We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Miami
Level Contributor
109 posts
36 reviews
Save Topic
Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi,

We are planning to spend about a week in Nova Scotia at the beginning of October and are having a hard time deciding the best routes to take given that there is so much to see and we won't have enough time to see it all. The plan is to arrive to Yarmouth on the ferry and depart into New Brunswick via Amherst. Besides admiring the scenery we'd like to watch whales and do some hiking.

For sure we want to see Cape Brenton, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mahoney Bay, etc., but the question is: what's the most scenic way to get from Yarmouth to Halifax. Would you recommend driving from Yarmouth to Halifax following the Lighthouse Route, perhaps spending a night somewhere along the way or driving to Digby (spending a day around that area) and then take Road 8 accross the island down to Liverpool and then continue bordering the coast all the way to Halifax?

Another question is: to get from Halifax to Baddeck is the Marine drive (Road 7) worth the detour or are we better off getting there faster on the highway? (Perhasp a combination of both may work out better?)

And last but not least: should we carve out some time to do the route to Cape d'Or?

Decision, decisions! Your help will be greatly appreciated.

New Minas, Canada
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
2,197 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi SunnyInn,

The best place for whale watching is the Brier Island area down Digby Neck. You can get a tour at East Ferry without going on the islands. www.ppww.ca

----or you can have the experience of going to Brier Island where there is accommodation. www.brierisland.com

There are several good tours from the islands, I'll give you the website of one of the longest running which also does research.

www.brierislandwhalwatch.com

Here's the route that I would suggest to get an overall view of Nova Scotia in a week.

From Yarmouth, take Rte 1 along the French Acadian shore to Digby.This is a beautiful drive & a chance to experience the French Culture. If you want to go Whalewatching, take Rte 217 down Digby Neck. Check with the tours before hand to make sure that they are still having sightings of whales. You could spend the night there & take the early am tour.

Then back to Digby & continue on the Evangeline Trail, visiting Annapolis Royal, & spending the next night in the Wolfville area.

Enjoy the excellent restaurants & wineries in the area,& walk on the dykes. You might want to go to the Bay of Fundy shore the next am & hike out to Cape Split (aprox 5 hrs return). At the tip you overlook the world famous high tides flowing between the Bay of Fundy & Minas Basin. Awesome view!

From the Wolfville area, you can take Rte 12 across to the Atlantic Coast (aprox 1 hr drive), then spend a night in the Mahone Bay or Lunenburg area. This is an interesting & beautiful area as well.

The Lighthouse Route from there to Peggy's Cove is a lovely scenic drive. Then continue on to Halifax.

Halifax to Baddeck would be a long drive if you are on limited time. It's a lovely scenic drive, but you have to take the time to enjoy it, like a couple of days.

The route that I described is very scenic and allows you to see both the Bay of Fundy & Atlantic Coast, & allows time for whalewatching & hiking.

I'll let someone from Cape Breton let you know about the best routes in that area.

Hope that this helps you with your decisions.

New Minas, Canada
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
2,197 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi SunnyInn,

I just want to clarify a line on my last posting. I meant that Halifax to Baddeck on the Marine Drive would be a long drive.

Also, if you haven't received the Doers & Dreamers (Nova Scotia tourist guide), you should order one. Lots of info in it & great to have on the road with you.

Lunenburg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
Level Contributor
3,807 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi Sunny!

Rather than try to plan your trip for you, let me offer tips on a few of the most scenic roads you can follow. Most of these don't make the guide books (because often, the guide book authors don't take the time to look for them).

1) Route 332. Along the South Shore, starting from Bridgewater, drive southeast along the east bank of the LaHave River toward Riverport. This winding paved road follows the water’s edge, with few houses between the highway and the shore. The curves make for splendid views of the traditional waterfront scenery. Beyond Riverport, Route 332 continues counter-clockwise, past The Ovens, a series of sea caves and blow holes that you can descend down into by steps, to Lunenburg town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a Nineteenth Century fishing port that has kept its character. Northeast of Lunenburg, follow the little paved road (unnumbered) through Sunnybrook and Maders Cove toward Mahone Bay, also a splendid old town. East of Mahone Bay, follow another unnumbered road through Oakland to Indian Point. You'll find no finer sample of traditional maritime scenery than this route.

2) Route 221. If you come through the Annapolis Valley, get off Route 1 and follow this stretch of traditional Nova Scotia farm country. Route 1, the so-called "Evangeline Trail" is really the slow and congested main business route. You'll find the restaurants and crafts shops at a speed of 35 mph on Route 1. What I do, though, is get off Rt. 1 at Bridgetown and take the parallel road that runs north of it. Most of that road is Route 221, although some of the sections are unnumbered.

Route 221 shows Nova Scotia as it used to be. It follows a trail of old farm houses and pastures at the base of the North Mountain. You'll find few stores, and this to me is a welcome relief from the commercial bustle on the 1. It takes you to east to Kentville, and then if you wish on to Canning and Cape Blomidon, a stunning lookoff. It's also well located for drives over the North Mountain down to the Bay of Fundy.

At Kentville, cut southward to another unnumbered paved road that follows the Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia's best apple country. This way traverses peaceful orchards and old barns eastward, joining the main highway at Avonport, where the river flows into the Bay of Fundy.

By the way, if you have not yet made your ferry reservations, I’d check on the internet to make certain that the ferries from Maine are still running in October. They cease service at the end of the season.

Happy travels, and let me know if I can help further!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Chester Basin...
Level Contributor
3,781 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi Sunntlnn "

I think if you wish to see Digby ( It's a beautiful drive along St. Mary's Bay and through the Acadian Villages ) I would go directly there, and spend time and lodge in that area perhaps, or in nearby Annapolis Royal, then take route # 8 to Liverpool and do scenic from there on the Lighthouse Route.

A very nice drive if you're destined for the Lunenburg / Mahone Bay area is from Liverpool / Brooklyn / East Port Medway / Mill Village exits towards #331 and follor the coast through Vogler's Cove, Cherry Hill, Petite Riviere, Risser's and Crescent Beaches to LaHave where you will take a short ferry over to East LaHave and join the very scenic route #332 that the previous poster mentioned.

Lunenburg and Mahone Bay are very close at this point,

Marine Drive is lovely but time consuming. You will have to calculate your time scehdule when considering that.

The exits mentioned are easily accessible from Liverpool and the adjoining #8 from Annapolis Royal.

regards,

blondie *

Miami
Level Contributor
109 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Thanks so much for all your helpful advice.

After reading it all, studying the map carefully and trying to change our airline ticket planes to come home couple days later (unfortunately unsuccessfully) this is what I think is the best we can do. Please feel free to recommend changes:

Day 1) Arrive at Yarmouth - drive to Digby area - spend night at Anapolis Royal

Day 2) Drive across island to South Shore and follow route 332 to Lunenburg

Day 3) Continue along the coast to Mahone Bay (stopping on the recommended spots along the way) to Peggy’s Cove and arrive late at Halifax

Day 4) Visit Halifax

Day 5) Drive to Sherbrooke - continue on to Baddeck

Day 6) Drive Cabot Trail – back to Baddeck

Day 7) Drive to Pictou – then on to Truro and follow Glooscap trail to Amberst to spend the night. This drive will be rather strenuous, but if it’s worth it, we don’t mind. What do you think?

We are really, really hoping to see some whales but the couple of places I’ve contacted don’t guarantee it for that time of year (we get there Oct. 1st) They said to contact them again as we get closer, so we'll see how that goes.

The more we find out about Nova Scotia the more excited we get about this trip ...

Miami
Level Contributor
109 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

P.S. We checked the ferry schedules to Yarmouth and they are still running at the beginning of October. Also, we ordered the Doers and Dreamers guide.

Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
9 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hi There;

Just wanted to let you know if you take the route from Yarmouth to Halifax via the South Shore (Liverpool, Brigewater etc.), it is more scenic than if you go via the valley (Annapolis Royal, Kentiville etc.) There are several nice places to stop over night along the way, White Point Beach Resort in Liverpool is beautiful and right on the ocean or in Mahone Bay there are lots of Bed & Breakfast establihments and a couple great resturants. If you are planning on doing some whale watching, there are tours out of Halifax but I suspect down Yarmouth way as well, just depends on where you want to fit it in during your trip. If you contact Nova Scotia Tourism you could get a copy of the "Doers and Dreamers Guide" it has all the info you would be looking for as well as maps etc.

The drive to Cape Breton is beautiful when you go along the coast but does add time to your travels, you may want to plat out a route using both the coastal drive as well as the highway, you'll want some time in Cape Breton to go around the Cabot TRail, it's amazing.

Hope this helps a bit.

Chester Basin...
Level Contributor
3,781 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Hello Sunnylnn "

Momma is correct that inland travelways ( as with route #8 from Annapolis Royal too Liverpool ) are not overly scenic. It will be a lovely scenic drive up to Annapolis Royal but route #8 is all woodland etc. As you can see from the map you are not coastal until you reach Liverpool. Yarmouth to Halifax on the Lighthouse Route is scenic but you would not have the chance to see the Fundy Coast where as you are exiting via Amherst, and this way you get a bit of both. Route #8 will not be interesting however, not in my opinion anyway.

Perhaps when you get the NS Guide you may decide to switch that decision and if you do there are lots of accomodation options on the Lighthouse Route for you to choose from, White Point Lodge is one and there are many others also.

By doing the plan the way you have decided now, you will of course have to sacrifice the lower portion of the Lighthouse Route but you will appreciate your chosen route to Digby / Annapolis Royal very much I think and then travel the Lighthouse Route from Liverpool to Peggy's Cove and ultimately Halifax .

If you do decide to accomodate on the Lighthouse have a look at "

www.quarterdeck.ns.ca

www.whitepoint.com

Either way we will be happy to assist you further if you have any more questions.

regards,

blondie **

Miami
Level Contributor
109 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Thanks a bunch again.

Boy, this is really difficult - I don't want to miss anything. I had picked route 8 (besides the obvious reason that is a fairly quick way to get to the south shore) because in one of the maps I received from novascotia.com they listed it as a scenic drive called "Kejimkujik Drive". But from what you both are telling me it's not that scenic after all.

In that case would you say it's best that we skip the Digby area and just start driving along the coast or would you say the Digby area is worth missing some part of the Lighthouse Route as we would hook up with it at Liverpool?

Also, what do you think of the plan for the last day? I got the idea of doing the Glooscap trail because in the same map they listed the Fundy Shore as another scenic drive. Do you think it's worth all that driving in one day or should we concentrate on a smaller area instead of trying to cover so much?

Chester Basin...
Level Contributor
3,781 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Driving route choices in Nova Scotia

Sorry Sunnylyn "

The last thing I want to do is confuse you more so let's start again.

You're right, route #8 is the quickest way from the Fundy Coast to join on to the Lighthouse Route and it isn't overly long. Keji is a beautiful park that we are very proud of but in reality it's huge and can easily be a day in itself, if not longer. Most tourists wish to stay coastal and that's the only reason I wished to point that out to you. From Annapolis Royal to Liverpool about 1 hour driving time apx.

You did mention whalewatching and as Fundygirl mentioned, Digby Neck / Tiverton / Brier Island is best for this. Annapolis Royal a short drive from this area has some of our very best B&B acccomodations plus the town is easily walkable and has much to offer in the way of historical sites, beautiful historic gardens, fine restaurants, shops, walking and guided tours which are very good.

On the other hand if you wish to drive the Lighthouse directly from the Cat and spend some time seeing the Fundy Coast from Cape d'Or or Five Islands then you could eliminate the Evangeline Trail.

The Glooscap has beautiful vantage points but the trail can be very time consuming just so you know.

Nevertheless, if time allows touring the Glooscap along the Minas Basin and including Economy, Parrsboro, Advocate Harbour, Cape Chignecto and Cape d'Or before you exit via Amherst would satisfy your interest of the Fundy Tidal Waters.

So it's decisions - decisions --decisions I'm afraid for you.

You could easily make it to Lunenburg from Yarmouth on the same day but do check the websites I gave you in my last post and see if any accomodation would please you for the first night. That way you wouldn't feel the need to rush the Lighthouse Route.

A little something for you to think about.

blondie **