Everyone’s drawn to Nova Scotia for different reasons — some like searching for lighthouses and the best lobster roll in North America, others like escaping the hustle and bustle of the real world to find tranquility in the green landscapes and coastal hiking trails.
It’s impossible to see everything Nova Scotia has to offer in one trip, but you can certainly find the best sights and towns with our road trip itinerary!
The Perfect Road Trip Itinerary in Nova Scotia, Canada
First, you’ll want to fly into Nova Scotia’s capital city of Halifax (direct flights are available from the New York area) and rent a car. Keep $1 CAN coins on your person or in your car for tolls coming in and going out of Halifax. I should also note that gas station attendants are required fill up your gas tank for you, so don’t be (too) alarmed when strangers approach your car at gas stops.
Now, there are 2 legs of the road trip from Halifax: north and west. You’ll drive through the Halifax area on your way in and out of both of areas, so you can go to either one first.
Stop #1: Halifax
Spend a couple days in this quaint city with cool spots all in a small, central location! Halifax’s restaurants and boutique stores have a ton of charm, and there’s not a shortage of places to stop for drinks either.
Do a distillery tour and tasting at Halifax Distilling Co., taste Canadian fare-favorites on a food tour, learn about the city’s long and unique history on a city tour (the Harbour Hopper goes in and out of the water!), and pick up a sweet treat from the harbour-front Farmers Market.
Where to sleep: Westin Nova Scotian
Stop #2: Parrsboro
While there’s no immediate ocean views coming into town, there’s still plenty of art to see in this colorful artist community! Here you’ll find galleries and plenty of eye-catching art scattered around town, with way too many Instagram-worthy photo opportunities to count.
If you stay overnight, I’d recommend the Gillespie House Inn for an amazingly warm staff and hospitable stay! The owners even run the best restaurant in town — BlackRock Bistro — which should definitely be your go-to for lunch and/or dinner.
Where to sleep: Gillespie House Inn
Stop #3: Advocate Harbour/Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy is one of Nova Scotia’s top draws, and for good reason: the tower cliffs and seaside views are unparalleled. Head to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park and check in at the visitor center before heading of to any of the number of stunning hiking trails.
You can actually camp here without a campsite reservation, which you may want to take advantage of for a bit of solitude. Tides rise up 45 feet year-round, so you definitely won’t want to miss this! While you’re there, take a kayaking tour to see the Three Sisters sea stacks up close.
Cape d’Or lighthouse is little tricky to get to (you must hike down a steep trail to reach it), but the scenery is well worth it. You can even stay the night in Lighthouse Keeper’s guesthouse! Regardless of whether you stay the night, absolutely check out this iconic lighthouse and stay for a meal.
Where to sleep: Gillespie House Inn or Cape d’Or Lighthouse
Stop #4: Tatamagouche
Tatamagouche’s Train Station Inn is worthy of a stop itself, but locals can attest that this small town has recently blossomed into its own tourist destination. On the main street downtown you’ll find a modern brewery worth a couple of hours of your time (get a flight and try 5 of their best drafts), and buggy rides that are a hit with visitors of any age.
Where to sleep: The Train Station Inn
Stop #5: Pictou
The Pictou Lodge is the most well-known accommodation in the area, and it definitely lives up to its hype! Beach, bonfires, canoeing, paddleboarding, fine dining restaurant with ocean views — it literally has it all. This is the perfect stop to stay a night or two and take in some of the best unobstructed sunset views on the coast.
Where to sleep: Pictou Lodge Beach Resort
Stop #6: Annapolis Valley
You wouldn’t think Canada to be a place for vineyards to thrive, yet their exclusive classification of crisp “Tidal Bay” white wines are heavenly! Annapolis Valley is known as the wine region of Nova Scotia, and the drive to it from Halifax provides PLENTY of opportunities to stop and taste different wines known nationwide. Here are just a few spots with traditional tasting in a beautiful vineyard setting.
- Beavercreek Winery & Cafe
- Planters Ridge Winery
- Blomidon Estate Winery
- Gaspereau Vineyards
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards
Where to sleep: Wolfville Luxury Bed & Breakfast
Stop #7: Lunenburg
Known as “Canada’s Most Colorful Town,” Lunenburg is famous for its bright buildings, harbor-side downtown area, and amazing panorama of sailboats. The hotels and inns downtown are the best place to stay, not just for the central location but also for the unbeatable view!
The architecture and houses here date back hundreds of years, making this one of the most unique spots on the trip. A walking tour is the best way to see it all, but if you don’t have the time, make sure to see the storybook-like St. John’s Church, and get a postcard-worthy view of the town from golf course across the harbor! If at this point in your trip you haven’t tried a fresh lobster roll, poutine or oysters, Lunenburg offers plenty of great quality restaurants with local seafood year-round.
Where to sleep: Lunenburg Arms Hotel
Last Tip: Go Off the Beaten Path!
Some of my most memorable views and coolest experiences happened when I strayed from my itinerary, ventured off the beaten path (literally), pulled the car over when something caught my eye or explored something unexpected I stumbled across on my travels. Road trips are meant for wandering — don’t be afraid to go get lost in this beautiful province!
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