There’s no prize for guessing that Canada is one of my favourite countries to visit. Heck, it’s one of my favourite countries in the world; full stop! Not only is it stuffed with some epic cities to explore, but it’s also got a huge mix of places to visit just outside Canada’s epic cities, too. This is especially true when looking for the best places in Atlantic Canada, that’s a total treat to explore.
Now, being such a huge country, it can be nearly impossible to explore all across the country in one trip alone. In fact, I’d go as far as saying you can’t! This is why I always say it’s best to focus on one region that’s more of a bit size chunk to explore as you can really deep-dive into the best spots that take your fancy.
Atlantic Canada is one of these regions!
Though, don’t be fooled, it can still be pretty bamboozling to pinpoint a firm list of favourites; especially when everything seems so much bigger in Canada!
With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the best places in Atlantic Canada to explore on your trip. Have the best time!
1.) Peggy’s Cove
Perched within the shores of St. Margarets Bay, Peggy’s Cove is probably one of the most famous little spots in all of Nova Scotia to see.
Not only that, but it’s also really easy to visit for a day trip from Halifax as it’s only around a 50-minute drive from the city centre.
After arriving in Peggy’s Cove, you almost feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The colourful little houses and cove are like something out of a storybook.
Even the whole landscape is totally stunning and kind of reminds me of the west coast of Scotland, too (especially around Lower Diabaig, in the Highlands).
Oh, and make sure to pop into the Buoy Shop. It’s a gorgeous fishing hut that sells little trinkets and fishing memorabilia from the area. I wanted it all!
Also, be sure to stroll to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse for the views across this stunning part of Atlantic Canada.
Plus, pop into Tom’s Lobster Shack for their Cajun lobster rolls! They’re totally delicious and well worth gorging on whilst sitting down near the shorefront.
Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site is easily one of the best places in Atlantic Canada to visit if you want to learn more about Nova Scotia and the history of this region.
You see, it’s only one of two urban communities in all of North America to be awarded this designation and well worth exploring to learn more about the region.
Without getting into a whole history lesson, Lunenburg was one of the first places that the British colonialists founded in Nova Scotia with many of the same streets existing to this day.
We stopped for an afternoon of exploring in Lunenburg and totally loved it. Once you arrive, you’ll see exactly why this place is so special.
Take a wander around the stunning little streets, explore the harbour area and stop off at The Fish Shack for some of the best fish and chips! Caught fresh from Atlantic Canada’s waters each day, this place is a must-visit if you’re hankering for a bite to eat.
Nestled on the shores of the Minas Basin, Wolfville is a great starting point to explore the wider areas of Nova Scotia and a great place to base yourself to explore more of the west coast routes.
Now, first up, you have to pop over to the Grand Pré and explore this historic site. Dating back hundreds of years, it’s a place where Acadian settlers were forced out of the region by British colonialists.
To this day, it stands as a memorial to this dark time and a place that’s well worth exploring whilst in Wolfville.
Afterwards, pop into Domaine de Grand-Pré that has some of the best wines in all of Nova Scotia. Plus, it’s within the totally lovely Annapolis Valley that’s so lovely to see.
Also, if you’re looking for a period property to stay (and eat) check into The Blomidon Inn.
We stayed here and loved it; it’s so charming and historic.
4.) Hall’s Harbour
Now, Hall’s Harbour might be one of the best places in Atlantic Canada to stop for a bite to eat! It’s the kind of place you visit that’s all about the food and to see the views across the Bay of Fundy.
Now, for me, the first stop you have to make is to Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound.
Here, they serve up some of the freshest lobster around. After you’ve chosen your lobster and size, it’ll be cooked up in a matter of minutes and you’ll be treated to some of the best food in all of Nova Scotia.
Now, I’m biased as I totally love lobster but this place was something else!
Also, they do a cracking lemon meringue pie! Which, if I’m totally honest, makes it one of the best places in Atlantic Canada for any sweet-toothed traveller.
Afterwards, pop for a stroll to see Hall’s Harbour Falls, though check the tide times as no one wants to get caught out here. Alternatively, pop in the car and explore the coast around Scots Bay Provincial Park.
Newfoundland and Labrador
5.) St John’s
St John’s is one epic city to visit and easily one of the best places in Atlantic Canada to explore whilst in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Nestled right on the Atlantic coast, it’s a city that’s been shaped by the sea and well worth visiting whilst in the province itself.
For some incredible views, hike along the East Coast Trail near Fort Amherst or visit Cape Spear National Historic Site which is totally stunning at sunrise.
That being said, I’m terrible at waking up when it’s still dark and headed across here around midday. It was still so dreamy and totally lovely; the whole coastline is so dramatic.
Afterwards, pop over to the Mallard Cottage for a tasty lunch. Though, it can get busy here so make sure to reserve a table in advance. That being said, if you do need to wait for your table, pop into Quidi Vidi Brewing Company that’s a stone’s throw away.
These lot know their stuff about beers!
Finally, stop by Signal Hill National Historic Site and follow the trails along North Head Trail. It’s one of my favourite coastlines.
6.) Bay Bulls (for whale and puffin watching)
So, one of the big draws of Atlantic Canada is its incredible wildlife that roams the bays and waters.
You see, the areas around St John’s are some of the best to see whales and puffins that makes for a totally unforgettable trip.
We drove down to Bay Bulls and hopped on a Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch that was epic! Not only was everyone so warm and friendly (which is totally common around here), we actually got to see quite a lot, too.
Just make sure to pack your camera as you’ll be wanting a fair few snaps of all the wildlife. Oh, and pack a windbreaker, those seas can be windy; even on the sunniest of days.
The coastline around Avondale is a really special place to explore for its stunning natural beauty. That being said, there’s something else that’s a huge draw when exploring the area; Cod Sounds!
You see, Cod Sounds arrange foraging expeditions and workshops from everything from wild game cooking to wild edibles. You’ll get to cook your own lunch buy foraging for the ingredients around the shores and from nature itself.
It’s totally unique and such a special experience.
We spent about three hours here and we’re definitely going to book this again when we return to Avondale. Just make sure to book your workshop in advance, they are really intimate groups and they can get full pretty quickly.
To this day, I still use my larch and sweet gale salt I made here! It always brings back so many memories.
8.) Bay of Fundy
Separating Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world and is a totally epic place to explore whilst in New Brunswick.
Once here, be sure to check out Hopewell Rocks that stand proudly within the shores of the Bay of Fundy. They’re so iconic and well worth seeing how the New Brunswick coastline has been shaped by this huge tidal range.
Plus, at low tide, you can actually walk around the rocks themselves.
Alternatively, if it’s not too windy, pop out on the water and kayak your way along the shoreline. Just be sure to always go with an organised group (like we did) and listen to local and expert advice. Tidal differences and winds can be dangerous.
Also, if you’re heading further down the coast of New Brunswick, make sure to check out the Dickson Falls Trailhead that’s around 50-minutes from Hopewell Rocks.
Finally, depending on which way you drive, you can either pop over to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick via Amherst or take the ferry from Saint John to Digby.
We took the overland route but actually had tickets for the ferry just in case we changed our routing at the last moment.
Moncton is one of the larger cities in New Brunswick and the kind of place that’s perfect for a little weekend break on a wider trip around Atlantic Canada.
Once you arrive, make sure to check out some of the incredible street art that lines the streets here. The street art is so cool and has been painted by artists from around the world. It was so unexpected and totally epic to see.
For some vintage goodies, make sure to check out SDV Vintage and stop off at the Tide & Boar for a tasty lunch. Also, for some of the best coffee in all of Moncton, check out the Laundromat Espresso Bar not only is the coffee incredible, but it also has a totally cool vibe to boot.
Plus, if you fancy a little more of the great outdoors, drive around an hour (or so) north to Kouchibouguac National Park. Perched right on the coast, it’s a gorgeous area to that’s filled with trails and a heap of places to go for a swim in the warmer summer months (especially around Kelly’s Beach).
Also, if you’re driving between Moncton and Prince Edward Island, make sure to take a jaunt over to Shediac. Not only is it the lobster capital of the world, but it’s also totally beautiful and well worth a visit.
We spent a whole afternoon here and totally loved the vibe, colourful historic houses and, of course, mountains of fresh lobster.
Once here, you kinda have to see one of the town’s most famous residents. The giant lobster statue that protects the town. It’s totally kitsch and well worth a gander. Also, don’t forget to visit Pascal-Poirier Historic House Art Gallery and Museum for its historic art.
Of course, no trip to the lobster capital would be complete without lobster! We headed over to Shediac with Justin from NB Explorer who organises a heap of epic New Brunswick experiences that are amazing to explore (and eat through) the region.
Oh, and stop off at Ice Cream Delight for some of the best gelato in all of New Brunswick. We left Shediac totally stuffed.
Prince Edward Island
11.) Cape Tryon Lighthouse
I’ve wanted to pop over to Prince Edward Island for the longest time!
In truth, I still don’t know why we didn’t ‘do’ it on our last trip to Atlantic Canada; it’s such a stunning island with loads of neat little spots to check out.
Once here, you should definitely check out Cape Tryon Lighthouse that’s so picturesque.
Perched on the north-western coastline of Prince Edward Island, it’s a totally easy place to see, especially if you’re already heading to Cousins Shore. Not only is the whole coastline a total dream to see, the lighthouse itself is well over 100 years old.
Best of all, it’s really easy to visit alongside a pit stop at Malpeque harbour with all its quaint little buildings and Malpeque Oyster Barn for their oysters and smoked mackerel, too.
It’s a perfect little spot after exploring the coastline of Prince Edward Island, especially as the drive between both is less than 20-minutes.
12.) Cedar Dunes Provincial Park
If it’s the coast you’re after, Cedar Dunes Provincial Park is a great little spot to visit just before lunch. Not only is there a load of dune trails and routes towards West Point Lighthouse but there’s a fair few little restaurants like The Catch for their fresh seafood and upstairs terrace, too.
13.) Green Gables Heritage Place and Avonlea Village
Not too far from Cavendish Beach, Green Cables Heritage Place is an easy spot to see whilst visiting the northern shores of Prince Edward Island.
It’s got a heap of history to explore and a pretty well-known spot if you love the Anne of Green Gables novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
That being said, you don’t need to be familiar with the writings to enjoy this spot.
You see, just shy of Avonlea Village is the Blue Mussel Café that has lobster mac and cheese on the menu! I’m there in an instant.