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Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

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Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

We want to visit this area of Canada next year.

When is the best time to visit and where and what would anyone recommend we see.

Can anyone recommend a route which could be comfortably covered in 2 weeks and any motels, hotels or B&Bs.

We would probably fly into Halifax.

Thank you

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1. Re: Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

You may have better luck in posting this on the Nova Scotia forum. If you do, it would be helpful if you could give people an idea of your interests, what you would want to get out of your holiday, and what sort of budget you are looking at.

It has been many years since I travelled in Nova Scotia. However, my first thought at reading your posting is that it may be a tad ambitious to try to cover both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in two weeks. We recently spent two weeks in Newfoundland and only saw St. John's and the eastern part. It is very easy to underestimate the distances in Canada, even in the Atlantic provinces. Also, there are logistical challenges in getting from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland (you either have to take a lengthy ferry ride, or fly).

Here are a couple of websites that may assist you in refining your request -

For Newfoundland -


For Nova Scotia -


It's easier for people to respond to requests for information when they are more specific and people have done a certain amount of "ground work" to focus themselves.

I hope that you will continue to pursue this. Wherever you decide to visit in Nova Scotia and/or Newfoundland will make a lovely holiday for you.

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2. Re: Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Thank you for the advice. We haven't really done any research as yet just hoped someone might have some suggestions of places/ areas which we could research.

Which area do you think would be the most interesting to travel to as I realize 'doing it all' is impossible in the time we have. When would be the best time to visit either of these areas?

We enjoy wildlife, scenery and anything cultural.

Thank you


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3. Re: Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

OK, I can only reply with respect to Newfoundland and then, only the eastern part of Newfoundland. Have a look at my two "Nfld in June" trip reports on this forum.

We went in June because we understood that this was the best time of year to see puffins and icebergs. I am not sure what you would see over the summer or in the fall.

In terms of wildlife, we went on a boat tour from Bay Bulls to see the Witless Bay bird reserve on June 10th. It was amazing for the number of puffins we saw. We were also lucky enough to see a few whales. However, the tour guide said that, if we had been a week or two later, we would have encountered many more whales because later in June they undertake their northern migration. So you might want to research a boat tour to the Witless Bay reserve. They range from ecological tours in zodiacs to the one we took in a larger cataraman. I seem to recall a discussion on this forum about alternatives in late May or early June.

Another place to see birds is Cape St. Mary's. We did not go, but by all accounts it is quite spectacular; some people think that it is more so than Witless Bay. Again, I seem to recall a discussion on this forum in late May or early June.

Other than the birds and the whales, the only wildlife we saw were three brown rabbits and two chipmunks. (However, this does not mean that you should not watch for moose, as a safety precaution when driving down the Trans Canada.)

On scenery, the view from the Trans Canada is pretty bleak and barren in places. It is beautiful in its own way, but emphasizes that Newfoundland is, indeed, a "Rock". However, the scenery on some of the secondary highways is truly lovely. We liked the Baccalieu Trail from Dildo to Hearts Content. We also liked the Trinity area.

Culturally, there are, of course, events and exhibits in St. John's. Also have a look at the Trinity area. The Rising Tide Theatre puts on productions in Trinity, and over the summer, turns the entire town into a theatre backdrop for their outdoor pageant. I'm sorry that we were just a bit too late for that. The excavation of the Colony of Avalon (from the 1600s) is also fascinating, but go on a weekday when the archaeologists are working and able to speak with you.

If you really wanted to do something in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, I would fly from Halifax to St. John's and back, to save time. One option might be to spend three nights in St. John's - two days to wander about St. John's and see what is there, including a drive to Cape Spear, and one day to do a combined Witless Bay and Ferryland. (Some people at our B&B did part of the East Coast trail around St. John's and really enjoyed it.) The other three nights you could spend in the Trinity area. The first day would be a very, very long day, as you detoured to see Cape St. Mary's. The second day would be to see Trinity, itself, perhaps the pageant, but definitely a theatre production. The third day would be to drive up the Bonavista Peninsula. (I suggest staying one place because it does take a certain amount of time to move lodgings when you are travelling.)

Please allow yourself plenty of time when you are driving. It takes longer to get places than you might think.

And that, I think, exhausts what I can tell you about Newfoundland. Again, please post on the Nova Scotia forum for information about that province. The rest is up to you.

Hope you have a wonderful trip, whatever you decide to do.

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4. Re: Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Traveling in NS and Newfoundland takes some planning.

In NS, when on Cape Breton, you basically have three loops,not many cross country routes. You can cross country on the NS mainland.

When in Newfoundland, the key is to get out to the coasts. On the Avalon /St.John's end , that is easy , but from there to the west coast means leaving the main Trans Canada and heading up or down to one of the coasts or peninsulas.

Two weeks means you can hit the high points and slip in some gems along the way.

The drive across Newfoundland is at least 10 hours, so the first step will be to decide the ferry times to get on at one end and get off at the other.

June is good for both places, you beat the traffic, the bugs and might catch an iceberg. After all the longest day is June 21.

I would start by saying Halifax to Ferry to Newfoundland to ferry back ,then to Cabot Trail,to the Mainland NS as the sequence.

Now, you may find a charter in and out so you leave late at night too, as I see most planes flying over around 9 p.m.

Plot that out like this,

day 1 to ferry (sleep on ferry?)

day 2 St john's and find a place on teh Irish loop ,route 10?, Then start to head inland for maybe Port Blanford, good B&B there. Then loop to the Noth and back to the TCH and near gander ,head for Leading Tickle. next head East to Gros Morrne. Sty there a day at least. Then head to Port Aux basques, but plan some side routes. I like Bonavista far more than Twillingate . I like Eastport to Salvage route too.

Once on Cape breton, do the Cabot Trail counterclockwise and stay in Cheticamp or Margaree for an ocean sunset night.

Then do the mainland, with at least 3 days.

So now plot a plan and we'll talk.

5. Re: Self drive in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

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