Travel Diary: Long Weekend in Nova Scotia

For the May long weekend (that’s Victoria Day weekend in Canada), we spent it in Nova Scotia. We flew into Halifax from Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, (which is an awesome little airport, by the way. I wish we could fly out of it more often.),

Here’s what we got up to!

Day 1: Peggy’s Cove and Downtown Halifax

We landed early enough, about 10:00 AM and collected our rental car from Budget. We couldn’t check-in until 3 PM, so we drove straight to Peggy’s Cove, which is probably one of the most popular areas in Halifax for people to go. And it did not disappoint! It’s a lovely lighthouse on a rocky cove overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

There were plenty of people there considering it was about noon on a Friday, but the weather was lovely (and very windy!). We took our time, I set up my tripod and we got some nice shots together, and of course, of the lighthouse. The surrounding area was really lovely as well. It’s well worth having a stroll around.

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

Once we finished up at Peggy’s Cove, we drove to downtown Halifax. We stayed at The Barrington Hotel. My fiance was meeting up with a colleague from work for drinks, so I had time to explore the city by myself, which I’ll never complain about! I went out with my camera and strolled along the streets. It’s actually such a cute city, with lots of beautiful architecture, which I just love. I walked along the waterfront and then back up towards the Old Town clock, just as it was starting to hit golden hour, which was lovely. I accidentally timed it perfectly and got some really nice shots of the Old Town clock.

Old Town Clock

Afterwards, I met up with my fiance at a little brewery bar called Tusket Falls. We had some nice ciders and sours and nachos for dinner.

Day 2: Hirtle’s Beach and Lunenburg

The next morning we were up early to do a hike and explore Lunenburg. Robie Street Station was recommended to us for breakfast. So we headed there and it was divine! I had a berry bread butter pudding – a sweet breakfast is my jam!

Once we had our breakfast, we hit the road towards Hirtle’s Beach, which is in the Lunenburg area. The drive there is really nice! Hirtle’s beach itself is quite stoney, but we obviously weren’t planning to like spend a day on the beach. We were going to walk along it towards Gaff Point Trail.

Hirtle’s Beach

The trail gets you nice views of the coast and there’s access to a secret beach (but you could only access it by a rope and that was a big no-no to me!) I got some nice photos and videos and then we made our way back through the trail and across the beach.

Secret Beach @ Gaff Point

Once we finished that, we hopped back into the car and drove towards Lunenburg. You can find free parking on the outskirts of the town (i.e. a five minutes walk from Lunenburg waterfront), otherwise, there’s paid parking in the downtown area.

Lunenburg Waterfront

We just strolled around as I wanted to see as much as possible on foot. Lunenburg is quite small, but very hilly. It’s been used in many movies and TV shows, and recently, The Sinner season 4 was filmed there.

St. John’s Anglican Church. The exterior was used in The Sinner, season 4

It’s a very cute little town. They definitely make the most of the tourists that flock there with all of the seafood restaurants and shops around. We ended up at a place called Hard Shell for lunch. They do seafood platters, which was nice as I was determined to get seafood at least once while on the east coast!

Once we finished up in Lunenburg, we headed back to downtown Halifax. We made last-minute reservations at this really nice pizza and pasta restaurant Piatto Pizzeria. We got a pizza and pasta to share, and it was very good. Afterwards, we walked again along the waterfront and grabbed some ice cream, which was nice and just kind of took in our surroundings as it was our last night in Halifax.

Halifax Waterfront

And then we went back to the hotel for an early night as we were gonna be up 3:30 AM to drive to Cape Breton!

Day 3: Cape Breton

I was going to say that we were up bright and early, when in fact it was the middle of the night (3:30 AM). The plan was to hit the road at 4 AM to drive to Cape Breton (depending on how many stops you do, the drive is about 4-5 hours.)

We drove for about two hours and took a pitstop to get breakfast at a Tim Hortons (which was about halfway), and switch drivers. Then we drove as far as Ingonish Beach, which was our first stop on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.

You do need a Parks Canada pass when visiting Cape Breton. This was something I didn’t think to check when doing my research for the trip. Fortunately, there are a couple of locations where you can buy a pass upon entry. A day pass is $10.50 per person.

Our first stop was Ingonish Beach, which is stoney and very similar to Hirtle’s Beach. Then we headed back in the car, and drove a couple of minutes up the road to the beginning of Middle Head Trail, near the Keltic Lodge. If you follow the road up to Keltic Lodge and past it, it’ll bring you to the car park for the trail.

Middle Head Trail

It’s an easy trail that can be done in runners/trainers (we didn’t actually pack any walking boots for this trip). The trail is pretty and flat for the most part, and not too stoney or steep. The trail brings you out to an open area that overlooks the Atlantic ocean, it’s really nice (and windy!).

Views from Middle Head Trail

We had about three or four stops that we were determined to do on the Cabot Trail, but there are so many beautiful lookouts that we definitely ended up stopping a lot more than we’d planned, so give yourself lots of time!

Green Cove, on the Cabot Trail

Our top priority stop was The Skyline Trail, which happened to be the last on the list of places we wanted to see because it was on the other side of the island. Basically, when you’re doing the Cabot Trail, it’s recommended to drive it counter-clockwise, so the passenger can take photos (and because it’s apparently less touristy).

Cheticamp, on the Cabot Trail

The walk out to the Skyline Trail lookout takes about 45 minutes to an hour each way (depending on how fast you walk). The trail is mostly flat and the lookout has lots of steps. You are rewarded with views of the mountains and you can see so far into the horizon – it’s amazing. And also a little bit scary! If you’re like me and you’re afraid of heights!

Skyline Trail

We then made our way back to the car and hit the road again towards Sydney, where we were staying for the night. After a nearly 3 hour drive to the Holiday Inn in Sydney, we checked in, freshened up and went out for dinner at the nearest place that was still open at 8 PM on a Sunday. Which of course, was an Irish pub. It was fine. It was a hot meal and that’s all that mattered to us.

By the time we had our dinner, we were just exhausted after such a long day, so we hit the hay.

Day 4: Wrapping Up on Nova Scotia

The next morning we had breakfast at our hotel, for convenience. We had a big drive ahead of us back to Halifax airport, so we left Sydney at about 10:00 AM. The drive back took 4 to 5 hours again, and we switched drivers halfway and had our lunch on the go.

So that was my first time in Nova Scotia! It’s a beautiful province. 10 out of 10 would recommend and I would 100% go there again. f I was going to do Cape Breton again, I would spend more time exploring the Cabot Trail and maybe stay there for two nights as it did feel like we rushed it a little bit, as we did most sites in one day. But with that in mind, I’m happy with the stops that we did. I’m happy with the sites that we saw and we got awesome weather for the most part.

Check out my mini recap video below and let me know if you have any questions about Halifax or Nova Scotia and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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