Nova Scotia | Adventure Destination Guide

When it comes to getting outdoors, Nova Scotia is packed full of fun activities. Here's a number of reasons you need to visit this region of Canada in 2023, and some useful information to help you make the most of your time there.

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.

Pictured: A famous view in Cape Split Provincial Park

Cape Split Provincial Park

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.

Pictured: Franey Mountain in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail

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.

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

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.

Pictured: Cape Breton Highlands National Park

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.

Pictured: A hiker in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Credit: Cabot Trail Cycling


When it comes to visiting Nova Scotia, those who favour a pedalling motion over the act of walking are also in luck. People who love getting out and about with the help of a bike frame and wheels combo will dig the tantalising cycling menu this corner of Canada serves up. Whether you fancy a challenge, want to see as much seriously nice scenery as humanly possible during the stay, or like the idea of following in the footsteps of old rum runners, you’re bound to find a trail here that will make you smile.

Cabot Trail (From Cheticamp To Ingonish)

Come ride a bike where the mountains meet the sea. Whether you cycle all of it or just part of it, the Cabot Trail is considered to be one of the top spots on earth for a bike ride. It’s bucket list stuff. Cycle alongside the can’t-be-hyped-enough coastline, and wind your way through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Picture lush forested river canyons and rust-coloured cliffs, and your imagination is halfway to doing this part of Nova Scotia justice.

The road inclines vary nicely on this route. There’s grades ranging 12% to 15% at Smokey Mountain (located outside the park boundary) and North Mountain. For these sections respectively, you’re looking at elevations of 1,200 ft and 1,460 ft. MacKenzie Mountain and French Mountain, where the mountaintops are connected, have elevations of 1,222 ft and 1,492 ft (with grades ranging 9% to 12%).

“Come ride a bike where the mountains meet the sea”

In terms of breaking down some of the distances involved, and where the most challenging sections are, the length of the steepest inclines do differ so it’s worth keeping this in mind. For example, it’s 6.2 miles to the the top of Smokey Mountain (from Ingonish Harbour) but just 2.5 miles from Lone Shieling to the top of North Mountain. You can do the route self-guided or, alternatively, go book yourself on something like the Cabot Trail Bike Tour instead. To explore this guided tour option further, pay a visit to Freewheeling Adventures. Their website will have all the information you need.

Pictured: Harvest Moon Trail

Harvest Moon Trail (From Annapolis Royal to Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site)

This fine cycling trail in Nova Scotia starts in the quaint surroundings of the seaside town of Annapolis Royal. As a place to kickstart a bike ride in this part of the world goes, it’s one that’s steeped in history and tradition. Home to the first European Settlement in North America, the award-winning Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, the Fort Anne National Historic Site and the idyllic vibes of Grand Pré and its surrounding area, there’s a genuinely impressive historical flavour to enjoy here. If you are someone who’s all about racking up UNESCO World Heritage Site visits, be sure to spend some time at the latter in particular; breathing in all of that rich Acadian heritage as you do so. A route for people who relish the thought of combining cycling and tourist attractions in one go, this one.

As you ride your bike from Annapolis Royal along the Annapolis River, you’ll encounter picturesque bridges, farmers’ fields, apple orchards, award-winning wineries, craft beverage producers and inviting restaurants to fuel you on your way (flavour-chasing hipsters, assemble). The local towns of Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville will all help you to get a sense of the people and culture that call this region home. It’s definitely worth, we think, hopping off your bike in these places and stretching the legs. Finally, there’s some great off-road cycling to be enjoyed on this trail so consider a mountain bike.

Pictured: A view from the Rum Runners Trail

Rum Runners Trail (From Halifax to Lunenburg)

The Rum Runners Trail is multi-use, and runs for 74 miles along a no-longer used rail bed. It connects Halifax and Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and features some lovely seaside spots along the way (see Hubbards, Chester, Oak Island and Mahone Bay). The most popular stop / starting off point for this route is the Train Station Bike and Bean, a café and full-service bike rental / shop.

This one is suitable for hybrid bikes and riders of all abilities. It’s part of the Blue Route provincial cycling network, and an off-road cycle journey that really allows you to embrace the region’s dreamy coastal communities. Built up an appetite? Savour those delicious local flavours at some award-winning restaurants, and enjoy the chance to sample the delights of the area’s distilleries. Done with cycling? The route will give you the chance to swap pedals for paddles, and do some sea kayaking.

Perhaps now you’re getting the sense of just how much adventurous activity-fun there is to be had in Nova Scotia. Well, don’t go anywhere. There’s more to talk about. Yes, that’s right. We’re not done yet, not by a long stretch.

For more on cycling in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.

Tidal Bore Rafting

What is tidal bore rafting? It’s a fair question. In short, it all comes down to the fact Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy is home to the the world’s highest tides. As these tides turn, they essentially transform the Shubenacadie River into an incredibly fun, incredibly unique, natural rollercoaster. Feel the adrenaline rush of riding waves that can hit heights of four metres. The area’s expert guides will make sure you’re in safe hands, taking you on a cascading journey down rapids caused by an incoming ocean reversing the flow of the river.  Utterly unique, and the ultimate ‘When in Rome’ experience in Nova Scotia.

For more on tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.


Such is its wellbeing-enhancing powers, kayaking in Nova Scotia is one activity you are not going to want to miss. From the dramatic cliffs and arches of Northern Cape Breton and Cape Chignecto to the more sheltered waterways of Prospect and Tangier, Nova Scotia really does need to be seen from the water. Paddle along waterfronts with a tangible sense of history, meet local fishermen, or traverse the waterways of the Mi’kmaq; these are just some ideas to get you started.

For more on kayaking in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.

Pictured: The night sky above Graves Island


Nova Scotia’s night skies are something special. The region is home to Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands, the first designated dark sky destination in North America. There’s ample opportunity here to experience the cosmos on guided night hike and bike tours. Anyone who likes to imagine themselves as the next Professor Brian Cox should head on over to The Deep Sky Eye Observatory.

It’s a more chilled activity than most of the stuff in this guide, but you will need to put your feet up at some point. Sitting back with a warm blanket in an ‘anti-gravity’ chair, and being guided through the majesty of the universe while wrapped up in a warm blanket is a great way to end a day in Nova Scotia. You’ll learn to navigate the night sky using points of reference like Polaris and the constellations, and witness celestial wonders with the help of an outdoor telescope.

“The region is home to Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands, the first designated dark sky destination in North America”

Another excellent spot for stargazing in Nova Scotia is Kejimkujik National Park & National Historic Site. Back in 2010, it was designated a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The restrictions on artificial light in most of the park mean that when the skies are clear, visitors will be treated to a space-viewing paradise. Look at the moon, look at the constellations in all their glory, look at the planets; just stick on the music from Kubrick’s ‘2001’ or Pink Floyd’s ‘DSOTM’ and you’re away.

You can, of course, also camp in Kejimkujik National Park. There are multiple campsites through the park. Some of these sites are serviced with electricity, others are lit only by the stars.

For more on stargazing in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.

Pictured: Oasis Pods at Kejimkujik National Park

Camping and Glamping

Naturally, with Nova Scotia being such a first-rate outdoorsy destination, there’s a whole bunch of excellent campsites and camping opportunities to be enjoyed in this region. You and some loved ones, gathered round between your tents, wrapped in blankets on camping chairs, with drinks on the go and the sound of laughter bursting forth; it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? You can read more about camping in Nova Scotia here.

For this guide though, we thought we’d focus on Ôasis Pods in particular. Shaped like droplets of water, the Ôasis camping units are part of the accommodation at Jeremy’s Bay campground at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. The pods, which have been built on stilts, are surrounded by trees and overlook Kejimkujik Lake. What’s more, the pods use renewable energy. Staying in them is, we think, one way to make a special trip to Nova Scotia even more special.

Whale Watching

Anyone looking to do some whale watching in Nova Scotia should visit the region in summer or autumn. Book yourself onto a whale watching tour, and watch out for any of the 12 whale species that visit this place every year. Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy are where’s it at for this activity.

The Bay of Fundy is something of a get-together spot for whales in Nova Scotia. Nature’s very own aquarium, with the help of a boat and a guide you’ll be able to spot a whole bunch of whales here including the rare North Atlantic right whale.

In terms of Cape Breton, pods of Atlantic pilot whales tend to spend their summers in these parts feasting on squid just off the shores of Pleasant Bay and Chéticamp. Not only will an organised tour give you the chance to see whales, there’s also a good chance you’ll come across porpoises, seals, and seabirds while out on the open water. Be sure to wear an old naval hat to complete your look.

For more on whale watching in Nova Scotia, head to the region’s official tourism website.

For more information on Nova Scotia as a destination, head to


Book your Nova Scotia holiday with the experts at Canadian Affair, call them on 0203 424 9649 or visit to start planning your adventure.


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