthouse will be a relaxing break for you after your long hike! The area is SO picturesque, bring your camera, you are in for a treat!
There is parking right at the harbour, this is a pay for parking lot.
Spend as little or as much time here, the views are gorgeous. Sit on the rocks or soak your feet in the cool blue waters.
Evening: Camp fire
Head back to your cottage or Tobermory accommodation and have a camp fire.
Be sure to look into fire bans in the area, if there is one in effect, you are not allowed to have a fire!
Day 2: Bruce Peninsula National Park
Morning: Halfway Log Dump Hike
The Bruce Trail Halfway Log Dump Hike to the Grotto is a captivating trail in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
You must book your parking in advance for this trailhead. They offer 6 hour slots for parking, I recommend booking this first thing in the morning so you can complete the harder hike in the morning and relax in the afternoon!
Some personal advice for this hike:
We hiked this trail in the thoughts that we would end at the Grotto and spend time there with enough time to hike back. PLEASE, do not try this if you are not a seasoned hiker (or up for 7km there, 7km back).
Not only did we not have enough time to hike back within the 6 hours, we had to hitchhike from the Grotto parking lot to the Halfway Log Dump parking lot to go pick up our car…
This is just a warning, if you feel as though you can make this hike in the right amount of time, by all means go for it! If I was to redo this, I would do this hike with the aim of NOT visiting the Grotto and then visit the Grotto in the afternoon or another day via their parking lot.
That being said, this trail is GORGEOUS. As you hike, you will witness the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment.
The route follows a section of the famous Bruce Trail, which stretches over 900 kilometres total. You can end at the Grotto or turn back whenever you are ready to!
Afternoon: The Grotto
The Grotto, a gorgeous cave with a natural blue waters below, is one of the most POPULAR things to do in Tobermory.
In my opinion, this is well worth the visit, however, definitely overrated. I preferred the Halfway Log Dump starting points. Anyway… this Tobermory itinerary would be incomplete without it.
If you were able to complete the Halfway Log Dump hike all the way to the Grotto, congratulations! That is no small feat. If not, opt to book another parking slot at The Grotto for a more relaxing time.
The Grotto’s parking is for 4 hour time slots. This is enough time to park yourself on the rocks, go for a swim and take in the gorgeous views.
The Georgian Bay Trail hike from the parking lot to the Grotto is about 30 minutes in length, with an easy rating.
You can head straight to the Grotto or stop at Indian Head Cove, which is a white boulder beach you will pass on your way there. Indian Head Cove is a great place to stop for a swim before you relax above the Grotto.
Once at the Grotto, PLEASE be careful. People were climbing down the cave, and jumping into the water, do so at your own risk (I do NOT recommend this). The former lifeguard in me sees red flags all over the place.
Enjoy your four hours at the Grotto before making your way back to your car!
Click here for The Georgian Bay Trail hike, from The Grotto, you can finish the trail through Horse Lake or Marr Lake.
Evening: Campfire under the stars
After a VERY long hiking and swimming day, spend the rest of your evening with some BBQ and campfire!
Day 3: Fathom Five National Park & Flowerpot Island
Morning: Boat Cruise or Kayak over Shipwrecks at Fathom Five National Park
Start your morning by boarding a boat cruise that will take you on an immersive journey through the calm waters of Lake Huron. As the boat glides along, enjoy the panoramic views of the picturesque shoreline and expansive lake!
You will be seeing some of the coolest time capsules in Canada! The sunken shipwrecks are found under crystal clear waters, and honestly it’s kind of eerie.
After visiting the shipwrecks, the boat will take you to Flowerpot Island. I recommend getting off the boat and hiking around the area if you have time!
Both boat companies offer drop off round trips to Flowerpot Island and/or stay aboard scenic boat trips. Additionally, Blue Heron and Bruce Anchor cruises both offer glass bottom boat tours to get the BEST views of the shipwrecks at Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Afternoon: Flowerpot Island
Flowerpot Island Loop Trail
This is an easy 3.5 kilometre, captivating hike within Fathom Five National Marine Park. Flowerpot Island Loop Trail will take you on a journey around the island. Start at the dock and set off on your journey through the forest.
The iconic flowerpot formations are some of the most stunning geological formations, they literally look like flowerpots. Flowerpot Island loop hike is full of gorgeous look out points with panoramic views of Lake Huron.
Click here to view this hike on the free app Alltrails (download it, it’s easy to use & free).
Evening: Big Tub Lighthouse & Tobermory Town
Located on Big Tub Harbour is the popular Big Tub Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in the 1800’s and used as a navigational guide for ships using the harbour.
It is now a tourist attraction that is visited by a number of people each year. Big Tub Lighthouse is a short walk from the parking lot. You do not need much time here.
I suggest taking a few photos or relaxing on the rocks as you take in the views!
We spent about 30 minutes here maximum.
Spend the rest of your evening walking around town, enjoy some ice cream at the local ice cream parlour or get a true Canadian treat, a Beavertail!
Extra Time in Tobermory
Singing Sands Beach
If you have extra time in Tobermory, I recommend visiting Singing Sands Beach. Singings Sands Beach is a gorgeous crystal-clear water beach with white sands.
I mean, more beautiful waters with sand to relax on? Where do you go wrong here?
Still craving some exercise? Go for a swim or walk along their boardwalk!
The reason this is not on my main itinerary was due to the fact that it was hiking heavy, however, if you want a more relaxing Tobermory trip, switch out a hike for a day at Singing Sands Beach.
TIP: If you have a parking pass for The Grotto or Halfway Log Dump, you have free parking at the Singing Sands Beach.
Day 4: Head back to Toronto from Tobermory
Morning: Pack up and head back to Toronto
On the way back from Tobermory, head to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery for some delicious cider & treats! This cidery offers a number of cider tastings that are made from Ontario apples, pears, lavender and more.
The orchard is gorgeous and a great environment to have a drink and unwind after a busy few days of hiking. We visited on a weekend and they had live music performances and thin crust oven pizza to keep us entertained and fed.
The Spirit Tree shop has ciders, treats and artisanal goods for purchase.
Fill up on delicious goods and get back in the car for the rest of your drive to Toronto! This is the perfect ending to your Tobermory itinerary!
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Final thoughts on Bruce Peninsula & Tobermory Itinerary
This Tobermory itinerary offers a delightful mix of natural wonders, outdoor adventures, and serene moments amidst breathtaking landscapes.
From Lion’s Head Provincial Park to Bruce Peninsula National Park and the captivating Flowerpot Island, you are sure to experience the essence of Tobermory’s charm.
Whether you’re seeking thrilling hikes, tranquil beach walks, or captivating shipwrecks, Tobermory, Ontario, is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of its awe inspiring beauty.