This city by the sea is a perfect base to explore Nova Scotia’s delights.
Enjoying Halifax’s world-class restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods, fun bar scene, and historical attractions is a great way to experience the east coast way of life before setting out to explore. Within a few hour’s drive of this provincial capital, you’ll find remote beaches and parks, fishing villages where you can go whale watching, lighthouses, and deep woods filled with serene lakes and waterfalls.
The South Shore Follow the Lighthouse Route south of the city to explore charming stops such as Peggy’s Cove with its red and white lighthouse, making your way past stretches of white-sand beaches, the fishing towns of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay (great stops for ice cream or lobster rolls), making your way to the epic petroglyphs and myriad adventures at Kejimkujik National Park. You’ll find beachfront camping all the way down the shore, as well as inland sites. Annapolis Valley Following the shores of the Bay of Fundy, which has the world’s highest tides, this area is studded with wineries and sweet little towns and villages. Explore the historic fort at Annapolis Royal, home to some of Europe’s first North American settlers in 1605. There are amazing beaches and hikes out over cliff tops (the 4- to 5-day Cape Chignecto Coastal Loop, for example). There are tons of campgrounds in the valley, with a couple located in orchards or within walking distance of wineries. Cape Breton The jewel in Nova Scotia’s crown, Cape Breton Island is attached to the mainland by a causeway and driving the Cabot Trail—a highway that winds around Cape Breton Highlands National Park—is considered one of the world’s most beautiful road trips. Expect to see moose, eagles, whales (even from shore) and enjoy unforgettable hiking. There’s plenty of camping in the park (tent sites, RV sites, and otentiks) as well as many private campgrounds offering unique amenities such as on-site oyster farms.
Halifax is a fun city any time of the year, with its student population keeping things upbeat year-round. But many tourism spots don’t open up until late May or early June, so planning a trip beyond the city before that can mean limited options. The weather can be pretty chilly until then anyway, so your best bet is to come in summer or fall—the weather can be glorious through October.
- If you need camping supplies, Mountain Equipment Co-Op on Granville Street will likely have everything you need (and equipment rentals). - Having your own vehicle is pretty essential if you want to explore outside of Halifax as transit options are pretty much non-existent. - Cell phone coverage can be patchy in more remote areas, so don’t rely on your phone as your only guide to getting places. - Nova Scotia can fully experience four seasons in one day, so be sure to take warm clothes even for a summer trip. It can also get pretty windy, especially in coastal regions, so be sure to properly secure your tent when setting up your camp.