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My favourite road trip through Canada’s Maritime Provinces

NB, first maritime  provinceThere are three Maritime Provinces in Canada: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. They are on the Atlantic Ocean on the east side of the country. These three provinces along with Newfoundland form the region known as Atlantic Canada.

A road trip through the Maritime Provinces is a wonderful adventure and a great one to do with kids. That’s because there’s lots of variation and you can easily visit the three provinces in 10 days. Throw in a couple of ferry rides between provinces and you won’t spend much time stuffed in a car.

You can stay in some of Canada’s historic lodges, quaint B&Bs, or tent in the region’s many parks. And the food! Lobster fests, buttermilk biscuits, clam chowder, dulse, molasses cake, ‘real’ blueberries, all simply the best.


Here is my itinerary for a road trip through the Maritimes and on to Newfoundland & Labrador.


Maritimes means “of the sea” so fishing is obviously important. And who hasn’t heard about PEI potatoes? The Maritimes also seems to ‘grow’ artisans.  You learn a lot about the history of Canada travelling through the Maritimes, just stumbling upon it because it’s everywhere.

Fishing villageI lived in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley for a time during my youth and every summer my family would camp at Ingonish Beach in Cape Breton, Cavendish Beach in PEI or along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. My maternal grandmother had a house overlooking the ocean on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and I spent endless hours climbing the rocks by the ocean there. My father was from New Brunswick—he was part of a big family—so we travelled the province visiting his clan. We moved from the Maritimes when I was 13 and I have been back many times but always as a visitor.

If I were taking a road trip through the Maritimes this summer, this would be my route. There’s lots more to see, that’s for sure, but these are my favourite places. You’ll need a map to find the way.

Getting to the Maritimes border

When my kids were young and we were living in Ottawa it took us forever to get on the road the first day. So we usually went only as far as Rivière-de-Loup in Quebec before stopping at a campground. It also took us forever to put up the tent the first night but things got better after that.

If you haven’t been to Quebec City, consider stopping for at least a night before going on to the Maritimes. Old Quebec is historic, the setting is awesome and patio dining there can be memorable.

Grand Manon IslandNew Brunswick

New Brunswick is the only Canadian province that is officially bilingual. Most of the French are Acadian and many of the English are descendants of Loyalists who fled the United States during the American Revolution. So it’s an interesting place.

Travelling from Quebec or Ontario along the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 2), you’ll start your trip in the Maritimes at Edmundston, New Brunswick. The drive from there down the St John River Valley is surprisingly beautiful, particularly when the light is good.

Everyone wants to drive across the world’s longest covered bridge at least once and the exit you take is a little past  Woodstock. The Hartland Bridge, which goes from Somerville to Hartland across the St John River, is 391 m (1282 ft.) long.

Low tides at the Bay of FundySt Andrews by-the-sea

You leave Hwy 2 and go south to Passamaquoddy Bay on the Bay of Fundy to one of the oldest and loveliest towns in the Maritimes, St Andrews by-the-sea. It’s very much a New England town, filled with historic homes, some brought over by American settlers after the American Revolution in 1783.

St Andrews was Canada’s first seaside resort and a grand one at that. There are lots of places to stay, including the historic Algonquin Resort, and interesting restaurants and shops.

The Bay of Fundy is famous for its tides and for the Humpback, Minke, Finback, and Right whales that make a home there in the summer. If you have time, take a ferry from Blacks Harbour to Grand Manan Island where life is quaint, boat tours are easy to arrange, and sunsets are amazing.

Fundy Park trailFundy National Park

We usually spend a night or two camping at Fundy National Park. It’s near the village of Alma on Hwy 114. There are two activities we always do in the Park. One is to swim in the heated saltwater pool located off Point Wolfe Road. The other is to take the Moose Horn hike.  We first took this 2 hour hike when the kids were young and although it had its tough moments it was a great adventure for we got to cross a river (I think three times), climb rocks using steel steps, and splash around in an unspoiled swimming hole. It rates high on our list of memorable family experiences.

There are 100 km of trails in the Park, ranging from easy to strenuous, so something for everyone.  There are lots of mosquitoes in the forested sections so be prepared.


Hopewell Rocks

What is particularly interesting about the Bay of Fundy is the difference in the height of the water when the tides are low and high. The water can rise as high as 16 meters, which is the height of a four-story building. Hopewell Rocks is probably the best place to see this. At low tide you can walk out on the ocean floor and wander around reddish rock formations that have trees perched on top. If you return a few hours later these same formations are surrounded by water because the high tide has filled the Bay.

Hopewell RocksWhen you walk down to the beach, you pass a big ‘Danger’ sign with two clocks. One clock gives you the current time and the other the time you should leave the beach so as not to be stranded when the tide comes in. You can check the tide tables online. There is an excellent Interpretive Centre at the site.

From here it’s just a two-hour drive to Cape Jourimain where you take the bridge to Prince Edward Island.


Prince Edward Island

PEI, Canada’s smallest Province, is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s known for its sand beaches, red soil, and flattish landscape with rolling hills that is perfect for bike riding. It carries the honour of being the “birthplace of Confederation”.

The Confederation Bridge joins the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. It’s 12.9 km (8 mile) long—the longest bridge in the world—and it takes about 10 minutes to cross it. It took four years to build the bridge and it is considered to be a top Canadian engineering achievement.

You don’t pay a toll going to PEI, either by bridge or by ferry, only when you leave. When you cross the bridge you’re in the southwestern region of the province.

PEI beachCavendish Shores

The island is so small that you could easily cross it in a day but this is where you’ll find the best beaches in the Maritimes, where the water is not too cold for swimming, so consider staying for at least a couple of days. We usually stay at Cavendish Campground in PEI National Park or at a nearby private one. There are also cabins, B&Bs and motels around Cavendish.

Kids have lots of fun here just playing in the sand (and when they get a little older, burying their sibling in the sand) and jumping off the sand dunes. There are many walking trails. One day we enjoyed a delectable lunch at Dalvay-by-the-sea that is in the east end of the park; it’s a summer resort hotel that was built in 1895 by a Scottish-American oil tycoon.

Anne of Green GablesIf you need a break from the beach then go shopping. Two places I always visit are The Dunes Studio Gallery and the New London Village Pottery. And you really should partake in a traditional Island lobster supper (take your camera).

 Anne of Green Gables
When I was very young I read every one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books about Anne and so the first time I visited the Green Gables homestead I was totally enchanted. This is a must-see for all Anne fans. I later took my children to the musical Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown festival, a production enjoyed by all.

Nova Scotia

The ferry from PEI leaves from Wood Islands, in the southeastern part of the province, and lands in Caribou, Nova Scotia. It operates from May to mid-December. The trip takes 75 minutes and there are frequent crossings.

There is so much to see in Nova Scotia that I can hardly believe it is the second smallest province in the country. Let’s start in its capital city, Halifax.

Halifax harbourHalifax

I would start at the boardwalk, buy an ice cream, watch the buskers, take a boat cruise in the harbor (or ride the ferry to Dartmouth and back). Then I’d visit the historic Farmers’ Market in Brewery Square for the atmosphere.


Walk up one of the VERY steep streets
Halifax is one of the world’s largest natural harbors and to appreciate it you need to view it from above. While you’re up there, go have a look at the Citadel.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Over 1.5 million immigrants, war brides, displaced people, evacuee children, and Canadian military personnel passed through this famous building between 1928 and 1971. They have done an exceptional job in telling their stories.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The gallery showcases the visual arts of Atlantic Canada with exhibits that celebrate life by the sea. There is a good selection of works of well-known Atlantic artists including folk artist Maud Lewis.

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
The maritime history of Nova Scotia is compelling such as the Halifax Explosion that killed 2000 and injured 9000 more and the sinking of the Titanic.

There are many fantastic restaurants in Halifax. A tradition for me is dinner at McKelvie’s, either Cajun salmon or crunchy haddock. At the top of my daughter’s list would probably be one of the city’s many pubs. Halifax is a university town: Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Saint Mary’s University, University of King’s College. Which came first, the students or the pubs?

Peggy's CoveThe Lighthouse Route

The Lighthouse Route follows the South Shore along Hwy 3, from Halifax to Yarmouth. It’s a winding road—you’ll probably feel dizzy at the end—past 20 lighthouses and charming fishing villages. This to me is the ‘real’ Maritimes, where the highly unpredictable waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash on the rocky shores.

Peggy’s Cove
This quaint fishing village, 43 km southwest of Halifax, is one of the province’s most photographed places.  It’s rather austere: primarily a lighthouse on a rocky terrain. The CAUTION sign warning visitors about the potentially dangerous surf and the slippery rocks is a little foreboding. Still, it’s a perfect place to climb rocks (not too close to the water!) and just appreciate the setting.

Swissair Flight 111 Memorial
This is a memorial to commemorate the 229 people who died when their aircraft crashed into St. Margarets Bay in 1998. There are two memorials in the area and one is at Whalesback, 1 km northwest of Peggy’s Cove.

Mahone Bay
How can you drive through one of the most picturesque maritime towns, described as being “nestled where the Mush-a-Mush and Maggie rivers empty”, without stopping? Three churches are the dominant feature in photos of the place.

Old town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a good place to spend the night for there are lots of places to sleep, eat and shop. Lunenburg has a long and proud seafaring history. It’s the birthplace of the Bluenose schooner that won the International Fisherman’s Trophy for 17 years straight and is now home to the Bluenose II.

They say that if you’ve never been to sea then the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is the place to start. The museum celebrates the fishing heritage of Atlantic Canada from shipbuilding to rum-running to fish filleting. Kids especially love the aquariums filled with native fish and marine creatures. The museum is housed in the red buildings at the Lunenburg waterfront.

We always make a stop in Chester, often bringing along a picnic lunch. We just walk the streets, looking at the Yacht Club and at the houses and cottages, for this is one of the wealthiest communities in Nova Scotia. It’s intimate and exclusive and very New England. Once we stayed for dinner and took in a play at the Chester Playhouse. Chester is well known for its annual summer sailing regatta that takes place the second week of August.

Summerville BeachBeaches around Lunenburg
As a child I spent many summers climbing the rocks at Hunts Point where my grandmother lived, which is a charming fishing village with a little beach. Our favorite place to go swimming was Summerville beach because it’s not only picturesque but has the warmest water in the area (or so it is said).

Port Royal National Historic Site

I would now go across the province to the Fundy Shore (although I always stop in Middleton in the Annapolis Valley to have a look at the house where I once lived). Here at Annapolis Royal you’ll find the reconstructed Habitation, which was one of the earliest European settlements in North America. It’s interesting to learn how Samuel de Champlain and his men, in 1605, established a fur trading post with the Mi’kmaq and survived the harsh conditions. You also learn about North America’s first European social club, the Order of Good Cheer.

Ferry to NB  islandsNew Brunswick

The Princes of Acadia ferry takes you across the Bay of Fundy from Digby, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick. The voyage takes three hours and I usually book it in advance. Digby is in the Annapolis Basin and known as the scallop capital of the world. In NB, consider visiting the Saint John City Market, a lively place with a great display of produce and seafood, before starting the drive home.

You can either head north, back the way you came, or take the short drive west to St. Stephen, NB and from there cross into Calais, Maine.

Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton is one of my favourite places in Canada but including it within a 10-day itinerary of all the Maritimes would be too rushed. So add on a few days and go there too. Or make it a trip in itself. If you’re planning to drive up the west coast of Newfoundland think about seeing Cape Breton before catching the ferry from Sydney.

Related articles
Road trip itinerary: Maritimes and Newfoundland
Road trip around Cape Breton Island, Canada
A special place called Newfoundland
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By Sylvia Fanjoy

Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy

© Riding the buses 2013

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62 Responses to "My favourite road trip through Canada’s Maritime Provinces"

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi Sylvia,

    Thanks for the great read sounds like you’ve had some fantastic family vacations! I’m wondering your opinion on a trip next year that my husband and I are planning in June for 10 days, day 1 and 10 being flying to/from home. I will actually be in PEI for 4 days at a convention and then my husband was going to join on the Friday and we would venture until the following Sunday.

    I was thinking of taking a bus from PEI to Halifax and meet him there and we would rent a car and either go south along the shore over to NB back up to PEI over to Cape Breton and back to Halifax OR the other way around! Is that being too adventurous given our time? If so I’m really not sure what to skip everything looks so great!! Do you suggest leaving out NB and just doing PEI, Cape Breton and NS?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      I think you have your trip well-in-hand. I know nothing about taking the bus from PEI to Halifax but I have travelled on buses throughout the world so why not have an adventure in Canada!

      This summer I was sitting at a bar (!) in Lunenburg, chatting with a solo female tourist from Calgary who was so excited about everything she was seeing and doing. Her biggest issue was about getting the lobsters back home. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

      My BIG FAMILY trip surpassed all expectations. The only day the weather did not cooperate was when we went to Peggy’s Cove when it had a bit of attitude–cloudy and windy–and perfect for the setting. We rented two houses; mine in Mahone Bay and my sister’s in Lunenburg and between the two we were able to accommodate the mob and they were perfect. My son, a foodie, had to find the best … well you can guess it and we cooked it and loved it.

      The kids tried various beaches and White Point still rose to the top.

      I feel that I can no longer suggest how much time it takes to go from place to place because…. well because many like to do it far faster then I do.

      You will have a wonderful journey.

      – Sylvia

      1. Valen Shu says:

        Hello Sylvia,

        Thank you for your travel guide.
        We are planning to the three maritime provinces this summer with OUR DOG. Is there too much limitation for dogs? Are dogs allowed in most of places (campsites, hotels, ferry etc)
        Thank you.

        1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

          Thanks for writing Valen. I have never travelled with a dog but I had a look at a couple of websites that could be helpful. For instance, this one about travelling with animals on a ferry (
          “Question: Are pets allowed onboard? Answer: Only cats and dogs can travel on the mv Fundy Rose. Pets can travel in their owner’s vehicle, or in an onboard kennel. Owners are not allowed to visit their pet during passage, therefore must leave them with adequate food and water supplies. Crew members monitor the car decks and will contact the owner if a pet seems to be uncomfortable. Kennels are limited and are available on a first come, first serve basis.

          Dogs are allowed in Canada’s National Parks: “Dogs are allowed in Canada’s National Parks if they are accompanied by a person on a three-metre or ten-foot leash.”

          If others can add to this it would be helpful.

          Kinds regards,

          – Sylvia

  2. Stella Li says:

    Dear Sylvia,
    My family of four (2 teens 14 yo girl, 16 yo boy) will visit the Maritime Provinces for 2 weeks from Aug 16-30 (flight from Vancouver BC to Halifax NS Aug 17th 11am+, depart Halifax Aug 30th 3pm+). I visited Halifax 20 years ago (when I attended a conference as a grad student) and love everything there, but my family has never been to this part of Canada. We plan to rent a car. Any suggestion how to make our loop, where to stay, the worth to see and do…
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hello Stella. Many members of my extended family from across Canada are going to the Maritimes in August also, so the region has been uppermost in my thoughts. One of my sisters will be bringing two of her grandchildren who are about the same age as your children and she plans to use it as an extended history lesson. Just think, there are 3 of Canada’s most famous forts: the Citadel (Halifax), Port Royal (Annapolis Royal), Fortress Louisbourg (Cape Breton); museums kids will love such as the Alexander Graham Bell Museum (Baddeck), Pier 21, which does a terrific job telling about immigration to Canada (Halifax), the Fisheries Museum (Lunenburg), and I just love folk artist Maud Lewis’s tiny house at the Art Gallery in Halifax–such a moving story.

      I certainly would’t miss a performance of Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown) or watching the rise and fall of the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy. Some of best parks in Canada (and probably the world) are found there. We always do a hike in Fundy National Park (New Brunswick), and a drive around the Cabot Trail (Cape Breton) never gets tired; some consider it to be the best road trip in the world (and I thought we Canadians were suppose to be modest!).

      There are wonderful bike trails in all three provinces and the kids will love putting on a bib at a lobster supper in PEI.

      The owner of the house that we are renting in Mahone Bay tells me that “Mahone Bay is a kayaker’s paradise! The best time to kayak is in the early morning where you will have sightings of otters, loons and other fascinating bird life.” And climbing the rocks along that shoreline, collecting shells and watching the powerful waves comes smashing in–all right at the top of my list.

      It’s also very doable, particularly if you take a couple of ferries. So if this is your first trip in 20 years I suggest you do it right! My route would be:

      – Halifax
      – South Shore of Nova Scotia along Hwy 3
      – Hwy 8 to Digby
      – Fundy Rose ferry from Digby to Saint John, New Brunswick
      – Time along the NB side of the Bay of Fundy
      – Confederation Bridge (longest in the world) from Cape Jourimain to PEI
      – Time in PEI
      – Ferry from Wood Islands, PEI to Caribou, Nova Scotia
      – Drive to Bras d’Or, Cape Breton
      – Trip around the Cabot Trail
      – Drive to Halifax Airport

      You will have a fine time. Tell us what your children enjoyed the most.

      Kind regards,

      – Sylvia

      1. Stella says:

        Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I just reserved a car and all accommodations after I finalized the itinerary.

        My family and I look forward to our vacation in the Maritime Provinces. I’ll definitely report how it goes!

    2. Joan Taylor says:

      We are also travelling to NB, PEI, and Nova Scotia in August. We will be starting our trip in Edmunston and want to see the best of New Brunswick on our way to PEI. Can anyone help in this respect.

  3. Jen Smith says:

    Hi there, I am not sure this page is still active as I haven’t seen a comment in a little while but thought I’d try. We are going to be planning a trip to the maritimes late May-early June 2018 (before the summer holidays hit) with our four year old and six month old. Our plan is to come for three weeks. Spending about a week in three different airbnb’s across the provinces and just doing day trips from each place. We did this with my first son when he was six months and we found just working from a home base with small day trips worked well for us. My two questions are: Are there three regions between NB,PEI and NS that you would suggest we look to set up our home base (airbnbs) in? We love quiet areas where we can spend parts of the day right at the home enjoying the beautiful east coast where the kids can just be outside playing. Secondly are there a few key things you think we should for sure go see or experience around each of those home bases (within a two hour drive-two hours there and two home). Thanks so much! Jen

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hi Jen. This site is just coming back to life after taking a break! Your email is timely because about 20 members of my family are heading to the Maritimes this summer and have rented homes in various locations. Many kids are coming including my two youngest grandchildren, who are about the same age as your children.

      Because of the size of the group and the fact that we are travelling at a busy time (August), finding appropriate accommodation was somewhat challenging although we booked several months ago. In Nova Scotia, some of us are staying at a house in Lunenburg and the rest in nearby Mahone Bay. I think either location would be perfect for your family. Here is what the B&B owner just told me about her place in Mahone Bay:

      “Bachman’s Beach is 10 minutes away with a long and sandy beach that’s great for lying on and playing in.
      Hirtle’s Beach, is a 30 minute drive away, and categorized as a living beach because the beach moves and shifts at the whim of the ocean. It has three kilometers of white sand, rolling surf, fresh sea air, drumlin cliffs and breathtaking views.
      Risser’s Beach is also 30 minutes away, situated in Green Bay , has a I mile sheltered sandy beach, an interpretation centre, and a boardwalk with a great canteen. They have a sand castle competition in mid July which attracts hundreds of sand castle artists from all over.”

      PEI is small and anywhere relatively close to a beach should be fine. I hesitate to recommend a place in New Brunswick although I would say that it should be near the Bay of Fundy. I always stay in St. Andrew’s or Fundy National Park but maybe there are other places that have been overlooked that others can recommend.

      Hope this is helpful.

      – Sylvia

  4. Marty Joyce says:

    Enjoyed this article! Especially liked the Q&A after. And of course have a couple of questions/advice requests about our upcoming trip to the Maritimes.

    The basic outline of the trip consists of starting in Chicago with our RV and golden retriever. We’re going to spend three nights in Bar Harbor, three nights in Fundy National Park, three nights in the Halifax area and have four nights remaining to get home.

    Any advice on traveling through CA on the way back? I can probably spend two nights in one location on the way back. Where would you choose to spend a full day between Halifax and Chicago (with a dog of course). Given a choice, I’d rather avoid Toronto and Detroit and cross through the Mackinac Bridge.

    Lastly, given our itinerary, how should we best experience Canada 2017? Seems like a unique opportunity that we should take advantage of.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Goodness Marty. I had to pull out Google maps to figure out what you’re doing. I assume that you are not taking the ferry from Bar Harbour to Yarmouth and I see that the drive from Bar Harbour to the Fundy National Park will take 4.5 hours so that is fine. I say, go to Prince Edward Island (PEI). For sure. It has great parks and the landscape is very different from the other Maritime provinces. Perfect if you only have 2 days. It’s also the “Cradle of Confederation” so it should be all decked out for Canada’s 150th! Take the bridge over (longest in the world) and the ferry to Nova Scotia back (a relatively short ride).

      I assume that when you’re in Halifax you’ll take a day trip down the South Shore at least to Lunenburg. The Bluenose is there, which is also a very “Canadian” symbol.

      Nice to hear from you.

      – Sylvia

  5. Sharon Goldstein says:

    Hello Sylvia,

    My husband and I are planning on taking a Road Scholar trip to the Maritimes for 11 days. The program is called Canadian Maritimes Feast of Tides. We will be traveling to and staying in St. Martins and Sackville NB, Charlottetown PEI, and Truro, NS. We have two dates to choose from: June 11-21 and July 19-29. Which month would you suggest would be the most comfortable period to travel (no fog, afternoon temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees, and low humidity)? Also, the literature says that July and August are the popular tourist months. Are there so many people at that time that it would be less enjoyable to travel in July?

    Thank you for your help Sylvia. This is a special birthday trip for me!


    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Sharon, I have taken time off from this website and I imagine you have already booked your trip. So I must apologize. Yes, indeed, July is much busier but the places where you are staying are not “crazy” tourist destinations and everything I have heard about Road Scholar is such that I imagine they would do a fine job with the schedule to avoid the mobs.

      What a wonderful birthday gift! I think travel is just about the best one that you can give and receive.

      Kind regards,

      – Sylvia

  6. Carole Myles says:

    Thank you for this informative blog. We just came back from a one week trip to the Saguenay Fjord and Quebec City. Next on my bucket list is an extensive trip to the Maritime Provinces. We visited once for 9 days about 15 years ago but had to rush back home for an emergency. Since we’re retired we have the time to take an extended trip. I’d like to visit NFL. What about a side trip to St. Pierre and Miquelon? I know the islands belong officially to France but are they worth a 1-2 day side trip? Thanks!

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      I have never gone to the islands but if you have the time and inclination then go for it! When I took the ferry over to Labrador I sort of thought “this is probably a crazy idea” and I was so glad that I did it. It certainly would be interesting to compare the two cultures. If you go, you should share your thoughts with us.

  7. Betty ristau says:

    We are spending the entire month of August in the Atlantic Provinces including two weeks in Newfoundland. We will be tent camping and wonder if you feel we should have reservations for all nights. We prefer provincial and national campgrounds. Love your blog.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      I must confess that I have become the sort of person who likes to reserve my overnight stays well in advance. Sort of like ‘if I’m going to do this then I’m going to do it well’.

      At minimum, I would book a campsite at Grosse Morne National Park (I assume you’ll book your ferry crossing and know the time frame so that should be easy).

      Cavendish Beach in PEI always seems to be booked well in advance but there is a very good private campsite nearby that we have stayed at on various occasions.

      I think it is wonderful that you are giving Atlantic Canada a full month. It deserves it. And you’re going over to Newfoundland, which so many miss. Wow.

      Good for you. It should be absolutely great, Betty.

  8. Nancy Vaughn says:

    Hi Sylvia. I lived in Saint John, New Brunswick for much of my life. I really enjoyed your road trip through the maritime provinces. I have seen most but not all of the things you mentioned. Thr Princess of Acadia ferry runs from Digby, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick. You said St Johns, New Brunswick. St Johns is in Newfoundland. It should be Saint John, NB. The only time we use St instead of Saint is when speaking of the St John river but never when speaking of the greatest little city in the east.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Nancy, I knew about St. John and not St. Johns and should not have made that error but I did not know about Saint instead of St. How very interesting. I’ve made those corrections and thanks for writing.

      I also love your “plug” for Saint John and I will have a closer look when I’m down that way again (soon, I hope).

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  9. Caroline Ward says:

    I was wondering if you might comment on the itinerary I am developing for a trip to the Maritimes. We only have 1 week more or less. It seems doable but too ambitious. What would you cut out? Thank you for your input.

    Day 1 Fly to Halifax, rent car
    Check into hotel – enjoy stroll to Atlantic, dinner, etc.
    Day 2 Drive to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Liverpool
    Check into hotel
    Day 3 Drive from Liverpool to Annapolis Royal
    Then down to East Ferry to go whale watching
    Drive back to Digby and check into hotel
    Day 4 Ferry from East Ferry to St. Johns, drive down to St. Martins
    Enjoy caves
    Check into hotel
    Day 5 St. Martins along Fundy Trail and around Fundy National Park
    Drive to Alma
    Check into hotel
    Day 6 Alma to Hopewell Rocks to Cavendish and back to Charlottetown
    Check into hotel
    Day 7 Drive from Charlottetown to Cape Breton Island
    Check into hotel at beginning of trail
    Day 8 Drive Cabot Trail
    Check into hotel at end of trail
    Day 9 Drive to Halifax
    Check into hotel downtown
    Day 10 To Airport and back home

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Dear Caroline. I must say that days 7 and 8 exhaust me. What if you go all the way to the start of the Cabot Trail and it is foggy? You really need to give yourself another day. And you are hardly stopping in PEI. If you can’t find another couple of vacation days then you may consider not staying overnight in Liverpool (day 2) and instead going on to Digby. You could also combine days 5 and 6. Not ideal but doable.

      Something to consider.
      Thanks for writing.
      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  10. Jenn says:

    My husband and I would like to travel with our kids (age 9 and 12) to the Maritimes this summer and found this post and found it ever so helpful. We are trying to decide if we should rent an RV (we’re in Ontario) and tow our car and stay at campsites, or to drive our car and stay at hotels/B&B’s. Our reason for not going the RV route is that we’re concerned that booking campsites, may force an itinerary on us and we’d like to play it by ear. Plus, I’m not crazy about having to drive an RV with a car being towed. Hotels/B&B’s may get expensive. Any thoughts? Recommendations?

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hi Jenn. I understand how tough it is to make these decisions because there is no one perfect answer. I have never driven an RV much less towed a car but many people do and it works for them. What I have done on many, many road trips with my two kids is spend part of the time camping (in a tent) and the rest in hotels/cabins/B&Bs and it worked really well for us. The first night camping would always be a disaster but we would quickly get into a rhythm. As soon as the tent was up the kids would be jumping in the lake or tossing a frisbee, or on a hike or making friends with other kids from all over. And we’d usually have a campfire in the evening. Your children are the perfect age for this. BUT, when everything seems just about perfect it rains or you’ve had enough of shared bathroom facilities or you want to dress up for a special evening (like Anne at the Charlottetown festival) and then it’s time to switch over.

      I think the Maritimes will be very popular the next couple of summers and I would be inclined to make reservations well in advance for either option. There are private campgrounds too, which generally are not booked up as early as the government parks.

      I would love to hear what your decision is!

      Thanks for writing.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  11. Betty says:

    Hi Sylvia: I just came across your site and found it great. Would you be able to tell me if you rent a car in Halifax can you take it across on the ferries? We were told that we might have a little trouble doing that with some of the rental companies. Thanks for your great information and suggestions.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hi Betty. I certainly have taken my car on the ferries but not one from a rental company, although I can’t imagine that it would be a problem. I will ask the Nova Scotia government if they know of any such policy and will post their response here as well as forward it to you.

      An important question so thanks for asking it.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

      1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

        Hello again Betty. The NS government was quick to respond (I am slow posting it) and here it is:
        “For the most part, yes. There are several car rental agencies located at the airport and in the city as well. However, it would be best to confirm directly with the car rental agenices. Halifax airport is the largest east of Montreal and generally serves Atlantic Canada. Many visitors can arrive in Halifax and easily rent a car to visit at least the Maritime provinces and often NL as well. A common routing for the Maritimes is to arrive in Halifax and travel southwest Nova Scotia, take the ferry from Digby, NS to Saint John, NB. Travel southern part of NB and take Confederation Bridge to PEI. Drive to the eastern end of the Island and take the ferry from Wood Islands, PEI to Caribou, NS and then drive around Cape Breton before returning to Halifax.

        Hope this helps.

        Pam Wamback
        Tourism Nova Scotia”

  12. Diane Julian says:

    Hi Sylvia,
    My husband and I are planning a road trip through Atlantic Canada at the end of Aug and into Sept. In the 45 years we’ve been married, this will be our first time passed Quebec. We are not on a time schedule, since we are retired. We also have our own accommodations..(A small 18′ travel trailer, perfect for the two of us) so we will be staying mostly in campgrounds.
    We will be leaving from ON and going through Quebec. I’m not sure what route we should take since we want to do the three Provinces along with Newfoundland. The Cabot trail is a must. The Zodiac whale watching out of Tiverton (Digby Neck area) is also on my preference list. Your assistance and ideas would be very much appreciated.
    I’ve already started putting an itinerary together. Reading your Favorite trip was very helpful. We would like to visit as many places as we can with minimal backtracking as possible.
    Any quaint or favorite restaurants that I should add to my list?
    Thank You for sharing your memories and information.
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Dear Diane. Your letter inspired me to put together an itinerary for Atlantic Canada based on my favourite road trips. It is an ambitious undertaking but I say after 45 years of marriage and first time in that part of Canada that it is well worth the time and effort. The landscape as you go from province to province changes; the ocean looks different too. The parks in that part of Canada are outstanding–some of my favourite–and a great way to meet locals. Here is the link:

      Very exciting.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  13. Paula B says:

    Hi Sylvia – I can’t wait to dive into your blog to help plan our 2016 trip to the Maritimes. We will take about a week each way from North Carolina with our camper and be in the Maritimes around Aug 25 – Sept 3. We’ll have our two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and love the look (and prices) of your provincial parks. Planning trips are a big part of the fun for me and one of the things I always want to know is what to wear. Will it still be shorts and swimming weather? Layers? We will be outdoors most of the time since we’re camping so proper clothing is especially important.

    This is the first article of yours I have read and really like your writing style so I can’t wait to read your blog and find other jewels of information there.

    Thank you so much for any advice you might share.

    Blessings – Paula

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hi Paula. It should still be ‘shorts’ weather (no promises about the swimming!) but I go back to my Mother’s saying and that is to ‘always bring a sweater’. It can be particularly chilly out on the ocean so if that is in your plans then be sure that you have at least a very warm hoodie and sweat pants!

      I have camped at many of the parks in the Maritimes and they often have cooking shelters where you can cook your meal and keep warm if the weather turns a little damp and cool. But you are travelling at a great time.

      In the next few days I will put a simple itinerary up on the website for the Maritimes (and Newfoundland) and include useful links to make planning a little easier, particularly for those coming out of country such as you folks. I think you’ll love the Maritimes. The people are oh so friendly.

      Thanks for writing.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  14. Lindsey E says:

    Hi Sylvia,

    So happy I came across your wonderful website. Although I have lived in Canada all 28 years of my life, taking a trip to the Maritimes this summer in August with my boyfriend will be a first.

    This is all brand new to me, so honestly I am just looking to pinpoint a destination in which we should fly into (we’re from Calgary, AB) and basically start our journey that way. I am thinking of a 2 week or just under trip, renting a car so that we can sight see.

    The things we would want to do most would be, seeing lighthouses, digging for clams, finding a lively city with greats pubs and live music, finding some great fresh seafood restaurants, staying at quaint BnB’s etc.

    Do you have a general area of the Maritimes I could pinpoint and start searching for details?

    Thanks so much,

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      You will love the Maritimes, Lindsey. It is very different from Calgary, although the Rockies are very special too. I suggest you fly to Halifax (both West Jet and Air Canada fly direct Calgary to Halifax). Just be sure to pick up your car at the Halifax airport because it is a crazy distance from the airport to downtown Halifax. While Halifax is the largest city, it feels small and friendly, and according to my daughter who spent 4 years at university there, it has the greatest pubs and live music anywhere (and she has been around)! From Halifax you can either head up to Cape Breton, then over to PEI on the ferry, take the LONG bridge to New Brunswick and its Fundy coast, then the ferry over to Nova Scotia and along the South Shore back to Halifax. Or you can go in the opposite direction. You can easily do that in 2 weeks from Halifax and the pace will be pleasant. And you should experience your entire wish list!

      My one BIG recommendation is that you start booking your accommodation soon. I suspect the Maritimes will be flooded over the next couple of years given the low Canadian dollar and Canada 2017 celebrations.

      Thanks for writing Lindsey.

      Kind regards,

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  15. Myrna Wyse says:

    Hi Sylvia,

    This information looks excellent and very relevant for a trip my husband and I from Connecticut have started planning for late August and early September 2016 (about 18-20 days). We are seniors and will be pulling an 18ft travel trailer and taking our small dog (Shetland Sheepdog). Can you advise, or lead us to information, that will help us plan a “dog friendly” itinerary. We would probably stay very close to your itinerary but hopefully add Cape Breton to the trip.
    Thank you.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      I certainly recommend going to Cape Breton. You have enough time and it is glorious. I have written about it here:

      You will probably be staying in some of my favourite national parks on this trip:
      – Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada (“Home to the Cabot Trail, a land blessed with spectacular cliffs”)
      – Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada (“A protected area with spectacular coast”)
      – Fundy National Park of Canada (“Atlantic’s sanctuary with the world’s highest tides”).

      The parks can book up quickly so as soon as you know your itinerary think about booking:

      You will also need a national park pass:

      You have to keep your dog on a leash at all times in the national parks. There will be some places where pets will be restricted such as some beaches but there should be signage to tell you that.

      Great time to go to the Maritimes but as my mother always said: Bring a sweater.

      Thanks for writing.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

  16. Mauro says:

    I will flight from Argentina with my wife to Canada next year in August and we will take 10 days trip in PEI.
    Could you give me a possible 10 days itinerary in PEI (we will rent a car)
    We will do north cape coastal drive and green gables shore.
    Thank you…
    Mauro and Marina

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      PEI is a very small province. You can easily drive across the province in a day and day trips to see everything of interest is very easy. I assume you are renting a cottage and planning to do some “hanging out”. Otherwise you could well run out of things to do. I assume you are also seeing highlights in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

  17. Catherine says:


    I will be traveling the last week of August, first week of September for 14 days in a travel trailer from Ontario to Prince Edward Island with two of my six children (15-girl and 17-boy). We are budget conscience, but are anxious to attend at least two plays–Anne of Green Gables and Anne and Gilbert–in PEI and to see Peggy’s Cove NS. Do you have any suggestions of “not to be missed” places that I can see on my way? My husband will be driving, but since his job entails a lot of driving, we want to break up the driving and with a trailer and truck will need to have stops about every three hours. Any suggestions and/or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hello Catherine,
      A really interesting consideration is to take Highway 138 along the St. Lawrence from Quebec City to Saint-Siméon, catch the ferry over to Rivière-du-Loup and from there drive to the New Brunswick border. The route takes you through the Charlevoix region and it is one of the great road trips in Canada. I drove that route last summer and wrote about it here (

      In New Brunswick I would definitely stop and camp at Fundy National Park and make time for a hike or two, and of course see the tides at Hopewell Rocks. There are lighthouses along there too. Everyone will probably enjoy looking at the shops in St. Andrew’s and maybe a restaurant meal for there is lots of choice. One year I took my daughter and two of her friends to Grand Manan Island and she still remembers it as a highlight. We caught the ferry at Blacks Harbour, which is about a 35-minute drive from St. Andrew’s, and went whale watching too.

      Before going on the bridge to PEI, you could stop at Parlee Beach, which is one of the warmest saltwater beaches in the country. In PEI itself, your teenagers would probably enjoy the sand dunes and interpretation centre at Greenwich and maybe renting bikes and riding along what use to be a railway and is now called the Confederation Trail (and there are no hills).

      Don’t shortchange Halifax—it’s one of the best. Everyone will love the waterfront. I wouldn’t miss seeing Pier 21 (Canada’s immigrants), Art Gallery (Maude Lewis, the Christmas card painter’s house), Maritime Museum (Titanic) and so much more.

      You’ll have a great trip! Thanks for writing.

      – Sylvia

  18. Ina says:

    Hi Sylvia,

    It’s a real pleasure to read “My favourite road trip through Canada’s Maritime Provinces”. It’s to my taste. Thank you and thank you for the information.
    I’m planning a 25-day trip to the Maritime Provinces(Nova Scotia, PEI,New Brunswick). I will fly in/out Halifax on Sept. 6/Oct. 1. I will rent a car for the whole trip from Halifax airport and also dropoff there.
    I planned two routes. Could you please give me some suggestions?
    Route 1: To visit west part of the Nova Scotia first for 4 days, then PEI(via ferry) for 10 days, next New Brunswick(via bridge) for 5 days, then back to east part of Nova Scotia for 5 days, last, 1 or two days in Halifax/Dartmouth.
    Route 2: PEI 10 days, then New Brunswick 5 days, then Nova scotia west part 4 days, then Nova scotia east part 5 days, last Halifax 1-2 day.
    Two women at middle age will travel together. Both like seafood vey much. We will definitely enjoy some lobster suppers. We also hope to dig some clams and catch some crabs by our own and have the chance to cook. Could you recommend some beach for clam digging, dock for crab trapping wherever city/town in this three provinces? Since we consider cooking by ourselves, do you happen to know some nice and clean place with kichennete that we can stay?
    Any suggestions are welcome! Thank you in advance.


    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Dear Ina,

      Thank you for your kind words. I think either route would be good. However, I think you are short-changing Halifax. It is not like a big city. You don’t need a car to see it (maybe a couple of taxis). It offers so much about the history and culture of Canada. And it is FUN and has the best eating places.

      I have asked for help from “official” sites with regards to digging for clams and catching crabs since it has been a long time since I did that. But I will forward that information when I receive it.

      My daughter, who studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says her favourite time there was in September. So I suspect you two will have a grand trip.

      Enjoy and thanks for writing.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

      1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

        Hello again Ina. I heard back from the Nova Scotia Government about digging for clams and catching crabs and here is their response:

        Hi Sylvia:

        The best way for visitors to go clam digging in Nova Scotia is with Fundy Adventures, based in the Digby area. . As for crab trapping, that’s not a sellable product here – crabbing is done commercially and isn’t marketed as an activity for visitors.

        They can find a variety of accommodations that feature kitchens by accessing our database at




        Trust this is helpful, Ina. We would love to hear how it goes.

        – Sylvia

        1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

          It is me again Ina. I have now received information from the New Brunswick Government about digging for clams and buying shellfish:

          “You can go clam digging pretty much anywhere along the Acadian coast (Northumberland Strait/Bay des Chaleurs) in New Brunswick, but you are subject to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulations.

          Here is an example, from Kouchibouguac National Park:

          The best bet is always to ask the locals – they know where to find the best clams!

          My best tip for finding fresh seafood is always look for a working wharf and buy it straight off the boat!

          – Alison”

          All this talk is making me hungry! Hope you find lots of clams, Ina.

          – Sylvia

      2. Ina says:

        Dear Sylvia,

        It’s so nice of you to spend every effort to gather information for me. Thank you very much!

        My trip plan is almost done, ie, the air tickets, car rent, motel/cottage/B&B. Some details like restaurants, tours, local markets need to be checked out and added to my itinerary.

        I requested the official guides from the travelling sites of the three provinces and received the guide with map from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which helped a lot with my trip planning.

        With all the good information. I have no doubt the trip would be a very sucessful one and cannot wait……

        Beautiful, Yummy, Amazing……Wow…

        1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

          Thanks for writing back Ina. I must say that I am a little disappointed with PEI tourism but maybe they have had serious funding cutbacks (or are all on vacation). Anyway, it sounds like you are well organized and will have a really nice trip.

          Thanks for sharing this with us.

          – Sylvia

          1. Ina says:

            Today I received the PEI guide. Let’s applaud to PEI. They came back from vacation. lol
            Take care, Sylvia

          2. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

            Yeah PEI. Knew they wouldn’t disappoint. Thanks for letting us know, Ina.

            – Sylvia

  19. Linda says:

    Hi, what a wonderful site with so much great information. We too are planning a trip to the Maritimes mid September for 2-3 weeks. We hope to do all four provinces, flying into Halifax and thinking about home from Saint John. Our plan is to rent a car and stay in B & Bs or smaller motels. Just wondering if you think we need to pre book accomodations or if we would be okay to book as we go? Also any accommodations you would recommend? Thanks.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Linda, I’ve been travelling with two young grandkids and apologize for the delay in responding.

      It’s great having a flexible itinerary but not so nice to be driving after dark looking for a hotel that has an opening. I tend to book at least a day or two in advance so that when I get up in the morning I know where I’ll be resting my head that night! For small, popular destinations such as St. Andrews, Baddeck and Lunenburg, I would be inclined to reserve a room even more in advance (many years ago I was the only adult in a tent with three young/restless kids and it was raining buckets outside; we abandoned camp and got what they said was the last room in all of St. Andrews and I was SO happy). If you don’t mind driving out of your way and not too particular about where you stay then you can probably be more flexible.

      How about writing again after your trip and letting us know what you decided to do and if that worked out for you.

      Thanks for writing, Linda.

      – Sylvia

  20. Elizabeth Dick says:

    Hello, Sylvia. My husband and I are planning a two-week trip to the Maritime Provinces in September. He ran across your blog while doing a bit of research for the trip. We will fly from Florida to Portland, ME, on September 1 (arriving at 5:30PM) and will fly home from there on September 15. We plan to drive along the coast from Portland to New Brunswick, go on to PEI,and then to Nova Scotia before taking the ferry from Yarmouth to Portland on the 14th. We are also considering going from PEI to Breton Island before crossing into Nova Scotia. We have our airline tickets but have not yet booked the ferry. Our task now is deciding which towns to spend the night in along the way and how many days to stay in each area. We would welcome any suggestions you might have for planning our road trip. We love traveling in Canada and especially enjoy seeing lighthouses! Elizabeth

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hello Elizabeth. September is my favourite month to be in Canada—the light is just amazing then.

      You’ll probably spend 4 days of your vacation in the States and need 1 day for the ferry crossing from Yarmouth. That leaves 10 days in Canada.

      I assume you’ll be travelling without young children and note that you are particularly interested in lighthouses (or at least the real maritime feeling). My suggested itinerary would be:

      Bay of Fundy, NB
      – 1-2 nights at St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea; perhaps another night around Alma/Fundy National Park where there are great hiking trails and many lighthouses; attractions include highest tides in the world, whale watching, historic village, cruises to off-shore islands, etc.
      – cross the bridge to PEI when it’s still light outside—it was a great feat

      PEI National Park
      – 2 nights at a B&B/hotel near the park or in Charlottetown; this will give you a full day to walk the dunes, see Green Gables, visit some lighthouses, buy some pottery, have a lobster dinner, maybe bike the famous trail

      Baddeck and the Cabot Trail
      – 3 nights in Baddeck; this will give you a full day to get there from PEI (includes a ferry crossing), a day for the Cabot Trail and a day in Baddeck itself
      – if you are very ambitious, you could go to Fort Louisbourg before heading for Halifax to see the lighthouse there and the wonderful fort/museum that tells a lot about the history of Canada

      Halifax, NS
      – 3 nights here; this will give you two full days to visit the waterfront, museums, and great restaurants and pubs.

      South shore, NS
      – this is the famous Lighthouse Route
      – you can easily drive from Halifax to Yarmouth in a day with stops along the way
      – if you can stop another night, I would make it Lunenbourg, a World Heritage Site, unspoiled, and a great way to end your stay.

      Thanks for writing and good travels.
      – Sylvia

      1. Elizabeth Dick says:

        Thank you so very much for your thoughtful itinerary suggestions! We are beginning to make our overnight reservations and getting very excited about our plans for September in Canada. We will be using suggestions in your blog articles to plan our activities in each of the areas we visit. Your assistance has been most appreciated! Elizabeth

        1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

          Good to hear, Elizabeth. My extended family (3 generations) will be making a similar trip to the Maritimes next summer, a reunion of sorts. Your comment has inspired me to make time to revisit the lighthouses.
          – Sylvia

  21. David Stouse says:

    Lots of good tips here, Sylvia! We are thinking of flying to St. John’s and 10 days later fly home to Regina, from Halifax. This will be our first time in the Maritimes.
    Would you please, give me an idea, where to stop, for how long and what to try and fit in in this time frame.
    Hope & Dave Stouse

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Good to hear from you Hope and Dave.

      Too many visitors to Atlantic Canada don’t make it to Newfoundland and Cape Breton because it takes a bit more effort to get there. So I think your plan is brilliant (and ambitious) (and I assume you mean you will be starting in St. John’s Nfld and not St. John NB, travelling from Nfld. by ferry to Cape Breton and on to Halifax). There’s much to see around the Avalon Peninsula beginning with the colourful historic homes and great pubs in St. John’s. The seabirds are also a must-see, either at Witless Bay or Cape St. Mary’s. Take a photo of the lighthouse at Cape Spear so that you can compare it to the one at Peggy’s Cove. I would go out of my way to see an iceberg again (the province provides information about this on-line). On the west coast, Gros Morne is a must stop and we really enjoyed the boat tour on Western Brook Pond. I found the landscape south to Channel-Port aux Basques where you’ll catch the ferry to Sydney, Cape Breton very interesting, different from anywhere else in Canada. It will quickly become apparent why the province’s nickname is The Rock. Book the ferry in advance.

      When you land in Nova Scotia, make your way over to Baddeck and the following day go around the Cabot Trail. Then on to Halifax, always a favourite. Be sure to leave enough time for a day trip along the South Shore, at least as far as Lunenburg.

      This is tight for 10 days and you would be going all the time but there is nothing I would skip.

      Hope this is helpful.

      – Sylvia

  22. Anna says:

    Found your site and very helpful! We are planning a visit to the East Coast this summer in July! Flying from Toronto Ontario to Halifax July 23 to 29 th short period of time what would be your recommendations for this short stay? We are 4 adults and two teens! We are going to rent a van in Halifax! Any helpful tips would be appreciated! Thank you so very much!

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hi Anna. Halifax is just a great city and you should all enjoy it. I would certainly use the opportunity to expose the teens to some culture and great food. My daughter, who went to Dalhousie, puts the waterfront and live music at the top of her list. Outside of Halifax, the top choice for us would be the Lighthouse route.You really should climb the rocks at Peggy’s Cove and be enthralled by the amazing power of the Atlantic. Lunenburg is an excellent place to spend a night; it’s very quaint and there’s something there for everyone, from shops selling folk art to deep sea fishing. Stop at one of the fishing villages along the way and (carefully) walk out on the rocks that are slippery with seaweed; the air is so fresh. Perhaps go as far as Summerville Beach where the teens can actually jump in the ocean and then take the highway back to Halifax. Think about Cape Breton Island although it is a 4 hour drive from Halifax to Baddeck. You would need 2 nights in Baddeck in order to have a full day to drive around the Cabot Trail but it’s one of the great road trips in Canada (here is a link about my trips there as a kid: I think your conclusion when you finish this journey will be that you have to return for Nova Scotia is just a great destination.

  23. Yvonne says:

    Hi Sylvia

    I just found this post and it is incredibly helpful. We are in Australia and are planning a trip to Canada in the summer of 2016. It is obviously in the very early stages of planning but the primary reason for our visit is to go to PEI (Anne of Green Gables fan) and Nova Scotia. Our entire trip is 6 weeks. My tentative thoughts are to fly from Brisbane to Los Angeles and on to Chicago for 3 nights and Boston for another 2 nights. From there we could catch a train to Portand, ME and ferry to Yarmouth where we would pick up a car. Your description of the South Shore and Halifax matched my thoughts. I had not considered Cape Breton Island initially but am thinking of adding it in. Probably 5 – 7 nights on PEI then drive to Quebec for 5 nights. Then trains back to Chicago possibly via Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls. Fly from Chicago to Los Angeles to Brisbane.

    We love the look of Quebec City and are keen to spend time there. I am interested in your thoughts regarding Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. I would also like to hear your thoughts on the best route (and what to see) between Nova Scotia and Quebec. We are a couple aged 60(ish) and have travelled independently in USA, Canada (West Coast), UK and Ireland.

    Thank you.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      How lovely to hear from you. I lived in Australia for a year many years ago. I think the ferry to Yarmouth is an excellent idea. And Quebec City is very French and I think has the best atmosphere of any Canadian city. I am going to do an article on Quebec City later in the summer.

      I am just on my way back to Canada from Spain and will give this some thought and get back to you shortly.

      Until then.

      – Sylvia Fanjoy

    2. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Hello again, Yvonne. I have been giving your trip some thought. I think you will love the Maritimes–very friendly and laid-back. Since you will be visiting so many cities on your trip you should find the Maritimes a nice change. I suspect you would really enjoy Cape Breton. The drive from Halifax to Baddeck takes about 4 hours. If you find a place to stay in Baddeck for 2 nights (and it is an enchanting village), then you would have a full day to drive around the Cabot Trail and the views from the trail are breathtaking. From there is would be the ferry from Caribou N.S. to Wood Island, PEI and on to Charlottetown, which is a nice place. PEI is really quite small so if you’re thinking of 5-7 days there I assume it would be for some down time, bike riding perhaps or just hanging out on the beach. Then its the bridge over to N.B., stopping at Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy and perhaps overnight at lovely St. Andrews by-the-sea (and maybe some whale watching). It’s a full day drive from there to Quebec City. Just north of Quebec City is another one of Canada’s most spectacular drives, this one along the St. Lawrence (here is a link about that:

      I think taking the train (Via Rail) from Quebec City to Toronto is a brilliant idea. Montreal and Toronto both have metro systems so it is easy to get around. The train station in Ottawa is a distance from the downtown and I suggest you stay around the Parliament Buildings/Byward Market in Ottawa and then you can walk to many of the sites and it is such a lively area. In Toronto, the train station is right downtown with one of the traditional railway hotels right across the street and many other hotel properties nearby. You can also catch the streetcar from there and visit Toronto’s famous neighbourhoods (here is a link about that:

      And Niagara Falls? Yes, the Falls top most people’s list. There is another one of Canada’s most charming towns just before the falls–Niagara-on-the-Lake–that you may want to consider. It’s historic with lovely B&Bs, great restaurants and wineries.

      Hope this is helpful.

  24. polly says:

    Hi there, we are planning a road trip to the maritimes this summer 2014. I was wondering whether it is worth to go to the Fortress of Louisburg. Have you been there ? We are going for about 16 days from Toronto via Maine to Saint John then Nova scotia, cape breton island, PEI then Moncton then Toronto via Quebec.

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Cape Breton is one of my favourite places in the Maritimes and if you’re going there you should see the Fortress of Louisbourg. I covered Cape Breton in this article:

      My children in particular enjoyed the fort and it is a great way to understand Canadian history.

      Your itinerary looks good for 16 days. Lots of variation. You can take a ferry from Saint John, NB to Digby, NS and from Caribou, NS to PEI, which will break up the driving.

      This is just one of the best road trips! Enjoy.

      Kind regards,

      Sylvia Fanjoy

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