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Why Nova Scotia is currently Canada's most exciting province

There are plenty of new reasons to head to Nova Scotia — from experiencing wild, outdoor adventures to lavishing in five-star luxury.

Published 27 Jun 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 5 Jul 2021, 16:03 BST
Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, draws heavily on its maritime heritage, and the waterfront district ...

Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, draws heavily on its maritime heritage, and the waterfront district of Queen's Marque is at the forefront of the city's redevelopment.

Photograph by Dean Casavechia/Tourism Nova Scotia

It’s all change in one of Canada’s east-coast provinces. The city of Halifax, with its Atlantic setting and maritime museums, loomed large on the travel map during the centenary of the Titanic’s sinking in 2012 and the docks that once sent out rescue parties to the doomed ocean liner have sailed towards the future, with a modern eco-makeover. 

Get your bearings at the Queen's Marque district, which has revamped the city’s waterfront with a combination of residential, leisure and business venues powered by seawater and topped with innovative ‘green’ roofing, designed to reduce carbon output. You’ll find a sweet spot in Peace by Chocolate, the grand new boutique by Nova Scotia-settled Syrian chocolatiers.

And, befitting a queen, the district is home to the province’s first five-star hotel, The Muir, which will open in November 2021 with a multimillion-dollar art collection installed throughout, along with the full gamut of luxurious experiences: hydrotherapy pools, a salt room, a private yacht, SUPs and kayaks for guest use, and even its own tartan in guest rooms — a nod to Nova Scotia’s rich Celtic heritage. 

At just around six hours by direct flight, big skies, open roads, wild coasts and the 12 or so species of whales visible offshore are closer than you think.        

Read more: How to experience Halifax, Nova Scotia like a local

Three new out-there experiences in Nova Scotia
 

1. Into the trees
Almost 100ft above Cape Breton, a new canopy walkway will open next year at Cape Smokey offering spectacular views of Nova Scotia’s whale-rich waters, accessed by a swish new gondola (set to open this autumn) or nature trails through surrounding indigenous Mi’kmak country. 

2. Bluenose II birthday
2021 sees centenary celebrations for fishing schooner Bluenose II, launched from Lunenburg, just outside Halifax. A new exhibition space dedicated to the ‘Queen of the North Atlantic’ opens this summer. 

3. Starry-eyed 
Trout Point, Nova Scotia’s landmark luxe eco lodge in Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, is now the world’s first certified Starlight Hotel (designated by UNESCO partner, Starlight Foundation), and offers forest bathing under the stars. 

Where to stay? Here are three new retreats
 

1. Best for wine-lovers
The Inn at the Winery, set in the rolling Annapolis Valley vineyard country, has a place for oenophiles to stay from this spring, set in the former homestead of this family-run farm. Don’t miss the fine Nova Scotian fare at Le Caveau restaurant. 

2. Best for wild encounters
Fancy a treehouse with a difference? Ôasis comprises five teardrop-shaped suspended duplex tree pods, deep in Kejimkujik National Park. Expect bear-viewing from the hammock loft or leaf-peeping from the double bed. 

3. Best for history buffs
Bed down in one of the new oTENTik huts in Grand-Pré National Historic Site, one of Nova Scotia’s earliest Acadian settlements, dating back to the late 17th century. You’ll also find another campsite in Nova Scotia's wild southwest, in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site.

Published in the June 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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