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Nova Scotia and PEI

We are planning a trip to Nova Scotia and PEI in June with my brother and his family. We will fly into Halifax and have 10 days to tour NS and PEI.

Our plan is to visit Digby, on the Bay of Fundy, where my brother was born, see Halifax, Cape Breton and Peggy’s Cove. My husband also has “Oak Island” on his “must do” list. We also hope to fit time to go to PEI for 2 days before flying out of Halifax back to Seattle. I would love help on our itinerary for time to spend and if this is doable in 10 days.

Thank you!

Posted by
3337 posts

10 days not counting your very long flying days? Halifax would be a good base to do day trips to Digby, Peggys Cove, and Oak Island. Be aware that Oak Island is only accessible by guided tour. Cape Breton is pretty vague. It is a large island - bigger than PEI. You'd want at least 2 nights if you want to do the Cabot Trail. PEI deserves at least 2-3 nights (base in or near Charlottetown). It's at least 3.5 hrs from Charlottetown to Halifax, so book a late afternoon flight or return to Halifax the night before returning home. It all looks a bit aggressive to me.

Posted by
2349 posts

We've done two separate weeks in NS. We did Halifax and points west, including Digby. And we did Cape Breton, with a night at the airport. With 10 days instead of 7 I think you could comfortably do the whole province, or half of it and PEI.

It's a lovely place. I slightly preferred Cape Breton but I'd gladly go back to any part.

Going to Digby and back as a day trip from Halifax would be a long day.

Posted by
6950 posts

We spent a long weekend in Halifax and then went to the north end of Cape Breton Island staying in a fabulous bed and breakfast.

We were looking for Celtic music and roadside lobster shacks. But the musicians don't "come home" until July and the lobster shacks are down in coastal Maine.

Posted by
45 posts

Hello Neighbor (we live in Seattle),
We did a similar trip last summer. We drove from Maine and saw Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Halifax and Annapolis Royal. We skipped Peggy's Cove because we heard it was overrun with tourists. Instead, we drove around the coast, ending in Annapolis Royal (which we really enjoyed-lots to see there). We didn't do PEI that time, but I intend to return.

Posted by
31516 posts

Jackie,

I took a tour of that area in September, which covered all the places you mentioned except Oak Island in about a 10 day time frame. It was an excellent tour, and I not only learned a lot about the area but enjoyed some great food as well. I arrived in Halifax a few days early so that I'd have a bit of free time to explore. One of the benefits of the tour is that they provided the transportation, which allowed some time on the Cabot Trail.

I found that it takes a full day for travel from the west coast to Halifax, so you'll need to allow for that (there's a four hour time difference).

Your proposed Itinerary is probably feasible, but in order to allow time to and from Oak Island, you might have to add a few days.

Posted by
3936 posts

Hello - Nova Scotian here - 10 days is def enough. Most people only give NS 3-4 days - 10 would be amazing for NS and PEI.

PEI is fairly small - I mean you can drive one end to the other in 3-4 hrs. A few nights there would suffice. You can look at taking the ferry from Pictou,. NS, then come back across the bridge (the bridge is cheaper than the ferry and you only pay when leaving the island). I will say - it's been...um...I think 2006 since I've been to the island. Charlottetown is a nice visit, we enjoyed Summerside, if you like Anne of Green Gables be sure to visit the house. Cavendish (last time we visited) was a bit touristy - with a wax museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not - nice beach tho. We enjoyed our visit to New Glasgow (not the one in NS) and the butterfly house/gardens. Woodleigh Replicas - well, last time we went, it was getting unkempt. Two nights, or 3 if you want to meander.

A few days for Halifax is sufficient - the public gardens, walk the waterfront (which is a bit under construction with the Queen's Marque), Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Citadel Hill, Natural History Museum, make sure to visit the public library on Spring Garden Road (it won some recognition for it's architecture and is modern and lovely). I mean - all that can be done in a well planned day, and all these areas are walkable from each other. Head out for a harbour cruise - the Mar II or the Harbour Hopper.

Peggy's Cove will be crawling with people - if you can get there early or after 5pm or so, it'll have fewer people. PLEASE - stay off the black rocks - waves can come up and we've had a few people swept off and drowned in the last few years. Take a stop at the Swiss Air memorial in memory of the plane crash. With Peggy's Cove, you can stop into Chester (never been, embarrassed to say) and Lunenburg - UNESCO world heritage site. We also go to Mahone Bay a few times a year, but they have some great festivals and my husband's cousin lives there. Usually we just shop. All this could be done in a well planned day (you'll have lots of daylight hours in June). And Oak Island is just a short ride to Mahone Bay - you could also look into The Ovens Natural Park (We haven't been there for decades - hubby says it was falling apart).

Depending on what you want to do in Cape Breton, you could stay 1 or 2 nights. I'd say 2 - especially if you want to do some hiking or visit Fortress Louisbourg.

Haven't been Digby way for ages. Annapolis Royal might be a fun stop for you. Wolfville is a great university town. Make sure to go to The Lookoff for lovely views over the Valley. There is some good whale watching as well, Digby way. I hear Kejimkujik (AKA Keji) National park is nice, but I've never been. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is a nice stop. This could all be done in a day.

If you like getting wet, you could look into Tidal Bore Rafting. Burntcoat Head park is nice - check for low tide hours and you can walk on the ocean floor! (Alas, we went during high tide). Truro (my town) has a nice park with some great non-strenuous hikes...Victoria Park. If you were in Truro on a Sat morning, our farmer's market is nice as well. Make sure to stop into Masstown Market for an amazing bakery and seafood. Shubenacadie Wildlife Park has lots of animals as well (nothing exotic - mostly Canadian animals that were rehabilitated but can't be released).

Parrsboro/Joggins and the fossil cliffs could be a nice visit as well if that kinda thing floats your boat.

So - Halifax - one very full day (or split to 2). A day for the South Shore/Peggy's Cove. A day for Annapolis Valley/Digby. Toss in a day if you want to visit Keji. Two nights for Cape Breton.

And I'm missing a lot of places, so you can certainly toss in some others! Antigonish. Pictou. Sherbrooke Village. Tatamagouche has a great walking trail and a village train.

Posted by
3936 posts

CJean - Digby is a loooong drive from Halifax. 2 1/2 hrs each way. If you want to do whale watching, stay in Digby area. Or stay in Wolfville area if you don't want to whale watch.

If you want some restaurant recommends, just LMK!

Posted by
327 posts

We've visited Nova Scotia and PEI several times and 10 days works. Highlights for us were Halifax (waterfront stroll, harbour boat tour, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax Citadel - especially if you like "living history" sites); Mahone Bay, Chester and Lunenburg (stayed overnight and loved walking "the old town" once the day-trippers had gone); Cape Breton Island (Cabot Trail, Alexander Graham Bell historic site, overnight in Baddeck, Fortress Louisbourg); Charlottetown (Province House, Cavendish and North Rustico Beach). As suggested by a previous poster, take the ferry one way and the marvelous Confederation Bridge the other way between New Brunswick and PEI. Peggy's Cove and the Ann of Green Gables home are both "tourist magnets" that I personally wouldn't waste time lining up for if the parking lots are full, unless they are on your "must see" list. Both NS and PEI have excellent provincial tourism websites if you want to look up suggested driving itineraries - or call them to have their info mailed to you.

Posted by
5262 posts

Peggy's Cove is famous and much visited, but not really that different from lots of beautiful harbor towns along the ocean north and south (or is it east and west?) of Halifax. We liked Chester but you'll also find great scenery driving up the Atlantic coast from Halifax on your way to Cape Breton.

We thought Louisbourg was a fascinating place to visit on Cape Breton, but the very best was the Cabot Trail. Baddeck would be a good base. We spent a couple of nights at The Markland at the north (or is it east?) end of Cape Breton, and did a whale watch out of Bay St. Lawrence, a lovely little town. This was over 20 years ago though.

Nicole gives such great advice about Europe that I'm sure her advice about her home province is superb. I think ten days is enough time for a good visit to NS and PEI.

Posted by
3936 posts

Aw - thanks Dick. :)

And like I mentioned - if you want to see Peggy's Cove, go in the evening. If you are daytripping from Halifax to Lunenburg and area, just go into Peggy's Cove on your way back to Halifax

Posted by
2349 posts

We spent a night or two in Yarmouth, where they talk like pirates. Yaaaaarmuth. Near there is an Acadian village reenactment site. We enjoyed that.

We are Midwesterners, and have spent 30+ years of family vacations around the Great Lakes. So we were excited to go to the Bay of Fundy with the highest tides in the world. We have little experience around the ocean. In Michigan, if you want to go to the beach, you go to the beach. So one day we got all of our beach gear, picked a spot on the map, only to discover that it was low tide, and the beach was waaaayy out there. We could get to the water if we trekked through about a mile of mud. And if it's high tide, the water is up to the big rocks. Still no beach. There are wonderful beaches on the north side of NS, though.

We happened to catch the Tall Ships festival in 2012 in Halifax. Pretty cool.

Posted by
184 posts

We took the RV up to eastern Canada for the summer in 2014. One thing I don't see mentioned here is the Parks Canada Pass, which is similar to our Federal Access Pass (National Parks, etc.). It's one of those passes that gets you into all sorts of places that maybe you wouldn't ordinarily pay for separately. We used it to access several National Parks: Fundy (which is actually in New Brunswick, but was awesome, as were the tides in Alma just outside of it), Kejimkujik, Cape Breton Highlands (yes, we drove the Cabot Trail, no, not in the RV, in the car), and all three portions of PEI. I second some recommendations: the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck was wonderful, Annapolis Royal is a lovely town, and the view from the Citadel in Halifax is impressive. At the time preparations were underway in Charlottetown for an anniversary of the Canadian Federation. The displays in the buildings were quite informative, the block party was lively.

We were on NS in July. At the Gaelic College there were performances, some at lunch, and some on Wednesday evenings. We were fortunate to be there when there was a Ceilidh on Wednesday evening, the instructors were the performers. It was absolutely wonderful, so much so that we went again the following Wednesday. There is a modest museum in the building in which the event was held. It was all of ten dollars!