Want to do a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip? From historic cities such as Quebec to natural wonders like the Bay of Fundy, here are some of the best stops on this epic Eastern Canada driving route.
Driving from Toronto to Nova Scotia is one of the most popular road trips in North America – and for good reason!
For starters, you’ll get to see incredible cities and natural vistas in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Along the way, you’ll meet famously friendly locals, visit amazing outdoor attractions and soak up some of Canada’s best historical landmarks.
You’ll also have the chance to sample plenty of North American, French and Acadian cuisine!
In this guide, I’ll detail some of the best stops on a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip that follows the Canadian route rather than the United States route. The total driving time is around 20 hours, so you might want to dedicate at least a week to covering the entire distance. That way, you’ll be able to visit some of the fascinating destinations discussed below.
Where to visit on a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip
From historic cities like Montreal and Quebec City to natural wonders like the Bay of Fundy and the Thousand Islands Region, here are some of the best stops on a road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia.
One of the first major stops on your road trip to Nova Scotia will be Kingston, which takes just over 2.5 hours to reach from Toronto.
Situated on the northeastern banks of Lake Ontario, this stunning city is known for its cultural landmarks, waterfront attractions and art scene. It’s also famous for its historic architecture, which has earned it the nickname ‘Limestone City’.
For insights into Kingston’s fascinating history, browse the 19th-century Fort Henry and the Murney Tower Museum. The Museum of Health Care provides a glimpse into the development of the medical industry from the 18th century to the modern day.
If you’re more of an art enthusiast than a history buff, you can browse a local gallery such as Martello Alley or the Tett Center. You might also want to catch an evening performance at the Kingston Grand Theatre.
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2. Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands are scattered along the Saint Lawrence River that forms the border between the United States and Canada. And the name is no exaggeration – there are actually more than 1,800 islands in the region.
The best way to experience the Thousand Islands is via a boat tour. As you float between the islands, you’ll see lush greenery as well as buildings such as grand estates and elegant cottages, some of which date back to the late 19th century. You’ll also catch a glimpse of landmarks like Singer Castle and Boldt Castle.
Besides sightseeing, popular activities here include water sports from jet skiing to stand-up paddle boarding. There are also various hiking trails by the river that are popular with birdwatchers.
Situated in the French-speaking province of Quebec, Montreal is a cultural mosaic of American and European influences, offering an eclectic mix of history, art, cuisine and entertainment.
You’ll find the most famous historic landmarks along the cobbled streets of Old Montreal. The highlight is probably the Notre-Dame Basilica, which is considered a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. Head to the Quartier des Spectacle to browse the displays at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The food scene includes plenty of classic French bistros and international restaurants. Try the famous bagels and poutine to dine like a local during your stay. Check out my guide to a weekend in Montreal, for more inspiration.
4. Quebec City
Quebec City is one of my favourite cities in Canada, and definitely one to hit up on your Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip.
While exploring the UNESCO-listed Historic District of Old Quebec, you’ll find art galleries, charming boutiques and a range of inviting cafés that serve delectable French-inspired cuisine. You’ll also see the ramparts of the old city wall and a maze of cobbled streets, giving the place an old-world charm.
One of the most impressive landmarks in Quebec City is the iconic Château Frontenac, which overlooks the city and the Saint Lawrence River from its hilltop position.
I’d also suggest learning about the city’s history and culture by exploring museums like the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Museum of Civilisation. Fancy a spot of shopping? Discover the artisans in the Quartier Petit-Champlain.
Edmundston may not be as large as cities like Montreal and Quebec, but its quaint charm makes it just as appealing to visitors (particularly outdoor enthusiasts – Edmundston is considered to be the gateaway to the Appalachian Mountains).
Surrounding the city are lush forests filled with scenic trails, making them popular with bikers and hikers as well as skiers during the colder months. You can also make the most of the outdoors at attractions such as the renowned Les Jardins de la République Provincial Park and the stunning New Brunswick Botanical Garden.
The city itself boasts a vibrant Francophone culture, evident in its eateries that serve Acadian and French-inspired cuisine. Cultural attractions include the Madawaska Historical Museum, the New Brunswick Museum and various art galleries.
6. Carleton North (Florenceville-Bristol)
Florenceville-Bristol – which has formed part of Carleton North since 2023 – is a delightful town with scenic surrounds, inviting locals and a small-town atmosphere, but it’s best known for its rich agricultural heritage. In fact, Florenceville-Bristol goes by the nickname of “French Fry Capital of the World”.
Visit the Potato World Museum for insights into the history of potato farming and the town’s impact on the global potato industry. Visit during July to attend the annual National French Fry Day festivities.
If the weather allows, I suggest taking a stroll along the banks of the Saint John River to soak up stunning views of Carleton North’s nature. You might also want to climb McCain’s Observation Hill for panoramic views of the town and its scenic landscape.
While not the most tourist-centric town in New Brunswick, a quick visit to Hartland is worth it just to check out the Hartland Covered Bridge, which is purported to be the longest covered bridge in the world, spanning 1,282 feet across the Saint John River.
During your time here, you can get to know the town’s history and culture by visiting the L.P. Fisher Public Library and the Hartland Visitor Information Center.
Located about one hour and 15 minutes southeast of Hartland is the capital city of New Brunswick, Fredericton, where you’ll find history, art, an incredible dining scene, and lots of natural beauty.
If you’re a history buff, you might want to admire the well-preserved architectural gems such as the Legislative Assembly Building and the guard towers in the Garrison District. You can also learn about the area’s heritage at the Fredericton Region Museum.
When you fancy getting out into nature, explore manicured greenspaces and parks such as the Odell Park, Mactaquac Provincial Park and the Fredericton Botanic Garden. And when you want to mingle with locals, browse galleries and dine on local delights, take a stroll though the vibrant downtown area.
As the largest city in New Brunswick, Moncton is a hive of culture, shopping, dining and entertainment.
My favourite family attractions in Moncton include the Magnetic Hill Zoo and the Magic Mountain Water Park. If you’d prefer to get your fill of history, you can explore Resurgo Place or the Acadian Museum.
In Moncton’s downtown area, you’ll find an array of shops, boutiques and galleries, plus a plethora of restaurants that specialise in Acadian dishes, international cuisine and delicious seafood. Evening entertainment comes in the form of bars, nightclubs and even a casino.
Given how much there is to do here, I’d recommend staying in Moncton overnight on your road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia.
10. Fundy Coastal Drive/Bay of Fundy
After spending the night in Moncton, you’ll travel along the Fundy Coastal Drive, stopping to visit highlights that include coastal towns, rugged cliffs and pristine beaches along the way. You’ll also be treated to some of the most awe-inspiring vistas of the Bay of Fundy.
Most people start the Fundy Coastal Drive in the city of Saint John, where you can visit attractions such as the Irving Nature Park, the New Brunswick Museum and the Reversing Falls.
Other must-see attractions along the Fundy Coastal Drive include the Fundy National Park, home to cascading waterfalls, lush forests and scenic hiking trails. You might also want to take a short detour to the iconic flowerpot-shaped Hopewell Rocks.
Sackville (a part of the town of Tantramar since 2023) is somewhat off the beaten path for tourists, yet it boasts a thriving arts scene, plenty in the way of history and culture, and natural wonders galore.
Sackville’s biggest claim to fame probably comes in the form of Mount Allison University, which is hailed as having one of the best art programmes in North America. This artistic influence is evident throughout Sackville, with numerous art galleries, boutiques and craft shops showcasing local talent.
If you’re more of a history buff than a creative, you might want to peruse heritage buildings such as the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum, the Anderson Octagon House and the Old United Church. Prefer the outdoors? Explore the Tantramar Marshes, the Waterfowl Park and Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve.
Parrsboro is another town that boasts a vibrant art scene, but the town’s main draws for tourists are probably its range of outdoor activities.
Situated on the Bay of Fundy, Parrsboro is known for having some of the highest tides in the world. When the tide recedes, the stunning red sandstone cliffs of the Parrsboro Shoreline stand tall, providing a unique opportunity for fossil hunting and beachcombing. You can learn more about the town’s geological history at the Fundy Geological Museum.
While you’re here, you might want to take part in adventure activities such as hiking or tidal bore rafting. When you need a rest, you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving fresh seafood delicacies.
Often referred to as the Hub of Nova Scotia, Truro is renowned for its vibrant arts, food and shopping scenes, not to mention its rich history, cultural legacy and surrounding nature.
As you explore the town, you’ll notice many well-preserved Victorian-era buildings that were built when Truro was a major railway and industrial hub. You can learn about the town’s heritage and legacy at the Colchester Historeum.
If you’re more interested in the outdoors than museums, take a stroll through the urban oasis that is Victoria Park, where you’ll find waterfalls and lush trails. You can soak up the best views of the park from the Jacob’s Ladder lookout.
The last stop on your Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip will be Halifax, which is Nova Scotia’s capital city. Situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax is known for its rich maritime history, stunning coastal beauty, vibrant culture and natural wonders.
Steeped in history is the historic Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fortification offering panoramic views of the city and harbour. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic showcases the city’s strong ties to the sea, with exhibits on the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion.
For lively pubs, delicious seafood restaurants and bustling shops, explore the city’s dynamic waterfront area. Take a stroll along the boardwalk to soak up the city’s maritime charm in all its glory.
If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be enchanted by Peggy’s Cove, where you’ll see an iconic lighthouse guarding a rugged coastline. Nearby, the beautiful beaches of Lawrencetown and Crystal Crescent are perfect for sunbathing and surfing.
What do you think are the best stops on a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip?
So, there you have it – my favourite places to visit on a road trip from Toronto to Nova Scotia. This iconic drive in Eastern Canada takes you to some of the nation’s oldest cities, most picturesque villages and best natural wonders. You’ll also visit the capitals of two Canadian provinces.
However, while the route detailed above is undoubtedly epic, there are other ways to drive from Toronto to Nova Scotia. You can even drive through the USA to visit places like Boston, New York and Niagara Falls.
So, what do you think are the best stops on a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip? Let me know in the comments below.
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Quick list of the best stops on a Toronto to Nova Scotia road trip
- Thousand Islands
- Quebec City
- Carleton North (Florenceville-Bristol)
- Fundy Coastal Drive/Bay of Fundy