We have so many beautiful provinces and territories in Canada, and each one brings a different flavour to the mix. Trying to decide where to go next? If you’re looking for history, coastal vibes, seafood galore, and wild scenery, Nova Scotia is your girl. Nova Scotia is one of the smallest provinces, but it packs so much into one tiny package. Plus, it has some of the nicest and friendliest people on the planet. Plan an epic trip Down East and add these things to do in Nova Scotia to your bucket list:
19) Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Island is a stunning part of the province, and the National Park has some of the best ocean and mountain views around. Cape Breton Highlands National Park has some of the most diverse and rugged landscapes in the Maritimes. It’s the perfect place to go hiking, fishing, cycling, or swimming.
18) Visit the Bay of Fundy
Want to walk on the ocean floor while staying dry? This unique experience is the reason why the Bay of Fundy often tops the list of things to do in Nova Scotia. Fundy has the highest tides in the world, which rise and fall every 12 and a half hours. The bay is located in between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the water levels differ by 14 meters at their peak. When the tide is low, you can actually walk on the ocean floor. The fun experience comes in visiting the same spot 6 hours later to see it completely submerged in water.
17) Eat all of the lobster you can
Even if seafood isn’t your favourite, you’d be crazy to visit Nova Scotia and not try some lobster. Nova Scotia is one of the most famous lobster hot-spots in the world for good reason. Lobster rolls and lobster boils may be top picks, but there’s so much more to taste. Try lobster poutine, lobster tacos, lobster mac n cheese, and lobster risotto. Chances are, you can find practically anything else with lobster in it, too.
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16) Visit Peggy’s Cove
Nova Scotia is home to arguably the world’s most photographed lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. What makes Peggy’s Cove so popular is how picturesque it is, and the charming vibe of this fishing village makes you fall in love as soon as you visit. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse was built in 1915 and is still operational. It’s beautiful red and white structure perched on top of the coastal rocks make it one of the most infamous and well-known spots in the Maritimes.
15) Wander Kejimkujik National Park
There’s a ton of stunning natural landscapes to see in Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik National Park included. This protected park was historically essential for the Mi’kmaq people, as a place to hunt, fish, and travel through. Mi’kmaq petroglyphs can still be found in the park, and it’s one of the top places to canoe and camp in all of Nova Scotia. The park also houses some of the most beautiful beaches in the province as well.
14) Go whale watching
Nova Scotia’s coastal towns make for the perfect whale watching spots, and you can find a ton of boat trips to get an even closer look. The east side of Nova Scotia is open to the Atlantic Ocean, and there are 12 beautiful whale species that are known to frequent the waters here. You can even spot a humpback or a blue whale right from the shores of Halifax on our Atlantic Canada trip.
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13) Drive along Cabot Trail
Cabot Trail is the road that winds around Cape Breton Island, and it’s a drive like no other. The views along Cabot Trail are some of the most stunning coastal landscapes you’ll ever find. There’s no shortage of amazing lookout spots, hiking stops and amazing eats along the trail too.
12) Go tidal bore rafting
The coastal tides are what make the Bay of Fundy such a hotspot for visitors, but let’s get closer to the action. The tides cause epic waves twice a day on the Shubenacadie River, and you can drive right into these waves on a motorized raft. Waves on the river can reach 4 meters in height, and the tidal bore is a unique experience to only a few places in the world. Staying dry is impossible, but having a blast is guaranteed.
11) Winery hop
Nova Scotia may not be what you think of when you think of Canadian wine regions, but it should be on your radar. The province was actually one of the first places in Canada to start growing grapes for wine production in the 1600s. Nova Scotian wines are a unique find, and there are over 19 wineries to explore. They even say you can taste a bit of saltiness from the ocean in all wines produced here.
10) Visit the Canadian Museum of Immigration
Pier 21 in Halifax is home to Canada’s Museum of Immigration, which is an amazing place to wander for Canadians and visitors alike. The museum explores our country’s history of immigration throughout the years, and you can even explore your own family’s immigration history in the archives for free. Put it on your must-do list for your time in Halifax on a trip through Altantic Canada.
9) Explore Louisbourg
It can be hard to envision life in Nova Scotia during the 18th century; a time when French colonialists were establishing their settlements. Louisbourg is the largest historical reconstruction in North America, and it’s a beautiful coastal site to explore and learn more about the complex history of Nova Scotia.
8) Try a donair
Can you tell this is a province that loves its meat? Nova Scotia’s love of lobster is rivalled only by their love of donair. Donairs are the unofficial food of Halifax, and make an amazing lunch, and an even better late-night snack after a night at the bar. The donair is a remixed version of a Greek gyros wrap, with beef shawarma and a signature donair sauce. Try one – or a dozen – for yourself during your free time in Halifax when you visit Atlantic Canada.
7) Chill out at Halifax Harbour
Life by the water is just better, and when it comes to Halifax, the proof is in the views. As mentioned previously, you can whale watch, grab some food, and walk the stunning boardwalk. Halifax Harbour is the hub of so much excitement and culture in the city, and it’s also the place to go for nightlife and street eats.
6) Visit Lunenberg
This gorgeous coastal town has it all. Amazing restaurants, history, breweries, shopping. Lunenberg is best known for its colourful colonial buildings, and for being home to the Bluenose II ship. The Bluenose II is a replica of the original Bluenose racing schooner which inspired the image on our Canadian dimes. The photo ops and eats are endless in Lunenberg, and it’s one of the two sole urban communities in North America designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
5) Eat some Digby Scallops
Just like its lobster, Nova Scotia has amazing fresh scallops that you just have to taste to believe. The fishing town of Digby claims to have the best scallops in the province, and of course, you deserve only the best. Get them right in town or look for them on local menus around the province.
4) Visit Chéticamp
During your time on Cape Breton Island, make sure you spend some time in Chéticamp specifically. Chéticamp is a traditional Acadian fishing village where you can find amazing Acadian eats, go whale watching, hike the trails, and fish for lobster. Its lasting French influences make it one of the most unique places in all of Nova Scotia.
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3) Golf in Ingonish
Even if golf isn’t your thing, how often can you say that you played at one of the top 100 golf courses in the world? Highlands Links in Ingonish is a beautiful course with dramatic views and 18 holes of golf paradise. Not ready to tee off? Ingonish Beach is a stunner as well.
2) Pick wild blueberries
Did you know that Canada is now the world’s top blueberry exporter? Nova Scotia’s wild blueberries are some of the best that you can find, and when you’re not eating them, you can pick them yourself. It’s tempting to just roll around and feast in a field of wild blueberries until you look like Violet Beauregarde, but try to practice some self-control. These sweet superfruits can be picked in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.
1) Visit the Alexander Keith's Brewery
Last but certainly not least, you can’t leave Nova Scotia without your fair share of beer. The pub lifestyle and Scottish influences are well-known and celebrated within the province. It’s no surprise then that beer is a very important part of the culture and social life in Nova Scotia. It also doesn’t hurt that it pairs so well with seafood and donairs. Plus, there are few things more satisfying than a nice cold one after a day of fishing.
During your time in Halifax on our Atlantic Canada adventure, you can visit the brewery for Alexander Keith’s. Keith’s is not only the pride of Nova Scotia but also a nationally beloved beer with 200 years of history here. The brewery is one of the oldest in North America, and the live music within gives off only the best Nova Scotian vibes.
Inspired to say yes and make a trip Down East for yourself? Here are some other things you may be wondering about when you’re planning out your list of things to do in Nova Scotia:
What is Nova Scotia best known for?
There are so many amazing elements of Nova Scotia that people visit to experience. The 19 things above are just the tip of the iceberg of things to do and see in this province. But, if we have to choose favourites, you could safely say that Nova Scotia is best known for both Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, and its delicious lobster.
What is the best month to visit Nova Scotia?
Like the other Maritime provinces of Canada, winters in Nova Scotia can be very snowy. For that reason, the summer months are the best time to visit Nova Scotia and experience it to its full potential. Nova Scotia’s summers are warm and make the perfect time to see and do everything on your list. Visit Nova Scotia between May and October for the best weather. If you want to avoid the peak season as much as possible, choose the very beginning and end of summer and visit in either May or October.
Is Nova Scotia expensive to visit?
There are aspects of a trip to Nova Scotia that fall on both ends of the scale, from cheap to pricy. Regardless of the time of year, getting yourself to Nova Scotia is where you’ll spend a big chunk of your budget. Flights to Nova Scotia can be a bit steep, but that’s to be expected when you’re flying into a tiny province on the edge of the Atlantic. Flight deals are common though, so keep your eyes peeled for a deal.
You can do Nova Scotia nicely on a budget in shared accommodations and with street eats, or you can ball out with lobster feasts and fancy hotels. Regardless of which way you go about your trip, the cost is well worth it. There aren’t many places in Canada where you can feast on fresh lobster 24/7, so make the most of it and channel the YOLO mentality. Pro tip: do it with Contiki, have all of the details sorted for you, and get the most bang for your buck when you travel, together.