Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia’s Charms on this Scenic Itinerary
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Ride Along the Lighthouse Route
Nova Scotia's rugged coastline is dotted with iconic lighthouses, making the Lighthouse Route a must for any cycling adventure along the province's shores. This scenic ride stretches along the South Shore, taking you past historic lighthouses and breathtaking ocean vistas.
One of the highlights is Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. Perched on massive granite rocks jutting out of the sea, this red-and-white striped lighthouse is quintessential Nova Scotia. Be sure to stop and wander the granite boulders, snap some photos of the lighthouse, and grab a lobster roll from the food truck nearby.
Further west, cycle to the Wooden Island Lighthouse, erected in 1876 on a small island only accessible at low tide. Walk across the ocean floor when the tide is out to explore the island up close. Then continue riding through the fishing village of Shelburne with its colorful waterfront cottages.
For stunning coastal views, ride out to Cape Sable Island, the southernmost point of Nova Scotia. Cross the winding causeway to the island, home to the Cape Sable Lighthouse, standing tall on a windswept point since 1861. From here you can see the turbulent waters where the Gulf of Maine meets the Atlantic.
On Brier Island, visit the West Lighthouse for a front-row seat to massive waves crashing against the rocks. Built in 1861, this lighthouse marks the western entrance to the Bay of Fundy. Nearby, find a quiet cove to stop for a picnic lunch with ocean views all around.
What else is in this post?
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Ride Along the Lighthouse Route
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Pedal Through Historic Lunenburg
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Experience the Annapolis Valley's Charm
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Cycle Cape Breton's Cabot Trail
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Discover Halifax's Waterfront Trail
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Enjoy Seafood Picnics Along the Way
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Camp Under Nova Scotia's Starry Skies
- Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Make Friends with Locals at Community Markets
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Pedal Through Historic Lunenburg
Pedaling through the streets of Lunenburg is like taking a journey back in time. This historic port town exudes old-world charm, with its colorful wooden structures that date back centuries. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg offers a one-of-a-kind glimpse into 18th century Nova Scotia, when it was one of the most important fishing towns in British North America.
Ride along the waterfront first to take in the view of Lunenburg's iconic crescent-shaped harbor. This is the perfect place to start snapping photos of the town's meticulously preserved architecture. Look out for structures like the historic Knaut-Rhuland House with its transfomed windows, the largest of its kind in Canada.
Next, meander through the narrow lanes and cobblestoned streets of Old Town. Bursting with antique shops, cafes, and art galleries, this pedestrian-friendly area invites you to slow down and savor its timeless atmosphere. Stop into the Ironworks Distillery to taste the rum infused with flavors like maple and blueberry.
Be sure to visit St. John’s Anglican Church, a stately gray building with a gleaming white steeple. Dating back to 1754, it is considered one of the best surviving examples of an English colonial church in North America. Carefully preserved interior details like hand-carved gallery posts reflect masterful Maritime craftsmanship.
For a bird's-eye perspective over this postcard-perfect town, take a ride up the hill to Park Cemetery. This burial ground is the resting place for many of Lunenburg's founders and notable citizens. Peer through the entrance gates to glimpse fascinating centuries-old gravestones.
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Experience the Annapolis Valley's Charm
Tucked between the cobalt waters of the Bay of Fundy and the pine-clad slopes of the North Mountain, Nova Scotia's fertile Annapolis Valley charms cyclists with its abundance of orchards, vineyards, and cozy small towns. As you ride through lush green fields and rolling hills blanketed in apple blossoms each spring, it's easy to see why this region has been dubbed Canada's "Fruit Basket."
Beyond its bounty of produce, the Annapolis Valley impresses visitors with its historic treasures. In the town of Annapolis Royal, you'll feel like you've pedaled back through the centuries while wandering among well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century buildings. Learn about the area's Acadian, Mi'kmaq, and British history at landmarks like the 1632 Habitation site and the 18th-century Fort Anne. The Tidal Power Plant immerses you in the valley's age-old connection to Fundy's dramatic tides.
Further inland, cycle through acres of vineyards that produce some of Nova Scotia's finest cool-climate wines. Family-run wineries like Lightfoot & Wolfville, L'Acadie Vineyards, and Benjamin Bridge offer behind-the-scenes tours and tastings, allowing you to savor estate-grown vintages like crisp Tidal Bay whites and fruit-forward reds. Many wineries have on-site restaurants that showcase local flavors in farm-to-table dishes.
Beyond the wineries, keep pedaling to reach cozy villages like Canning, where brightly painted buildings house cafes, bookstores, and pottery studios. Stop at the Look Off attraction for panoramic Annapolis Valley views. In Wolfville, check out tidy brick homes and peruse shops and eateries along Main Street. Sign up for a stargazing canoe tour to experience the valley's brilliant night skies.
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Cycle Cape Breton's Cabot Trail
For a thrilling bike adventure, cycle the famous Cabot Trail loop around stunning Cape Breton Island. This 300 kilometer route offers dramatic coastal scenery, sky-high mountain vistas, and charming seaside villages around every bend.
Cycling the Cabot Trail is an epic way to experience Cape Breton's magnificent beauty. As you pedal, breathe in the fresh sea air blowing off the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island. The hypnotic sound of waves crashing against rocky shores will accompany you for much of your journey.
One highlight is riding through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, home to moose, eagles, black bears and other wildlife. Stop to snap photos of famous attractions like the Skyline Trail lookoff with its panoramic views of the Cabot Trail weaving along a mountain plateau. Gasp in awe at the gravity-defying rock formations balancing on the steep green slopes of Franey Mountain.
Further north, gears grind uphill past verdant farms to reach majestic plateaus overlooking the island's ragged northern tip. After the tough climbs, it's exhilarating to zip back down, wind in your hair, towards picturesque fishing villages like Neil's Harbour. Fuel up on hearty chowder or fishcakes at the chowder house near the docked boats.
Nearby, visit the Cape Breton Miners' Museum to learn how early immigrants toiled in harsh conditions beneath the sea. After paying homage to the region's past, head into the present-day delights of Baddeck. Stretch your legs along the boardwalk in this yacht-filled town. Enjoy afternoon tea or sample craft beer before pedaling on.
The eastern side of the loop treats you to more stunning seascapes as you ride through isolated fishing communities. Watch for pods of whales along the coastline fringing Cape Breton Highlands National Park. As the road dips and curves along sheer cliffs, keep your eyes on the scenery, not the the steep drop to the sea!
Finally, pull into the Fortress of Louisbourg to step back into the 18th century. Costumed guides bring history to life inside this painstaking reconstruction of a French colonial fort. Just don't get locked in the stockade!
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Discover Halifax's Waterfront Trail
Pedaling along Halifax's scenic Waterfront Trail treats you to stunning seaside views in Nova Scotia's energetic capital city. This paved multi-use trail stretches almost 5 kilometers along Halifax Harbour's southern shoreline. With peeks of historic ships, twinkling harbor lights, and sweeping Atlantic vistas, this ride packs a lot of sights into a relatively short distance.
Start your out-and-back ride at the Halifax Ferry Terminal to soak in views of the striking Angus L. Macdonald Bridge spanning the harbor. Look back toward the Halifax Peninsula's cluster of skyscrapers standing tall amid green parks and historic buildings.
As you cruise west, appreciate how this trail connects you to the living harbor – watch tankers and containers ships come and go along the piers. At Deck 6 at Bishop’s Landing, take a break to watch the boats out on the water while dining al fresco. Try a local craft beer or seafood chowder to fuel up for the rest of the journey.
Further along, you’ll bike directly below the massive Halifax Citadel National Historic Site perched atop the hillside. When you need a walking break, lock up your bike and stroll the grounds of this star-shaped fort completed in 1856. Don a pair of headphones to experience the free app-guided tours highlighting Halifax’s British military history.
Back on your bike, keep your eyes peeled for shimmering glimpses of seals and porpoises playing in the harbor waters just offshore. The trail then swings closer to the waterfront, with only a grassy strip separating you from waves lapping gently against the rocks. Inhale the refreshing salty air as you pedal.
As you approach the halfway mark at Historic Properties, browse through the 18th and 19th century stone warehouses converted into shops and restaurants. Pop into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to see relics from Halifax’s famous Titanic connection, including deck chairs recovered from the wreck site.
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Enjoy Seafood Picnics Along the Way
Pedaling burns calories, so one of the joys of cycling through Nova Scotia is the opportunity to refuel with delicious local seafood. All along the coastal routes and inland through fertile valleys, keep an eye out for fresh seafood shacks, food trucks, and fish markets where you can pick up cooked lobster rolls, just-shucked oysters, or haddock tacos to enjoy during impromptu picnics in breathtaking settings.
On the Lighthouse Route outside of Peggy's Cove, for instance, grab a lobster roll from the Bite into Maine food truck parked near the iconic lighthouse. Find a flat rock along the sea cliffs nearby to perch upon while you savor chunky pieces of lobster seasoned with just a bit of mayo and celery. The sound of waves crashing against the rocks paired with the salty Atlantic breeze will make this seaside snack even more unforgettable.
Further along in Lunenburg, pull up a patch of grass along the peaceful waterfront near the colorful stacked homes. Crack open a few Malpeque oysters from a fish market downtown and slurp them down between dips in the chilly seawater nearby. The briny oysters taste even better when you've worked up an appetite riding Lunenburg's hilly streets.
In the Annapolis Valley, many roadside farm stands sell ready-to-go picnic items like fresh cherry tomatoes, crusty bread, local cheeses and cured meats. Grab a pre-packaged meal before heading into a vineyard with rows of grapevines stretching towards the blue Bay of Fundy in the distance. Enjoy wine pairings in situ by purchasing a bottle from the estate to complement the smoky charcuterie, creamy brie, and juicy tomatoes.
While looping around Cape Breton Island, stop into Neil’s Harbour Chowder House to order smoked salmon chowder, fishcakes, and freshly baked molasses bread. Then walk a few steps to the wooden picnic tables perched right on the edge of the harbor. Watch the fishing boats unload their catches as you dine on hearty seafood fare with the same ocean views the fishermen enjoy daily.
In Baddeck, pick up buttery oatcakes, a Cape Breton specialty, from High Wheels Market. Munch on these griddle cakes during an outdoor lunch break along the boardwalk edging the yacht-speckled town. The rich, savory cakes make a satisfying snack before hopping back in the saddle.
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Camp Under Nova Scotia's Starry Skies
After long days spent cycling Nova Scotia's stunning coastal roads and country lanes, relax your tired legs while gazing upward at some of the world's most brilliant night skies. The sparsely populated Atlantic province offers prime stargazing thanks to minimal light pollution from cities and towns. So be sure to schedule overnight camping stops to fully experience Nova Scotia's celestial wonders after dark.
Pitch your tent or park your campervan in parks like Kejimkujik National Park, whose lack of artificial light helped it become Canada's second Dark Sky Preserve. The opportunities for night sky viewing here are spectacular, with views of around 2,500 visible stars on cloudless nights. Amateur astronomers can spot celestial showstoppers like the wispy Milky Way galaxy streaking overhead, along with bright nebulas and star clusters.
Enjoy the nightly "astronomy program" put on by Kejimkujik's natural planetarium. A park interpreter brings telescopes, binoculars, and star charts to help identify finds like Saturn's rings or Jupiter's moons. Bundle up and lie on the dock of Kejimkujik's pristine lake, staring into infinite blackness dotted with shimmering constellations reflected in the glassy water.
Further east in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, campers rave about the "unbelievable stargazing." Pitch your tent at Broad Cove Campground near the base of the Skyline Trail for front-row seats to the show. Far from city lights, this is one of the best spots in Nova Scotia to see the Milky Way blaze across the night sky in a thick, hazy streak.
On clear nights, shooting stars regularly dart overhead, as Cape Breton receives less rainfall to obscure observing conditions. Bring along moon or star apps to help identify sights like the Big Dipper swinging around the North Star. Rise early to catch a stunning sunrise after a night of celestial wonders at the top of Franey Mountain.
Throughout coastal Nova Scotia, you'll also find quiet RV parks and campgrounds ideal for stargazing, many situated along the water's edge. At Graves Island Provincial Park near Mahone Bay, you may glimpse the occasional shooting star reflecting over calm water. Meanwhile, set up a night-sky photography session on the rocky point of Caribou-Munroes Island Provincial Park, with 360-degree Atlantic Ocean views.
Cycle Through Coastal Nova Scotia's Charms on this Scenic Itinerary - Make Friends with Locals at Community Markets
Beyond the seaside cycling and stunning landscapes, one of the best parts of exploring Nova Scotia is connecting with the friendly locals. And there’s no better place to meet residents and dive into the regional culture than at one of Nova Scotia’s many community farmer’s markets and flea markets.
Wandering through the bustling stalls at these markets, you’ll rub elbows with local artists and food producers while filling your picnic basket with delicious homemade treats. And you’re likely to walk away with new friends, insider travel tips, and a real feel for what daily life is like in this Canadian coastal paradise.
For instance, stop by the historic Historic Farmers' Market in downtown Halifax, housed in a brightly painted Victorian-era building brimming with over 250 vendors. Strike up a conversation with the fisherman selling the day's catch as you stock up on just-caught mackerel or salmon to grill up at the campsite later. Ask the busy mother selling homemade jams and jellies for tips on the best family-friendly cycling trails that allow kids to roam free.
Or make your way over to the eye-catching craft stalls to chat with local artisans about their creative processes and inspirations while perusing their unique jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and leather goods. You’ll walk away not just with handmade souvenirs but also personal insight into Maritime culture and creativity.
On Saturday mornings from May through October, the trendy Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market draws huge crowds browsing regional meat and produce, artisanal products, and prepared food from all over Nova Scotia. Strike up a conversation about parenting while sipping Annapolis Valley wines with other moms and dads in the bustling kids’ play zone. Discuss rugby over a pint with some local lads at the market’s popular bar scene.
Out in Lunenburg, don’t miss the colorful outdoor Lunenburg Farmers' Market, located in the historic UNESCO town. Ask to sample slices from heritage apple varieties grown at a family orchard before selecting fruits for a farm-fresh snack. Query the friendly chicken farmer about the best cycling trails through picturesque Mahone Bay as she packs up a dozen farm-fresh eggs for you.