Canada’s most spectacular coastline and every seaside activity you can imagine – these are the big reasons for visiting the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island – and the reasons we recommend them so highly to our customers looking for a holiday on the coast that’s about more than lounging on a beach. Think warm water swimming, long walks on uncrowded beaches, and nature viewing on a grand scale.
Atlantic Canada is also famous around the globe for its fresh and abundant seafood, especially lobster, scallops, mussels, oysters, and cod. For us, this is one of the world’s great foodie paradises – one of seaside restaurants, farmers’ markets, and a packed schedule of culinary and cultural festivals.
Another big attraction is that Atlantic Canada is closer to Europe than any other part of North America, while still feeling a world apart – arriving from London in as little as six hours, you’ll be awestruck by the landscapes and the wildlife that inhabits them, including rare whales, porpoises, seals, moose, deer, beaver, black bears, bobcats, lynx, and an array of birds.
Best time to visit
Spring is a lovely time in Atlantic Canada, with the temperature in May and June perfect for touring. All four provinces offer a pleasant climate with sea breezes near the coast and warmer inland temperatures.
July and August are the warmest months, with daytime highs between 20 and 30°C. The autumn months of September and October are another wonderful time to visit, with warm days, cooler evenings, and fewer crowds. This is also the best time to see the burst of autumn colours, from mid-September, in more northern areas, to late September into October in the southern coastal areas.
We advise coming for at least two weeks to really get to know all four provinces, but there are plenty of 7 to 10-day trip combinations allowing you to visit one or two in one trip.
Stroll the boardwalk across rare sand dunes, hike the trails of the Fundy National Park, and relax on seemingly endless saltwater beaches – New Brunswick is a place for natural wonders and space to breathe in the great outdoors. Kayak around 350-million-year-old rock formations at Hopewell Rocks then walk on its ocean floor at low tide, and hop aboard a tall ship in search of majestic whales including the North Atlantic Right Whale, of which only 350 remain on the planet. In autumn, admire the changing colours of the leaves to fiery reds, yellows, and golds.
Voted Canada’s top natural wonder in a global competition, the Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides. You can witness the power of 160 billion tonnes of water flowing back and forth twice a day.
British, Irish, Scottish, French Acadian, and First Nations influences through the generations make New Brunswick wonderfully diverse in its history, food, festivals, and celebrations.
Things to do
Visit two National Parks. In Fundy National Park, experience the extraordinary force of the tides along with heritage tours, trails, golf, and camping. Then there’s Kouchibouguac National Park stretching along the Acadian Coast, with warm saltwater swimming beaches, excellent bike trails, and fun activities for all ages.
What to eat
New Brunswick is all about the bounty of the sea everywhere from seaside cafés to roadside diners and urban bistros – places to taste delights including lobster rolls, chowder, and fried clams.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the perfect destination for people open to new experiences, such as getting eye to eye with a humpback whale as icebergs drift by and the sky fills with millions of seabirds – this is one of the most spectacular whale-watching places on Earth between May and September, whether from the deck of a tour boat, the side of your sea kayak, or a seaside trail. You can also visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and an array of historical attractions, from First Nations sites to community museums.
This is one of the best places in the world for viewing icebergs: in spring and summer, these 10,000-year-old glacial giants are visible from many points along the northern and eastern coasts, especially on clear sunny days. They come in every shape and size, with colours ranging from snow-white to deepest aquamarine.
The world’s largest population of humpback whales return here each year to feed on capelin, krill, and squid along the coast, and another 21 species of whales and dolphins visit along with them, including minke, sperm, blue, and orca.
Things to do
Visit four UNESCO World Heritage sites: Gros Morne National Park, a wilderness area of landlocked freshwater fjords in an ocean setting; L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, with the remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement (the earliest known European settlement in America); Red Bay Basque Whaling Station in Labrador, one of the most precious underwater archaeological sites in the Americas; and Mistaken Point, home to fossils of the oldest complex life forms found on Earth.
What to eat
Foodies love Newfoundland & Labrador for its fresh seafood - including unique recipes such as cod tongues, doughboys, and salt fish.
Discovery lives around every corner in Nova Scotia with its lovely valleys and pretty coves, rich history and culture, and excellent local food and wine – along with some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. This is the perfect outdoor playground for hikers, kayakers, whale watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts, and golfers. Cape Breton Island consistently ranks as having one of the world’s most scenic drives and its famous Cabot Trail has breathtaking coastal views and glorious highland scenery.
The capital Halifax is Atlantic Canada’s largest city, and its harbourfront boardwalk passes many historic sites, speciality shops, restaurants, and pubs, as well as playing host to an array of festivals and events.
The region is rich in Celtic and Acadian culture and is a place to enjoy spectacular music performances.
Things to do
Visit more than 20 wineries and vineyards to learn how the fertile soil and climate in Nova Scotia produce the grapes that go into its characterful and award-winning wines.
What to eat
Nova Scotia’s abundance of fresh and local seafood makes for lots of fishy treats: traditional lobster dinner, lobster rolls, lobster poutine, and even lobster beer, plus Digby scallops plucked from the Bay of Fundy by the largest scallop-fishing fleet in the world.
Canada’s smallest province packs a big punch, with adventure around every turn, beauty that’s hard to believe and out-of-this-world food. Prince Edward Island’s three scenic coastal drives are a perfect way to explore off the beaten track, seeing some of the 45-plus harbours scattered along the jagged coastline, together with lighthouses and soaring sandstone cliffs.
First inhabited by ancestors of the Mi’kmaq up to 10,000 years ago, Prince Edward Island was ‘discovered’ by Jacques Cartier in 1534 but not permanently settled until the 1700s.
Prince Edward Island is the setting for Anne of Green Gables, and, to date, millions of the book’s fans have made a trip to discover the places in LM Montgomery’s stories. Anne-related attractions dot the Island.
Things to do
Live like an islander by signing up for more than 70 authentic experiences, including tonging and shucking oysters, ‘owning’ a standard-bred racehorse for an evening, and uncovering ‘seaweed secrets’. There are also geocaching, sandcastle sculpting, fishing for lobster, and creating folk art.
What to eat
Prince Edward Island is known as ‘Canada’s Food Island’ for its abundant fish and its lobster, oysters, mussels, and other shellfish, which award-winning chefs turn into culinary masterpieces. Local family farms also produce famous Prince Edward Island potatoes and tender beef.