Beautiful and peaceful, Nova Scotia is Canada’s second smallest province, a peninsula on the eastern edge of the Canadian mainland. But the long coastline is dotted with fishing ports, sandy beaches and plump islands. The landscape varies widely, from the misty Atlantic Ocean in the southeast to the tidal salt marshes of the Bay of Fundy in the west and the Gaelic highlands of Cape Breton in the north. At these maritime latitudes, Nova Scotia has a pleasantly breezy, if rather humid climate. Summer is bright and sunny, but weather conditions can often bring fog, with snow in winter.
Halifax is the capital and largest city. In 1604, the French, including Samuel de Champlain, settled the Annapolis Valley and established Port-Royal, the first lasting European settlement north of Florida. They called it Acadia, a name now used to refer to all French settlements in the Maritimes.
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1 Cabot Trail
A car journey of 300 kilometers takes you along the northwest coast of the island and Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is a coastal route, where the highest mountains in Nova Scotia rise dramatically Golf van St. Lawrence. Cliffs, beaches, viewpoints and a winding road provide countless photo opportunities. Many small communities and attractions along the route, which unofficially begins and ends in Baddeck, home of the father of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. Fall is a favorite time to ride the Cabot Trail thanks to the region’s vibrant fall colors.
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2 Peggy’s Cove
About 27 miles southwest of Halifax, the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove has a back-in-time feel and sits on the misty Atlantic coast. The much-photographed lighthouse marks a dangerous point. Stark, wave-battered granite bluffs surround the lighthouse. Fishing wharves, boathouses, colorful heritage homes and art galleries line the winding road through the community. In September 1998, a Swissair plane crashed off the coast here, killing 229 people.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Peggy’s Cove
3 Fort of Louisbourg National Historic Site
This historical reconstruction recreates life in the mid-18th century with more than forty historic buildings, costumed guides, and working facilities. It is a living history museum with a group of soldiers, servants, fishermen, maids and traders going about their daily lives. A defensive wall surrounds the city, and the Frédéric Gate is right on the waterfront, for easy access to ships. Another entrance is the heavily guarded Porte Dauphine near the arsenal.
Address: 259 Park Service Rd, Louisbourg
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index.aspx
4 Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Overlooking downtown Halifax, this hilltop fort is the remnant of a British garrison first established in the 18th century. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, which itself was built in 1856, never saw combat. Today, the warren tunnels, powder magazine, and barracks are preserved, and housing history guides give tours. There are re-enactments and fortress guards with interpreters dressed in British red colours. The way up Citadel Hill is popular for its city and harbor views, and it passes through the Old city clockwhich Prince Edward commissioned in 1803.
Adres: 5425 Sackville St, Halifax
Official Site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx
5 Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The highest peaks in Nova Scotia are located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which covers more than 950 km2 at the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. Both the shoreline of beaches and cliffs and the inland forests and rivers entice hikers, campers, and families to explore the park. Wildlife watching is excellent in the national park with moose, beavers, eagles and deer often visible from the Cabot Trail scenic drive, which cuts partially through the park.
The small town of Acadia from Cheticamp is just outside the park boundaries
Official Site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/cbreton/index.aspx
Brightly colored heritage buildings mark Lunenburg’s townscape, which sits picturesquely on a hill. The community is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its heritage as a working port. Fishermen scoop ice along the waterfront, and ships moor at the wharves. However, the town’s most famous craft is the Bluenose schooner. The boat was built here in 1921 and won many international races before sinking off the coast of Haiti. A replica Bluenose II is sometimes in the harbour, while other fishing boats and a schooner can be seen on the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Read more:
- Historic Lunenburg and Mahone Bay: A Visitor’s Guide
7 Grand Pre National Historic Site
Acadians settled Grand Pre in the early 18th century, conquering Bay of Fundy salt marshes for farmland through a series of levees. But when Nova Scotia changed hands between the French and the British, it unrested the region. When the French-speaking Acadians refused to swear allegiance to England in 1755, the British deported about 10,000 people and destroyed their farms. Grand Pre National Historic Site is a memorial to this injustice. Beautiful gardens, a small chapel, and a statue of Henry Longfellow’s fictional heroine Evangéline are part of the picturesque grounds at the historic site.
Official Site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/grandpre/index.aspx
8 Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park
Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park is located 25 miles from Halifax and is an excellent day trip. Spread over 40 acres, the park is home to a wide variety of native and exotic animal species, including elk, fox, beaver, wolf, black bear, and cougar. Horse enthusiasts take note that the park is the only wildlife park in the world with horses from Sable Island.
Address: 149 Creighton Rd, Egmont Lake
Official Site: https://wildlifepark.novascotia.ca/
9 Halifax Harbor
A boardwalk runs along the Halifax Harbor, which opens out Pier 21 Museum and the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market in the south along the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and restaurants. Tugs, sailboats and naval vessels come and go, and the views look out to Dartmouth across the harbor and Georges Island center channel. Near the ferry terminal, ‘Historic Properties’ is a group of restored historic buildings that have been converted into retail and dining areas. A number of sightseeing cruises depart from the waterfront.
10 Kejimkujik National Park
Kejimkujik National Park is the Maritimes only inland national park, but it does have a coastal retreat with a beautiful white sand beach. The interior is popular for its lakes and rivers with excellent paddling, historic canoe routes, portages and hiking trails.
Adres: Route 8, Maitland Bridge
Official Site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/index.aspx
11 Port-Royal National Historic Site
The first French settlement in North America was at this site in the Annapolis Valley. Port-Royal National Historic Site was where, in 1605, Sieur des Monts established the first permanent settlement in North America. Although the fort was destroyed by the British, it has now been rebuilt in a simple wooden 17th-century style, and life history guides provide insight into the settlers’ struggles for survival. The complex includes a governor’s resident, a tenant trading post, and priests’ quarters.
Adres: 53 Historic Lane, Port Royal
Official Site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/portroyal/index.aspx
12 Sherbrooke Village
Sherbrooke Village consists of about 25 buildings representing a Nova Scotia village at the turn of the 20th century. Not all buildings are open to the public, but visitors can enter a woodturner, blacksmith, pottery, and printing house. Although the village is only open during the summer months, there are seasonal events that take place here, including Christmas activities.
Adres: 42 Main St, Sherbrooke
Official Site: https://sherbrookevillage.novascotia.ca/
13 Hall’s Harbor
Although less well known than New Brunswick, the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy stocks claim the highest tide in the world. Hall’s Harbor is not the peak of that tidal range (main rather than the Minas Basin), but it is one of the most beautiful with a wide sandy beach and wharves where moored fishing boats act as tide markers. At low tide, the ship sits at the bottom of the harbor. A lobster pound and restaurant is the main destination in the small village. From Hall Harbor, other Annapolis Valley attractions are close by, including The Lookoff vantage point at Canning, Cape Split hiking trailsin Blomidon Provincial Park.
14 Ross Farm Museum
Ross Farm Museum does an excellent job representing a working farm from over 150 years ago. Numerous displays and buildings take visitors through a passage of time to a bygone era. The 60-acre farm is, in fact, a real working operation, with a dairy barn, oxen pulls, and wagon rides. Visitors can see a variety of animals, including Canadian horses, bullocks, various types of poultry, Southdown and Cotswold sheep, along with Berkshire Pigs. There is a nature trail that takes visitors walking through the whole property, along with a blacksmith shop, cooper’s shop, barn, schoolhouse and the original Ross cottage.
Adres: 4568 Highway 12, New Ross
Official Site: https://rossfarm.novascotia.ca/