Atlantic Canada holiday highlights

One of the four original provinces, Nova Scotia is located on a large peninsula in far-eastern Canada. Almost entirely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, it should come as no surprise that the region has a rich maritime history. This is particularly apparent in Halifax where you can visit the Citadel, which has incredible views over the harbour, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. One of the region’s most iconic spots is Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse.

The breathtaking Cape Breton Island, which sits at the eastern end of the province of Nova Scotia, has a distinctly Scottish ambiance. Gaelic is still spoken here and fiddle music is a popular form of entertainment. It’s the natural landscapes that draw people here from around the world, with one of North America’s most underrated but spectacular drives – the 186-mile Cabot Trail – looping around the northern half of the island. Take your time driving along the spectacular coastline, stopping at beaches waterfalls and lush valleys.

Over the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia's north coast is New Brunswick, the least visited Maritime province. Here, it's all about the Acadian culture, the empty beaches and the whale-watching opportunities just off the shore: the bay is one of the best places to see a variety of whale species including Atlantic right, humpback and finback.

The Bay of Fundy's narrow shape creates a unique phenomenon: approximately 160 billion tonnes of seawater flows in to and out of the bay twice a day. The most popular place to see this act of nature is at both high and low tide at Hopewell Rocks, beautiful formations which have been shaped by tidal erosion. The region is also a great place for fossil hunting as the strong force of water continually wears away the rocks and reveals layers of natural history.

Prince Edward Island and you’re on terrain that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Canada’s smallest province, also known as the ‘garden province’ is probably its most charming. Consisting of one main island and 231 small islands surrounded by the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the island has a strong farming community. Highlights include the soft-sand beaches and sand dunes, quaint harbour towns and pretty lighthouses.

If you really want to step off the beaten track and experience a unique culture with an independent spirit, travel north east to Newfoundland. Start in St John's, the provinicial capital, where colourful houses line streets that splill down to the waterfront and buildings cling to cliffsides. Then head out to the coast line where icebergs drift past the shore in the summer, and travel over to the island's west coast, home to the canyons and georgous coastal landscapes.

National parks
Entrance fees for Canada’s national parks (operated by Parks Canada) are approximately CA$10 per adult per day and not are included in the price of your holiday. In many parks, admission for children 17 years and under is free. If you’re planning on visiting a national park on seven or more days, it may be worth purchasing a Discovery Pass which allows unlimited admission at over 80 Parks Canada places. For more information, see the Parks Canada website or information centres when in destination.

Atlantic Canada key facts

Time difference

GMT -3 hours

Capital

Provincial capital of Nova Scotia: HalifaxProvincial capital of Prince Edward Island: Charlottetown

Currency

Canadian Dollar (CAD)

Flying time to destination

Halifax, Nova Scotia: 7 hours
St John's, Newfoundland: 5½ hours (seasonal direct flight)

Language

The official languages of Canada are English and French

Passport & visas

An Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) is now required for British citizens travelling to Canada, please speak to a Personal Travel Expert for details

Atlantic Canada good to know

Tipping

Many Canadians in the service industry rely on tips to supplement their income. Tips or tax are not usually automatically added to a bill in Canada, but you should always check. Taxi drivers, hairdressers and waiters are generally given at least 15%. Bellhops, porters and doormen are generally paid Can$1 per item of luggage. It may be advisable to carry small change for this purpose. These figures are for guidance only and assume that service has been good.