Road trip in Nova Scotia: Driving along the South Shore

JUAN MARTINEZ

December 6, 2019

Road trip in Nova Scotia: Driving along the South Shore

Mild days, nature getaways and clear skies. We drove along the South Shore of Nova Scotia and this is what we found:

A road trip in Nova Scotia is the best way to discover a region full of natural wonders, delicious cuisine and rich history. We went along the famous Lighthouse Route at the South Shore of Nova Scotia and found out that the iconic Peggy’s Cove was just the beginning of the adventure.

Nova Scotia is way better to be discovered with a car. It will give you the flexibility of stopping anywhere you want and let you plan your itinerary at your own pace. Nova Scotia is a relatively large province (a little bit larger than Switzerland) and with one of the less dense populations in North America, public transportation is not very reliable. Renting a car is a must for exploring its untouched natural beauty.

Since we were also doing our road trip in Nova Scotia by the end of October, we planned several outdoor activities as well indoor getaways in case the weather does not allow it. However, temperatures at that time were between 10-20 degrees and with clear skies almost every day, we couldn’t have asked for better weather to explore Nova Scotia by car.

During a period of 9 days we traveled along Nova Scotia’s South shore. These were my favourite spots during this road trip.

Road trip in Nova Scotia
Sunsets in Nova Scotia’s coastal towns at the Lighhouse Route

Things to do in Nova Scotia’s South Shore

Take a visit to Peggy’s Cove lighthouse and wander around its fishing village

Located only 45 minutes from Downtown Halifax, Peggy’s Cove is known as one of the most photographed places in Canada. This Nova Scotian community has the fishing village atmosphere you imagine experiencing in Atlantic Canada: several fishing boats along the coast, colorful wooden houses and lots of delicious seafood.

However, Peggy’s Cove is not famous for its coastal village, but for its picturesque lighthouse sitting high upon the smooth granite of the coast.

This 15 m lighthouse stands at the edge between land and the ocean and it can be considered a symbol of Nova Scotia.  Although the area surrounding Peggy’s Cove has been designated as a preservation area in Canada, it is still an active fishing community.

Travelers can wander along the gigantic granite boulders and find their own favorite spot to take a picture. Since this is one of Canada’s most visited spots, we drove to Peggy’s Cove very early in the morning. Thankfully, we avoided the several buses coming from Halifax every day and basically had the area for ourselves.

Afterwards we also drove a little bit south of Peggy’s Cove and searched for other spots for photographing the beauty of the lighthouse standing next to the rough Atlantic Ocean.

Read more: Understanding Nova Scotia’s love for lobster (and 5 places to eat it)

Charm at the fishing vilalge next to Peggy's Cove Lighthouse
Peggy’s Cove is Nova Scotia most popular destination and the start for a road trip along the South Shore

Visit the historic town of Lunenburg and learn more about the rum culture of Nova Scotia

If you are looking for some of the most picturesque towns of Canada, Lunenburg is probably at the top of the list. This fishing village is turning itself into a trendy town that attracts people from all ages looking to learn more about the history of Nova Scotia as a trading spot.

Although Lunenburg is quickly accessible from Halifax via Highway 103 West, travelers looking for a longer and more scenic drive can take the Lighthouse Route. This route goes along the coast and is simply perfect if you are traveling on a road trip.

Lunenburg is better to be explored by foot and with narrow streets and beautiful architecture, this is one of these places you want to get lost. Its Old Town Lunenburg is one of the three designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nova Scotia and is also known for being home of Bluenose II, Nova Scotia’s famous racing schooner.

Once the night begins, a visit to Ironworks Distillery is obligatory. Here you will learn more about the rum culture of Nova Scotia which dates back to the colonialism period. You can do one of the rum tours they offer and even go on a barrel search at the sea. The rewards for this task is a cold glass of rum, that was aged inside a barrel deep in the ocean – something I never tried before.

Read more: 10 reasons why I love traveling

View of the town of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia
The fishing village of Lunenburg attracts tourists from all over North America

Get the chills of doing a Candlelight Graveyard Tour in Annapolis Royal

Who would ever though that doing a tour around a graveyard would be so interesting? At the Candlelight Graveyard Tour in Annapolis Royal you can find out why. This is one of the most acclaimed tours in Nova Scotia and probably the most interesting way to learn about the Acadian past of Nova Scotia as well some history of Annapolis Royal.

Reservations are not necessary and with daily tours starting at 7pm from the main graveyard of Annapolis Royal, you will find at least a dozen of curious travelers joining up.

Although there is a spooky atmosphere in the way the tour guide dresses up and the locations in which the tour is conducted, the tour is absolutely not related to any horror story and is rather a city and historical tour with a very unique and special twist.

Graveyard Tours in Annapolis Royal
The Graveyard Tour in Annapolis Royal shows the history of the province in a completely different way.

Stargaze at Kejimkujik National Park and see the dark sky like never before

A road trip in Nova Scotia is not completed without exploring one of its national parks and Kejimkujik might be the place you are looking for. This is Nova Scotia’s largest national park  and it covers more than 400 sq. km.. It is a great spot to see Nova Scotia’s fauna and flora, specially if you are on a road trip at the South Shore.

Visitors can explore any of their 14 trails along the forest and even rent kayaks or canoes and discover the park more freely.

However, Kejimkujik National Park biggest highlight is stargazing at night. This is one of Canada’s few designated spots by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for stargazing and is awarded as a dark sky preserve. This means that any external light pollution source is completely forbidden, making it one of the best spots for stargazing in the world.

Accessing the park at night should also not be a problem, as camping inside is allowed in certain areas and stargazing tours take part almost every clear night. You can even rent a stargazing kit when purchasing your entrance ticket. This is simply the perfect spot to get closer to the stars.

Read more: How to photograph the milky way when traveling

View of the dark sky and the milky way in Nova Scotia
View of the dark sky and the milky way in Nova Scotia

Visit a winery at the Annapolis Valley and learn more about the wine culture of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s wines are getting more attention each and each year. With milder temperatures and excellent farmland for wine production, very interesting wines are making Nova Scotia famous as a top wine destination in Canada.

Annapolis Valley is one of these regions and with several wineries opening their doors, this small region of Nova Scotia is attracting travelers from all over the world. Wine tours are very common in Annapolis Valley.

During our road trip in Nova Scotia we decided to take a day to explore these wineries to get an inside into Nova Scotia’s growing wine culture.

Our tour took us to 3 different wineries, where we were able to try 5-6 different wines and learn about local products such as the Tidal Bay Wine, Nova Scotia’s first wine appellation. Tidal Bay was not the only wine we got offered, as Nova Scotia is nowadays producing very good wines with common European grapes.

Read more: How is climate change shaping the future of wine

Nova Scotia is growing up as a wine destination in North America
Nova Scotia is growing up as a wine destination in North America

The South Shore of Nova Scotia is a special place. It is completely different than any other Canadian province and not only its natural beauty makes it a perfect destination for a road trip, but also the amazing people we encountered along the way. The Lighthouse Route in Nova Scotia is a destination to be better explore with a car and for those who give it a try, they will find many stops along the way with picturesque motives, excellent food and a story in everyone you meet.

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