Looking for the very best things to do on a Nova Scotia road trip? Nova Scotia is our favorite place to visit on the East Coast of Canada. After extensively traveling the entire province by car from North to South, we’ve had many grand adventures.
This road tirp itinerary will help you make the most of your time in Nova Scotia and offer unique ideas of what to see and do.
Table of Contents
Road Trip to Nova Scotia
We’ve broken it down this Nova Scotia itinerary into sections with maps so you can plan which part of the province you want to see during your visit.
The main airport for Nova Scotia is Halifax and it is a 2 1/2 hour flight from Toronto. You can rent your car directly at the airport. To rent a car for your road trip around Nova Scotia, check out this car rental comparison site for prices and availability.
Nova Scotia Road Trip Itinerary Map
We’ve had the pleasure of exploring most of the province and feel it is time to share our picks for the very best things to do in Nova Scotia on a road trip.
For more on Nova Scotia travel, Check out our complete list of Best Things to do in Nova Scotia – The Ultimate Travel Guide
Day 1 – Halifax
Most trips to Nova Scotia will begin in Nova Scotia’s Capital city, Halifax. Halifax. And it is worth staying in the city for at least a couple of day.
Halifax has a bustling waterfront filled with attractions, restaurants, and scenic views. The Canadian Museum of Immigration is the star attraction at Pier 21 located along the beautiful Halifax Harbourfront.. Here you’ll learn of the fascinating history of immigration to Canada.
One day in Halifax is definitely not enough but if you only have one day, these are the not to miss sights.
- Alexander Keiths Brewery Tour – this is a fantastic and fun brewery tour in the heart of downtown Halifax.
- Halifax Waterfront – You can see a lot of the best things to do in Halifax along the waterfront. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is Canada’s answer to Ellis Island in New York. This is where the majority of immigrants came through. You can trace your ancestry at this interactive museum.
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – A superb interactive museum detailing the history of shipping and the East Coast Maritime heritage. Plus, there’s a great display on the Titanic.
When you are finished at the water, head up to Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. A fort founded in 1749, it’s an excellent place to watch the sunset or if you are a history buff, take atour here during the day. .
There are plenty of things to do in Halifax and we recommend spending another day here. Check out the Best Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Day 2 – Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse
Heading Southwest from Halifax, your first is Peggy’s Cove located just 45 minutes from the Halifax. Peggy’s Cove is one of Nova Scotia’s most visited attractions and crowds can be huge here!
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is a beautiful setting. The lighthouse stands on 400 million-year-old rock stretching out to the sea, was created by molten lava bubbling up from the surface of the earth. The fishing village of Peggy’s Cove is a picturesque community dating back to 1811 and there are plenty of things to do here besides visiting the lighthouse.
- Read our full post about all the things to do in Peggy’s Cove here.
Where to stay in Peggy’s Cove
We recommend staying overnight in the area and visiting at sunrise. Tour buses don’t arrive until late morning, so if you stay over and get to the lighthouse early, you’ll have it all to yourself before moving on to your next stop.
We really enjoyed our time at Oceanstone Resort which just outside of Peggy’s Cove and makes for a great home base.
Click here for your google map of our complete South Shore road trip route
Day 3 – Mahone Bay to Lunenburg
After leaving Peggy’s Cove your next stop will be Mahone Bay is a must-stop on any Nova Scotia Road Trip. It has been named one of the prettiest small-town downtowns in Canada. It’s easy to understand why.
The most famous landmark of Mahone Bay would definitely be the famous Three Churches. The three spires along the waterfront are a popular stop for photographers.
Here you can stop for lunch and browse the downtown shops of Mahone. Make sure to stop by the Haskapa Berry Store to learn about this superfood. Try the Haskapa gin, it’s delicious!
After driving from Peggy’s Cove, you’ll have the afternoon and evening in Lunenburg. Lunenburg is one of only two urban centres in North America to have the honour of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lunenburg is famous for its painted houses creating a rainbow of colours along the waterfront. The pastel buildings all must adhere to a strict code to keep the town beautiful.
If you arrive early enough, join an afternoon Walking Tours to learn of the mariner history of Lunenburg and to discover its Victorian architecture. It ends at the waterfront memorial dedicated to the fishermen and mariners that lost their lives through the years.
From here, walk over to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic while keeping an eye out for the Bluenose II. It makes its home in Lunenburg when it is not touring around the country. And after you are done, it is easy to find a spot for dinner to try some Nova Scotia fresh lobster or seafood.
- Where to Stay in Lunenburg – Lunenburg Arms Hotel is located downtown Lunenburg. This boutique hotel overlooks Lunenburg Harbour and is walking distance to all of the Top Attractiosn in Lunenburg.
Lighthouse Route in Nova Scotia – Map
Click here to get the map route from Lunenburg to Yarmouth
Day 4 – Blue Rocks to Liverpool
There is a lot to cover today, so you will want to wake up early before sunrise. On your way out of Lunenburg, take a detour to the picturesque fishing village of Blue Rocks. Nothing says “East Coast” more than a fishing village lining the bay with fishing lodges and lobster traps reflecting in the waters and shimmering rocks in the bay.
It is only 10 minutes from Lunenburg, so if you want to go back to town for breakfast or to pick up a coffee, that is a good option. When you are finished, you will still have a full day to explore the Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia that runs from Lunenberg to Yarmouth.
After leaving Lunenberg or the Blue Rocks it is a thirty-minute drive time to the LaHave River where you will make your way south. When doing this portion of your road trip through Nova Scotia, be sure to use the LaHave Ferry rather than driving around, it will save you a lot of time.
The La Have Ferry is one of the last remaining cable ferries in the country and it operates 24 hours a day. (note between 11:30 pm and 05:30 am it is on call.) It’s just a quick 5-minute journey, but it is wild to see a cable pulling a ferry across the river.
La Have Bakery
While in LaHave, stop in at the LaHave Bakery for some sweets. The Victorian-era building sits on the waterfront serving fresh baked goods and coffee. It’s the perfect place to stock up on road trip goodies.
The water may be cold on the Nova Scotia coast, but Crescent Beach is a beautiful setting. Plus it’s the only beach in Nova Scotia that you can drive on. At 2.5 km long, you can easily find a spot all to yourself to enjoy a picnic or do some sunbathing before moving on.
Tonight you get to relax in the historic town of Liverpool. Liverpool is home of the Privateers. Privateers were private citizens who were commissioned to “carry on all forms of hostility permissible at sea.” They patrolled the waters of Nova Scotia during the war of 1812.
Liverpool houses The Four Point Lighthouse which is free to visit and is the 3rd Oldest Lighthouse in Nova Scotia. There’s kayaking along the Mercy River and plenty of hiking along the shore. Located along the lighthouse route, it is a popular stop any Nova Scotia Road Trip Itinerary.
- Where to Stay in Liverpool: Lanes Privateer Inn
- Where to Eat in Liverpool: La Vista Restaurant in Lanes Privateer Inn
Day 5 – Liverpool to Yarmouth
As you continue along the Lighthouse Route, the next stop is Shelburne. You may not have heard of Shelburne, but it is the third-largest natural harbour in the world!
During the American Revolution, 3000 Loyalists settled in Shelburne from New York City making it (at one time) the fourth-largest community in North America! Visit the Shelburne Waterfront Heritage District and the Shelburne County Museum that highlights the Loyalist history of the area.
Yarmouth is the major urban centre of Southern Novaa Scotia. It is a popular Halifax destination as ferries operating from Portland Maine land here at Yarmouth.
The Cape Forchu lighthouse is the star attraction of Yarmouth and is Nova’s Scotia’s second most visited lighthouse after Peggy’s Cove. What makes this special is that it is free from crowds compared to Peggy’s Cove. It may be popular, but when we were there, we saw only two other people!
We didn’t find a lot of other things to do in Yarmouth and instead preferred our stay outside of town at Ye Olde Argyle Lodge where we could do some hiking and kayaking.
Where to Stay in Yarmouth
- Where to Stay near Shelburne and Yarmouth: Ye Olde Argyler
- Ye Olde Argyler was a full-service lodge in a beautiful setting. They offer kayaking trips from there too!
See our complete south shore road trip of Nova Scotia.
Day 6 – Annapolis Valley
Working your way up the Bay of Funday Shore takes you to the Annapolis Valley. It is fast becoming a major wine-producing route in Nova Scotia. Take your time to explore the coast discovering the Acadian history here at Port Royal and Grand Pré. Here you can explore several National Historic Sites – Fort Anne, Port-Royal, and Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.
On your way stop in Digby for lunch to enjoy some scallops.
It is then time to move on to Wolfville where you’ll spend the night. Wolfville is a great place for exploring the up-and-coming wine region of Nova Scotia. It is an easy drive to explore the Wine Region of the Annapolis Valley from Wolfville and then make your way back to the charming town to relax at your historic accommodation.
Where to Stay in Wolfville: Blomidon Inn – The Blomidon Inn is a beautiful grand historic BnB with ornate luxury accommodation. We loved our dinner complete with Nova Scotia wine pairings in the grand old dining room.
Day 7 – The Bay of Fundy
It is now time to drive directly to the Bay of Fundy for a walk on the ocean floor. The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides. It moves 100 billion tons of water every 6 hours!
That is more than all of the freshwater rivers in the world combined! The tides can reach 16 metres (52 feet) with an average range of 35 to 55 feet. And the horizontal range can be as much as 5 kilometres in places.
You Have plenty of options to explore the Bay of Fundy and it can add either one to four days to your Nova Scotia Itinerary depending on what you choose. Either way you are going to love this coastal drive.
Burntcoat Head Park
From Wolfville, you can drive directly to Burntcoat Head Park to see the world’s highest tides. Burntcoat Head is Nova Scotia’s answer to New Brunswick’s Hopewell Rocks. For three hours on either end of low tide, there is a window where visitors can explore rock formations and sea beds that are normally covered in water. This 3-acre park has hiking trails, a lighthouse, and an interpretive center making it a great way to spend an afternoon.
If you time it right you might be able to enjoy two iconic Bay of Fundy attractions in one day. After exploring Burnthead Coat Park, head to the Shubenacadie River for some tidal bore rafting.
Tidal Bore Rafting
If you are looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, Tidal Bore Rafting at the Shubenacadie River is an action-packed way to experience the high tides of the Bay of Fundy.
We went with River Runner’s rafting adventures and had an amazing time riding the waves as the 100 billion tons of water flowed with force into the river creating rapids and whirlpools.
One minute you are walking on the riverbed floor and the next you are rushing into the rafts to grab the waves as they come in. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have on the Bay of Fundy.
- Read all about it at Rafting the World’s Highest Tides
- Watch our video: Tidal Bore Rafting
- Where to Stay: We also stayed in a cottage owned by River Runners, making for a full day of adventure ending with a barbecue and relaxation nearby.
If you feel that you have experienced enough of the Bay of Fundy, it’s now time to move on and you can spend more time on the Cabot Trail or the Eastern Shore. If not, we have a couple more adventures.
Day 8 – Three Sisters
The Three Sisters on the Bay of Fundy cannot be missed. The Three Sisters are huge sea stacks jutting out from the sea. When the sea is low, they are massive, but when the tide comes in, you can kayak through them.
Kayaking Three Sisters
You have two options here at the Three Sisters. One you can book a kayaking trip to paddle out to the sea stacks or you can simply hike the trail at Chignecto Provincial Park to See the Three Sisters and the high sea cliffs from above.
- Watch our video of the two-day adventure
- Book this tour with Nova Shores Adventures out of Advocate Harbour.
It was one of the best kayaking trips we’ve ever taken in our lives. We camped on a secluded beach on the Bay of Fundy and spent two days exploring its sea caves, sea stacks and sea cones.
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
If kayaking and camping isn’t your thing and you don’t have two nights to go camping, you can still view the Three Sisters from above. The 5.5 km trail system (3.4 miles) follows an easy trail to state of the art wooden viewing platforms offering views of the Three Sisters.
But you will also see amazing views of sea cliffs, Eatonville Harbour and beaches. The scenery from this trail is awe-inspiring and when we visited, there was nobody else there!
Where to Stay in Advocate Harbour near Three Sisters: Driftwood Park Retreat
Day 9 – Day Ceilidh Trail
Ceilidh Trail is the cultural centre of Nova Scotia and a perfect addition to your Nova Scotia itinerary. Here you will learn about fishing traditions and Celtic heritage.
Celtic Music Interpretive Centre
Before you travel Cape Breton Island, check out the Celtic Music Centre to learn of the history, culture, and music of the Island. It will give you a better understanding of Nova Scotia’s heritage and you can chat up the locals when you pop into a pub for a pint. There are daily performances, interactive exhibits, and demonstrations.
Lobster Tour in Port Hood
Gillis Lobster Tours and Charters will take you out on an actual lobster boat to check traps and see what its like to run an operation in Nova Scotia’s main fishing industry.
This fascinating Lobster Tour in Port Hood teaches how lobsters are caught. There are many rules for catching and keeping lobsters. You’ll learn about conservation, what size is legal to catch, how they are stored, and how small lobsters can simply swim right out of the traps.
Watch our full video of the Lobster Tour.
Not only is it interesting, it’s a beautiful boat trip to explore the shores of Nova Scotia. When it’s all done, try your hand at mackerel fishing (you can catch and release or take a few home for dinner) and make a stop at Port Hood Island.
Glenora Distillery Tour
The Glenora Distillery is the first single malt whiskey distillery in North America.
Take a tour of the distillery to learn how the whiskey is made and have a taste to see what you want to buy. The locals claim that the Glenora Stream is so clean and fresh it is said to be the water of life. The pure water makes for perfect spirits!
When in Nova Scotia, you must try lobster. They have perfected serving lobster every way imaginable. From lobster poutine, to lobster bisque, and lobster soup. But the best way to enjoy fresh Nova Scotia Lobster is with nothing at all.
If you get the chance, set up shop at a local eatery and enjoy a fresh lobster boil with lobsters straight out of the ocean. No butter, no salt just pure clean meat.
Where to Stay on the Cleidhe Trail
Tonight’s accommodation is at the Micro Boutique Living Resort downtown Antigonish.
There is no doubt that Cape Breton is the top attraction in Nova Scotia because of the Cabot Trail coastal drive. Rated as one of the best road trips in the world, Your Nova Scotia road trip could consist only of Cape Breton Island. Visitors flock to the trail to witness its breathtaking views, enjoy its world-class hikes and take in the scenic lookouts along the drive.
Tip: Drive counterclockwise along the trail for the best views and to be on the outside lane for views. From the Cleidh Trail you may be tempted to drive straight and do the Cabot Trail clockwise, but instead make your way to Baddeck to start your Cabot Trail Journey.
We wrote an in-depth guide to the Cabot Trail, but here are some of the highlights below that you can see. Be sure to check out the full guide.
Day 10 – Cabot Trail in Baddeck
You’ll spend the night here in Baddeck and you have a choice of a few excursions nearby.
Baddeck is an important stop on the Cabot Trail because it was home to Alexander Graham Bell’s summer house. Built on the site of his cottage named “Beinn Bhreagh”, Gaelic for “Beautiful Mountain.” Learn about his famous inventions like the telephone and his work with Hellen Keller.
North River Kayaking
Whenever we visit Nova Scotia, we always try to put a kayaking trip on our itinerary. A good stop on the Cabot Trail for kayaking is the North River. North River Kayaking offers half-day, full-day, and overnight tours and we had so much fun with them.
If you are travelling along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, this is a must stop.
Uisge Ban Hike
Another hike we enjoyed was heading out to the Uisge Ban Waterfall. Located just outside of Baddeck Uisge Ban (pronounced Ishkaban) is an easy 1 1/2 km stroll to a beautiful waterfall.
It goes through a mossy forest meandering along a running stream. If you are in the area visiting Alexander Graham Bell’s House, be sure to stop here.
Where to Stay in Baddeck: The Inverary Resort is an excellent place to start the Cape Breton portion of your Nova Scotia Road Trip Itinerary. Enjoy a cocktail ceilidh with live music and drinks overlooking the lake, indulge in rich Nova Scotia Seafood at the Lakeside Restaurant or enjoy a fun pub setting at the Stonehearth Publ
Day 11 – Ingonish Beach
After you’ve explored everything you want in Baddeck, it’s time to head north to Ingonish Beach where you’ll spend the night.
oTENTNIKs are run by and can be booked through Park’s Canada. They are the perfect accommodation for families on a Nova Scotia Road Trip, or for couples (sleeps up to four adults or 2 adults four children) looking to spend some time outside, but not ready to rough it too much.
Everything you need for camping is supplied, so if you want a night or two of camping, but don’t have the gear, this is the way to go.
Here you can relax on the beach taking in the views, or you can head out for a hike.
The Middlehead Trail is a popular hike on the Cabot Trail. It is located just beyond the historic Keltic Lodge at Ingonish Beach. The 3.8 km (2.4 miles) loop follows a long peninsula stretching to the Atlantic Ocean. The peninsula separates to bays of Cape Smokey and Ingonish Island.
- Time: 1 – 2 hours
At night enjoy a Lantern walk put on by Park’s Canada where you’ll walk through the settlement of Ingonish learning about the early settlers in this stylized tour with a haunting theme.
Day 12 – Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Today is your day to explore the Cabot Trail and take in all of the scenic views and lookouts along the coast. The 300 km loop of the Cabot Trail, weaves around the coast of Cape Breton. With incredible views overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence, hiking trails, waterfalls, campgrounds, and scenic lookouts it is a must for anyone traveling to Nova Scotia.
It’s one of the premier places to go whale watching in Nova Scotia and you’ll see bald eagles along the route too! Keep an eye out for the amazing scenic lookouts as you drive along the coast. See our full breakdown of the best things to see on the Cabot Trail
The Skyline Trail is the most popular hike on the Cabot Trail so crowds can be a problem, but we suggest getting around this inconvenience by hiking it at sunset like we did. It is a great way to end your day of exploring the Cabot Trail. The hike is a 7.5 km loop and we suggest giving yourself at least 2-hours to take n the view and make stops. The trail itself is well marked with an excellent boardwalk leading down to different viewing points.
- See our full hike along the Skyline Trail to plan your visit.
- Where to Stay – Island Sunset Inn at Margaree Harbour
Tonight stay at Margaree harbour where you’ll enjoy a delicious lobster dinner with Nova Scotia Wine.
Day 13 – Guysborough to Tangier
This under-appreciated destination is not on a lot of Nova Scotia Itineraries, but something tells me it will soon be very busy.
Authentic Seacoast Distillery
We started our trip at the Authentic Seacoast Distillery where we hopped on golf carts to explore the golf course located on the water.
It was then time to tour the state-of-the-art distilling and brewing facility where we learned how they make their award-winning spirits and craft beer. You can rent a bicycle and take a spin on the TransCanada Trail. A perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Coastal Adventures Eastern Shore Kayaking
A Nova Scotia road trip is never complete without a great adventure and our tour ends with a kayaking tour with Coastal Adventures along the Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore offers impressive kayaking along the rugged shore.
Taking you through sea stacks and sea caves, exploring islands, and hiking along beaches. Owner Dr. Scott Cunningham is the author of Sea Kayaking Nova Scotia and runs Atlantic Canada’s foremost sea kayaking operation.
Where to stay: Tonight you can stay directly at Coastal Adventures log cabin. It’s a wonderful places to make a base.
From here you can do some mussel picking just before sunset at Murpheys Campground or you can go for a hike on a local favourite, the Liscomb River Trail. The 9.6km trail has a suspension bridge that overlooks a fish ladder and waterfall.
- Book your kayaking tour now.
Day 14 – Back to Halifax
It is your final day of your two week Nova Scotia Road trip and time to head back to Halifax where you can spend the evening walking along the waterfront, enjoying a night on Argyle Street at one of the pubs. Check out all the things to do in Halifax here.
Nova Scotia is a province filled with adventure, culture and impressive scenery. It is one of our favourite places to visit in Canada and we hope that you add it to your Canadian travel itinerary too!
It is an amazing place for a road trip. No leg of the drive takes more than 3 hours giving you plenty of time to see the sights without having to spend too much time in the car. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Nova Scotia Road Trip today!
You won’t be disappointed!
Are you taking an east coast road trip? Have you been to Nova Scotia? What is your favourite road trip that you’ve taken?
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Have you been to the East Coast of Canada? What are your favourite things to do in Nova Scotia?
Read About Nova Scotia:
- Explore the Nova Scotia South Shore – Halifax to Yarmouth
- Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia – The World Highest Tides
- Nova Scotia Pictures that Will Make You Want to Visit Right Now
- Best Things to do in Nova Scotia – The Ultimate Travel Guide
- Where to Stay in Nova Scotia – Our Favourite Accommodation
- 11 Not To Be Missed Stops on the Cabot Trail
- Tips for Hiking the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton
See more Great Canadian Road Trips
- 13 of the Best Canadian Road Trips – That We’ve Done
- Sea to Sky Highway – Best Stops from Vancouver to Whistler
- Dempster Highway Road Trip – Yes You Can Drive to the Arctic
- The Cowboy Trail – A Southern Alberta Road Trip
- Niagara Falls Road Trip – The Best of the Niagara Parkway
- Lake Superior Circle Tour – Ultimate Two Week Itinerary
Our trips to Nova Scotia have been sponsored by Tourism Nova Scotia. For more information on things to do in Nova Scotia visit the Nova Scotia Tourism Website.