The beauty and hospitality of Canada is perhaps best encapsulated in its four Atlantic provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador. Wonderful to explore on a scenic road trip, visitors can expect winding trails that hug verdant national parks home to wild moose and bears, as ultra-fresh seafood eateries line gorgeous, cliff-framed beaches, and traditional terrace houses bring a splash of colour to already-picturesque towns and villages.
Each province has its own unique charm, from the French Acadian history of New Brunswick and its million-year-old Hopewell Rocks to Newfoundland & Labrador's calving icebergs, which drift among breaching humpback whales. Taste fresh Atlantic lobster and scallops along Nova Scotia's lighthouse-dotted craggy shores, and cycle among the verdant hills and golden beaches of Prince Edward Island.
New Brunswick also offers quaint fishing villages, bird and whale watching, nature hikes in the Fundy National Park, the Irving Nature Park’s volcanic rocks and dense forests, and Canada's oldest city, Saint John. Take a few hours to relax on one of Atlantic Canada's favourite beaches, Parlee Beach, and sample some of the largest lobsters you'll ever see, before embracing the region's Acadian charm, palpable in every historic village and effigy edging the sandy coastline.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The Gros Morne National Park is undoubtedly the crowning glory of this region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, humbling expanses of glacier-fed fjords cut into the Long Range Mountains, verdant cliffs are misted by tumbling waterfalls, and moose and black bear roam among pristine forests. It's contrasted alongside the arid environment of the neighbouring Tablelands and the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, the only known Viking settlement in North America. Ancient history and maritime culture abound, showcased in ancient rock formations and thousand-year-old icebergs, and over in Quirpon Dock, July onwards affords chances to spot orcas on their annual migration. Newfoundland is also home to the colourful row houses and vibrant heritage of harbour-lined St John's, and in nearby Aquaforte, fjords evocative of Norway lie alongside villages with a deep fishing history, perfectly explored with scenic self-drives, boat trips, hikes and biking.
Nova Scotia is renowned for many things, but the Cabot Trail may win the accolade of most spectacular. Hugging the Cape Breton Highlands National Park's tip, breaching whales, imposing cliffs and sea caves, and characterful villages all vie for your attention. Stop along the way to hike one of the national park's hundreds of routes, spot whales from cliffs and sample some famous Nova Scotia seafood – the clams and oysters are particularly noteworthy. Ocean vistas, dense forests, fascinating geology and the remote highlands make for a continually spectacular trip round every winding corner. In Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, discover a charming port and colourful waterfront-framing houses. Also visit the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site that protected Halifax Harbour from 1749 to 1906.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is all rolling hills peppered with picture-book lighthouses and sandstone-lined beaches, and home to the setting of world-renowned novel Anne of Green Gables. Part of the eponymous national park, all cosy forest trails, bright red rocks and endless dunes, spend days cycling along the yellow fields of Springbrook, watch the sunset at Covehead's ultra-scenic beach, and indulge in the pretty pubs of Victoria Row. Capital Charlottetown is all charm, where Gothic revival churches and Victorian architecture infuse with local culture and succulent seafood.