Two weeks is an excellent length of time for visiting each of the four provinces and not feeling too rushed along the way. You could just spend the entire two weeks in the three Maritimes provinces, or only explore the far reaches of Newfoundland and Labrador, but this itinerary has it all.

Day 1

After arriving in Halifax, settle in at a historic downtown B&B such as The Halliburton. Spend the afternoon taking in sights such as Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and make dinner reservations at a waterfront restaurant.

Colorful homes in Mahone Bay.

Charming Mahone Bay. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Day 2

Drive south through Peggy’s Cove (take the obligatory lighthouse photo) and Mahone Bay (browse the arts and crafts shops, eat lunch at Kedy’s Inlet Café) to Lunenburg. There’s plenty to see en route, but arrive in time for an afternoon walk through the UNESCO-protected core of downtown, which is filled with colorful buildings. For the views alone, the Spinnaker Inn is my favorite Lunenburg lodging.

Day 3

Drive across to Annapolis Royal to explore the historic town and visit Fort Anne. Stop in Digby for a meal of plump Digby scallops and board the afternoon ferry for New Brunswick and an overnight at one of the lodgings within walking distance of Fundy National Park.

The Hopewell flowerpot rock formations at low tide.

The famous Hopewell flowerpot rock formations at low tide. Photo © Vadim Petrov/123rf.

Day 4

Mornings are a delight in Fundy National Park, so plan on a coastal hike and then drive through to Fredericton. Here, the Historic Garrison District packs in the past (and art lovers will want to schedule a stop at Beaverbrook Art Gallery), but the highlight of this day will be watching Loyalist history come to life at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. There’s no advantage to staying right downtown, so reserve a room at On the Pond.

Day 5

Drive up the Saint John River, making a crossing at the Hartland Covered Bridge, then soak up the wilderness of Mount Carleton Provincial Park en route to Miramichi. You’ll learn about Acadians and their struggles at Village Historique Acadien.

Confederation Bridge

Travelers can visit Prince Edward Island by crossing Confederation Bridge. Photo © Vadim Petrov/123rf.

Day 6

Drive to Prince Edward Island via the Confederation Bridge. Check in early to Charlottetown’s Shipwright Inn and spend the afternoon on a rural jaunt through Cavendish, passing through Prince Edward Island National Park and stopping at Green Gables Heritage Place.

Day 7

Rise early to catch the ferry from Wood Islands to Caribou. Learn about the arrival of the early Scottish settlers at Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou, then drive through to Baddeck, on Cape Breton Island. Squeeze in a visit to Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Most rooms at Baddeck’s Water’s Edge Inn have balconies with views of the sun setting over the lake.

A car traverses the windy coastal Cabot Trail highway in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Driving the scenic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Day 8

Spend the day driving the famously scenic Cabot Trail, choosing between hiking coastal trails, relaxing on the beach, and a whale-watching trip. Catch the evening ferry to Argentia (reserve a cabin for extra comfort).

Day 9

You’ll wake to your first views of Newfoundland as the ferry pulls into Argentia. There’s plenty to see on the way to the capital, including the archaeological dig at the Colony of Avalon. Once in St. John’s, head to The Rooms to learn about local history and Signal Hill National Historic Site for the views. Make reservations at Mallard Cottage for dinner. Still feeling energetic? The lively downtown bars of George Street come alive after dark.

An unusual rocky landscape strewn with boulders with sharp hills rising in the distance.

The moonlike Tablelands of Gros Morne National Park. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Day 10

Head west, stopping at Trinity, a tiny fishing village where little has changed in over a century, en route to Gros Morne National Park, where during the long days of summer you have time for a walk through the Tablelands and can still be at Lobster Cove Head in time to watch the sunset. Gros Morne Cabins are a centrally located base in Rocky Harbour.

Day 11

Join a morning boat tour of Western Brook Pond and drive north along the Northern Peninsula. Make sure to stop at Port au Choix National Historic Site and the thrombolites of Flowers Cove en route to Southwest Pond Cabins in L’Anse aux Meadows. Dinner at the Norseman Restaurant is a must.

Grassy mound structure at L'Anse aux Meadows viking historic site.

L’Anse aux Meadows Nationa Historic Site protects the place where Vikings first landed on the North American continent. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Day 12

Visit L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, then drive to St. Barbe and put your feet up for a couple of hours on the ferry crossing to Labrador. Head north along the Labrador Straits to Mary’s Harbour. Park your vehicle and pack an overnight bag for the short boat trip to Battle Harbour, an “outport” (remote fishing village) that was abandoned in the 1960s, but where restoration efforts include a restaurant and an inn.

Day 13

Return to the mainland and spend the day exploring this remote stretch of coast. Red Bay National Historic Site should definitely be on your itinerary, as should the lighthouse at L’Anse Amour. Catch the ferry back to St. Barbe and continue south to Port-aux-Basques in time for the evening ferry back to Nova Scotia.

Day 14

Arriving in North Sydney around dawn, you have plenty of time to make an afternoon flight home from Halifax. If you’re not flying out until the following morning, take Marine Drive along the Eastern Shore and spend the night along this remote stretch of coast, where Sherbrooke Village is a historical highlight and where the beaches of Taylor Head Provincial Park are perfect for a walk.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.