We all know how incredibly beautiful Canada is, right? With its unspoilt national parks, centuries of history, and some of the yummiest food – Canada is a total gem to explore! This is no more apparent than within the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. Not only is there a heap of epic and best places in Nova Scotia to explore – but you’ve also got some of the friendliest people ever!
We loved our road trip! This is exactly why we wanted to share some of the best places in Nova Scotia you really should think of visiting on a road trip. Although quite small by Canadian standards, it’s still totally vast with enough beauty spots that’ll fill a road trip for countless years!
So, with so many stunners to choose from, we wanted to make it a little easier for you and share our total favourites. This way, you can fill your boots with some dreamy Nova Scotian spots as inspiration for now, whilst planning your trip for the future.
Oh, and double-check Nova Scotia’s FAQ’s to see which sights are open, their policies and restrictions for your trip. They’ve made it totally easy to understand.
Now, every road trip is slightly different, so don’t feel you have to follow a ‘step-by-step’ type of instruction (where’s the fun in that?). Take a little gander at the gems that really stand out to you and use these as anchor points to take you across this beautiful province, all at your own pace.
Right, without rambling anymore, take a look at some of the best places in Nova Scotia to visit on a future road trip. As with all our posts, pop us a message if you ever need any other tips or advice on your adventure in Nova Scotia. We love it there.
Day 1-3: Halifax
Most international visitors (including us) first landed in Halifax – the starting point for a Nova Scotian adventure. You can easily spend a weekend in the city and it’s well worth it before heading out on the open road.
Whilst in Halifax, be sure to take a wander around the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site with almost 300 years of fortifications to explore. On a sunny day, pop around the Victorian-era Halifax Public Gardens that’s blooming lovely!
Plus, since our road trip, the Georges Island National Historic Site has opened to the public where you can really immerse yourself in the area’s history.”
Of course, by this time, you’ll be within easy reach of the waterfront, which is great for a stroll. Here, you’ll get to pop into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, where you can see the largest collection of wooden Titanic artefacts anywhere in the world. You’ll also be able to read accounts and diaries from the crew onboard.
Afterwards, Pop into the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market which’s a short stroll away. Here, you’ll get everything from local artist stalls, Nova Scotian wines and heaps of other craft and food stalls.
Feeling peckish? Head on over to The Five Fishermen Restaurant which has some totally authentic local dishes. We spent a good few hours munching on their menu and didn’t wanna leave. Of course, we had to go for the Nova Scotian lobster dinner with all the trimmings. It was so fresh and tasty – we were stuffed.
We checked into the Halliburton Hotel, a boutique little find that’s mere steps away from the waterfront. With its charming townhouse rooms and sink-in beds, it’s such a treat. Fancy a lay in?
Day 4: Peggy’s Cove
Look, you can’t head out on a road trip to see the best places in Nova Scotia and not visit Peggy’s Cove! Totally historic, friendly and totally iconic, Peggy’s Cove is the epitome of what Nova Scotia is all about.
Nestled on the shores of St. Margaret’s Bay, Peggy’s Cove is around a 45-minute drive from central Halifax. With a sleepy (and totally quaint) fishing village vibe, Peggy’s Cove is the stuff that’s straight outta storybooks. With colourful fishing huts, cute vintage stores and foodie stalls it’s the kind of spot you can spend a good few hours within.
Don’t forget to take a peek inside the local independent shops for a little souvenir and wander around Peggy’s Point Lighthouse for the stunning views across the cove and ocean.
For ease, here’s the Google Maps link for the carpark.
Day 4-5: Lunenburg
Driving out of Peggy’s Cove, beyond St Margaret’s Bay and Mahone Bay in Lunenburg, which, dare I say it – is one of Canada’s prettiest little towns!
Taking around 75-minutes to drive from Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg is one of only two towns in all of North America to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site (you’ll see why as soon as you rock up).
Still, to this day, Lunenburg looks the same as it did way back in the 18th and 19th Centuries. You see, the vast majority of the buildings have survived and it’s almost like stepping back in time.
Once here, take a stroll (or guided tour, like we did around the town with Lunenburg Walking Tours. We spent a good hour wandering the colourful streets, learning all about the history of this special place. I’m not going to spoil the tour for you, but it’s a great little thing to do; especially to stretch your legs after driving.
Plus, you’ll get your bearings to go exploring and vintage shopping on your own afterwards.
For lunch, head over to The Fish Shack for a mighty feast on their patio! Freshly battered local fish and chips – with lashings of vinegar (or not, if you’re like Yaya).
You’ll quickly realise that some of the tastiest spots in Nova Scotia revolve around the seafood and local catches that come in daily from Nova Scotian fisherman. We embraced all this deliciousness everywhere we could and not once were we disappointed.
After exploring, check into one of the independent B&B’s that are totally charming here. We’d recommend the Mariner King Inn.
Fancy making the most of the beach, drive over to Rissers Beach that’s just beyond Lunenburg. It’s totally gorgeous and perfect for a little time in the sand.
Day 5-6: Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
After a day on the streets of Lunenburg, it’s time to swap to some more sensible boots and head to Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. Taking around 90-minutes to drive from Lunenburg, it’s one of the best places in Nova Scotia to explore the great outdoors.
Now, before we get muddled up, there’s actually two distinct areas of Kejimkujik, or “Keji” as the locals call it. One, being the Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, but also Kejimkujik National Park Seaside. For these few days, we’re suggesting a visit to the (inland) Kejimkujik National Park but you can easily tie-in a visit to the seaside if you’re wanting to explore more.
After arriving, you’ll quickly see what makes this area of Nova Scotia so special and why the Mi’kmaq lived in this area for thousands of years.
Once here, be sure to head along the trails around Kejimkujik Lake or take a guided canoe trip across the lake itself.
If you’re totally embracing the great outdoors, you can even set up camp in one of the designated campsites throughout the park. If you do, you’ll be treated with an awesome starry night sky and might even spot some planets! You see, Keji is a designated Dark Sky Preserve; which roughly translates to it being a paradise for stargazers!
Day 7: Halls Harbour
Driving from Keji, heading north-west, to Halls Harbour will take around 100-minutes via the Harvest Highway. One thing I would say is not to eat a hearty breakfast before you arrive. Halls Harbour is a treat you’ll want to stay hungry for.
You see, right on the coast, Halls Harbour Lobster Pound is very much an institution when it comes to good lobster! We loved it, especially with the views across the Bay of Fundy and the absolutely huge local lobsters that we devoured.
They also serve up some local craft beers and local wines for the non-driver.
Day 7: Grand Pré
After a pitstop at Halls Harbour, you’ll be making your way across to the Grand Pré; another of Nova Scotia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Once a thriving Acadian settlement (in1682-1755), you’ll get to learn more about the Le Grand Dérangement and the tragedies surrounding the deportation and expulsion of the Acadian people.
We spent all afternoon learning more about the Grand Pré National Historic Site and Acadian people to this day.
After a long day exploring, drive to nearby Wolfville and check in to The Blomidon Inn – a period property that’s as quaint as they come.
With a grand piano and a tasty restaurant, we stayed in for the night and enjoyed the yummy dishes and sweet treats before heading to the patio for Nova Scotian wine. After all, you’re in the Annapolis Valley that’s totally famous for its wine.
Day 8-9: Pictou
Taking around 130-minutes to drive from the Blomidon Inn, Pictou might seem small but that’s all part of its charm. Totally friendly and quaint, it’s a great place to chill after a morning of driving up through Nova Scotia.
Once here, stop by the Hector Heritage Quay and the museum that shows more about the first Scottish immigrants to Nova Scotia ( which is Latin for New Scotland). If you’re staying the night, head over to Harbour House for their craft ales and ciders.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, Pictou (and the coastline around here) is one of the best spots to chill out on its beaches. You see, the waters are warmer but they’re also much less crowded than some of the other big-hitting beaches. Its coastline is a total gem!
There’s lots of cosy B&B’s around this area of the Northumberland Shore, too! This means you can easily extend your stay within the area, especially if you want to venture further west towards New Brunswick or along the Sunriseshine Trail beyond New Glasgow (notice that Scottish connection?).
Day 10: Drive day to Cape Breton Island
Shifting from the mainland of Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Island will be a long morning drive.
Taking around 110-minutes, you’ll stop off at Mabou for some well-deserved R&R and pop into The Red Shoe Pub. They make a mean maple curry (with a kick) and pan-seared scallops. There’s also live music every day of the week, which is great if you decide to spend a night in Mabou itself.
After filling your boots (and assuming you’ve decided to keep driving), head to gorgeous Baddeck, a charming little village on the Bras d’Or Lake that’s filled with history. In fact, it was the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell (you know, the telephone guy) and there is a great museum there that houses his hundreds of inventions that go way beyond the telephone.
Fancy a kip? Check into the Inverary Inn and grab a pint and some local tunes in the pub.
Day 11: Explore Sydney (and wider area)
After a good night’s sleep, head to Sydney and stretch your legs on the boardwalk and get a photo op at one of Sydney’s most famous spots – The Big Fiddle – it’s totally kitsch! After all, it’s not every day you pass the largest fiddle in all the world!
Along (and just off) the Esplanade, is a range of little museums to visit like: Jost Heritage House and Cossit House Museum. Alternatively, head over on the Baille Ard Trail that’s a great place for a shorter walk through the brooks and over the bridges of the area.
Fancy blowing the cobwebs out off? Take a short drive over to Dominion Beach, right on the coast. It has such powdery sands that are lovely for a stroll.
Finally, if you want to head to the east coast, head over to Louisbourg (About a 40-minutes drive) to explore the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.
Here, you’ll get to visit the reconstructed town and learn all about this fortified French stronghold from the 1700s that’s easily one of the best places in Nova Scotia to visit if you love historical finds.
Taking around half a day to fully explore, check into Point of View Suites. Better yet, you can book an overnight 18th-century camping experience at the Fortress if you’re feeling like a totally unique experience.
Day 12-17: Cabot Trail
Just a little west of Sydney is the Cabot Trail, a 185-mile loop that takes in some of Cape Breton’s most stunning spots. Now, the trail will likely take you several days to explore all that there is to do but it can be shorter (or longer) depending on how many stops you’d like to make.
This is the kind of trail that’s just as much about the drive as it is about the destination. It’s a stunning route. Be sure to stop off at Ingonish Beach that’s totally great for a picnic.
Though, if you want some time away from the road, head within Cape Breton Highlands National Park and follow the Freshwater Lake Look-off Trail that’s a short 10-20 minute leg-stretcher and just off the main route. For something a little longer, head on the Skyline Trail (on the other side of the National Park) that’s around 5-miles long. Honestly, there are well over 20+ trails to choose from.
Oh yes, and along your way, stop off at the MacKenzie Mountain Look-off which is a great spot for catching sight of the whales right from the shore. Just stay eagle-eyed and look out for breeches along the shore.
Take a look at more things to see along the Cabot Trail, here. It really is one of the best places in Nova Scotia to drive and explore.