The Canadian Maritime provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are the closest point of North America to the UK, renowned for their ruggedly beautiful coastlines, lush forests, abundant wildlife, intriguing Viking past and unique blend of French, English, Irish and Scottish heritage. This is one of the best places in the world for whale-watching, too, while its picturesque fishing towns are a delight to explore. And with direct flights from London to Halifax taking around six hours, all this is so much closer than you’d think!
Nova Scotia’s vibrant capital, Halifax, offers the perfect introduction to Atlantic Canada. It’s a lively and welcoming place, with inviting restaurants, bars, shops and museums lining its attractive waterfront area and it makes a good base for exploring the rest of this small province. Nova Scotia is famous for its lighthouses, with more than 160 dotted around its coastline, and one of the most popular day-trips from Halifax is to the little seaside village of Peggy’s Cove, where you’ll find perhaps the best-known, and most photographed, lighthouse in Canada, dating from 1915.
Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covering a vast area encompassing forests, bogs, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, waterfalls and freshwater fjords. It is home to a thriving population of moose and caribou, as well as black bears and beavers, and has numerous hiking trails for those who wish to explore further. You can also take a boat trip around the park’s coast to spot the local marine wildlife.
The province’s other national park, Terra Nova, is smaller but equally diverse and fascinating to explore. It’s a land of rolling green hills, dense forests, meadows, bogs and salmon rivers. Again, hiking trails and scenic cruises allow visitors to experience all the natural wonders of this beautiful park.
On Newfoundland’s northern coast, Twillingate is known as the ‘Iceberg Capital of the World’ and a cruise through ‘Iceberg Alley’ is one of the real highlights of a visit to Atlantic Canada. There are very few places in the world where you can sail among icebergs, an eerie and very special experience, while you’ll also have a very good chance of spotting a number of whale and dolphin species swimming through these waters.
And finally, don’t miss Newfoundland’s charming capital, St John’s, the most easterly town in North America, and one of the oldest. Take a walk along George Street, lined with restaurants, bars and live music venues, relax in the flower-filled Botanical Garden or learn about the province’s history and culture at The Rooms, St John’s premier cultural centre, housing the city’s museum and art gallery.