Hit the road in Nova Scotia: 3 essential pit stops on an epic Atlantic Canada self-drive adventure

The Atlantic province of Nova Scotia is tailor-made for a road trip. Rocky shorelines, lonesome
beaches, tiny islands, remote lighthouses – its seaside scenery will stay with you long after you leave…

Team Wanderlust
15 November 2022
Promoted by
Discover Nova Scotia

1. Connect with nature at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site contains 46 lakes and ponds, and more than 30 streams and rivers

If it’s wilderness you’re after, then the old-growth forests, pristine rivers and glinting lakes of Kejimkujik definitely fit the bill. Established in 1967 and covering 381 sq km of south-west Nova Scotia, it’s one of the province’s largest protected areas (a separate section, Kejimkujik National Park Seaside, also encompasses 22 sq km of wild coast). With numerous trails and lakeside campgrounds, it’s a superb place to get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking and biking are all popular pastimes here, and as Nova Scotia’s only Dark Sky Preserve, Kejimkujik is one of the top areas in Canada for stargazing.

It’s also a great place to learn about indigenous culture. The Mi’kmaw people have lived here for thousands of years, and guided walks and kayaking trips give an insight into their ancient culture. Of particular note are Kejimkujik’s sacred petroglyphs (or rock carvings). There are more than 500 to discover, with some carved more than 1,000 years ago.

While most visitors decide to camp, there’s no need to rough it. You could hire a rustic timber cabin for a backwoods experience, rent a pre-pitched oTENTik tent on the shores of Kejimkujik Lake, or head for Jeremy’s Bay campground to book an Oasis Pod – five treehouses shaped like water drops complete with hammocks and their own stargazing platforms.

2. Escape to the seaside

Shelburne offers the best of all worlds – a rich culture, natural beauty and space for adventures in the great outdoors

For classic Nova Scotian vistas, take a tour along the southern shores of the province, also known locally as the Lighthouse Route. The most iconic spot is Peggy’s Cove, the tiny seaside fishing village about 43km south-west of Halifax, whose lighthouse (first lit in 1915) is among the most photographed in Canada. But it’s far from the only one: there are more than 160 lighthouses along the South Shore, protecting ships from foundering on the region’s hidden reefs and treacherous rocks.

Just along the coast lies Lunenburg, the South Shore’s quintessential fishing town, whose clapboard houses, churches, boatsheds and timber buildings are so picture-perfect that they almost look like a film set. As one of the best-preserved colonial settlements in Nova Scotia, Lunenburg has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1995. It’s also home to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which explores the region’s salty maritime heritage – although the town is best known to Canadians as the home harbour for the Bluenose II, the iconic racing schooner that still features on Nova Scotian licence plates and the Canadian 10-cent piece.

You’ll pass plenty of pretty towns as you drive the coastal road, including Chester, Mahone Bay, Liverpool and Shelburne, the latter of which has a long heritage of fishing and shipbuilding. Several bike trails wind their way along the coast; the 119km Rum Runners’ Trail between Halifax and Lunenburg is particularly worth riding. Don’t forget to also factor in some beach time. Thankfully, the South Shore has some of Nova Scotia’s finest stretches of sand, ranging from popular spots such as Queensland, Crescent Beach and White Point to lesser-known ones like Beach Meadows, Mill Cove and Hirtle’s Beach.

3. Discover Nova Scotia’s wine country and Annapolis Valley

It might be more than 6,000km from France as the crow flies, but the Annapolis Valley has a surprisingly similar climate and geography to the Champagne region. So it’s no surprise to find that this area produces some of Canada’s best sparkling wines. In fact, wine has been produced in Nova Scotia longer than anywhere else in Canada. The first vines were planted here in the early days of settlement, back in the 1600s. There are now more than 20 vineyards scattering the province, most of which are in or around the Annapolis Valley.

Renowned wineries include Domaine de Grand Pré, Benjamin Bridge and the Blomidon Estate as well as boutique vineyards such as Bent Ridge and Avondale Sky. The most prestigious vintages are those of Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia’s only wine appellation, whose crisp whites are known for their blend of acidity, fruitiness and salinity (experts say you can almost taste the Atlantic breeze).

It’s also worth taking the time to discover the region’s lesser-known wine regions. Gaspereau Valley, the Malagash Peninsula, Bear River, Marble Mountain and the Avon Valley all have unique microclimates, soils and flavour profiles. For wine-tasting minus the driving, the Magic Winery Bus (based in Wolfville) is a good way of getting around and offers organised vineyard tours with no need to name a designated driver. Santé!

Make it happen with North America Travel Service

Book the Nova Scotia History & Natural Wonders with North America Travel Service. This seven-night fly-drive holidays includes round trip scheduled flights to Halifax, Intermediate four-door car hire including all-inclusive insurance. The trip also includes accommodation and you will spend three nights at the Lord Nelson Inn in Halifax, one night at Bluenose Lodge in Lunenburg, a night in Digby Pines Golf Resort in Dogby, a night in Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis and one night in Tattingstone Inn, Wolfville. From £1,619 per person, based on two adults sharing, travelling in May 2023.

Call: 0333 323 9099 | Email: sales.enquiries@nats-uk.com

For more Nova Scotia travel inspiration, head over to the official website.

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