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Nova Scotia Trans-Canada Highway

What to See & Do in Nova Scotia?

This province has several charming areas, including the Bay of Fundy shoreline, the Atlantic Coast, and Cape Breton. There is lots of nature, lots of history, and many fascinating communities. There’s the historic Annapolis Royal, the stunning wooden buildings and churches of Lunenburg, every town with a lighthouse (not just Peggy’s Cove), and of course, Halifax.

Visit Nova Scotia

Here is the route of the Trans Canada Highway from east to west:

Marine Atlantic Ferries' MV Lief Ericson leaving port The ferry from Newfoundland lands at North Sydney on Cape Breton Island, and the Trans Canada Highway (#105) proceeds along the shoreline of several bays, including the town of Baddeck (where Alexander Graham Bell made his summer home and several experiments in early flight) on the west shore of Bras d’Or Lake  and crossing at Port Hastings to the mainland over the Canso Causeway at the Strait of Canso.

Detour to the Fort Louisbourg

Fortress Louisbourg To the east of the ferry crossing is historic Fort Louisbourg, which the French used to defend the mouth of the St Lawrence from the British for over a century.

Instead of returning to the Trans-Canada, you can meander through nearby St Anne and St Peter on the east shore of Bras d’Or Lake crossing at Port Hastings to the mainland over the causeway at the Strait of Canso.

See the full Cape Breton East Shore itinerary.

Detour to the Cape Breton Highlands and Cabot Trail

North Harbour on the Cabot Trail To the northwest of the Trans-Canada is Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with scenic vistas over the Gulf of St Lawrence. You can easily spend a day on the Cabot Trail, which hugs the coast around most of Cape Breton Island.

from the west/south, head to the coast from Baddeck and at Margaree Centre head north to the Cabot Trail, passing Cheticamp, Cape North,  New Haven, Ingonish and head south of the east coast to Englishtown  (the east/north entrance to the Cabot Trail) and from there a short hop to North Sidney

The distance from Sydney to Amherst is 252 miles (405 KM), but a non-stop drive along the Cabot Trail will add a day to your visit. See the Cabot Trail itinerary

Dunvegh Beach on the Cabot Trail

The highway (now #104) passes by many small towns on St. George’s Bay, including Havre Boucher, Tracadie, and Antigonish, and then dips southwest to Truro. It then meanders in a northwesterly direction to Amherst, before crossing the border into New Brunswick. To the south is the Minas Basin, which opens into the Bay of Fundy, known for its extreme tides of over 14 metres. To the north is the Northumberland Strait which looks out to Prince Edward Island and the scenic towns of Pictou, Pugwash, and Northport.

The distance from Sydney to Amherst is 252 miles (405 KM), but a non-stop tour of the Cabot Trail will add a day to your visit. The Trans-Canada does not pass through Halifax, which is Nova Scotia’s largest city and the provincial capital, but it’s only 63 miles southwest of Truro on route 102, and worth visiting.

Amheerst, Nova Scotia

Heading to Prince Edward Island (PEI)

To get to Prince Edward Island, cross the border into New Brunswick. Then turn east onto Trans-Canada Route 16, and cross to the island on the new 11-mile Confederation Bridge. You can also take a privately-operated a 75-minute long car ferry to PEI from Pictou, Nova Scotia.

TIP: The bridge toll is only paid on the way OFF the Island, so if you go east to west, you pay ferry + bridge toll, but if you travel west to east through PEI, you only pay the ferry toll.

Nova Scotia Trans-Canada Route, Towns, and Cities Map

Here is a map of the Trans Canada Highway and towns along or near the route:

Cities along the Trans Canada HighwayCity

Town along the Trans Canada HighwayTown

History of the Trans Canada HighwayItinerary

Transcanada Highway HistoryHistory

Trans Canada Highway FerriesFerry

Trans Canada Highway Tours & DetoursTour


Nova Scotia Road Trip Planner

Look for what to see & do, and where to stay in the  province of Nova Scotia and cities/regions within it.  First click on the LOCALE to search, then use the CATEGORY filter on the left side for the feature of interest!

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