Things To See And Do In Nova Scotia

There is nothing quite like the breath-taking sites and warm hospitality of the East Coast. Nova Scotia is the perfect getaway for couples, families, and solo travelers alike and has a variety of activities and attractions whether you’re visiting for the cuisine or the outdoors. From delicious food and drink to the beautiful trails and the quaint towns, we’ve rounded up the top 20 things to see and do in Nova Scotia, Canada.

1. The Cabot Trail

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The Cabot Trail is 580 kilometers long, so while we’re not suggesting you hike or bike the whole thing (unless you’re into that!), it is quite the experience to see the fall colors, dine in restaurants along the trail, and take in some of the highland culture and music. You can hike portions of the coastal trail on your own if you visit Cape Breton Highland National Park or take a guided hike if you’re inexperienced or want to learn more about the local history. Alternatively, you can drive the entire trail in about 8 hours by car or motorcycle, if you’ve got a bike!

2. Peggy’s Cove

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Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region is way more than the iconic lighthouse, though you don’t want to miss Peggy’s Point lighthouse and surrounding village. Known as nature’s playground, this region is the perfect place for kayaking, hiking, birding, whale watching, golf courses, and pristine beaches. There’s enough to do here to spend two or three days with enough fresh seafood restaurants and cozy cottages and bed and breakfasts to make your time there comfortable. Peggy’s Cove is also a great place to head out on the water for a wildlife tour to see birds, puffins, seals, turtles, and fish, so book a tour while you’re in the area.

3. Whale Watching

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There are many parts of the province that you can head out on a whale watching tour, but regardless of what coastal town you choose to set off from, make sure you take the time to see these great creatures of the sea. It’s a classic East Coast activity to do in the Summer and Fall months (which are the best times for sightings) that may end up being the highlight of your trip! Depending on when you go in the season, you may see Minke, Humpback, Fin, Sei, or North Atlantic Right Whales on your tour.

4. Wineries, Cideries, and Distilleries

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Spend a day visiting some of the wineries, cideries, and distilleries that Nova Scotia has to offer! There are actually more of them than you might think – Nova Scotia has over 18 wineries, 12 distilleries, and 8 cideries to explore and drink at. Tour on your own or with a company that will drive you around. If you’re interested in doing a mix of all three, check out the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail to plot your trip around the province and grab your boozy passport!

5. Halifax Boardwalk

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Take a stroll down one of the world’s largest boardwalks! The boardwalk in Halifax is 3 kilometers of shops, restaurants, and gorgeous views. Explore the stores, grab a drink at one of the city’s best restaurants, and enjoy the lazy afternoon at the bustling boardwalk. Taking a harbor tour by boat is another great way to experience the waterfront and learn more about Halifax’s nautical history. Before departing on your trip, be sure to check out the Nova Scotia Tourism website to see what unique events might be taking place while you’re in town.

6. Tidal Bore Rafting in the Bay of Fundy

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The Bay of Fundy has a must-experience outdoor activity called tidal bore rafting. You go out on the bay in a motorized boat with a guide to take on the highest tides in the world – up to 16 meters! All you do is hold on! Different times of day have different intensities, making it a great thing to do regardless of whether you’re timid or a total adrenaline junkie. Tidal bore rafting (followed with some mud sliding!) has been named a Canadian Signature Experience, proving further that it’s not an activity to be missed while in Nova Scotia!

7. Lunenburg

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Lunenburg is a port city and UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colorful and historic buildings and gorgeous waterfront, as well as the Bluenose II, a replica of the sailing boat that graces the Canadian dime. If you want to see the city from a local’s perspective, consider taking a Lunenburg walking tour where you’ll get to take in the sites and cuisine with a knowledgable 8th generation guide. The town has won several awards including Prettiest Painted Places in Canada and Communities in Bloom, making it a can’t-miss stop on your vacation.

8. Sea or Lake Kayaking

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Nova Scotia, or anywhere by the ocean, is a wonderful place to go kayaking and feel the rush that comes with being on the not-quite-flat water. You don’t need to be an expert as many guide companies are offering a variety of levels of difficulty. Don’t pass up this opportunity to explore the hidden coves, paddle the choppy sea, and perhaps even see some wildlife. If you’re looking for more flatwater to kayak in, check out this full moon experience for an evening paddle paired with local cuisine and music!

9. Lobster-Related Activities

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One of the best parts of the East Coast is all the delicious fresh seafood, including lobster! Make sure you indulge in at least one all you can lobster dining experience at one of the many seafood restaurants. If you’re visiting in February, be sure to take part in the infamous Lobster Crawl for some serious fun all month long! Other fun lobster-related activities include seeing the rare colored lobsters at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum hatchery, take a boat tour with a local lobster fisherman to experience a day in the life, or take a lobster cooking class! There are many fun ways to learn about this aspect of the province.

10. Take in Live Local Music

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From local pubs to street corners to boat tours, live East Coast music is everywhere in Nova Scotia. Before you leave on your trip, search for popular live music venues in the area you’ll be staying in. Then you just need to show up, grab a beer, and listen! East Coast music is some of the most lively, foot-tapping music, so don’t worry about seeing the concert of a bigger named musician! Locals know the best spots and favorite musicians, so don’t be afraid to ask the host at your accommodations for some recommendations in the area.

11. Burntcoat Head Park

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Visit Burntcoat Head Park to see the highest tide in the world (up to 53.6 feet!), walk the ocean floor during low tide, and find small sea creatures in the tiny pools left behind. It’s a beautiful display of nature and a lot of fun for kids and kids at heart! The park also offers guided ocean floor tours on certain days, so check the park’s calendar of events before you head East!

12. Kejimkujik National Park

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Kejimkujik Park is a breathtaking park to camp, hike, bike, paddle, learn about Mi’kmaw culture, view petroglyphs, and to connect with nature. The park is biodiverse, allowing you to explore many different habitats and take in the unpolluted night sky in the Dark Sky Preserve! The park has a variety of accommodations, from backcountry and front-country campsites to yurts and cabins, so there’s somewhere to stay regardless of your comfort level.

13. Halifax Food Tour

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Guided food tours are one of the best (and most delicious!) ways to get an overview of a bigger city and therefore are a great way to start your trip. In Halifax, there are two primary tour companies: Local Tasting Tours and Taste Halifax. Both come highly reviewed, so it’s up to you to decide what type of tour you want. Local Tasting Tours offers a downtown tour, SoMo neighborhood eateries tour, and a night out tour – all done on foot. Taste Halifax offers two food tours and two alcohol tours, all done by vehicle with a guide to drive you around. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll get to taste the local cuisine (often in places that tourists might not otherwise know about) and get to see the city from a local’s perspective.

14. Visit Sugar Moon Maple Farm

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Sugar Moon is a can’t-miss attraction located on the North Shore of Nova Scotia that is all about maple syrup. It doesn’t matter what season you’re visiting in, there are tons to do at the farm! The farm offers maple syrup tasting and tours, an all-day maple brunch with maple-themed cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, monthly fine dining Chef’s Nights, hiking on the property, or the famed Maple Magic Package! It’s a quintessentially Canadian experience that even a home-grown Canadian can’t miss while in Nova Scotia.

15. Sable Island

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A trip to Sable Island isn’t necessarily the most budget-friendly activity to do on your Nova Scotia vacation, but it is well worth the trip if you’ve got the time and extra money. Sable Island is most well-known for the legacy of over 350 shipwrecks that dot the shore and the 400 gorgeous feral horses that roam the island. The 25-mile long island is entirely made of sand and boasts the world’s largest breeding colonies of harbor and grey seals. Sable Island is quite remote and takes planning, registering with Parks Canada, and several days to visit, so it isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’re into adventure, it’s worth the trip by air or sea.

16. Joggins Fossil Cliffs

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The fossil cliffs are fun for both kids and adults! This world heritage site and natural attraction is a thorough fossil record of the Coal Age, which was 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth! Here you can see some incredibly exposed fossils on your own or on a beach tour with a knowledgeable guide on easy, medium, or difficult terrain. New fossils are regularly being uncovered and guides are aware of them, making a guided tour a really great option.

17. Oak Island Money Pit

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Oak Island has a long and fun history of treasure hunting! In 1795, a teenager found a large oval-shaped hole in the ground that after many years of many people digging, has become much larger and well known as the Oak Island Money Pit. Though no treasure has actually been found, many other things have including wooden planks, a cavern, a tunnel, and other small things that are just enough to keep the mystery and digging going.

18. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

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If you enjoy learning about history, the Maritime Museum is a great place to explore on a rainy day. Here you can learn about Nova Scotia’s rich and long relationship with the sea, from World War convoys and the Titanic to the Frankin Exploration to the Halifax Explosion. Like many museums, there are often events going on that may enrich your experience, so check out the events before your trip to see what’s going on! There are lots to learn about and no better place to “dive in” than this museum.

19. McNab’s Island

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McNab’s Island is only a short boat ride out of the Halifax Harbor and has many historic and natural attractions, including wildlife and over 200 species of birds. The island boasts 18 kilometers of hiking trails and abandoned buildings and ruins to view and explore (though not all are open to the public). You can get to the island for about $20 per person round trip and guided tours are available during the summer months, though you can always explore on your own! It’s a great way to enjoy nature and history not far from the Halifax city center, making it a perfect day trip.

20. Cape Breton Highlands National Park

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Cape Breton is a beautiful park where the mountains and sea meet, making for exciting hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The Cabot Trail goes through the park and offers some of the best hiking and glorious views in the province. One of the coolest things about this park is its Equipped Campsite partnership with Mountain Equipment Co-op allowing you to affordably rent a campsite already equipped with a tent, dining shelter, sleeping pads, chairs, camp stove, dishes, utensils, cooking gear, wash bins and a lantern. This is a great way to experience the park if you don’t own the gear yourself or you couldn’t bring it along (for example, if you flew to the province).

The Best Urban Parks in the World

One simply cannot deny the convenience and often excitement that comes with living in the city, but for the most part these cities lack some serious green space. Luckily there are a few cities around the world that can offer a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of the urban jungle, whether you want to explore historic temples, picnic in open green spaces or discover thousands of beautiful species of plants and flowers. From the most famous park in the United States to one of the biggest parks in London to one of the most unusually landscaped urban parks in the world, check out these 6 awesome urban parks and what they have to offer.

6. Central Park, New York City

It is by far the most famous urban park in America, and maybe even perhaps the world, an iconic park that has been photographed millions of times from land and by air. It boasts over 800 acres, a space that is visited by over 35 million people a year. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, meander down the pathways, lounge in open meadows or take a break near the peaceful lakes. Walk through the woodland area of Ramble and spend some time bird watching, or take in a regularly scheduled concert or performance during the summer months. Art installations fill the green space and one of the most notable is a 2-acre area dedicated to John Lennon.

Central Park NY

5. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s greatest treasures, this park is so big that one can dedicate entire days to exploring the many gardens, museums and attractions. The Conservatory of Flowers is a must visit, being the oldest building in the park and home to 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, as well as an impressive Butterfly Zone and miniature garden railroad. Families with kids should head to the Koret Playground where a climbing wall shaped like waves, a rope climbing structure and many slides await, or head to the Herschel-Spillman Carousel where 62 colorful animals await riders. Or why not head to Ocean Beach for some incredible sunsets and dinner at the Beach Chalet where upstairs views are simply astounding.

Golden Gate Park

4. Hyde Park, London

It is visited by millions of locals and tourists every year, one of the largest parks in London and one of the Royal Parks. Hyde Park contains a number of famous landmarks and is the largest of the four parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens, past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and to the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Famous landmarks here include the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Speakers Corner and the State of Achilles. There is also plenty of opportunity for recreation here, row or pedal boat at Serpentine River, swim at the Serpentine Lido, get competitive at the mini-golf course or even go for a horse ride with the Hyde Park Riding School. If you happen to visit during the holiday months in the winter, enjoy the Winter Wonderland spectacle which sees the park dressed up in lights and festive activities.

Hyde Park UK

3. Beihai Park, Beijing

It is among the largest of all Chinese Gardens and since 1925 this park has been open to the public, containing numerous historically important structures, palaces and temples. The lake is the focal point of this impressive park, with Jade Flowery Islet laying smack in the middle of it and home to the imposing White Dagoba, the landmark of the park. Inside the Dagoba is the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk’s mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. The Hao Pu Creek Garden is another popular area to visit in the park, an absolutely serene garden featuring a mountain-water structure that is designed to give seclusion from society. Don’t miss out on the Nine-Dragon Screen, a wall unlike any other where 424 seven-color glazed tiles feature 9 huge dragons coiling on each side. Interesting temples, a large beautiful lake and ancient alleyways make up this incredible park.

Beihai Park Beijing

2. Parc Guell, Barcelona

It is one of the world’s most unusual urban parks, featuring buildings designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The whimsical structures throughout the park were originally designed as a part of a housing development that was unsuccessful. These structures seem to give the park more of a theme park feel, although there is plenty of green space that covers the rest of the park. Climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the bay, lounge on the serpentine bench along the main square, stare the at Art Nouveau gingerbread house or simply wander through the beautiful gardens teeming with colorful flowers.

Parc Guell Barcelona

1. Monsanto Forest Park, Lisbon

In the capital city of Lisbon lies this 2,400-acre park where visitors come for incredible skyline views of Portugal’s charming old city. The park is divided into several protected and leisure areas, along with numerous picnic areas, making it the perfect meeting spot for friends and family. The Ecological Park is one of the most noted areas, stretching 50 hectares and giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the environment through exhibitions, multimedia resources and an interpretation center. Alvito Park is also located here and is perhaps the most popular among families with kids. It is here they will find swings, towers, trains and several swimming pools, perfect for cooling down during those hot summer months. The park is dotted with historical mills, abandoned quarries and beautiful scenery, covered with vegetation and enough space to make all visitors feel welcome.

monsanto park lisbon

Tips on Tips: Tipping Customs Around the World

It’s easily one of the most contentious issues you’ll face when traveling: when should you tip and how much should you tip? Even within single countries and cultures, there is a huge amount of debate about who, when, where and how much you ought to tip—and why. When you begin to travel outside your own country, you begin to realize that the debate isn’t one that’s only going on at home; it’s one that’s being replicated in almost every culture and country on the planet. Customs and rules vary widely between cultures and even from state to state, and the practice of tipping service workers is no exception to that rule. As you begin globetrotting, one of the most valuable pieces of information anyone can offer you is insight into the unspoken “rules” of tipping etiquette in your destination country. Knowing when to tip, who to tip and how to tip is almost essential for any traveler: it will show your knowledge and respect of the culture, sometimes obtain you better service and, in some cases, even get you ahead.
That said, it can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around all the nuances and variables involved in what seems like, at first glance, a rather straight-forward custom. Like most social situations, however, there are complex rules and exceptions to every rule.

North America

We start our trip in North America and the countries most readers will be familiar with. In the U.S., tipping is widely debated, but the most common practice is to tip restaurant wait-staff, hairdressers and a handful of other service workers, such as taxi drivers, spa employees and hotel staff. Some people, such as government employees, are never to be tipped, as this can be seen as a form of bribery and is actually illegal! The decision about whether to leave a tip or not is entirely at the customer’s discretion, although a tip of between 15 and 20 percent is considered the norm. Some people argue that customers are not obligated to leave tips, especially if the service is bad, while others contend that certain workers should always be tipped, as service workers are generally poorly paid. In Canada, similar arguments are made, especially since service workers such as wait staff have lower legislated minimum wages than other workers as a result of the culture of tipping. In Canada, a minimum tip is usually 15 percent, although some businesses include a service charge. South of the U.S., in Mexico, you can expect to add 10 to 15 percent to your bill—and most Mexicans would prefer you to tip them in pesos, not American currency; national pride rails against the common view that Mexico is, in some ways, a colony or even a part of the U.S. Tipping in U.S. dollars is often seen as insulting, as though the person leaving the tip views Mexico as American territory.

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The nearby Caribbean, another popular holiday destination for North Americans, is a veritable medley of practices, often reflecting the country’s European heritage, which may be French, Spanish, Dutch, English or another background. In Dominica, a service charge is typically added to the bill, but the customer is expected to tip 10 percent as well. A few islands over, in St. Barthes, there are no service charges, but customers will be well-advised to tip 15 percent.

Kamira /
Kamira /

South America

Further south in Latin America, the general rule of thumb is simply to add a percentage to the bill rather than to tip. Percentages vary between countries in South America. If tips are given, the percentage is usually low, around 5 percent as in Bolivia, where a tip might be given in addition to the service charge included in the bill. In Argentina, however, a more common practice is for customers to round up the bill and add 10 percent.

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sunsinger /


Hopping over the Atlantic to Africa, you’ll find that although tipping is commonplace, the actual practice of it varies widely between the multitude of countries and cultures that make up the continent. In Egypt, for example, most restaurants include a tip but customers are still expected to add between 5 to 10 percent on top. The situation is similar in South Africa, although you may be charged a service fee and if the service is bad, you’re not expected to tip. In some African countries, such as Tanzania, you won’t necessarily be expected to tip per se, but you might offer to exchange watches, brand-name clothing or other items for artisanal crafts. These kinds of items can also be offered as gifts for exceptional service. Cash is sometimes welcome as well, although in some cases, an offer of a meal or offering to help pay for something such as school fees is more readily acceptable. This is especially if one is dealing with children, who may be pulled out of school to beg otherwise.

Nick Fox /
Nick Fox /

Europe and Mediterranean

Continental Europe and the Mediterranean is another story yet again. In this region, tipping is not required, although it is considered customary and acceptable to leave a percentage of the bill. However, the most common way to tip someone is to “round up” the bill, often to the nearest euro. In Germany, for example, it’s not uncommon to get a bill for, say, 13 euros and hand the server 15—and get no change. Another way of doing this is for the customer to simply declare what they want to “round up” to, usually to avoid getting small coins. Spain and Italy have a similar culture to Germany when it comes to tipping. France is the anomaly in this case, where “service compris” on the bill means there’s no need to tip, as you’ve already been charged for it.

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Northern Europe

Northern Europe presents another set of customs around tipping. In the U.K., North Americans will find the rule of 10-to-15 percent tips quite familiar. Service charges might be automatically added to the bill by some establishments. In Norway and Denmark, a gratuity is included in the bill, and in Sweden and Finland, a gratuity is often included. If the bill doesn’t have a gratuity already factored in, Swedes will tip, generally by rounding up or leaving small change, similar to their counterparts in Germany.

Tupungato /
Tupungato /

Eastern Europe

Traveling to Eastern Europe, attitudes toward tipping are quite different from their Western European counterparts. In most of the Balkans and other Eastern European countries, such as Hungary, tipping is not only customary, it’s expected. In Albania, customers are expected to leave at least 10 percent of the bill or, in some cases, provide duty-free alcohol to service workers, although one needs to be careful with this practice, as it can be insulting to some, especially Muslims. In Croatia, tips are usually between 3 and 5 percent of the bill.


Middle East

We travel next through the Middle East, which, in some ways, has a lot in common with North American cultures when it comes to tipping. Virtually every country in the Middle East has a tipping culture, and it is expected that you will tip. However, figuring out how and when to tip in this region can be a complex process. Called baksheesh, tips generally make up a good portion of a worker’s salary. Baksheesh can be expected for just about anything, such as holding a door open or pointing out something in a museum (even if you can see it for yourself!). Don’t be surprised if someone reaches out to be tipped; the culture is very forward about asking for a tip. You don’t necessarily have to give a tip, however, just because someone asked for one. If you didn’t like the service, there’s no need to tip. This attitude is also seen in India, but not in Dubai, where a 10 percent service charge is automatically added to bills.

UAE currency


In Southeast Asia, the culture is radically different from North America when it comes to tipping. In countries such as Korea and Japan, leaving a gratuity for someone is not only virtually unheard of, doing so can cause confusion. Some people even see it as rude. Some places, especially those that routinely serve foreigners, will include a gratuity on the bill, such as in Singapore where 10 percent is routinely added to hotel and restaurant bills. Other places allow customers to tip certain service providers, such as taxi drivers in China.

Sean Pavone /
Sean Pavone /


In the land down under, tipping isn’t a common practice at all. Neither Australia nor New Zealand add service charges to bills, and as a general rule of thumb, tips aren’t left for servers unless dining at a higher end restaurant or if you feel you received excellent service.

NigelSpiers /
NigelSpiers /

While tipping, in one form or another, is an almost universal practice, it quickly becomes apparent that “tipping” isn’t practiced in the same way in every country and different cultures have different expectations and approaches to the practice. What might be considered rude in one country may be generous in another or even expected in another still. For that reason, whether you agree with the practice of tipping or not, it’s best to study up on the various practices and expectations you’ll encounter in the places you’re likely to travel to. Whether you believe tips should only be left for good or exceptional service or whether you believe tips must always be left, or even if you’re in the camp that argues tipping is a detrimental practice that drives down real wages for workers, the reality is that, while you’re traveling, knowing the tipping culture and playing by those rules is going to work in your favor almost every time.