Ready to venture on an epic East Coast Canada Road Trip? We spent 3 months RVing Atlantic Canada and fell in love with this spectacular corner of the world. This is your guide to planning the perfect road trip or RV getaway to the east coast of Canada… including all of Atlantic Canada (the Maritimes AND Newfoundland)!
About Canada’s East Coast
Canada’s East Coast is made up of four distinct provinces, each with its own unique landscape, feel, and history.
East of Quebec, you will find Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia sitting along the Atlantic Coast and around the famous Bay of Fundy.
Known for its rugged coastlines, vibrant fishing communities, and maritime history, the East Coast stands apart with its warm hospitality and slower-paced lifestyle.
Newfoundland’s dramatic landscapes and unique dialects, New Brunswick’s bilingual heritage, PEI’s rolling farmlands, and Nova Scotia’s mix of vibrant cities and serene coastal towns collectively paint a picture of diversity within unity.
This region boasts iconic landmarks like Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, the Bay of Fundy’s world-renowned tides, the historic sites of Halifax, the renowned Cabot Trail, and the idyllic landscapes that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.”
The East Coast’s distinctiveness lies in its blend of rugged beauty, cultural richness, and the resilient spirit of its people, making it a captivating and unforgettable part of Canada.
The region’s compact size and well-connected roadways offer an ideal canvas for exploration, allowing RVers and road trippers to easily hop between provinces. There is even a convenient ferry service that can take you from Nova Scotia to the western side of Newfoundland in only 7 hours.
A quick note about the East Coast Canada lingo:
Atlantic Canada consists of 4 provinces:
- Newfoundland & Labrador (which includes the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador)
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- New Brunswick
The Maritimes (Canadian Maritimes) only includes 3 provinces:
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland is part of Atlantic Canada, but is also referred to as “The Rock”
Places To Visit On Your East Coast Canada Road Trip
Whether you are exploring by car or with all of the comforts of home in your RV, you can cover plenty of ground during a road trip around the East Coast of Canada.
Over three months, we were lucky enough to explore all 4 of Canada’s easternmost provinces and experience all that the East Coast of Canada has to offer.
Below we share our best insights about where to go, what to do, where to camp, and how to design your perfect itinerary!
Things To See & Do:
Fundy National Park: Diverse trails meandering through lush forests, unveiling panoramic vistas, serene waterfalls, and the chance to witness the dramatic tidal shifts that characterize the Bay of Fundy. In the park, you can hike along the Fundy Coastal Trail for miles of stunning coastal views that emerge from the enchanted forest engulfed in bright green moss. It is also within walking distance to the local town of Alma where you can walk around the harbor, dine at a local restaurant, or grab a drink at the Holy Whale Brewery.
Bay of Fundy: See the world’s highest tides and see the ocean floor during low tide, when boats that were once floating near the dock now sit on the muddy ground, frozen in time until the tide comes back in / high tide returns
Hopewell Rocks: Colossal rock formations sculpted by the highest tides in the world, creating an otherworldly landscape. Exploring these flowerpot-shaped rocks and sea arches during low tide for an up-close encounter with these magnificent formations. Your admission ticket is good for 2 days so be sure to come back again at high tide to see how drastically the landscape changes. You can even get out and kayak around the tops of the rocks you were standing at the bottom of the day before!
Fundy’s Cape Enrage: Cape Enrage, situated along the Bay of Fundy, is a breathtaking gem showcasing rugged cliffs, captivating coastal views, and thrilling adventures. The iconic lighthouse stands sentinel atop the cliffs, offering panoramic vistas of the dramatic tides below. If you are looking for a thrill, you can indulge in the adrenaline-pumping zip-line all while being immersed in the raw beauty of the Bay of Fundy’s coastline
Campgrounds To Stay At:
- Cannontown Campground (Fundy National Park): Full hook-up sites within walking distance to the golf course, pool, visitor center, and trails. We had a huge site for our large RV and could easily use Starlink. (Pro Tip: Always use Google Satellite to choose sites if you need an open sky for Starlink)
- Chignecto Campground (Fundy National Park): Wooded campground slightly farther away from the Bay of Fundy. Full and partial hookup sites, as well as dry camping.
- Headquarters Campground (Fundy National Park): Full and partial hook-up sites close to the Visitor Center in the heart of the park and within walking distance of downtown Alma
Nova Scotia, a maritime gem in Canada, holds a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and coastal charm.
The Cabot Trail is one of North America’s most beautiful drives. The scenic road winds through Cape Breton Highlands National Park offering jaw-dropping views at every bend. Beyond the views, the park is full of hiking and ample opportunities to explore Celtic heritage and culture.
Further south you will find the historic town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which showcases colorful buildings and rich seafaring heritage. You can also explore Halifax, the capital, which invites exploration with its lively waterfront, bustling markets, and intriguing maritime history.
A visit to Nova Scotia is an opportunity to explore diverse landscapes ranging from forests and rivers to beaches and ocean cliffs, enjoy fresh seafood in maritime villages, and enjoy your choice of outdoor activities.
No matter what you choose you will have a great time, but here are a few things you probably won’t want to miss:
Things To See & Do in Northern Nova Scotia:
Cabot Trail: Having already visited the stunning coastlines of Newfoundland, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from the Cabot Trail. From the first hair-raising climb up the orange cliffside with sheer drops to the deep blue ocean below, to the last gentle winds along the water’s edge, the Cabot Trail is truly a masterpiece. A 185-mile loop best driven slow, on a sunny day, with your binoculars and camera in hand.
Pro Tip: You CAN drive with/tow your RV along the Cabot Trail. This being said, if you have a larger RV this would be a stressful tow (sharp turns, larger grades, steep drop-offs, narrow roads, sightseeing traffic) and the road can be quite bumpy at times. If you don’t want to tow the northern section of the Cabot Trail, you can take day trips to either side of the park from the side you choose to stay at if you don’t mind a bit of driving. You could also use the southern section of Route 30 to move between campgrounds on either side of the park and spend time in each, rather than towing through the park on the northern side of the road which can be a bit hairy.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park: An extension of the Appalachian Mountain chain, the park is characterized by rolling hills, deep canyons, and rocky cliffs set on a plateau high above the surrounding bodies of water. With its large tracts of deciduous forest, this is a great place to experience the colorful bloom of fall foliage as well as experience beaches, hiking, and wildlife.
For hiking enthusiasts: Skyline Trail, Franey Trail, Middle Head Trail, Broad Cove Mountain, White Point Lookout, Jack Pine Loop, and Theodore Fricker Mountain Trail are great additions to your trekking itinerary!
Meat Cove & Money Point: Two more off-the-beat destinations that frequent visitors to the area or locals will make sure you add to your list of things to do on the island. While they are more well known now than they used to be, the extra effort it takes to reach these breathtaking spots means you find fewer people enjoying these spaces.
Meat Cove sits at the very top of Cape Breton Island, complete with dirt roads and potholes that are not for the faint of heart. For the ride, you are rewarded with great views, especially if you hike out to the point on an unmarked trail that starts in the woods where the road ends just past the small tent campground located here. Money Point requires more hiking and offers panoramic views as well. While both are off the beaten path and could be skipped if you don’t have the time or the energy, they can be great additions for a more “hidden gem” feel to your tour of the area.
Campgrounds To Stay At:
- There are 8 campgrounds in Cape Breton Highlands National Park to choose from. For RVers, Broad Cove Campground will be your best choice for the east side of the park and Cheticamp Campground will be your best choice for the west side of the park.
Things To See & Do in Southern Nova Scotia:
Peggy’s Cove: Sitting on the shore of St. Margaret’s Bay one hour from Halifax, this iconic lighthouse (the most photographed in all of Nova Scotia) is perched on large granite rocks overlooking the Atlantic. Here you can walk around and enjoy views of the water, wander through the quaint fishing village, and even grab a drink and bite to eat at either the on-site restaurant or other local establishments.
Just down the road, you can also visit the Swissair memorial site, honoring the 229 people who perished during the 1998 flight that crashed at the entrance of the bay.
Lunenberg: The best surviving British-planned Colonial town in North America, visiting Lunenberg feels a bit like stepping back in time. With its bright red buildings, tall ships lining the harbor, and unique history, it is no wonder Lunenberg has become such a popular place for tourists to visit. If you are a foodie you can enjoy highly-rated food in between stops at the local breweries (we highly recommend LightShip for the drinks, atmosphere, and views) or distilleries. Don’t forget to book a trip on the Bluenose II, a majestic schooner, if you are able!
Halifax: The capital of Nova Scotia, Halifax holds profound historical significance, notably as a key maritime hub. It was pivotal in World War I and II as a major port for Canadian and Allied forces. Today it is a bustling city complete with a beautiful waterfront, open green spaces, and historical sites.
Kejimkujik National Park: Kejimkujik’s Mainland Section is known for its diverse ecosystems, including forests, wetlands, and lakes. It offers numerous hiking trails that wind through the lush forests, providing opportunities to observe wildlife and explore historic Mi’kmaq cultural sites. The area also boasts backcountry camping options for those seeking a more immersive outdoor experience.
The Seaside Section of Kejimkujik, located along Nova Scotia’s coast, presents a stark contrast to the Mainland Section. It showcases rugged coastal landscapes, beautiful beaches, and salt marshes. Visitors can hike along coastal trails, observe seabirds, explore pristine beaches, and witness the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Campgrounds To Stay At:
- Graves Island Provincial Park: Camping surrounded by water not far from iconic waterfront villages like Chester and Lunenberg, Halifax, or a day trip to Kejinkujik National Park
- There is also camping available in Kejimkujik National Park and closer to Halifax
Newfoundland is an island province on the eastern side of Canada that joined the Canadian Confederation in 1949.
Or as the locals vehemently corrected us, Canada joined them!
Often called the “edge of North America” it is home to the easternmost point in North America, where you can see the first rays of light touch the continent!
With Viking history, the infamous iceberg alley, National Parks that are home to vast forests, dramatic fjords and ancient cliffs, and amazing wildlife (puffins, whales, and moose galore!), Newfoundland is a travel destination that will surely steal a piece of your heart.
Things To See & Do:
Gros Morne National Park: Beautiful seaside trails, lush cliffs in full bloom, forested trails teaming with wildlife, glacier-carved fjords, and an opportunity to walk on the Earth’s mantle… all within 1 park. It doesn’t take long to see why this place is so special
St. Anthony & L’anse aux Meadows: Combine a trip to explore the Great Northern Peninsula with a stop at Gros Morne National Park and other great attractions in between to experience the Viking Trail.
Twillingate: A must-see stop along Iceberg Alley where you can see icebergs and whales, have picturesque hiking trails nearly all to yourself, find free camping overlooking the ocean, and meet charming locals in a quaint town full of character.
Terra Nova National Park: Terra Nova offers a more remote and backcountry feel than other more coastal stops in Newfoundland, although it is still bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can get lost in silence among the old-growth forest, experience some of the best camping we have ever had in a National Park, and immerse yourself in a different side of Newfoundland’s natural beauty for a while.
- Top Trails: Terra Nova Coastal Trail, Ochre Hill Trail (and fire tower), Malady Head Trail, Mill Cove Lookout
Bonavista Peninsula: Head to Elliston Point to see puffins galore, stop off at Cape Bonavista Lighthouse for more puffins and views, see the sunken sea arch at Dungeon Provincial Park, and experience history at Ryan Premises National Historic Site. Don’t forget to head over to Trinity as well to hike what has been named one of the most beautiful trails in the world, the Skerwink Trail.
St. John’s: Stand on the most easterly point in North America, check out the many historical sites (such as Signal Hill or Cape Spear), dine and drink on Water Street or the infamous George Street, and don’t forget to walk around quintessential Quidi Vidi.
Irish Loop: A roughly 200-mile scenic drive that brings you to some of the best spots on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. With wide open spaces where you can see for miles as the land transforms to sea, you will feel like you are in a world that only a few have ever visited. It feels untouched, quiet, and special. We highly recommend stopping by Cape Race, Mistaken Point, and taking a side trip over to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, to name a few.
READ MORE: Driving Newfoundland’s Irish Loop
READ MORE: The Perfect Newfoundland RV Trip
Campgrounds To Stay At:
- Berry Hill Campground (Gros Morne National Park)
- Viking RV Park (Great Northern Peninsula)
- Peyton’s Woods Campground (Twillingate)
- Newman Sound Campground (Terra Nova National Park)
- Pippy Park (St. John’s)
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, red-sand beaches, and rich cultural heritage. Here you will find no shortage of beautiful scenic coastal drives and lighthouses to discover, with vineyards and cideries to stop at along the way.
The island is perhaps most famous for being the setting of the beloved classic novel “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Whether you are a fan or not, it is a great opportunity to visit Green Gables Heritage Place to explore the landscapes that inspired the book.
PEI is also celebrated for its potatoes (stop by any farm stand to pick some up, red dirt and all) and delectable seafood, especially its world-famous lobster and succulent mussels. We can attest – they are amazing!
Things To See & Do:
- Prince Edward Island National Park: Enjoy stunning coastal vistas, red-sand beaches, and hiking trails amidst picturesque landscapes like grass-covered dunes. Perfect for the beachgoer or any nature enthusiast.
- Top Trails: Greenwich Dunes Trail, Cavendish Dunelands and Beach Trail, Green Gables Haunted Forest Trail
- Green Gables Heritage Place: Located within PEI National Park, this holds literary significance as the setting for the beloved novel “Anne of Green Gables.” Here you can explore the iconic house and immerse yourself in the world of the famous character. With walking trails and historical artifacts, it is a great visit for Anne of Green Gables fans or those discovering her for the first time.
- Charlottetown: Dine on the waterfront or check out pedestrian-only Victoria Row. If you have a chance to reserve tickets for Anne and Gilbert the Anne of Green Gables adjacent play, it is fantastic and will have you singing along for days (and months ) to come! Also don’t forget a stop at Cow’s Creamery for a taste of the famous Canadian ice cream dubbed one of the best in the country!
- Lighthouses: This tiny province of PEI has the highest concentration of lighthouses in North America. Some great ones to visit include Cape Bear, East Point Lighthouse, Panmure Island Lighthouse, and Point Prim Lighthouse. Once you arrive on the island grab a lighthouse map and be sure to get your map stamped at each lighthouse you visit!
- Vineyards and Cideries: To complement any lighthouse tour, there are several vineyards, wineries, and cideries to visit along the way! Our favorites were Rossignol Estate Winery (fruit wines), Newman Estate Winery, and Double Hill Cidery!
Campgrounds To Stay At:
- Cavendish Campground (PEI National Park). Centrally located on the island, we found it to be the perfect spot to explore Charlottetown and lighthouses on all sides of the island while being inside the National Park and only steps from the beach.
- For additional PEI campground options with reviews, check out Campendium
National Parks & Significant Sites In Eastern Canada
If you are a National Park seeker, there are plenty of Canadian National Parks to visit on your East Coast Canada road trip:
- Bay of Fundy National Park
- Kouchibouguac National Park
- Kejimkujik National Park
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park
- Gros Morne National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Terra Nova National Park
- Prince Edward Island National Park
There are also some noteworthy national historic sites and UNESCO world heritage sites as well:
- L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
- Lunenberg UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Signal Hill National Historic Site
- Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
- Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site
Example East Coast Canada Road Trip Itinerary
A general rundown of time estimates for your best East Coast Canada road trip!
If you plan to visit in the summer, we recommend trying to coordinate spending time in Newfoundland during July, when the weather is best on average. The lengths of times listed are based on how long it takes to travel around each province and what there is to see and do in each place, based on the insights in the article above.
1-2 weeks, Bay of Fundy: We stayed in and around Bay of Fundy National Park for the duration of our stay, but you might also add exploring other parts along the scenic Fundy Coastal Drive, which stretches from St. Stephen in the south to Aulac in the north.
2-5 weeks, Island of Newfoundland: For a shorter trip you can take the short ferry over and explore the western side of the island, focusing your time around Gros Morne National Park. For an extended trip (which we highly recommend), explore further and add the Great Northern Peninsula, Central Newfoundland, and Eastern Newfoundland including St. John’s and the Irish Loop to your itinerary.
2 weeks, Nova Scotia: Explore Halifax, the largest city in Atlantic Canada, unplug at Kejimkujik National Park, and discover a variety of quaint seaside towns with seafood that will blow your mind.
1-2 weeks, Prince Edward Island: With a rich agricultural history, PEI is made up of sprawling farmland that spreads out to the vibrant red shorelines. Be sure to try some farm-fresh PEI potatoes, visit the Anne of Green Gables attractions, hike along the coast to the beautiful lighthouses, and check out Charlottetown for some nightlife and great eats.
READ MORE: How To Plan The Perfect RV Trip Step By Step
One day when thinking about where we should explore next, we looked at a map and simply said – what would happen if we just headed north? Like as far north as we could go with our RV? We had no idea what to expect and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we have made in our travel journeys.
When your life is one big road trip, it is hard to compare between places. Everywhere is beautiful and has something to offer. But our east coast Canada road trip might be one of our best road trips of all time.
Our eastern Canada road trip took us 11 weeks in our RV through the country’s easternmost provinces.
We saw icebergs, were greeted by puffins, squealed with joy at the sight of whales spouting rainbows offshore, ate our body weight in seafood, ran through fields of wildflowers, and were left speechless at endless sunsets melting like colorful sorbet on a hot day into the horizon.
With so many amazing places and beautiful landscapes, it was the perfect place to spend the splendid summer months and a trip we will not soon forget.
Lucky for us, we can continue our adventure along the Trans-Canada highway, which crosses the entire country of Canada. We will continue our epic road trip through Canada next summer, exploring western Canada and places like Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and other mountain gems in Alberta and British Columbia.
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