Hitting all the highlights of Nova Scotia in one week is possible, but you’re not going to see everything. In fact, you’ll be covering so much ground, it may not seem like a vacation at all. This itinerary balances a little bit of everything—Halifax, the prettiest coastal villages, the two national parks, and the main historic sites—with time out for enjoying a glass of Nova Scotian wine over a feast of local seafood. This itinerary assumes you rent a vehicle or have your own.
Check in for a two-night stay at a downtown Halifax accommodation such as The Halliburton, a historic lodging within walking distance of Halifax’s harbor front. Rather than start ticking off attractions, settle into the city by walking along the waterfront and soaking up the sights and sounds of the busy harbor. You’ll see all manner of vessels tied up at the docks, and plenty of places where you may want to eat dinner at an outdoor table.
Start at the top, literally, by visiting Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and then take a stroll through Halifax’s formal Public Gardens. It’s now lunchtime, and the Italian Gourmet is ideally situated en route to downtown. Take a tour of Alexander Keith’s Brewery on your way to the Titanic exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Dine at the Economy Shoe Shop.
Rise early for the one-hour drive to Peggy’s Cove, famous for its photogenic lighthouse. Continue south to Mahone Bay for an early lunch and a walk through the many shops lining the main street of this busy waterfront town. Lunenburg is your overnight stop, and there’s plenty of colorful seafaring history to soak up along the harbor of this town that UNESCO has dedicated as a World Heritage Site. Grand Banker Bar & Grill will be within walking distance of your room at the Spinnaker Inn (both have water views).
Take Highway 8 to Kejimkujik National Park, which protects a large chunk of the forested interior. Rent a canoe for a paddle on the protected waterways. Continue to Annapolis Royal, where Port-Royal National Historic Site protects one of North America’s oldest settlements. After dinner, watch the sun set across the Annapolis Basin from the grounds of Fort Anne National Historic Site. With reservations at the inviting Garrison House, you’ll be within walking distance of everything.
Drive through the apple orchards of the Annapolis Valley to Truro and take the TransCanada Highway across to Cape Breton Island and overnight lodgings at Baddeck’s restored Telegraph House. The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is the main attraction, but the town also has a picturesque lakefront area and a good choice of stylish eateries.
Today’s destination is Ingonish, along the Cabot Trail. You drive the long way around, but that’s a good thing, because the rugged coastal scenery between Chéticamp and Ingonish is more beautiful than you could ever imagine. (Though this also means that the 200-kilometer drive will take longer than you imagine.) Plan on feasting on eafood at the Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour and staying the night at Glenghorm Beach Resort.
It takes a little more than five hours to reach Halifax International Airport from Ingonish. If you’re on an afternoon flight, there’s enough time to spend an hour or two in Ingonish. To play the revered Highlands Links golf course, you’ll need to tee off early and fly out in the evening.
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