Nova Scotia

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The quaint towns and villages of Nova Scotia’s rugged Atlantic coast are settled around natural coastal inlets, coves, bays, and deep harbors, including both picturesque Peggy’s Cove and bustling Halifax. The verdant and craggy hills of Cape Breton Island extend Nova Scotia’s geographical finger northward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while the Bay of Fundy, notorious for dramatic fluctuations between high and low tide, defines the northwestern shore of the peninsula.

Nova Scotia Cities and Regions

Halifax

The trendy capital of Nova Scotia is home to 40 percent of the province’s populace (about 370,000 people). Founded in 1749, the city was once the headquarters for the British Navy and, for a period, was Canada’s wealthiest city thanks to a brisk shipbuilding trade. Today, a stately citadel with the Old Town Clock still stands sentry over the harbor, which boasts the world’s longest urban boardwalk, stretching for two miles along the city’s waterfront. Halifax’s unique mix of urban allure and rustic seafaring heritage continues to draw history buffs, music lovers, shoppers, and foodies alike.

Peggy's Cove

Located on the province’s south shore, this picturesque town owes its appeal to its brightly painted homes and a well-known lighthouse poised to caution sailors of the rocky shoreline. Visit in the morning to clamber among the rocks and avoid the busloads of tourists who flock here on summer afternoons.

Lunenburg

Established in 1753 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, this historic town on the southern coast is famous for its architecture, a fetching blend of vividly colored British Colonial and Victorian buildings. A rich seafaring history has made Lunenburg known throughout the world as a town of “wooden ships and iron men.”

Mahone Bay and Chester Basin

This stretch of coastline on the southeastern corner of the island was a haven for 17th-century pirates like Captain Kidd, who prowled local waters and allegedly buried his treasure on nearby Oak Island. Many unsuccessful – and a few fatal – attempts have been made to get at the gold hidden in his purported network of underground tunnels. Unfortunately for vacation gold-seekers, Oak Island is privately owned and not open to visitors.

Annapolis Royal

This town on the northwestern coast is a magnet for artisans and organic farmers whose products often appear at the Saturday morning farmer’s market. Many of Annapolis Royal’s British Colonial homes have been turned into inns, shops, or restaurants.

Wolfville

Located about an hour’s drive inland from Halifax, this quaint university town is best known for the Grand-Pré national monument, which honors the Acadians who were exiled from Nova Scotia during the Seven Years War between Britain and France (1755-1762). Here, you can also find the vineyard Domaine de Grand Pré, which specializes in award-winning ice wines.

Digby

A decade after the British drove out the French settlers in 1755, a group of native Acadians decided to return to the southwestern corner of Nova Scotia and start over. Many of their descendants are still here to this day, making a living hauling scallops in what is now known as Digby, a small, often-overlooked town that’s home to the world’s largest scallop fleet.

The Western Coastline and Noel Shore

The province’s western coast includes the Northumberland Strait, which is home to some of Nova Scotia’s nicest beaches and warmest waters (72 degrees). Also here: the Minas Basin and Baie Sainte-Marie, a branch of the Bay of Fundy with beaches, wildlife, and Acadian fishing villages. Along the Bay of Fundy shoreline, the area called the Noel Shore is the site of 50-foot tides, the highest in the world. These surging tides bring large numbers of plankton into the area, making it a favored summer feeding ground for five different species of whales.

Digby Neck

Starting from the town of Digby on the far northwest coast and stretching southwest to Long and Brier Islands, the The Digby Neck is a colloquial name referring to the 25-mile-long arm of land that extends into the Bay of Fundy. The region consists of sandy coves, rugged basalt cliffs, sleepy fishing hamlets, and quiet bed and breakfasts.

Cape Breton Island

Perched at the northern tip of the peninsula, fog-cloaked Cape Breton is an island of rolling green highlands and wind- and salt-swept landscapes. Its commercial hub, Sydney, also hosts a small airport. The area’s strong Gaelic roots can still be detected in the traditional song and dance that is ubiquitous at pubs and events. In the region’s northern extremity around Cape Breton Highlands National Park, it is possible to see the brilliant colors of aura borealis in the late summer and fall.

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