The Four Corners of Atlantic Canada
Four unique provinces make up Atlantic Canada and each one boasts its own charm, attractions and coastal adventures. It’s because of this allure that New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are hugely popular with foodies, road trippers and adrenaline junkies as destinations for holidays in Canada.
Located on the East Coast of Canada these sea-faring provinces might each have their own unique flavour, but they all share the same palette of picturesque fishing villages, pristine beaches and the freshest seafood.
Here we take you through what each province has to offer so you can plan your next trip to Atlantic Canada.
Located beside Quebec and above Maine, New Brunswick is made for road trips. With its beautiful panoramas and sandy beaches there are lots of reasons to visit the province during your next holiday to Canada.
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a 170-mile-long bay that is home to the world’s highest tides (reaching up to 54-feet). The bay’s rich waters are full of marine wildlife, including 12 species of whale, dolphins, porpoises, seabirds, seals and lots more. The rock cliffs, sandstone formations, mudflats and marsh plateaus will definitely catch your eye during your visit.
Hopewell Rocks is one of the most iconic attractions in the province and thousands of people every year visit to appreciate this remarkable landmark.
You can walk on the ocean floor in the shadows of the flower-pot rocks, a unique formation that has been carved over thousands of years of erosion.
If you visit at low-tide you can walk along the 2km beach and even enter the coves that are dotted along the cliffs.
Whale watching in Saint Andrews
One of the most popular activities to try in Saint Andrews is whale watching, as nothing beats seeing a humpback, minke, finback or North Atlantic right whale breach the water.
There are plenty of whale watching tour operators ready to take you out to the best whale watching locations. Jolly Breeze takes you in either a tall ship or a new jet boat around the Bay of Fundy.
The whale season lasts from June to the end of October. The world’s highest tides occur twice-daily and stir up the bounty of food in the Bay of Fundy, attracting the whales on their migration.
Restaurants to try New Brunswick’s delicacies
• For lobster – Billy’s Seafood Company in Saint John is renowned for its seafood and its restaurant and fish market only accept local ingredients. This includes lobster, which can be boiled and cracked and served with warm butter, fries or house salad. There is lobster roll and lobster mac and cheese also on the menu.
• Dulse – Saint John Ale House isn’t just about cask ale, cocktails and beer - you can enjoy a delicious food menu inspired by local ingredients. On the menu you can try fire-grilled dulse with bacon maple scallops. Dulse, an edible seaweed, is a popular delicacy in the region and should be on your food itinerary.
• Poutine râpée – This boiled dumpling made from potato stuffed with pork is a popular dish and Saint Antoine Poutine serves some of the best around.
• Fiddleheads – These tender young ferns are renowned in the province and you join a foraging tour to find them. Read this guide about finding fiddleheads from Tourism Fredericton.
Newfoundland & Labrador
Boasting miles and miles of coastline - enough to stretch across Canada four times over, to be precise - there are lots of different activities to do and attractions to visit all-year round in Newfoundland & Labrador. It could be hunting for icebergs, hiking along the coastline or going whale watching - there’s so much to do.
Gros Morne National Park
As described in our Canada’s Greatest National Parks article, the Gros Morne National Park offers lots of summer and winter activities. In summer you can try sea kayaking through the dramatic fjords, while over the winter months you could be snowshoeing in the spectacular tablelands.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit thanks to the never-ending series of wonders and delights that took over 480 million years for Mother Nature to create.
L'anse Aux Meadows
L'anse Aux Meadows allows you to travel back in time to the Viking era. It’s the only Norse site in North America, so you won’t see anything else like this in Canada.
Try blacksmithing or weaving at the Viking encampment and talk to characters about Viking history. You can also learn about the key figures in Norse mythology like Thor, Loki and Erik the Red.
The national historic site of Signal Hill is where a fierce battle between British and French soldiers took place, marking the final battle of the Seven Year’s War in 1762.
Here you can climb the Cabot Tower to see great views over St. John’s and the North Atlantic. The fantastic interactive exhibit at the visitor’s centres explains why the hill was important for communication for ships headed towards the port before the time of mobile phones and radio.
During the summer months you can watch the Signal Hill Tattoo event, a re-enactment of the military drills of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Twillingate might only be a small town in Newfoundland & Labrador, but it is a gateway for viewing icebergs between mid-May to mid-July.
The town’s ice giants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different activities you can. This outdoorsy region also means you can go whale watching, go on a two-and-a-half-hour hike from Long Point to Sleepy Cove or visit historic landmarks such as St. Peter’s Church.
Restaurants to try Newfoundland & Labrador’s delicacies
• For cod tongues – Head to Ches’s Famous Fish and Chips as you can tuck into 1/3lb cod tongues (actually the fish’s neck), whilst also enjoying its iconic fish and chips.
• For figgy duff – Taste this delicious pudding at The Black Spruce where the sweet comes with molasses sauce and Sea Buckthorn ice cream.
• For Jiggs’ dinner – This Canadian version of a Sunday roast can be found across Newfoundland & Labrador and one of the best eateries to try this delicacy at is Bridie Molloy’s. Here you can enjoy the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet with the Jiggs dinner included.
• For fish ‘n brewis – At St. John’s Fish Exchange Kitchen and Wet Bar you can try this traditional Newfoundland & Labrador dish. The salt fish and hard bread is served with potatoes, scrunchions (pork rind) and sautéed greens.
Nova Scotia is surrounded almost entirely by water and as a result there’s lots of water-based activities like sailing and kayaking trips available. If you want to explore this picturesque province and want to immerse yourself in the regions culture you should visit the below attractions and try the suggested delicacies.
Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Cabot Trail is regarded as one of the most scenic destinations and one of the best road trips on the planet as it loops around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island.
The 185-mile road winds through a number of stunning landscapes; from ocean vistas and prehistoric rock scarred by glaciers to old-growth forests and the rugged Cape Breton Highlands.
The road weaves through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and this park in itself is spectacular with its forested river canyons carving into the ancient plateau offering you plenty of photo opportunities.
While there are more than 150 historic lighthouses dotted all over Nova Scotia, Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is world famous and is one of the most photographed places in Canada.
Peggy’s Cove itself is naturally beautiful as it is on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, which is full of scenic coves and quaint little harbours.
Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is the best surviving example of a planned British colonial town in North America.
There are still tall ships moored around the port and the town’s harbourside streets are packed with unique shops and award-winning restaurants.
Restaurants to try Nova Scotia’s delicacies
• For lobster roll – Dave’s Lobster serves some of the tastiest Atlantic Canadian lobster rolls in the province as well as grilled cheese sandwiches. The popular eatery has restaurants in Halifax, NS and Charlottetown and Cavendish, PEI.
• For scallops and oysters – Head to downtown Halifax and eat at The Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar for the widest selection of Atlantic oysters in the city. There are a range of tasty scallop dishes such as the Press Gang Scallop Risotto to try.
• For blueberry grunt (wild blueberries and crumbly biscuit) – The Seaside Shanty in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia is one restaurant that serves this iconic dish. If you don’t get to try blueberry grunt during your holiday you should make it yourself with this useful recipe from Taste of Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island
This Maritime province is famed for its red and white striped lighthouses, rolling coastline and its sandy beaches. It is these features that make it one of the most idyllic places to visit in the whole of Canada.
The Confederation Bridge helps join Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick and the eight-mile long bridge is the longest in the world to cross ice-covered water in winter.
There was much debate as to whether there should be a fixed link between the provinces, however the proposal was given the green light following a 59.4% victory at the polls in 1988. Less than 10 years later the Confederation Bridge opened.
You should certainly try to drive over the scenic Confederation Bridge during your trip to Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island National Park
With more than 65 kilometres of shoreline including red sandstone cliffs and rolling sand dunes, the Prince Edward Island National Park offers the perfect day trip.
You may think that the stunning vistas are almost storybook and you’d be correct as the park is home to the 19th-century farmhouse that features in the novel Anne of Green Gables. There’s lots of multi-use trails for cyclists and hikers that offer some fantastic views of the coastline.
The Confederation Trail is a walking and cycling trail that was formerly Prince Edward Island’s railway.
For views of rolling hills, broad bay seascapes and the chance to visit quaint villages you should certainly walk or cycle along the Confederation Trail. The trail is fairly flat with only gentle gradients which don’t exceed 2% up or down.
Green Gables Heritage Place
If you’d like to relive Anne of Green Gables’ youthful escapades and mishaps then you must visit the Green Gables Heritage Place, Canada’s most famous literary landmark.
The farmhouse has been restored to its former glory and there are rooms full of memorabilia from the 1908 novel as well as real life experiences of author Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Restaurants to try Prince Edward Island’s delicacies
• For mussels - Blue Mussel Café is a seasonal seafood restaurant which is located in North Rustico Harbour and is famed for its delicious mussels. Beer and lime mussels or steamed blue mussels Jardinière are great options.
• For lobster – At New Glasgow Lobster Suppers you have the choice of a range of island lobster served in the shell with 1lb, 2lb, 3lb and 4lb options available.
• For oysters and shellfish – Try the Claddagh Oyster House, perfectly situated in Downtown Charlottetown. It boasts an ever-changing menu serving the freshest seafood, premium island beef and chicken. Its oysters and seafood are what the restaurant is famed for and its Oysters Rockefeller meal is a popular choice.
If you want to book your Canadian holidays and would like to learn more about Atlantic Canada call us today on 0203 424 6320.
Image Credits: Tourism PEI /Yvonne Duivenvoorden, Carrie Gregory, Stephen Harris, John Sylvester