Peggys Cove  IMG 2330

The Maritimes and Nova Scotia By Train

The most relaxing way to experience maritime charm

Lilting celtic music fills the air of a friendly pub. The tail of a whale breaks the surface of cold, grey water. The intense purple glow of a sunrise turns a whitewashed lighthouse lavender. A brightly-painted fishing boat bobs gently in the harbour.

This is just a taste of what you'll experience on a train tour to Nova Scotia. Life here revolves around the sea and is alive with music, storytelling and traditions. Take the VIA Rail Ocean Train from Montreal to Halifax to experience the unique culture of Canada's East Coast while enjoying comfort and great service.

From the tranquil beauty of Cape Breton to the sparkling waters of Chaleur Bay, touring the Canadian Maritime provinces is always a memorable adventure.

Planning a trip to Canada and want to make it better?

Fresh Tracks Canada Logo

Plan your trip with a Canadian Insider

You know that friendly character you met in the local café who told you to visit that well-kept regional secret which turned out to be the best part of your holiday? That's us.

Classic poutine in cardboard take away box

Have everything organized for you

By this stage, you're already having dreams about mountains, moose and maple trees. We combine your personal preferences with our insider knowledge to save you hours of pointless internet trawling.

Get help when you need it

We're here to make sure you get the inside scoop before you even leave home. And you can relax on your vacation because you know that we're a phone call away if you have any questions while you're in Canada.

Like more information?

Get our brochure and discover Canada by train.
Get Your Brochure

Have a question?

We can answer any questions or make suggestions.
Schedule a Call
Cartoon polar bear speaking on the phone
Sunset over Pickford & Black boardwalk restaurant in Halifax

Quick facts about Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia is the place for you if you love the sea — there's no point in the entire province that is more than 60km from the coast.
  • The province of Nova Scotia is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two national parks.
  • One of the trains that travels to Halifax is VIA Rail's Ocean, which is the oldest continuously operated named passenger train in North America (inaugurated in 1904).
  • Thanks to the weather-moderating properties of the sea, the climate is quite mild and doesn't get as cold as other parts of Canada.

Nova Scotia Train Experiences

These are some suggested experiences for your Canadian adventure
VIA Rail train traveling on coast away from the city.

The Ocean Train

VIA Rail – Sleeper Train

Onboard the Ocean Train you'll travel from the French speaking province of Quebec, through the blissful backdrop of lighthouses and seascapes in the Canadian Maritime Province of Nova Scotia before reaching your final destination of Halifax. As you relax onboard, you'll see tiny communities along your route, representing French Canadian, Acadian, Celtic and English heritage.

Guard watching the setting sun at Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

5 Reasons to take a vacation to the Canadian Maritimes

  1. It's unlike anywhere else in Canada. – Canada's Atlantic Coast is so different from any other region that it might as well be its own country. The buildings are older, the streets are narrower and even the accent is different. Plus, the spirit of l'Acadie is strong here - the adventurous French settlers who claimed Nova Scotia as their home in the 17th century.
  2. The seafood is divine. – The fruits of the sea are embraced in Nova Scotia's cuisine - caught fresh and served up with love and creativity. You'll see Atlantic salmon, Digby scallops and lobster served up on restaurant menus. (In fact, did you know that the world's largest recorded lobster was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977? It was 44 pounds and thought to be at least 100 years old!)
  3. The arts are celebrated with a passion. – There must be something in the Atlantic breeze that inspires creativity because this region has a wonderfully strong culture of music, art and literature. The scenic Cabot Trail has an established loop of artisan studios to visit, featuring photographers, potters, glass-makers, wood carvers and more. Plus, you can enjoy local live music at pubs and concert halls throughout the area.
  4. There's so much history here. – Nova Scotia was one of the first established colonies in Canada and this region has a diverse history of Celtic, Arcadian, aboriginal and African cultures. Dating back even further, the Mi'kmaq people have lived here for thousands of years. Visit the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, where you can learn about 10,000 years of Mi'kmaq history. Nova Scotia's original residents have done a remarkable job of preserving their unique culture, art, language and stories.
  5. East Coast hospitality is second to none. – The people of Canada's East Coast are known for their friendliness, humour and fun-loving nature. Conversations will start up anywhere and soon you'll have plenty of new friends to visit on your next trip.
Exterior of tavern and city view of Argyle Street, Halifax

Highlights of Halifax

The capital of Nova Scotia offers a thriving arts scene, excellent restaurants, peaceful manicured parks and a beautiful waterfront to explore. Stroll along the harbour, listen to live Celtic music and enjoy what this wonderful little Eastern city has to offer.

When to go: September-October is a great time to visit Halifax. The summer crowds are gone, but the weather is still pleasant and many festivals bring the city to life.

The highlight: Visit the fascinating Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and learn the many stories of Canada's version of Ellis Island.

Recommended trip: The Canada Eastern Rail Classic includes a tour to Peggy's Cove.

sunset in Lunenburg, water and colourful building

Highlights of Lunenburg

With its narrow streets and brightly painted buildings, Lunenburg is a Nova Scotia fishing village that almost looks too charming to be real. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was the first British settlement outside of Halifax. It's walkable, packed with great restaurants, quirky shops and makes a great day trip from Halifax.

When to go: For the best weather, visit between July and September.

The highlight: Taste Lunenburg's rum history at the Ironworks Distillery, located in a marine blacksmith's shop dating back to 1893.

Recommended trip: Ask our Canadian trip experts about adding on a Lunenburg day trip while you are in Halifax.

A seaside village with colourful homes

Highlights of Peggy's Cove

This tiny fishing village (population 35) attracts nearly a million tourists per year – drawn to the glow of the iconic lighthouse standing proudly on a craggy shore. The most photographed lighthouse in Canada, it's an icon of local marine heritage.

When to go: Visit during shoulder season (late spring or early fall) for fewer crowds but still pleasant weather.

The highlight: Sink your toes into the sand of Bayswater Beach Provincial Park, a peaceful place to relax and enjoy a picnic.

Recommended trip: The Canada Eastern Rail Classic includes a tour to Peggy's Cove.

Ready to start planning your Canadian journey?

Here at Fresh Tracks Canada, we have gourmet globetrotters, tranquil train-travellers, bold backpackers, and nature lovers. But what ties us together is that we're all passionate travellers. When we're not helping people plan vacations to Canada, we're getting together to plan our own adventures.

Bear Background Image
discuss dream trip

Discuss your dream trip with a local insider

Or call us toll free