Pick up your comfortable hire car at the airport, and head to downtown Halifax. You’ll be staying at The Halliburton, an elegant boutique that's our favourite hotel in Nova Scotia's capital. It’s just a short stroll from the waterfront, so spend the day recovering from your flight or exploring this historic maritime city as you choose.
Rested and refreshed, today is the day to make the most of historic Halifax, settled by the British back in 1749. We recommend exploring the pubs, boutiques and cafes in the waterfront warehouses, and delving into a little history. Tour the Bluenose II schooner, explore the 200-year-old York Redoubt Fortification and drink in sweeping views of this maritime city from Citadel Hill.
It's time to hit the open road! You'll head south to Lunenburg, with its UNESCO-listed old town, a beautiful Victorian port that's a must-do on any Nova Scotia itinerary. Along the way, don't miss Peggy's Cove, an adorable village with houses carved into rugged granite and a historic lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic swells.
Sweep across the slender peninsula to the charming town of Annapolis Royal. Along the way, we recommend a stop at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. The hiking trails in the forests here offer scenic views. There's excellent canoeing too. Don't miss the Mi'kmaq First Nation petroglyphs.
Whale watching in the nutrient-rich waters of the Bay of Fundy is a highlight of any Nova Scotia road trip. Drive to the Digby Neck and board your craft to seek out finback, minke and humpback whale. You might even see the rare North Atlantic right whale! Both Annapolis and its historic Fort Anne easily repay an afternoon's exploration.
Today sees another short but scenic drive to the coastal town of Wolfville. A stop at the Domaine de Grand Pre, a fantastic local winery that produces crisp Nova Scotia wines, comes thoroughly recommended. Don't miss the Grand-Pré National Historic Site, which commemorates the tragic history of the original French settlers, known in Canada as Acadians. They were deported from here in the middle of the 18th century.
The pace picks up a little today with a scenic four-hour road trip to Prince Edward Island, and Charlottetown, its pretty capital. Along the way, you can stop and see the Bay of Fundy, a geological freak that's home to Earth's highest tides, and cross the Confederation Bridge. At almost 13 kilometres long, it's the longest bridge to run over ice-covered waters in the world.
We recommend taking today at leisure, and giving historic Charlottetown the time it truly deserves. In 1864, Canadian and Maritime statesmen gathered at Province House to hold a series of meetings that would lead to the birth of modern Canada. Explore the waterfront and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, home to a fascinating exhibit on the birth of the nation.
Charlottetown is the perfect base to explore the wild, authentic Canada we all travel for. Prince Edward Island National Park on the north shore offers untrammeled vistas of rolling sand dunes, sweeping beaches and rugged forest. You can also visit the original Green Gables, fictional home of Anne. This series of children’s books was created by Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery and is loved by millions worldwide.
A classic Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island itinerary brings you all the way from Prince Edward Island to Cape Breton Island. Catch the ferry across to Caribou, Nova Scotia, and drive through evergreen landscapes to Baddeck, a little piece of Scotland perched atop North America. There are panoramic views right across the bay here.
Allow a full day for driving, hiking and soaking up the views as you cruise through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You’ll follow the Cabot Trail, named after the 15th-century explorer. At the park visitor centre you can find out more about the 28 scenic hiking trails available. Our favourite, the clifftop Skyline Trail, is walkable in just a couple of hours.
After these wonders of nature, step back in time at the Fortress of Louisbourg, the largest historical reconstruction in North America. You can explore this 18th-century French garrison town, sample period food, take part in a mock battle, or learn about history from costumed interpreters. Don't miss a visit to the Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck itself, a tribute to the life and times of a true pioneer.
Your time in Canada may be coming to an end but memories will endure as you drive the startling Bras d'Or Lakes waterlands and admire this surreal submerged world. You'll re-enter mainland Nova Scotia by the Canso Causeway, stop at the thoroughly Scottish community of Antigonish, and refresh in the comfort of The Halliburton.
Depending when your flight leaves, you may have time for some last-minute shopping for souvenirs in Halifax's elegant boutiques. Then simply drop off your hire car at the airport before boarding your return flight back to the UK.