Special thanks to our Wander Station reader, Grace, for contributing to this detailed itinerary!
On a map, Nova Scotia may be dwarfed by most of the other Canadian provinces. But don’t let its size fool you- it is jam-packed with gems both hidden and otherwise. Even a highlights tour will take you a couple of days.
Planning this 7-day itinerary around the must-sees of Eastern Canada is therefore not an easy feat. But I think we have something that will leave you fully appreciating this region’s natural beauty, Celtic and Acadian culture legacies, and small fishing village charm!
|Day trips:||Alma, Hopewell Rocks|
|Ideal Season:||Summer (July, August, September)||Trip Intensity:||★★☆☆☆|
|# of Transfers:||7||Total time:||~Approx. 5.5hrs|
|Skip the Line:|
|Trip Cost:||~Approx. $1000/per person||Personal Cost:||~Approx. $800/per person|
|Trip Cost ($USD) include: hotels, trains, tickets
Personal Cost ($USD) include: food, personal spendings
What is a Perfect Week Itinerary? PWI for short, these are 7-full-day itineraries designed to allow you to explore all the trendy sights within a limited schedule without tiring you out (too much). All of my PWIs are extensively researched and personally tried and tested, however, they are written based on my personal opinions and preferences and therefore should be used as a reference only. As much as I try to keep all my itineraries up to date in terms of travel times to the best of my ability, more research and double-checking is encouraged on your end before you finalize your own itinerary.
Before your trip
The best way to travel around Eastern Canada is with a rental car, so get one booked as soon as your travel dates have been finalized. A few of my favorite car rental companies include: Enterprise, Thrifty, and Avis.
Arrive into Saint John, NB: Once you arrive at Saint John Airport, check out and pick up your rental car. When you are out of the airport, it will be a good time to stock up on some supplies for the later days of hiking/camping!
Stay: Saint John
Morning: Set your GPS for Hopewell Rocks.
To experience the rocks fully, I recommend joining a kayak tour of the famous flower pots during high tide.
Lunch: After exploring the pots from above, head to the nearby village of Alma for a mini day-trip. Take a break at the Buddha Bear Cafe which doubles as the Holy Whale Brewery. Whether it is a latte or a pint, this is a great little stop. And while you are at Alma, be sure to check out the plenty of lobster shops, restaurants, and gift shops! Then, grab lunch in the area.
Afternoon: Back at Hopewell Rocks to experience low tide! The sight would be nothing short of breathtaking to see our mother nature working its magic. Join the others while exploring the ocean floor and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!
After the rocks, head to Moncton for dinner and stay the night.
Today will be a drive heavy day because you will trek all the way to the northern tip of the peninsula for the Skyline trail in Cape Breton!
Morning: Before you leave Moncton, make a quick stop at this optical illusion, Magnetic Hill ($6, open year-round). Put your car in Neutral and watch it climb uphill! Go early to avoid a line (and leave plenty of time for the drive ahead).
Next, begin driving! We are heading to Pictou.
Lunch: After driving for a bit over 2 hours, it’s time for a rest. Why not stretch your legs in the town that received the first wave of Scottish settlers of Canada? Visit the replica of Ship Hector ($8, 10:00-16:00, opens May to Oct) which took that arduous trip across the Atlantic. Have a meal at a local’s favorite: Sharon’s Place. The fish and chips portions are very generous and they have bizarrely large spring rolls!
Early-afternoon: After lunch, it’s time to head further northeast toward Skyline Trail.
Probably the most iconic trail on the Canadian east coast, this easy hike will take you to an impressive vista where land meets sea. Pro tip: be sure to time your visit for sunset for maximum awe!
Stay: While there are hotels and motels in the area, why not take this opportunity to better experience the wilderness by camping? Or for those uninitiated, glamping is also an option at Cheticamp!
Plan the day as you see fit with a few of the suggestions below:
Hiking: There are a lot of options on Cape Breton Island, check out the trails on the Park’s website. A fabulously accessible trail is the Bog. Due to sensitive vegetation, a boardwalk runs the entire length of this short 15min trail.
Glenora Distillery: As the only single malt whiskey distillery in Canada, this distillery + resort is a great rest stop for a meal, a tasting, or a tour.
Sherbrooke Village ($15.95+, 9:30-17:00, opens Jun to Oct): Experience the living history in this town frozen in time; 1867 to be precise. Costumed interpreters lead activities and workshops for kids and adults!
Along the way: Hooked rugs are an Acadian heritage that is exceedingly charming. Before leaving Cheticamp, check out some local rug hooker galleries!
Morning: It’s time to leave Halifax! Starting with a visit to the Fisherman’s Cove, a tiny replica fishing village with two rows of colorful houses. There are novelty shops and galleries, going through them all might take you an hour or so. Before you leave, go to What’s the Scoop for some delicious yet economical fish and chips or lobster rolls!
Lunenburg is also home to Canadian artist Laurie Swim. Her unique and charming quilt work is on display at her gallery on Lincoln street.
Mid-afternoon: As the evening draw nearer, it’s time for our next stop: Peggy’s Cove. Hang out around the shores of this famous cove and its iconic lighthouse. Whether it’s rain or shine, you are sure to get a striking photo. And if the sky is clear, be sure to stay for the sunset!
Morning: Before the museums and shops open, take a quick morning stroll (or run!) in the Halifax Public Gardens. This garden is North America’s oldest Victorian garden cared for by the chief horticulturists and gardeners. Snap a few photos and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Guided tours are also available.
After the gardens, head towards the waterfront. Halifax is a very walkable city, so let your feet take you there. Explore the area and grab breakfast at the Seaport Farmers Market, and wash it down with some local beer from one of the nearby breweries.
Afternoon: We will spend the afternoon at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
Donair: There are plenty of good eats in town but before you leave, make sure to have some Halifax donair. The local institutions are The King of Donair and Tony’s Donair, but pretty much any pizza take out place will have this delicious messy snack in stock!
Hope you enjoyed this itinerary. Let me know if you have tried this itinerary and if you have any further questions in the comments below! I’d love to know which part was your favorite.