The locals boast that Nova Scotia is home to the friendliest people in Canada. They might be right. People in this province are overly nice. Nice like “we still don’t lock our doors when we go out” nice. That niceness, combined with over 100 beaches, picturesque lighthouses, great sailing, mouth-watering seafood (this area of Canada is the main fishing region), and marvelous coastline, makes Nova Scotia an amazing place to visit in Canada. Try to visit during the fall when the changing leaves make the tree abundant area a rainbow of colors! Another bonus: Nova Scotia doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as the country’s larger cities, making it something of an off-the-beaten-trail destination.
Hostel prices – Hostels cost about 30 CAD per night for a bed in a dorm room. Almost no hostels in the province offer private rooms, though if you find one available you’ll likely pay around 55 CAD per night. Guesthouses, Bed & Breakfasts, or hotels are your better options when it comes to private accommodation.
Budget hotel prices – A typical budget hotel costs 65-85 CAD per night for a single, and upwards of 100 CAD for a double. Bonus: they often include free breakfast! Shared rooms on Airbnb can be found around the province for 50 CAD per night. Entire apartments/homes will go for around 100 CAD.
Average cost of food – The region is world famous for seafood and with everything caught right off shore, this can be the cheapest and freshest meal you’ll have. A restaurant will set you back about 40 CAD for a decent seafood meal. Lobsters are cheap here since they are caught nearby. If you aren’t into seafood, most grab-and-go food is less than 14 CAD. If you are going to cook your own food, expect to pay between 50-90 CAD per week.
Transportation costs – Nova Scotia is easy to get around, but most do end up renting a car to have the full experience. If you opt to try without, there is a reliable bus system that is close to free July-October, and around 1.50 CAD per zone during the rest of the year. Downtown Halifax is very walkable, but to get around other places on the island you’ll need a car or use the bus.
Suggested daily budget – 70-80 CAD / 52-60 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Rent a kayak – For about 20 CAD, you can rent a kayak and view Nova Scotia from the coast. It’s cheaper than going on an organized tour.
- Book together – During the off-season, if you book your hotel and flight together as a package deal the rate will be cheaper than booking separately.
Top Things to See and Do in Nova Scotia
- North River Kayaking Tours – For about 80 CAD you can get a nice half-day kayak tour around the shoreline.
- Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse – The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is famous for being one of the most picturesque in the world. If you’ve ever seen a stereotypical lighthouse photo, then you know what to expect—it’s a great photo opportunity!
- Hike the Skyline Trail – About seven miles in length, you can make this hiking experience an afternoon outing or one that can last all day. It has breathtaking views of the bay, and sometimes you’ll encounter moose along the way.
- Point Pleasant Park – Enjoy a relaxing day here with a wonderful view of the ocean. It’s a good place for a picnic, or if you’re up for some more activity, there are jogging and rollerblade paths too.
- Wolfville Farmer’s Market – During the month of October, try to attend this elaborate and entertaining Farmer’s Market. Complete with produce, arts and crafts, and delicious food, it’s a great way to taste the culture and food of the region.
- Alexander Keith’s Brewery – Take a tour of this local brewery or simply be entertained by the animators in their period costumes from 1863.
- Attend a summer concert – Halifax offer hundreds of concerts, theater performances, and festivals during the summer months. There’s a great music scene here, so be sure to hunt down some live music!
- Go whale watching – Throughout the year, you can find whales off the coast of Nova Scotia, especially the mighty humpback whales. There are tons of tour operators here, and if you don’t see any whales, most of them will give you a free voucher for next time.
- Upper Clements Park – Upper Clements park is a fun place for kids. It is kind of a small amusement park that also has a lot of wildlife. On nice days, the park is very crowded so plan ahead.
- The Cabot Trail – The Cabot Trail, one of North America’s most spectacular ocean drives, is an 185-mile ribbon of road that loops around Cape Breton Island and passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is one of the best things to on a visit here!
- Enjoy summer on the water – When the weather is nice and the sun comes out then sailing, kayaking and canoeing are popular pastimes along the coast or on the myriad of inland kayaking routes. Try swimming at Melmerby Beach on the Northumberland Strait, or go tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River.
- Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens – Measuring 17 acres in size, these historical gardens overlook a tidal river valley and showcase a massive rose collection, an Acadian House, and hundreds of years of gardening knowledge.
- Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site – This museum is host to a rich collection of artifacts and documents, which chronicle the life and career of A. G. Bell, inventor of the telephone. The collection was accumulated by his family during their time here. It is quite an impressive display, one which history buffs will surely love.
- Highland Village – This is an outdoor pioneer museum that features the lifestyle and experience of the Scots in Nova Scotia, some of the original settlers in the region.
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – This museum depicts the region’s marine history through an interesting collection of binnacles, buoys, anchors, armaments, and more. If you don’t understand Nova Scotia’s close ties with the sea, you will never be able to understand the province as a whole.
- Visit New Brunswik or P.E.I – These two provinces are only a stone’s throw away and can be visited as day trips (or multi-day trips) if you have your own vehicle. They are equally as cozy and charming as Nova Scotia (and the people are just as nice!)