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How to Plan the Ultimate Trip to Nova Scotia, in Canada

I’ve teamed up with Cailin O’Neil from Nova Scotia Explorer to take us through how to plan a trip to Nova Scotia for when we’re allowed to venture over. Read on for all of our tips and advice…

Canada isn’t open for travel yet, BUT this doesn’t mean we can’t plan. Planning my trips is genuinely one of my favourite parts of travel – looking up and researching what could be, what could I do, where do I NOT want to miss? 

How to plan a trip to nova scotia

Nova Scotia has been high on my list for a long time – in fact, I planned to get over there in 2020 – but y’know… 

One of the main reasons why I wanted to plan a trip to Nova Scotia was thanks to my friend Cailin who I travelled round Louisiana with, and went to Amsterdam with. Her Instagram feed highlights the best of the province, and her new site, NovaScotiaExplorer just makes me want to go even more. 

planning a trip nova scotia
Peggy Cove in Nova Scotia

I’m enlisting the help of Cailin to steer me in the right direction. We went live on Facebook to discuss the places I HAVE to see, the food I NEED to eat, the places I CANNOT miss and any useful nuggets of information she can pass on.

I’m lucky enough to have been to Canada six times now, and Nova Scotia is definitely next on my list. I’d probably combine it with a trip to Newfoundland, another part of Atlantic Canada, and stay for two weeks doing a road trip. But, for today, let’s stick with just planning a trip to Nova Scotia. 


“In Nova Scotia you’re never more than 60km away from the ocean”

– CAILIN, NOVASCOTIAEXPLORER.COM

Why is Nova Scotia so great?

Nova Scotia is only six hours from London, another reason why I’m kicking myself for not going sooner. It’s so close, yet such an undiscovered part of Canada.

Planning a trip to nova scotia
Visit the Halifax Town Clock while you’re in Nova Scotia

With its wide open spaces, fresh air, chilled vibes and natural beauty, I think Nova Scotia makes for the perfect post lockdown trip, so join me in planning a trip to Nova Scotia to keep the dream alive until it’s time to actually go.

The population of Nova Scotia is less than 1 million, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,345 sq mi) – this includes Cape Breton Island and 3,800 other coastal islands. There’s plenty of room for some social isolation!

What to do in Nova Scotia

Go on a road trip

There’s a definite loop to seeing Nova Scotia, as Cailin explains in the video above. So once you’ve caught up with the jet lag and relaxed in Halifax for a few days, then you can hire a car and road trip around Nova Scotia taking in the key places.

Hiking

Thanks to the outdoors being so stunning in Nova Scotia, and the impressive coastline, you can go on some incredible coastal hikes. There are loads to choose from, from easy to days longs and hard.

How to plan a trip to Nova Scotia
Canoeing in Keji

Go whale watching

Through the summer and fall when the waters are warmer Nova Scotia becomes a great whale watching destination. Take a whale watching tour from the Bay of Fundy or Cape Breton in search of any of the 12 species of whales that visit Nova Scotia each year. 

how to plan a nova scotia road trip
Panaormic views of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park from one of the many lookoffs between the communities of Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay

Magic winery bus

Visit one of the many vineyards throughout the Annapolis Valley, which has become known as Nova Scotia’s wine country. Sample the Tidal Bay – Nova Scotia’s appellation wine. It pairs flawlessly with the local seafood Nova Scotia is known for.  

In Wolfville hop aboard the Magic Winery Bus as it takes you round the wineries. Always good fun as you get to make friends, visit multiple wineries and leave the car behind.

Winery in Nova Scotia

Food trails

There are a few food and drink trails to enjoy in Nova Scotia. Have a look at the Good Cheer Trail, the Lobster Trail and the Chowder Trail. You can get a little map and cruise around trying all the best of each theme. A great to way to get to know an area!

Where to go in Nova Scotia

– Halifax

where to go in nova scotia

Halifax is where you’ll fly into when you visit Nova Scotia. It’s a good idea to spend a few days here to get your bearings and settle into Canada. You can enjoy the city, and do a few days trips here too.

The Halifax Waterfront is a hot spot of the city. Enjoy the over 4km of waterfront boardwalk where you will find, local shops, waterfront restaurants and patios, city tours and a stunning view of the Halifax Harbour. It’s the second largest natural harbour in the world and has some beautiful viewing spots to enjoy the scenery.

– Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton has been named the #1 Island Destination in the Americas by Condé Nast Traveler – make sure to save some time to explore that. There’s also waterfalls and moose here, so keep an eye out.

How to plan a trip to Nova Scotia
Fall scenery on the east side of the Cabot Trail along the St. Ann’s loop

Each Fall Cape Breton is home to the Celtic Colours International Festival. The island comes alive with music and culture against the gorgeous backdrop of the autumn colours. 

– Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove is a cute fishing village 45 minutes from Halifax, which you can do as a day trip. It has one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world!

Explore the village and enjoy the local shops and restaurants and take in the beautiful coastal views. 

– UNESCO Town of Lunenburg

How to plan a nova scotia trip

Known for is colourful historic buildings and seafaring history, Lunenburg needs to be on any Nova Scotia itinerary. You’ll discover great photo ops as you wander the distinctive waterfront full of amazing restaurants, unique shops and colourful architecture. 

– Bay of Fundy

Explore the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world. Each day, twice a day, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy.  Experience these tides by going Tidal Bore Rafting, or walk on the Ocean Floor at Burntcoat Head Park.

– Yarmouth

Yarmouth is best experienced outdoors. This is where you can experience some of the darkest skies in North America. This area is so perfectly suited for viewing the night sky that is had been named a ‘Starlight Reserve’ by the International Starlight Foundation. 

The Cape Forchu Lighthouse is here and you can climb to the top for fantastic photo ops. It’s also the site of Robert Pattinson’s award-winning film, The Lighthouse. You know it’s got to be special, right?

Where to stay in Nova Scotia

The Geodesic domes at Valley Sky offer a unique place for a special night. You can sleep under the stars as the roof opens up, and there’s a hot tub in the dome bubble. Other Geodesic domes in Nova Scotia include True North Destinations and Archers Edge.

What to do Halifax

In Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (one of the largest national parks in Nova Scotia) you can stay in one of five Ôasis units ‘teardrop style’ units located at Jim Charles Point. There’s a hammock area up top, and beds too.

There are also airbnbs all over the province, tiny houses you can rent and accommodation to suit all price ranges.

What to eat in Nova Scotia

Lobster!

As you’ll learn from the Facebook Live above, lobster is a big deal in Nova Scotia – they even have an annual lobster festival. Fish and seafood are also super popular, with the freshest catch served as standard.

how to plan a trip to nova scotia

Best time of year to visit Nova Scotia

Cailin says the best time to visit Nova Scotia is spring, summer and fall as there’s a lot more to do. More of the activities will be open, and the nights will go on for longer so you can fit more in. It’s also the only time to get those direct flights.

what to do nova scotia
Halifax’s famous harbour

Aim to spend 7-10 days in Nova Scotia, more if you prefer to spend a few days in each area and spend less time driving. 

Budget and prices in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is great value for people visiting from the UK, thanks to the strength of the pound, so if you’re coming from the UK then it may be an affordable destination. Remember those tips though!

Important prep for travel to Nova Scotia

Views of Nova Scotia

Passport validity for Canada

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Visa for Canada

You will need to sign up for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before you travel, to get into Canada. You will need to prove that you’ve signed up to this and paid before you’ll be allowed to board your flight.

Travel insurance for Canada

I get my travel insurance with my Flex Plus bank account, but if I didn’t (and before I did) I used World Nomads for my travel insurance. Never travel without travel insurance, it’s absolutely not worth it. 

Planning a trip to Nova Scotia

Travelling in Nova Scotia
Hall’s Harbour

“We have what the other provinces have but just not the big mountains. We still have the nature and the beauty, you can go fishing, paddleboarding, skiing, sailing and hiking and do all the beautiful things you can do in the rest of Canada.”

– CAILIN
What to do Nova Scotia

I hope this article has got you excited to plan a trip to Nova Scotia. I know I’m even more desperate to go now. I want to be over there in the fresh air, looking up at some huge pines, with a lobster roll in my hand. I dream of travelling around and listening to the great accents, soaking up the charm of the Nova Scotia province, enjoying the colourful buildings on the coast, and doing as many fun activities as possible wearing my plaid shirt as I go.


Post in collaboration with Atlantic Canada

“Atlantic Canada is made up of four distinct provinces, each with its own charms, attractions and coastal adventures. Find out more about each province on our overview page and let us help you plan your perfect holiday.”

– ATLANTIC CANADA

PIN THIS GUIDE TO HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO NOVA SCOTIA FOR LATER

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