Nova Scotia is the ideal province in Canada for road trips and scenic drives because you’re never far from the ocean. You get to enjoy gorgeous coastal scenery all around this beautiful province.
There’s a reason Nova Scotia is known as Canada’s Ocean Playground! Fishing, beachcombing, and whale watching are popular attractions you’ll want to make time for during your maritime road trip. Or just eat a ton of seafood like I did!
Enjoy the long summer days exploring the beauty of Canada’s east coast with this Nova Scotia road trip guide.
You can adjust the trip itinerary to suit your needs and add extra days as you desire.
10 Day Itinerary Nova Scotia Road Trip
This ten day road trip itinerary around Nova Scotia is planned with the idea of exploring a region, spending the night, then moving on to the next location.
You can always add more days if you want to take it slower and immerse yourself in the culture. Alternatively, you can do a section of the road trip and stay in one place for the duration of your trip.
I traveled around Nova Scotia solo but you’ll find this guide is perfect for planning your family summer vacation too!
Most people fly into Halifax so that’s where we’ll start with this ten day itinerary for Nova Scotia.
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Day 1 – Halifax
Halifax – Capitol of Nova Scotia
Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to downtown Halifax (30 minutes) to explore the waterfront region. If you arrive late at night spend the night and you’re ready to explore the next day.
I stayed at the Hollis Halifax Doubletree, overlooking the harbor, a great location.
Popular Halifax Attractions
- Waterfront – Beautiful place to walk and if the Blue Nose II is in harbor book a trip – check the schedule here
- Halifax Citadel National Historic Site – Citadel Hill with its star shaped architecture once guarded Halifax
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Explore Halifax maritime history at this waterfront museum
- Fairview Cemetery – Final resting place of over 100 victims of the Titanic
- Halifax Public Gardens – Beautiful Victorian era gardens opened in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation
Day 2 – Halifax to South Shore
Peggy’s Cove – Lunenburg – Blue Rocks – Ovens Natural Park – Hirtle’s Beach
Total driving time 3.5 hours
From Halifax you’ll drive 45 minutes to Peggy’s Cove to visit one of Canada’s most iconic landmarks.
The Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots in Canada.
From Peggy’s Cove drive 100 km (60 miles) to the historic town of Lunenburg Nova Scotia. The downtown area near the harbor is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lunenburg is an attractive town with Victorian era houses painted in bright colors. The view from across the water on Tannery Road is wonderful.
Eat lunch at one of the seafood restaurants, I tried Grand Banker Bar and Grill and it is excellent. Walk off your lunch along the harbor.
There are two museums you should visit in Lunenburg:
- Knaut-Rhuland House at 125 Pelham Street will give you a glimpse into the early days in Lunenburg.
- Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic at 68 Bluenose Drive
If the Bluenose II tall ship is docked at Lunenburg, you can hop aboard and get a look at the ship for FREE! There are also paid boat tours available – check the listings for more info
Next drive 10 minutes from Lunenburg to Blue Rocks and walk the shoreline or take a sea kayaking trip. There are bunches of islands nearby, so the water is usually calm.
Pleasant Paddling will rent you a kayak or you can sign up for one of their guided tours. Traveling by myself I opted for the guided tour and I enjoyed it a lot.
Now take a drive from Blue Rocks to the Ovens Natural Park and enjoy a hike along the cliffs, plus you can try panning for gold on the beach. Read my full post about Ovens park here
From Ovens park drive to beautiful Hirtle’s Beach – only 12 km away – and enjoy a walk on the beach, watch for seals surfing in the water.
If you are into hiking, I highly recommend the Gaff Point hike – the trailhead is at Hirtle’s Beach! This was my favorite hike in Nova Scotia but it’s not for everyone.
Check out my Gaff Point hike video to see the variety of terrain on this hike.
Take a scenic drive to Bridgewater and spend the night. Dine at the River Pub at 750 King Street.
In the morning grab some cookies at Weagles’ Bakery at 15 Victoria Road (they open at 6 am). Cookies are the perfect road trip snack. For a full breakfast I suggest Fancy Pants Café at 807 King Street.
Check availability and the latest deals on hotels in Bridgewater.
Day 3 – South Shore to Yarmouth
South Shore –Crescent Beach – Kejimkujik Seaside – Cape Sable Island – Yarmouth
Total of 3.25 hours driving time
From Bridgewater drive to Crescent Beach – 20 minutes or so. Crescent Beach is the place for windsurfing, kitesurfing, or regular board surfing. Enjoy walking the beach.
I found several sand dollars on this beach. As you may have guessed from all the surfing, it gets very windy at Crescent Beach!
From Crescent Beach to Kejimkujik National Park Seaside – 75 km (45 miles) takes about 45 minutes.
Hike out to the seashore and watch the waves crashing into shore.
Kejimkujik to Cape Sable Island is a scenic 1 hour 10 minutes drive. I enjoyed exploring Cape Sable Island and visiting a couple of the beaches.
The Hawk Beach at low tide exposes the petrified stumps from a former forest.
Walking this sandy beach, you can see the Cape Sable Lighthouse, the tallest in Nova Scotia at 31 m (101 ft).
Fill your belly at the JB’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant – it’s located on the left side just before you cross the causeway over to Cape Sable Island.
They have great food and wonderful staff.
Cape Sable Island to Yarmouth – 75 km – around an hour. Yarmouth is another Nova Scotia coastal town and its located on the southwest tip of the Nova Scotia peninsula.
In Yarmouth visit the Cape Forchu Lighthouse and Museum – a wonderful place to watch the sunset.
Have dinner overlooking the harbor at Rudder’s Seafood at 96 Water Street. Looking for vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free options in Yarmouth – check out Gaia Global Kitchen at 222 Main Street Yarmouth
In the morning The Shanty Café opens at 6 am to help you break the fast – Shanty Café is located at 6B Central Street in downtown Yarmouth near the waterfront.
Overnight Yarmouth – find the latest hotel rates and availability here.
Day 4 – Yarmouth to Annapolis Valley
Digby – Annapolis Royal – Wolfville
Total driving time 2 hrs 50 minutes
The drive from Yarmouth to Digby – 100 km (60 miles) should take you just over an hour.
Do you love lobster and scallops? If so, Digby is your happy place! Home to the famous Digby scallops and delicious Atlantic lobster too.
July 2 – 4, 2021 you can enjoy the Lobster Bash in Digby. If you are around in early August, you’ll want to attend the Digby Scallop Days Festival – August 5 – 8, 2021.
Digby to the historic town of Annapolis Royal – 30 minute drive. Annapolis Royal is a charming coastal town with a lot of history – the early European settlers arrived in the area in 1605. The Mi’kmaq First Nations peoples have lived in the area for over 10,000 years.
Popular Annapolis Royal Attractions
- Visit the only Tidal Power Plant in North America
- Fort Anne National Historic Site
- Port Royal National Historic Site
- Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
- Abundant historic buildings – 135 registered heritage buildings in a town with a population of around 500 people
Annapolis Royal to Wolfville – 1 hour 15 minutes driving time.
Wolfville was once home to some of the Acadians, later expelled by the British – many of them later settled in the land around Lafayette Louisiana.
2020.01.09 Editor’s Note/Correction. Thank you to Richard Riddell Comeau for the following:
Acadie was all of the Maritimes and much of the Gaspé Peninsula. Grand Pré, near what is today Wolfville, was one of our homes. The “Cajuns” of Louisiana are part of an Acadian diaspora which reaches across the globe.
There were Acadians that either avoided expulsion or returned after expulsion to the Maritimes to live. Acadian people and culture are alive and well in Nova Scotia and throughout the Maritimes. Vive l’Acadie!!~ Richard Riddell Comeau
Nowadays around the Annapolis Valley there are several wineries within easy access from Wolfville.
Explore the wine region and enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants in downtown Wolfville. Try The Naked Crepe – good eats!
Overnight Wolfville – Wolfville hotel options and latest deals
You can visit the Grand Pre Historic and UNESCO site just a few km from Wolfville.
Day 5 – Bay of Fundy to Northumberland Shore
Walton Lighthouse – Bay of Fundy – Truro – Tatamagouche – Pictou
Total driving time: 3.5 hours
Wolfville to the Bay of Fundy – Burntcoat Head Park – 1 hour and 10 minutes – 90 km (56 miles)
Watch the biggest tides in the world! It’s amazing to walk on the ocean floor and where only 6 hours earlier the water reached up to the rocky coastline.
Bay of Fundy is a must visit in Nova Scotia.
In between tides at Bay of Fundy drive to Walton Lighthouse and enjoy lunch at the Walton Pub – 20 minute drive.
Burntcoat Head Park to Truro – 50 minutes – 60 km (36 miles)
Truro to Tatamagouche – 45 minute drive (50ish km/30ish miles)
Take a walk on the beach at Rushton’s Beach Provincial Park in Tatamagouche.
Truro to Pictou – birthplace of New Scotland – 45 minutes – 65 km. The first Scottish immigrants landed in 1773.
At Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou step aboard a replica of the Hector – the tall ship that arrived in Pictou with the first immigrants from Scotland – more info on Ship Hector.
Interested in tracing your family tree and Scottish heritage – visit the McCulloch House Museum and Genealogy Centre.
Overnight in Pictou – Find the latest deals and hotel reviews here.
Day 6 – Northumberland Shore to Cape Breton
Antigonish – Port Hood – Mabou – Cheticamp
Total driving time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Pictou to Antigonish will take about 45 minutes on the road.
In Antigonish if you are in the mood for a hike to stretch your legs check out Fairmont Ridge Hiking Trail for a 10 km (6 miles) out and back trail.
Next drive from Antigonish to Port Hood on Cape Breton Island. Grab some lunch at the Clove Hitch Bar and Bistro at 8790 NS Trunk Road 19.
The drive from Port Hood to Mabou is only 10 minutes. Mabou is a good choice if you want to add on an extra night to the trip because it’s a hotbed for music.
The village of Mabou has a population of around 1,200, with a few options for accommodation so check the Mabou website for listings – and check out the music events in Mabou.
Mabou to Cheticamp takes about an hour to drive. Cheticamp is just outside of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You’ll need to buy a pass to visit the park but it’s totally worth it!
In Cheticamp you’re only a 20-minute drive from Skyline Trail – hike it at sunset for beautiful coastal views.
Stay in Cheticamp overnight – check for Cheticamp hotels here.
Day 7 and Day 8 – Cape Breton Island
Pleasant Bay – Cabot’s Landing – Meat Cove – White Point – Ingonish
Total driving time: 3 hours
I know some people drive the Cabot Trail in one day, but you won’t have much time at all for the beaches, coastal hiking trails, or filling your face with seafood and local beer. Spend some time enjoying Cape Breton!
From Cheticamp drive to Pleasant Bay (40 minutes) and do some whale watching.
Grab a cup of coffee at the Pumpkin Patch...and some fudge. They also sell organic body care products…but coffee and fudge are important road trip products.
There’s also a cool looking art shop in Pleasant Bay – it wasn’t open when I visited town though. But take a look at Timmons Folk Art Studio at 22 Harbour Road if you visit Pleasant Bay – handmade souvenirs are the best!
From Pleasant Bay you can stop at Cabots Landing Provincial Park and visit the beach where Cabot is thought to have landed.
After visiting Cabots Landing you may as well continue on to Meat Cove – the northernmost community in Cape Breton.
There’s some good hiking around Meat Cove and great food awaiting you at The Chowder Hut.
After you satisfy your hunger get back on the road and visit the town of Cape North then continue to White Point for a scenic drive along the Nova Scotia coastline.
From there you’ll pass Neil’s Harbour and continue on to Ingonish where you’ll spend a couple of nights so you can explore the area.
Enjoy the beaches, hiking, and scenic coastal drives around Ingonish. I hiked a few trails in Cape Breton and visited Ingonish Beach in the evenings.
There’s a golf course at the Celtic Lodge in Ingonish and the lodge features live music events at the Arduaine Restaurant and the Highland Sitting Room.
Three great hikes around Ingonish are Jack Pine Trail, Middle Head Trail, and Broad Cove Mountain – get info on these and more hikes in Cape Breton here.
Find hotel deals in Ingonish and check availability here – they book up fast! If you want to stay closer to the beach check these listings. I stayed in a cute little cabin in Ingonish.
Day 9 – Cape Breton Ingonish to Baddeck
Total driving time: 90 minutes
Baddeck is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site so you’ll want to spend some time at the museum. The town of Baddeck is beautiful, enjoy exploring and tasting your way through town.
Hike the Uisge Ban Falls at 715 North Branch Rd Baddeck Forks.
Enjoy one last seafood dinner at the family owned Baddeck Lobster Suppers located at 17 Ross Street near the Baddeck Harbour.
Day 10 – Cape Breton to Halifax
Baddeck to Halifax
4.5 hours total driving time
On the road again for another scenic coastal drive from Baddeck to Halifax. It’s time to gather your wonderful memories of road tripping in Nova Scotia and fly home.
Split up the drive with stop in picturesque Guysborough and get some road trip snacks at Days Gone By Bakery at 143 Main Street – about 1 hour 40 minutes from Baddeck.
Readers have pointed out that this road trip is missing the eastern shore region. That is a great excuse for another trip to Nova Scotia for me!
For now you can check the Nova Scotia tourism info for a 3-day itinerary along the eastern shore here.
Alternate Route Baddeck to Halifax via Eastern Shore
5.5 hours total driving time
This route will take you to Guysborough and Sherbrooke and along the eastern shore. As folks have mentioned there is plenty to see in this region of Nova Scotia.
There are several beautiful beaches on the eastern shore.
Taylor Head Beach at Taylor Head Provincial Park is gorgeous! There are also hiking trails along the coast, Spry Bay Loop is an awesome hike.
Clam Harbour Beach at Clam Harbour Provincial Park is another excellent stop along the eastern shore.
Martinique Beach is the longest beach in Nova Scotia and popular with surfers. During summer months you can take a surf lesson and rent all the gear right at the beach parking lot.
Lawrencetown Beach at Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park is another popular surf spot. And you can hike the Atlantic View Trail here as well.
Enjoy your east coast road trip exploring beautiful Nova Scotia!
If you have any tips or suggestions for places to stop on the way please let me know in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading and happy travels!
Read these related posts to plan your Nova Scotia trip!
- 15 Cool Places to See in Nova Scotia This Summer
- 9 Cape Breton Hikes on the Famous Cabot Trail Nova Scotia
- Amazing Blue Rocks Nova Scotia Sea Kayaking Experience of a Lifetime
- Cape Breton Accommodations Cabot Trail Cottages Hotels Nova Scotia
- Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point Trail Nova Scotia Best Coastal Hike
- Ovens Natural Park Sea Cave Trail and Campgrounds Nova Scotia
- Walton Lighthouse Nova Scotia – Last Original in Hants County
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