15 Cool Places to See in Nova Scotia This Summer

Today I’m sharing a bunch of cool things to do in Nova Scotia to give you an idea of how to plan for a Nova Scotia vacation this summer. After spending a month in Nova Scotia, I saw a lot of the province but there’s still more to explore. Although Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada don’t be fooled into thinking you can see it all in a week.

In this post I’m giving you an idea of the variety of places to see in Nova Scotia. And here is a sample itinerary for a 10-day Nova Scotia road trip.

 

 

Nova Scotia Canada 15 Cool Places to See

 

Where is Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia is one of the maritime provinces of Canada located on the east coast, it’s known as Canada’s Ocean Playground. It is the perfect summer vacation spot for people who love the outdoors. You’ll enjoy wonderful hiking, camping, fishing, beaches, and boating around Nova Scotia. Plus, delicious seafood and the warm hospitality of Nova Scotians.

Did you know that in Nova Scotia you are never more than 67 km (42 miles) from the ocean!

 

Nova Scotia vacation with charming house and sun deck

A charming house in a beautiful seaside town in Nova Scotia

 

What time zone is Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia is in the Atlantic Time Zone (UTC -4 hrs), which is one hour ahead of the USA and Canada Eastern time zone. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and most of Labrador (mainland Newfoundland) share the Atlantic time zone with Nova Scotia.

 

Peggy's Cove Village is a must visit stop on your Nova Scotia road trip

Peggy’s Cove Village is a must visit stop on your Nova Scotia road trip

 

Getting to Nova Scotia

There are non-stop flights to Halifax from Boston MA, New York City, and Newark NJ as well as many European cities such as London, Dublin, Paris, and Frankfurt. You can fly non-stop to Halifax from all major cities in Canada. If you don’t mind making a stop or two your options for flying to Nova Scotia are plentiful – consult your favorite airline’s website. Or try Google Flights or Skyscanner to find the best options and prices for your flight to Nova Scotia.

When I visited Nova Scotia, I drove all the way from Calgary. I spent 6 days driving across Canada but then I enjoyed a whole month in Nova Scotia and a month in Maine before heading down to St Augustine Florida to enjoy the beaches!

Okay, let’s go to Nova Scotia!

 

Halifax Nova Scotia waterfront - Tall Ship Silva

Waterfront along Halifax boardwalk – Tall Ship Silva

 

Halifax

If you fly to Nova Scotia you will begin exploring the province from Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.

Some of the top things to do in Halifax

  • Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
  • Waterfront downtown Halifax
  • Halifax Public Gardens
  • Point Pleasant Park
  • Alexander Keith’s Brewery
  • Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
  • Visit the Farmers Market

 

Halifax Citadel Historic Site located downtown near the harbor

Halifax Citadel Historic Site located downtown near the harbor

 

There’s a cool blues club in downtown Halifax called Bearly’s House of Blues over on Barrington Street. When I spent a weekend in Halifax a few years ago I enjoyed an evening of music at Bearly’s.

For breakfast check out Coastal Café on Robie Street. Great spot for brunch and they have good coffee.

 

The Coastal Cafe - The Elvis consists of buttermilk waffles, bacon, bananas, and peanut butter, and maple syrup

The Coastal Cafe in Halifax Nova Scotia – The Elvis – waffles, bacon, banana, syrup

 

Peggy’s Cove

One of the most recognizable and most photographed spots in Canada, Peggy’s Cove draws many tourists to the iconic site. If you want to see some of the best photographs of Peggy’s Cove and around Nova Scotia check out Acorn Photography.

 

The iconic Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia is a popular tourist attraction in Nova Scotia

The iconic Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia is a popular tourist attraction in Nova Scotia

 

Lunenburg

One of the most picturesque towns in Canada is the pretty coastal town of Lunenburg Nova Scotia. Old Town Lunenburg is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

Visiting Lunenburg Nova Scotia waterfront with colorful boats and buildings

Visiting Lunenburg Nova Scotia waterfront with colorful boats and buildings

 

Grand Banker Bar and Grill is a great place for lunch or dinner in Lunenburg – I enjoyed beers and the Acadian Style Seafood Stew – delicious!

 

Lunenburg is a popular Nova Scotia road trip destination with its brightly painted historic buildings

Lunenburg is a popular Nova Scotia road trip destination with its brightly painted historic buildings

 

Walking around the waterfront in Lunenburg you may see the Bluenose II which you can walk aboard for a visit or book a cruise.

 

Blue Nose II in Nova Scotia open for tourists to walk aboard

Blue Nose II in Nova Scotia open for tourists to walk aboard

 

Blue Nose cruise from Lunenburg Nova Scotia

Blue Nose cruise from Lunenburg Nova Scotia

 

Also in Lunenburg watch out for the fella making knots at his sidewalk shop Knot For Sale.

 

Knot For Sale is an amusing name for this business selling knotted rope souvenirs made by a local in Lunenburg

Knot For Sale is an amusing name for this business selling knotted rope souvenirs made by a local in Lunenburg

 

Blue Rocks for Kayaking

When I found out that I could go kayaking at Blue Rocks I drove from Lunenburg one afternoon to check it out. It was too late to rent a kayak, but I inquired about reserving a time later in the week. Blue Rocks is a serene and gorgeous seaside community. Pay a visit during both low tide and high tide if you have the time.

I went kayaking at Blue Rocks with Pleasant Paddling – read my full blog post. Prices may have changed since I went last summer so check their website for latest prices and available time slots.

 

Beautiful Blue Rocks Nova Scotia - small fishing village near Lunenburg NS

Beautiful Blue Rocks Nova Scotia – small fishing village near Lunenburg

 

Bridgewater

Beautiful Bridgewater in the South Shore region of Nova Scotia was my home for a month during the summer last year. Initially I looked for a place in Halifax, but I expanded my search to include smaller towns and that’s when I found Bridgewater.

I like to stay in neighborhoods where I can walk to restaurants, pubs, grocery store, farmers market, and staying in downtown Bridgewater gave me a wonderful walkable neighborhood. I found my rental via Airbnb, which is hit and miss for me these days, seems the prices keep going up and sometimes it’s just better to stay in a hotel for the same price or cheaper!

Find the latest hotel deals in Nova Scotia on Booking.com – this is the site I use for most of my hotel bookings.

One thing I loved about Bridgewater is that I could take day trips all around the South Shore and Valley region and the Bay of Fundy. There are a lot of beautiful beaches in Nova Scotia and some great hiking and kayaking too.

 

Bridgewater Nova Scotia along the LaHave River is a beautiful town in the south shore region

Bridgewater Nova Scotia along the LaHave River is a beautiful town in the south shore region

 

Ovens Natural Park

When I read about the sea caves at the Ovens Natural Park, I knew it would be a nice walk along the coastline. You can pan for gold on the beach, go kayaking, and camp at Ovens park. Read my full blog post about visiting Ovens Natural Park here.

 

Ovens Natural Park cliff trail Riverport Nova Scotia Canada

Ovens Natural Park cliff trail

 

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point Hike

Gaff Point at Hirtle’s Beach is my favorite hike in Nova Scotia so far. I almost didn’t visit Hirtle’s Beach, but when I found out about this beautiful coastal hike, I made time to go. This trail is not particularly suitable for younger kids or people with mobility issues, but they will enjoy the beach. Read more about Gaff Point hike and watch my video of the various types of terrain you’ll experience during the hike.

 

Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point hiking trail begins right at the beach

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hiking trail begins right at the beach

 

Carters Beach

Carters Beach is the most beautiful beach in Nova Scotia. There isn’t a lot of parking near the beach so go early in the morning during a weekday if you want the best chance for a place to park. Please respect the residents nearby and do not park in their driveways or in their yards! Evidently this has been a problem in the past.

Photos of Carters Beach could fool some people into thinking you are in the Caribbean or some other tropical locale. There are three sections of the beach and it is all spectacular.

Other South Shore beaches near Carters Beach are Hunts Point and Summerville, both are free. Another beach close to Carters is the White Point Beach Resort but you must pay to visit.

 

Carters Beach white sand and turquoise water looks like a tropical location - but it's south shore Nova Scotia!

Carters Beach white sand and turquoise water looks like a tropical location – but it’s south shore Nova Scotia!

 

Kejimkujik National Park

There are two separate parks to Kejimkujik National Park – there’s the coastal part called Kejimkujik National Park Seaside and the inland park about 95 km (59 miles) away. The inland park is part of Kejimkujik National Historic Site. I did not have a chance to visit this park, but I drove to the Kejimkujik seashore park, on a stormy day. Will have to make time to go back to both parks next time around.

The hike out to Harbour Rocks at Kejimkujik seaside from the parking lot is about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) and takes about 45 minutes to walk out and back. You’ll probably want to spend some time watching the waves or looking for birds and seals on the shoreline.

For a longer hike take the Port Joli Head trail loop trail which starts at the same trailhead as Harbour Rocks then veers off to Boyds Cove and follows the coastline up to Harbour Rocks. Port Joli Head hike is 10.6 km (6.6 miles) total.

 

Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Nova Scotia Canada with big waves and flowing grasslands

Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Nova Scotia Canada with big waves and flowing grasslands

 

Cape Sable Island

I loved the drive from Bridgewater to Cape Sable Island (not to be confused with Sable Island) and made a few stops at other beaches along the way, and Kejimkujik seaside park.

On Cape Sable Island you can visit The Hawk, the most southerly community in Nova Scotia. There’s a beach at the Hawk – featuring a coastal petrified forest.

On the way back I stopped at JBs Steak and Seafood in Barrington, just across the causeway from Cape Sable Island. I ate a wonderful meal of bacon wrapped scallops and a bowl of chowder, then walked around by the water. There’s some big lobster sculptures and picnic tables at the park next to the water, great place to enjoy your meal outdoors.

 

The Hawk is Nova Scotia's most southerly point on the mainland

The Hawk is Nova Scotia’s most southerly point on the mainland

 

Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy at Burntcoat Head Park is extraordinary! Truly amazing and awesome to view the biggest tides in the world. You get to walk a mile out on the ocean floor during low tide. Returning a few hours later you’ll see the area flooded with water. Bay of Fundy is well worth a visit!

If you want to get a little closer and experience the tides from out in the water, try one of the Tidal Bore rafting experiences.

There are two main tidal bore rafting places: Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures and Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Resort.

 

Exploring the ocean floor near the flowerpot at Burntcoat Head Park on Bay of Fundy Nova Scotia

Exploring the ocean floor near the flowerpot at Burntcoat Head Park on Bay of Fundy Nova Scotia

 

Walton Lighthouse

While you wait in between low and high tides at Burntcoat Head Park I suggest making the short drive over to Walton Nova Scotia to visit the Lighthouse and enjoy a meal at the Walton Pub. Read my full post about visiting Walton Lighthouse.

 

Walton Lighthouse is the last original lighthouse in Hants County Nova Scotia Canada

Walton Lighthouse is the last original lighthouse in Hants County NS

 

Annapolis Royal

I drove to Annapolis Royal to meet up with my online friend Nancie, of the Budget Travelers Sandbox travel blog. She was my tour guide as we walked to the Farmer’s Market downtown and over to Fort Anne National Historic Site.

 

Annapolis Royal farmers market with an abundance of locally grown vegetables

Annapolis Royal farmers market with an abundance of locally grown vegetables

 

Annapolis Royal is an attractive town with many historic buildings and the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.

Point Royal National Historic Site is the location of one of North America’s oldest European settlements. The settlers were welcomed and helped by the M’kmaq First Nations people.

 

Annapolis Royal waterfront promenade in Nova Scotia

Annapolis Royal waterfront promenade in Nova Scotia

 

Wolfville

Another pretty town in Nova Scotia that I would like to visit again and explore is Wolfville. My friend Nancie and I attended the marvelous play Mona Parsons – War Story. Mona Parsons is the only Canadian woman imprisoned by the German army during World War II. She led a remarkable life – read her biography here.

From Wolfville take a short drive to Grand Pre National Historic Site. This site is a memorial to the Acadians who once lived and farmed in the area. After their expulsion by the British in 1755 they journeyed for years before settling in South Louisiana in the area around Lafayette.

Longfellow’s epic poem The Legend of Evangeline is the story of newlyweds separated during the expulsion. There is a statue of Evangeline at Grand Pre and another one in St Martinville Louisiana.

 

A couple of bright red Canada chairs at the waterfront in Annapolis Royal Nova Scotiava Scotia

A couple of bright red Canada chairs at the waterfront in Annapolis Royal Nova Scotia

 

Cape Breton

Fulfilling a decades long dream to visit Cape Breton, I fell in love with the Island. One of the main tourist attractions is the famous Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. You can drive the whole Cabot Trail in about 6.5 hours, but you’ll probably want to stop along the way. There are lots of villages and coastal towns in Cape Breton. Popular tourist attractions are whale watching tours, hiking, boating, fishing, and enjoying the beaches. And of course trying out all the delicious seafood!

 

Try the seafood chowder in Nova Scotia - this version is from Coastal Restaurant in Ingonish Cape Breton

Try the seafood chowder in Nova Scotia – this version is from Coastal Restaurant in Ingonish Cape Breton

 

I stayed for 3 nights in Cape Breton – one night in Pleasant Bay and two nights in Ingonish close to the beach. But you could easily spend a week in Cape Breton.

 

Two hikers at an overlook on Jack Pine Trail along the famous Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia Canada

Two hikers at an overlook on Jack Pine Trail along the famous Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia Canada

 

There are lots of beautiful coastal drives in Cape Breton. On my way from Pleasant Bay to Ingonish I took the scenic route up to Cabots Landing Provincial Park for a walk on the beach. Then I continued up to Meat Cove – the northernmost community in Cape Breton. And back along the coast to White Point and Neil’s Harbour and finally to Ingonish Beach.

Related: 9 Cape Breton Hikes on the Famous Cabot Trail

While I did get to see a lot of Nova Scotia, I also have more of the province to explore next time I visit. Some of the places on the list for my next Nova Scotia road trip are Digby, Yarmouth, Truro, Cheticamp, Dingwall, Baddeck, Guysborough, Pictou, New Glasgow, Antigonish, Parrsboro, Amherst, Tatamagouche, Inverness, Margaree Harbour, and Sydney.

There are probably several other places I missed, let me know if you have a favorite place in Nova Scotia that I should add to my list.

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Things to do in Nova Scotia Canada

Nova Scotia road trip vacation Canada

Best places in Nova Scotia for summer vacation

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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  1. Been to Nova Scotia a couple of years ago. I wish I had more time to explore more this island and some of the other towns. I made to Halifax, Peggy´s Cove, and Cape Breton and I hope I can go back one day and visit the other places! Lovely post!!!

    • Lucky you! Nova Scotia is so beautiful and it’s a great location for solo travel or family travel. I loved driving around and exploring the small towns on my own and I had no idea the beaches in Nova Scotia were so gorgeous! Hope you get back to NS again Pia!

  2. Every spot looks inspired Susan! Nova Scotia feels like a different world. So OUT THERE LOL. I love it. Perfect getaway. Not too too far from New Jersey either.

    • Nova Scotia has a chill and relaxed vibe, you know how it goes when there are beaches around :) NS is Canada’s Ocean Playground! A lot of people from the northeastern USA visit Nova Scotia – it’s a perfect getaway from the big city, and the US dollar gives more buying power in Canada, BONUS!

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