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Best Time to Visit Maritimes

The Canadian Maritimes provinces are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The Maritimes region in Canada is known for having picturesque coastal landscapes, friendly locals, excellent seafood, and a blend of cultures. To truly experience the best that the Maritimes offer, it's crucial to visit at the right time of the year. The best time to visit the Canadian Maritimes is usually during the summer months of June to September. That said, each season has something to offer.

Seafood and local craft beer restaurant located in Halifax's Waterfront

The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations help people plan their trips to Canada. We create personalized itineraries based on your preferred activities and budget. Many of our trips include time in the Maritimes.

This guide will look at the best time to visit the Maritimes, what makes these months special, and what the region is like the rest of the year.

Maritimes: An Overview

The Maritimes, located on the east coast of Canada, consists of three provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Indigenous communities and foreign settlers, like the French, British, and Irish, have shaped this region's culture.

The Indigenous peoples of the Maritimes include the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. They have lived in the region for thousands of years. They have a deep connection to the land and a rich cultural and spiritual heritage. The arrival of French explorers in the early 17th century introduced the French language and a culture that remains today.

The British colonized Nova Scotia when they gained control of the Maritimes in the 18th century. With this influx came customs and traditions that influenced government and education in the region.

The Maritimes experienced a significant wave of Irish immigration in the 19th century. The Irish have become integral to the Maritimes' unique cultural identity with their customs, music, and food.

Today, the Maritimes culture is a blend of Indigenous, French, British, Scottish, and Irish traditions. The region's diverse music, food, and festivals fascinate travellers seeking a cultural experience. The Maritimes region is also renowned for its seafood, particularly the lobster. Maritime activities such as boat building, sailing, and fishing are also famous. 

Here's the best time to visit the Maritimes

When planning a trip to any location, choosing the right time of year to visit is essential. Consider visiting the Maritimes during the summer months of June to September. The weather is generally pleasant during this time. Average daytime temperatures range from 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit). The Maritimes have a moderate climate, meaning that summers are warm and winters are mild.

Be it a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure; you're sure to find something in the Maritimes that appeals to your interests. From cultural festivals to outdoor activities, the Maritimes has something for everyone. The region is at its best during the summer, when you can explore, relax, and create lasting memories. 

Best months for weather in the Canadian Maritimes: between June and September

June marks the start of the peak tourist season in the Maritimes and is the ideal time for beach-goers. The water may be chilly, but it's warm enough for a refreshing swim. Hiking trails are at their most accessible. Many visitors head to the region's beaches during this time. Most noteworthy are Cavendish Beach in PEI and Parlee Beach in New Brunswick.

July and August are the warmest months, making them the best time to visit the Canadian Maritimes. These months are perfect for exploring the region's beaches and parks. The weather is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. There are many festivals and events to attend during this time.

Some of the most popular ones are:

  • the Halifax Seaport Cider and Beerfest in Halifax
  • the New Brunswick Highland Games
  • the PEI International Shellfish Festival

September marks the start of fall in the Maritimes and is an excellent time to experience the region's beautiful fall foliage. The weather is still warm and comfortable, making it ideal for hiking and camping. Many of the region's beaches and parks are less crowded during this time, providing a more peaceful and serene experience. This is also the perfect time to enjoy the region's seafood.

Events you can’t miss

To determine the ideal time to visit the Maritimes, look at what significant events are happening during each month. Plan your itinerary accordingly if there is a festival that interests you. Attending an event a fantastic way to gain a deeper understanding of the region's culture and heritage. Here is a brief, informative list of some of the most popular events held from June to September:

1. The New Brunswick Highland Games

This annual event is held in New Brunswick, usually in June or July, and typically lasts for a weekend. It celebrates the region's Scottish heritage. Enjoy traditional Celtic music and dance. Take part in athletic competitions such as caber tossing and hammer throwing. The event also features a variety of vendors selling traditional Scottish food and goods and a whisky-tasting tent. The New Brunswick Highland Games (1) are a great way to experience the region's Scottish heritage and culture.

#1 Travel tip: Explore with a guide

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If you can’t secure a car rental for your Maritimes adventure, don’t worry. Small-group or private guided tours can take you to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, Annapolis Valley and more.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

2. The Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival

This annual festival (2) is held in September in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and typically lasts four days. The festival includes cooking competitions, live music, arts and crafts, and children's activities. You can try a variety of seafood dishes. The festival is a celebration of the region's seafood industry. It's an excellent opportunity to taste some of the freshest shellfish in Canada.

A person participating in an oyster shucking competition at the PEI Shellfish Festival
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3. The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival

This festival is held in August in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and typically lasts for four days. It features traditional folk music, dance performances, workshops, and concerts. The festival also includes a variety of vendors selling traditional crafts and food. The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival (3) is a great way to experience Nova Scotia's traditional culture and music.

4. The Festival Acadien de Caraquet

This festival is held annually in Caraquet, New Brunswick, usually in August, and typically lasts for a week. It showcases the Acadian culture and heritage of the region with traditional music, dance, and food. You will come across various vendors selling traditional crafts and souvenirs here. The Festival Acadien de Caraquet (4) is a great way to experience the region's Acadian culture and heritage. On Acadian Day, don't miss the lively Tintamarre parade.

Close up of people dressed in red and blue for Festival Acadien in New Brunswick

5. Seaport Beer Fest: Atlantic Canada's Beer Festival

This festival is held every August in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and typically lasts for a weekend. It features a wide variety of local and regional craft beers, local food vendors, live music, and beer education seminars. The Halifax Seaport Cider and Beerfest (5) is a great way to discover the Maritimes' local beer scene. You will get to taste some of the best craft beer from the region.

6. The Halifax International Busker Festival

This festival is held every August in Halifax, Nova Scotia and typically lasts around a week. There are hundreds of performances over the six days. Street performers from all over the world show off their juggling skills, acrobatics, and other talents. See musicians, magicians, fire breathers, and more. The Halifax International Busker Festival (6) lets you witness unique and entertaining street performances. The festival takes place along the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts.

Crowd sitting outside in Halifax as they watch a flamethrower at the Buskers Festival

What is Maritimes like the rest of the year?

The Maritimes region in Canada is a place of great natural beauty. The changing seasons offer different experiences throughout the year. While the region is stunning year-round, winter can be pretty harsh, with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. Yet, if you love winter sports, such as skiing or snowmobiling, the Maritimes can be an exciting destination during this time.

Spring in the Maritimes is a time of renewal, with wildflowers blooming and migratory birds returning. This is an excellent time to experience the region's natural beauty while avoiding the summer crowds. Temperatures start to warm up during spring, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking.

Autumn in the Maritimes is famous for its stunning foliage, making it a beautiful time to visit. The region's many forests and parks come alive with colour during the fall, providing breathtaking scenery for you to enjoy. This season is also an excellent time to experience local harvest festivals and food events.

Orange sunset and clouds over colourful buildings in Lunenburg

Places you can't miss in Maritimes

If you're planning a trip to the Maritimes, timing is everything. It's important to know the best time to visit the region to make the most of your experience. Whether you're looking to explore the rugged coastline, sample the delicious seafood, or soak up the local culture, you'll want to plan your trip well.

During your visit to the Maritimes, you'll explore some incredible destinations. While there are plenty of beautiful locations to discover, some stand out. Cape Breton Island is stunning with its rugged coastline, rolling hills, charming fishing villages, and the famous Cabot Trail. A 300-kilometre scenic drive, the trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

1. Halifax

Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, is a historic and vibrant city that shows the rich culture and history of the region. The city has many museums and galleries, such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. It is also home to many beautiful parks and gardens, such as Point Pleasant Park and the Halifax Public Gardens. These offer opportunities for strolls and picnics. The city's waterfront boardwalk houses various shops, restaurants, and cafes. A top attraction is the famous Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort that dates back to the 18th century. 

Visit Halifax on our Eastern Rail Classic and Coast to Coast train trips. 

2. Lunenburg

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg is a charming and picturesque town. It has well-preserved architecture and colourful houses. The town has many historical buildings you can visit, such as the Lunenburg Academy and the St. John's Anglican Church. Lunenburg is known for its Maritime heritage, which you can discover at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, and the famous Bluenose II, a replica of the renowned racing and fishing schooner.

3. Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is a natural wonder known for its massive tidal range, reaching up to 16 meters (52 feet). The bay has some breathtaking landscapes. The Hopewell Rocks, a series of flowerpot-shaped rock formations, can be explored from the Fundy Trail at low tide. The bay is also known for its rich marine life and the opportunity to spot several species of whales.

4. Kejimkujik National Park

Located in Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik National Park boasts a mix of lakes, rivers, and forests. The park has various hiking trails. You can discover the park's natural wonders, like the Kejimkujik Lake and the Mersey River. You can do recreational activities such as camping, canoeing, fishing, and hiking. You can also explore the park's historic sites. One is the Kejimkujik Petroglyphs - ancient rock carvings created by the Mi'kmaq people.

5. Cavendish Beach

Located on Prince Edward Island, Cavendish Beach is a beautiful and popular beach known for its warm waters and white sand. It's the perfect beach for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. You can also explore the nearby Cavendish Grove, which has excellent cycling and walking trails and picnic areas. 

6. Parlee Beach

Parlee Beach in New Brunswick has the warmest salt water in Canada, so it's ideal for swimming and sunbathing. You can play beach volleyball, go hiking nearby or camp overnight. The beach is a good location for water sports, such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

#2 Travel tip: Search for whales

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Whale-watching season is between June and September. Tours depart from Digby, Nova Scotia and travel around Brier Island in the Bay of Fundy.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

Things to keep in mind while visiting the Maritimes

When planning a trip to the Maritimes, there are a few things to remember to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

  • It's important to note that the region is predominantly rural, with smaller towns and cities scattered throughout. Public transportation is available in most areas of the Maritimes. Small towns may have a limited selection of restaurants, shops, and other services. This is particularly true in more remote or less populated areas.
  • To make the most of your trip to the Maritimes, it's always a good idea to plan ahead and pack accordingly. If you plan to explore the region's stunning natural scenery, be sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes, warm clothing, a waterproof jacket, and other outdoor gear.
  • The Maritimes has a unique culture, and it's important to be respectful of the local people and their way of life. The region has a strong connection to fishing and the sea. You'll find many small fishing villages where life revolves around the ocean.
  • The region has a strong Acadian and Mi'kmaq heritage, and it is important to learn about these cultures. You can visit places like the Acadian Historic Village in New Brunswick or the Mi'kmaq Cultural Centre in Nova Scotia.
  • Remember that the Maritimes' weather can be unpredictable. While the region experiences a moderate climate, with warm summers and mild winters, it's a good idea to pack for all types of weather. Bring comfortable clothing and shoes as you'll likely spend a lot of time outdoors. Pack your rain gear, as the Maritimes is known for its high rainfall.
  • It goes without saying that you should bring your favourite camera to capture these once-in-a-lifetime Maritime moments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you need to visit the Maritimes?

If you plan to visit all three provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, you will need one to two weeks. This will allow you to experience each province's unique culture, history, and natural beauty.

When is the best time to visit the Canadian Maritimes?

The best time of the year to visit the Maritimes to appreciate its true beauty is from June to September.

Which is the most beautiful Maritime province?

According to popular reviews, Nova Scotia is the most beautiful and diverse province, the prime attraction being Halifax.

What is the best month to visit Nova Scotia?

With most events being held in the months of July to September, these months become the most desirable time to visit Nova Scotia.

How can I get around in the Maritimes?

The Maritimes is well-connected by public transportation. Buses and trains connect many towns and cities. Book a train trip with Canadian Train Vacations for your trip to the Maritimes.

About the author: Katherine is Product Manager with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for almost 20 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in Calgary and one of her favourite Canadian destination is the... Read more

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