Nova Scotia is one of three Maritime provinces and it’s the second smallest province in Canada. With over 13,000 kilometers of gorgeous coastline, it’s known as “Canada’s Ocean Playground”.
If you love the ocean, Nova Scotia is the perfect destination for you!
Nova Scotia is known for its huge fishing industry, picturesque lighthouses, and endless shorelines. The coastal towns, infinite seafood options, and epic viewpoints make this Atlantic province a must-see while visiting Canada.
Let’s dive in and discover what makes Nova Scotia such a special place!
1. The Bay of Fundy
Have you ever wanted to walk on the ocean floor? It’s totally possible when you visit the Bay of Fundy, one of the destinations that Nova Scotia is famous for.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience wedged between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, sometimes reaching over 50 feet high – that’s as tall as a four-story house! This phenomenon has been named one of the seven natural wonders in North America.
At low tide, you can literally walk on the ocean floor. Explore the caves and look for fossils as you marvel at the majestic surroundings. When you return to the same spot several hours later, you’ll have to do so by kayak since the area will be completely submerged underwater.
If you do only one thing in Nova Scotia, make sure it’s a visit to The Bay of Fundy!
Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital city and the second-largest coastal city after Vancouver. From museums to shopping to nightlife, this seaside cultural hub is the busiest port in Atlantic Canada.
The city’s most popular attraction is the Harbourwalk – a 4.4-kilometer boardwalk that runs alongside the beautiful waterfront in downtown Halifax. Here you can indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants, rent an e-bike, or simply take in the lovely surroundings.
For its small size, the city also has an amazing nightlife and local music scene. Tons of musicians and students flock to Halifax for this fact alone.
With the most bars per capita out of any Canadian city, who wouldn’t?!
No trip to Nova Scotia is complete without enjoying some fresh seafood.
Nova Scotia is famous for its lobster. This is one dish that you won’t be able to avoid! It’s always lobster season in this Maritime province.
The province is home to The Nova Scotia Lobster Trail – a cool way to experience different lobster creations throughout the region. The trail features everything from a traditional lobster dinner to lobster poutine to lobster beer.
When you visit Nova Scotia, come hungry because there is no shortage of amazing lobster to try!
4. Whale Watching
Nova Scotia offers some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. Digby and the Bay of Fundy are some of the best destinations to spot these majestic sea creatures.
The best way to get close to the whales is by zodiac – a small, open vessel that travels much faster than a regular boat.
Common sightings include humpback whales, minke whales, finback whales, and more. It’s even possible to see a killer whale surface from the water!
5. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse
Nova Scotia is home to over 160 lighthouses including its most iconic landmark, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. It was built in 1915 and is the top tourist attraction of Nova Scotia.
Thousands of visitors travel year-round to see the famous lighthouse, take photos of the picturesque surroundings, and eat lobster in the quaint fishing town of Peggy’s Cove.
Make it a day trip from Halifax or spend the night at one of the many B&B’s in this charming fishing village. As the most photographed lighthouse in the world, a stop here is a bucket list item for many!
6. The Cabot Trail
The famous Cabot Trail drive is a must for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. This 298-kilometer trail is a spectacular ocean drive that loops through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The Cabot Trail offers plenty of outdoor activities that make this a memorable road trip experience.
Explore one of the 26 hiking trails, rent a kayak and get out on the water, or spend the night camping in the wilderness. Be prepared to stop frequently so you can enjoy the breathtaking views!
7. The Bluenose
Nova Scotia is home to the Bluenose, a famous fishing schooner built in 1921. This celebrated racing vessel is featured on Canada’s 10-cent coin.
The Bluenose is a symbol of the fishing industry in Canada and the maritime skills of Canadians. Today, you can set sail on a two-hour cruise on the Bluenose II, a replica that is stationed in the charming town of Lunenberg.
8. Wine Tasting
Nova Scotia’s also known for its wine. It boasts an impressive amount of wineries for such a small province. Most Nova Scotia vineyards are located no further than 12 miles from the ocean, making it a truly unique wine tasting experience.
Hop on a wine tour like The Wolfville Magic Winery Bus where you’ll get to visit five wineries in the Eastern Annapolis Valley. Enjoy a glass of wine (or two), as you breathe in the ocean air in Maritime wine country.
No visit to Nova Scotia would be complete without a stop at the charming town of Lunenberg. This quaint seaside town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lunenberg is full of colorful Victorian-era buildings, museums, galleries, and distilleries. The small town looks like something from a storybook, so be prepared to take lots of photos! The bright-colored architecture and lovely street signs make this region a photographer’s dream.
Did we mention you should enjoy more local seafood here?
10. The Donair
It’s all about seafood in the Atlantic but did you know that the official food of Halifax is actually the donair? What exactly is it?
It’s a meaty yet sweet sandwich that has become one of the most popular snacks in Canada. This east coast snack is similar to a gyro, but made with all beef and a sweet sauce known as “donair sauce”.
Whether you are out enjoying the Halifax nightlife, or simply need a snack to tide you over, you can easily find this Nova Scotia delicacy at most local pubs and street vendors.
11. Citadel Historic Site
Despite its newer buildings and skyscrapers, Nova Scotia’s capital city still revolves around its star-shaped citadel. Built in 1856, the Citadel National Historic Site sits on a large hill overlooking downtown Halifax.
Within the falls of the fortress, visitors can discover Nova Scotia’s military history, dress up like a 19th-century soldier, and learn to fire a rifle or drum. Every day, the Citadel fires a cannon at noon.
Colonial history meets the modern era at this downtown heritage site!
12. Wild Blueberries
Nova Scotia’s town of Oxford is recognized as the blueberry capital of Canada. Wild blueberries grow in abundance in this small community.
Oxford supplies many big brands around the world with frozen wild blueberry products. If you see the word “wild” on a bag of frozen blueberries, there is a good chance it was produced in this tiny Canadian town.
Known as an organic superfood, there are few things as good for you as wild blueberries!
13. Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is located on the south side of Nova Scotia and is one of the exceptional islands in the world. It has even been named “Canada’s Best Kept Secret” by National Geographic magazine – and for good reason!
The island has an abundance of outdoor experiences to choose from. The 26 hiking trails provide panoramic views of the mountains, canyons, and seacoasts all at once.
Head to the Isle Madame to see some of the most historic and picturesque lighthouses in Nova Scotia.
Cape Breton Island also hosts some amazing fall festivals including the Celtic Colors Music Festival and its very own Oktoberbest celebration.
14. Alexander Keith
Image credit: CP Hoffman
Did you know that Alexander Keith beers hail from Nova Scotia?
In 1820, Scottish immigrant Alexander Keith opened his brewery in Halifax and even became the city’s mayor!
Today, the brewery serves as a popular tourist destination, and is one of the oldest working breweries in North America. Visitors can take a tour, sample some limited-edition beers, and enjoy live music at the historic Stag’s Head pub.
Even if you’re not a beer drinker, the historic building itself is worth a visit.
15. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is located in the heart of downtown Halifax. The museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting Maritime history with its interactive exhibits and programs.
Immerse yourself in Nova Scotia’s rich marine history embrace Nova Scotia’s culture of maritime heritage.
16. Fortress of Louisbourg
The Fortress of Louisbourg is one of the province’s top attractions for history lovers. Originally built by the French, its reconstruction is the largest example of a colonial-fortified town in North America.
You will feel like you’re traveling back in time when you visit this National Historic Site. Discover the township’s history and how the fortress served as an important military site during three wars.
Enjoy the re-enactments of costumed animators, take your shot at firing an old musket, or experience camping in an authentic 18th-century style tent.
17. Kejimkujik National Park
For a dose of Maritime nature, head over to Kejimkujik National Park. Its lush forests and rolling landscapes provide a quiet escape from the lively fishing communities.
It might be all about the ocean in Nova Scotia, but it’s all about the lakes at Kejimkujik National Park. In fact, the inland has over 45 lakes and ponds.
Canoeing is a wonderful way to explore them and get some serious paddling in. Experience the tranquil scenery that makes this park so popular among both locals and tourists.
If you love the ocean, fresh seafood, and a low-key vibe, then a trip to Nova Scotia is for you.
Is there something else that Nova Scotia is known for? Leave a comment down below.