With over 8,000 miles (13,000 km) of coastline, 160+ lighthouses, incredible hiking, and seafood that will wow your tastebuds, Nova Scotia, Canada is the perfect destination for a socially-distanced trip.
This eastern Canadian province may be small, but it packs a punch with culture and activities. Plus, Nova Scotia has a ton to do outdoors, so you can rest assured that social distancing will be easy.
This Nova Scotia travel guide will help you plan where to go, what to see, where to stay, and so much more!
How To Plan The Perfect Socially Distanced Trip To Nova Scotia
The Best Time to Visit Nova Scotia
The best time of year to visit Nova Scotia is undoubtedly in the warmer months, June through September. While there are tons of things to do in Nova Scotia year-round, summer boasts the best weather, wildlife opportunities, and access to tourism resources. That said, late September and early October will give you some of the most colorful foliage you’ve ever seen.
Spring in Nova Scotia does tend to bring quite a bit of rain with it, so if you travel from April through May, make sure to bring boots and an umbrella. While Winter in Nova Scotia means fewer tourism resources, there are still plenty of things to do if you’re into winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding.
How to Get to Nova Scotia
To get to Nova Scotia, you’re going to want to book a flight into the capital city of Halifax, via Halifax Stanfield International Airport. There are a ton of direct flights into this airport from all over North America.
Getting Around Nova Scotia
Once you’re in the province, I recommend renting a car for maximum flexibility. While there are public transit options as well (including many bus routes), there’s nothing like having your own set of wheels to take you to all the places you want to see.
Keep a bunch of loonies ($1 CAD) coins on you for the tolls in and out of the city!
To get to the islands, ferries run daily. If you plan on taking your car on these ferries, I recommend booking a bit in advance to make sure you get a spot (especially for summer travel).
The Best Places to Visit in Nova Scotia
Since you’ll be flying into Halifax, why not check out the best that this colorful city has to offer? Halifax is a great city for socially-distanced fun as there are plenty of responsible tours to go on, breweries to visit, and outdoorsy activities to do. Downtown Halifax and the harbor are about a 30-minute drive from the airport.
In particular, consider taking a historical walking tour, sail the harbor, go surfing, check out the museums and galleries, or hit up one of the area’s many hiking trails.
Bay of Fundy
Due to its incredible cliffs and amazing ocean views, the Bay of Fundy is one of the most popular sites in all of Nova Scotia. While prying your eye away from your camera lens is going to be difficult with the incredible scenery here, I recommend hitting up one of the many hiking trails, taking a kayak tour (visiting the Three Sisters sea stacks is a must), and visiting the Cape d’Or Lighthouse.
New to the Bay of Fundy area is Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark. The park tells the fascinating story of the supercontinent Pangea, and how it was ripped apart. The park features a 165 km drive along the shoreline, along which you’ll find a ton of attractions including boat tours, museums, hiking trails, lighthouses, and so much more.
Cape Breton Island
You probably know Cape Breton Island from shots of the famous Cape Breton trail. But this scenic island has so much more to it — in fact, it was named the #1 island in the Americas by Conde Nast!
The island is also home to Bras D’Or Lake (Canada’s largest inland saltwater sea) jaw-dropping coastal views, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, and Ingonish Tree Walk.
Set to open in July 2021, the Ingonish Tree Walk stands 30 meters above the top of the mountain and is a great way to learn the history of the area and take in great ocean views.
One of the most picturesque locations in Atlantic Canada, Peggy’s Cove is a community just 45-minutes from Halifax. One of the most photographed regions in all of Nova Scotia, Peggy’s Cove is famous for the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, its quaint village, and its powerful ocean views.
New to Peggy’s Cove this year is the Peggy’s Cove Viewing Deck. This deck was built for the best views of the area and to experience the waves crashing into the shore from a whole new standpoint.
If you’re looking for a warm beachy destination, then look no further than Northumberland Shore. This area in Nova Scotia has the most warm-water beaches in all of Atlantic Canada and is a great way to spend an afternoon lying in the sun, listening to the waves.
The area is also home to Jost Vineyards, Nova Scotia’s largest and oldest winery.
If you’re looking to sample some of the best local wines, then Annapolis Valley is the place to go. This area is home to over a dozen wineries, and there’s even a hop-on-hop-off shuttle that will take you between them.
Not a wine buff? Then explore the Mi’kmaq history of the area or take a whale watching tour!
Where to Eat in Nova Scotia
Did you know that 50,000 tonnes of Lobster are fished in Nova Scotia each year? With much of Nova Scotia’s culture built around its Atlantic location, you can bet it’s one of the best places in the world for seafood. Dine your way across the Lobster Trail, the Chowder Trail, or the Good Cheer Trail for the best wine, beer, and spirits.
Here are a few of the best restaurants in Nova Scotia:
The Bicycle Thief (Halifax)
Offering up “North American food with Italian soul”, the Bicycle Thief is one of the top-rated restaurants in all of Halifax. Despite its relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere, this restaurant features one of the best wine selections in the whole city and a wide selection of eats.
Stop by for lunch, dinner, or for a few cocktails!
Tom’s Lobster Shack (Peggy’s Cove)
While it’s certainly hard to pinpoint who makes the best lobster rolls ever, Tom’s Lobster Shack is certainly a frontrunner. This nondescript restaurant has five-star reviews across the board with plenty of flavor options.
Rusty Anchor Restaurant (Cape Breton Island)
With a menu packed with seafood, children’s items, Canadian favorites, and homemade desserts, the Rusty Anchor Restaurant is not to be missed on Cape Breton Island. The restaurant is located halfway on the Cape Breton Trail, and makes for a great mid-day stop.
Where to Stay in Nova Scotia
o’TENTiks at Grand Pre National Historic Site, Annapolis Valley
A mix between a tent and a rustic cabin, o’TENTiks have been making their way across Canada in recent years, with this Annapolis Valley location available in Spring, 2021. Located just south of the visitors center, these unique accommodations are a great way to feel one with nature but with the comforts of a cabin.
Train Station Inn (Tatamagouche)
Whether or not you’re a train buff, staying at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche is a one-of-a-kind experience in Nova Scotia. This inn has all the amenities you can expect at a regular hotel, but with the fun of vintage railway car rooms!
Oasis Pods at Kejimkujik National Park & National Historic Site
If your dream trip to Nova Scotia involves falling asleep underneath the stars, then check out the Oasis Pods at Kejimkujik National Park. These teardrop-shaped “duplexes” feature convertible table/beds and suspended hammocks.
The Prince George Hotel Halifax
A lovely 4-star hotel close to the waterfront, The Prince George Hotel features comfy rooms, a pool, and a highly-rated restaurant. Close to shopping, tours, and everything else, this is a great place to base yourself while you take excursions around the city.
Cape Breton Villas
If you’re looking to stay close to Cape Breton Island National Park, then the Cape Breton Villas in Inverness are a great cozy option. Outfitted with all the amenities of home, you can expect a fitness center, barbecue facilities, laundry, and a business center.