If you’re planning a trip to Nova Scotia, staying in downtown Halifax is a great choice. Not only are there plenty of fun things to do in the city itself, there are also a ton of great day trips from Halifax to the surrounding area.
All of these day trip destinations are within a two hour drive from Halifax. If you’re flying into Halifax International Airport, you’ll need to either rent a car or book a tour operator, as they are not accessible via public transit. I’d recommend renting a car. Exploring Nova Scotia at your own pace is the best way to experience all that this beautiful province has to offer.
So let’s hit the road and discover the best day trips from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Peggy’s Cove (45 minutes)
No list of day trips from Halifax would be complete without including Peggy’s Cove. This popular tourist attraction is just a 45-minute drive from the city. You’ll have to fight crowds for a shot of Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, but trust me, the views are worth it.
You could easily spend the whole day here. Hike the rocky trails along the windswept shore, explore the quaint fishing village, and shop for local souvenirs. Or consider combining it with nearby day trip destinations along the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia, like Lunenburg, Kejimkujic National Park, or Shelburne.
Lunenburg (1 hour)
This colorful, coastal town just an hour outside of Halifax is packed with maritime history. It’s one of five UNESCO sites in Nova Scotia and home of the Bluenose II, the fastest fishing schooner in the world. Don’t miss the chance to tour a replica and the nearby Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic to learn all about Nova Scotia’s rich shipbuilding history. Afterwards, stroll the distinctive waterfront and have lunch at the Savvy Sailor on their outdoor deck overlooking the harbor.
Wolfville (1 hour)
Wolfville is the gateway to Annapolis Valley, which is becoming increasingly known worldwide as the wine region of Nova Scotia. Its unique wine varietal, Tidal Bay, is a crisp and refreshing white wine named after the tides of the nearby Bay of Fundy. Just an hour from Halifax, this region is a must-visit for anyone who loves good food and wine. For lunch, stop by Luckett Vineyards and snap a photo with its iconic red phone booth. Don’t miss my favorite, Lightfoot & Wolfville, where you can enjoy a delicious glass of rosé while touring the beautiful vineyard.
Also be sure to visit the nearby Grand Pre Historical Site. Another UNESCO site, it commemorates the Acadians, the area’s first European settlers who were tragically deported by the British in the 18th century. The beautiful white steeple of the monument standing out amidst a sweeping valley is both a beautiful and somber site to see.
Cape Split (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Cape Split is one of my favorite day hikes in Nova Scotia. Relatively flat and heavily-wooded, there’s not too much to see along the four mile trail (eight miles round trip). But it suddenly emerges onto dramatic, wind-swept cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy. It’s an extreme vantage point to watch the world’s highest tides swirling below.
It’s not a long or terribly difficult hike, and takes about 4-6 hours to complete round trip. Do it in the morning, then treat yourself to lunch and a wine tour in Wolfville on your drive back to Halifax.
Kejimkujik National Park (2 hours)
Two hours away from Halifax, Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site is a magical place to get away from it all and reconnect with nature. It’s named for the Mi’kmaq word believed to mean “land where fairies abound.” The best way to explore the lush landscape is by paddling the intricate waterways that were the routes of the Mi’kmaw people for thousands of years. You can rent canoes or book a tour at Why Not Adventure.
Shelburne (2 hours, 15 minutes)
This little fishing village is just over two hours from Halifax, but I promise it’s worth the drive. Arrive just before lunchtime and put your name on the waiting list at the award-winning Charlotte Lane Cafe. While you wait, wander the quaint cobblestone streets, which retain much of the charm of its historic heyday as an important port town. If you want to dive deeper, stop by the Ross-Thomson House & Store Museum. At this living museum, you can step back in time to the 18th-century and even don authentic period clothing!
Annapolis Royal (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Two hours from Halifax, the richly historic port town of Annapolis Royal is also an up-and-coming cultural center. On Saturdays, the vibrant community comes together at the Farmer’s Market, where you can browse the wares of local artists and craftspeople. The Fort Anne National Historic Site offers a well-preserved look at what life was like for French and British officers in the early 18th century. The charm of this small seaside town deeply steeped in history and tradition will make you reluctant to leave.
Read more about my visits to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, Kejimkujic National Park, and Annapolis Royal in 10 Day Summer Road Trip in Nova Scotia and PEI.
Read more about my visits to Wolfville, Cape Split, and Shelburne in One Week Fall Road Trip in Nova Scotia.