Nova Scotia is a land of history, beautiful coastlines, and wonderful people. There is so much to see and do in this friendly and interesting province in Canada. Here are my top 10 must-see travel destinations when visiting Nova Scotia.
1. Cabot Trail
Driving the infamous Cabot Trail is a road trip you will never forget. Steep mountain roads with ocean views that will take your breath away. Located on Cape Briton Island, the trail follows the coastal shore covering 298 km of highland beauty. Hike the mountainous terrain of Cape Briton Highlands National Park or charter a fishing boat and go onto the sea.
The Cabot Trail has not only beauty but history as well. Visit the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site in Baddeck or go under ground to into a coal mine at Cape Breton’s Miners Museum. Explore a 18th century fortress at the Fortress of Louisburg for a walk back in time adventure.
The beauty of the coast, the history and heritage of Cape Breton Island, and that warmth that only comes from the east coast will make this a road trip to remember.
2. Halifax Citidel
The city of Halifax is steeped in history. Located in the heart of Halifax, is the Halifax Citidel. Walk back to the 1800s and tour this important, strategic fort that overlooks Halifax Harbour. Learn its history and see how the soldiers lived and worked back then.
There have actually been 4 citadel built in this spot. The first built-in 1749 of timber consisted of a wooden garrison at the top of the hill. Weather not war would take its toll on not only the first one but also the next two built in 1770 and 1794. In 1856, the fourth and final citadel was built with stone instead of timber and is what we see today.
The boom you hear over the city of Halifax at noon is the Halifax Citadel noonday gun. A tradition that has continued since 1794. This stunning piece of history is a definite must-see when visiting Nova Scotia.
3. Halifax Harbour
The Harbour in Halifax holds many treasures. A working Harbour and home to both historic and present-day Naval ships, tall ships, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, it will be a busy day by the sea.
Watch as ships of all sizes including the famous racing ship the Bluenose II that often docks there. One of the largest commercial harbours in Canada, it is also home of Canada’s Royal Navy.
Walk the boardwalk and visit the many shops and dine in seaside restaurants that dot the harbour. Stop for a beer at Alexander Keith’s Brewery or sample a variety of beer at the Halifax Beer Gardens. Attend the farmers market that occurs everyday to get the very best local food and items from the many vendors that adorn the market. Halifax Harbour is a must visit while in Nova Scotia.
4. Peggy’s Cove
This stunning little Cove on Nova Scotia’s southern shore should be a must visit travel destination when in Nova Scotia. A boardwalk leads you to a seaside filled with boutiques and cafes.
The lighthouse that stands proudly by the waters edge warning passing ships of the jagged rock’s below is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. It also served as the towns post office until 2009.
The small fishing village of 40 year-round residence, Peggy’s Cove, has become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Canada. As you walk the rocks in Peggy’s Cove, be careful of slipping on wet rocks or large waves that could wash you into the water. The ocean can be beautiful but also deadly.
5. Swiss Air Memorial
On September 2, 1998, a disaster of monumental proportions would descend on the communities of Peggy’s Cove and Bayswater in Nova Scotia. Swiss Air 111 would take off from JFK Airport with 219 crew and passengers on board. A destination for Geneva Switzerland that it would never reach.
The flight left JFK airport at 8:20 pm that evening. 52 minutes later smoke was detected in the cockpit. Contacting Moncton air traffic control that there was a problem with their aircraft they were instructed to land at Halifax International Airport. With a request to dump fuel, the plane was directed over St. Margaret’s Bay. At 10:54 pm the last transmission from Swiss Air 111 was a mayday. The plane hit the water at an estimated speed of 345 mph. All were lost that day.
A rescue operation was launched immediately, and everyone in the area went to help. From fishing boats to recreational boats with Provincial and National Rescue boats scoured the waves for survivors. Alas, none could be found, and it went from a rescue mission to a recovery mission.
There are two Swiss Air 111 memorial sites on this quiet southern shore. Whalesback Beach and Bayswater have memorials with both sites being in sight of the original crash site a mere 8 kilometers from shore. The two memorial sites and the crash site make a triangle, and you can see the design in the memorials reflect that. At the larger Bayswater Memorial are where unidentified remains are intured and the names of all 229 passengers and crew are written.
It is a beautiful memorial to a horrific event that occurred on this quiet southern Nova Scotia shore.
6. Lunenburg and Mahone Bay
Take a walk back to the British colony of Lunenburg in this excellent representation of 1700s architecture. Founded in 1753 this seaside village is a UNESCO world heritage site as over 70 percent of the town is original old style colonial. As you walk the streets stop in at the different boutiques and cafes along the waterfront road of this little town.
Although it was British settled, most of the settlers were from Germany. Do not miss visiting the Lunenburg Academy. A Victorian building built in 1895. Three stories of ornate Victorian charm that you just have to see. Lunenburg also holds a little Germany in its town. You can find a piece of the Berlin Wall at the local Legion.
15 minutes down the picturesque road of the Nova Scotia’s southern coast from Lunenburg is Mahone Bay. Famous for its 3 churches that sit on the coast road leading you into a beautiful little seaside town. This tranquil travel destination is known for its history of ship building and having its fair share of pirates back in the day.
Today, walk the serene streets and shop in quaint boutiques. Listen to the waves roll onto the shore while you dine at restaurants along the coast. Hear the tales of the beginning of a growing tourists destination as well as a haven for entrepreneurs. Make Mahone Bay a stop on your travel itinerary. You will be glad you did.
7. Oak Island
A small island off Nova Scotia’s southern coast holds mystery and talk of buried pirates treasure. Since the early 1700s, there has been talk of buried treasure on Oak Island. Explorers and adventures over the years have searched the island for items such as Captain Kidd’s treasure, Shakespeare’s manuscripts and even the holy grail. Although some artifacts have been found there has been no significant evidence that there is anything buried here.
Today, Oak Island is a privately owned island and the subject of a television show. Searching for treasure in places called the “money pit” they take you through the adventure of treasure hunting. According to their website, Guided Tours will begin again in 2024. Connected to land by a small causeway, you can stay at the Oak Island resort and get a birds eye view of this small but mysterious island.
8. The Town of Truro
In the center of Nova Scotia is the town of Truro. This centrally located colonial town is a great place to call a base while visiting Nova Scotia. Visit the Fundy Discovery Center to learn of the tides that are known throughout the world as the highest tide phenomenon. Rising over 52 feet in just over 12 hours, the tides of the bay of fundy create tidal bores.
This fascinating event happens when the waters rush into the bay flow through the rivers, creating a wave of water. You can see an excellent example of this at the Fundy Discovery Center on the Salmon River in Truro. Check out my video of a tidal bore in Moncton. Oh so cool.
Located on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campass is six pieces of the Berlin Wall. A memorial and testament to Nova Scotia’s German roots and a piece of history of freedom when the wall came down.
9. Annapolis Royal. Oldest Gravestone in Canada
Annapolis Royal In Nova Scotia is the first of the British settlements in Nova Scotia. Nestled in Annapolis Valley, this quaint town brings history to the forefront. Walk through the heritage district and see the beautiful preserved homes and gardens. Annapolis Royal has the highest concentration of heritage homes in Canada.
You can also find Canada’s oldest gravestone at Garrison Cemetary. Although the cemetary was established in 1605, the oldest gravestone is that of Bethiah Douglass, who past away at the tender age of 37 in 1720. Take a Candlelit Walking Tour to discover all the secrets of history in Annapolis Royal.
Enjoy a beautiful historical walk when you visit Annopolis Royal.
10. Fairview Lawn Cemetary in Halifax
Fairview Lawn Cemetary in Halifax is the resting place for over 100 victims of the Titanic. In a stunning tribute, the gravestones are designed to resemble the bow of a boat. Some have only numbers as they did not know their identity. Some like the little boy, Sidney Leslie Godwin,who was unknown for years, is memorialized with a picture.
The cemetary established in 1893 also is home to the people who lost their lives in the great Halifax fire in 1917. Buried in a mass grave, the souls that lost their lives that day rest together.
This non-denominational cemetary holds interesting history as well as heartbreak. It is a moving monument to those who have gone on before us. A must-see when visiting Nova Scotia.
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventures.
What is your favourite thing to do and see in New Brunswick? Is it on my list? Let me know in the comments.
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