The open road, the window wound down and endless views of the ocean. To us, that’s what road tripping is all about. Canada is a mind-bogglingly huge country, but those vast open spaces make for great driving holidays. You can snip it into bite-sized pieces by picking one compact region of Canada to explore at a time. We think the East Coast is one of the best places to pick, and touring Atlantic Canada is a trip that’s hard to beat.
What is Atlantic Canada?
Atlantic Canada is the name collectively given to Eastern Canada’s four seafaring provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador. You might also have heard of the Canadian Maritimes, which is the name given to NS, PEI and NB but excludes NL. These provinces all have a unique flavour but share the same palette of gorgeous beaches, coastlines, fishing villages and, of course, the freshest seafood. Their shared coastal heritage unites them.
How can I get around?
These roads were built for driving. Whether you hire a car and drive yourself, opt for a motorhome to have a home on wheels, or let someone else drive on a coach tour, the roads will take you everywhere you need to go. All the provinces are well set up for hiking and cycling, which means you can use leg-power to get around too. Plus, the ferry trips between the provinces add another fun element to your travels.
What do each of the provinces have to offer?
The heritage of founding Europeans from Scotland and France deeply influenced Nova Scotia, with distinctive cultures belonging to both Gaelic and Acadian communities. The history here is fascinating and there are plenty of National Historic Sites and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to get stuck into.
Some of Nova Scotia’s most famous attractions include the iconic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, the colourful architecture at the UNESCO site of Lunenburg, and the palm-sized scallops collected from Digby harbour. This province has great access to the Bay of Fundy for spectacular whale watching.
Prince Edward Island
PEI is Canada’s smallest and greenest province, renowned for its fertile, gently undulating landscape of lush green fields. It’s full of farmers’ markets and pastoral villages, with a laidback way of life and a propensity for strolling along.
Some of Prince Edward Island’s most famous attractions are Charlottetown, heralded as the birthplace of Canadian confederation, the world-famous oysters from Malpeque and of course, Ann of Green Gables.
New Brunswick sits on the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world, and some of the best whale watching too. It is full of sandy beaches, peaceful valleys and part of the oldest mountain range in North America. Its countless rivers are just perfect for canoeing down, where you paddle alongside the salmon run.
New Brunswick’s top attractions are the mammoth tides at the Bay of Fundy, the dozens of species of whales that swim its waters and the tranquil forests of Fundy National Park. This is one of the few places in the world where you can spot the rare North Atlantic Right Whale.
Newfoundland & Labrador
This province is composed of the island of Newfoundland and the rugged stretch of the mainland known as Labrador. With such varied coastlines, NL is one of the most dramatic provinces in Canada. The region boasts everything from puffins and icebergs to staggering fjord lands and Viking heritage.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s famous attractions include Gros Morne National Park, the colourful city of St. Johns and the fascinating L’Anse Aux Meadows UNESCO Site.
Tours in Atlantic Canada
Experience the Atlantic Provinces’ celebrated heritage. This escorted tour includes your flights, hotels, coach travel, ferry crossings, excursions and an expert guide to bring the region to life. Get a glimpse of Nova Scotia’s picturesque fishing villages. See the rugged coastal landscapes along New Brunswick’s shores of the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world. Search for whales, experience magnificent vistas, thrilling adventures, charming villages and fascinating cities.
- • Lobster dinner cruise in Shediac Bay
- • Whale watching tours in St. Andrews by-the-Sea and Cape Breton
- • Visit to the famous Hopewell Rocks
This ‘Best of the East’ fly drive adventure brings you a combination of the Atlantic Provinces’ most magnificent vistas. The holiday includes your flights, car hire and carefully picked hotels along a route through all of the Atlantic Canada provinces. You’ll discover charming villages and fascinating cities. Highlights include Cape Breton Island, the Bras dOr Lake and Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, the lobster capital of the world in New Brunswick, and Newfoundland’s magnificent coastline.
- • Whale watching among icebergs
- • Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove
- • A visit to the stunning Corner Brook fjord
This route through the Maritimes offers the very best of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. You can learn all about Nova Scotia’s Scottish, Native and Acadian heritage on your cultural exploration. The fly drive holiday includes your flights, car hire and specially-picked hotels. You’ll have plenty of time to explore Nova Scotia’s different shores, scout for whales in the Bay of Fundy and stroll through PEI’s pretty villages.
- • Sample delicious Digby scallops
- • Visit Pictou, the “Birthplace of New Scotland”
- • Drive the Cabot Trail into the Cape Breton Highlands
Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Canada’s beginnings. Combine the French province of Québec with the heady mix of Native and Scottish ancestry that defines the Atlantic provinces. All your flights, hotels and car hire are included along this suggested route. Starting in Montreal, you’ll drive up the picturesque St Lawrence River to New Brunswick and the other Atlantic Canada provinces.
- • Take in the romantic cities of Montreal and Quebec City
- • Visit Percé, the gem in the beautiful peninsula of Gaspé in Quebec
- • Drive the Cabot Trail to the Cape Breton Highlands
A charming escorted tour of Canada’s Eastern Maritime Provinces, with striking ocean vistas and colourful harbours. This Premium tour includes a luxury touring vehicle and expert travel director throughout, as well as flights, premium hotels and incredible excurions. Go whale watching, visit Ann of Green Gables’ house and see the Bay of Fundy on your adventure through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
- • Boat cruise on Bras d’Or Lake
- • Fisherman’s lobster lunch feast on a cruise of Shediac Bay
- • Whale watching cruise on the Bay of Fundy