Nova Scotia Road Trip : Coast To Coast Itinerary (2023)

Nova Scotia Road Trip : Coast To Coast Itinerary (1)

This Eastern Canadian province is mighty and beautiful, justifying a visit that's at least a week long. Although we mostly spend our visits in Cape Breton, I've made it a mission to explore Nova Scotia from coast to coast. If you're looking for a Nova Scotia road trip itinerary, I hope our experiences help you create a memorable vacation no matter which season you're visiting in.

    Nova Scotia Road Trip Destinations As you plan your Nova Scotia road trip, keep in mind that there are many awesome spots you'll want to stop at along the way. I'm going to start and end our Nova Scotia road trip from Halifax, but you can easily start from your preferred community.


    Halifax has so much on offer for all travellers. While a night or two won't be enough time to explore everything, you can still get a good feel for the city.

    The Halifax Waterfront is one of my favourite places to hang out. You'll find all sorts of food spots, ranging from food trucks to fancy eats. On a recent visit we enjoyed a meal and drinks at Drift and highly recommend it. If you like to explore beautiful neighbourhoods, take the ferry to Dartmouth and enjoy the cafes, breweries and restaurants.

    Meanwhile, the Halifax Public Gardens are great if you have kids who need to burn some energy, and we enjoyed getting on the Harbour Hopper for a fast-paced amphibious tour of land and water. The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is a must-visit for history buffs, while The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is an informative visit for anyone looking to learn about the Canadian immigrant experience.

    And don't miss the Africville Museum and Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Waterfront, where you'll learn about Halifax and its connection to the Titanic. Of course, there are many hiking trails and beaches nearby, and plenty of day trips you can do, such as...

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    Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia is home to nearly 200 lighthouses and Peggy's Cove is probably the most famous of them all. Make it your first South Shore stop, as it's less than an hour's drive from downtown Halifax. I'd recommend a walk along the recently constructed viewing deck and a warm drink at the coffee shop.


    The main reason I added Chester to this itinerary is because it's home to the fabulous Sensea Spa! At this Nordic spa, you will raise the temperature of your body at saunas, hammams and hot baths, then cool down with cold plunges, a waterfall, shower buckets and ice fountains. While you can certainly book a massage, we opted for a spa pass instead which allowed us to try everything. There was even a facial room, which was a nice way to end our day.

    Mahone Bay I love visiting Mahone Bay. It's a cute town filled with all sorts of interesting shops, restaurants and markets. Located only 20 minutes from Chester, it's a solid spot to spend your late afternoon. Grab lunch at Oh My Cod! or Rebecca's, then visit the Amos Pewter shop and ask them for a free demonstration — I loved it so much that I watched it twice! Before you leave, be sure to swing by Jo-Ann's Deli for some baked goods for your drive.


    Depending on how your day is going, I'd recommend driving to Yarmouth for your first night on the road trip. Keep in mind that it does take 3.5 hours to drive from Halifax to Yarmouth, but with many pit stops along the way it's easy to do — we speak from firsthand experience. You can stop in Barrington on your way if time permits: it's the Lobster Capital of Canada.

    While in Yarmouth, you can walk along the main strip, enjoy some Filipino food at Charlene's Kitchen, catch the sunset by the pier, see the Cape Forchu lighthouse, and then sample beers at Heritage Brewing and nearby Tusket Falls Brewing.


    Annapolis Royal Royal Eating lobster should certainly be on your list of things to do in Nova Scotia! If you love lobster, stop in at BMC Seafoods in Meteghan - it's a fishery with picnic tables and seating along the wharf, where we stopped for lunch on our way into Annapolis Royal.

    Upon your arrival in Annapolis Royal, stretch your legs and go for a walk at Fort Anne National Historic Site and take in the waterfront sights. Swing by Annapolis Brewing Company for some drinks and eats, then be sure to grab some ice cream (or birdhouses - unexpected but very cute!) at 1 Scoop 2 Scoop. On the way to the next location, scallop lovers will want to stop in Digby and pick up some world-famous fresh scallops!

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    It's time to head to wine country, don't you think? If you're looking for a relaxing spot, Benjamin Bridge is a solid option, and one of the most well-arranged wineries I've ever been to. Known for their sparkling wines, I recommend signing up for one of their tastings if time permits. Otherwise, simply grab a glass and walk through their vineyards, or sit back and enjoy their terrace. Having visited the area before, I can tell you that there's plenty to do in this region and you can easily spend a few days here visiting other wineries like Luckett and Domaine de Grand Pre, walking through the Tangled Garden and of course, visiting the Grand-Pre National Historic site.

    Burntcoat Head Park

    This was one of the ultimate highlights for me. I knew I wanted to experience walking on the ocean floor at low tide - and timing it with sunset in the summer was brilliant! Burntcoat Head Park is the home of the highest tides in the world, and you should absolutely see them. But if I had to choose, I would opt for low tide. There's something so magical about roaming the ocean floor!

    Antigonish Antigonish is most famous for their Highland Games which take place in early July, but even if you're visiting at another time this university town is a worthwhile stop on your Nova Scotia road trip! Take a walk in downtown Antigonish and be sure to swing by Candid Brewing because this retro spot is a nice way to hide from the sun. If you're chasing lighthouses, Cape George Point Lighthouse is a must-visit.

    Driving the Cabot Trail It's time to drive the Cabot Trail and make your way to Cape Breton Island. We've shared many tips in the past about highlights of a Cape Breton drive (and our favourite beaches on the Cabot Trail) so read those if you want to spend a few more days on this scenic drive that's deservingly touted as one of the best in the whole world!


    What was once a famous coal mining town is now a golfer's paradise. I'm not a golfer, but I did enjoy swinging by Route 19 Brewing to fuel up after visiting the Inverness Beach boardwalk, especially around sunset! Look closely because you may spot some whales here, if you're lucky.

    Cheticamp This is a great spot to use as your home base for a night or two while you roam around the Cabot Trail. The main reason we chose Cheticamp was its proximity to the Skyline Trailhead and the Gypsum Mine Quarry. Cheticamp is also a great place for fishing and whale watching tours, which I hope to do one day!

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    Ingonish Ingonish is a fantastic area filled with beaches. Black Brook is one of my favourites because there's a waterfall right by the beach! You can certainly spend a few days in Ingonish in one of its charming holiday homes, bed and breakfasts or inns.

    As you make your way to Ingonish from Cheticamp, you may want to check out Neil's Harbour for a bowl of chowder, and if the ice cream shop in the lighthouse is open, grab a cone before you leave!


    You can certainly add a few days and head to Sydney or see the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. But if time is tight, head straight to Baddeck. We've visited Baddeck on numerous occasions and the main draw is always the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. It's interactive and fun for the kids.

    Baddeck is also home to numerous boating tours and a cute downtown strip filled with antique shops and boutiques. We always stop at the Highwheeler Cafe for lunch, but for a true East Coast experience you should pop by Baddeck Lobster Suppers for all you can eat mussels and a fresh lobster. If you have time, there is a free ferry from the Lions Club to Kidston Island between July 1st and Labour Day. There you will find a beach with lifeguards, a bathroom and changing rooms. You can also hike trails, one of which brings you to the lighthouse at one end of the island, then back to the beach.

    If you're driving from Ingonish to Baddeck on your Cape Breton road trip, North River Kayak is a cute little spot for some adventure. You can do some day tours like we did or rent a cabin where you can stay overnight. Kayaking first thing in the morning was a Zen-filled experience.

    Things To Do In Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotia is known for a variety of activities, including:

    Whale watching:

    Nova Scotia has several spots along its coast where you can go on a whale watching tour, including the Bay of Fundy and Cape Breton Island.

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    Nova Scotia is famous for its seafood, including lobster, scallops, and mussels. The province is home to several seafood festivals throughout the year, including the annual Lobster Carnival in Yarmouth.


    With its rugged coastline, Nova Scotia is a great place for hiking. There are numerous trails to choose from, including the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton and the Bluff Wilderness Trail near Halifax.

    Wine tours:

    Nova Scotia has a growing wine industry, with several wineries producing award-winning wines. The Annapolis Valley is a popular destination for wine tours.

    Historical sites:

    Nova Scotia has a rich history, and there are many historical sites to explore, including the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, the Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Grand-Pré National Historic Site.

    Music festivals:

    Nova Scotia is known for its vibrant music scene, and there are several music festivals throughout the year, including the Halifax Jazz Festival and the Stan Rogers Folk Festival.

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    Nova Scotia has many beautiful beaches to enjoy, including Lawrencetown Beach, Martinique Beach, and Inverness Beach.


    Nova Scotia Road Trip : Coast To Coast Itinerary? ›

    It's just good Ol' Nova Scotia. To really experience Halifax and explore the more remote corners of the province, I'd suggest carving out seven to 10 days to take it all in. It's worth traveling slowly here: taking your time, brushing elbows with locals, soaking up the beauty and really enjoying the experience.

    How many days do I need for Nova Scotia? ›

    It's just good Ol' Nova Scotia. To really experience Halifax and explore the more remote corners of the province, I'd suggest carving out seven to 10 days to take it all in. It's worth traveling slowly here: taking your time, brushing elbows with locals, soaking up the beauty and really enjoying the experience.

    How long does it take to drive all the way around Nova Scotia? ›

    Although Nova Scotia is small (it would take roughly 8 hours to drive the entire length of the province,) this doesn't mean you should rush through. Instead, roll down the driver's side window and plan for relaxed, easy days exploring small friendly towns, beautiful white-sand beaches, and stunning coastal scenery.

    What is the most scenic drive in Nova Scotia? ›

    Nova Scotia's driving routes include the Cabot Trail, which is widely regarded among the most scenic drives in Canada. It runs 298 kilometres (185 miles) around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. The Canso Causeway crosses from the mainland, spanning the Northumberland Strait between Aulds Cove and Port Hastings.

    What is the most scenic coast to coast route? ›

    The Highway 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway, road trip that passes through Big Sur on California's Central Coast is perhaps the most famous scenic drive in the Golden State.


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