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Halifax Day Trip: Scenic South Shore Drive to Lunenburg

Nova Scotia's South Shore Drive from Halifax is one of Canada's most scenic drives. It includes lighthouses, colourful towns, fishing villages, oceanfront views, and all the lobster you can eat.

Nova Scotia is a province on the east coast of Canada divided into two main parts: the northern island of Cape Breton and the mainland, joined to North America by a thin isthmus connected to New Brunswick. It is the second smallest province, yet it is also the second most densely populated. Approximately one million people call this province home, with about half of those residents living in the capital city of Halifax.

3 wooden stilt residences built over a cove
Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

A day trip along this section of the South Shore Drive visits some of the most iconic and picturesque sites, including Peggys Cove, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, Blue Rocks and Chester. The entire return route is approximately 200km from downtown Halifax, allowing plenty of time to stop at viewpoints and wander around each stop. Plan your day to arrive at Peggys Cove in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.



 


 

A Bit of Background


What is now Nova Scotia was once part of Mi'kmaq territory. When French settlers (later known as Acadians) arrived in 1605, they formed bonds and alliances with the Mi'kmaq, lasting more than 150 years. In Europe, however, competing colonial nations were squabbling, and warfare was common. Eventually, France relinquished its claim to the territory, leading to large waves of new settlers from Scotland. This combination of cultures is apparent across Nova Scotia.


A wooden statue of a fissherman in yellow overalls and hat
Mahone Bay

Fishing has always been a vital part of the economy. The Mi'kmaq traded fish with other Indigenous communities. Early settlers were drawn to the area by the rich fishing grounds. The coastline is dotted with tiny coves and harbours where small settlements were founded. Homes were painted bright colours to improve visibility in the frequent foggy conditions. Lighthouses were built to guide and protect mariners and fishers. Thriving communities built schools, churches, and shops as the fishing industry grew. The collapse of the fishing industry in the 1970s devastated communities that depended upon fishing. Many of those settlements are now only memories, but others have survived by embracing other economic opportunities, including tourism.

The South Shore Drive from Halifax

The first leg of the trip from downtown Halifax to Peggys Cove follows Route 333 (The Lighthouse Rte), which turns into Peggys Point Road and arrives at Cove within about 45-50 minutes. After Peggys Cove, return to the main highway and follow the route signs. The scenic drive encourages visitors to stop and enjoy views along the way.

A blue and white fishing boat moored in the water on a foggy day
A scenic stop for photos on the way to Peggys Cove

Peggys Cove (44km, 45 min)

Peggys Cove is a charming fishing village and home to one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. The village has gift shops, art galleries, a restaurant, and a working waterfront. Visitors will want to check out the boats, nets, and traps around Covecove. Take time to walk out onto the rocks for a close-up of the lighthouse. For more details, check out my post on Peggys Cove here.

A 4 sided white concrete lighthouse with red lighthouse on top. Tourists are taaking photos
Peggys Cove Lighthouse

Mahone Bay (88km, 65 min)

Mahone Bay, (MAW-own) has recently been selected as one of Canada's top ten most beautiful towns by culturetrip.com. It is known as a must-stop along this coast. The town is an ideal place to enjoy a stroll along the streets or maybe rent a kayak to paddle around the sheltered bay. For visitors who want to linger, Mahone Bay boasts many bed and breakfasts, many situated on the main street in grand, historic homes.


2 steepled churches on the banks of a rocky shore. On the left can be seen thge full church painted yellow with red roof and steeple. On thye right only the white steeple of a church can be seen above the trees
Mahone Bay waterfront walk

Visitors will enjoy a shoreline pathway that leads past Mahone Bay's three steepled churches while checking out the cafes and restaurants. In addition, it is always fun to browse in the many quirky shops selling home decor, jewelry, handmade quilts and crafts by local artisans.



BernArt Maze

Slightly off the route in nearby Blockhouse is the fun BernArt Maze. A local artist couple designed and led a whole lot of community members to create this vibrant and unique art installation. As the name suggests, it is a maze constructed from art. It is an experience that really needs to be seen and truly appreciated. Get lost for an hour or so. It is open during the summer season (weather permitting) from 10:00 to 16:00 every day except Monday. Admission is $12.

a wall painted with black and white checks, numberous fantasy sculptures in front.
BernArt Maze

Lunenburg (12 km, 13 min)

Lunenburg is a colourful fishing town built on a hillside designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lunenburg is the place to catch a whale-watching tour. The town has a rich history of rum running and shipbuilding, showcased in exhibits, plaques, and business names.

A horse-drawn carriage with passengers touring Lunenburg

It is home to the famous racing schooner, The Bluenose, featured on the Canadian dime. Although the original ship sank off the coast of Haiti in 1946, visitors can still admire the Bluenose II replica, often docked in Lunenburg's picturesque harbour.


The bow of the BlueNose 2 in Lunenburg Harbour

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is another fascinating attraction in Lunenburg. Visitors can explore retired fishing schooners, see the aquarium, learn how to shuck a scallop, and even take a selfie with the skull of a fin whale. The narrow streets of Montague, Pelham, and Lincoln are lined with shops and restaurants. Look for the funky metal fishing-inspired street art and heritage plaques throughout the town.



Lunenburg is an excellent place to plan a lunch break. There is a wide choice of restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and other eateries.


Blue Rocks (7km, 8 min)

Blue Rocks is a brief stop for photos and is well worth the slight detour. It is a pretty cove with a tiny community of artists and fishers. There are no tourist services. On my last visit, a resident assured me that the fish shack in the middle of the harbour was the most photographed building in the country. I'm not sure I believe that, but it is worthy of such a title.



Chester (47 km, 36 min)

To break up the journey back to downtown Halifax, consider a stop in Chester. Once a summer getaway for the wealthy and well-connected, this charming town is known for its outdoor activities, particularly sailing. A major annual event is Chester Race Week, held in the middle of August. Race Week features concerts, garden parties, and many sailing-related workshops and activities.



Final Thoughts

Visitors to Nova Scotia will be delighted with a day trip along the South Shore from Halifax. The charming coves, towns, and lighthouses are full of beauty. Start your day early to avoid crowds in Peggys Cove and take your time to explore along the way. If you are enjoying the content and would like to be kept up to date with new posts become a member/subscribe (it's free!) and follow along on the RamblynJazz Facebook page, Facebook Group, Twitter, and Instagram. You can help the blog to grow by sharing the link with a travelling friend or through social media. I truly appreciate your comments and encourage you to share your thoughts below.



12 comentários


Convidado:
10 de mai.

What a great day trip! That art maze looks really cool! I also didn't know much about nova Scotia so thanks for a great introduction to the area. Your pictures really bring it to life.

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Convidado:
08 de mai.

What a lovely region and so well illustrated by your photos! The attractive landscapes, the colorful houses and the whole historical context are a must for visitors who want to spend a few days there enjoying the vibe of the place.

The BernArt Maze particularly caught my eye as it adds a disruptive touch to the surroundings. Angela | Blonde Around The World Travel -

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This post was so helpful as we plan our forthcoming trip to Nova Scotia. We have decided to spend a night in Lunenburg, driving in from Halifax, so it was fantastic to read about all the attractions along the way. We already had Peggys Cove on our radar, but Mahone Bay looks delightful and the BernArt Maze looks like a lot of fun too. And we've very glad to be able to explore Lunenburg at leisure as well. And eat as much lobster as we possibly can!

Mitch from verytastyworld.com

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
24 de abr.
Respondendo a

Yay! I think your plans sound perfect. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I hope Nova Scotia steals your hearts.

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Emma Gilbert
Emma Gilbert
14 de abr.

Lighthouses, colorful towns, villages and views - I'm in. You lost me at lobster, but I'll make it work. Peggy's Cove I've heard of. Lunenburg and Mahone Bay not so much. All sound fantastic places to explore and I love your pictures. That does seem like a lot of driving for one day for me, so I think I'd probably plan to spend the night along the way

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
14 de abr.
Respondendo a

It would be ideal to drive the route ( and do a complete Lighthouse Loop around the entire coast) for those with more time. I love the vibe in Mahone Bay and think it would make a great place to stay a night or two.

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I never got as far north in Canada to visit this area in my Canadian trip. It was always on the wish list but rationalisation due to time constraints means it eventually got dropped.

I now see what I missed!

Interesting to hear the Nova Scotia is the second most densely populated province - one would never guess that looking at the beautiful village and town scenes.

The area looks a dream to visit on a warm Summers day , with a cooling sea breeze .... one day I may get back to Canada and have the opportunity to use your post as my guidebook for the week.

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
14 de abr.
Respondendo a

As I have learned, it is impossible to know Canada without exploring each region. The differences between each is remarkable. Even after visiting all the provinces, I still have much to discover.

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