A Nova Scotian road trip is an opportunity to explore the breath-taking seafaring towns of this beautiful Atlantic province on Canada’s east coast. Its rich maritime culture, profound beauty, and layered history make it a destination worthy of your undivided attention. And the best part is, it’s still relatively undiscovered.
According to Mi’kmaq legend, the hero Glooscap used his great powers to transform into a giant beaver and, by slapping his tail in the sea, created the peninsula now known as Nova Scotia.
For 10,000 years, these First Nation people have lived on this land, and you can visit the Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site to learn about this Indigenous culture through current generations of Mi’kmaq people.
Begin your Nova Scotian journey in the city of Halifax. With a population hovering above 400,000, this maritime gem gets a warm gust of wind in her sails come summer with seemingly endless events playing out along her waterfront. From film, folk and fringe festivals to a tall ships regatta, night markets and even a harmonica festival, Halifax is a compulsive social butterfly.
Take a walk along Halifax’s long waterfront boardwalk, which begins from the farmers’ market. Along the way, you can drop into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which proudly displays the finest collection of wooden artifacts recovered from the Titanic. As the closest major port to the site of the sunken vessel, much of the wreckage, and bodies, were brought to Halifax following the 1912 disaster. It’s a fascinating, if somewhat eerie, peep into what is arguably the most famous shipwreck of all time.
On your way out of town Stop in at Peggy’s Cove – home to possibly one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. This idyllic village is less than an hour’s drive from Halifax.
Stretching out along the Bay of Fundy, the Annapolis Valley is the food bowl of the east coast. Nutrient-rich soil makes this area Canada’s third-largest fruit-growing region, but it’s also collecting a solid reputation for producing some very good wines.
Another must-see is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Town Lunenburg. Drink in the Cape Cod, Victorian and Georgian architecture styles that make up the town and visit The Half Shell Oyster Bar, which you’ll find stitched onto the side of the South Shore Fish Shack. This little shack looks out across the bay and to the golf course on the far bank, but it’s not just the locale you come for: the seafood is excellent. Go for the scallops, a Lunenburg specialty, and the lobster roll.
There’s lots of natural beauty to be seen throughout Canada, but Cape Breton Highlands National ParkCape Breton Highlands National Park offers you the chance to experience a unique vision of it, thanks to the Skyline Sunset Hike.
Beginning the journey about two hours before the sun’s slow descent, you’ll be led through the forest by an experienced guide.
Spruce grouse, sparrows and bald eagles fly overhead, while on the ground you’re likely to run into a moose – there are about 1800 roaming the park at any given time.
But spectacular as the wildlife is, the highlight of the walk comes when you reach the headland high above the Atlantic.
By the orange light of the setting sun, you’ll look out over the mountains and ocean.
Far below, you may be lucky enough to spot seals, minke and even humpback whales.
It’s the natural landscape of Canada in a way you’ve never seen it before, as though you were standing atop the world.