Just a six-hour flight from the UK, and home to more than 13,000 kilometres of coastline, Nova Scotia is the kind of adventure destination that makes you sit up and take notice right from the off. Roughly the same size as Scotland, approximately one million people live in the Canadian province. Boasting a rich tapestry of natural beauty, it’s the type of place where memorable gems are hidden behind every corner; the kind of landscape that can pull visitors in and make every single day unique in its own right. Very much a road trip destination, we know in our gut you’ll love exploring the driving routes here.
“The kind of adventure destination that makes you sit up and take notice right from the off”
To help you get a sense of what outdoor activities are on offer in Nova Scotia (there’s six UNESCO sites here, by the way), we’ve put together this – hopefully useful – guide for you. From hiking and cycling to things to do that are a little more curveball, there really is so much for you to get your teeth into in this part of the world. Hold our hand and walk with us while we talk you through it. And then, when that’s done, pack a bag and tell your loved ones you’re popping to Nova Scotia for a bit. They can, it should go without saying, come too if they fancy it.
Without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
Things To Do In Nova Scotia
Hiking in Nova Scotia is a four-season activity. It’s worth pointing out though that the travel season runs between May and October. Whatever time of year you decide to visit there will be an opportunity for you to pop your walking boots on and go for a stroll. That’s not to say you won’t need to layer up a bit more if you’re not hiking at the height of summer but, well, you get the idea. It’s an outdoorsy destination that wants people to get outdoors. Embrace it.
Whether you like the idea of hitting up seaside trails, and soaking up expansive views of the ocean that stretch out to the horizon and beyond, or prefer meandering through old forests and over mountains, you can rest easy in the knowledge that there’s plenty of walking for you to enjoy in Nova Scotia. To give you a little flavour of what hikers can expect, here’s some of Nova Scotia’s top hiking trails.
A significant coastal area, that overlooks the beautiful Bay of Fundy, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why this part of Nova Scotia is a popular hiking spot. You will, we’re absolutely sure of it, appreciate what this 447-hectare natural enviroment – situated in Scots Bay, Kings County – can bring to your trip within seconds of arriving. As well as hiking, the park is also home to some idyllic picnic spots (nom, nom) and a number of great wildlife-spotting opportunities (go on, channel your inner Attenborough). The Bay of Fundy’s impressive tidal changes are also well worth keeping an eye on.
The trail here is roughly four miles one way (6.5 km), eight miles (13 km) all-round. If you decide to take this one on, you’re looking at a return travel time of about five hours. Users are encouraged to stay on the trail, wear sturdy footwear, and layer up intelligently with outdoor-purposed clothing. Walking this one is thirsty-work so be sure to take plenty of drinking water. It’s also worth noting that it’s a day-use park only. You’ll have to leave your tent in the boot of the car.
Situated just across the harbour from the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, this is an area of Nova Scotia known for its crashing waves and unrivalled ocean views. You do not want to miss this trail. It’s a gentle one that all the family should be fine with, taking walkers on a 1.3 miles / 2 km looped trail. Watch out for the birds and fishing boats and, of course, be sure to get that squad photo in front of the Louisbourg Lighthouse at the trailhead. Experienced hikers can, if they’re feeling particularly intrepid, follow the rugged shoreline beyond the trail. It’s here that the good people at the Coastal Connections Trail Association are working on developing the trail further.
If you’ve got a bit of time, or you’re looking for more of a challenge, get yourself on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. It’s a 57 miles / 92 km trail, running along an old rail bed, and it stretches all the way from Port Hastings to Inverness on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. The trail forms part of the Trans Canada Trail and the International Appalachian Trail. Not only is it a really nice way of exploring Nova Scotia’s coastline and picturesque wilderness, it’s also a route that shows off the area’s Celtic culture. Hundreds of years ago, Gaelic-speaking immigrants from Ireland and Scotland came en masse and made this place their home. Speaking of which, there’s some great live Celtic music to be enjoyed here in modern times. Embrace the walk, embrace the history, embrace the culture; you’ll enjoy this one.
New Trail at Kejimkujik National Park
Fancy yourself as the next Bill Bryson (aka the guy who wrote the classic hiking book A Walk In The Woods)? It might be time to immerse yourself within the lush forests, winding rivers, and island-speckled lakes of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. It’s the ultimate slice of escapism, and a chance to really get away from civilisation for a bit.
There’s 15 day-hiking trails here. They cut through Acadian Forests, red maple floodplains, windswept pinetreees and old-growth hemlocks; you’ll be a real tree nerd by the end of it all. Mountain bikers, in particular, be sure to check out Ukme’k Trail. It serves up 6.3 km of twists and turns, and has a bunch of features that will float your boat.
Ukme’k is Kejimkujik’s newest trail, and is designed for shared-use. Weave your way along it on foot or by bike, the choice is entirely yours.
For more on hiking in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.