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The east coast province of ‘New Scotland’ needs little introduction. This land of highland hills surrounded by icy Atlantic waters is home to quaint villages, picture-postcard beaches and photograph-worthy lighthouses. But it is Cape Breton Island, with its strong Scottish and French culture and outstanding scenery, which draws the most visitors. For a healthy dose of wining and dining, Halifax, the capital, is the best place to get your fill of creature comforts before moving on.
The province is well known for its scenic drives, with exploring the region with car hire in Nova Scotia the best way to take in the landscapes. Hire a car in Sydney, Cape Breton, to tour the highlights, or pick up a vehicle at Halifax International Airport. All the usual leading suppliers have a presence here, including Hertz, Dollar, Avis and Enterprise. Compare car hire in advance to be guaranteed the lowest price.
Halifax’s international airport serves flights to other Canadian locations, including Cape Breton’s Sydney Airport, and the US. Alternatively, visitors can arrive by ferry from Newfoundland or Prince Edward Island. The Trans Canada Highway travels all the way to Cape Breton. Greyhound buses run into the province from other provinces, but only limited inner-provincial services are available. There are no rail services.
Winter road conditions can be treacherous, with black ice and slippery roads often causing accidents. It is best to carry a winter survival kit in your car. Drivers who must take to the road in the foggy conditions which are frequently experienced along the coast should exercise caution. For the most part, summer driving here is a pleasure, with numerous scenic drives, particularly on Cape Breton.
Halifax offers unmissable historical sites such as Citadel Hill. From here, visitors can access nearby Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse with car rental in Nova Scotia before continuing on to the Cape Breton Highlands, which are protected by a national park. Further history can be uncovered at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, a reconstruction of a French 18th century fortified town. Walking, biking and rafting are widely available, particularly on Cape Breton.
June to October is the best time to visit, when the skies are clear, the weather is at its warmest (between 14 and 28°C) and swimming may be possible. Yet horseflies and mosquitoes plague the warm months. Spring and autumn make for mild alternatives. Winters are cold (-9 to 0°C), particularly in the north, and many parts of the province see numerous foggy days each year.