Planning an East Coast road trip?
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With ruggedly beautiful landscapes, fresh lobster rolls and friendly faces, Canada’s East Coast is an unforgettable place.
After growing up and living in Canada for most of my life, I finally stepped foot in the Maritimes last year. I planned an epic 16-day East Coast Canada road trip through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. And let me tell you, it was life-changing.
Personally, I think everyone – especially my fellow Canadians, should experience the East Coast at least once in their lifetimes. Because as it turns out, we’ve all been seriously missing out.
I put together this Eastern Canada road trip itinerary to hopefully help you plan your very own adventure! I’ve organized the itinerary by province, so that you have the option to drive just a portion or the entire thing!
If you’ve ever dreamed about frolicking through Green Gables, watching whales leap out of the ocean, and stepping foot in some of Canada’s oldest cities, this trip is for you.
What are you waiting for? Quit dreaming and start packing. Because you my friend, are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!
East Coast Road Trip Itinerary
New Brunswick Itinerary
New Brunswick is often overshadowed by the other Maritime provinces. Before visiting, I even heard that some people call it the “drive-through province” as tourists tend to pass through while en route to Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island.
Don’t be like those people! New Brunswick ended up being my favourite province of the entire trip. The roads are incredibly scenic and all of the small towns along the Bay of Fundy are picture-perfect.
I have a feeling that this 5-day itinerary will leave you feeling pleasantly surprised by this amazing province. In my opinion, New Brunswick is the underdog of the Maritimes!
Day 1 & 2: Saint Andrews
If you’re starting from Toronto or Montreal and driving your own car to the East Coast, St. Andrews is the perfect place to start.
With beautiful old buildings, stunning scenery and relaxing resorts, this historic seaside village is like a dream come true! I mean, there are deer walking through the town in the middle of the day – how much more magical can it get?
There are a lot of things to do in St. Andrews and I recommend taking it all in at a leisurely pace. If you’re feeling luxurious, spend two nights at the Algonquin Resort – arguably the most famous building in the entire province! It’s worth a visit even if you’re not spending the night!
Oh, and for some cheap souvenirs – check out the dollar store downtown! I scored some awesome lobster magnets for a $1 each!
Day 3 & 4: Saint John
The journey from Saint Andrews to Saint John only takes about an hour, which is why you should opt for a more scenic route and it up some hidden gems along the way!
Grab a bite to eat at Ossie’s Lunch. The portions are huge and the prices are quite reasonable – it’s no wonder why it’s a local favourite! My boyfriend and I split a “small” seafood platter for $19.95 and we were stuffed for the day! If scenic views are your thing, definitely make a stop at Lepreau Falls. It looks and feels like you’re somewhere totally remote – not 20 minutes outside of the city!
Stay at one of the awesome Airbnb apartments in Saint John (that link will give you $45 off your first Airbnb stay) for a couple of nights. Staying in an apartment rather than a hotel will give you the chance to experience the city like a true local!
Don’t miss out on some of the great sights in Saint John like the Reversing Falls, Imperial Theatre and famous City Market.
Day 5: Hopewell Rocks & Moncton
Driving from Saint John to Moncton, you’ll pass through one of the most beautiful places in the province: Fundy National Park. If you have the time, consider pitching a tent (or booking a yurt) and spending an extra night there. There are some really great hiking trails and beaches. But at the very least, pull over for the scenic lookouts.
Set aside a few hours to walk the ocean floor at the Hopewell Rocks! If the tide is hide, rent a kayak and explore the beautiful rock formations from the open water. The Bay of Fundy has the world’s most dramatic tides – you don’t want to miss them!
Make your way to Moncton where you can check out the world-famous Magnetic Hill.
Before leaving New Brunswick, make sure you try out some of their local specialities like Covered Bridge Potato Chips and Sussex Ginger Ale!
Nova Scotia Itinerary
You can do anything in Nova Scotia. Walk through some of Canada’s oldest and most-historic cities. Take part in aquatic adventures on the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean. Or tuck away into unspoiled wilderness that makes up much of the province. Whatever is on your East Coast Canada road trip to-do list – Nova Scotia will have it.
This 7-day itinerary only scratches the surface of what the province has to offer. So, if you have more time, I highly suggest adding a few days to explore the regions of Annapolis Valley and Yarmouth. Going camping in Kejimkujik National Park is now high up on my bucket list!
Day 1 : Amherst & The Glooscap Trail
Amherst is a small city located just 45 minutes away from Moncton. And although there isn’t much to do in the city itself, the region surrounding Ameherst has a lot to offer! So, after crossing into Nova Scotia, head out on the scenic Glooscap Trail.
This drive will take you past sites like the world-famous Joggins Fossil Cliffs and the small seaside village of Advocate’s Harbour. Make sure to have your camera ready, because we even had a big black bear run in front of our car!
Spend the night at the luxurious Apothic Inn bed and breakfast. I spent a night here on my trip and was just stunned at how beautiful the property is! Fun fact: The original owner was the son of one of the founding members of the Confederation. How’s that for historic?
Day 2 & 3: Lunenburg
Driving from Amherst to Lunenburg takes only a few hours. I recommend getting off the main highway in Upper Tantallon and stopping at the Acadian Maple Products store to pick up some local specialities! From there, take Highway 3 all the way to Lunenburg, driving through some lovely seaside towns like Chester and Mahone Bay.
Book a place in Lunenburg for two nights, because you’ll want ample time to explore this beautiful town and the surrounding attractions! I recommend staying at the classic Lunenburg Inn, which is located just a few steps from the old town and has a seriously delicious breakfast.
Walk around town and visit all of the cute little shops! Don’t forget to take a picture in a whale’s mouth outside of the Fisheries Museum. For a scenic view of the city, head over to the nearby golf course. And at some point during your stay, make sure you visit Blue Rocks! This little community at the end of the coast is a photographer’s dream!
Day 4 & 5: Halifax
No trip to Nova Scotia is complete without visiting the famous Peggy’s Cove! And that’s exactly where you should stop en route from Lunenburg to Halifax. I recommend arriving early, as it can become extremely crowded with tour buses from the city.
I’m going to be totally honest with you… Peggy’s Cove was a big letdown for me. The lighthouse is much smaller than expected and there isn’t much else to do in the town. Regardless, go check it out for yourself and get a photo for your Instagram!
Book an Airbnb in downtown Halifax so you can be close to the action and don’t have to worry about driving into the city. There are plenty of awesome places to check out like the beautiful waterfront, the Citadel and nearby Dartmouth. On your second day, consider taking a day trip to Annapolis Valley.
Day 6 & 7: Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail was hands-down the highlight of my East Coast road trip and I definitely recommend that you take the time to see it for yourself. It’s a 300km drive across the rugged cliffside of Cape Breton and offers breathtaking coastal views! Needless to say, it’s kind of a big deal.
If you’re feeling adventurous, plan a hike on the famous Skyline Trail. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed to spot a moose, but you’ll also be rewarded with some of the best views of the trip!
Getting to Cape Breton will take several hours from Halifax. Driving the Cabot Trail will take an entire day on it’s own. So, book two nights here. I stayed at this really cute place called the Iona Heights Inn. It has a sweeping view of the nearby lake and a delicious chocolate shop on-site. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Prince Edward Island Itinerary
Bring your childhood dreams to life in Prince Edward Island – home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. From coast to coast, the island is covered in rich red soil, lush fields and lovely seaside villages.
Being the smallest province, I think 4 days will give you plenty of time to explore Prince Edward Island. But if you have more time, consider adding a few days to complete all of the scenic coastal drives.
Day 1 & 2: Charlottetown
The entire island is fairly easy to navigate. So, whether you come in by ferry or bridge – it should be a quick and painless drive to the capital city, Charlottetown.
Book yourself two nights near downtown – I personally recommend the Sonata Inn, which is a beautiful house right in the historic centre. Spend a day walking through the city, admiring the beautiful architecture and enjoying some of the delicious treats like Anne of Green Gables Chocolate Shop or the famous Cow’s ice cream! Seriously, I’ll be dreaming about that place for years to come.
Alternatively, you could just sit back and relax on an exciting city bus tour of Charlottetown!
And if you have the time, consider making the drive to the nearby Port-la-Joye-Fort or driving to the Eastern side of the island.
Day 3: Cavendish
Fancy visiting Green Gables, sampling some local potatoes or swimming at one of the red sand beaches? Cavendish is the place for you. The region is totally built on tourism, so you’ll be able to find anything from Avonlea Village to an entire amusement park!
If you’re anything like me and want to try a Raspberry Cordial for yourself, make sure you buy one at the grocery store and not in the park. You will easily save yourself $4.
Consider staying at this awesome Airbnb in Oyster Creek. I spent a night here and loved the location right on the river – you can even use the canoes for free! Use my Airbnb referral link to get up to $60 off on your first stay!
Day 4: Summerside
Spend your last day driving one of the scenic routes or hitting up a local beach. Finish it off in the Acadian port town of Summerside, which has a beautiful boardwalk on the water. It’s the second largest city in Prince Edward Island and still feels so small.
To finish off my Eastern Canada road trip, I booked a lovely little bed and breakfast near Summerside called Rogers Island Getaway. The owners were very welcome and cooked up one of the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had. Although it felt peaceful and secluded, it was still an easy drive back to the bridge on checkout day.
What does your Eastern Canada Road Trip look like?
There are so many wonderful places to see in Eastern Canada, that it would impossible to fit them all on one list. Or, on one trip for that matter!
So, leave yourself enough time to slowly explore these beautiful places and don’t try to rush!
If you only have a week, consider visiting just one or two provinces. That way, you’ll have more time to appreciate each place. Plus, it gives you an excuse to come back!
For instance, I really wanted to visit Newfoundland and Labrador during my road trip, but didn’t have enough time or money as the ferry to Newfoundland is over $200 one way. So, I think I’ll just wait and fly there from Toronto for another trip.
Thanks for reading my east coast road trip guide! I hope it brought you some inspiration for your next trip. If you have any questions or want to share your own recommendations for things to do/eat/see in the area, please leave a comment down below. I want to hear from you!