As a regular traveller to — and fan of — Nova Scotia, I’d definitely suggest you pencil in a two-week stay. But for the time-challenged, it’s possible to visit all six of the province’s UNESCO-recognized destinations on a jam-packed week-long adventure. The most recent addition to Nova Scotia’s list of cultural and natural wonders is the magnificent Cliffs of Fundy Geopark, which made the UNESCO list in 2020. Steeped in Mi’kmaq legend, this section of coastline is also the site of the highest tides in the world and has a geology that showcases how the supercontinent Pangea was formed and broke apart.
Here’s our UNESCO-themed Nova Scotia itinerary.
PICTURE PERFECT: Your first UNESCO world heritage site is Old Town Lunenburg, with its colourful colonial buildings and equally colourful history. Sign on at Lunenburg Walking Tours for the inside scoop on the town’s seafaring and rum-running past, then spend the afternoon at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which brings the area’s fishing heritage to life. As every Nova Scotian will tell you, it’s the 100th anniversary of the iconic Bluenose, so get ready to celebrate the schooner’s centennial.
WALK IT OUT: The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve encompasses some five counties in the southwestern portion of the province. Get a taste of all that nature by tackling a few of the 16 day-hiking trails in Kejimkujik National Park, many of which cut through Acadian forest. Don’t miss the Hemlocks and Hardwoods Trail for a close-up look at the park’s stately 300-year-old hemlocks. Spend the night in Digby, the perfect spot to recharge with a feast of famous Atlantic scallops.
ACADIAN ADVENTURES: Take a morning stroll around Digby Harbour before hopping into the car for the 90-minute drive to your third UNESCO destination. Grand Pré once stood at the centre of Acadian culture, its landscape a patchwork quilt of fields, dikes, orchards and vineyards. Stop in Wolfville to stretch your legs, enjoy lunch and perhaps a glass of local wine, before visiting Grand-Pré National Historic Site for a self-guided tour exploring the devastating Acadian deportations between 1755 and 1763. Head out by late afternoon for a 90-minute trek to Truro.
BONUS DAY: Wine lovers will want to spend an extra day exploring Nova Scotia’s wine country and Wolfville makes the perfect hub to explore (and taste) your way across the Annapolis Valley. The Magic Winery Bus departs downtown Wolfville for leisurely tour that takes in the natural scenery and stops at a number of wineries, where you can taste and explore.
ON THE WATER: It’s a two-hour drive from Truro to Advocate Harbour, where adventure awaits. NovaShores Adventures runs a sea kayaking tour that provides an up-close view of the bluffs, rock spires and arches that make up the Cliffs of Fundy Geopark. Lunch on the beach keeps you fortified. End your day at the Lighthouse on Cape d’Or, where you can dine on seafood and take in the views before calling it a night at the guesthouse just steps from the restaurant.
BONUS DAY: The Cliffs of Fundy Geopark really should be explored over more than a day. For a one-of-a-kind adventure, book an ocean-floor tour by horseback from Spirit Reins Ranch. During low tide, the horses will take you past the famous fossil site at Wasson Bluff and along the floor of the Minas Basin, where you can observe tidal creatures temporarily left high and dry, as well as shorebirds.
FOSSIL FUN: Today, it’s a quick 45-minute jaunt to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, where fossils on the beach and in the coastal cliffs reveal details of life as it was 300 million years ago when the region was covered in lush forests. Stop at the Joggins Fossil Centre Museum, where you can take a short guided tour of the cliffs, check out the museum’s fantastic interactive displays and browse the gift shop. Head back to Truro for the evening.
DAYS 6 and 7
SAIL ON: Beautiful Cape Breton Island is the final destination on your Nova Scotia adventure. At the heart of the island, the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve is Canada’s largest inland sea. On your way to Baddeck, stop in at Big Spruce Brewing for lunch and a craft brew on the patio, then spend a quiet afternoon in Baddeck. Splurge on a last-day sailing adventure. Sailing Cape Breton Island lets you explore the lake’s unique ecosystem from the vantage point of a luxury catamaran.
BONUS DAY (or three): Campers won’t want to miss the hiking trails, beaches and glorious views to be found in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Skyline Trail is renowned for its spectacular views of the coast.